Posts Tagged ‘thanks be to God’

Risen

February 29, 2016
MX Peacekeeper Missile

MX Peacekeeper Missile

This is the MX Peacekeeper missile, an easily recognizable landmark at the entrance to FE Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.  This particular model is no longer armed, having been deactivated through various treaties between the US and  Russia.  Thanks be to God that this weapon was never used in war, as it would have had a devastating effect on the world.  It carried ten warheads, each of them independently targeted, and could hit its intended targets within 100 yards even when fired from 10,000 miles away.  Fifty of these missiles were buried in bunkers around Cheyenne, making us a big, fat target for Russian missiles.

But I don’t want to write about the MX missile.

I saw the movie “Risen” the other day.  This film is about a Roman Tribune and his search for the corpse of the crucified Jesus.  The Tribune’s name is Clavius, and he is a Roman soldier through and through.  His boss is Pontius Pilate. Yes, that Pontius Pilate.  Pilate is deeply concerned that the Jews will steal the body of Jesus from his tomb, claim he has been resurrected, and cause all manner of trouble for Pilate as they rally the followers of Jesus in rebellion against the Romans.  By the way, the Emperor is on his way to Jerusalem from Rome, and Pilate doesn’t want any problems.  He tells Clavius, a seasoned warrior, to fix it.

Clavius, faithful soldier and good politician that he is, sets about to protect the corpse of Jesus by sealing the tomb and placing Roman guards at the entrance.  We know how this part of the story ends, and, while the guards don’t let anybody inside the tomb, nobody said anything about keeping Jesus from going outside.  In the morning on the third day, the body of Jesus is gone, the guards are in deep trouble, and Clavius now has to find the body of Jesus.

Clavius needs some help.  Earlier, in a conversation with Pilate, like two workers chatting at the water cooler, Pilate states that he prays to Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom.  He then asks Clavius to which God he prays, and Clavius responds with the obvious answer, Mars, the god of war.

Mars was who Clavius sought for help in his search. After several ghastly but failed attempts at finding the surely-decaying corpse of the Nazarene, Clavius goes off towards an indentation in a wall where there is a lit candle and a small sculpture of Mars, where he prays to the war god.  This was one of the most personally compelling scenes in the entire movie.  The camera shot of Mars was from directly above the face of the statue as it was pointed up, holding a sword and a shield.  It didn’t look all that different from any Roman soldier,  actually.  But Mars looked small, pitiful and entirely helpless.  Clavius was praying to a piece of stone, an impotent figure that would do him no good.

Which brings us to the MX missile.  This is our modern Mars.  We pray to the threat of unimaginable violence and destruction in the hopes that we can prevent unimaginable violence and destruction.  Clavius paid tribute to Mars by leaving coins in front of the statue’s feet.  We pay tribute in the billions of dollars thrown at the feet of our weapons.  Clavius prayed to an empty figure, one that could do nothing to help him in his search for Jesus.  We pray to our weapons, glorifying them and their use, painting heroic pictures of muscle-bound men wielding them in an attempt to destroy the enemy.  It doesn’t appear that we are much different today than Clavius was 2,000 years ago.

Clavius’ appeals to Mars got him no closer to Jesus.  Our appeals to our weapons don’t get us closer to Jesus, either.  And if we aren’t getting closer to him, it seems to me  that we are really moving farther and farther away from him.

I am no idealist, thinking we can just throw all these things away and all will be peaceful and quiet.  There are those in other places in the world that don’t like those of us in the US, and they are itching to do us great harm.  It seems to me that we – the human race “we” – have really blown it with the instructions Jesus gave us.  At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus, just before ascending to the Father, tells the Apostles “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  

That’s a pretty clear message of what we are supposed to do.  It doesn’t say anything about using our scarce resources to build weapons that can kill hundreds of millions of people, unleash forces so destructive that nothing can survive, or pay enormous tribute to our modern Mars.  Yet that’s what we do.  Our world sees far too much anger, violence and death due to our worship of Mars, in spite of the fact that we were clearly shown the way to peace.

I highly recommend “Risen.”  It is well written and superbly acted.  I was emotionally overcome in one scene in particular, which I won’t tell you about for fear of spoiling it for you.  There were not any surprises regarding the whereabouts of the corpse of Jesus, because there was no corpse.  In order to have a corpse, there must be a death – without a Resurrection.

I am thankful that the MX missile is now standing harmless at the entrance to the Base.  Would that the rest of the weapons that threaten our world become museum pieces as well.

 

 

Hidden treasure

February 22, 2016

 

Our Lady of Peace

Our Lady of Peace

One of the benefits of working in a chancery is that we are surrounded by religious art.  Some of it, as you might imagine, is pretty good.  Case in point is this tapestry.

This photo is just a small section of a good sized tapestry.  I have never known where it came from, even though I have admired it for years and asked my co workers what they knew about it.

Tonight I was getting ready to leave, last one out, when I looked at it and it just caught my eye as a good subject for a shot. It hangs on a wall and is just outside the edge of direct light from a fixture in the ceiling.  It was a little too dark to get the details I wanted, so I took it off the wall and set it in the direct light.

Lo and behold, an envelope was taped to the back of the frame.  I looked inside and there were 2 things; a picture of the tapestry from a catalog, and a holy card from the funeral of a woman.  My guess is that this was a donation from the woman’s family to the Church, and she has gone unknown to me until tonight.

What a wonderful gift to find this generous woman’s legacy in our office!  This tapestry is so appropriately named, as it brings great peace just looking at it.  Our Blessed Mother, in all her splendor.  What joy!

Thank you to this woman for her gift.  I will prayer for the repose of her soul, and thank God for her generosity and love of our Church.

January 13, 2016
Cosmic accident?

Cosmic accident?

I was in the middle of a discussion last night with some of the most literate, well-educated men I have ever met.  We were discussing a book titled The Privileged Planet, a fascinating tale of how an incredible number of things had to come together to provide for all the things required to support carbon based life, aka human beings.

The point of the book, and the man leading this discussion, was that this didn’t all just happen by accident.  Our world, our universe, isn’t simply a random happening. Rather, beginning with the Big Bang and carrying on for the next 13 billion years, the universe continues to expand, and the improbable story of human existence came into being and flourished.

For some reason that I cannot figure out, brilliant men are unable to even acknowledge the possibility that God could have a hand in this, much less that he exists at all.  One of the group called it a “myth,” and then proceeded to tell us that there was just no way that with all that space out there, there simply must be other planets that support carbon life forms similar to humans.

Yet there is no evidence for it.  None.  We can say we just haven’t found it yet, which would be accurate, but it’s also accurate that there is not even a hint at it.  So these bright guys are willing to place their faith in something that has no evidence at all, based upon their conclusion that, due to the sheer size of the universe, there simply must be other planets with life as we know it.

Think about this for a few minutes – there is lot’s of evidence of the existence of God, and there a billions of people who believe in His existence.  There is no evidence whatsoever of life forms on other planets, even after many years and billions of dollars spent looking for it. Given an opportunity to believe in an evidence-based God and no-evidence of extra terrestrial life, they choose the aliens.

Every time I look in the sky and see the wonder and the beauty of creation, I am dumbfounded how others can look at the same sky and fail to see the hand of God in it.  I understand that orange clouds at sunset are functions of light shining through prisms and reflecting off water vapor in clouds, but when we look at them and see beauty, the fact that we see beauty is, in my mind, greater evidence of the existence of God than the orange clouds themselves.

I’m grateful to God for all that he gives me, which is everything I have.  This sunset, between Douglas and Casper, Wyoming, was an awesome gift.

This world an its inhabitants are no accident.

January 8, 2016
Put a head on it

Put a head on it

The snow returned to Cheyenne last  night, giving us a fresh, new blanket of powder in 15 degree cold.  As I have stated in the past, the wind in southeast Wyoming can have devastating effects on just a few inches of snow, turning it into the stuff of whiteouts and deadly crashes.  Just a little snowfall can turn I-80 into a zone of destruction and terror.

We live as much in town as you can get – just a couple blocks from the capitol building.  Here it’s quite different than on the interstate, or even just on the edges of the city, as the wind does not typically blow and cause all the drifting and  misery so many of our friends must endure. When it snows, it comes straight down, as though you were in the middle of a Hallmark Christmas movie.

I love the snow, and so does Sherry.  This planter is on our front steps, and the frothy head on it is the result of a day’s worth of snow fall.  We actually got a fair amount more than this shows, but it never ceases to amaze me how incredibly beautiful snow can make things.

It’s easy to curse the snow, especially if you have to work or drive in it.  Yet when we go out at night, we get to see things like this that tell us that with all that is not right in the world, here is a little slice of calm.

It’s still coming down, straight down, and it is just glorious!  Thank you God for the snow.

 

Snow Day

December 15, 2015

20151215-HP9A0026The National Weather Service has been warning us that this was coming.  With a track record like theirs, however, to actually have a pile of snow land in Cheyenne was not considered a sure thing.  But today they were right.

We don’t really get a lot of snow here.  Occasionally we will get dumped on, but it melts or blows away, and much of winter is just cold, brown and miserable.  Every once in a while, though, it turns lovely.

Not everyone feels this way about snow. It seems the older we get (We = me and Sherry) that the more grousing we hear about winter weather.  Sherry and I love the snow, and we have talked many times about retiring to a place that had a real winter.  Like the ones we had in Wisconsin.

Growing up in South Milwaukee, we learned about snow.  It typically showed up in November, then hung around until March.  Rather than go through the snow- melt – snow process that we have in Cheyenne, it missed the melt step in the cycle.

All winter log, the combination of Dad blowing all the snow to the little grassy spot between the sidewalk and the street and the city snow plows pushing it in the same place, we often had mounds of the stuff that would reach 6 feet high, making it an adventure pulling out of the driveway. We never knew if we were going to get whacked as we hit the street, because we couldn’t see what was coming from either side.

All winter long, we would play in the snow. Sledding down Miller Hill, Lady Finger, and an assortment of places too scary to be named.  It was always a challenge to hit the snow fence that kept us from the traffic with our sleds, seeing if we had enough residual energy to break the wooden slats in the fence with the metal fronts of our sleds.  Hours were spent going down those hills at breakneck speed, then trudging back up to do it all over again.

Miller Hill had three runs that melded into one about halfway down. Games of chicken were common, with three sled drivers all starting at the same time – one from each side and one from the middle – seeing who could get the the common crossing first and how close we could come to a fiery wreck before going down the big part of the run.

The middle run was the steepest, and it started at the railroad track at the top.  To do this properly, you had to lay down on the sled, face first, then hook your feet over the tracks while hanging onto the sled, dangling at 45 degrees down hill.  The combination of lifting your feet off the track plus gravity equaled a hundred mile-per-hour run into the face of death itself, ending at the aforementioned snow fence.  Cracking a slat was a coveted result.

Well, maybe there’s a little exaggeration in those tales.  But not much, at least to a 10 year-old boy.  Spending 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon with my friends, in 15 degree weather, flying down an icy hill propelled only by momentum were some of the best times of my childhood.

And we never wore helmets.

My love of snow today is a result of all that.  Now it’s snow shoeing, cross country skiing, or watching it come down from the comfort of my living room.  But I still relive those memories every time the white stuff blankets the ground, and I relish every minute of it.

Thank you God for the gift of snow!  And thanks to the National Weather Service for getting this one right!

November 25, 2015

I was praying this morning when I noticed the sun starting to show itself.  I thought that with a storm coming in, the sunrise might be pretty special.  When I looked outside, I could see it was something special.

When the colors of the sky are so intense, you get a very small window of opportunity to capture that intensity.  I grabbed my camera, my tripod and went out on our front steps in my bathrobe and started shooting.

Sometimes we have the good fortune to be prepared for these events. Sometimes we have to make do.  I would rather have taken these shots with some interesting foreground, and plenty of time to choose my settings and carefully line up everything for the perfect shot.  However, what was presented to me was my neighborhood.

It’s a beautiful place, really, populated by some of the best people I know.  When I look at this shot, it looks like a lot of nice shots of magnificent sunrises.  But the thing that makes it so very unique, so very close to my heart, is that this is where we live, and we are blessed beyond measure with the people who live nearby.

I don’t usually shoot photos in my bathrobe, but you have to take what life gives.  Thanks be to God that he gives us so very, very much, and right off my front steps.IMG_1412

November 23, 2015

Tonight at Lions Park in Cheyenne.  The sunset, the clouds, the geese flying around was incredible.  I really don’t have anything to add to this, except thanks be to God for his gifts!Lions park


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