"A great wind is blowing and that gives you either imagination or a headache."
Remember who said it? Catherine the Great of Russia. In the Philippines, a great wind is blowing giving a heavy headache to the government. A headache afflicted by China: a nation that had been bullying the Philippines eversince the Spratley islands were claimed by the Philippines.
We can understand why China does it. This is also done in the Middle East by China, though in another subtle way. In fact, Observers are one in opinion that not only Beijing moves in, filling up the United States’ power vacuum in the Middle East, but also been "pushing into the region in order to continue its economic growth, secure resources and expand its global political clout."
Everyone is busy for the Valentines’ Day. Even the Christian church is affected by this festival. In fact, it was the Roman Church who propagated this… without biblical basis. Perhaps it was calendared or included in the Church Saints Day rollo just to satisfy the Popes’ orgy thinking.
Further research from the catacombs of Roman Church, the name "Valentine", derived from valens (worthy, strong, powerful). In its name arouses a controversy because about eleven other saints having the name Valentine are commemorated in the Roman Catholic Church. According to the Roman martyrology lists, only seven who died on days other than February 14 carries the name Valentine: "a priest from Viterbo (November 3); a bishop from Raetia who died in about 450 (January 7); a fifth-century priest and hermit (July 4); a Spanish hermit who died in about 715 (October 25); Valentine Berrio Ochoa, martyred in 1861 (November 24); and Valentine Jaunzarás Gómez, martyred in 1936 (September 18). It also lists a virgin, Saint Valentina, who was martyred in 308 (July 25) in Caesarea, Palestine."
The concert was scheduled for the next day. The conductor raised his baton and the final rehearsal began. After only a few bars, the leader stopped the music.
"Something is missing," he said. "I don’t hear the piccolo."
A young man rushed in, muttering apologies for being late, and sat down, Piccolo at his lips.
Once more, the rehearsal began, and as it progressed, the conductor nodded to the tardy young man and smiled. The sound was good now, complete with the piccolo playing.
Such a small instrument! Some might consider it insignificant, but the maestro knew its worth and stopped to look for it.
Regardless of the source of oil and natural gas, critics see a serious downside. The emissions from these sources are blamed for increasing global temperatures and a host of other problems. In fact, a recent International Energy Agency report raised a dire warning that, without major adjustments, a much-discussed international plan to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would be doomed to fail. "In May, it was reported that the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii hit 400 parts per million, a high in human history, and the IEA’s goal is to help ensure that the level does not exceed 450 ppm by 2020. But even if that goal is met, it said, there is still only a 50 percent chance of keeping to the 2°C limit" (National Geographic).
In my reading time, I stumbled upon a story of Joan of Arc. As everyone knows, Joan was the fifteenth-century peasant girl who, divinely inspired, led a French army to a series of victories over the English. After Joan was captured, her enemies put her on trial as a heretic and did everything they could to break down her claims that God had spoken to her. "Does God speak to you in French?" she was asked. "I don’t know," Joan replied, "but I hear Him in French."
Seven days since the world enters the gate of 2014. The asking, "How’s your New Year" settled in and we have dwelt on the asking – what will be the year 2014. No one knows what lies ahead. How can we prepare for a future where the only constant is constant change? Does not it take enormous faith to confront an unknown tomorrow?
A story for those feelin’ self-righteous, be they religious, politicians, or nothin’ at all, for all of us, especially me, who one way or another have done something be it small, or big, or justifiable, yet sinful/wrong in the "Court of the Lord":
"Once upon a time there was a thief. He wasn’t really good at it. Not a professional at all. He was just a poor man, with hungry children and a wife who labored hard. He worked sometimes, but more often than not there was no job to be had and so no food either for hungry mouths. It pained him to see his wife and children suffer so it angered him that there was no pity in the kingdom, no kindness or generosity in his neighbors. He took a chance, a big chance and stole some food. The king’s law was death by hanging if a thief was caught. He got away with it often. He took bread, apples and flour when he could and sometimes a ribbon or two for the one he loved so.
The Advent Wreath is the most popular element which give Christian meaning to the waiting of Christmas or commonly called the "crown of lights of Advent". The wreath is usually a round stand, dressed with green leaves, to which four candles are placed. It is normally located near the altar, whether in the house or on the church. The candles are lighted gradually during the four weeks of Advent: one candle is lighted on the first Sunday, the second candle on the second Sunday, and so forth. On Christmas day, it is added a fifth candle which is lighted till the end of the Christmas season.
Why crown of lights of advent? The crown, which came from the North countries (Scandinavian), has universal symbolic origin: light as salvation, green as life, the round form as eternity. This symbolism was converted into a Christian symbol to express the waiting for Christ Jesus as Light and Life.
"Once upon a time there was a man who couldn’t find God. All the people lived on the plains and they were like people everywhere, some bad and some good. A man named John Shayo lived in the valley. He was a faithful Christian and participated in his small Armani Christian community, helping the poor and needy, especially the lepers who lived on the slope. But in the valley itself there was discord, thieves and tricksters walked about openly. There was fighting, witchcraft and lying. Finally John decided to move, saying to himself, "God isn’t here. God is the Unsurpassed Great Spirit who doesn’t like fighting and discord. He wants peace and harmonious relationships in his human family." John saw a mountain in the distance and thought, "ah, God our Great Ancestor must live up there in the quiet and peace. I will go and find God."
It took a long time, days and days, until he reached the mountain, and then he undertook the arduous climb in the burning equatorial sun. Late one day he rested by the side of the footpath. He was startled to see a bearded stranger with a staff making his way down the mountain. "Jambo!" they greeted each other. "What is the news?" John told him he was on his way up the mountain to see God the Creator and Source. The traveler said he was on his way down the mountain to live with all the people below. They talked as was the custom and parted with the greeting, "Goodbye until we meet again." As he continued his climb, John thought of the man and admired him. He spoke well. John wondered why he was going down to the valley.
Thornton Wilder’s play "Our Town", in it, Emily, who has died, returns to relive one day of her life, choosing her 12th birthday. She is overwhelmed at how blind people are to one another, how they don’t make time really to look at one another and see the preciousness of the human life before them. She begs her mother to look at her for just one minute with undistracted eyes. Finally the blind and blurred vision of those around her becomes too much and she begs to return to her grave.
Lots of time we are blind, like Emily’s mother in the story. We do not see the people around us in deep and appreciative ways. They are invisible to our heart. Or glimpse them only dimly in a fuzzy, half-hearted way like "trees walking". "Do you see anything?" Jesus asks (Mark 8.23, NRSV)
*November 6 is the birthday of Benjamin Hall Kennedy (1804,) who translated into English the great hymn "Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know."