The Border

The last great war had ended seventy-five years before, ushering in a period of peace and unity across the continent.  A loose federation of the old warring states had been a success, and trade and cultural exchanges were fostered.

But then nationalism again began to rise.  It was subtle at first, but some groups especially those who saw themselves as “dispossessed” within their own kingdoms began to call for the return of the old borders.

In Westland, political agitation eventually prevailed and the Archduke was forced to declare that the old pre-war frontier would be re-militarised.  Soon Highland, and Middlestat followed suite.

On the Westland-Middlestat border freshly mobilised troops began to arrive.  What they found was green woodland untouched by conflict for three quarters of a century.  But the clues of the bad old days were abundant.

“Okay Lads,” the sergeant shouted at his platoon of fresh recruits.  “See this here treeline?  We are going to dig trenches here.”

“Sergeant,” Smithson called out. “What are these stone troughs doing here?”

“According to the old defense plan, they are for oil.  We need to put archery pits in front of each one, and if we are attacked, we dip our arrows into the oil and light them before firing at the Middies.”

“Is that what they did ‘last time’?” Douglas asked.

“Well my Gramps said it worked a treat back in the day,” the sergeant said, a little less than confidently.  He looked at the young lads he was leading, the moss-covered and cracked stone tanks, and then at the beautiful shady woods before him.

“What was so wrong with a little cultural exchange?” he thought to himself.

“Okay Lads,” he said coming back to himself, “Let’s get digging.”

 

Padre

 

Thursday photo prompt: Shade #writephoto

The Bouquet

Image may contain: flower and plant

Will walked Alice from his car to her flat.  It had been a wonderful date, and the relationship was really starting to bloom.  She unlocked the door, and he prepared to give her a good night kiss, when she invited him in.

“I would love to,” he said.  “But I really shouldn’t stay long.  Work tomorrow.”

She loved that he was a little nervous and shy around her.  He was refreshing in his “old fashioned” values.  Most guys had tried to make their moves on her during first dates, but Will had been respectful, gentle, and above all – didn’t pressure or rush her.  “What was it?” she thought. “Two months and nine dates?”

“A cuppa?” she asked, as she pushed the door open.

“That would be lovely,” he said.

As she stepped into her little flat she saw a huge bouquet of flowers in a vase on her coffee table.

“What in the world?” she exclaimed.  “Did you have something to do with this? And how did they get them into my flat?” she continued as she pointed at the flowers.

He immediately made a confused and defensive gesture and said, “I have no idea how it got there.”

She looked around the flat, and then silently gestured for him to follow her.  She picked up an umbrella from the stand by the door, and stepped into the bathroom.  She then turned the umbrella so she could hold it like a bat and nodded to the shower curtain.

Will threw open the curtain, as she prepared to strike, but the bath was empty.

She then pointed towards her bedroom.  This time he led the way.  He slowly opened the door and looked around.  She then followed him, umbrella in hand, as he opened her wardrobe and then looked under the bed.

“There’s no one here,” he said.  “Is there a card or anything?”

They returned to the lounge and she checked all around the vase.  “Nothing,” she said definitively.

“That’s just weird,” Will observed.

“Will, I am really spooked.  I would really feel a lot better is you stayed here with me tonight,” she said as she shoved the florist’s receipt deeper into her jeans pocket.

 

Padre

Story Starter Challenge:  “I have no idea how it got there.”

Genre Writing Challenge: Romantic Mystery

 

One of Those Days

54279434_2389369868013703_4419963033430786048_n

Google Images

Felix and Mittens were minding their own business, checking out the bins, and generally making the most of their nine lives.

As they rounded the corner onto Bond Street they came face to face with Whiskers, a nine-year-old alley dweller with a mangled left ear, blind right eye, and a temperament that puts the “temper” into the word.

“Sorry, Mr. Whiskers,” the two tabbies apologised and began to slowly back away.  It was too late however.  The trespass into the territory of “Mr. W” had been made.  There was only one thing to do: run!

And run they did.  Felix shot out as fast as he could towards home and the safety of the cat flap, but Mittens got cut off by some blonde human in a SUV and had to make a sudden detour to the left.  He was running the fastest he had in his entire two years of life, but “Mr. W” was on his tail.

Then, there in front of him was a fence.  It higher that any he had cleared before, but it was his last chance of escape.  He coiled and made a springing leap.  He barely got his front paws onto the top rail, but he had done it.  He landed and immediately turned to check if Whiskers had followed.

“He’s gone,” Mittens said to himself.  “What a relief!”

He then turned around to an unbelievable sight.  “It’s just one of those days,” he sighed,  as he faced the entire Barkhaus Gang.

Padre

Photo Challenge #260

Nailed to the Cross

images

Pastor Joe drew his Resurrection Day reflections on the importance of the cross.  While his starting premise was a solid standard reading of the Gospel account of the crucifixion, he took his message in a powerful direction.

Reflecting on Galatians 5:24 (“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”), Brother Joe gave us a wonderful personal testimony of where he was when he returned to God.

What I found the most moving was his visually powerful demonstration of the transformational power of the cross.  He used a large wooden cross and upon it nailed tags with “the old self” tendencies on them.   Words which many can relate such as Anxiety, Fear, Lust, and Death, were systematically (literally) and symbolically nailed to the cross.

But this act of illustration had yet another twist.  Brother Joe then reminded us that the old self died on the cross with Jesus, and with His triumph we were transformed.  He then flipped the tags to read such things as Peace, Righteousness, and Life.

We are indeed alive and transformed by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and by the hope and glory of His resurrection three days later.  What a timely reminder on Easter Day, that the triumph over death is a triumph to all aspects of the old lost self.

Let each of us remember that today.

 

Padre

 

Praise to the Three in One

Trinity

 

Hallelujah, to the Three in One,

hallelujah –

 

Blessed be the Alpha, in whom at the beginning all was made

Blessed to the Emmanuel who came to walk with us

Blessed be to the Omega in whom it was finished on the cross

Blessed be the Comforter who with us stayed

 

Hallelujah, to the Three in One,

hallelujah –

 

Praise to the Father – On His throne

Praise to the Spirit who guides us amidst life’s strife

Praise to the Son who for us did atone

Praise to the Three in One that gives us life

 

Hallelujah, to the Three in One,

hallelujah –

 

Trinity a word in the Bible not to be found

But single terms of reality are not the test

But God’s three part nature in that book does abound

And at Jordan River all were manifest

 

Hallelujah, to the Three in One,

hallelujah –

 

Praise to the Father – On His throne

Praise to the Spirit who guides us amidst life’s strife

Praise to the Son who for us did atone

Praise to the Three in One that gives us life

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anglesey Abbey

imageedit_1_3135060317 (1).jpg

Down the Garden Path

Anglesey Abbey is a  former priory about five miles outside of Cambridge. With the closure of the monasteries, the house was robbed of stone and roofing, but was later bought and restored.  and it became the estate of the Fairhaven Family.  The house and its grounds are now owned by the National Trust.

imageedit_2_7252802271 (1).jpg

Approaching House

We have made a few trips to the gardens over the years and usually they provide a variety of beautiful blooms.   Some trails in the right season are covered with bluebells and early spring has daffodils.   Our most resent visit was a little disappointing as it was post daffodil (mostly wilting heads) and pre-bluebell.

imageedit_2_4664310295 (1)

Bluebells from previous visit

The gardens also have a large number of statues which make for some interesting explorations in their own right.  So, despite the seasonal variations on the blooms, the statuary is a constant to enjoy.

The shop and snack bar are in a modern annex near the entrance hall, and most all of the usual National Trust fare and gifts can be found there.

Padre

Caring For Those Who Care: Reflections from the Sermon on the Mount (Part One)

New figures from age uk show “invisible but invaluable army” of the oldest carers saving state billions

image: Mature Times

So you are a carer.  It is a noble undertaking, and one that all too often is a thankless job.  Most of us who are or who have been carers do it as an act of love for the ones we hold dear.  That is in no way to suggest that it is a selfish act.  It is the outgrowth and extension of our love.  For some the motivation is an even broader altruism.  Jesus said that the second greatest commandment of the Law is to Love your neighbour.

Matthew 22:36 reads, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

For those of us who are the people of God, our love and service to Him is upmost.  But Jesus here shows us that we also serve him through the people we serve.

Mother Teresa on several occasions said that when she helped the ill, homeless, or orphaned she was helping Christ in disguise (Matthew 25: 35-40).  This attitude is one to be applauded.

But being a carer is not always easy.  It can be emotionally draining to see one you care for declining.  It is tiring as rest and sleep patterns can be impacted.  I have personally had moments in which I felt a failure because I couldn’t see that I was making a difference.  The pain and fatigue of my wife is beyond my control.  God needed to reassure me on this point.  It is my “job” to care.  It is He who has the situation in hand.

This message came to me in a random posting on Facebook.  I was feeling helpless, as mentioned above.  Then someone posted Jeremiah 29:11,

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.”

All my despair was not in His plan.  I needed to trust Him.  It lifted me to see this.

I then came upon the Sermon on the Mount and looked at it with different eyes.  Okay, theologically the applications that I am going to draw are not “primary” meanings, but I put them forward for carers to ponder when the caring is starting to tire you or becoming a bit much.

I will focus today on only two verses from Matthew 5,

³“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus had told His squabbling disciples that the one who would be greatest was the one who made himself the least.  Phrased in another way He also said that the first shall be last, and the last first.  The servant is the true leader or master.  This humility of spirit has its own rewards! “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

For carers humility of spirit is natural.  We lay down our “self” or at least selfishness to aid and prioritise someone else.  When you think this (I know it seldom comes to this because we love) is “thankless,” God’s own word tells us that it is recognised! Not only recognised, but rewarded: “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

The following verse is also an encouragement.  ⁴”Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  Look at the Facebook example above.  When we find sorrow at the declining or loss of a loved one, God is on hand.  “They will be comforted.”  I was by a single verse posted randomly, but it showed God did indeed have a plan.  He comforted me in my grief.  Mourning is natural when we are suffering loss.  It need not be just the loss of life, it may be of time, intimacy, or of routines we have become accustomed.  God honours the grief.  He honours the caring we do. He cares for the carers.

I will return to this theme and work my way through the rest of the Beatitudes and how they can encourage us carers.  Till then let’s remember we are loved and that our caring is appreciated by those we love, and by Him who loves us.  

He cares for the carers.

Padre

The Find

imageedit_3_4289379216

“Are you sure this is it?”  David asked uncertainly.

“The binding looks right, and all three volumes are here,” Lois observed.

“But how will we know for sure?”  David again questioned.

“If there is a broken ‘F’ on page forty-seven of Volume One, and a ‘nud’ instead of an ‘und’ on page one-eleven of Volume Three, then we have found first editions.”

“Should we check?” David queried.

“Not right away.  We don’t want to seem too interested.  They might put the price up,” Lois warned.  “You start on the books on the other shelf.  Just casually leaf through them, and I will do the same over here.  We will work our way to the Dietrichs.”

They began the slow process of “perusal” and a half an hour later they had confirmed their suspicion that they had found the only complete set of first edition Dietrich’s Philosophie known to be extant outside the Universität Leipzig.

The couple took the books to the counter of the small Prague antique shop.

“Do you speak English?” Lois asked.

“Yes, yes,” the elderly woman said.

“How much for these, please?” Lois asked.

The woman gave them a quick look along the binding and said, “Two thousand Koruna.”

“Is that your final price?” David cut in. “How about fifteen hundred?”

In the end they settled at eighteen hundred.

The couple calmly left the shop with their new purchases wrapped in brown paper.

“I can’t believe it,” Lois said with evident glee.  “First editions, and for only about sixty quid!”

Back in the shop, the proprietor called to her son, “Jan, get another set of the Dietrichs from the store room and grab a facsimile Kant while you’re at it.”

 

Padre

 

Sunday Writing Prompt- “Choose an Antique”