Bold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

Camel Caravan

“There!”
“Where?”
“Out there! See?”
“Oh, now I do. In the East.”
“Yes. That cloud of dust.”
“That’s a caravan, isn’t it, Aziz?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Tell Nathan to go into town, and tell them a caravan is coming. It looks large.”

*****

“There must be twenty camels.”
“And, look! They have horses!”
“Hmmm… that’s not something you see every day. Not around here.”

*****

Adoration of the Magi Gaspare Diziani 1718 Oil on Canvas Museum of Fine Arts Budapest

“We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” … and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:2b, 11 NABRE)

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That’s bold.

“Hi. You don’t know us. But…uh… we saw a star… Um… It’s been kind of a long trip…”
”Two years, really…”
”Yeah, two years.”
”Can we see him? Your son?”

That’s a vision, and a true belief, and a solid faith that what you’re doing is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.

That’s the kind of bold I want. Magi bold. Keeping after the task at hand, not being dissuaded. Following the star. Even when it gets tiresome. And it does get tiresome.

Bold is what keeps you going.

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If there’s one thing I’m pretty dismal at, it’s being prepared for unexpected company. Oh, I’ll do the best I can, but it’s not like I’ve got an extra casserole in the freezer and can put fresh sheets on the bed in a twinkling. They’ll be lucky if I have a cold beverage.

But we never hear that Joseph was ill at ease around these pagan shamans. We don’t read that Mary was ambivalent about having foreign dignitaries dandle her boy on their knees.

And the gifts. Let’s not forget the gifts. Oh, they had probably seen the frankincense before, at the temple. We do know that Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was married to a priest, so it’s very likely that Mary and Joseph were frequent visitors to the temple (at least, as frequently as their schedule allowed). At that time, village women were accustomed to preparing the dead for burial, so maybe Mary had seen myrrh before. And yes, if they had been to the temple, they had obviously seen gold. But touched it? Even the little coffer of gold that we see in most paintings would’ve been enough gold to set them up for life. And then some.

But they remain unruffled. They don’t say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have.” Or, “Oh, this is too much.”

They are gracious, and welcoming, and take everything in stride.

That’s bold. Mary bold.

That’s the kind of “yes, life, I’m taking what you’re offering, even though it’s about the most outlandish thing possible” attitude that I want this year.

Ready to take on whatever wise men are coming.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll even have gifts!

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Five Minute Friday: Mercy

MercyI don’t think I know what this means.

I mean, I think I do. Christians are supposed to know what this means. It’s one of the primary words in Christianese. It’s jargon, A word you toss around when you’re in the know.

But I don’t think I know. And I’m not sure anyone does.

When you know something, it’s because you’re familiar with it. You have an understanding of it. You’re intimate with it. Farmers know about crops and irrigation. Captains know about ships and sailing, the currents of the ocean, and its many moods. Painters know about light, and pigments. As a writer, I know about grammar, and when it’s better avoided. I know about words, and how to employ them.

But what do I know about mercy? What does anyone know about being forgiven over and over? What does any person know about living without the threat of disapproval? The constant reacceptance upon admission of failure? The endless, and I do mean endless, stream of sanctifying grace?

I’m not sure if I do.

But I want to.

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What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The basic idea is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that), on a prompt that she provides just after ten p.m. via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Enjoy a delightful assortment by clicking on the picture to the right.

Five Minute Friday: Worship

Sunlight WorshipYou’ll know it after it happens, but probably not during.

It could happen anywhere. Dancing in a moonlit grove. Kneeling in a quiet cathedral. Chanting with some Tibetan Buddhists. Washing the dishes.

And you’re caught up in the moment, and the moment is forever, and the moment is a moment, and the moment is God. You’re dumbstruck, or you’re laughing, or you’re crying, or…well, you’re not really sure. You’re…just… worshiping.

Something catches you, and there’s a sense of realization, and thankfulness, and wonder. There’s a sense of stupefaction, and ecstasy, and joy. There’s a sense of inadequacy, and the simultaneous feeling that your inadequacy doesn’t matter.

*****5-minute-friday-1

What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The basic idea is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Enjoy a delightful assortment by clicking on the picture to the right.

Today’s Five Minute Friday selection is also, for today only, at the {in}courage website, which is here!

Five Minute Friday: Present

The Chinese character for mindfulness means bringing the heart into the present moment.Being fully present, fully alive to the moment, is the only way to really live.

When I give myself the present, that awareness, that mindfulness, I am also giving myself a present. It is only during this moment that I can be fully appreciative of the things surrounding me. This is the time for gratitude. Right. Now.

This is the moment. And this is the moment. And this is the moment.

I am writing this now. I did not write it yesterday, when my life was different. I cannot write it tomorrow, when my life will be different. I can only write it today. In the present. The present which is my present to myself, if I choose to unwrap this moment and fully live it.

And I so want to. I am alive right now and in this moment, this present moment, I am living and breathing. I am smelling the incense on the altar, and seeing the glow of the candle. I am hearing the hum of the fan and feeling its light breeze across my skin. I am seeing the sunlight casting misty shadows as it falls on the bed through the sheers. I am brushing my hair away from my face and typing this post.

I am alive. As this moment I am present.

Are you?

*****5-minute-friday-1

What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The basic idea is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Enjoy a delightful assortment by clicking on the picture to the right.

Today’s Five Minute Friday selection is also here!

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I is for Me

Much easier than a knife, no?This is where the screaming starts.

The inner screaming. The pain that comes from not just slitting your wrist, but from cutting off your entire hand. Or seeing yourself do it.

The past seven to ten days have been okay. About as normal as I get. Not too bad. Nope. But I’ve never been a person who goes about things in a subtle way. So it was bound to fall apart, sooner or later.

When depression comes. It’s a black numb night with no stars. Everything becomes about me: about how God is taking special notice of my situation and punishing me. How nobody likes me. How every movement of the world is designed for my special torture.

Mania is all about the stars. Or, rather, the star: Me. Because when I’m manic, you’d be a fool not to notice me, want me, befriend me, sit in the sheer awe of magnificence.

There are people who think the mania must be better. “Whoa, like a natural cocaine, right?” they ask. Those people are mistaken. Both states bring consequences. A dirty litter like the bottom of a movie theatre after the show is over and the people leave. I’ve watched myself rocket around and how some folks shy away nervously, cautious about my exuberance. I only think of them later, realizing how they were on to me, only they usually didn’t realize it at the time. During the mania, I don’t have time for the feelings of others.

I haven’t been really manic in a long, long time. That’s probably good.

The sad comes more often. The erosion of any sense of optimism. Utter reliance on Word and saintly wisdom gets me through, brings me back.

I was stupid and could not understand; I was like a brute beast in your presence. Psalm 73:22

I spend a lot of time apologizing. I don’t always know if it helps.

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A to Z April Challenge 2013I’m participating in the Blogging from A-to-Z April Challenge! Read about it here.

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G is for God

Train Wreck at Montparnasse 1895Thank GOD my faith is not about emotion. When I’m crawling through the mental tar-pit of depression that is just one half of my bi-polar “issue,” I have to believe that. Have to remind myself over and over, over and over, over and over again, that God has not taped a “kick me” sign on my back. God doesn’t work that way. (Thank GOD for Aquinas!)

Of course, that doesn’t make me feel better. It has, however, kept me from doing a lot of stupid things.

I love having a big God who can take it when I’m screaming and shouting. Who sits next to me during my toddler rants and offers soul bandages and the healing balm of the Sacraments. Who doesn’t care about my dirty hair or that I’m still wearing the same jeans I wore two days ago.

God is good. All the time. Even when I don’t understand.

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A to Z April Challenge 2013I’m participating in the Blogging from A-to-Z April Challenge! Read about it here.

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Five Minute Friday: Beloved

5-minute-friday-1I’m not feeling it.

Beloved is for the new bride, honeymoon-rumpled and smiling. Beloved is for the newly born, powder-fresh and still a little wet behind the ears. Beloved is even a slightly strange book by Toni Morrison.

But it’s not me. I’m not feeling it.

I’m bewitched, bothered and bewildered, but not beloved. I’ve been besotted. I’m currently bespectacled. I’m even a little bedraggled, since I just finished salting the winter-time sidewalks. But I’m not beloved. I’m sometimes benighted and sometimes even bedazzled, but I’m not feeling beloved.

Fortunately, my feelings have nothing to do with the truth.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. … In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might have life through Him. … Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. (1 John 4:7, 9, 11)

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What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The skinny is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that, and set up links), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Check it out.

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