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Feb 1 23

God’s beauty in us all

by davesandel

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

God’s beauty in us all

There are heroes, and then there are heroes in their home town.

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place. He began teaching on the Sabbath.

Thirty years ago Chris Street was killed by a snowplow on his way home after a University of Iowa basketball banquet. At an Iowa basketball game last night his family was honored and he was remembered, a hometown hero unforgotten.

I think the citizens of Nazareth would eventually see Jesus differently, after hearing their neighbors’ stories of healing and preaching, after his death and resurrection, after they began to understand what he was telling them about themselves.

But not yet.

They said, “Where did the man get all this? Is he not the carpenter, son of Mary, brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? Are not his sisters here with us?”

This man is one of us, and we aren’t anything special. Is he just being arrogant and acting superior to us?

And they took offense at him.

It’s so easy for me to look down from my lofty heights and think they were fools. But of course I’d have the same problem with a hero from my high school, from my home town. Admire them, sure, with some reluctance. Resent them too, in secret shadowy corners of my mind. Wonder why I can’t be like they are, admired and famous because of their words and deeds.

We have our psychological belittling label for those who think they are very special. They have a “messiah” complex. That’s our escape clause. There has been only one messiah.

But even then receiving him was a difficult, doubting thing.

Jesus said, “A prophet is honored except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.

Do I believe in Jesus?

Well, do I believe in the beauty and works of many around me, as they are freed by their Father to be all that they can be? Do I believe in God’s beauty in myself? The jump from Jesus to the rest of us isn’t as far as it might seem.

Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith.

None of them could heal or deliver others from demons, or understand the Hebrew texts like Jesus. None of us can either. But all of us, beginning with Jesus, are filled with God’s power to do all those things in our own way. I think again of the Hebrews verse in both yesterday’s and today’s lectionary:

Brothers and sisters, in your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.

But victory in that struggle isn’t about a good deed-filled life; it’s about the way that life comes about – by fighting through my ego and surrendering it, then by listening to the Spirit living inside me calling out the hero. And loving others when that happens in them.

The Lord disciplines the ones he loves.

(Hebrews 12, Psalm 103, John 10, Mark 6)

(posted at


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Jan 31 23

Complete list of January 2023 Daily Devotions with links

by davesandel

Complete list of January 2023 Daily Devotions with links


January 1        The first day

January 2        Standing on the promises

January 3        In my Father’s house are many mansions

January 4        What’s a family for?

January 5        Get ready for the magi

January 6        Big as the sky at night

January 7        Of weddings and wine

January 8        Listen to your imagination

January 9        Oh, the water

January 10      Politics at the capitol

January 11      A day in the life

January 12      Lean in

January 13      Resting in the promises

January 14      God’s word, in the hands of God

January 15      Much more than 12 volts

January 16      A spoonful of sugar

January 17      My hope is built on nothing less

January 18      The case of the withered hand

January 19      Peacock feathers

January 20      Ozarks forever

January 21      We are not as strong as we think we are

January 22      Conversation at the bar

January 23      Living right on

January 24      For the love of God, the Lord of laughter

January 25      Siam Terrace at night

January 26      Praying with family

January 27      The high cost of kidneys

January 28      Just a tiny snowflake short and stout

January 29      Look what the wind blew in

January 30      Jesus shows us the shadow

January 31      Miracles then and now

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Jan 31 23

Haiku for every day of January 2023

by davesandel

Haiku for every day of January 2023


January 1                   

Anytime or where –

This great eternal movie

We say YES with joy


January 2

Bowl football for Ill

Great game but last second loss

Best year in so long!


January 3

Liar? Lunatic?

Lord – allows us to worship

Him … and so we do


January 4

Tell me what to do

I don’t know how to do this

You empower me


January 5

Let God tell us this:

“You are weak, and I am strong.

Trust me with yourselves.”


January 6

I am so afraid

And so are you, but of what?

Leave control to God


January 7

Cost everything? Nothing?

It’s Monopoly money

Or long trains of gold


January 8

Spirit transformer

Sealed inside me forever

Waiting permission


January 9

Texas capitol

With Jasper, watching this world

Through his cam’ra lens


January 10

Newspaper noticed

Jasper could soon be famous 

Texas culture shock


January 11

Talk of tequila

And God – Back Yard just the place

With Harlow and Ben


January 12

I quit. I am yours

In all I say, all I do

Your thoughts are my thoughts


January 13

Friday the thirteenth

Let’s go to the library!

Read a scary book 


January 14

left the dome lights on

battery is dead! Me too?

Get perspective, Dave!


January 15

We broke our tent (pole)!

Boys here for wild sleepover

Watched Mary Poppins


January 16

Georgetown here we come

Holiday trip to Aldi (MLK Day)

Miles, Jasper both


January 17

Hangin’ out with George

Anne, Margaret, Cultivate

We all talked and talked


January 18

Peacocks strut downtown

Jasper follows them and we

Will follow Jasper


January 19

Jack’s scholastic bowl

And there’s Aly’s volleyball

Fun for whole fam’ly


January 20

Old Britannica

My friend Mike can’t wait for it

Two empty bookshelves!


January 21

Mary Kay scrapbook

I can lose myself in this

History with Mom


January 22

Throw yourself right in –

Spirit, truth, relationships –

God’s sweet soup for us


January 23

look down deep and see

salvation – costume jewelry

or tarnished silver?


January 24

Heavy metal screams!

I need my monkey buddy

Together we thrive


January 25

Snow storm, no weddings

In Danville, no folks to see

What a good plan, God!


January 26

Bronchitis, Deem says

Surely I can sleep awhile

Curl up, cozy, rest


January 27

Walleye at Bunny’s

Time to talk with server – Marc

In his element


January 28

Storms catch up with me

Darkness, Arkansas pothole

Made it to motel


January 29

Bubble in my tire

500 high speed miles

Miracles don’t cease


January 30

Grandparents play on

Jasper’s play-doh holiday

Read books by the fire


January 31

Stuffy nose, dry mouth

Icy sky, road, windshields too

Sit and start a fire

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Jan 31 23

Miracles then and now

by davesandel

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Miracles then and now

Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

In the dark, rain pelting the windshield, listening to a Tony Hillerman audio book, cozy and only an hour away from my motel, wham! Not another car but the highway, a horrible pothole. It slammed into my left front tire and left me reeling.

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.

Of course this is the kind of thing that gets people killed. Right away I remembered a pothole we hit with friends on a beautiful spring day which promptly changed all our plans. Blowout in the country, and there we were, watching each other watch each other while the driver changed the tire. At least we had a tire.

And I remembered Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and my last blowout. The yellow tire-low light popped up, and that was that. I changed the tire myself, and found a repair shop nearby that replaced two tires in just a few minutes. This time, there were no tire-low lights suddenly shining in the dark. The car did not swerve, it just drove right on into the cold rain.

I passed two cars pulled over on the shoulder of Interstate 40. I could see one of their tires, blown to pieces. On a Saturday night, in a rainstorm, an hour plus north of Little Rock, I thought I would be there too, maybe for several hours, but … I was not. And soon I arrived at the motel. I checked the tire, a little dent in the rim. Nothing else seemed wrong. Even with my stuffed up sinuses I slept well.

In the morning the rain mostly stopped. Looked a little more closely at the tire, and I found a small bubble on the side. The car rode just fine. So I drove home 500 miles, through Dallas, always on high speed highways.

My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live. And Jesus went with Jairus.

Of course I prayed for safe travels. I didn’t know about bubbles on a tire, and in my ignorance I broke all the rules. It’s kind of like air bubbles in a syringe – if they get into your bloodstream they can kill you. That bubble could have burst at any time, but it did not.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. If I but touch the hem of his garment, I will be cured. She touched the cloak of Jesus, and immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt her healing. Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” She approached Jesus in fear and trembling. In tears she spoke the whole truth.

Today I noticed the left front headlight was out. No doubt the slam bam pothole broke a filament or two. I didn’t notice that Saturday night, and on Sunday I drove only in the daylight. Tonight, after reading the uncompromising, unanimous internet opinions about absolutely not driving on a tire with a bubble, I’m walking in a daze around our apartment, grateful for every breath. Grateful that I know a good mechanic in Austin, this city of more than two million souls. And he’s not far away.

There have been a few moments like this in my seventy plus years, when my life would have been over … but it was not. Gratitude, amazement, awe, surrender … joy shivers through my body head to toe. God’s protection, covers me every instant, it is REAL. It covers us all. Evil breaks in for a moment, but joy lasts for a lifetime.

Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

But in the meantime Jairus’ daughter had died. “Why trouble the teacher any longer?”

Jesus insisted on being troubled.

The child is not dead, but asleep. The people laughed at him, when Jesus said that, but he took the child’s mother and father into her bedroom and took the girl by the hand. “Talitha, koum,” he said. “Little child, arise.” Then she arose immediately, and walked around. “Give her something to eat,” he said.

(Hebrews 12, Psalm 22, Matthew 8, Mark 5)

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Jan 30 23

Jesus shows us the shadow

by davesandel

Monday, January 30, 2023

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Jesus shows us the shadow

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea.  When Jesus got out of the boat he was met at once by a man who lived in the tombs. He had an unclean spirit; he lived alone because no one was strong enough to subdue him. He was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.

Such a long day of driving south, into Texas. The sky got bigger as I drove. It felt so sweet to pull into an open parking spot in front of our apartment.

I listened to my childhood Lutheran service at 8 am. Pastor Mark told his congregation he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He preached about the “already, now and not yet” of our lives, and indeed, of his own life. Sunday’s Gospel was from Matthew 5 – the Beatitudes of Jesus. Blessed are those who … are meek, who are poor, who grieve, who are hungry, who are merciful and pure in heart, who are peacemakers. If we are pure in heart, he said, it’s because Jesus has purified us.

Before the confession of sins, the congregation sings from Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God – ” a pure heart, a new heart, where the Holy Spirit can dwell in peace.

He made his personal announcement at the end of the service. I imagined how difficult it was for him, now that the liturgy and prayers and preaching were over. Standing up in front of his church, in his white robe, speaking of his own fragility, I felt his courage and was proud to be listening. And I thought of what Richard Rohr said last week about what Jung called our “shadow.”

The shadow is that part of the self that we don’t want to see, we don’t want others to see, and of which we’re always afraid. Our tendency is to try to hide it or deny it, even and most especially from ourselves. Jesus, quoting the prophet Isaiah, describes it as “listening but not understanding, seeing but not perceiving” (Matthew 13:14–15). 

Pastor Mark’s preaching consistently describes our human depravity, and often he shares personal confession. Invariably he reminds his congregation that God is our rescuer, that Jesus comes to save us.

Jesus asked the unclean spirit, “What is your name?”

Legion is my name. There are many of us. Please do not drive us away. Send us into that herd of swine instead! Let us enter them. And Jesus let them.

Of course preaching is just a piece of the Christian life. It is difficult for churches and Christians to face the darkness for more than a few moments at a time. In fact, focusing on God and his good usually shoves our shadow deep into the closet.

Archaic religion and most of the history of religion has seen the shadow as the problem. Such religion is about getting rid of the shadow. This is the classic example of dealing with the symptom instead of the cause. We cannot really get rid of the shadow. We can only expose its game—which (if we persist) results, in great part, in getting rid of its effects. 

Mark’s story of the swine is more vivid and desperate than stories we tell of our own lives, or of our own churches. But it rings with contemporary truth.

People came to see. They saw the man who had been possessed, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear. They saw the pigs had run over a cliff, all killed. And they pleaded with Jesus to leave their town.

Radical healing is hard to understand and difficult to receive. Middle-class Americans mostly seem afraid to need anything, even forgiveness, except in liturgical ceremonies. But how can God clean my heart if it’s not dirty?

Jesus and the prophets deal with the cause, which is the ego. Our problem is not our shadow self as much as our over-defended ego, which always sees and hates its own faults in other people, and thus avoids its own conversion.  

Jesus turns the tables on our egos. He surprises us by loving us in our sin and accepting us as we are. It’s out of that acceptance that true transformation is born. Rohr ends his reflection thinking of how Jesus does this, and why.

Jesus is not too interested in moral purity because he knows that any preoccupation with repressing the shadow does not lead us into personal transformation, empathy, compassion, or patience, but invariably into denial or disguise, repression or hypocrisy. Isn’t that rather evident? Immature religion creates a high degree of cognitively rigid people or very hateful and attacking people—and often both. It is almost the public image of Christianity today, yet God’s goal is exactly the opposite.

Sitting and listening to my Lutheran service, in the car under the big sky, I prayed for Pastor Mark and the nature of his own personal “already, now and not yet.” Jesus will show us each our shadow one way or another, and always we are the better for it.

The man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with Jesus, but he would not let him. “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”

 (Hebrews 11, Psalm 31, Luke 7, Mark 5)

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Jan 29 23

Look what the wind blew in

by davesandel

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 29, 2023

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Look what the wind blew in

Jesus saw the crowds and went up the mountain. After he had sat down, he began to teach them.

After a few days of cold snowy and then freezing rainy weather in Urbana, I drove back to Austin and it looks like I’m bringing the cold weather with me (although it is weather in the 40’s, not the 20’s). But while I’ve been gone Austin has been 20 plus degrees warmer than it will be tomorrow.

Before I left I finished a fabulous plate of walleye on Friday night at Bunny’s served by my son and friend, Marc. Cole slaw, french fries, malt vinegar and tartar sauce made in house, not too sweet, plus what my Wisconsin buddy called tanq and tonic in a beautiful glass. The bar was full, so I sat at a table and read my book. Another older guy sat at the table in front of me reading his magazine.

Six counseling appointments on Friday rounded out my week, which was often and on very busy, then not busy at all. My bronchitis pills seem to be working, slowly. And even if part of the process is placebo-y, I know I’m getting better. Going back into cedar fever country? Who told you to do that? Well, I’m going anyway, and my eyes may go crazy again.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Reading Matthew 5 and Jesus’ beatitudes immediately reminds me of Robert Barron’s series on Catholicism that Don first shared with me, and which I shared with Margaret, and then we shared with many others. What a wonderful set of videos, filmed all over the world. Fr. Barron read the beatitudes as “happy’s:” Happy are the meek, happy are the poor …

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

There are many parts of the trip from Austin to Urbana where the countryside looks poor, and I believe many of the people are too. As everywhere, the cities are divided between fancy glass towers and scrappy old houses. Dirt in cities abounds. Small towns offer no opportunities, but cities offer false hopes, so often. And then when the winds blow, dirt gets in the cracks and crevices. City dirt seems dirtier than country dirt. I guess I’m a country mouse from way back, and living in Chicago and New York and San Francisco and London and Austin over the years hasn’t changed me much, not the deep inside parts of me.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

But that’s OK. At least there is water in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. For now anyway. The Colorado River is drying up, and the dirt is blowing into the houses out there too. I am glad to remember Jesus’ silver linings, and rest in his promises, sleeping to the sound of the wind, peaceful in the place where I am right now.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for great will be your reward in heaven.

 (Zephaniah 2-3, Psalm 146, 1 Corinthians 1, Matthew 5)

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Jan 28 23

Just a tiny snowflake, short and stout

by davesandel

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Just a tiny snowflake, short and stout

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

I took all my new pills this morning. I don’t know if any of them take instant effect. Maybe the prednisone, first of five days only. But I’m still wheezing. Actually more than yesterday. Today is just another snowflake, falling softly from the sky. Soon it will touch the earth, and melt, water the world awhile and then rise again to fall, again, its own self each time, fearfully and wonderfully made.

I spent awhile looking anxiously at the pills before I took them. The expensive one, especially. Was I poisoning myself? Later I talked with Deb, my spiritual director, about finding my own balance between using modern meds to stay alive, on the one hand, and settling into a more natural death, whenever that might come, letting it come with less interference, less “resuscitation.”

Death interrupted? Or death waited for and welcomed? James Joyce, writing from his youth, wrote in Portrait of the Artist:

He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted.  … Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

He also wrote, in the same book:

You can still die when the sun is shining.

On second thought, he didn’t write that, at least I couldn’t find it in my Kindle copy. It didn’t sound quite right to me, so I searched. Someone put that on the Goodreads page without guilt –maybe they made it up themselves. But anyway, Joyce wrote convincingly and joyfully out of his youth, once he was freed from Irish Catholic dogma and someone looking always over his shoulder. I wrote my own poems of joy about youth too, when I was young. Now I look for poetry and joy at the advent of my last days (or years). As did Joyce, as do we all.

Thomas Aquinas included. He too had to liberate himself from his worldly, wealthy family and their plans for him, and then from jaded professors caught in the Platonic Christianity of the 13th century. With his dazzling mind and patient, pleasant spirit, he peopled Plato’s shadows (in Plato’s famous cave which represented the world) and firmed them up with flesh. Aristotle opened Aquinas’ mind to the world around him, and he never closed it again.  In his biography of Aquinas, Chesterton caught this situation with his incomparable prose. (All the quotes are from St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox)

Aquinas felt subconsciously that the hold of his people was slipping on the solid Catholic doctrine and discipline, worn smooth by more than a thousand years of routine … For some time the Catholic church had been too Platonist to be popular. It needed something like the shrewd and homely touch of Aristotle to turn it again into a religion of common sense.

Aquinas participated in hundreds of debates and wrote thousands of pages of philosophy and theology, taking apart false dogmas and strengthening right ones. Then when he was 48 or 49, during a Christmas Eve mass he had a vision and stopped writing altogether. Chesterton described that moment:

Soon his friend Reginald asked him to return to his regular habits of reading and writing, and following the controversies of the hour. He said with a singular emphasis, “I can write no more.” He was silent for awhile. Reginald approached the subject again. “I can write no more. I have seen things which make all my writings like straw.”

“What I have written is nothing but a pile of straw.” Thomas did accept a papal mission to a council in Lyon in the coming weeks, but on his journey there he stopped to visit his sister, was stricken with an unknown malady, and “his strange end came upon him with great strides.” At the monastery where he was taken, he asked to have The Song of Solomon read through to him from beginning to end. Aquinas was a poet (who wrote poems) as well as a theologian and philosopher.

Aquinas rose to obey his pope in automatic obedience, as a soldier rises, but we may fancy there was something in his eyes that told those around him that obedience to the outer command would not in fact frustrate obedience to some more mysterious inner command, a signal that only he had seen … there must have been a moment (as he lay in his deathbed) when men knew the thunderous mill of thought had stopped suddenly; and that after the shock of stillness that wheel would shake the world no more; that there was nothing now within that hollow house but a great hill of clay; and the confessor, who had been with him in the inner chamber, ran forth as if in fear, and whispered that his confession had been that of a child of five.

Oh! That life we each live from dust to dust, all our days like snowflakes melting into the earth, to which we too eventually return.

And then the judgment. Come, Lord Jesus.

Brothers and sisters: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things unseen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.

(Hebrews 11, Luke 1, John 3, Mark 4)

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Jan 27 23

The high cost of kidneys

by davesandel

Friday, January 27, 2023

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

The high cost of kidneys

Sure, I’ve been spoiled. I’m 73 and never spent significant money on medicine before today. If you count $424.83 as significant, and that’s for three months. But as Dr. Deem told me, “If my doc told me I could spend $100/month to keep my kidneys, I’d do it.”

Well, when you put it like that.

And after I met the $300 deductible today, maybe that’s what the medicine will cost. Or less. But still, so much more than $12, or $3, or zero. I met with my friend John at his house in Champaign this morning, and we talked about the idea of “natural” death (which I wrote about a few days ago), where we skip medicines and treatments that prolong life too long. How long is too long? Does this “Jardiance” count? It’s preventive, but most things are. I could tell myself I won’t prolong life, but it kind of creeps up on you, I think. I could stop going to the doctor every six months. I could ignore the heaviness inside me that feels like pneumonia or something more horrible (turns out it’s a touch of bronchitis). I guess I’ll just take it one appointment at a time.

The salvation of the just comes from the Lord. Trust in the Lord. Do good, that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.

Dr. Deem does his own family books and is quite a handyman around the house. His wife and kids are at the doctor all the time, and he says his own insurance isn’t that great, so he’s always writing checks for a doctor visit or some medicine. That surprised me, but why should a doctor and his family be less vulnerable to sickness? We haven’t talked about it much, but I know he “trusts in the Lord, and does good.”

Dwell in the land be fed in security.

He has called me a few times in the evening after our appointments, when he should be home with his family. He has energy that comes from deep inside him, and it doesn’t seem to fade. Where does that depth begin?

By the Lord are the steps of a man made firm, and He approves his way.

One thing I noticed when I first met him is that after our appointment he put my compression socks back on for me. He also pulls the wax out of my ears each time I come, even when that requires special tools. He remembers a lot from our past visits, things that aren’t on the computer screen or in the lab results.

On Dr. Deem’s information sheet, here’s what he wrote:

I have always and will always strive to make my patients feel that they are important and that they have complete attention during our visits. When they leave I want them to feel that I have listened to their concerns and have taken them seriously.

So. I feel safe with this guy. He has lots of patients, and he lives out his words. He listens to me and insists that I listen to him. That’s a tough balancing act sometimes. He won’t let me die “naturally,” perhaps, but I can make that decision on my own.

When you’ve developed a rapport with your boss, you can look forward to going to work. When I have a doctor I trust, I can look forward to our visits, especially when I remember how stable and secure both our lives are in the hands of God.

We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.

(Hebrews 10, Psalm 37, Matthew 11, Mark 4)

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Jan 26 23

Praying with family

by davesandel

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Praying with family

God, who does not lie, promised the hope of eternal life before time began and revealed his word by the command of God our savio, to Titus, my true child in our common faith. Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior.

I may never get enough sleep. As the snow fell, so did I, back to sleep once, twice, three times. At night I sleep two or three hours and awaken several times. There is no one here in Urbana with me most of the time, and when I wake up I make a lot of noise. Gradually the noise changes to prayer, prayer that I wouldn’t want to share with others because it’s mostly bellowing and shouting. I make quite a din before I settle down. Call it Primal Prayer.

Good morning, Lord! Thank you, Jesus! Rescue me, Holy Spirit! I will not be afraid! Our Father who art in heaven!

I guess I’m trying to wake up and shake myself out of my discomfort and sleepiness. When I’m noisy I don’t miss so much the sounds and company of others. And I want to remind myself that God does not lie. God listens to all my noise and in the middle touches me, and then I rest. In all my loneliness, pain, impatience and incompleteness God’s promise of the hope of eternal life stands strong. Not only for Titus, but for me.

Because of your sincere faith I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So bear your share of hardship with the strength that comes from God.

Not only for Timothy, but for me.

Not only for me, but for you. God does not play favorites.

I drove through Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri before arriving in Illinois. And in Illinois I felt welcomed and surrounded by my family. We talked awhile, ate food, and prayed together. We don’t always do this praying together, but this time we did. Jack and Aly joined Chris and Melissa, who surrounded me. I drove down the road to Mary Kay and Jim’s house, where we looked through a great scrapbook, one of many that Mom made over the last thirty years of her life. And we prayed together over that scrapbook.

I kept on driving down the road to Lincoln and met John at Mom’s house. (It’s John’s house now, of course … one of these days I’ll stop using the old words) We talked about money and loaded a thirty-volume, forty-year old Encyclopedia Britannica set into my car, a gift for my friend Mike who has dreamed of owning a Britannica for many years. And we prayed together, over the books and the house and our partnership as brothers and friends.

It doesn’t get any better than this. But then I also prayed together with Marc, and with Andi, and with Margaret, in person and over the online distance. And it doesn’t get any better than that, either. The togetherness I feel with all of them doesn’t end when we say Amen. They are all with me now.

So I don’t need to make so much clatter when I wake up, pretending that I’m not alone. Because I’m not.

Announce his salvation, day after day. The Lord is king. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more.

(2 Timothy 1, Psalm 96, Psalm 119, Mark 4)

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Jan 25 23

Siam Terrace at night

by davesandel

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Siam Terrace at night

A light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

We sat, the three of us, at a four-top near the front window and the door. It was a little chilly there, so I kept my coat on. I was exhausted. Long day’s journey into night, with hiccups on top of a cough, sore red eyes and a dripping, stuffed up nose. Ugh. Ugly. But Marc and his friend were happy to be here, and I was happy to be with them.

Tonight a winter snow storm is forecast for central Illinois. I have been on the verge of sick all day, and tomorrow I have a day off, and I hope to sleep and sleep and sleep. Marc would like to drive to Evansville to see Grandma Dot, who is in the hospital. His friend is taking welding classes, and going to class tomorrow. I’m the lazy one, but I’m also the sick one.

The men who were traveling with Saul stood speechless. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he could not see, and he neither ate nor drank.

Those guys were so friendly to me. They held open the car door and closed it after I got in. They paid for my meal. I thought chicken soup would be good: spicy coconut milk, mushrooms, green onion, galangal and chicken in a “steam pot” that a burner underneath kept hot. It was good. What else would I order if I have a cold?

Marc’s buddy just dropped off his daughter at her mom’s. The two of them share the love with their 2-year-old, and they also share the work. Maybe they will get back together and raise their child together sometime soon. That would be best for everybody, if that happens. They just need to learn to listen more than they talk, which is easier to say than to do.

“I spent the first six years of my life in Zaire,” he said. “And I have traveled the world, dipping into religions and cultures very different from what we have in Champaign, Illinois.” But he goes to Holy Cross’ mass every Sunday. During a demolition job at the UIUC library, he found a green Gideon New Testament hiding among the broken concrete blocks. He has been reading it.

Ananias entered the house where Saul was. He laid his hands on him and spoke. “Jesus has sent me, the one who appeared to you on your way, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

You can’t always get what you want. At the restaurant we talked about the beauty and value of silence between people, the skill of listening longer than you ever thought you could. Listening to your daughter’s mom, listening to the sound of your own breathing, listening to God. You may not have what you want, but you do have something very special, and no one can take it away.

Steadfast is his kindness toward us, and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever.

(Acts 22, Acts 9, Psalm 117, John 15)

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