Desert Into Garden

The wisdom of Henri Nouwen lasts and lingers in the lives and souls of many throughout the decades.

In the selection below he writes about transforming the desert of loneliness into the garden of life.

To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.

This requires not only courage but also a strong faith.

As hard as it is to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty.

The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it is a movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.”

March 20, 2021

Hmm?

That date strikes a chord in my soul which sings “Alleluia!”

The quotes below from various sources announce and broadcast “SPRING!”

“Early spring is the time for vigorous change ….” — Henry Rollins

“I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.” — Virginia Woolf

“Spring is nature‘s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’” — Robin Williams

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” — Virgil A. Kraft

The Song of Songs (2:11-13) proclaims the following:

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me!

Careful Watch You Walk

Carol told me this yesterday went I went outside to run some errands.

The directions/commands were needed because ice turned out driveway into an ice slide.

She was my angel telling how to go.

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Ex 23:20

“Walk On

Walk On

With faith in your heart

And you will never be Alone.”

From where did that verse come? In what book of the Bible? Who is the author?

Bible – Jesus — no Elvis sang it!

Another source of wisdom comes form A. W. Tozer when he writes: “To avoid wrong turns, we need to base every decision on the authority and wisdom of God’s Word.” Tozer, A.W.. A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night (p. 18). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

When we drive on the highway WAZE or GOOGLE DIRECTIONS prepares us for the next turn, hazards along the way, and reminds us to obey the speed limit!

Yet as believers in an additional Way — Jesus

Paul wrote to his community in Ephesus (5:15)

“Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.”

Watch where you’re going or!

Stick And Stones And Kind Words

On the one hand a childhood saying “Sticks and bones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me” spouts a lie.

A wise person from the past wrote (Proverbs 12:25 NIV) “a kind word cheers a person up.”

Kinds words uttered softly and liltingly can unlock closed minds and soften hard hearts.

In a fable attributed to Aesop, the Sun and the North Wind enter into a contest to see who can get a passing traveler to remove his coat.

The North Wind blows furiously in an attempt to strip the coat from the man, but the effort backfires.

The man only wraps his coat around him even more tightly. Then the Sun gets a turn. In no time, the coat is off, thanks to the Sun’s gentle warmth.

Our kind words also accomplish what a verbal buffeting could never do.

Our words can heal; they can inspire; they can empower.

Mother Teresa purportedly said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

https://youtu.be/51_FHblK4mc

A Smile

Thank you!’

“What a great job.”

“That meal was great,”

May I should not had a second helping.

Kinds words have an effect which go beyond the moment and last for a long time.

Kind words also bring a smile to a face.

Kind words also cheer people up, as a wise writer wrote centuries ago “…a kind word cheers up the heart.” (Proverbs 12:25)

Whose heart will we cheer up today with some kind words?

https://www.ktvb.com/article/life/greensboro-9-year-old-shares-messages-of-positivity-from-his-front-yard/83-003bec35-332b-4bc9-84e0-854e82ebdda6

Tell Me A Story

Stories engage, attract, teach, and connect.

What is your favorite story and/or storyteller?

I would love to hear them — send them to phillipfkapela@outlook.com , subject line: favorite story.

My last two blogs shared memories, embarrassing moments with the intention to teach.

This comes naturally to me because my dad was a story teller.

As a retired clergy and teacher stories filled my professional toolbox.

Aesop’s fables handed on in Greek culture moral points — these were effective in working with special needs students — especially when a YouTube video was used.

Here is a favorite —- https://youtu.be/1i6mbw6_2IU

Another favorite story teller for me was Jesus who used parables.

The parables themselves present clear stories from everyday events that many in the crowd would recognize.

In all, Jesus told 22 parables that were recorded in the book of Matthew, 10 parables in the book of Mark, and 10 in the book of Luke.

Now to wrap this up: Does anyone remember the song below?

Tell me a story tell me a story
Tell me a story remember what you said
You promised me you said you would
You gotta give in so i’ll be good
Tell me a story then i’ll go to bed

Now, tell me story — send it to phillipfkapela@outlook.com.

Powdered Sugar

Look at those brownies!


On the one hand, powdered sugar sweetens life — the powdered donut, a tray of powdered brownies.

On the other hand, powdered sugar on a black shirt or blouse lets others know that we have sinned!

Maybe that is exaggerating, but it does show the wisdom of the effects of our actions are manifest to others and on others.

Little moments of inattention — glancing at the cell phone while driving, blurting out in anger while at the dinner table, dashing off a hateful email in a moment of rage — these can hurt and possibly kill.

These extreme examples stand side by side with others — scowling rather than smiling…

Here are a few pieces of wisdom from the past.

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”. Proverbs 12:18 ESV

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Ephesians 4:29

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

So, we need to be careful while doing one thing, making sure that it does not do a harmful thing!

Or, my granddaughter’s offer of her bib, about which I wrote yesterday.

Spaghetti On My Shirt

Eating spaghetti which fell on my shirt was a “grace”moment.

I have learned that God speaks in many places and through many persons.

When my grand daughter was three, we were eating and some spaghetti went from my mouth to my golf shirt.

My grand daughter walked quietly out of the dining room and quietly gave me her bib.

The wisdom of the young!

God reminded me to focus and not talk and laugh while I am eating!

Thus I learned from this “whoops.”

And, to be honest, whenI have been humbled, I learned more from these “whoops.”

Again, God speaks and offers wisdom from many persons and places.

“Wows” manifest what we currently can do while “whoops” show us what we cannot or should not do.

Whoops strip away the fabric of perfection and can lead to growth.

After a whoops, mercy can build upon whoops and provides us  what we need while justice imposes on them what they deserves.

Mercy restores while justice imprisons.

Forgive ourselves, for God does. A wise person from the past wrote “The merciful person does oneself good …”Proverbs 11: 17 nasb

Another person who was called by God to lead was confronted by a friend who reminded him that he was an adulterer and murder. David wrote with some hard learned wisdom “It is good to be merciful and generous.” Psalm 112: 5 ncv

Wisdom manifests mercy.

Wise people don’t emphasize other people’s mistakes.

The same wise person wrote “Love forgets mistakes; nagging about them parts the best of friends” Proverbs 17:9, (TLB).

When we are wise, we don’t rub it in or punish.

We need to have and give mercy: we give people what they need, not what they deserve.

Justice points down and backwards and buries a person while mercy frees a persons and points up and forward.

Mercy is a life giving choice while judgment is a death dealing choice.

So, I learned that while eating spaghetti, only eat spaghetti and not laugh and talk.

Live In the Moment Unless

Now!

That statement in the imperative form demands attention and action.

Now we live in the moment in which that word becomes a phrase and sometime emerges or erupts.

The now emerges with gentle warmth and embrace such as the early morning warmth of flannel sheets, unless a down comforter.

The now erupts when the alarm blares erupting with words and getting out into a cold room.

Many nows stand strong in my memories — when Carol yesterday calmed me in my storm about getting the COVID vaccine, when I saw the face of my daughter just born two decades ago.

Another now emerges yesterday in a message from a friend who heard the doctor say “the cancer has progressed and you have three months,” such as a buddy of mine heard after he went into the ER at 3am. He messaged us that he will have hope until the last moment.

What keeps me, us going in all these nows?

Some turn to food.

I came upon some element of that in a quote I read earlier today. “Today me will live in the moment. Unless it is unless it is unpleasant. In which case me will eat cookies!”

That wisdom (?) comes from the Cookie Monster.

As for me, quiet, listening to God and Carol, prayer, writing, walking; and, of course, staying in a warm bed with flannel sheets and a down comforter!

A person who suffered, survived, thrived, and moved others for centuries, Paul, wrote to his community in Corinth in his second letter to them (6.2) “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

If today, God speaks to you, listen, heed, follow, and lead others to Him!