Posted by: renplus | December 25, 2013

Cradle of the Savior, Part 3

English: Holy Family: Mary, Joseph and child Jesus

English: Holy Family: Mary, Joseph and child Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


We know the story,

but they did not.

Artistically, we have enhanced the scene.

Many of the bleak realities are made a little nicer

on our Hallmark cards.

There was a shelter shown to the couple

near one of the inns.

Animals were bedded down in the shelter

and the fear was not that

of being around the animals,

but of thieves,

who preyed on unwary travelers.

The lighting they had

was whatever Joseph had brought.

The feed holders were hollowed out of the wall.

Whether there were cattle, or horses or sheep,

or a combination of these animals,

they were there,

to become witnesses

to the intrusion for the night.


Joseph did what he could do.

He made Mary as comfortable as he could.

Straw and hay can be fluffed and softened

and there are many who can imagine

how pleasant and soft it could be made.

That might have been one positive element

in the story.




During the quiet time,

after she was comfortable

Mary had her Baby.

This is not too unusual, for it is said,

that many of us

have made our way into the world

in the wee small hours of the morning.


Joseph assisted,

and the Child of Mary was born,

the Child the angel had told about,

a Child that looked no different

than any other newborn infant.

Mary took the wrapping blanket she had brought

and wound it around the infant,

then nestled him close to her side.


In the hills nearby,

sitting quietly not too far from this scene

were the night watchmen with their sheep,

quiet men whose evening friends were the stars

and whose slow-moving manner

comforted the animals

so that all could rest.

Yet the silent watchmen, these shepherds,

had their vigil interrupted

by uncountable numbers of angels.

If you have stood and watched the starry sky,

spotting the constellations

or any other moving object

that only the quiet can let you see,

you know that even small sounds are enhanced.


Quickly put into this winter sky

innumerable angels

singing: “Glory to God in the highest!”

Add to this that the angels are singing

of peace to all people of good will.

Then have an angel tell of a child’s birth

and tell these shepherds

to go and find the child.

They describe the place

and tell how they will find him

and the shepherd’s fear

turns into wonder and excitement.


They ran,

down the familiar paths and rocky grades.

They ran,

across the open meadow.

They ran to find the Child

with the sound of angel voices

ringing in their ears.

They must have been familiar with the shelter

because we do not have a reference

that they were lost




or spent any time other than

they ran to find the Child,

and they would find him,

wrapped in swaddling clothes

and lying in a manger,

hollowed out of the sidewall.



Someone is coming.

Wake up!

Someone is coming.

Wake up!

Someone is here.


The shepherds entered and asked,

“We were told of the birth of a child.

Is there a newborn Child here?”


Joseph replied,

“Come and see.

Come in closer.”








The pieces of the familiar scene are in place.

The mother holds her newborn Son.

Joseph is nearby to help her.

The shepherds kneel and adore this Child

for they have believed what was told to them.

The animals in their manner are mute witnesses

to the wondrous event.

in their quiet world,

in their stable.

All of those present tried to take in

the wonder and the mystery.


For the gospel writers who captured the event,

we are thankful.

For the theologians who defined it,

we are thankful.

For the inspired artists who gave us their ideas,

we are thankful.

Without these people, the history could be lost,

but it was not.

For our parents and grandparents

who saw to it

that we were told of this wonderful event,

we are thankful.

For the quiet couple who endured much,

we are thankful.

For the young woman,

who not long before,




had been asked the most important question


of any in history,


“Would you be the Mother of God”,


we are thankful.


For the One, seen as a Child,


Who did not consider taking the form of a child


as becoming a slave,


in order to begin


the work of Redemption of all of us,


so we could be part of the family of God,


we are thankful.


For Jesus, the Child in the manger,


only begotten Son of the Father of us all,


we are eternally thankful.


Posted by: renplus | December 20, 2013

Cradle of the Savior (part 3)


Surely there would have been better planning

but the edict had been given.

Caesar wanted a census of the whole world -

the world he felt he had conquered.

In today’s terms we would wonder

if he had a hidden agenda,

some real meaning for his actions.

Whatever the real reason -

the raising of more taxes,

or finding out how many people he ruled,

the edict stated that

everyone should return

to the place of birth.

There they would register

with such details as….. their family name,

their family members listed,

and possibly their trade and their assets.


This small village,

seldom mentioned in the scriptures,

with little reference

except in writings of a minor prophet,

became significant only after the fact.

Mary knew it was close to the time

when her baby would be born.

The growing anxiety of the late pregnancy

and the fact that there was no room

led to a different decision.

In the last stages before the birth of a child,

nothing is comfortable,

whether sitting, or sleeping, or walking,

nothing seems to bring comfort,

but complaining can only make a poor situation


seem worse than it is.

A stable was an unimportant structure

part cave, simple shelter;

a place devoid of human warmth.

Animals needed only shelter from the elements,

protection from predators or thieves,

and food to sustain them.

Some measured room enough for a few animals.

It was a stable – nothing more.


Winter’s chill wind gusts cut to the bone.

Even winter’s sun could hardly compensate

for the temperature drop,

for the need for protection,

a covering from the elements.

Snow was not a common occurrence -

only in pious pictures

or artists renderings.


This stable would be changed

not by the animals that fed there,

not by the place on the map,

nor by the suitability it would bring to a story.

This stable would be graced

by it’s place in history -

it’s moment in time -

when in the heavenly plan of Redemption

it became the cradle for the Savior.Cradle in a manger

Posted by: renplus | December 15, 2013

Cradle of the Savior (part 2)

Nazareth on the map of Israel

Nazareth on the map of Israel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In a small village of Nazareth,

an ordinary couple discussed the journey.

They had their own concerns.

The journey could not have come

at a more inconvenient time.

Winter posed a problem

in just being that time of year.

The edict only required

that the head of the family return,

but this family had a baby due,

and the need,

the desire to be present

at the birth of the baby

was strongly felt by both.

It was decided that the man

as well as his wife would go.

They had to register in Bethlehem,

a small town in the hills

near Jerusalem

the birthplace of the man’s father

and his father before him.

If an expectant mother were asked,

as her time came close,

would she want to take a trip

over the mountains

to her husbands birthplace,

the answer would be given quickly.

If the desire and need to be together

for this family event

were stronger than the inconvenience,

the answer would be different.

The husband, Joseph, born in Bethlehem,

and his wife, Mary,

would begin the journey,

that was for them long and uncomfortable.


The journey from Nazareth

could only be described in negative terms.

It was more than inconvenient.

It was more than uncomfortable.

It was more than necessary.

The small town,

least of so many towns,

would be for them the end of the journey,

a brief time to register,

and then a quick return home to Nazareth


Other travelers could make better time.

Joseph had to be concerned

about how long Mary could walk,

and how long she could ride on his donkey,

and how she was doing.

They needed to stop far more

than others making the journey.

Because of this,

their arrival to Bethlehem




was long after others had come -


others who would be staying with relatives,


other travelers who had taken their places in,           we are told,


the only inn of the town.


The inn was a rectangular structure of four walls,


about twelve feet high.


Animals were tethered in the center


where there was food and water.


Travelers used the walls as protection


sometimes building a covering like a lean-to


but knowing that there was safety in numbers


being with the other travelers.


The inn was nothing more


than a shelter for the evening,


certainly not much for privacy,


and there was no more room in this inn


Posted by: renplus | December 5, 2013

Cradle of the Savior, part 1

English: Bust of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus ...

English: Bust of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Octavius, first Roman Emperor. 27 BC – 14 AD, Marble. cm 42 From Rome, Via Merulana Capitoline Museum, Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By this decree it is ordered


by the Senate, the people of Rome


and Emperor, Caesar Augustus,,


ruler of all countries to the east,


Greece, Macedonia, Persia, Babylonia;


the countries to the south,


Israel, Egypt, and all territories


the islands of the great Mediterranean Sea


and the far regions of the north,


including all the conquered Gallic peoples,


that all shall return to their place of birth to register.


Hail, Caesar!




People packed for the journey to their homes.


For some who had spent their whole life in one place


this was not a problem.


For others who had left to seek a life


different from what they had growing up,


this was an inconvenience.


Still others had traveled far in the known world;


this proved a hardship.


Whatever their circumstance,


the people of the empire needed to register.


Posted by: renplus | December 2, 2013


Not an excess word was spoken about Marianne

not at the beginning of Mass,

not in the homily,

not in a eulogy,

not a word.

The thoughts shared told about

having the electricity go out,

having that experience let each know

of having life go out of each person.

That didn’t tell of Marianne.

Yet, I needed to know about her.


She was an unmarried lady

but part of a large family.

The family had vines and wine as their product

so the name was more important

than the person,

or so it would seem.

People visited, sipped and tasted,

but knew nothing of those that poured

or those that picked,

or those that processed

or those that produced

the fine wine for tasting.


The family grieved

for a member had been lost

a quiet member of the family.

Yet, Marianne was greeted after her last moment

by that heavenly family

whose praises would be heard,

whose songs would be sung,

and whose joy would be shared,

as Marianne was welcomed in their midst.marianne


Posted by: renplus | November 21, 2013


Gospel lawyers received little respect.

They prodded and questioned.

They gave opinions and conclusions.

They knew more than those around them

and let those around them know it.

Seldom is love for a lawyer an attribute.

Yet, exceptions prove the rule.


Sacrifice made this lawyer,

determination kept him on course.

Perseverance supported him in his quest,

with clarity of vision

supporting the accomplishment.

A family did not get in the way,

but gave him stories that would be shared

long after he was gone.

Remembered as a man of many hats,

husband, father, family man,

and all else fell in line behind those cares.


Having fought the good fight,

Emil passed on,

and  heaven gained a rarity -

a lawyer!Emil drawing


Posted by: renplus | October 18, 2013

Uncle Pete

English: at cage. Bangladesh.


Seventy – four is a good amount of years

suitable for saying, “He had a full life.”

Uncle Pete was remembered with humor.

No time for listing the recent years

since his wife died.

No time for sickness, nor shaking sadness.


A niece, member of the public defender’s office

could only tell of Uncle Pete’s war.

Oh this was not World War II

nor Korea.

It was called the “pigeon war.”


Uncle Pete loved to feed the pigeons.

Crumb by crumb he fed the feathered friends

Daily routine led to monthly and into years

until the “crime” call.

Into the defender’s office came the complaint,

“If he doesn’t stop feeding those pigeons,

someone will get killed.”

Some attention getter.

“The pigeon poop gets on the phone lines.

The lines short out.

Then someone needs 911.

They can’t get through

and someone dies.

Stop feeding the pigeons.”


Posted by: renplus | October 14, 2013

Paul Glick

Cristo Redentor, statue on Corcovado mountain ...


I listened to an interview

with a man I had never met,

nor heard of,

nor ever seen,

but knew he would speak to me.

Under his name

the phrase,”…dying of cancer…”

was his definition.

Yet in speaking,

defined incorrectly.


Who has the meaning of life?

A guru famous for his wisdom?

A seer known for insights beyond our fathoming?

Jesus, the teacher and example, the rabbi?



Just what is this meaning of life

a part-time job, so to speak,

an increment of “busy-work,”

a testing period?

Is it wrapped in the knowledge of who we are

or where we are going

or that we have an existence?

Maybe all three,

and then some.



From the simple words shared,


Paul looked clearly


not at the future


as the total of his wonderings,


nor at the past as only reminiscence,


but at the “now”


with a savoring we might wish for,


but have not been pressured to seek.


Satisfaction came from an appreciation


in the delights of eating a carrot


leading to a list


of other simple experiences


putting them in a satisfaction category.


Contentment came from the knowledge


that he had a great need to be loved


and an even greater need to give love,


not much different than other people.


Time was not spent


on what had been missing in his life


or sighing over what might have been.


Time was given in acknowledging


that he had worked hard


applied himself in work that helped others


and was successful at his work,


but not so sure he really knew


what he was doing.




With a final question


Paul shared what he had achieved


or given to “the world.”


He had an inner peace


in learning to appreciate just smiling


in reflecting that he had been loving


and generous to others,


and he liked who he had been


five and ten years ago,


and he liked who he was now.




Paul Glick, I will never meet you.


Thank you for your caring.


Posted by: renplus | October 7, 2013


Boy with Down Syndrome using cordless drill to...


Four years is all he had.


Four questionable years.


Four years of what type of acceptance?




No mother makes a choice to give up her child


with a lightness of heart.


She ponders the future


and wonders and weighs the choice.


Whether because of circumstances -


a hand to mouth existence -


or because an unmarried status


brought pressure,


or because health problems were known,


Benjamin’s birth mother made a choice.


The chromosomes had the qualities


of a Down’s Syndrome baby.


Benjamin, though one of many babies


born with the difficulty,


would grow.




In another place


possibly not far from the birthing town,


was a family filled


with a need for children.


Life might be called a little easier,


for father had a fine profession


and a passel of children


each of whom was growing


in wisdom and age and grace.


Other children had been adopted


giving them a different chance


than they might have had,


if the parents had not made their choice,


and a choice was made in favor of Benjamin.




He was loved,


and cradled,


and sung to,


and doted on


by everyone of the older crowd


of loving children.




Each family member had their special way


of sharing and encouraging


and just loving Benjamin.


And he, too, grew in skills and age


and as graceful as he could be.




No one could imagine


that the energy Benjamin showed,


would be the very thing


that would give Benjamin only four years.


Posted by: renplus | September 30, 2013


English: The Portrait of Felix Mendelssohn


I remember Arthur’s wedding day.


Strange to think of now.


Helen, his betrothed, called to arrange music.


My, the traditional things she wanted -


old music friends


(“from when I was young…” she said.)


She called at a time


when church wasn’t thrilled


to have songs of Streisand


or tunes of Neil Diamond.


Wedding directions -


“church” wasn’t sure it wanted


Wagner or Mendelssohn.




“I’m 72 and it is my first marriage”




Anything you want, I’ll handle it!”




Arthur was on a walker,


navy blue suited, white boutonniere


and a forever smile.


Helen had been a care-giver


to Arthur’s first wife.


Years of care, years of suffering – a loss for all.


Now, it was Helen and Arthur’s sweet wedding.




Helen would surface intermittently,


at the market or church gathering,


doing errands for Arthur.


They had five years,


and Arthur was gone.


Most might see five years and question -


but loving and caring and sharing -


two saw life together.


Was love lost with Arthur?


I think not.




Helen said her “good-bye” with their favorite hymns.


She planned a fine funeral for Arthur


requesting “Panis Angelicus”.


There would be a Mass in the stately building,


part of the cemetery complex


some distance away.


The cemetery attendant escorted me to the organ.


Through the lower door,


up the narrow stairs,


two flights,


three flights,


within the white marble rotunda,


there was an old, blonde, wooden pipe organ,


with most, but not all of the keys working.


I was to practice softly


because every half-hour


another funeral Mass would be said.




Looking over the balcony


produced thoughts of accidents


that need not be related now.


As I tried out the stops I found three to work


of the dozen that were offered.


One key played most of the time,


but there was little time.


Arthur’s Mass was in fifteen minutes.




I solved the problems,


changed keys,


used sounds unfamiliar to my ear,


but with the hope


that Helen would be soothed in her grief.


One body went out the east door


and Arthur’s body came in the west door.


Old favorite hymns preceded “Panis Angelicus.”


The requested song was of such timing


that three verses could be played


with prayerful embellishments.




Everything finished.


Arthur left by the eastern door,


and I left the loft


before any body came in from the west.


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