May your heart be an altar, from which the bright flame of unending thanksgiving ascends to heaven. — Mary Euphrasia Pelletier
Jesus raised our eyes above and beyond the narrow limits of our … lives, showed us other horizons, gives us a world beyond our ourselves. — Joan Chittister
Blue Horses (excerpt) — Mary Oliver
This is what I have.
The dull hangover of waiting,
the blush of my heart on the damp grass,
the flower-faced moon.
A gull broods on the shore
where a moment ago there were two.
Softly my right hand fondles my left hand
as though it were you.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that’s waiting for us. — Joseph Campbell
I’ll be honest, Jesus, Ascension Day brings up some abandonment issues for me. I know you promised we wouldn’t be alone, that you would send a Helper and Advocate, full of power and truth and ready to guide, but let’s face it: the fire of the Spirit is the wild kind. One moment I sense that it’s blazing like the burning bush, the next it’s like it’s out with a poof. I still haven’t figured it out. I still haven’t been able to pin it down. — Rachel Held Evans
THE SWAN — Mary Oliver
Across the wide waters
with white flowers–
and it moves
on its miraculous muscles
as though time didn’t exist
as though bringing such gifts
to the dry shore
was a happiness
almost beyond bearing.
And now it turns its dark eyes,
the clouds of its wings,
an elaborate webbed foot,
the color of charcoal.
Soon it will be here.
Oh, what shall I do
when that poppy-colored beak
rests in my hand?
Said Mrs. Blake of the poet:
I miss my husband’s company–
he is so often
Of course! the path to heaven
doesn’t lie down in flat miles.
It’s in the imagination
with which you perceive
and the gestures
with which you honor it.
Oh, what will I do, what will I say, when those white wings
touch the shore?
SONGS about ascension:
- Highlands by Hillsong (Christian rock/contemporary): https://youtu.be/mkbxP0rxt6E
- Lift Me Up by Rihanna (R&B/pop/anthem): https://youtu.be/Mx_OexsUI2M
- Ascension by Holly Johnson (rock): https://youtu.be/FTN2pN1_sGo
- Ascension by Mei-lan Maurits (contemplative): https://youtu.be/kfzWWL5alfc
- Ascension by Maxwell (rock): https://youtu.be/D7rm9t5S4uE
- He Is Exalted by Twila Paris (Christian): https://youtu.be/keVPL9HfuJ8
- Ascension by Phil Wickham (Christiian): https://youtu.be/spNzK86zAHo
- Lift Me Up by Five Finger Death Punch (metal rock): https://youtu.be/X-2yuGgp_U8
SONGS about heaven:
- I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe (Christian):https://youtu.be/N_lrrq_opng
- Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (rock): https://youtu.be/xbhCPt6PZIU
- Heaven by Los Lonely Boys (rock): https://youtu.be/wvkzoqQ5Oak
- Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton (ballad): https://youtu.be/JxPj3GAYYZ0
- Heaven by Bryan Adams (pop): https://youtu.be/s6TtwR2Dbjg
- Heaven by Blake Shelton (country): https://youtu.be/Y3giOp8sAVs
- Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan (R&B/folk ballad): https://youtu.be/rm9coqlk8fY
- When I Get Where I’m Goin’ by Brad Paisley (country): https://youtu.be/yYHT-TF4KO4
- Heaven for Everyone by Queen (rock): https://youtu.be/l6KUpXtTYQk
- Hymn of Heaven by Phil Wickham (Christian): https://youtu.be/CjB0mkj0XaM
- Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle (pop): https://youtu.be/05V4CgSL0lw
- Heaven by Beyonce (R&B): https://youtu.be/QyOok1myLjw
- Heaven by Matthew West (pop): https://youtu.be/zbsBUf9VKyc
- Scars in Heaven by Casting Crowns (Christian): https://youtu.be/qCdevloDE6E
- Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars (pop): https://youtu.be/e-fA-gBCkj0
- If You Came Back from Heaven by Lorrie Morgan (country): https://youtu.be/AVNlbEdJUYY
- Just Like Heaven by The Cure (rock): https://youtu.be/1ASpBpT8bRQ
- Heaven by Niall Horan (pop): https://youtu.be/4G9LwTTnn_k
- Heaven by Emili Sande (rock): https://youtu.be/cwHe0ddggig
- Heaven by Avicii perfromed by David Guetta (pop): https://youtu.be/mcNaThbOIaI
- Heaven by Kane Brown (country): https://youtu.be/dRX0wDNK6S4
- Heaven’s Song by Jeremy Riddle (Christian): https://youtu.be/5x3gMbJOak4
- Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door performed by Guns n’ Roses (rock ballad): https://youtu.be/f8OHybVhQwc
- Letter to Heaven by Dolly Parton (country): https://youtu.be/CBq1s1AB2Uc
- Rock and Roll Heaven by The Righetous Brothers (rock): https://youtu.be/bddSJbj3VGA
- Disco Heaven by Lady Gaga (pop): https://youtu.be/Hb7L3ZEg_K4
- Heaven Has a Bar by Zac Brown, Niko Moon (country): https://youtu.be/kTgcKg6OFMI
- I’ll See You Again by WestLife (spiritual): https://youtu.be/G3Z8gOettTo
- Heaven by Julia Michaels (pop): https://youtu.be/shHTYg-rOAg
STAY — Jan Richardson
A Blessing for Ascension Day
I know how your mind rushes ahead
trying to fathom what could follow this.
What will you do, where will you go, how will you live?
You will want to outrun the grief.
You will want to keep turning toward the horizon,
watching for what was lost to come back,
to return to you and never leave again.
For now hear me when I say
all you need to do is to still yourself
is to turn toward one another is to stay.
Wait and see what comes
to fill the gaping hole in your chest.
Wait with your hands open to receive what could never come
except to what is empty and hollow.
You cannot know it now, cannot even imagine
what lies ahead, but I tell you the day is coming
when breath will fill your lungs
as it never has before and with your own ears
you will hear words coming to you new and startling.
You will dream dreams and you will see the world ablaze with blessing.
Wait for it. Still yourself. Stay.
Sweetly parading you go my soul of soul, go not without me;
life of your friends, enter not the garden without me.
Sky, revolve not without me; moon, shine not without me;
earth travel not without me, and time, go not without me.
With you this world is joyous, and with you that world is joyous;
in this world dwell not without me, and to that world depart not without me.
Vision, know not without me, and tongue, recite not without
me; glance behold not without me, and soul, go not without me.
The night through the moon’s light sees its face white; I am
light, you are my moon, go not to heaven without me.
The thorn is secure from the fire in the shelter of the roses
face: you are the rose, I your thorn; go not into the rose garden without me.
I run in the curve of your mallet when your eye is with me;
even so gaze upon me, drive not without me, go not without me.
When, joy, you are companion of the king, drink not without
me; when, watchman, you go to the kings roof, go not without me.
Alas for him who goes on this road without your sign; since
you, O signless one, are my sign, go not without me.
Alas for him who goes on the road without my knowledge;
you are the knowledge of the road for me; O road-knower, go not without me.
Others call you love, I call you the king of love; O you who are
higher than the imagination of this and that, go not without me.
THE GIFT —Mary Oliver
Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.
So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.
If you have to convince someone to stay with you then they have already left. ― Shannon L. Alder
To want to run away is an essence of being human, it transforms any staying through the transfigurations of choice. To think about fleeing from circumstances, from a marriage, a relationship or from a work is part of the conversation itself and helps us understand the true distilled nature of our own reluctance. Strangely, we are perhaps most fully incarnated as humans, when part of us does not want to be here, or doesn’t know how to be here. Presence is only fully understood and realized through fully understanding our reluctance to show up. To understand the part of us that wants nothing to do with the full necessities of work, of relationship, of loss, of doing what is necessary, is to learn humility, to cultivate self-compassion and to sharpen that sense of humor essential to a merciful perspective of both a self and another. ― David Whyte
You forgot that sometimes, fair value comes from change, and death, and sacrifice. You can’t have everything and give fair value. You can’t stop your clock and expect to stay a part of the world. ― Seanan McGuire
It turns out that you don’t end up with the people you love; by definition, you end up with the ones who stay. ― Andrew Sean Greer
She rose slowly. She didn’t want to go. She also rather resented staying. ― D.H. Lawrence
Our faith is often embodied in the relationships and neighborhoods where we live. In our world of globalization, technology, and mobility, we’ve misplaced the sacredness of place. The act of staying and living in our place has an impact on us practically, of course, but also on us theologically. It’s not always sexy to stay put, is it? In most of my church tradition, no one ever mentioned the holy work of staying. ― Sarah Bessey
CHRISTIAN COMMENTARY on ASCENSION
At His Ascension our Lord entered Heaven, and He keeps the door open for humanity to enter. — Oswald Chambers
The story of Jesus living, dying, and rising from death gets a lot of well-deserved attention, but we sometimes overlook another crucial, mysterious scene in the narrative. As the book of Acts begins, we’re told that after resurrection, Jesus is “taken up” or “lifted up” (Greek, epērthē) into the sky, where he disappears behind the clouds …
Commonly called the ascension, the belief that Jesus “ascended” into Heaven, has been essential to followers of Jesus for almost 2,000 years (e.g. The Nicene Creed, 325 C.E.).
But what does it mean that Jesus “ascended into Heaven”? Did Jesus take off into outer space? Is the point of the ascension that Jesus floated away into the clouds, or is it something else? More importantly, why does any of this matter? To answer these questions, and to better understand Jesus’ powerful ascension, we need to step back and start with the big biblical concepts of Heaven and Earth—God’s space and human’s space. — BibleProject, full article: https://bibleproject.com/articles/the-ascension-of-jesus/
The present account of Jesus’ ascension (Lk. 24:50-51) is not of a different event from the ascension recorded in Acts 1:2, 4-11. It is simply a shorter version of it. Luke makes the departure of Jesus both the climax of the Gospel and the commencement of the Acts of the Apostles. The stress is on Jesus’ priestly action in blessing the disciples and on their praise to God in the temple. (Marshall, 907)
[The author of the Gospel of] Luke intends for us to see in this departure parallels to the great prophets Moses and Elijah whom Jesus both follows and surpasses. (See Luke’s account of the Transfiguration, especially 9:31.) Jesus completes the “departure” or “exodus” of his suffering, death and resurrection by being carried up into heaven (2 Kgs. 2:1-18). Like Elijah he blessed those who stay behind and arranges for them to receive a measure of his Spirit (2 Kgs. 2:9). (Byrne, 192-3) — Alyce McKenzie, Patheos: full article: https://www.patheos.com/resources/additional-resources/2011/05/we-will-never-be-without-him-alyce-mckenzie-05-30-2011?p=2
This is the grace of Ascension Day: to be taken up into the heaven of our own souls, the point of immediate contact with God. To rest on this quiet peak, in the darkness that surrounds God. To live there through all trials and all business with the “tranquil God who makes all things tranquil.” — Thomas Merton
The departing Jesus does not make his way to some distant star. He enters into communion of power and life with the living God, into God’s dominion over space. Hence he has not “gone away”, but now and forever by God’s power he is present with us and for us. In the farewell discourses of Saint John’s Gospel, this is exactly what Jesus says to his disciples: “I go away, and I will come to you” (14:28). These words sum up beautifully what is so special about Jesus’ “going away”, which is also his “coming”, and at the same time explain the mystery of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension. — Pope Benedict XVI
Most of Christianity has been doing just that, straining to find the historical Jesus “up there.” Where did he go? We’ve been obsessed with the question because we think the universe is divided into separate levels—heaven and earth. But it is one universe and all within it is transmuted and transformed by the glory of God. The whole point of the Incarnation and Risen Body is that the Christ is here—and always was! But now we have a story that allows us to imagine it just might be true. Jesus didn’t go anywhere. He became the universal omnipresent Body of Christ. That’s why the final book of the Bible promises us a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1), not an escape from earth. We focused on “going” to heaven instead of living on earth as Jesus did—which makes heaven and earth one. It is heaven all the way to heaven. What you choose now is exactly what you choose to be forever. God will not disappoint you. — Richard Rohr
Luke begins his second volume of his two-volume “history” of the origins and spread of early Christianity with a salutation to an apparent benefactor, Theophilus by name, “God lover” in Greek. He reminds this unknown man that his “first book was about everything Jesus began to do and teach up to the day he was lifted up” (Acts 1:1-2a). For Luke this “lifting up” is the hinge that holds his two books together. At Luke 9:51, following the event of Transfiguration, Luke warns that “the days drew near for him to be taken up” (analempsis in Greek). This “taking up” is in fact Jesus’ “exodus,” the object of the discussion that Moses and Elijah were having on the mountain at Luke 9:31. In short, Jesus’ ascension, accomplished in Acts 1, is nothing less than his exodus from the earth, mirroring Elijah’s own mysterious ascension in a fiery chariot in 2 Kings 2:9-11. Luke thus connects the events of Jesus’ ascent to God with a similar experience in the Hebrew Bible and joins Jesus with the quintessential prophet of justice, Elijah. By so doing, Luke in his unique literary way uses the ascension motif as a way of preaching to us a sermon about the true identity of Jesus Messiah, recalling his many roots in the sacred past of Israel’s story. — John Holbert, Patheos, full article: https://www.patheos.com/progressive-christian/speculators-or-witnesses-john-holbert-05-14-2012
On Ascension Day, we are called to “go up”—to find higher ground—not to escape Earth’s crises, but to gain a vision and mission that is larger than ourselves or our communities. We don’t need to look to the heavens to find inspiration. The ever-present God is right here, giving us all the guidance and inspiration we need, if we but look beyond ourselves. Our mission is here—to heal, to embrace, to welcome, and to love. We don’t need to wait for a far off day of perfection and rapture. If God is always with us, then right here and now can be the day of transformation and fulfillment. — Bruce Epperly
This makes us an odd people, you know. I mean Christians, people who believe in God the Father, Christ the son and the Holy Spirit – we are a people for whom the story isn’t ever finished. A people for whom there is always more. Within our suffering, there is always more, when we think our lives are hopeless there is always more, when the plot points of our lives don’t end up the way we planned, there is always more, when we feel powerless there is always more Why? Because after the humiliation and suffering of the cross – there was more – after he was laid in a tomb there was more – and after there was Pentecost flames on people’s heads and speaking in other languages there was more. We as Christians base our hope not on our own power, not on the Dow Jones, not on how awesome our lives look, not on our own righteousness, but on the God of an empty tomb. That story of birth and death and resurrection and ascension and the spirit is still being told. — Nadia Bolx-Weber
Christ, while in heaven, is also with us; and we, while on earth, are also with him. He is with us in his godhead and his power and his love; and we, though we cannot be with him in godhead as he is with us, can be with him in our love, our love for him.
He did not leave heaven when he came down to us from heaven; and he did not leave us when he ascended to heaven again. His own words show that he was in heaven while he was here: ‘No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.’
He said this because of the unity between us and himself, for he is our head and we are his body. The words ‘no one but he’ are true, since we are Christ, in the sense that he is the Son of man because of us, and we are the children of God because of him.
For this reason Saint Paul says: ‘Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is also with Christ. — St Augustine
The way to heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh … Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will. … Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected. … The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted. — Jonathan Edwards
As God’s royal priests, Adam and Eve were, metaphorically, going up or ascending this cosmic mountain temple in order to be in God’s presence. They were not floating up into the sky or necessarily even mountain climbing, but this is how the author literarily emphasized God’s transcendence.
At the top of the mountain, united fully with God and integrated with his will, Adam and Eve receive God’s creative word and his good life. And as God’s representatives, they were tasked to go down from Eden and extend God’s word and life to the whole creation.
Notice that their ascension does not remove them from physical creation, nor does their “going down” to the rest of the world remove them from God’s divine realm. ….
In the Exodus narrative, we see God commanding Moses and his fellow leaders to “come up” to a mountain, have a meal in God’s presence, and receive the instructions God has for the Israelites … Moses ascends with the elders of Israel into the cloud of divine glory to meet with God. In this place⏤where the author describes God as sitting on a shimmering, “blue as the sky,” clear, stone floor⏤we see human and divine in a mysterious togetherness with God’s space and humanity’s space integrated as one. Remember: these human beings entered God’s space without transporting out of the physical world, which most basically describes the priestly role. The priest becomes present with God in order to guide others in the same direction, up to God…. Moses’ priestly ascension is a recreation of the Eden ideal: humanity resting within God’s presence on a cosmic mountain temple.
And also like Moses, the high priest exclusively ascends into the presence of God so that he might talk and pray to God on behalf of the people. The high priest symbolically ascends into the cosmos by going past the veil in the tabernacle that divides human’s space from God’s space—up into the transcendent presence of God.
Not long after becoming king David. goes up into the high hills at the center of Israel’s tribes and establishes a capital city, Jerusalem, otherwise known as Zion or the City of David … So the temple is a symbolic model, pointing to the new Heaven and Earth, a place permeated with God’s presence where humanity would once again live in communion with his way of life and his will for all creation…. Regardless of whether or not the people were actually climbing in elevation or heading north, the biblical authors use the geographic description of going up.
As the people go up toward Jerusalem, they sing the psalms of ascent…
Having ascended up as he did, and as we will, Jesus now exists permanently in both God’s space and humanity’s space at once. Adam and Eve experienced this kind of overlapping togetherness with God only in part. But Jesus experiences it fully because he chose to follow God’s will from beginning to end.
But as we have seen, this almost certainly does not mean floating off into space one day when we die. Instead it means joining our human lives into God’s divine work of spreading his word and life here on Earth. It is about declaring that “your will, not my will” be done on Earth (humanity’s space) as it is in Heaven (God’s space) — BibleProject, full article: https://bibleproject.com/articles/the-ascension-of-jesus/
FILMS SHOWING ASCENSION:
- The Ascension of Christ in film: literalism, symbolism, etc.by Peter Chattaway in Patheos: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/filmchat/2014/05/the-ascension-of-christ-in-film-literalism-symbolism-etc.html
God isn’t waiting for you to become thinner or heterosexual or married or celibate or more ladylike or less crazy or more spiritual or less of an alcoholic in order to love you. Also, I would argue that since your ideal self doesn’t actually exist, it would follow that the “you” everyone in your life loves is your actual self, too. — Nadia Bolz-Weber
The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone. — Karen Salmansohn
If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine. — Morris West
Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. — Sarah Ban Breathnach
Hope is not a matter of waiting for things outside of us to get better. It is about getting better inside about what is going on outside. — Joan Chittister
When you’re getting ready to launch into space, you’re sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen.— Sally Ride
When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there. — George Harrison
Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. — Rainer Maria Rilke
You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. — A. A. Milne
Those who stand at the threshold of life always waiting for the right time to change are like the man who stands at the bank of a river waiting for the water to pass so he can cross on dry land. — Joseph B. Wirthlin
Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. — Joyce Meyer
Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.— Bradley Whitford
WHAT WE NEED IS HERE
— Wendell Berry
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
WHAT IS THERE BEYOND KNOWING?— Mary Oliver
What is there beyond knowing that keeps
calling to me? I can’t
turn in any direction
but it’s there. I don’t mean
the leaves’ grip and shine or even the thrush’s
silk song, but the far-off
fires, for example,
of the stars, heaven’s slowly turning
theater of light, or the wind
playful with its breath;
or time that’s always rushing forward,
or standing still
in the same — what shall I say —
What I know
I could put into a pack
as if it were bread and cheese, and carry it
on one shoulder,
important and honorable, but so small!
While everything else continues, unexplained
and unexplainable. How wonderful it is
to follow a thought quietly
to its logical end.
I have done this a few times.
But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing
in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain.
If there’s a temple, I haven’t found it yet.
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass
and the weeds.
Heaven is not an eternally dull existence but rather the completion of a journey toward a promised encounter with the Lord. — Pope Francis
Basically heaven and earth in biblical cosmology are not two different locations within the same continuum of space or matter. They are two different dimensions of God’s good creation. And the point about heaven is twofold. First, heaven relates to earth tangentially so that the one who is in heaven can be present simultaneously anywhere and everywhere on earth: the ascension therefore means that Jesus is available, accessible, without people having to travel to a particular spot on earth to find him. Second, heaven is, as it were, the control room for earth; it is the CEO’s office, the place from which instructions are given. “All authority is given to me,” said Jesus at the end of Matthew’s gospel, “in heaven and on earth. — NT Wright
Throughout the Bible, the biblical authors use “the skies” or “the heavens” to refer to the place where God lives—God’s space. And they use “land” or “the earth” to refer to the place where people live—humanity’s space. The key here is that both spaces were included in the natural, created world. So why do we say that God is “up there” when he is also right here?
When ancient Hebrew writers talk about geographic locations and spatial relationships in the physical world, they often use these physical descriptions to represent a higher, transcendent reality. For example, death and emptiness are down or under in Sheol. And because God is transcendent, or above all, his space is described metaphorically as being above, or up, or in the heavens.
The most important thing to see here is that God is not ultimately creating a supernatural place where he lives separated from humans. God’s vision for Heaven and Earth—God’s space and humanity’s space—is that both would be fully integrated as one. God’s space and our space are to overlap, “on Earth as it is in Heaven” — BibleProject
….the final book of the Bible promises us a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1), not an escape from earth. We focused on “going” to heaven instead of living on earth as Jesus did—which makes heaven and earth one. It is heaven all the way to heaven. — Richard Rohr
OTHER THOUGHTS on ASCENSION
Ascensions into heaven are like falling leaves … sad and happy all at the same time … Going away isn’t really sad … especially when your going enables a new kind of presence to be born. — Ernest Hemingway
Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. — Henry David Thoreau
Earth’s crammed with heaven… But only he who sees, takes off his shoes. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is. — Fred Rogers
There’s always another level up. There’s always another ascension. More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion, more to shed, more to grow. — Elizabeth GilbertAh, paths of the soul, mysterious ways of the heart! One must walk their full lengths before facing the supreme equation of Eternal Life. It is essential for you to live all their conflicts and to know them fully in the long process of spiritual ascension. — Andre Luiz Moreira
To write the true natural history of the world, we should need to be able to follow it from within. It would thus appear no longer as an interlocking succession of structural types replacing one another, but as an ascension of inner sap spreading out in a forest of consolidated instincts. Right at its base, the living world is constituted by conscious clothes in flesh and bone. — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The Ascension is actually the birth of the Inner You expressed as the spiritual individualism of the inner particle state. — Stuart Wilde
Aging is a staircase – the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. As you may know, the entire world operates on a universal law: entropy, the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy means that everything in the world, everything, is in a state of decline and decay, the arch. There’s only one exception to this universal law, and that is the human spirit, which can continue to evolve upwards. — Jane Fonda
Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fulness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. — Saint Basil
LEAVINGS – VI
— Wendell Berry
O saints, if I am even eligible for this prayer,
though less than worthy of this dear desire,
and if your prayers have influence in Heaven,
let my place there be lower than your own.
I know how you longed, here where you lived
as exiles, for the presence of the essential
Being and Maker and Knower of all things.
But because of my unruliness, or some erring
virtue in me never rightly schooled,
some error clear and dear, my life
has not taught me your desire for flight:
dismattered, pure, and free. I long
instead for the Heaven of creatures, of seasons,
of day and night. Heaven enough for me
would be this world as I know it, but redeemed
of our abuse of it and one another. It would be
the Heaven of knowing again. There is no marrying
in Heaven, and I submit; even so, I would like
to know my wife again, both of us young again,
and I remembering always how I loved her
when she was old. I would like to know
my children again, all my family, all my dear ones,
to see, to hear, to hold, more carefully
than before, to study them lingeringly as one
studies old verses, committing them to heart
forever. I would like again to know my friends,
my old companions, men and women, horses
and dogs, in all the ages of our lives, here
in this place that I have watched over all my life
in all its moods and seasons, never enough.
I will be leaving how many beauties overlooked?
A painful Heaven this would be, for I would know
by it how far I have fallen short. I have not
paid enough attention, I have not been grateful
enough. And yet this pain would be the measure
of my love. In eternity’s once and now, pain would
place me surely in the Heaven of my earthly love.
This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not “what does it say?” but “what am I looking for?” I suspect Jesus knew this when he said, “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” — Rachel Held Evans
Why are you knocking at every door? Go, knock at the door of your own heart. — Rumi
On the other hand, ‘Knock and it shall be opened.’ But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac? — C.S. Lewis
The moment we begin to seek out love, love begins to seek us out. And to save us. — Paulo Coelho
Always the beautiful answer / who asks a more beautiful question. —e.e. Cummings
Contextually speaking, love is the narrow gate. — Jayson Bradley
We often remain exiles, left outside the rich world of the soul, simply because we are not ready. Our task is to refine our hearts and minds. There is so much blessing and beauty near us that is destined for us, and yet it cannot enter our lives because we are not ready to receive it. The handle is on the inside of the door; only we can open it. Our lack of readiness is often caused by blindness, fear, and lack of self-appreciation. When we are ready, we will be blessed. — John O’Donohue
SONGS about KNOCKING & ASKING:
- Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Guns n Roses (rock anthem)
- Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan (rock anthem)
- First by Lauren Daigle (Christian)
- Hide and Seek cover by virtual choir of song by Imogen Heap (pop ballad)
- Let ‘Em In by Paul McCartney (rock)
- Find My Way by Fearless Soul (pop ballad)
- I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking by U2 & Gospel Choir (Christian rock)
- Knocking at the Door by The Arkells (rock anthem)
- Knock on Wood by James Taylor (pop/folk)
- Ask Seek Knock by Hillsong Kids (Christian)
- Keep A’Knockin’ by Louis Jordan (big band)
- A Love Like Yours by Martha & The Vandellas (rock)
- I Hear You Knocking by Dave Edmunds (rock)
- Can’t You Hear Me Knocking? by Rolling Stones (rock)
- It’ll Be Me by Jerry Lee Lewis (rock)
- Keep a Knockin’ by Little Richard (rock)
- Don’t Come Knockin by Fats Domino (rock)
- Crazy Little Mama Come Knockin‘ by Pat Boone (rock)
- What if I Came Knocking? by John Mellencamp (rock/country)
- Love Is Knocking by Petit Cheval (rock)
- Who Can It Be Now? by Men at Work (rock)
- Knock On Any Door by Jackson Browne (rock ballad)
Resource for more listening and studying: Podcast about Ask and You Will Receive (from BibleProject)
Blessing the Door — Jan Richardson (link to poem)
First let us say / a blessing
upon all who have / entered here before / us.
You can see the sign / of their passage / by the worn place
where their hand rested / on the doorframe
as they walked through, / the smooth sill
of the threshold / where they crossed.
Press your ear / to the door
for a moment before / you enter
and you will hear / their voices murmuring
words you cannot / quite make out
but know / are full of welcome.
On the other side / these ones who wait—
for you, / if you do not / know by now—
understand what / a blessing can do
how it appears like / nothing you expected
how it arrives as / visitor,
outrageous invitation, / child;
how it takes the form / of angel / or dream
how it comes / in words like
How can this be? / and lifted up the lowly;
how it sounds like / in the wilderness / prepare the way.
Those who wait / for you know
how the mark of / a true blessing
is that it will take you / where you did not / think to go.
Once through this door / there will be more:
more doors / more blessings
more who watch and / wait for you
but here / at this door of / beginning
the blessing cannot / be said without you.
So lay your palm / against the frame
that those before you / touched
place your feet / where others paused / in this entryway.
Say the thing that / you most need
and the door will / open wide
and by this word / the door is blessed
and by this word / the blessing is begun
from which / door by door
all the rest / will come.
Text from which we’re drawing this week’s themes: MATTHEW 7: 7-14
Ask, Seek, Knock – ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’
‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.’
The Golden Rule – In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.’
The Narrow Gate – ‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.
COMMENTARY on ENTERING through the NARROW GATE
It’s a life long “finding,” of surrendering to the process of God at work in us. But WE choose that posture of surrender. We choose to open the gate and walk upon the narrow road. And really, what other choice is there to make? —Elisabeth Elliott (full article)
Do for others what you wish others would do for you. Do you want to be treated with respect? Respect others. Do you expect compassion and the benefit of the doubt? Extend it to others. Do you want to be served? Serve others. He then tells us this one principle sums up the entire Old Testament. … Contextually speaking, love is the narrow gate ... All the destruction, pain and turmoil in life comes from our inability to put others first. Love leads to life, both here and in the world to come. —Jayson Bradley, Patheos (full article)
The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation, the mystery we’re examining, more often happens not when something new begins, but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites, and sometimes forces, the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Most of us would never go to new places in any other way…. This is when you need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening your controls and certitudes. Perhaps Jesus is describing this phenomenon when he says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” … In moments of insecurity and crisis, shoulds and oughts don’t really help; they just increase the shame, guilt, pressure, and likelihood of backsliding. It’s the deep yesses that carry us through. It’s that deeper something we are strongly for that allows us to wait it out. — Richard Rohr (full article)
Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form, without filters, judgments, and commentaries. Now you see why it is so rare and, in fact, “the narrow road that few walk on” … The only way you can contemplate is by recognizing and relativizing your own compulsive mental grids—your practiced ways of judging, critiquing, blocking, and computing everything… When your mental judgmental grid and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to you, because your pettiness is at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed! You will begin to recognize that we all carry the Divine Indwelling within us and we all carry it equally. That will change your theology, your politics, and your entire worldview. In fact, it is the very birth of the soul. — Richard Rohr (full article)
I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside. — Rumi
ON KNOCKING at DOORS
If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you’re sure to wake someone up. — Henry Wordsworth Longfellow
The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; in the poor brother Christ is knocking at the door. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know. — William Shakespeare
Even when opportunity knocks, a man still has to get up off his seat and open the door. — Douglas MacArthur
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. — Proverb (attributed to Milton Berle)
A pessimist is somebody who complains about the noise when opportunity knocks. — Oscar Wilde
The most sacred invitation that a person can extend to us is to invite us into their pain. But that means that we have to choose to knock on a door that we often prefer to pretend is not there. ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
Rain puts a hole in stone because of its constancy, not its force. Just keep knocking on doors until the right one opens — Joseph Gerber
Opportunity may knock only once but temptation leans on the door bell — Oprah Winfrey
The first time when I was organizing, I went out and started knocking on doors to see if people were registered to vote. I was a door knocker. I didn’t even have the confidence that I could register people, so I just was out there door knocking. That was my first experience. — Dolores Huerta
Guest House — Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Love seeks only one thing: the good of the loved. It leaves all other secondary effects to take care of themselves. There, love is its own reward. — Thomas Merton
There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself. ― Lemony Snicket
I go to seek a Great Perhaps. That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.― John Green
And I shall seek you endlessly, for
I am a moth, and you’re my flame
Knowing that I’ll burn at your touch
I return, for you’re a fire; untamed …
― Zubair Ahsan
…there was no point in sighing after what I could not have. It only distracted me from what I did have. ― Robin Hobb
Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable. ― Albert Camus
Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner. ― Anne Rice
Thus Gotama [Buddha] walked toward the town to gather alms, and the two samanas recognized him solely by the perfection of his repose, by the calmness of his figure, in which there was no trace of seeking, desiring, imitating, or striving, only light and peace. ― Hermann Hesse
WHEN TRUTH KNOCKS: Buddhist Story
A young widower was devoted to his little son. But while he was away on business, the whole village was burned to the ground by bandits, who also kidnapped the little boy. When the father returned and found only ruins, he was utterly heartbroken. He thought that the charred remains of a little child were of his son, so he organized a full cremation, collected the ashes, and carried them with him always in a special bag.
One day, his son managed to escape from the bandit kidnappers and made his way back to his home. In the meantime, his father had rebuilt the house. When the little boy arrived late one night, he knocked on the door. His father, kneeling at the altar he had made to memorialize his son called out, “Who’s there?”
“It’s me, your son; please papa, let me in!”
The father, still burdened by his grief thought this must be some wretched boy making fun of his grieving and shouted out, “Go away! Leave me alone! My son is dead!”
The boy knocked again and again, calling for his father to open the door and let him in. The father, refusing to answer the door kept calling out, “Go away! Leave me alone!” And at last, the boy gave up and went away, never to return again.
After he had told this story, the Buddha added: “If you cling to an idea as the unalterable truth, then when the truth comes and knocks on your door, you will not be able to open the door and accept it.”
COMMENTARY on KNOCKING & ASKING
The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; in the poor brother Christ is knocking at the door. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
It seems to me that Jesus’ words are a clear directive. Ask, Jesus says. Seek. Knock.
And then, if I’ve got this right, Jesus follows up a few verses later by saying that God will actually respond … To me. To you. To, oh, anyone who asks. And God will do it without discretion or conditions. Without caution or prudence. Without making a list first of who has a right to which truth or who will handle the answers the best.
The revolutionary, almost subversive, thing about asking is that it goes beyond making it OK to have secret questions and inner doubts and gives us permission to raise our hands in God’s classroom with a “Pardon me, but I don’t get it.” Or “Really, God? Can you explain further?” Or “I just can’t bring myself to believe what the rest of your class is telling me.”
I suspect … that we’re somehow expected to keep asking. Out loud. And to keep seeking. And to keep knocking …
… questions fall out all over the place, raw and beautiful in their authenticity … making people uncomfortable – or giddy … the way we engage our conversations may be more important than our conclusions, for if we abandon love, kindness, forbearance and gentleness in favor of fear, self-righteousness and anger, what have we gained with a mere conclusion? And the second thing she said is I wonder if we trust Jesus to be enough?
…. “What if the root word of aspiration isn’t only to aspire to? What if the root word of aspiration is also to aspirate? To expel or dislodge the things that make people choke? To tell a truth that is so wild and so free that it helps people learn to breathe? What if you’re called to be that kind of aspiration?” And I thought, by God, if this life is about helping people breathe, I can do that.
Ask. Seek. Knock. Breathe.
I used to prefer for God to live in a box. Neat and tidy. Quiet and nice. Now my life is full of questions. It’s messier and louder, more disruptive and fulfilling, than I imagined. And I? I can finally breathe. — Betth Woolsey (full article)
Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
… He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ I know. Does that make it easier to understand?
… Of course it’s easy enough to say that God seems absent at our greatest need because He is absent — non-existent. But then why does He seem so present when, to put it frankly, we don’t ask for Him?
… And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually come to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help … Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear. — C.S. Lewis (article)
Mystery is what happens to us when we allow life to evolve rather than having to make it happen all the time. It is the strange knock at the door, the sudden sight of an unceremoniously blooming flower, an afternoon in the yard, a day of riding the midtown bus. Just to see. Just to notice. Just to be there. There is something holy-making about simply presuming that what happens to us in any given day is sent to awaken our souls to something new: another smell, a different taste, a moment when we allow ourselves to lock eyes with a stranger, to smile a bit, to nod our heads in greeting. Who knows? Maybe one of those things will open us to the refreshing memory of pain, a poignant reminder of glory, a breathless moment of astonishment, a sense of the presence of God in life. — Sr Joan Chittister (full article)
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. — Brene Brown
Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong. — Les Brown
I was looking for myself and asking everyone but myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. — Ralph Ellison
A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something—and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change. — Warren Berger
Don’t be afraid to look again at everything you’ve ever believed … I believe the more we search, the more we delve into the human teachings about the nature and God of life, which are in fact are the teachings of all the great religions traditions, the closer we come to a mature understanding of the Godself … In other words, doubt, questions, drive us to look at how we ourselves need to grow in wisdom, age and grace. The courage to face questions is the first step in that process. — Joan Chittister
Instead of anxiety about chasing a passion that you’re not even feeling, do something a lot simpler: Just follow your curiosity. — Elizabeth Gilbert
A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea. — John Anthony Ciardi
We live in the world our questions create. — David Cooperrider
Ask me not what I have, but what I am. — Heirnrich Heine
… Ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now? — James Allen
You get in life what you have the courage to ask for. — Oprah Winfrey
Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future. — Deepak Chopra
To ask the right question is harder than to answer it. — Georg Cantor
Contrary to some common assumptions, Jesus is not the ultimate Answer Man, but more like the Great Questioner. In the Gospels Jesus asks many more questions than he answers. To be precise, Jesus asks 307 questions. He is asked 183 of which he only answers 3. Asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and teachings. In fact, for every question he answers directly he asks—literally—a hundred. Jesus is the Question considers the questions Jesus asks—what they tell us about Jesus and, more important, what our responses might say about what it means to follow Him. Through Jesus’ questions, he modeled the struggle, the wondering, the thinking it through that helps us draw closer to God and better understand, not just the answer, but ourselves, our process and ultimately why questions are among Jesus’ most profound gifts for a life of faith. — Martin Copenhaver
Only the dead have seen the end of war. — Plato
This is the day we pay homage to all those who didn’t come home … it’s not a celebration, it is a day of solemn contemplation over the cost of freedom. — Tamra Bolton
Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. — Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO
Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. — Mark Twain
Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. — Adlai Stevenson
Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion. — Gandhi
Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons (and daughters) of God, and our brothers (and sisters) wait eagerly for our response. — Martin Luther King
Memorial Day Prayer —Carl Schenck
We gather on a somber holiday.
We remember with sadness those we have loved and lost.
Let us not glorify the conflicts and violence
that tear our loved ones from us.
Let us, rather, give glory to God,
who calls us to use our freedom peaceably.
Our God is a God of all nations and peoples.
May our worship of God unite rather than divide.
Songs for Memorial Day Weekend
- Amazing Grace with Bagpipes (instrumental hymn)
- Armed Forces Medley choral performance
- Soldier’s Light by Rylee Preston (pop)
- All Gave Some and Some Gave All sung by Sgt Christiana Ball (country)
- Memorial Day by Coffey Anderson (country)
- More Than a Name on a Wall by The Statler Brothers (country)
- You Should Be Here by Cole Swindell (country)
- I Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice (country)
- Home by Dierks Bentley (country)
- If I Don’t Make It Back by Tracy Lawrence (country)
- The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back by Justin Moore (country)
- Soldier’s Last Letter by Merle Haggard (country)
- Hallelujah Veterans Version by Sailor Jerri (ballad)
- I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan (ballad)
- Some Gave All by Billy Ray Cyrus (country)
- If You’re Reading This by Tim McGraw (country)
- Arlington by Trace Adkins (country)
- Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen (rock)
- Memorial Day Tribute from the movie Taking Chance (may be graphic in its detail, watch with caution)
- Ragged Old Flag feature from SuperBowl 53 highlighting the country song by Johnny Cash with Marine and US Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter
- Commencement Address: 10 Lessons I Learned in SEAL Training by Admiral William McRaven
Protest & Peace Songs:
- Where Is the Love? by the Black-Eyed Peas (rap)
- Teach Your Children by Kathy Mattea, Alison Krauss, Suzy Boggus (country)
- Bring the Boys Home by Freda Payne (protest rock)
- Fortunate Son by Creedance Clearwater Revival (protest rock)
- Masters of War by Bob Dylan
- For What Its Worth by Buffalo Springfield (protest rock)
- War by Edwin Starr (protest rock)
- Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon (protest rock)
- We Gotta Get Out of this Place by The Animals (protest rock)
- People, Let’s Stop the War by Grand Funk Railroad (protest rock)
- Dueling Banjos from Deliverance (instrumental)
- I Should Be Proud by Martha Reevers & the Vandellas (protest rock)
- Backlash Blues by Nina Simone (blues)
Memorial Day (excerpt)— Michael Anania … We know the stories that are told,
by starts and stops, by bent men at strange joy
regarding the precise enactments of their own
gesturing. And among the women there will be
a naming of families, a counting off, an ordering …
Peace — Langston Hughes
We passed their graves:
The dead men there,
Winners or losers,
Did not care.
In the dark
They could not see
Who had gained
Who kept the faith and fought the fight;
The glory theirs, the duty ours.
— Wallace Bruce
You silent tents of green,
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Notes on Memorial Day (excerpt) — Lillian Daniel
Memorial Day began after the Civil War as an effort toward reconciliation between the families of veterans in the North and the South. After the war, there was already a tradition in the North of decorating soldiers’ graves, called “Decoration Day.” But in 1868 an organization of Northern war veterans decreed it ought to be a national holiday. May 30 was carefully chosen as the date because it was not the anniversary of a specific battle, and therefore would be a neutral date for both sides. But human beings hold on to their wounds, and reconciliation takes time, grace and mercy…
Memorializing Rightly (excerpt) — Debra Dean Murphy
… much of our memorializing will trend, as it always does, toward … the simplistic, the cliche-riddled hyperpatriotism that does a disservice to the women and men who fight and die in wars conceived by powerful men … Surely it’s possible to honor the selflessness that’s part of soldiering and to mourn the fallen without slipping into the kind of sentimental white-washing that denies the complexities and ambiguities, the compromises and betrayals, both large and small, that the war dead knew well? Why, then, can’t we–in their stead, on their behalf, for their sake–be honest enough to honor such truths? … May we remember and memorialize … all deaths, this day and every day, with the truth-telling they deserve.
On Those Who Serve & Sacrifice
Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history. — Mary Roach
It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result. — Gandhi
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. — Winston Churchill
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. — G.K. Chesteron
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. — Joseph Campbell
Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise
that every human life is of inestimable value. — Bishop Desmond Tutu
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived. — George S. Patton
Ceremonies are important. But our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well. — Jennifer Granholm
Work for what you believe in, but pick your battles, and don’t burn your bridges. Don’t be afraid to take charge, think about what you want, then do the work, but then enjoy what makes you happy, bring along your crew, have a sense of humor. — Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. — Harry Truman
Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have
and all that they are. — Hafsat Abiola
It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle. – General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. — Martin Luther King
How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! – Maya Angelou
I’m very conscious of the fact that you can’t do it alone. It’s teamwork. When you do it alone you run the risk that when you are no longer there nobody else will do it. ― Wangari Maathai
My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. — John F Kennedy
A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. — Gandhi
On Memorial Day, I don’t want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place to live. — Eric Burdon
One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world. ― Malala Yousafzai
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. — Nelson Mandela
Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. —John F. Kennedy
It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it. — Eleanor Roosevelt
If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace. — Franklin D. Roosevelt
Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. — Henri Nouwen
We must pursue peaceful ends by peaceful means. I’m committed to nonviolence absolutely … I will continue to preach and teach it… I plan to stand by nonviolence. …(because) only a refusal to hate or kill can put an end to the chain of violence in the world and lead toward community where people live together without fear. — Martin Luther King
Today, we are truly a global family. What happens in one part of the world may affect us all. This, of course, is not only true of the negative things that happen, but is equally valid for the positive developments. … But war or peace; the destruction or the protection of nature; the violation or promotion of human rights and democratic freedoms; poverty or material well-being; the lack of moral and spiritual values or their existence and development; and the breakdown or development of human understanding, are not isolated phenomena that can be analysed and tackled independently of one another. In fact, they are very much interrelated at all levels and need to be approached with that understanding… Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each one of us individually. Peace, for example, starts with each one of us. — Dalai Lama
When you have a conflict, that means that there are truths that have to be addressed on each side of the conflict. And when you have a conflict, then it’s an educational process to try to resolve the conflict.
And to resolve that, you have to get people on both sides of the conflict involved so that they can dialogue. — Dolores Huerta
The answer lies in the last word of the priestly blessing: shalom, peace. In a long analysis the 15th century Spanish Jewish commentator Rabbi Isaac Arama explains that shalom does not mean merely the absence of war or strife. It means completeness, perfection, the harmonious working of a complex system, integrated diversity, a state in which everything is in its proper place and all is at one with the physical and ethical laws governing the universe. — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Violence and nonviolence agree that suffering can be a very powerful social force. But there is a difference. Violence says suffering can be a powerful social force by inflicting it on somebody else, so this is what we do in war… The nonviolent say that suffering becomes a powerful social force when you willingly accept the violence on yourself, so that self-suffering stands at the center of the nonviolent movement… There is no easy way to create a world where people can live together… but if such a world is created…it will be accomplished by persons who have the language to put an end to suffering by willingly suffering themselves rather than inflicting suffering on others… Unearned suffering is redemptive. — Martin Luther King
TREE of LIFE MEDITATIONS
The tree of life is growing where the spirit never dies, and the bright light of salvation shines in dark and empty skies. — Bob Dylan
I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole earth will become One Circle again. — Crazy Horse
- This brief Bible Project video discusses the Tree of Life themes in Hebrew scriptures and life of Jesus, including resurrection. Tree of Life: https://youtu.be/TJLan-pJzfQ
On the Pulse of Morning — Maya Angelou
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out to us today, you may stand upon me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song. It says,
Come, rest here by my side.
Each of you, a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace, and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the rock were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
The River sang and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African, the Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheik,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
They hear the first and last of every Tree
Speak to humankind today. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you,
Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of
Other seekers—desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Arab, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot,
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought,
Sold, stolen, arriving on the nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am that Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.
I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours—your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands,
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For a new beginning.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out and upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, and into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Reflections on the Tree of Life
Don’t ever worry about losing those you love. Just remember that we are all on the same Tree of Life. ― Iva Kenaz
I’m planting a tree to teach me to gather strength from my deepest roots … I’m planting a tree to remind me to be open and kindhearted. ― Andrea Koehle Jones
Love is the sap of the tree of Life. ― Banani Ray
My heart ached to embark on a journey of liberation and taste of the Tree of Life where saint and sinner are one in love. Every saint has a story, and all sinners have glorious pages yet to be written. ― R.J. Blizzard
We are the Guardians of the Tree of Life. We have been given the blessing and honour to protect it and to help others to taste its fruits with love and compassion. The Tree of Life teaches us to carry and share “Love” and only “Love”. And so,the light of Love should shine through our eyes. Arrogance, Pride, Anger, Hatred, Criticism, Lust, Envy and Jealousy is a heavy burden to carry on our shoulder. They are the enemies of truth and are the most dangerous inner diseases of the heart and with such disease we will be prevented from entering paradise on the Day of Judgment. Sometimes among us, we may encounter many challenging disagreements and difficulties. And to overcome those problems or to bring any change for good … Love is the only force of change and transformation. Love can penetrate the driest heart releasing river of compassion and forgiveness. Let love and only love be the instrument of change. ― Ricky Saikia
Islam calls that ’the roots of heaven.’ and to the Mexican Indians it is the ‘tree of life’ — the thing that makes both of them fall on their knees and raise their eyes and beat their tormented breasts. A need for protection and company, from which obstinate people like Morel try to escape by means of petitions, fighting committees, by trying to take the protection of species in their own hands. Our needs for justice, for freedom and dignity— are roots of heaven that are deeply embedded in our hearts, but of heaven itself men know nothing but the gripping roots … ― Romain Gary
We spring from one great tree of life; when the root of the tree is watered with love, we all thrive. ― Janet Autherine
The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Jesus took the tree of death so you could have the tree of life. — Timothy Keller
The greatest attribute of God is Love. The Tree of Life is located in the very depth of our soul. The most perfect and abundant fruit that grows and ripens is Life giving Love; it is the great healing force in the world. Love never fails to meet every demand of the human heart. The Divine principal of Love may be used to eliminate every sorrow, infirmity, in-harmony, ignorance and all mistakes of mankind. Love is God; eternal, limitless, changeless, infinite. It is the pulse of the world, the heartbeat of the Universe. — Baird T. Spalding
Tree of Life Scriptures
Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called happy.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
but violence takes lives away.
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
21 Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever.
They are the shoot that I planted, the work of my hands,
so that I might be glorified.
2 Esdras 8:52
52 because it is for you that paradise is opened, the tree of life is planted, the age to come is prepared, plenty is provided, a city is built, rest is appointed, goodness is established and wisdom perfected beforehand.
Revelation 22: 1-5
22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Jesus as Vine, People as Branches:
A Tree of Life Parallel
John 15: 1-12
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become[c] my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Cross as a Tree
Luke 23: 26-32
26 As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28 But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
|Songs about blackbirds and ravens (note: these are different species): |
Blackbird by The Beatles (rock)
Blackbird Song by Lee DeWyze (ballad/blues)
Raven Song by Elephant Revival (folk)
Blackbird by Nina Simone (blues)
The Raven by Alan Parsons Project (electronic rock pop based on Edgar Alan Poe’s work)
Hear Me O God, Nor Hide Thy Face (Christian choral music)
How Many Are Your Works (Christian hymn)
How sweetly did they float upon the wings
Of silence, through the empty-vaulted night
At every fall smoothing the raven down
Of darkness till it smil’d.
— John Milton
The Raven (excerpt) — Edgar Allen Poe
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door —
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore —
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.” …
“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Cultural Quips about Ravens
For out of black soul’s night have stirred dawn’s cold gleam, morning’s singing bird. Let black day die, let black flag fall, let raven call, let new day dawn of black reborn. — George Woodcock Honestly, all crows are not ravens. — Munia Khan
The raven spread out its glossy wings and departed like hope. — Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Ravens are at home everywhere. They only have one enemy: humans. — Bernd Heinrich
Death makes angels of us all and gives us wings where we had shoulders smooth as ravens claws. — Jim Morrison
Does wisdom perhaps appear on the earth as a raven which is inspired by the smell of carrion? — Friedrich Nietzsche
My love, she’s like some raven / At my window with a broken wing. — Bob Dylan
Needless to say, urgings by ravens are ignored at one’s peril. — James D. Doss
But the black raven, the bird over the fated men, will tell, will say to the eagle, how he succeeded at the meal, when he with the wolf plundered the slaughtered ones. — The Beowulf Poet
For this reason, the lean wolf in the wold / rejoiced, and the dark raven, a bird greedy for slaughter. — Cynewulf
It is said that when Raven created the first world, he made everything perfect, a world full of happiness and beauty, without pain, suffering, or ugliness. But Raven grew bored with this perfect world and started reshaping things. — Catharine Feher-Elston
One raven does not peck out another’s eyes. — Danish proverb
Censure acquits the raven, but pursues the dove. — Juvenal
The cry of a young raven is nothing but the natural cry of a creature, but your cry, if it be sincere, is the result of a work of grace in your heart. — Charles Spurgeon
Ravens are the birds I’ll miss most when I die. If only the darkness into which we must look were composed of the black light of their limber intelligence. If only we did not have to die at all. Instead, become ravens. — Louise Erdrich
Commentary on Elijah and the Ravens
Elijah had enough, but it did not always come to him in the nicest way; for I do not imagine that the ravens knew how to get bread and meat always cut into nicest shape. Perhaps they snatched a rough bit of meat here, and perhaps a crust of bread there, and it came in all sorts of ugly pieces, but still, there it was, and it was enough. “Beggars are not to be choosers,” we say, and certainly pensioners on God’s bounty ought not pick holes and find fault with the Lords providing. Whatever God gives thee be grateful for, for if too proud to take from the raven’s mouth, it will be well for thee to go without, until shine hunger consume thy pride. God promises his people enough, but not more than enough, and even that enough may not come to us in the way we should choose. — Charles Spurgeon
God knows what you need, and he knows when you need it, and he will make sure you have it in time. As he sent the ravens to Elijah, he can command all heaven to come to your aid … God lets those things happen to move us from self-sufficiency to God-sufficiency. From self-reliance to God-reliance. From trusting in our own ability to trusting in him alone. … You should plan ahead. That’s biblical. You should plan ahead but you shouldn’t worry ahead. There’s a big difference … we would have been less surprised if God had used a robin redbreast or a meadowlark or a turtle dove to bring the food. But that is not how God works. He routinely chooses the despised things of the world in order to confound the mighty, and he uses the foolish to bring the strong down to nothing. As you look at the course of life, you may think that God is going to use some rich uncle or a wealthy friend to help you out. But experience shows how unlikely that is. He is much more likely to meet your needs through the ravens of the earth that fly to your need when you least expect them. — Ray Pritchard
Raven and the First Men —Bill Reid, qadasgu qligawaay clan (Haida Origins Story)
Haida stories tell of how the first people emerged from a gigantic clamshell on the beach of Rose Spit. They got out with the help of Raven, the most powerful creature from myth time. Raven was wandering on the beach, when he heard some noise coming from a clamshell. He looked more closely and saw that it was full of little human creatures. They clearly looked terrified by Raven and the great big world outside the shell.
“So the Raven leaned his great head close to the shell, and with the smooth trickster’s tongue, that had got him out of so many misadventures, in his troubled and troublesome existence, he coaxed and cajoled and coerced the little creatures to come out and play in his wonderful, shiny, new world.”
Fable: Fox and Raven
Retold by Rohini Chowdhury
Once, the Raven saw a piece of cheese in a window, and grabbing it in his beak, flew off quickly to a nearby tree, there to savour it and eat it in peace.
Now the Fox, who was passing by, was very fond of cheese, and when she saw the cheese in the Raven’s beak, she determined to have it for herself. Going up to the foot of the tree, she called up to the Raven, ‘Oh my dear friend, how wonderful you look today! You are the handsomest bird I have ever seen. Oh the shine of your feathers, the regal grace with which you hold you hold your head! Your voice must be as beautiful as you! If only I could hear you sing…’ and the Fox sighed, as though with longing.
The Raven was deeply flattered. No one had called him handsome before, or wanted to hear him sing! Surely he could please this kind Fox and sing a little song for her! Taking a deep breathe, he opened his beak…and let fall the piece of cheese. The first caw was not even out of his throat when the Fox had snapped up the piece of cheese and run off through the woods with it!