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Archive for September, 2012

From James the brother of Jesus and leader of the early church, Chapter 3 of his epistle:

” 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.

” 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue–a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

” 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”

———————

MAY THY WILL FOR PEACE, UNDERSTANDING, WISDOM, SPIRITUALLY MATURE DISCERNMENT PREVAIL IN THIS HYPER-INTENSE POLITICAL SEASON, AMEN

“Jesus’ whole life was a witness to his Father’s love, and Jesus calls his followers to carry on that witness in his Name.

“We, as followers of Jesus, are sent into this world to be visible signs of God’s unconditional love. Thus we are not first of all judged by what we say but by what we live.

“When people say of us: ‘See how they love one another,’ they catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced and are drawn to it as by a magnet.

“In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.”

— Henri Nouwen

———————

Lord God,
Help us remember in this hyper-intensive election season in the United States of America, a nation so richly blessed and with peoples so vastly compassionate and big-hearted, that you call us to be compassionate, peaceful people at all times in all situations.

Keep us mindful that a house divided cannot stand, so that we might coexist in peace and harmony and find common ground enough to work out our disagreements without be disagreeable to the point of hatred, vitriol and killing one another with our words.

Keep us mindful of the very question that we teach our children to ask when we instruct them to ask:

What would Jesus do?

Keep us mindful of the way and the words of Jesus who said a house divided cannot stand.

Help us to find ways every day to be more responsive to one another and understanding of our diverse opinions, and less reactionary in our cultural and political differences.

Bless not only the U.S.A., but bless all the nations and all the peoples of the world, where all the living billions of people who you see as your children rather than people of nations are broken and standing in need of your endless love, your endless grace and tender mercies.

May your will for peace with justice, your will for mercy and understanding, your will for the love that overcame hatred and evil and even death on the cross prevail.

Amen

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LORD IN YOUR MERCY: HEAR OUR PRAYERS

When the World Spins Crazy
By Walter Brueggemann

When the world spins crazy,
spins wild and out of control
spins toward rage and hate and violence,
spins beyond our wisdom and nearly beyond our faith,
When the world spins in chaos as it does now among us…
We are glad for sobering roots that provide ballast in the storm.
So we thank you for our rootage in communities of faith,
for our many fathers and mothers who have believed and trusted as firm witnesses to us,
for their many stories of wonder, awe, and healing.
We are glad this night in this company
for the rootage of the text,
for the daring testimony,
for its deep commands,
for its exuberant tales.
Because we know that as we probe deep into this text…
clear to its bottom,
we will find you hiding there,
we will find you showing yourself there,
speaking as you do,
governing,
healing,
judging.

And when we meet you hiddenly,
we find the spin not so unnerving,
because from you the world again has a chance
for life and sense and wholeness.
We pray midst the spinning, not yet unnerved,
but waiting and watching and listening,
for you are the truth that contains all our spin. Amen.

From Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann. Prayed at the Lay School of the Pentateuch on September 17, 2001.

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YOUNG AND OLD CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE FROM THE BRITS AND A HISTORIC BATTLE STARTING TODAY IN BELIZE–AND THE CELEBRATIONS GO THE REST OF SEPTEMBER! NONE OF THIS ONE-DAY “INDEPENDENCE DAY” BARBECUE AND FIREWORKS AND PARADES FOR THEM–THEY HAVE THAT STUFF ALL MONTH IN BELIZE!

Click here for more about St. George’s Caye Day, a huge holiday in Belize marking a historic battle.

SAN IGNACIO, BELIZE: IT’LL BE ROCKING THIS WEEKEND.

Having lived in Belize for a couple of months I can say one thing for sure about these warm and wonderful Belizean people–they are fiercely proud, patriotic people.

They have one of the most naturally beautiful countries on earth, and they know it, and they appreciate the beauty. I’ve met Belizeans who are quite poor in terms of money and material things, living in some quite substandard shelters, to say the least, sometimes with 4 generations of a family sharing a small shelter.

But when I tell such people I’m from the States, they quite typically will say something like, “Do you like our beautiful country?”

The ocean and the islands, the mountains and the jungles and rain forests–the beauty and wonder of it can sometimes be so beautiful as to be surreal. It’s one of the poorest places on earth in terms of materialism and consumerism, but Belize and most of its warm and peace-loving people are some of the richest on earth in other ways.

So this weekend marks St. George’s Caye Day or National Day–the first of two huge holidays in Belize. The other later this month is the 31rst “Birthday” of Belize–that day on which, what used to be “British Honduras,” split off from British rule and became the independent nation of Belize that it is today.

Belizeans celebrate their Independence Day for whole weeks, pretty much starting today which is actually St. George’s Caye Day (A Caye here is like a Key island in the States, as in the Florida Keys.) Longtime Expats living here tell me that September is to Belizeans what December is to Americans, a long and happy holiday season. Of course, Christmas season in this very Christian country will be much celebrated here in throughout December as well.

Meantime, I can tell you that when Belizeans celebrate and party, it’s a Wingding of a large time had by young and old.

MORE POSTCARD PIX FROM BELIZE BELOW AND GOD BLESS BELIZE.

AND GRACE & PEACE & GOD BLESS YOU TOO, AMERICA—YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW GOOD, ALL IN ALL, YOU HAVE IT.

THESE SILLY LITTLE GIRLS HERE IN THE VILLAGE COME UP TO MY PORCH GIGGLING A COUPLE OF TIMES A WEEK WHEN I’M ON THE PORCH WRITING AND SELL ME THE COCONUT SEED SWEET TREATS THAT THEIR MAMAS MAKE AND SELL, 4 FOR 50 U.S. CENTS. THESE LITTLE TREATS CONTAIN ENOUGH SUGAR FOR EXPORT TO WHOLE COUNTRIES, BUT BOY, ARE THEY TASTY.

HA! GOTCHA, GIRLS! THEY ALWAYS HIDE WHEN I TRY TO TAKE THEIR PICTURE BUT WEREN’T QUICK ENOUGH FOR MR. PAUL THIS TIME!

AND YOU GOT-TA GOT-TA HAVE SOUL RIGHT NOW, LIKE THE FABULOUS BUCKINGHAMS FROM MY ERA

FUN SONG, HUH? LET’S DO IT AGAIN! THIS TIME WITH THE FABULOUS ROY HEAD AND THE TRAITS OF HOUSTON, TEXAS, A BAND I DANCED TO MANY A SATURDAY NIGHT IN THE DANCE HALLS OF MY MISPENT YOUTH!

THIS LITTLE DITTY TAKES ME BACK TO THE SATURDAY NIGHTS AT THE DANCE HALL AT PRAIRIE HILL, TEXAS, IN THE SIXITES, WITH ROY HEAD AND THE TRAITS DISTURBING THE PRAIRIE HILL VILLAGE’S PEACE. IT WAS THE MOST DANGEROUS DANCE HALL IN TEXAS AND ROY HEAD AND THE TRAITS WERE THE MOST DANGEROUS BAND THIS SIDE OF THE ROLLING STONES.

BUT THEN, THERE WAS ALSO ARTESIAN PARK AND ITS WILD DANCE HALL IN NEARBY BRENHAM, TEXAS, WHERE GREAT TEXAS ROCK BANDS ALSO PROVIDED THE DANCE AND STOMP MUSIC NEAR MY HOMETOWN.

LARGE TIMES WERE HAD BY ALL THERE.

HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU FROM ANOTHER LONELY BELIZEAN ROAD IN FAR WESTERN BELIZE AND BTW—JUST OVER THIS ROAD HERE IN CLARISSA FALLS –THAT’S THE SUN SETTING OVER BEAUTIFUL GUATEMALA WHERE I TRAMPED AROUND SOME YESTERDAY IN THE CHARMING AND QUITE NICE BORDER TOWN OF MELCHOR, GUATEMALA. POSTCARDS PIX OF MELCHOR COMING SOON HERE AT JITTERBUGGINGFORJESUS.COM, WHICH IS LIKE A BOX OF MIGHTY FINE GUATEMALAN CHOCOLATES–YOU JUST NEVER KNOW WHAT YOUR GONNA GET.

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For all who labor in the fields and factories, Happy Labor Day.

And thank you, especially, for all thankless work you do from the back-breaking labor in fields, to the stacking in the stores, and in our factories and oil patches and all the other intensive labor fields, so that I and all of us can be so blessed with food and clothing and shelter and fuel and all the other essentials that you, the laborers, make possible. And also to those slugging away on this holiday in the hospitals, the police cruisers and ambulances . . . and all who make America possible.

“The horses graze the winter slope
and then go to the high ground
and stand, watching the traffic
along the road, the slow river,
the trees leaning and straightening
in the wind.”
From a poem by Wendell Berry, the one American writer that I wish everyone should read.

Wendell Berry is one of the few people left in the U.S. I would ever vote for, for any office.

In fact, he may be the only person.

But of course, as I’ve said here at your favorite blawg before, a truth teller like Berry–a man of such intellectual honesty, political independence and of true and deep spirituality, as opposed to the divisive, hack religion that our politicians shove down our throats, could never be elected so much as a county commissioner in a country now owned by special interest groups–and especially by giant corporate interests, from the local level to the White House.

Not that a man like Berry, who refuses to so much as own a computer because of a principled stand against a coal mining behemoth, would even consider selling out to the greedmongers who’ve taken over our blessed country.

Click here for a fresh interview with Berry in the NY Times.

And click here to read his quite readable and magnificent 2012 Jefferson Lecture. It’s something that I wish that every American would read–and take to heart.

If you don’t read his great lecture piece I hope you’ll at least give some of this great American’s poetry a slow read–and a few minutes of reflective thought.

“The Man Born To Farming”
Wendell Berry

The Grower of Trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed
That the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
Like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
Descending in the dark?
—————————-
As soon as I felt a necessity to learn about the non-human world,
I wished to learn about it in a hurry.
And then I began to learn perhaps
the most important lesson that nature had to teach me:
that I could not learn about her in a hurry.
The most important learning, that of experience,
can be neither summoned nor sought out.
The most worthy knowledge
cannot be acquired by what is known as study–
though that is necessary, and has its use.
It comes in its own good time
and in its own way to the man who will go where it lives,
and wait, and be ready,
and watch.
Hurry is beside the point, useless, an obstruction.
The thing is to be attentively present.
To sit and wait is as important as to move.
Patience is as valuable as industry.
What is to be known is
always there.
When it reveals itself to you, or when you come upon it,
it is by chance.
The only condition is your being there and being
watchful.
———————
“The Peace of Wild Things”

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
——————
“The Watchers”

The horses graze the winter slope

and then go to the high ground

and stand, watching the traffic

along the road, the slow river,

the trees leaning and straightening

in the wind. The day’s time

is their time. They do not move

toward it or away. Their minds

are at home in this world,

diminished by no question.

*Photo by yours truly– the blogger’s favorite horse here in San Jose Succotz Village, Belize.

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