31 October 2011

All Hallows Eve and the Image of God

Greetings Dear Reader,

As we approach the Thanksgiving season I need to focus on how I am truly showing my gratitude for all that God provides for me.  Do I see his image created in me?  When the common world revolved much more around the liturgical calendar this day was a day to hallow the memory of those who have already passed.  One of the things done in Britton was a recitation of the 129th Psalm. 

A song for going up to worship. "From the time I was young, people have attacked me..." “From the time I was young, people have attacked me, but they have never overpowered me. They have plowed my back like farmers plow fields. They made long slashes like furrows."  The LORD is righteous. He has cut me loose from the ropes that wicked people tied around me. Put to shame all those who hate Zion. Force them to retreat. Make them be like grass on a roof, like grass that dries up before it produces a stalk. It will never fill the barns of those who harvest or the arms of those who gather bundles. Those who pass by will never say to them, "May you be blessed by the LORD" or "We bless you in the name of the LORD.

The purpose is to prepare one for All Saints Day.  This year I approach All Hallows Eve as a personal preparation for a month of Worship.  I have so much to be thankful for and I want that gratitude to be hallowed, or holy.  I want to trace every blessing back to the place of God in my life and to his image in me.  I have written about the good that I can do being sourced from God and I wish to deepen that connection. 

Many have spent the weekend celebrating without substance in the celebration.  I am not a prude and do not think that celebrating is wrong.  What concerns me is attention to the celebration without attention to the one to be celebrated.  I have heard people that matter to me talk about the drinking they did, the prizes they won for costumes, and how much fun they had.  I am happy for the success of those I love.  I do not begrudge anyone the success they enjoy but where is the recognition of the hallowing of ourselves to respect the image of God in our lives.

I must come to the place where I hallow myself so that every act of thanksgiving is a celebration of the image that God has created of himself in me.  We are so besieged by the demands of a world that willingly leaves God behind.  His image in us yearns to be seen in the world and world sorely needs to see it.  Over the month of November I will focus on seeing the image of God in my life and trying to focus on living that image.

For today I will set myself apart.  I will hallow myself in reverence to all that have come before me.  So many have been suffered so that I can live freely the image of God; the Imago Dai in my life.  It is vital that I become more intent on this.  Perhaps delving deeper into what it means will make the journey richer for me and allow me to share that image with others more clearly.  Journey with me if you wish.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

29 October 2011

Forgiveness Hypocrisy

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have been struggling this week with forgiving someone.  This individual repeatedly is rude, arrogant, and inconsiderate of others.  He focuses on his own needs above the needs of others and refuses to truly contribute.  I cannot change him and I cannot remove him from the equation. So this week I have been struggling with my attitude about him.

The real problem here is me.  You see I cannot think of a one of his sins that I have not also committed.  It is not my place to change him.  It is not my place to marginalize him.  It is my duty to love him and do whatever I can to reflect Christ into his life.  I think that this is the hidden snare that we fall prey to when we do not readily forgive others.

Refusing to forgive others says that my sin is more forgivable than theirs.   I count on Christ to forgive me but he clearly prayed for the Father to forgive us as we forgive others.  That is vital in my approach to forgiveness.  I dare not ask God to forgive my sin and hold another’s against him. 

I am resolved to deal with this properly but thinking through it gives me pause.  I must see everyone in the light of worthy of forgiveness.   I am responsible to forgive no matter how I feel.  I am responsible to set an example in this.  Failure to forgive hurts me and others.  I am to do no harm.  Christ will provide for my healing from the hurts of others.  I need only obey.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

27 October 2011

Night Blooming Cereus

Greetings Dear Reader,

We have a skunk.  He is not a pet but he has graced our home with his presence for the last four years.  I have only seen him a few times. In the summer I smell him as he wanders the yard hugging the edge of the house.  In winter I see the pads of his passage in the snow.  We have named him Cereus after the night blooming flower; one of my favorite.  He even has his own Face Book page.

I think that skunks are very adorable creatures.  He is not a nuisance and the smell is tolerable.  A couple of recent events have brought Cereus to the forefront in our lives.  The first is the arrival of some other wildlife in the neighborhood. 

A pair of Great Horned Owls has taken up residence in a large tree near our house.  I also find these creatures amazing.  I have taken up a seat on our stoop at night a few times to watch them.  They call back and forth and I saw one take a rabbit right in our yard.  The difficulty is that the Great Horned Owl is a skunk’s primary predator.  For Cereus sake I hope that the owls did not see him as a bonus to moving into the neighborhood.  I would prefer both the owls and Cereus to have long and enjoyable lives.

The second event that propelled Cereus into the spotlight occurred last week.  Our friend Present visited.  She brought her young dog, Josephine.  Joe decided to introduce herself to Cereus.  Cereus decided to pee in her face.  The smell permeated the house, Present, Christmas, and Josephine as well as my car.  I was nowhere near the event but the pungent aroma invaded the office where I was writing. 

This is the first time since Cereus has joined the menagerie around our house that he has caused any difficulty.  A friend told me to get rid of him.  I think not.  Just because he caused a problem is not a reason to disavow him.  He is a beautiful creature who brings the reality of some truths to light.  Why should I reject a part of creation just because I find it displeasing in some way?  In four years of residence he has only caused this one problem.  It was not his fault; he was only doing what he was created to do.

I think that Cereus is a treasure and has lessons to teach me about my own flaws or even the things that others see as flaws that are actually are part of who I am.  Josephine is OK thought a bit orange from the tomato bath.  Christmas and Present recovered.  My car is all better thanks to Fabreeze®.  All said it was a worthy adventure and reminds me that just because friends can be inconvenient at times is no reason to love them any less.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."         

26 October 2011

An Absence Always Present

Greetings Dear Reader,

As I have traveled over the last fifty plus years I have made many friends.  I have wonderful children and an amazing Grandson.  I have also lost some friends along the way.  My sin and some bad choices have cost me some friends that I miss dearly.  From time to time I find my mind dwelling on these no longer friends and there is pain there.  I have reached out to some of them to seek forgiveness and restoration but they have not reached the place yet where they are willing.

There is a singular loss that is always present with me.  In the early morning when I am alone with my thoughts and gearing up to write it is there.  When I encounter the right kind of person I feel the absence of this person.  Everything that brings me joy brings her to mind.  When I delight in my other children I think of her.  The absence that is always present with me is that of my daughter Rachel. 

I often wonder how my life would be different had she lived.  I know that the pain of her loss added to my making some poor choices.  I know that it damaged others in ways they have not yet worked through.  I do not know why God allowed this loss.  I do not know the reasons behind it or the purpose it serves in my journey toward God. 

What I do know is the constant presence of her absence pushes me deeper toward faith.  Her loss forced me to choose at a very deep level if I believed that God knew what he was doing.  I will probably never know why Rachel is not physically here.  I may never see the rhythm of God’s plan for the universe in her loss but I refuse to dishonor her by faltering in my faith over it.

I have many failures along the way that I am glad she never experienced.  I am more pleased that her loss and ever present absence pushes me to deeper faith.  Sometimes I see a smile that I think might be like hers.  Sometimes I wonder what she would be doing at her current age.  The pain of her loss, however, spurs me toward Christ.  It is all that I can do to honor her and I will.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

25 October 2011

On Being Dust

Greetings Dear Reader,

When I was very young and there were true hippies in the world we had a salmon coloured hurculon fabric sofa.  It was itchy and uncomfortable but it was what we had.  Its position in the living room allowed the afternoon sun to cascade across one end of it creating a perfect sleeping place for the cat or the women in my household.  What it provided for me was a simple fascination that I can be mesmerized by to this day.

When I had the couch to myself and the sunlight would move across the hardwood floor to the sofa I would anticipate how it would reflect off of the salmon hurculon and the intermittent golden threads in the fabric.  Then I would pound on the sofa sending hoards of tiny dust motes into the sunlit air.  I would watch them dance in the sunlight transformed from mere dust to dancing gold.

I saw such beauty in those specs of minute flotsam and jetsam.  The light turned dust into gold and I found great value in the transformation.  Years later I was reminded of this by a man from the seventeenth century.  He too had lain dormant for many decades and then rediscovered.  His writing gathered dust, was attributed to others, and sold as common fare in used condition.  Then the sun fell upon his works and they were returned to the world. Here is a sample:

Centuries of Meditations – First Century - 25
Your enjoyment of the World is never right, till you so esteem it, that everything in it, is more your treasure than a King's exchequer full of Gold and Silver.  And that exchequer yours also in its place and service. Can you take too much joy in your Father's works? He is Himself in everything. Some things are little on the outside, and rough and common, but I remember the time when the dust of the streets were as pleasing as Gold to my infant eyes, and now they are more precious to the eye of reason. – Thomas Traherne

Traherne Windows, Hereford Cathedral
It is just this perspective that makes us so valued by Christ.  We are dust.  We are the stuff of cast off as a result of our sin.  I am just dust, but then Christ shines his light in my life and I am able through him to do beautiful and amazing things.  It is not I that am golden but rather what I become in the light of Christ that can be radiant.  Without Christ I am still only dust.  He grants that dust all the riches of creation and all the riches of his kingdom as well. 

In my pursuit of Christ and his likeness this is the gold I take for my journey.  It is the way in which I can pay the price of hardship and hurt.  In this simple truth he has already filled my day with the gold of his creation.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

23 October 2011

Free Danish

Greetings Dear Reader,

One of the perks of teaching or learning on Saturday mornings at my school are that one of the local bakeries provides us with excellent Danishes, muffins, and scones.  These are not just good.  They are some of the best I have ever had.  I have eaten lunch at the actual bakery and they craft amazing sandwiches as well.  One of the bakery’s signature items is spicy cheese bread.  It is delicious.  The bakery is an all-around a great place to get good food.  Each Saturday they deliver a few dozen pastries which the school pays for and leaves our free for those teaching and learning.  I guess I am trying to drive home the point that they are both amazing pastries and that they are free to our students. 

I have worked two Saturdays in October and on both occasions have witnessed some things that troubled me.  On the first Saturday I worked I listened to three students sit around the table full of free pastries and complain about the selection.  Apparently the Danish to muffin ratio was not to their liking.  The other thing that I saw that troubled me was an individual taking three different flavor muffins.  He took a bite from each one then kept the one he apparently liked and threw the other two in the trash.

Between the complaints and the wasting is an attitude that I know I sometimes must fight against.  The pastries are free so anything but gratitude for what is given is wrong.  Also, with the freedom of the gift comes the responsibility to be considerate of others. 

I so often build expectations around the things others do out of kindness for me.  I turn the gift into a duty or become picky about what I expect from the gift.  This is selfish and greedy.  I need to see anything that is done for me as a gift and not expect anything from others.  It is the expectation that is the sin.  I am the one who is indebted because another has done me a kindness.  I am the one required to show humble gratitude for what another has done for me. If I do this then both giver and receiver are acting out of humility and this creates a beautiful resonance.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

22 October 2011

Litanies of Pain

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have noticed a pattern in the behaviour of some individuals that concerns me.  It seems there is a growing trend to attach a litany to every encounter.  When talking with someone about a computer issue, the individual actually gave me a list of medical reasons why looking up the answer to a computer question in the book that dealt with that issue was impossible.

The trend seems to be that any difficult task that goes unfulfilled needs a litany of excuses attached to it.  Very often it seems that the difficulties in life are an acceptable reason to not do the things we are supposed to do.  Litanies of past pain become the justification for not keeping our word, improving our situation, or doing our best. 

These litanies can be about medical issues, social drama, or personal woes.  They seem to take on a life of their own and become an individual’s story instead of a footnote on the journey to better things.  The litany of pain becomes the song instead of the minor movement it should be in contrast to all that we have that is good.

As I journey down the path I have developed some minor maladies.  The last few years have had some very painful moments that continue to plague me.  I have been keeping track of how often my mind tries to get me to focus on those things instead of being who I can be in Christ.  The contrast is amazing.  When I shove aside the desire to let an excuse overrule me giving my best it is a very pleasing thing.  When I allow something small or something past to hinder me from giving my best I always regret it.

I acknowledge that people carry long term hurt and fear.  I find though that one can acknowledge and validate those things without seeing them as hindrances to future success.  I know that as I age I must guard against developing my own litanies of pain.  No one wants to hear them and they detract from my ability to see and reflect Christ.  I cannot allow yesterday to use up today.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

21 October 2011

When Anger has Lease

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes things make me very angry.  Recently I was assured that a specific thing would be done that is important to my job.  That thing was then reversed after my waiting for it to occur before moving forward on an important task.  I do not mean to be vague but the details are not as important as the situation.  I was very angry; so angry that I had to withdraw from the situation to regain my focus.

I have been thinking long and hard lately about Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians to “be angry and sin not.”  What does it take for me to do both well?  The first thing is to put anger in perspective.  Like any other emotion, it is allowed to live but must not dominate.  Feelings are what they are.  With feelings I must be very careful to evaluate them properly.  For me that means a series of logical questions.

First I must assess why I feel as I do.  Feelings result from my own attitudes and positions on issues.  If I feel anger then it is as a result of my position on what event has occurred.  There are times when it is wrong for me to feel angry.  If I think that others should move at my schedule and become angry because the person in line in front of me moves slower than I wish, then I am wrong.  If someone gives me their word and breaks it, then my anger is justified.  I must first determine if my anger is justified. 

If my anger is valid then I must be careful to honestly feel it without doing something wrong.  I must still treat everyone involved with love, kindness, and I must maintain my humility.  I think that humility may be the key.  Even if I am wronged it is my obligation to move in the direction of peace as soon as possible.  I cannot control what others do.  I cannot control the hearts and minds of men.  What I can control is my attitude and response.

No matter how right I am my focus must be on Christ and how to emulate him whilst honestly feeling my anger.  If my attitude is that anger must push me toward making peace and tempering my pride then anger is useful and for a time proper.  So on those rare occasions when anger is the product of my being right and not the product of my pride it must fuel my passion for doing right. 

You see for me my response to justified anger must be one of releasing control.  If something has been done to me that is wrong, I can only control my response not what others do to me.  I must embrace that truth that God is in control and that his command to not sin in my anger has a purpose.  I must accept that it is my opportunity to forgive and to move on in love and grace.  Anger does have lease at times in my life.  I must assure that the lease is very restrictive and has a very short term.  Like the wild beast that it is, I must keep my anger on a short lease.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

20 October 2011

The Price of Bananas

Greetings Dear Reader,

We have a local servo store that uses bananas as a loss leader.  The store prices bananas five to seven cents lower than the local stores so that you will come in and buy them.  The hope is that you will also buy other things there.  It works on me.

Last summer there was a spike in banana prices and the aforementioned convenience store raised the price of bananas for the first time in years.  The price went from twenty-five cents a pound to thirty-five cents a pound.  This is still below the price at the grocery store by a fair margin.  I remember half joking and half seriously complaining about this change in price.

A friend of mine in Australia was commenting on the price of bananas earlier today.  It really put things in perspective for me.  You see I forget sometimes how easy Americans have it even compared to other developed countries.  My friend was excited because she was getting bananas for $7.95 a kilo.  For the metric challenged that means that my $1.75 five pound bunch of bananas would cost her about $18.  There have been times when my 5 pounds of bananas would have cost her over $31. 

Now I admit that some things are different.  I am sure my friend Tash can get Kangaroo tail or Emu cheaper than I can but how often do I eat that compared to bananas.  Worse though is that I complained.  I worried more about the price of bananas for me than I appreciated how cheap they really are on a global scale.  I think I am on to something that can make me more appreciative of what I have.

I am good at thinking globally about some things but poor in other areas.  It is true that the prices of things on a local scale are going up but almost everything I consume is still very inexpensive on a global scale.  I still live in relative luxury.  One of those luxuries is that I do not pay the same relative price for things as the remainder of the planet.  I hope that I can maintain this focus. 

I have so many blessings that I take for granted.  I must endeavor to show more gratitude to God for them.  I must not forget how much advantage I have and the responsibility that comes with that advantage.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

19 October 2011

Two Sided Coins

Greetings Dear Reader,

He is in the pain
He is in the need – Michael Card

Recently I have discovered and been enjoying the formerly aired television series “The Dead Zone.”  It is based on the story by Stephen King of the same name.  I read the story long ago and enjoy the movie.  I had never visited the TV series.  The basis of the story is that a man has an accident that puts him in a coma then he awakens and can see “visions” of the future.  There are times I both wish for and fear such a gift.

I do believe that God gives us certain gifts to allow us to show love and grace to the world.  I am not sure how these gifts work but I know that they ebb and flow for me with the tide of my faithfulness to who I am to be in Christ.  In my case one of these abilities has been on high gain and it is troubling.

Every now and then when I talk with someone and know what their inner pain and needs are.  This is not some dead zone vision but rather it is just a knowing.  Before I begin to sound too crazy this is not a flash of special knowledge or a specific vision.  It is just sensitivity to who a person is and what they need.  When it happens it is never pleasant. 

I have always been someone who feels things very deeply.  In the case of these moments of sensitivity I see pain, hurt, anger, and hatred.  I do not know the persons story or the specifics of the need within the person.  What I do get is the depth of the pain that is felt.  It is a gift that is a curse.  It is still, however, a gift of opportunity. 

When I get these moments of insight I immediately have an obligation.  The obligation is there whether the insight is or not.  The obligation is to do all that is possible to show the love of Christ to the person.  Since that is my duty in every circumstance it is an easy choice. 

The curse is that I feel the pain.  It haunts me.  It drives me to my knees to pray for them.  It also tempts me to try to fix things.  Therein is the danger.  I cannot fix anyone.  I am supposed to connect and introduce him or her to Christ then get out of the way.  My pride wishes for me to be the one who makes things all better.  It is only Christ who can mend the pain I feel in others.  The danger always comes when I try to supplant that so that I feel better.  When I step aside I get to watch a life become better because of the amazing love of Christ in that life.  The pain of the opening is always worth the joy in the closing.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

17 October 2011

The Death of Leaves

Greetings Dear Reader,

I found my yard and driveway littered with death.  It is golden, red, and brown.  It is death driven by the wind and scatters all over my world.  They seem to chase each other along the path the wind directs.  The leaves collect in corners and nature groups around puddles and tree trunks. 

The colours are amazing.  The sugar maples blaze in harmony with the sumac.  The willow yellows and sheds its thin leaves to carpet my yard at the front of the house.  The oaks are just beginning to transform as they are long in strength and slow to change.  The pines in the back of the yard remain green ignoring the call to change that their brothers follow.

All over my world the leaves are dying.  The parent trees are drifting into winter reverie.  This part of the world will yield to the cold and rest until spring.  So all around me the leaves die. 

It is a good death this death of leaves.  They have done their duty.  They move on to a final duty.  These leaves that dance around my world spent the summer providing for me.  They have given oxygen and shade.  They have murmured to me in the wind and chattered angrily through storms.  These many leaves have spent their entire lives doing only what they were created to do.  They have actualized their purpose and benefitted me in the doing of it.  Now they will do their last duty and become soil again.

I feel gratitude for these leaves for even in death they teach me.  I wish that I obeyed all that I am to be for Christ and creation as easily.  I want to be so committed to Christ that I provide life, colour, and respite to those around me.  I want to shade others.  I want to give them air in which to breathe freely and safely.  I want who I am to enrich their lives with beauty and grace.  I want my voice and words to be a murmur that leads to truth.  In the end, I want even my death to serve Christ’s purpose for me.

So as the leaves pass on and the trees and I look toward winter I look for ways to be more like the leaves.  I continue along the path of my journey toward Christ and today it is strewn with the colours of the fallen leaves.  I am temporary just as they are and autumn cannot be too far away.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

14 October 2011

Four Commitments - Committed to Reconciliation

Greetings Dear Reader,

Many years ago, in play, someone grabbed my right index finger and bent it in the wrong direction.  We were goofing around.  It was not anything unkind.  It was an accident.  Today as I type that finger still hurts reminding me of the moment and many years of subsequent discomfort.  I feel neither anger nor resentment toward the incident or toward the individual relative to that incident.  A simple unintentional act has caused discomfort for the rest of my life.  I rarely talk about the pain but it reminds me of something so important every day.

You see people are going to hurt us.  It will either be by intent or not.  The harm will be temporary or permanent.  The pain will either be minor or great.  Whether the damage is physical or emotional the requirement is the same.  I am supposed to live out Christ’s message of reconciliation by constantly treating the offences of others with love, grace, and mercy.  I am so in need of the aforementioned from Christ I cannot dare withhold if form others. 

The results of not dealing in grace and mercy for the purpose of reconciliation are vast.  Friends part ways instead of forgiving each other.  Families live in strife and discord because someone refuses to reconcile and restore.  Marriages end because a heart becomes hard toward a spouse and Christ’s call to live peaceably.  Failure to reconcile leaves fissures in relationships that make following Christ difficult.

Ultimately the purpose of all four of the commitments is reconciling to God.  We are the ones who have originally rejected him.  I am the one who chooses my own will over his desire for me to follow his Son with all my heart. So I must be the one who commits to his Sovereignty over all that I am.  I must be the one who makes every thought, emotion, and action an attempt to offer worship to God.  I must see the needs of the body as more vital than my individual wants in every situation.  I must do all that I do to work toward journeying toward God with a reconciled heart. 

It is after all my sin that refused to acknowledge my Lord, failed to worship him, causes division in the body, and creates the need for reconciliation.  It is God’s blood that drew the path back to God for me so that I could call him Lord, worship him, work toward unity, and some day experience a reconciled relationship to God.

When the Father’s Wisdom wanted to communicate His love,
He spoke it in one final perfect Word.
He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine. – Michael Card

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

13 October 2011

Four Commitments - Committed to the Body

Greetings Dear Reader,

A dear friend called me recently to tell me they were going to have surgery for cancer.  Apparently some cells have run amuck in his brain and formed a tumor.  He is sure that he will survive but he still will be having a hole drilled in his skull.  When cancer attacks the body it uses the body’s resources to cause an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.

In contrast, healthy cells are committed to the body.  They do their duty. Then burn out, and in most cases are replaced.  The sole mission of most cells is to support the whole; to insure that the body continues.  It is the whole not the self that defines a single cell’s mission.  It is the whole not the self that must define me as well.

If I am to follow Christ then I must resign my “self” and see the place I have in the body.  If I do not commit to the body then I become the cancer.  The only way to hope that my life can matter for Christ is if I accept my role within the body and pursue that always.  I see too often how when I focus on my own wants that I damage the body.  Such a focus results in my being impatient, unkind, and unloving.  I must daily abandon the self and embrace that I am called to follow Christ by giving to the whole. 

What is the whole?  For me it is anyone that comes across my path no matter in what manner he or she appears.  If it is someone that believes as I do then I must leave my interaction with them knowing that I treated them as family on an eternal level.  If they do not share my faith then I must be an example of the promise contained in the gospel.

 I find the world growing thin on hope.  In many ways Christians have created so much division in the body that the rest of the world sees the church as a very sickly body.  I cannot judge or condemn anyone else but I know that I must govern my own attitudes and actions so that I communicate relevance to those who know of my faith.  I must be committed to do whatever is necessary to heal and support the whole. 

Too many cancers exist in the injustices and condemnations embraced by the church.  The body can be healed but only if I and others determine to build toward unity and wholeness instead of acting selfish and autonomous.  I have seen deep hurts inflicted by people insisting that they wish to have autonomy.  When I do that no matter what my rationalization, I create a cancer in the body of Christ.  I damage those around me.  The only way the body functions is if the parts work toward the whole.  For my part I must be committed to this.  I must do this no matter what the cost.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

11 October 2011

Four Commitments - Committed to Worship

Greetings Dear Reader,

Yesterday the discussion on lordship caused me to think about this topic all day.  I find myself wondering what worship really is.  I have worded very deliberately to develop an attitude of prayer in all that I do.  It is so difficult to consider worship without pondering prayer.  At the heart of this part of the journey for me is knowing that I am in my conversation with God acknowledging who he is.

Some very simple things still fill me with awe.  The right sunset or sunrise amazes me.  A day at the ocean will leave me filled with wonder at the power and majesty of creation.  Seeing deer in a cornfield reminds me of the amazing gentleness of God.  Holding my Grandson fills my soul with worship.

We gather for worship on Sunday but do we indulge in the beauty of worship regularly.  The God who created all this greatness values my enjoyment of it.  We have an entire universe of beauty and grace to marvel in that was given to us to point us toward God.

A friend texted me the other morning to tell me she was up to greet the sun.  She has found the connection between creation and the Creator and revels in it.  I must worship if I am to keep perspective on WHO God is.  It is not out of pride that God inhabits the praises of his people.  It is out of love.  He knows that when we worship who he is we are taking on understanding that bolsters our faith.  In our pilgrimage of passion it is much easier to follow if we remain in awe of the one who leads.

What is Worship?
It is a soul searching for its counterpart.
It is the thirsty land crying out for rain.
It is a candle in the act of being kindled.
It is a drop in quest of the ocean.
It is a man listening through a tornado for the Still Small Voice.
It is a voice in the night calling for help.
It is a sheep lost in the wilderness pleading for rescue by the Good Shepherd.
It is the same sheep nestling in the arms of the rescuer.
It is the Prodigal Son running to his Father.
It is a soul standing in awe before the mystery of the Universe.
It is a poet enthralled by the beauty of a sunrise.
It is a workman pausing a moment to listen to a strain of music.
It is a hungry heart seeking for love.
It is a heart of love consecrating herself to her lover.
It is Time flowing into Eternity
It is my little self, engulfed in the Universal Self.
It is a man climbing the altar stairs to God. – Dwight Bradley

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

10 October 2011

Four Commitments - Committed to Lordship

Greetings Dear Readers,

Many years ago, when my children were very small and I still in school on the student side of the classroom, I partook in a grand thing.  I will get to the substance of that thing in a bit but I wish first to explain my method.  You see one of the things I ponder in attempting to walk closer to Christ along the path is the nature of commitment. 

In my life I have made and broken both large and small commitments.  I have had others make commitments to me both large and small and break them.  I work hard to be someone that can be “counted on.”  I know that it hurts me deeply when someone breaks even a small commitment to me (I realize that has to do with expectations and I will get to that later this month).  My focus this week is on understanding my own commitment to God and the journey he has set for me.

Many years ago I was privileged to be part of a movement called “concerts of prayer.”  I do not know of a long enduring impact of the events but I do know that what I learned about commitment to God during it has stayed with me over the years.  This week I am going to dive deep into the four areas of focus related to commitment that I learned during this time.  As I share this part of the journey with you, I want you to be sure that I am seeking to understand how I can better follow Christ in these areas.

Some of what I share will be very old and some a little harsh.  That is never directed at you Dear Reader but rather at my own thinking.  It is in my mind that I wrestle with these things and never do I wish you to think that I am judging you.  Still I value your prayer, support, and insights into my musings.  So walk with me if you will for a bit down a part of the path that is both concrete and ethereal.  We will begin with Lordship.

I must be committed to God as Lord of all things and as Christ as the “heir apparent.”  I will never abandon thinking about things and reasoning my way through my faith.  I will also cling to the idea that God is sovereign.  He is in control.  He knows what is going on even when I am totally confused and bewildered.  This is one of the reasons that faith is so vital.  It is an act of faith to give power over to another.  It is also true that my acknowledgement of God’s lordship is only my acknowledgment.  It does not confer any power on him that does not already possess.  God is God whether I see it or not.

Because of this I must give my thinking, actions, attitudes, and dreams over to my Lord.  As his vassal I become free to be his vessel to work our redemption in the lives of others.  So I must daily renew my commitment to the fact of God’s Lordship.  Some days I must renew it every moment.

“I claim no right to myself, no right to this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me. Neither do I have any right to this body or its members, no right to this tongue, to these hands, feet, ears or eyes. I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own. I have been to God this morning and told Him I have given myself wholly to Him, I have given every power so that for the future I claim no right to myself in any respect. I have expressly promised Him, for by His grace I will not fail. I take Him as my whole portion and felicity, looking upon nothing else as any part of my happiness. His law is the constant rule of my obedience.” – Jonathan Edwards

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

09 October 2011

Flowers on the Wall

Greetings Dear Reader,

Years ago, when we purchased our first house in Madison we were discussing how we going to decorate the home.  The house was a fifties era ranch house with an excellent kitchen.  In the basement was a bar with a long block wall that was painted from floor to ceiling in 1970’s bright orange.  It was the only thing in the house that I saw that was unpleasant.

Avalon told me first thing that what she wished to change was “that” wall.  I agreed heartily.  Eventually one of my comments revealed that I was speaking of the basement wall.  To my chagrin I was informed that in the small dining room adjacent to the kitchen I so loved was a wall covered in daisy patterned wall paper.  The daisies were seventies orange, green, and yellow.  In my excitement about the usability of the kitchen I had not even noticed the wall.  Once I noticed that wall and the pattern I also heartily agreed that this wall needed to be changed. 

It is our nature that we do not notice the ugly when we are enamored of the beautiful.  This is actually a good thing.  The problem occurs when we forget about the beautiful and see only the ugly.  Then again “ugly” wallpaper with bad colours was at one point loved by someone.  It was loved by someone enough for them to cover the largest wall in their dining room with it. The room where they dined as a family was where this wallpaper hung.

I wonder how much better I would become at following Christ if I never saw the ugly, or if when I did see it I only remembered the beautiful?  It is in the seeing of things that we find out where our hearts truly are.  A friend may betray me, but do I abandon that friend?  Do I end relationships just because people do not do what it right?  How can I do this and claim that I know how to love unconditionally?  The wallpaper may need changing, but that does not mean the house is useless.  Since it is evident that at times I see what I wish to see and am blind to other things, perhaps I need to use that truth as a filter in my dealing with others.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

08 October 2011


Greetings Dear Reader,

Recently I purchased a new cabinet for my kitchen.  It was not designed to be used in the kitchen.  It is obviously intended for a bathroom or perhaps as a curio cabinet.  It has doors with mirrors and two internal shelves.  My kitchen is over 100 years old and needed more cabinet space since there is only a single corner cabinet over the main work area.

I found the cabinet at a Salvation Army Thrift Store.  It is made of fine hardwood and the cabinet doors close to form one large mirror.  It is filled with my vast collection of spices, herbs, and dried foods.  In choosing it I only considered the space it would be in and the storage it would provide. 

Once it was home and properly set up I saw another benefit I had not imagined.  The mirrors on the doors allow one to view the entire kitchen whilst facing the counter.     

Mirrors only reflect what is presented to them.  What I saw was my entire kitchen as it appears from my counter.  It was a view from a different perspective and lead to other minor corrections to enhance the utility and aesthetics of the room.  It also gave me a new insight as to what it means to attempt to become an ever increasing reflection of Christ.

Mirrors are so very honest.  A clean, properly formed mirror always reflects what is presented to it.  It does so without commentary or pretense. Mirrors have become mostly tools for vanity or culture.  What I ponder is how often I look honestly into a mirror.  How often do I see myself without be self-abasing or self-aggrandizing?  The mirror does not care.  The mirror simply reflects what is presented to it.

How do I get out of the way?  How do I become simply a mirror reflecting Christ?  Were there a simple answer I would already be doing it.  The only thing I can see is that I must do all that I can to constantly be in the moment with Christ.   If I can find a way to always be standing in his light then I can hope to reflect what he presents.  Then I will be reflecting the love, grace, and kindness that is who Christ is.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

05 October 2011


Greetings Dear Reader,

Today is International Story Telling Days.  I have chosen to offer one of the stories from one of my books.  Feel free to let me know what you think.

Sometimes the lessons you learn make no sense at all until they save your life.  Evan’s Mill had not been one for thirty years.  All that lingered of the old gristmill on the shore was a concrete walled basement and an old chimney.  The massive skeletal remains of the iron and wooden wheel lay part way on its side in an eddy pool of the Flint River.  The wheel sat buried to a quarter of its depth in the red mud and brown silt that formed the bed of the eddy.  It stuck out of the water at an angle that gave the appearance that it had just detached itself from the mill and was still in the process of falling over onto its side.

My Grandfather had often taken me fishing on the Flint River.  We would arrive an hour before daybreak and breakfast on cold biscuits with pear preserves and pecan pie.  All of this we washed down with cold milk that was delivered weekly from his north Georgia farm.  Those were some of the best outdoor breakfasts I have ever had.  He always reminded me that we would both be in trouble if my Grandmother found out that he fed me pecan pie for breakfast.

Truth be told, my Grandmother knew what we took.  It was no coincidence that there was always a fresh pecan pie on the mornings we set out for fishing.  Neither was it a mistake that she made a double batch of biscuits and too much country fried steak the night before for dinner.  She loved me and loved making sure I was well fed.

After our regal repast, began the serious fishing.  The river yielded up its bounty of Bream, Catfish, and the occasional Trout or Bass.  My favorite place to fish on the river was in the bracken under the old mill wheel.  I lost many lures, spinners, hooks, and worms to the undergrowth that surrounded the rusting and rotting remains of the old iron banded wheel.  The reward was that I also caught some very large Bass and Brim from that hole. 

Just above the eddy pool was a long cascade of smooth river rocks that were perfect for sliding and swimming.  I was sure that God had spent every day since creation using the river to hone those rocks to a smoothness that perfectly suited my backside.  As long as I stayed far away from my Grandfather’s fishing zone, I could swim and slide as much as I desired.  I think it gave him great joy to watch me slide down the rushing water cascade into the pool.  He always brought dry clothes for me when we went to the Flint River.  His greatest desire was that I learn to love the outdoors, not that I love it exactly the way he did.

Being an eight-year old boy means that when the fish are not biting, boredom sets in quickly.  I learned early on that if I wanted to, my Grandfather would pack it in and find a new place to fish.  I had learned also that what he loved was to find a place and just wait for the fish to figure out he was there to catch them. 

During these times when I became reluctant to wait on the appetites of lazy August fish, I would play around the chimney and basement of the mill.  A set of cement block stairs descended into the open dank basement.  I would climb down the stairs into the cool dampness to escape the heat of Georgia’s Dog Days. 

The cinder block cave was filled in one corner with flotsam and jetsam from a long forgotten flooding.  The top half of an old pecan tree sat atop the pile of debris giving life and shelter to a thick growth of moss and lichen.  Amidst the collection of natural and manmade discards were also the remains of an old hornet’s nest, a two fence posts still mated by two lengths barbed wire, and an old wooden Coca-Cola® crate.  I am sure the trouble emerged from this collection of things past to threaten my near future.    

Often I would take my lunch of pimento cheese sandwiches on Wonder Bread®, homemade dill pickles, and some form of snack cake, to sit on the cool cement and enjoy the peacefulness of the cellar.  I had grown to consider it my personal domain.  I would often fall asleep and doze away the afternoon there.  It was a place where I felt that I alone ruled and nothing could touch me.

This thinking shattered one late afternoon in August.  I had done my best to fish all morning, but the day had started out suffocatingly hot and so humid you could not always tell where the river stopped and the air started.  Late summer in Georgia is the equivalent to living in a sauna set on high and with no off switch.  My Grandfather sat peacefully on the gnarled above ground root of his favorite fishing oak impervious to the August assault of dripping heat.  The river called to me earlier than usual, promising relief from the tepid air.  After fighting the current for a few hours and growing tired of the mud and slime in the river, I grabbed the bag with my lunch in it and headed for the mill basement to dry out and rest. 

My Grandfather repeated his usual admonition to be careful and to watch where I stepped.  I descended the stairs and headed for a damp corner of the mill where the sun was shining down and there was potential to be both out of the heat and still warm and comfortable.  I sat in the sunshine, leaning against the cool damp stone to eat my lunch.  My Grandmother had included some of her homemade, spiced pickled peaches and today’s dessert was a Nutty Bar®.  I ate my lunch, imagining that I was consuming a sovereign's feast in a vast stone throne room.
After eating I lay back and closed my eyes, seeing all of my knights and servants in my mind as they worked hard to meet my every need.  As was my habit at this time, I dozed off to sleep away the heat of the afternoon in the cool basement.  It was the way in which I was awakened that I hope will never be repeated.

My sleep was interrupted by the sound of my Grandfather calling urgently in a stage whisper for me not to move.  His tone was the one he used to let me know that he meant business.  I had learned very early in life that failure to heed that tone meant that he would reluctantly but efficiently deal out punishment.  This punishment took the form of a spanking followed by a long lecture on the importance of immediate obedience, or “Immediance” as he called it.
Today he whispered over and over, “Aramis do not move.  Aramis do not move.  Wake up, but do not move.” 

As my mind swam up from its dream state to consciousness, it registered to my senses that something was very wrong.  I felt weighted down as if someone had piled a large sack of potatoes in my lap.  My first instinct was to wiggle my legs, but trust in my Grandfather kept me from moving.

Again his voice, insistent but gentle admonished me, “Do not move.  Be as still as when we deer hunt. Be sure not to move.”

I carefully opened my eyes and almost jumped up anyway.  Only my Grandfather’s constant insistence that I remain still kept me from leaping away from what I saw.  Only my immediate obedience, my “Immediance," saved my life. Curled in lazy loops on my lap, sunning himself and enjoying my body heat, was a twenty-two pound, twelve foot long, Canebrake Rattlesnake. 
Gripped in the iron fist of fear, my mind demanded that I leap up and run at once. Only my Grandfather’s insistence that I not move kept me still.  He kept quietly talking to me as he approached the snake.  I can still clearly see the moment when his liver-spotted hand was inches from the snake’s head and the snake, sensing his presence, awakened.  It quickly coiled itself, still on my legs, and began shaking its eleven-button rattle thunderously.  The sound of its rattles reverberated off the blank stone walls in the basement creating the effect that there were hundreds of rattlesnakes angrily shaking their tails in warning. 

Just as I was reaching the point where I could no longer sit still, a new thunder shattered the sound of the twitching rattles.  My eyes, fixed on the snake, took in every frame of the action.  Just before the thunder rang through the damp basement, I saw the reptile draw his head back to strike at my Grandfather.  His movement was an intentional act to draw the serpent’s attention toward him and to protect me. 

In the moment before the beast lunged for Grandfather, the snake’s head shattered and the thunder erupted, reverberating against the stone walls.  At once, the beast crumpled, headless, onto my lap and the floor of the cellar still writhing and twitching.  Although it was dead its rattles thrummed on hauntingly for a few seconds.  My Grandfather had shot the rattlesnake with the pistol he always carried when we went into the woods. 

Instantly he was at my side, brushing away the remains of the snake and comforting me.  He eased down next to me, seeing that I was visibly shaken by the event, and put his strong arms around me.  We both sat there in the sun allowing its warmth to soothe our tension.  He was never a man of many words, but this time he spoke. 

“You did good son.  You practiced ‘Immediance.'  You need to put on some clean dry clothes and I think there might be some of that pie left in the car.”  That said, he stood, picked up the body of the snake, and headed for the stairs.  I watched in wonder as his old frame, still sinewy strong easily lifted the large snake.  Even when he used his strength there was a measure of grace and gentleness to his movement.  That image of him; a strong and loving protector of his grandson is how I always see him in my mind. 

Just at the top of the stairs, framed in the shimmer of the late afternoon sun, he looked down at me and smiled.  For an instant he was neither old nor weakened by his years.  That moment showed me what he must have been as a young police officer standing against the night for his city.

“Come on son, we should collect our gear and head for home.  I caught a few Bream while you were resting.  They need to be cleaned and put up for later.  Tonight I will teach you how to clean a snake. We will eat this guy for dinner and scare some religion into your Grandmother.”  All the way home we plotted how we would do just that.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."