Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Canada...Go!

Okay.   First and foremost, let it be said that I am definitely NOT a sports fan.   I'm not funny about football, bonkers about basketball or buggy about baseball.   I'm one of those very few people who were secretly hoping the football lockout would last FOREVER! Good thing no one knows where I live, 'cause I would probably be lynched for that last remark!

However, if I were to follow a sport, I would hoot for hockey.   I don't know if it's because I like it more than the others or if I  just dislike it less.  Maybe it's because I actually went to a game....once...and liked it!  That's more than I can say for the other sports.   This does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that I would actually sit still and watch a hockey game on TV, it just means that I have a little more tolerance for it.

So you can imagine my horror when all of a sudden the Stanley Cup finals came on NBC and my remote was nowhere in sight.  How could I, a self respecting couch potato, not have my trusty remote by my side?   I made a mad leap across the room to where I thought it was...not there.  EEE GAD!  Hurry, the game is coming on.   I made another frenzied leap to a black object on the other side of the room.   That wasn't it either.  Making a mental note to self to clean my living room, I hurriedly turned over every object in sight.  By the time I found it, the national anthem had come on.

Well, I may not like sports, but I always stop for the "Stars Spangled Banner".  I can't help it.  It just makes my heart beat a little faster, and I stand a little straighter and I am proud to be an American.   I watched the faces of the players, they looked somewhat bored.   I watched the faces of the audience, they too looked like they were just trying to get thru the obligatory opening of the game.  It was just the same ole, same ole.   I didn't think anything about it until.....

Mark Donnelly came out and started singing "Oh Canada!"   He had barely gotten the first rich, deliberate notes out of his mouth when all of the Canadians in the audience were singing along with him.  WHAAAAAT???   Singing their national anthem? In an unabashed display of national pride?   Their song became so loud, that Mark actually stopped singing, spread his arms out, embraced the audience and those plucky Canadians kept right on singing without him!   I was so impressed and more than a little ashamed of the Americans in the audience.

Oh...don't tell me that it's common for Americans not to sing along.  To that I ask "Why?"   Don't tell me that the end notes of our national anthem are so high that they can break the voice boxes of the most accomplished singers.   To that I respond, "Canada's national anthem has notes swinging from the rafters also.  That doesn't stop anyone in Canada from singing along".   We Americans could learn a lesson here.

I grew up 50 miles from Bean Town which means I might still root for Boston...if I root at all. But there is a small part of my heart saying "Oh Canada...GO!  My hat is off to you!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Come, Holy Spirit!

We all know that Pentecost is the reason the Christian church in general, and all of the denominations in particular are what they are today.   Without the infilling of the Holy Spirit, the disciples would have remaind disciples and would never have become the great apostles, who thru the action of the Holy Spirit, started the greatest religion in the history of mankind.

Yet there is a different kind of Pentecost, the one that we can all experience in our own lives.  I'm not going to go all Charismatic and say that the only way we can be "saved" is to go the Pentecostal route of receiving the laying on of hands and then start praying in tongues to be formally declared "baptized in the Holy Spirit" according to the way it is understood by many modern day Christians. That is something quite wonderful for the people who are led in that direction. I don't criticize them or their journey in the Lord.  I only disagree with their belief that it is the only way.

There is a different and I believe more powerful kind of relationship that we can have with the Third Person of the Trinity.  One that is quiet, and deep like the still waters of Shiloh.  I could do my best to describe it, however, there is someone who voiced it more eloquently than I ever could.   She is St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi.   She was born in Florence in 1566.   She became a Carmelite nun and led of solitary life of prayer and self-denial.  She never heard of the laying on of hands or of praying in tongues as we know it today.  Yet, her prayer to the Holy Spirit is so powerful that it moves me to tears every time I read it:

You, the Word, are most wonderful, working through the Holy Spirit to fill the soul with yourself, so that it is joined to God, grasps God, tastes God and absorbs nothing but God.
 The Holy Spirit comes into the soul signed with the precious seal of the blood of the Word and of the slain lamb; or rather that very blood urges it to come, although the Spirit moves itself and desires to come.
This Spirit which moves in itself is the substance of the Father and of the Word, and it proceeds from the essence of the Father and the good will of the Word; it comes into the soul like a fountain, and the soul is immersed in it.  Just as two rushing rivers intermingle in such a way that the smaller loses its name and is absorbed into the larger, so the divine Spirit acts upon the soul and absorbs it.   It is proper that the soul, which is lesser, should lose its name and surrender to the Spirit, as it will if it turns entirely toward the Spirit and is united.
 This Spirit, dispenser of the treasures which lay in the lap of the Father, and the guardian of the deliberations which pass between the Father and the Son, flows into the soul so sweetly and imperceptibly that few esteem its greatness.
It moves itself by its own weight and lightness into all places that are fitting and disposed to receive it.  Its word is heard by all in the most attentive silence; through the impetus of love, the unmoved yet most perfect mover infuses itself into all.
 You do not, O Holy Spirit, stand still in the unmoved Father or in the Word, and yet you are always in the Father and in the Word and in yourself and in all blessed spirits and creatures.  You are friend of the created because of the blood shed by the only-begotten Word, who in the greatness of his love made himself the friend of the created.  You find rest in creatures who are prepared to receive you, so that in the transmission of your gifts they take on, through purity, their own particular likeness to you.  You find rest in those creatures who absorb the effects of the blood of the Word and make themselves a worthy dwelling pace for you.
Come, Holy Spirit.   Let the precious pearl of the Father and the Word's delight come.  Spirit of truth, you are the reward of the saints, the comforter of souls, light in the darkness, riches to the poor, treasure to lovers, food for the hungry, comfort to those who are wandering; to sum up, you are the one in whom all treasures are contained.
 Come! As you descended upon Mary, that the Word might become flesh, work in us through grace as you worked in her through nature and grace.
Come! Food of every chaste thought, fountain of all mercy, sum of all purity.
 Come! Consume in us whatever prevents us from being consumed in you.
Holy Spirit Rosary at Laude Arts and Gifts


Monday, June 6, 2011

Ya Say Ya Want a Revolution!!!!

Well...actually, we have already had a revolution...a GREAT revolution.   It is called the American Revolution and was started by the "Shot that was heard round the world".   I wonder if Sarah Palin knows that particular shot?   She clearly doesn't know very much about the Revolution that started this great country of ours.

On this anniversary of D Day, a day where so many brave Americans gave their lives to preserve freedom and democracy in the world,  I must say it frightens me that people in this country are thinking about electing someone to be President who doesn't even know the most basic facts about the beginnings of this country.   I think it's even more frightening that Palin's followers are trying to re-write some of the history of our country just to protect their favorite candidate.  And as an added touch of irony, one would think that a candidate who likes to fancy themselves one of the leaders of the newly founded Tea Party might want to more well versed when it comes to the Revolution.  

So now, it's time to get the facts straight.  Not to worry, I'm not going to list the facts.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow did a much better job of it than I ever could.   Now some of Palin's followers might try to claim that the poor man was under the influence of some kind of intoxicating substance.   He wasn't.   Wadsworth was high on the intoxicating facts of our historic revolution and wanted to immortalize just a small part of the revolution in a poem.  Oh...coincidentally...the poem is actually about Paul Revere
          The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
                           By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,–
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,–
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Round Two in the Battle of the Ahpids

Well, unfortunately, the battle did not go as planned.    I woke to find that my little ladybug soldiers were all dead.  Apparently, they were all dead when I purchased them.   I guess it's difficult to tell the difference between a dead army of ladybugs and a sleeping army of ladybugs when inspecting the troops thru a plastic container where they are being held captive.   However, when I woke this morning to find most of them belly up, there was no question about it.   I scooped them all up into their container and brought them back to the store for a proper burial.   I'm sure I heard taps being played somewhere in the back of the premises.

I was informed that the little critters had gotten too cold in the refrigerator the store kept them in.  I was given a new army of aphid eating insects and a new battle plan.  This time, instead of a sneak attack staged in the dead of night, we were going to make a bold strike in broad daylight.  After making absolutely sure that all the troops passed muster and were at the ready, I went home to launch the next phase of the battle.  I was to spritz my plant once more to provide a water source for my thirsty little army, once again station them at the base of the plant and let the boldest and hungriest lead the attack.

I did all this and the results were not promising.   Some of the ladybugs apparently heard distress calls from other plants, joined the air force and flew off to rescue those them.   Most of them decided that they weren't all that hungry and sought refuge in the shade of the plant pot.   At least they didn't fly away and at least, for now, they are still alive.  I heard a funny noise coming from the upper part of the plant.   It was the aphids snickering, making weird faces and shouting "Na, na, na, na, na!"   There is nothing so embarrassing as being given the raspberry by a group of uppity aphids.....  They'll git theirs, I promise.  The last laugh will be mine!

While I am still holding out hope for this latest battle plan, I find myself coming up with others in case this one is not successful.   My environmental ideals are still intact, but wavering.   If this little army should fail, I may consider an insecticide.   At least it will stay with the plant and will not die.

In all of this, I have learned some of the first lessons of war.   If the first battle is not won, draw back, re-group, and launch another attack.   Also, like chickens which should not be counted before they are hatched,  victories should not be proclaimed before they are won.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ladybug, Ladybug...Fly Away Home!

This post won't provide any profound or witty spiritual, political or cultural insights...not that I'm all that witty and profound.   This post is about one of the more simple joys in life.  Sometimes that's just what we need.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a beautiful, bright red Mandevilla.   I'm on a limited income, so $20.00 is a lot of money for me to spend on one plant.   However, I figured it would be one of my summer splurges.

Things went well for about a week, but then I noticed that the ends of my beautiful Mandevilla were dying and falling off just as they were forming buds.  I was alarmed to say the very least.  In truth, I must admit that I couldn't tell if I was more concerned about the life of my plant or the loss of my $20.00.   Either way, the war was on.

I spent the next week in a watchful vigil to discover who the invaders might be.   I didn't have to wait long.  On the third morning of my watch I found the ends of my plant covered with little yellow bugs.  "Aha!  I found you, you little buggers!"  I thought.  And the battle began.

I tried wiping them off with a tissue, that was marginally successful, but there were too many of them for me to do hand to hand combat with.   I noticed that the bugs disappeared after a strong rain storm, so I tired spritzing my plant.   I only succeeded in giving the critters a watering trough.   After taking a close look at them, I concluded they were aphids.   I know alcohol will kill aphids so I added that to my arsenal.   It did kill them, but it injured the plant.

In desperation, I trucked off to the nearby garden store to find out which pesticide would get rid of the little invaders.   I really don't like using poisons, and I really didn't want to be responsible for putting more toxins into the environment.   However, this was WAR!  I was willing to forsake my green, environmental  ideals to get rid of the encroaching aphids.

After explaining the problem to the clerk at the garden center she told me that I did indeed have aphids and like many intrepid enemies, they had armed themselves and were resistant to just about everything.   Everything, that is, except ladybugs!  "Ladybugs?"  I exclaimed in surprise.  Could it be as simple as that?  Would I really be able to win the war of the aphids with my environmental ideals intact?  Would I truly be able to save the life of my Mandevilla...and my $20.00 with lowly little ladybugs?   I was overjoyed.  I could use nature to combat nature.  Victory would me mine!  Yay!  

So I now have an army of aphid eating ladybugs billeted in my cooler.  I was told to keep them very cool during the day.  That will make them sleep.   Then, in the dead of night, the battle will begin.  I will steal outside to spritz my plant with copious amounts of water because my aphid eating soldiers will not only be hungry, they will be thirsty.  After that, when it is good and dark, I am to station them in their barracks at the base of my plant where they will continue to sleep until the first golden rays of the sun peak over the eastern horizon.

At this point, my little red friends will wake up to the most joyous sight they've seen in the short little lives...a plant covered in aphids.  They will feast to their hearts delight.  They will sink their ravenous little choppers into every aphid, larvae and egg that they can find. They will slurp up every drop of the water I have so lovingly sprayed on my plant the night before.  They will stay until the war is over and they have gorged themselves on aphids. Then they will move on to the save the life of the next aphid laden plant.   So anticipation of this exhilarating victory, I declare tomorrow, Sunday, June 5 to be the Feast Day of the Ladybugs!