Category Archives: Reflections

Puritan Wisdom from John Flavel

John Flavel (1627?-1691) was a 17th-century Puritan Presbyterian minister. He accepted a call to a church in Dartmouth, England in 1656. I am currently reading The Method of Grace, a book of 34 of his (long!) sermons, and I find their content substantive and compelling. I am reprinting this brief excerpt because I find it especially so.

First, One that is truly burdened with sin, will not allow himself to live in the secret practice of sin; either your trouble will put an end to your course of sinning, or your sinning will put an end to your troubles. Consult 2 Corinthians 7:11 –John Flavel: The Method of Grace, Sermon No. 9

John Flavel

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Mlle. Moutardier: Heroine with humility

I hope most of my readers recall with admiration and gratitude Mlle. Hermis Moutardier. Mlle. Moutardier, a senior flight attendant, led crew and passengers in disarming Richard Reid, aka the Shoe Bomber, on an American Airlines Paris-Miami flight in 2001.

I have admired Mlle. Moutardier for the past 16 years since the incident. The hapless, thankfully thwarted Reid is serving 10 consecutive life sentences plus 110 years (the rationale of Federal corrections formulas gets a little arcane for me).

I wrote a post in 2015 celebrating once again the admirable Mlle. Moutardier’s actions. Yesterday, Mlle. Moutardier herself submitted a comment to my two-year-old post! I was teary that she would thank me for honoring her; I felt she was honoring me, for which there was no reason at all. She was the hero; I was a mere reporter, years after the fact.

I have always thought of Hermis Moutardier as an inspiration. This is the crew member who led the capture of The Shoe Bomber! She poured a pitcher of ice water on his head and backup arrived from all over the plane. I believe one of the three captains in the cockpit even came out to help secure the inept Reid.

Hermis Moutardier’s comment is posted on my 2015 article at the above link. It is very brief. Her humility is stunning. I believe she must have simply been doing a search for her own name, as many people do, and come upon my blog. And wow! She thanked me for writing about her. How many people thank people they don’t know for anything?

Hermis Moutardier remains a heroine to me, as well as an example of humility. I am  grateful our paths have crossed  in space.

It seems sometimes that space is where real people are.

Related imageHermis Moutardier
Image is from Time.com

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A small county murder’s nexus with a Puritan

My husband was  counsel to the defendant in a murder trial this week. The trial ran from Tuesday morning through today (Friday) around noon. The jury convicted the defendant of second-degree murder after deliberating an hour and a half. The slaying occurred a little more than two years ago.

The defendant, who has Parkinson’s Disease, testified that he feared the victim, with whom he was friends, because, he claimed, the victim had walked into his house, and because, he alleged, the victim had once shoved him (“threw me down”) on the stairs. The defendant also testified that the victim had robbed him at various times.

Things evidently didn’t improve, so when friend victim walked in, friend defendant shot him.  The .45 caliber bullet took quite a tour through the victim’s chest, heart, aorta, and arm. A medical autopsy expert testified and showed grizzly slides showing a very great deal of blood. I attended only Thursday morning; my chief interest in the trial was hearing the expert’s testimony.

Sentencing negotiations are underway. The defendant told me yesterday that he looks forward to prison.

I was reading The Bruised Reed by Puritan Richard Sibbes (1577–1635) today, recovering from the rare occasion of sitting in on a trial, even just one day, for just a few hours. I was there because I like the defendant. He thanked me very graciously for a roll I served him at the jail’s Thanksgiving dinner last year. My husband and I were among several people who helped serve the dinner. It was my favorite Thanksgiving of all time. But Sibbes had something serious to say that seemed connected to friend defendant:

“All light that is not spiritual, because it lacks the strength of sanctifying grace, yields to every little temptation, especially when it is fitted and suited to personal inclinations.” (Richard Sibbes: The Bruised Reed)

“Personal inclinations.” They should probably be treated like flashing signs at railroad crossings. Ignore them at terrible, bloody peril.

 

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Vibrantly sunny flowers for a vibrantly sunny day

Sunflowers seem to invoke cheer, the way roses appeal to our sentimentality.

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Filed under Gardens, Nature, Photos, Reflections, Seasons

Anticipating a sunflower

For the several years my husband has planted sunflower seeds in the spring, they have come up tall and strong by the onset of summer in all their Sunflower Yellow glory. Ours are now forming flowers in their still-green stage. Their stalks are straight, tall, strong, and prickly.

I was trying to recall who wrote a poem with a refrain, “And I am waiting for the rebirth of wonder,” and came up with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in whose poetry I lost interest while I was still in high school. I Googled the quote anyway, and it seems lots of people have used it, and it wasn’t expressly clear whether Ferlinghetti was the first.

Whoever wrote this line, it enters my mind when I await the bloom of sunflowers, and other wondrous and beautiful bounties with which our Creator blesses us, for nothing we have done.

A sunflower begins its complex process of blooming: it will undergo   metamorphoses from verdant to gold, and prickles to petals.
“I am waiting for the rebirth of wonder.”

Another fitting line: “Death is the mother of beauty.” (from Wallace Stevens’s poem, Sunday Morning).

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Spiritual and other reasons we fish for trout

Since last Saturday, weather and work squeezed out any fishing time for my husband and me until today. This morning we finally had time to go to the nearby pond. The legal limit for trout there is five per day per person. I caught the limit in less than an hour. None seemed to want to hitch on to Vic’s line, though we were using similar lures.

One trout rode my hook, and I reeled him in to shore, only to have him jump back into the water. After a brief time, he evidently regretted his escape, and swam back to the shore and stopped there. I reached in with my grippy glove and lifted him from the water. He was passive or exhausted. I handed him off to Vic for dispatch. He discovered the source of the trout’s passivity. In a previous encounter, he had swallowed a hook and escaped with it. The hook was lodged in his stomach. How sad; but I suppose he appealed to us to end his misery. Vic has read that fish have no nerves in their mouths, but that is not to say that a hook in the stomach doesn’t hurt.

We returned home with the five and Vic prepared them for canning. They filled three quart jars.

Fishing is such a blessing. I’m violently allergic to fish, but I love fishing. My husband also enjoys fishing, and fish is a healthy component of his diet, as well as a food he finds very agreeable.

Our Lord shared fish with His disciples after His resurrection. Fish is a Gospel food, and all we catch is thankfully consumed.

Preparing fresh-caught trout for canning

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Filed under Action & Being, Fishing, Home Life, Nature, Photos, Pneumatos, Reflections

Our weather drama in three acts

After yesterday afternoon’s 90°+ heat, we attempted to sleep through a lightning storm flashing brilliantly, even through our opaque Roman shades. There was no thunder or rain, only lightning.  Normalcy resumes; the temperature is in the 60’s and clouds cover the sky with no blue in sight.

Effie naps. She spent a few hours in Effieland earlier this morning. The bugs are returning from their winter holiday, and Effie was digging up beetles. She prefers crickets and mantises, but they will arrive later.

Spring asserts its hold for now. Winter is not inclined to return;  summer put in a preview performance yesterday, but after taking  her bow, she properly conceded the stage to Spring.

Effie looks forward to tasty bugs. I look forward to watching her make amazing leaps catching them, on the wing and on the ground. My own aspiration is almost as dramatic: I look forward to catching a Steelhead.   >><<<<<>°

I wish I could learn this skill from Effie. . . .

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Filed under Action & Being, Cats, Effie, Home Life, Photos, Reflections, Seasons, Weather

Kind of a morning

We knew it was the wind plexus of the planet when we moved here. We’d lived with wind before—even tornadoes. But the wind wasn’t the villain so much as the clown.

The clever little chicks we acquired two weeks ago are growing fast. I thought perhaps the feed store had unknowingly received ostrich chicks instead of chicken chicks, but they look just like our grown Rhody hens looked when they were chicks. The chicks actually are a little more clumsy than they are clever.

My husband went into our shop this morning on his usual routine chore circuit, to get the mature chickens’ food and bring it up to their outdoor house, retrieve Cat Halvor’s bowl so I can wash and fill it with his morning refill; and check on the chicks, whose hutch is in the shop and warmed with a heat lamp.

Our shop is a kind of life axis, housing Halvor, the dory and skiff my husband built in the shop, tools for working on our vehicles and everything else, and the chicks, who possess concurrently the traits of precocity and stupidity. The shop itself also is important to us, having made our home remodeling projects possible as well.

This morning my husband discovered the chicks’ heat lamp had been overturned and the air in the shop was smoky. A fire could have started had he not discovered the downed heat lamp when he did.

The mortifying news shook me terribly hard, harder than the 30 mph wind. The thought of coming so close to such emotionally devastating losses as well as material loss has been ruggedly visceral.

But the wind, the wind. . .30 mph gusts lifted one of our plastic trash containers, pulled off the latched lid, liberated the liner bag which immediately became airborne and flew down our steep driveway ahead of the low-flying container, and uplifted the bag-tied kitty litter scoopings and other items formerly secured in the container, and all sailed down the road to unaccustomed freedom.

I called my husband, and he came home and fetched the runaway trash container. Its erstwhile contents were not readily retrievable.

I can’t say a good time was had by all, but I will say that I am boundlessly thankful for the kind grace of our Lord, who knows what we can bear, in sparing us a fire.

 

 

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Safely out of the canal zone

I’ve had a sinus infection for going on two weeks. If that were not enough, an old pain in one of my teeth returned, right at the site of the root canal my dentist performed five years ago. I aced the procedure, but had zero desire for a replay.

Thursday afternoon, after two days of throbbing, I called my dentist’s office and explained the return of the pain. The sympathetic receptionist worked me in for an appointment Monday. The office is closed Friday, and she told me I should not hesitate to call my dentist on his cell phone Friday if the pain became unmanageable. He would come in to the office with an assistant and check out the problem.

I knew that. My dentist is a superior being. He once met my husband and me at his office, the evening of Memorial Day. He drafted his son-in-law to assist him.

Today is Friday. I awoke to an ancient memory. I have had this pain before. It’s some kind of knack with me, to get sinus infections; I have had a lot of them. The maxillary sinuses have a nerve relay indistinguishably near the back teeth, where my root canal was done.

I checked my back teeth in the mirror. Aha! My gums in the canal zone were significantly inflamed. The connection light finally switched on.

I deduced that the pain had nothing to do with my teeth or the root canal, but was due to sinus inflammation. The throbbing subsided within half an hour after taking an anti-inflammatory combo of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

I’m still trying to decide whether to take consolation from the theory that, at this point in life, my teeth are better than my memory.

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Filed under Action & Being, Health, Reflections

Spring is here, and my PTSD is melting

Effie’s sunshine greeting far exceeds the melting point of PTSD.

At last I am gaining perspective. It’s still weak, but I am coming around to believing that an auto accident a year ago in which no one was significantly hurt (except for a torn tendon in my right elbow that hurt for nine months; and Grünhilde, my Audi and a veritable member of the family, who was totaled) is not a sufficient reason to torque my worldview downward.

With the help of God through His Word, and my husband, my pastor and Effie, now on therapy cat duty (as she probably always has been), I am able to concede that every driver on the road is not specifically out to harm me.

Particular noteworthy Bible verses coalesced in my attention sphere this morning.

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” Acts 1:7

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

“Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.” Job 40:4

(All verses above are from the New King James Version (NKJV), © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

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