A Thread of Faith

Have a blessed Easter!

A Thread of Faith cover


Sitting on an old boulder along the hillside, I watched quietly as if I had gone way back in time. Under the overcast skies, stood a few men that looked as though they were dressed in biblical robes milling about a field. Several knelt before the base of a rough-cut pole. I watched them pray in the shadows and observed the amazed disbelievers. They gazed upon the monument where the crucified King hung not so long ago. I presumed it must have been day four or five since He was entombed in the limestone cave. They stood praying in His honor and breaking off pieces of the treasured cross.

I heard a woman weeping as she threw herself around the base of the up righted cross. Aided by two disciples, she reached up and carefully removed the remains of His loincloth hanging from the driven spike. She tore the cloth into threads, and shared the pieces –much like a first communion. “Our Savior lives! Our Savior lives!” she announced. I began to shed a tear, for I knew the truth! They, too, saw the empty tomb and knew what happened to Him.

From her soiled hands, she passed out a thread of faith. Each of the disciples carried their pieces as a sacred memento. The doubters watched while others came forward and found salvation with her communion. As I watched, I could tell they were the first to become born-again Christians for they now accepted He was the Christ.

I don’t think they saw me; maybe I didn’t exist to them but what I saw while sitting on that ominous boulder in a pair of jeans was incredible! As much as I wanted to walk up to the site, I thought better of losing the mirage. I, a mere messenger, can only report what I saw that day. The sun broke through and before it set, I watched the rays as they lifted them into the heavens.

A Thread of Faith verse

On The Wings of a Dove

On The Wings of a Dove cover


 

I need sleep but I’m too tired to rest. Desiring perseverance, my body draws into a knot. God mercifully tries to lead me, but my schedule doesn’t permit His desires. So, I rush from one job to another—chasing that squirrel in a round box. My spirit dwindles like the cloudy, rainy weather forming puddles and then floods. I stab at a sense of balance but some things just cannot be grasped, no matter how much you’re convinced it’s possible. It reminds me of poking more holes into a piece of Swiss cheese.

I listen to the rain on the roof and can’t help but think there’s a message, somehow, in its sound. As I try to hear what God wants for me, I remain. A dam restrains the beauty of the shoreline – the very edge we are drawn to initially. Hmm…. is it really worth it? So gracious is His grace that we overlook the obvious signs. We fight to survive instead of going with the flow as an adventurer paddling our way downstream.

A tear comes as I try to understand the complexity of life, and age-old questions stay aloft. Why do things need to be so hard? Even storm clouds eventually break apart to allow rays of sunshine! My chest aches as my spirit reflects Noah’s forecast. Exhausted as the season procrastinates its departure, a welcomed friend has overstayed its invitation.

I stare at the jonquils of life and their smiling faces detect a glimmer of hope. Has God sent them to deliver a message? I pray so! I’ll wait for tomorrow. Maybe then, it will come on the wings of a dove, resonating light at the shoreline of the water’s edge.

 

On The Wings of a Dove verse

Making Amends

An Artist’s Tribute to Palm Sunday: “The Last Supper”

Amends cover
“Truly I say to you, that one of you shall betray me”

Many times in life we must look at things in wonder. For centuries, disconcert plays a role in many people’s lives. One such situation you may be unaware of was set in 1495. The Duke of Milan wanted to have a contest for artists. The quest was to see who could depict the best painting of an unknown event from their imagination. This painting would be placed in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. So, word went out across the land to bring knowledge and talent and put their skills to the test.

Artists came from far and wide to show their talents. One such flagrant depicter had a reputation for never completing his works. Not qualified to even be considered, he stood by the wayside as others were rejected for their inequality of workmanship. Soon enough, the list was narrowed down to just two contenders. It was between the one you already know and another who was less fortunate to be made second runner-up. Now as the story goes, these two artists did not think much of each other’s skills. In fact, they detested their perspective abilities and reputations. Despising each other brought tensions and deceit. After painting a mock version of the duke’s request, Leonardo da Vinci was awarded the job, and he began to paint.

Amends da vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

Depicting the unimaginable, yet showing great reverence for the somber occasion, his characters developed from common people serving as models – some were off the street and one was just out of prison. But of all those who posed for this infamous painting, it was the character of Jesus that Leonardo struggled with and could not accomplish…. at least not until he made amends with his colleague who wasn’t as lucky as him. Da Vinci could not paint Jesus’s eyes until he asked for forgiveness.

Looking into the eyes of those who don’t see as we, forgiveness is all Christ asks of us. In the reflections, deep in the portals of the subconscious, Jesus stands with us. His eyes, as in the painting of “The Last Supper”, pierces our hearts and minds. It should remind us of our own integrity–-primary, and our lives in His hands. And as we celebrate our Savior’s passing may we never forget we can all partake in the last supper. Just look into Christ’s eyes and you will see.

 


Interesting Facts of “The Last Supper” Painting

  • Leonardo, prior to this contest, had no experience painting large pictures. It took him four years to complete it.
  • The original painting was 15 x 29 feet long.
  • The Last Supper was originally painted by experimenting with tempura paint on a dry, plaster wall. Even before it was finished, it flaked off the walls. It had to be re-done a few times by da Vinci.
  • Two exact copies of da Vinci’s Last Supper are known to exist. They were created by Leonardo’s assistants and are remarkably well preserved.
  • The painting was made to depict Matthew 26:21.

Amends Matthew 26

  • Very little of the original painting exists today. It was heavily damaged by Napoleon Bonaparte’s soldiers in the late 18th century, and then disintegrated by the Nazis in World War II. In fact, it has been restored seven times.
  • In 1652, monastery residents cut a new door in the wall of the deteriorating painting, which removed a chunk of the artwork showing the feet of Jesus.
  • All prior versions of “The Last Supper” had halos over the disciples and Jesus’s heads. However, Leonardo da Vinci did not paint them and many today speculate it was because he saw everyone as just ordinary people – not saints.

Amends Last Supper with halos

 

  • Da Vinci’s drawings show that most bodily proportions use the fascinating Golden Ratio: two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities. Not just a simple painting!

Amends The Golden Ratio

 

  • Want to see the original painting in person? You must book a viewing at least several months in advance. Each visit consists of fifteen minutes in groups of 20-25 visitors, and you must be dressed conservatively.

Amends Da Vinci Code

 

Divine Wisdom

Divine Wisdom cover


The night arrives, and chapters close. A sigh of relief appears in the moonlight. We seek God and thank him for our many blessings. We’ve seen Satan’s power surrounding our world as life tears from God’s holy chosen. Endeavors of many, though, try to conquer evil but fail.

With the strength of faith and armored by prayer, we look to our Father for inner peace. He assures us we will never be left behind. Though times are tough and we struggle daily, God prepares us for our future with His love and divine wisdom.

In the restless night, we worry and pray for dawn to come. Hopefully, the evil dominating our past will be removed with a new day. It’s only a miracle God brings us through the trials as we press on to survive. Survival substantiates the verses, for God, in all His righteousness, never tells a lie. The Bible instructs us to obtain wisdom for discernment, at all cost, through constant prayer. We must remember – prayers are a messenger; without them, we cannot communicate or receive divine wisdom.

Divine Wisdom 1

God’s wisdom gets to the heart of our matters and sets aside all other human emotions to deliver peace abundantly. So, let us give thanks for majestic mornings. At times, we may wonder if it’s even worth the trouble to make our bed, never seeing the fortitude. But even in the dimmest of hopes, He admires your integrity. If we set our sights on newer blessed horizons, our Lord will stand firm with his arms around us. He guides us through the winter squalls, and our patience is protected.

Humanity can find true wisdom in a real relationship with our Savior. Let’s make ourselves an example to others.

Divine Wisdom cover


 

 

Flavor of the Charm

God bless my home!

Flavor of the Charm cover.jpg


Waking to the scent of salt and Old Bay Seasoning, the street vendors set up in the dawn’s damp, early light. The sun reflects off the wakes of the trolling fishing boats leaving port. Tourists rise and walk the docks to watch the traditions of the hometown’s men carrying out their family traditions. Cobblestones from the 1800s, chatter beneath push carts loaded with vegetables, and fresh crustaceans line the walks.

Flavor of the Charm 1

A group of dressed whites parades from the Naval Academy, adding to the flavor of the charm and reminiscent of Olde Town. The sun has changed the sky from a glow of orange to a bright blue with brush strokes of cumulus sweeping in the early light. A gentle breeze meanders up the canal through the rigging and masts. The burgees lay sleeping, awakened in the wind as God anoints the atmosphere surrounding Annapolis.

Dogs frolic in the sun, chasing twigs thrown in the water as nearby ducks lay sleeping. And children play stickball in the alleyways behind, echoing the joy of growing up in an era long gone. I turn my back to the memories of what once was and look away. Do I need to ask what happened to this beautiful colonial capital?

Flavor of the Charm 3
Photo by Dana Bicks LLC; City docks

 

Flavor of the Charm 2

 

Flavor of the Charm 4

Annapolis has great historical significance, but now architects are creating design buildings like disfigured boxes. The old charm that once existed is out the window. The old flare of early architectures has rotted away and roads rerouted. Nothing reminds me of the flavor of the charm of where I once lived. Memories of the past are now left in my subconscious.

My heart sadly sinks like an old wooden skipjack beached on an oyster bed, left to weather its fate. I feel the chill as I bundle up guarding my heart against the homeland I once loved. The quaint charm is now abandoned by modernity. It lies in ruin inside the depths of souls, along with our forefathers that pushed the carts on its cobblestone streets.

Flavor of the Charm 5.png

I come to God to preserve my faint memories while saying grace. Life was simpler, the pace was slower, and the grace of God was prevalent. Families of generations were born there – from Puritans and Baptists to marriages in the little churches our forefathers stood in 1708. Annapolis, once called the “Athens of America”, possesses more original 18th century structures still standing than any other city in the United States. God bless my home!

Flavor of the Charm 6

Prayers 101

Prayers 101 cover


I’m standing in the middle of the field, halfway from where I started and halfway toward my future. Looking up, it seems like there are four thousand people. My heart sinks. As I intently observe, I wonder what they are thinking? Are they or are they not praying? It could be they are only here physically, but not mentally. I’m not sure at this point.

So I begin with, “Good morning!” It’s dead silent.

OK, let’s try this again, but louder. “GOOD MORNING!”

If only 50% of the people replying to my greeting was any indicator, then I guess this might be the problem, but I begin to talk anyway. “My first question is, who prays? Do you subconsciously pray, or do you reverently ask your Father in heaven for His advice and direction out loud? Do you only pray in church? Why? Hey! Why don’t we pray right here, in this beautiful atmosphere – outside in the bright sunshine?” The crowd, as a whole, was perplexed by my invitation.

I spoke, “Let’s bow our heads, shall we? Heavenly Father, we thank you for the wonderful bright sunshine. Thank you to those who came to share in this occasion. If I can only reach out and touch just one person today Father, then I have succeeded, and I pray to please You. Amen.”

People looked at me as if I had two heads, but I had to find out how they prayed. So, I came up with a simple idea. I asked, “How many of you are married?” Most raised their hands but still doubting my intentions.

My next question stumped them. “Of the married people here, how many of you spoke your vows subconsciously instead of out loud to one another?” No one raised their hand.

So I continued, “Why did you share your vows on that special day with God verbally, but you can’t pray the same? And speaking of a church, what if you tied the knot at home or possibly at sea on a yacht? Maybe a garden was your favorite spot? My point is when you pray, you are speaking to a God that loves you deeply, and He wants to hear what you have to say. You don’t have to sound spiritual – just talk to him as a friend! Share your personal life and thoughts with him for He continuously listens to you. If we pray aloud with others, it will strengthen not just you but all that have gathered.

Prayers 101 Matt 18,20

But, understand when you can’t find the words to speak, the Holy Spirit knows what you think and need, and speaks to God for us.

Prayers 101, Romans 8

God is omnipresent-–you have to believe. But, if you don’t believe in prayer, then you only get out what you put in. God put us here for a purpose, and if you don’t know yours, you will soon.”

I closed my speech with, “Go in peace and with God in your heart. Amen.”

People ushered out, and those that clapped were about the same that responded when I said, “Good Morning.” This proves my point. You only receive what you bring to God in prayer.

Facing East

Obscure details of facing east and swans….

Facing East cover


The tall tree trunks somberly stood alone. I wondered if evil lied under the fallen leaves and decomposed twigs. Even the heavens were shaded in the dark by the bark as branches lurched toward me. I turned my back toward the dark, fearing the worst, and prayed as another sun poised on the horizon. My God, my God! Where is the respect for mankind?

I found my place as though I was in an arena. The first act was about to begin. The curtains drew up on the stage and lights glowed. It was inconceivable to me that a horizontal stage could ever look so beautiful. I impatiently waited. I wondered how many more suns God would permit me to enjoy before it’s my turn. The world was flat as far as the eye could see, but I remained optimistic that He would protect His chosen forever. I sat alone and watched, wondering, and waiting…

Not a sound did I make for I could wake the earth. I waited on the heavens to prevail as though the world remained still. Was this Jesus’s second coming? Maybe it was time, so I prayed. Sitting in His awesomeness, I clutched my soul. I knew my Father from above was present. The rays of heaven shone in my direction. It was too late to prepare, so I accepted the inevitable. I called your name to share in the phenomena, but you couldn’t hear me. So, I rose to the occasion and stood still yet not a sound, nor a ripple came from the waters below.

In all the holiness of dawn, I asked God if it was time, yet the silence persisted. A gentle hint of something in the air invaded the chemistry. Then a wedge of swans took off from around the point and mallards scattered from the noise. A sweat erupted from within me. I guess I was wrong – it wasn’t today!

From this day forward, I remain vigilant, facing east, for I know God’s Son is not far from making a grand entrance. His perfect stage is right here beneath my feet, and I never knew it until now.

 


EDITOR’S NOTES:

Upon reading this beautiful piece, I did some religious research on the direction of facing east and swans. The author, Dana, and I was surprised to find out the following information after he wrote it. Seemingly obscure details can teach us something.

 

The Significance of Facing East and Swans

Tombstones are often placed facing east to see the past and present. You will see God coming at the rapture. If you want to move onward to heaven, you must travel westward now, towards a future with God. The east is the source of blessings and divine salvation only on earth.

graves

 

Christian churches were built with their entrances facing west so that worshipers faced east during the services as they looked toward the altar.

The Garden of Eden from Genesis was entered into from the east, facing west. People exited west, facing the east.

In Matthew 24:27, Jesus details what happens in His Second Coming.

Facing East bible verse

 

Clergy members are buried facing west. An educated guess signifies that when the dead are risen, clergy will rise facing their congregations, ready to lead their people once again.

 

The symbolism of swans signifies spiritual devotion and the presence of angels. They give you wisdom and guidance you need at the moment.

Facing East swan

The swan acts as a messenger of faith.

The swan symbolizes the end of one’s life.