Wholly Holy

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This morning, I found it impossible to go to my usual place of prayer. I had to go out and greet the day, be there before the sun crested the Superstitions. I was on the search for a whisper of air and I needed to be physically present when the day began. I crumbled up some bread and left it in the usual spot. The grackles were the first to find it.

I wandered out front and swept the area in front of the doorways, part of my Holy ritual….I would have been a good little oriental shopkeeper, part of the morning should always be spent setting things aright…..making the bed, sweeping the porch. After I did that, I cleaned the cat box, not so Holy but just as necessary.

I went inside then, and grabbed my mug of coffee and three little books, journal, Jesus Calling, and Frederick Buechner’s Sacred Journey. When I went to go outside I noticed that around 20 assorted quail and dove had found the bread. Being me, I couldn’t disturb them so I quietly took the “prayer chair” from the shop and brought it around the other side so I could be outside and see them but they wouldn’t see me.

I finished Sacred Journey……I heartily recommend it. I highlighted many places in the book that I know I will go back to. As I sat there listening to quail and dove cry, I watched the clouds turn pink from the blush of the sunrise.

An hour of worship outside, though it’s not a substitute for church, I find it just as meaningful and just as necessary a part of our walk with Christ. And as I sat there, another Holy thing happened. A hummingbird came to the red yucca I was sitting right next to and took his time going from bloom to bloom, even stopping the beat of his wings to light on the branch as he drank. As I looked at his little curled feet as he hovered there, I thought what a little gem of a bird he was.

And I thought, if I had been in my usual spot, I would’ve missed him.

How incredible are God’s works; how wondrous His eye for detail in every little thing. It’s the day before my 56th Birthday and I can say that out loud. In reverence, praise and gratitude I thank Him for bringing me thus far on the journey.

Wholly Holy.

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The Watcher on the Wall

Cockerel

It was early, and the rooster had yet to announce the start of the new day. He was busy watching the commotion from his sentry spot on the wall. He ruffled his feathers against the cold.

The animals were restless, there was some evil afoot and they seemed to sense it. Donkey was tethered to a nearby post and moved about uneasily shifting her feet. She gave a toss of her head toward the mob of people who were moving through the street. It was quite a large crowd and there were soldiers and religious leaders, and lots of shouting and jostling. Being pushed ahead of them was a poor man. His hands were tied and he was bruised and battered.

Donkey shivered but not from the cold. She knew that man. He was the one to whom she had lent her colt just the week before. And down below stood one of the two gentleman who came to ask her master. He was standing nearby warming his hands by the fire. He seemed nervous, looking this way and that.

She brayed loudly and said, “Something is not right here rooster, that man they have there is innocent. He is a good man, a kind man. For when they asked for my colt they didn’t separate us, they led us both together. And He was ever so gentle with my baby. He is a King, I tell you!”

Rooster fluffed himself up, proudly. “Yea…..how well I know. My grandfather was one who was in the manger the night he was born. There were angels and signs in the Heavens. Oh what a glorious night that was. He watched from the rafters as the wee one was born and he saw the shepherds when they came into the stable, faces still alight with what they had just seen and heard. He crowed the dawn in on that day alright, and what a day it was.”

But this activity down below was quite a new development. He prided himself on knowing things first, but this was unexpected and it wounded his pride greatly.

Donkey said, “Don’t fret rooster. I have heard that you have yet to play a part in this drama.”

Rooster puffed himself up even bigger than he already was. “Yes, of course, as it should be. After all, this bloodline is royalty.” Speaking of his own. “It’s only fitting since my grandfather was the one to usher in the King the first time and I should be the one to usher in His Kingship the second time.”

“But this…..this doesn’t seem to be going well. I really should bring in the dawn of this new day, but it isn’t right, I tell you. I am used to crowing good news, and this is not good news at all, that He should be bound and dragged from place to place like a common criminal. Don’t they know who He is?”

Immediately down below, they heard someone question the gentlemen who was one of His friends:

“You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

At this Rooster could hold it in no longer, he crowed loud and long. “Nooooo……he crowed. It’s not sooooo…..” He thought his poor rooster heart would break with the sorrow of it all. He thought of how proud he was that his family had always had a part, however small, in ushering in the Good News. Now this. He would be remembered all throughout history as the rooster that crowed in disaster. He hung his head in sadness and shame. He didn’t feel like crowing anymore.

The animals watched sadly as the man called Peter fled behind a wall and wept bitterly.

Donkey hung her head, and she felt the deep sorrow that is unique to the animal kingdom alone. For they remember who made them……it’s only the human species that seems to forget.

But Rooster would soon be redeemed though he didn’t know it at the time.

For Easter was coming and he would be ready.

 

 

God loves you even more………

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I guess I love sparrows because even though they are so small……so common,

so ordinary.

They aren’t really at all.

They are a miracle……..a veritable work of art, and so are you friend…….And not one of them falls to the ground without Him knowing.

Or caring.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows……Jesus (Matthew 1:29-31

Yesterday I was enjoying a sliver of solitude out in the patio at work. The first to join me was a brown thrush, well, I call him “Hop-a-long” because he only has one foot. He does amazingly well just with the one.

Next was a chattering school of assorted sparrows and other little brown birds, maybe finches, all lined up begging for food. It’s amazing how close they got. They do really well at Intel, they are all fat and fluffy like the birds you see on the Marjolein Bastin greeting cards. Have you ever looked, like really, really close at a common sparrow? They are amazing. When you look close you can see about 30 shades of brown and grey. Up close you can see how all their feathers are perfectly aligned, and their little feet can land and grip just about anywhere.

I was enjoying myself out there. Some were all lined up on the bench and some were gathered at my feet seeing how close they could get, wanting to be the first to get the crumb. I guess you could say it was one of those everyday Holy moments. It was just the birds and I and God. Anytime we reflect on the wonder of His creation, we are worshiping and honoring Him.

And you know what is amazing? He cares for you and I more than those sparrows. He sees each of us in our own individuality and He wants us to see ourselves the same way. We are valued! The next time you feel just like a number, or just another bit player in this big Universe, just remember that God Himself doesn’t see you that way at all.

He sees you as I see those sparrows……….little common brown miracles of wonder, each specifically design to give Him glory just by walking around doing what He made us to do.

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Fox

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“Fox”

With a blaze of red against the white, she was startled out of her reverie with this visitor who stood stock still.

With head cocked he seemed to be listening to voices only he could hear, tuning into an older primal frequency we all used to know.

His breath materialized in the frosty air.

She waited, he waited. Each trying to determine if the other was friend or foe.

She was glad for the company, wished he would stay.

In his eyes, there was a reflection of Eden as if he remembered when we were all friends.

But he shook himself as if to shake off the impossibility of that thought, snow flying from his bright fur.

He wished, she wished.

They both wished for a time when the world was young.

For Eden.

He turned and trod down the path.

She released her breath.

She would remember this moment as a small miracle.

I was inspired to write this after seeing the movie, “Wild” photo courtesy of creative commons.

Sometimes it takes a Turkey

Tom Kettleman article

Tom Kettleman started showing up last Spring in my hometown of Lodi, California. No one seemed to know where he came from. People learned to watch out for him because he didn’t always use the cross walk, but sometimes he did. Wherever he was, he created a stir. Sometimes he would chase ambulances and patrol cars. I guess they didn’t know whose turf they were on. More often than not he could be found at one of his resting places, behind the parking lot of Lowe’s or hanging out at Panera’s strutting his stuff. Every now and then you could find him behind Wal-Mart. Kettleman Lane and Lower Sacramento road was where you could usually always see him.

People started looking for him and then posting their pictures of where he was that day. Kids and parents alike fell in love with Tom. He became a very popular guy. He never asked for the notoriety, he was just being himself. But something about Tom seemed to bring people of all different walks of life together. It was a curious phenomenon. People who might never have otherwise met started talking about Tom and where they saw him.

Then came the Facebook fan page which swelled to over 3000 members.

The usual trip to the store was somehow brightened by Tom’s antics, especially when he was show-boating, puffing all his feathers up in grand turkey style, it was really something to see.

People might wonder about how this could happen, but the reason is very simple. Tom gave people something to smile about. He gave me something to smile about all the way in Arizona. He gave a little bit of hope to a weary world. A world worn down by work, stress, horrific events in the news. Tom gave people something of a sense of community that is hard to find these days. I guess you could say that Tom was a little bit of an ambassador in that regard.

Sometimes I find that animals and babies have a way of being much more effective at building bridges between people of all faiths, colors, and economic statures.

Or course, there were the naysayers and the haters of Tom as well. There were cruel comments on Facebook, and those who felt that he was a nuisance, a danger to the community. Wherever good and innocence gather, the minions of negativity always seem to spring up as well. Human nature I suppose.

Now Tom is gone and people are saddened. Others don’t understand the sadness. He was just a turkey after all. But I can say that I will truly miss my brother’s pictures and texts about Tom and where he was that day. I will miss the idea of Tom and how he brought my hometown together. Growing up in Lodi was truly a blessing. We had community, we had closeness. It was a safe place where we could walk the streets at just about any time of day or night without fear.

And yet, this thing with Tom makes me realize that community still exists in Lodi. I can already see the good coming out of it on the Friends of Tom page on Facebook. (which is now open only to invitation from other members.)

You see, sometimes it takes something as silly as a turkey to make people believe in each other and their community again. To see something that was there all along. Sometimes God uses turkeys.

The spirit that brought people together while Tom was here has not left. Let it continue to inspire us all to do something good for each other today and everyday. We love and miss you Tom. Inspire on…….

Tom Kettleman, Ron

God created animals because…………

 

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Why did God create animals? The answer is simple and it’s the only right one. Because He loves us. Everything He created is an expression of His love for us. And because He knew that although human interaction is necessary for our well-being; He also knew that sometimes people would disappoint us. Animals have no ulterior motives, they don’t even know what that is.

Their love is a free expression given with no thought of what they will get in return and they remind us of the joy we had as children when we skipped no matter who was looking.

 

 

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They will receive your hugs when others have backed away at your smell. They don’t care, in fact they like it better when we don’t shower. And they will never ask how you ended up on the streets because some of them are there too, just trying to survive. They will sit at your feet and listen impartially and give no argument, somehow you know they’re in your corner. They will huddle close when the nights are cold and you wonder where all your friends went.

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They offer no judgments, and when we return their devotion, the rewards are endless. In their eyes we see the reflection of the God who created them to be our companions in this world which can sometimes be a lonely place. God knew that we would back away from Him too, and that’s why He created something so easy for us to love. For who could be threatened by a wagging tail or a winding around of your feet at the day’s end?

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Animals have saved the lives of their people time and again. Read the stories of those whose lives have been transformed and healed from pain and addiction all because they discovered there is tremendous power in looking away from yourself and focusing on someone or something whose needs are as great or greater than your own. That rescuing an animal lost, alone and in distress had the power to bring them both out of the pit.

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Why did God create animals? He created them in hopes that you will return their love and appreciation for what they give us, and that in loving them, our hearts will turn towards the God who created them and loves us with a love we can scarcely imagine.

We all know that there are times in this life when our sorrow is more than we can bear.

Crushed beneath a weight of sadness we go off to find a quiet place and sit for a while. We feel a brush of fur nudging our elbow, or a cold nose under our hand. We find they have followed us, sensing our loss. Tear fall on soft fur and they offer it up with no reservations. That’s what they do. And that’s what God longs to do too. There is nothing we have to do to earn His love, we had it even before creation.

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. Acts 17:27

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:24,25

Photos found on Pinterest by Chris Teso, Tina Carter, Ana Muller, Dan Lee and the last one is via Google images of Street Cat Bob and James Bowen. Read about their inspiring story via their Facebook page.

Donation to the pets of the homeless foundation may be made here if you feel so inclined.

A Monet Morning

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“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20
I awoke early one morning on my visit back home to California and the Spirit beckoned me to the Lake. All was quiet as I tiptoed through the wet grass and parked on the street. The fish were jumping and the sun was throwing her covers off on the other side of the world and beginning to color ours with the first promise of light.
The regular walkers were just beginning to come out as I made my stroll around the lake, this place where I grew up and spent so many family outings. I never fully appreciated it when I lived here.
Two ducks padded up, wondering if I had anything good to eat.
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The whole experience was something like a prayer without words when the sun made her appearance like jewels strewn across the sky…….
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It was one of those Holiest of moments when God touches down.
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Heaven kissed earth. I kissed back……..
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This guy got caught by the sprinklers………
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Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10