Tag Archives: John

LENTEN INSIGHT 2019 #3

It has been a month since I have written. The words have been there. The thoughts. The dreams. The joyous bursts of creativity. But the fingers were stayed. For whatever reason – I found myself waiting. So – I waited. I waited some more. Waited for the special silence that always precedes the release of words. And still I waited.

Holy week. 
Palm Sunday
Maundy Thursday.
Good Friday.

A month ago, in one of my many thrift store meanderings, I found a Robert Shaw recording in conjunction with Ohio State University choirs. It was not one from when I was there, but the choral works on it spoke to me once again. The next day, I found myself sitting on the floor of my small utility closet as I pulled out all my classical CD’s. My school room filled with them as I worked. I began singing – not well – but nevertheless – with all my heart in the car on the way home. Finally, letting them filter through my prayers as I lay my head down.

“Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”~Lk 9:58

Two weeks later, I found myself walking through the door of a stately, city Methodist church. The steeple bell rang as I walked the sidewalk towards the church – just as they used to when I walked with my parents. Tears gathered in the corners of my eyes. I was not surprised. I needed the rituals. I needed the music. I needed to hear the oral readings of Psalms and “Our Father”. I needed to remember the community of my history. The birthplace of my faith – my youth – my maturity.

A touchstone of truth.

“Pilate said to him, “You are a King then?” Yeshua said to him,“You have said that I am a King. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world: to testify of the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is the truth?” ~Jn 18:37-38

It is Holy Week.
It is Good Friday.

On Maundy Thursday, I was going to go back to the Methodist church, but instead, I watched the Mass of the Basilica in DC and sang with choir during Holy Communion. Tonight, as I watched some of the Stations of the Cross in Rome, my thoughts focused and the fingers found their freedom. Then I turned on the “The Passion of the Christ”. It is always the last thing I want to do – ever. It is a hard movie to watch. I cry – often. And yet, it is the one thing thing I must do. I must remember the gift. I must honor the sacrifice that an earthly mother made in conjunction with the plan that a loving, heavenly Father made for all His children so long ago.

“There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”~Jn 15:13

Today was a stormy day in NC. “The swirly winds came and the rain fell on us” as a poem from my high school days stated. I checked my plants. Pulled the flag in under the porch roof. Rubbed the dogs’ heads over and over as they stayed close by my side. Even the cat who has been standoffish all week has spent most of the night on my lap. The winds have quieted and while all three animals and hubby are sleeping in our small TV room, I am at peace.

The stone has covered the tomb, but Grace is about to blow away the cords that hold it closed.

Resurrection Day is coming.

“You are my friends if you will do all that I command you. No longer do I call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master does, but I have called you my friends, because all that I have heard from my Father, I have taught you.”~Jn 15:14-15

It has been an interesting month of being a learner again. Listening to the Teacher of Truth is never easy of me. I am – at this point in life – used to being the teacher in the room. I tend to want to control everything around me. Although – some of my oldest friends say that I have always had that “teacher attitude” – whatever that is. I’m still not sure where it is leading or what is on that path that seems to have very few mile markers. What I do know?

“You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you so that you also will go bring forth fruit and your fruit will remain, so that all you will ask my Father in my name, he will give to you.These things I command you that you will love one another.”~Jn 15:16-17

 

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LENTEN INSIGHT 2019: #2

When coughing, sniffling and feeling overall yukky, just sitting in a chair and watching your preacher on TV (plus a few others), a few movies and a couple of your favorite TV shows seems like a very good idea.
 
Have I mentioned that I hate being sick?
 
I had all these plans for the weekend. A weekend in the high 50’s, bright sun, Carolina blue sky and perfect for getting those early spring clean-up/planting chores on the road to completion – not to mention a few lazy turns on the patio swing.
 
Have I mentioned that I really hate being sick?
 
So – here I am on a totally “nothing accomplished at all” Sunday night, drinking my cabernet, munching on a cracker or two while a warm cat sits on my lap loving me in her own special way.
 
And…
That is when it happens.
God speaks.
In the sweetest way ever.
 
I laugh and
Sit down in the middle of doing nothing
Until I realize –
I may not have accomplished anything this weekend,
but He accomplished a whole lot in me.
 
Sometimes –
We just need to…
Be slowed down.
Slowed to a bumpy stop…
And notice how broken our path has become.
 
Sometimes –
Coughing out the gunk that has accumulated,
Blowing the stuffiness that clogs our thoughts,
And looking up
Reminds us…
It’s not our world or our plans…
 
It’s His.
 
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”~Jn 3:16-17
 
I’m still blowing the gunk out of my way,
Rubbing Vick’s on my feet,
But somehow –
Feeling a whole lot better as I look at my hiking shoes.
 
However –
 
If I don’t quite get those shoes on tomorrow,
It just means I have another day.
Another day to be still.
Another day to listen.
Another day for my Father’s voice to speak.
Another day to be loved unconditionally.
 
Despite my broken path,
Despite clogged ears,
Despite my near-sightedness,
Despite my whining.
I am His.
 
Can’t say I love the way He knocked me off my path this weekend, but as a teacher in this world, I understand teaching methods that work the best often are the ones that force us to find our knees and lean on a Rock in a dark garden. A Rock that is ever so much stronger than we are.
 
It is what it is. We are a stubborn lot, afterall.
 
We just have to remember the Voice that continues to seek companionship as He wait to walk with us in His garden.I may still be coughing, but His voice caught my attention. I will get to tending my earthly garden eventually. The yard will get cleaned eventually. And Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle will – eventually – get off my lap so I can get up and go to bed.
 
This broken path can be smoothed and straightened.
This cold and brain fog will dissipate in the Sonshine.
His WORD, love and grace is eternal.
Easter is just around His corner –
We just have to roll away a few stones.
 
“Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Guard the bed that I lay on.
Two to guard and to pray
And me to wake at break of day.” 
images (2)  [personal photo – Golden book of Hymns, c. 1950]

LIGHTS OUT #2

“The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary…”

It has been one of those winters. Cold – dark – dreary – and – sigh upon sigh – rain, rain and more rain. As I pulled a candle out of the window tonight, I looked out into the darkness. There are only two candles left and on Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Pancake Day, I will pack that last Light of Advent away until late Fall of 2019.

How time flies.

“My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast…”

Yesterday was a beautiful Spring-like day. I dug in the soil. Got my hands dirty. Moved a couple big rocks and pulled a muscle (which – btw – still hurts – hence the whining). Laughed with my Grands as they tried to follow the birds fighting over their place at the feeders. Picked at the flower beds a little here – a little there. And tonight? Not a star in sight. Even the neighbor’s security lights were dimmed in the heaviness of heaven’s tears. And…I sighed again as I turned off the candle’s light.

Just then – as I was beginning to write – that memorable line popped into my head…”Into each life some rain must fall…”

“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.”~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Rainy Day

I remember memorizing this poem in grade school. We memorized many poems back in the day. Have no idea why or what teachers required them; I just know we did it. Often the lines of those poems will pop up in my head. I never seem to remember the whole, but I remember in part. Luckily, we have search engines, and I don’t have to dig through a pile of books trying to find an obscure line in a poem that I might or might not have on my dusty shelves.

We also read Bible stories, memorized Bible verses, sang hymns/carols and prayed. These tend to be a little more in-focus, but it seems I can never – ever remember the book or the chapter or the number of those verses. (Is that whining again?)  I remember in part but never the whole.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.”~Ps 103:8

Not sure where this going.I started out with one idea in my head, and now, here I am walking in faith with my words. I’ll blame it on this amazing teacher/preacher, Jason Brown, former NFL player turned farmer, who spoke at our church today. I may have extinguished another candle in my home, but Mr. Brown’s sermon is still lighting up my soul with thoughts about faith and how we need to walk through this life with faith. I love it when the Holy Spirit moves me to think and re-think understandings of His WORD.

Better than candles in the window. Better than a man-made light on a rainy night. I have the Living Light of His WORD for this new Lenten season. I needed this reminder today. Come to think of it – I need it everyday. I needed it everyday while I was growing up. I needed it everyday when I was in open rebellion of His WORD. I need it everyday now. When the pain of an aging body gets me down; when I let that ever youthful rebellion surface; when the whining turns into a sarcastic pout, or when I just plain don’t walk in the confidence of faithfulness to His WORD.

“And Yeshua spoke again with them and he said: “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Light of the world. Whoever follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall find the Light of ife.”~Jn 8:12 (Aramaic translation)

Abba is “Behind the clouds…the sun still shining.” Waiting for us to look up. Waiting for us to get tired of the rain – of the darkness – and look behind the clouds where the Son is still shining. Shining bright enough for us to see the next step. Shining bright enough to dry our tears. Shining bright enough to shed Grace over our heavy hearts and grant us peace.

It is the season to reflect. A season of to wonder – to ponder. A season to choose Light over darkness once again. A season to “…go and sin no more.”

“Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.”~Jn 8:10-11 Forgiven [Greg Olsen artwork]

BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT

Long, long ago in the Campbell Street house, I heard a song while sitting on my daddy’s lap. His feet were bouncing me up and down until my mom pulled us both up to dance with her. From then until now (and from the way it looks now, probably for all eternity), it is always her voice in my head when I hear this song.

I fell in love with jazz that day. Blue-grass rhythms and harmonies had probably been a part of my genes while I was being knit in my mother’s womb, then add a few spirituals from whatever choir she was singing in, and my preference in music was pretty much set for life.

“I never cared much for moonlit skies
I never wink back at fireflies
But now that the stars are in your eyes
I’m beginning to see the light”~Don George/Duke Ellington

A few years later – I discovered the deep power of vibration as William Warfield sang “Ol Man River” (one of the first songs I remember memorizing just out of love for singing it in the Campbell Street house)- the richness of George Gershwin’s Bess as she sang “Summertime” – the intricate harmonies of the 5th Dimension’s “The Declaration” – the dissonances of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Fantasy” – the heart of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” – the soul of all spirituals that chorally covered me in oh-so-many-choirs over a lifetime of singing.

“Every man has a place, in his heart there’s a space,
And the world can’t erase his fantasies
Take a ride in the sky, on our ship fantasii
All your dreams will come true, right away
And we will live together, until the twelfth of never
Our voices will ring forever, as one”~Earth, Wind and Fire

Today, I got to listen as my eldest daughter sang in a new choir. It is one of those unspoken blessings about living close to children we were blessed to raise. Sitting in an audience, swelling with pride as we watch them perform, and somehow – it never gets old. It never goes away. It never changes. Love, heart and soul circles through the music, into a new generation, into the Grands as they fidget in their seats, and into the mind of this elder as she pondered all these treasures clasped as tightly as possible in her hands.

“I must walk my lonesome valley,I got to walk it for myself, 
Nobody else can walk it for me,I got to walk it for myself…
Jesus walked his lonesome valley, He had to walk it for himself,
Nobody else could walk it for him,He had to walk it for himself.”~J.H. Cone

Journeys are individual. Yet – when those paths intersect, there is that possibility of being able to walk together for a short space of time, and today was just one of those blessed days. A day to listen as my youngest Grandson read an entire story to me for the first time while my youngest Granddaughter reached for my hand behind his back for a short minute or two. A day to watch the daughter sing for joy a song I have loved for ages. A day to hear the Grands shout across a big city parking lot, “Bye, Grandma” – not once but twice. A day to rejoice for being in the perfect place – at the perfect time – and looking up to see the Conductor of Life start the up-beat for “I’m Beginning to See the Light”.

“You did not chose Me, but I chose you and appointed you, to go bear fruit – fruit that will last.”~Jn 15:16   

CHRISTMAS LOST – (3 Days and Counting)

It is 8:30 P.M. It is dark, cold, rainy and miserable on the shortest day of the year. Worse – our cat is out there somewhere – missing and the house feels empty. Even the lab girls are antsy.

You have to understand – Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle has three names for a reason. She jumps at her own shadows, spooks herself just sitting on a lap and sparkles all the time with little white hairs that dot her coat. Being outside for any real length of time is unusual. Being out after dark? Whoa!

It is 8:35. We just finished another Christmas movie, so it is my turn to go to the door and hollow “Kitty-kitty” like a crazy woman. I don’t think anyone else in our neighborhood hollers for their pets as loud as we do. When they are missing, we holler. We walk the property. We are peer over the edges of the drainage ditches and into the culverts.with our flashlights.

Seeking the lost is serious business.

“For The Son of Man has come to save whatever has been lost.”~Matt 18:11

Good news comes on the darkest of nights – especially when it is cold, rainy and miserable. So too, it came tonight at 8:40. I called one more time, and Kitty-kitty answered from the darkness. She heard my voice, mewed loudly from a distance and came running up the porch steps. And – like the true prodigal story, a tuna feast was thrown in her honor.

The lost has been found.

“My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me.”~Jn 10:27

I’m not sure why this was the important thing to write about tonight – especially when Christmas is just 3 days away. But like Mary and Joseph found out, life experiences happen no matter what time of year it is. We tend to think the special days should follow the schedule of happiness and joy. It doesn’t. My father had his second heart attack one Christmas morning. A treasure chest memory of a different kind.

That first Christmas was just the beginning of new life – figuratively and literally . A special, dark, cold and miserable night when GOD became man in a place that most people find way too smelly to spend even a few minutes – let alone a place to give birth to GOD was the first lesson on modeling the way we should live our lives.

Mary and Joseph became servants to what Father had called them to do. No comforts of home and family. Only faith in the promises given them and in the scriptures that they had buried in their hearts their entire lives. He spoke. They heard His voice. They called out from the darkness and began to run towards Him.

The glorious impossible happened when God was born so long ago.

Christmas is only 3 days away. The lost are still out there, and He is still calling. He is using His flashlight. Peering over the edges of cliffs. Looking deep into the culverts. Walking through the woods. Calling over and over as He waits for His beloved to hear His voice and come running for the feast He has prepared.

“I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.”  Ron-DiCianni-The-Promise-Full [Ron DiCianni artwork]

GOD IS SO GOOD

Almost every morning there is a song singing in my head when the last dream ends and daylight starts to filter between my lashes. The thing is – it is always a surprise. Old hymn. Opera aria. Childhood ditty. Praise song. Show tune. And sometimes – something that I don’t recognize at all but leaves a trace of tears in my heart or on my face when I have to give into the urge to wake up.

Logically, I think it must go back to when my mom used to wake me up. It was a rare day when I didn’t have hear her singing somewhere in the house as I kicked the covers back. And – if I wasn’t up on time, that “red, red robin would come bob, bob, bobbin’ it’s own sweet song” , close enough to my ear to chase any remaining dreams completely out the window.

“God is so good…”

The past two mornings, it has been this song. Over and over and over. Popping up throughout the day, as if begging me to notice something – and usually – there was something to notice. A convenient parking spot. Strangers in a hospital waiting room. Golden leaves reflecting a setting son. Grands sharing with each other something special just between them. A headache from getting the flu shot (I always get one when I get a flu shot – sigh). A Hubby sitting by the outside wood stove on a beautiful Fall evening.

“God is so good…”

When the kidlets were little – when we took long drives to MI to pick up big brother and on the way back – we usually had tapes going in the car. Wee sing Bible songs seemed to be a popular one because I still remember most of those songs, AND I replaced that cassette more than once. As they got older the music changed, but for a long time that cassette stayed in the car’s side pocket. When we moved South, I even found one stuck in the corner under the basement stairs (which is a whole ‘nother story for another time).

“God is so good…”

It is 8 more days till the election. My eyes and head hurt. Post nasal drip is yukky. The news is worse. Another school shooting in NC. Politicians blaming each other. A child missing. 18 US volcanoes considered high threat. Earthquakes shaking from the spiritual into the physical. Chaos seems to be shouting from the rooftops in all directions.

And yet – I hear that childish voice on the Wee Sing Bible songs continuing to sing in my head. A whisper of a song that reminds me there is more to this world than what our physical ears and eyes perceive. A reminder that we are His children singing a song to Him with our lives – with the choices we make – with the love that we share with each other. We just have to remember the song and sing it back to Him who sang it to us first.

“You’re so good to me.”

“You are from God, children, and you have conquered them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 Jn 4:4

If you want to hear the song in my head – jump ahead to about 53 minutes in this link. 

 

DAYS TO REMEMBER

One of the younger Grands had a “family” b-day today. Her actual b-day is tomorrow when she will – officially – hit the double digits for the first time. Confetti balloons. Slime, slime everywhere. Legos here- there-underfoot. Rose water sprayed and re-sprayed. Robot assembly then robot drawing tablecloth designs. Ribbons on packages – ribbons on ponytails. And – ice cream cake to add even a little more sweetness.

 

Truth be told – these are the days to remember.
 
Remembering is one of the things I love about the Jewish and Christian faith. The Bible is full of stories; timeless stories that tell – the good and the bad – the ugly and the poetic – the historical that reaches into the present and even further into the future.
 
The first day of the Jewish festival Sukkot has just ended. It is a week-long festival (you do gotta love a group that know how to throw a festival that lasts for 7 days – full of joy and food). Days dedicated to remembering – remembering the times spent in the dessert – remembering eating food G-D provided and of living in temporary shelters – remembering their mortal heroes who led them through treacherous times and taught them to pray throughout all their days and years – remembering the Father who is always faithful to answer the tiniest of prayers.
 
“Your WORD is truth.”~Jn 17:17b
 
Abraham, father of the faith, walked out of his tent in the morning – before he opened all the sides of that tent to welcome the world – he bent his knees and welcomed His Father – Abba. Gratitude for waking up – gratitude for the new day – gratitude for the storms that may splash enough water into his boat and scare him beyond what he thought was possible – gratitude for the joy of hearing Abba’s voice – gratitude for a Father that will tell the wind to hush and the seas to be still because HE is always in the boat with with His child. (Matt 7:24-28)
 
Those are days worth remembering.
 
Treasure chest days.
 
Festival days.
 
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
 

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,”~Matt 7:24-28 

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BOOM

So let’s re-cap what happened in the last 24 hour period before I fall asleep.

BOOM!

A car was hit by a big, ol’ truck (whose brakes failed) which forced the truck to burst through a wall of a new school. august 13 2018k

Emergency workers gathered.

Traffic backed up.

Neighbors – teachers – preachers – ordinary people – all gathered in small groups in the parking lot to watch, to talk and to pray.

Officials also gathered, and bright yellow signs of 
“condemnation” were hung.

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”~2 Chron 4:14

Engineers. Construction workers. Landscapers appeared on the scene.

august 14 2018 jPlans sketched and approved.

A car driver – still a little broken – was discharged from the hospital to heal at home.

Late into the night the people were still there.

Clearing. Building. Salvaging. Praying. Yawning.

While the uninjured-but-shaken truck driver sat in a school plastic chair under a tree on the lawn, keeping watch over his truck, people sought him out. They brought with them what comfort they had to offer. august 14 2018 e
Food. 
Small talk. 
Prayer. 
GRACE. 
Last night, the truck driver accepted Christ into his heart and the Shepherd found one of His own in the dark of an overcast sky.

By the time the sun’s rays pierced the final vestiges of the twilight, all the “condemnation” signs were gone except for one tiny wing that would take just a little longer to mend before it could fly again.

And BOOM!!!

Just like the initial one that started last night’s wave of destruction another BOOM rocked this building. That is the way miracles sometimes work on this barren plot of ground that we call life. A Father’s finger pokes into the dark dirt of our lives to allow His GRACE to grow something new. Sometimes that poke becomes a stick of dynamite – AND BOOM!

Then the Son plants a seed – perhaps the size of a mustard seed – in the heart of a pastor – who in turn plants it in the hearts of his elders – who in turn plant it in the hearts of some educators – who in turn plant it – tonight – in the hearts of families and students who attended the first GCA Open House.

And tomorrow?

GRACE Christian Academy will open its doors – on time – for the first day of school. Papa God is like that. He is faithful in all His promises for those who work together, humble themselves and pray. Praying through the darkness. “Be-attitudes” in action – on earth as it is in Heaven while the Shepherd smiles and the Holy Spirit breathes in our ears.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”~Jn 1:14

Great is His Faithfulness! [personal images]GCA_HD_Logo-01

BLESSING OF A BITTERSWEET DAY

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”~A.A. Milne

Back in the day when all I had was a room, a bed to sleep on and miscellaneous things that made me smile, I collected quotes. This was before the days of easy access to quotes, so they were clipped or handwritten from of magazines, books, or songs. I taped them to whatever thing that was handy, the wall or even the boards that served as my make-shift bookcase with the help of some bricks.

When my dad died, I was 19 and this was one of the quotes that was taped to his picture that I kept close to my bed. As is often the case, the quote disappeared from the picture, but not from the memory files in my head.

Blessings are sometimes hard to find when the heart hurts from loneliness. Yet, that is exactly why this quote has stuck with me for such a long time. However, unlike A.A. Milne, I’m beyond lucky – I am blessed.

Blessed to have had a father that taught me the love of our heavenly Father. 
Blessed to have watched the great love affair between him and my mother – loud fights and car rides full of harmonizing songs – included. 
Blessed to have watched him work a full day in a factory and still find time to be a boy scout leader for the son he adored. 
Blessed to have him for 9 more years with him after his initial heart attack.
Blessed to have had a long telephone conversation with him the night before he died.
Blessed to have him serve as a heavenly guardian for my children and father-in-law on this day 24 years later when a car accident occurred.
Blessed to be the daughter curled into his side.

Bittersweet days are hard ones, but they are also blessed ones. I sat outside and watched birds flock around the feeder. I listened to some music that reminded me of my childhood days. I kept busy trying to learn a little more about the Heavenly Father. Fussed with the new mantle that reminds me of the one in my childhood home. Then I pulled out the piece of his old hammer and traced the carved letters with my fingers. Mom had cut this piece from his hammer after he died because he had carved his name in it. She kept it in the night table beside her bed, right beside the needle holder he had bought for her long, long ago.

Bittersweet days are filled with tiny blessings. We just have to remember to look for them.

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”~Jn 10:10    

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BREADCRUMBS: Chirpings

Long ago, before the printed word and technology was in every home and classroom and before there were people who say that rote memorization was not a good learning strategy – at about the time when Jesus was a little boy growing up in a small town, children in his village would walk into the classroom for the first time and find a slate coated in honey. A rabbi said these words, “How sweet are your words to my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”~ Ps 119:103

Being a teacher it is so easy to see this first century classroom. I can hear the smile in the rabbi’s voice as he issued the first assignment, “Lick the slate clean and repeat after me.” As the students gleefully got to work (because there was no one around who said, “Yuk – germs!), they repeated the verse over and over until the slate was ready to be written upon. Thus, they learned their first verse of the Torah.

“If you abide in Me…”

According to rabbinical writings from that time, the sound of those voices repeating verses over and over and over were like the chirpings of little birds. Once upon a time, rote memorization was the underpinnings of all education all over the world. Books were rare and way too valuable for ordinary folk. Students learned by stories and rote memorization. In the Jewish community, by the time the Jewish children were ready for the next level of schooling, most of them knew the entire Torah by heart.

I’m sure there were those who struggled just like some struggle in today’s classroom. However, what we fail to remember is that the chirpings didn’t stop at the school. Every morning, every meal, every bedtime was filled with more recitation of verses and better yet – discussion – debate – exchange of thoughts – prayers filled with those same words until the verses became alive – vibrant with love between the family members – lustrous with the Breath of the Father’s Spirit – shaded with every jot and tittle of the language.

“And My words abide in you…”~Jn 15:7a

Cool thing to note – most scholars agree that boys and girls – around the age of 4 or 5 – would begin their schooling together. The cooler thing is that school didn’t stop at the doorway of the classroom. All the children in the family would participate in the discussions with their parents, so – for the most part – Our Father’s words took up residence within each family member who comprised this group of people called Jews.

They didn’t have to go look up a reference to string verses together. They didn’t have to google a phrase to find a verse. They didn’t have to look at their notes from school or find an expert. The words were part of everything in their everyday life. Trip over a stone and say a blessing of thanks because it wasn’t a rock. Get an extra few coins praise G-d for His goodness. Prayer rising without thought – never ceasing – because the WORD lives in each individual.

“How sweet are Your words to my taste!”

Tonight, as the thunderstorm and hail pelt our little house, I look at the little gathering of early violets and spring flowers and touch creation with my heart. Life becomes so much sweeter as we chirp. Spring is here – well – kinda – in name anyway. The peepers have started to peep in NC – I think they are probably hiding deep in the mud tonight. The birds were chirping earlier today as they hopped about and hopefully found shelter somewhere now.

And I – well – I think I need a little more of those 1st century chirpings in my life so that the WORD abides in me.

“Sweeter than honey to my mouth.”~Ps 119:103   

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