Reblog: A New Leitmotif on an Aeolian Harp

‘God said to me, “Mortal man, prophesy to the wind. Tell the wind that the Sovereign Lord commands it to come from every direction, to breathe into these dead bodies, and to bring them back to life.”

So I prophesied as I had been told. Breath entered the bodies, and they came to life and stood up.’

Ezekiel 37:9-10 (GNT)

In Hebrew the Holy Spirit is the ‘ruach hakodesh’ רוח הקודש (thank you, wikipedia) which is something akin to holy breath or holy wind if I recall correctly. Sometimes I think I hear it.

Contemplative in the Mud

Father Garrigou-Lagrange

The grace of the virtues and the gifts makes the just soul, as it were, an Aeolian harp which, under the breathing of the Holy Spirit, gives forth the most harmonious sounds, the sweetest as well as the most brilliant, the most piercing as well as the most solemn. As a new leitmotif, which at first is imperceptible and distant, little by little rises, approaches, envelops us, and ends by dominating all, so the mysterious harmony of the Gift of Wisdom rises in our soul. Its superhuman mode scarcely appears at first, and then in rather a negative manner by the disappearance of the human mode of thinking. As Saint John of the Cross says (Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk II, Ch 11–13; Dark Night, Bk I, Ch 9), meditation becomes impossible or impracticable; the soul has no desire to fix its imagination on any particular interior or exterior object; it is…

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All Shall Be Well

All shall be well

And all shall be well

And all manner of thing shall be well.

~ Julian of Norwich

I have my first appointment for EMDR therapy today. I have a feeling that the next few months (years?) will be tough. Instead of suppressing and distracting myself from the dark places in my memory I have to confront them again. This had me in tears last night until gone midnight (which is not like me). But in the confronting I think I will find something like a death, and something like a resurrection. There is pain. There is hope. There is life. I just want God; nothing but. That is my prayer.

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

Isaiah 26:3 (Amplified)

Waiting

We’re waiting for Christmas in this season of advent, waiting for Christ the Redeemer, the Rescuer. As for me, I’m still waiting for EMDR therapy. It’s been nearly two years since I was first assessed by psychological services (or whatever the heck they’re called). I had to see several different people, for several different assessments. On the second appointment, the woman asked me “So, how do you compare yourself as you are now to how you are normally?”

I considered this and eventually replied, “I don’t know. I’ve never really known what ‘normal’ is like.” I then told her a brief life history. She referred me on. And then the next person referred me on. And then the next one put me on the EMDR waiting list.

Sometimes something will trigger a memory and I struggle to maintain a hold on reality, on normality. And then, even though I manage much better these days to keep the veneer of ‘okayness’, I feel drained and discouraged. I can’t even talk about the triggers, because they’re too personal, too intimate. Why do I feel ashamed of these ‘intimate’ triggers and their ‘intimate’ effects? I’m too tired to even be angry about it all any more. It just is. But being awash with disgust is soul destroying. It’s disabling in the very real sense of the word. What is the most disgusting thing that you can think of? What makes you physically nauseated just to think about it? Can you imagine living with that, and the shame and disgust associated with your own, private being, within your own self? I know that the shame is not mine, but because it is linked to me in such a deeply personal way, it is mine. I hope that when I do finally have the EMDR therapy I can be stronger, more resilient and better able to take care of everyone. I try my best, for the children in particular. Every day. One day at a time, but for how many days? I waited before. I waited and waited for years and years and years for God to act, for God to intervene, for God to stop the evil.

In the past few years I have read the following passage several times and wondered why it’s there. I have wrestled with it. God doesn’t intervene to save the woman. God doesn’t even punish the murderers, or the cowardly men who pushed her outside to save their own skins. Her ‘husband’, who had just travelled for days and days across the country in order to fetch her back after she had run off  – ‘husband’ in inverted commas because she doesn’t even warrant the status of a wife, she is less than a wife; she is property, thing – this man who is at least supposed to protect her instead deliberately pushes her into the midst of a violent, seething mob. She is attacked and violated so viciously that she dies. And what happens?

God

Does

Nothing.

…[The] servant said to his master, “Why don’t we stop and spend the night here in this Jebusite city?”

But his master said, “We’re not going to stop in a city where the people are not Israelites. We’ll pass on by and go a little farther and spend the night at Gibeah…”… It was sunset when they came to Gibeah… They went into town and sat down in the city square, but no one offered to take them home for the night.

While they were there, an old man came by…  The old man noticed the traveller in the city square and asked him, “Where do you come from? Where are you going?”

The Levite answered, “We… are on our way home deep in the hill country of Ephraim. No one will put us up for the night, even though we have… everything we need.”

The old man said, “You are welcome in my home! I’ll take care of you; you don’t have to spend the night in the square.” So he took them home with him and fed their donkeys. His guests washed their feet and had a meal. They were enjoying themselves when all of a sudden some sexual perverts from the town surrounded the house and started beating on the door. They said to the old man, “Bring out that man that came home with you! We want to have sex with him!”

But the old man went outside and said to them, “No, my friends! Please! Don’t do such an evil, immoral thing! This man is my guest. Look! Here is his concubine and my own virgin daughter. I’ll bring them out now, and you can have them. Do whatever you want to with them. But don’t do such an awful thing to this man!” But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took his concubine and put her outside with them. They raped her and abused her all night long and didn’t stop until morning.

At dawn the woman came and fell down at the door of the old man’s house, where her husband was. She was still there when daylight came. Her husband got up that morning, and when he opened the door to go on his way, he found his concubine lying in front of the house with her hands reaching for the door. He said, “Get up. Let’s go.” But there was no answer. So he put her body across the donkey and started on his way home. When he arrived, he went in the house and got a knife. He took his concubine’s body, cut it into twelve pieces, and sent one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Everyone who saw it said, “We have never heard of such a thing! Nothing like this has ever happened since the Israelites left Egypt! We have to do something about this! What will it be?”

Extract from Judges 19

Why is this passage even in the bible! I’m sure there have been arguments and debates over this, but my (unlearned) opinion is that this passage is here, in Judges, part of the inspired Word of God, for people like me: people for whom someone could have acted to stop evil, people for whom someone should have acted to stop evil, and people for whom the help didn’t come.

Hundreds of years after this woman (she is not even given the dignity of a name) was brutalised, Jesus came. He was rejected, beaten, humiliated, shamed for sins not his own. In Jesus, in His birth, His life, His teaching, in His healing, His death and resurrection, that woman and I, we find hope. I find myself.

‘Jesus Is Rejected at Nazareth

Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath he went as usual to the synagogue. He stood up to read the Scriptures and was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed
     and announce that the time has come
    when the Lord will save his people.”

Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. All the people in the synagogue had their eyes fixed on him, as he said to them, “This passage of scripture has come true today, as you heard it being read.”

They were all well impressed with him and marveled at the eloquent words that he spoke. They said, “Isn’t he the son of Joseph?”

He said to them, “I am sure that you will quote this proverb to me, ‘Doctor, heal yourself.’ You will also tell me to do here in my hometown the same things you heard were done in Capernaum. I tell you this,” Jesus added, “prophets are never welcomed in their hometown. Listen to me: it is true that there were many widows in Israel during the time of Elijah, when there was no rain for three and a half years and a severe famine spread throughout the whole land. Yet Elijah was not sent to anyone in Israel, but only to a widow living in Zarephath in the territory of Sidon. And there were many people suffering from a dreaded skin disease who lived in Israel during the time of the prophet Elisha; yet not one of them was healed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were filled with anger. They rose up, dragged Jesus out of town, and took him to the top of the hill on which their town was built. They meant to throw him over the cliff, but he walked through the middle of the crowd and went his way.’

Luke 4:16-30

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word do I hope.

Come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel.

For we are all

Captive as well,

Lord,

Ransom captive Israel.

Happy Easter

We had our Easter egg hunt this morning, after we had read the Easter story in the Jesus Storybook Bible. Even Prince sat quietly and listened. I have to admit my eyes prickled and I had to pause when I came to this sentence: Was God really making everything sad come untrue?

Joy for sorrow, life for death, beauty for ashes… the whole world on its head and the Kingdom of God found among the lowly and broken. How wonderful!

 

Mary fell to the ground. Sudden tears filled her eyes and great sobs shook her whole body, and all she wanted in that moment was to cling to Jesus and never let him go.

“You’ll be able to hold on to me later, Mary,” Jesus said gently, “and always be close to me. But now, go and tell the others that I’m alive!”

From The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers his name

by Sally Lloyd-Jones

😀

Christ Mocked

Yesterday we remembered Christ’s crucifixion. Yesterday we mourned his wounds, wept for his spent blood, gasped at his pain.

 

Crucifixion was  s…l…o…w…

 

Traitors of the Roman Empire were sentenced to crucifixion. It was used as a way to control the natives, such as the Jews in first century Palestine (and it’s clear just from the gospels how despised these Roman invaders were). Bit like the modern ‘shock and awe’ in its intent. Also, to die ‘hung from the tree’ was, in contemporary Jewish thought, a form of curse. A curse was reserved for the scum of the earth, the lowest of the low. Filth. Detritus.

 

This is why Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians

 

‘…but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.’ 

1 Corinthians 1:23

 

You can read more about this in Not Ashamed of the Gospel: New Testament Interpretations of the Death of Christ by M. Hooker.

 

Crucifixion was designed to be torture, in every possible way, leading to a lingering death. It was created to be as horrible as it could be and deliberately so. It was intended, by the ubiquitously inventive Romans, to set an example to others, and so control a restless population. Over several days, Jesus was stripped of everything until, naked and already severely beaten, he was nailed to the cross.

 

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” He cried out at last in his mother tongue, Aramaic. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Perhaps the most heart-striking words in all the bible; separation from God.

 

The painting below is a 15th century depiction of where the gluttony of violence began:

Christ Mocked (the Crowning with Thorns), Hieronymus Bosch

 

This painting can be viewed in the National Gallery in London (to read more about this amazing picture, click here. It will open in a new tab). I first saw it on my honeymoon. My husband had taken me to see it. The painting sits in an underground, darkened room, but draws your attention as soon as you see it. You walk closer. It draws you in. Christ looks out at you from the picture as if to say,

 

“And what about you?”

And what about you? Part of modern folklore, for want of a better word, is that if you or I had been there, we too would have participated in Christ’s death, or abandoned him to his fate. This folklore says that all Jesus’ friends left him. All who had ever loved him abandoned him in that moment.

But they didn’t. The disciples scattered, but the women were there. And on that beautiful, sorrowful, morning of the third day, the women were still there, this time to bring spices, to perform their last act of love in preparing the body.

Women, who were considered less-than, women who were the property of their male relatives, women who could not own land, who had no control over their destiny, etc., etc., these were the last at the cross and the first at the resurrection. 

‘…for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.

And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,

So that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God.’

1 Corinthians 27-29 Amplified version

God chose me too, lowly and shamed, rejected and neglected. Treated with contempt. I should be forever on my knees in thanks. If God can choose me, and use me, He can use you. Don’t give up hope.