Friday, 25 November 2011

The Prophet Samuel

Icon, Samuel the Prophet, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Samuel the Prophet

Samuel (Hebrew: שמואל) is a leader of ancient Israel in the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. He is also known as a prophet. He was the last of the Hebrew Judges and the first of the major prophets who began to prophesy inside the Land of Israel. He was thus at the cusp between two eras. The Books of Samuel also tell us that he also anointed the first two kings of the Kingdom of Israel: Saul and David.

Samuel's mother was Hannah and his father was Elkanah. Hannah, at the beginning of the narrative, is barren and childless, like Abraham's wife Sarah. Hannah prays to God for a child. Eli who is sitting at the foot of the doorpost in the sanctuary at Shiloh, sees her apparently mumbling and thinks Hannah is drunk, but is soon assured of her motivation and sobriety. Eli was, according to the Books of Samuel, the name of a priest of Shiloh, and one of the last Israelite Judges before the rule of kings in ancient Israel. He blesses her after she promises the child to God. Subsequently Hannah becomes pregnant; her child is Samuel. After he is weaned, she leaves him in Eli's care.

Like so many people, my favourite part of Samuel’s story occurs one night, while Samuel was still a lad and heard a voice calling his name. He initially assumed it was coming from Eli and went to Eli to ask what he wished to say. Eli, however, sent Samuel back to sleep saying he had not called him. After this happened three times Eli realized that the voice was God's, and instructed Samuel on how to respond. He was to say: “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” (I Samuel 3). When Samuel responded, God told him that the wickedness of the sons of Eli had resulted in their dynasty being condemned to destruction. The next day Eli asked Samuel to honestly recount to him what he had been told, and upon receiving the communication merely said that God should do what seems right to Himself, or in effect, let God’s will be done.

The saddest part of this story, to me, occurs after Samuel's death and burial. Saul had followed God’s commandments and driven all necromancers and magicians from Israel. Then, in a bitter irony, Saul sought out a witch, anonymously and in disguise, only after he received no answer from God from dreams, other prophets, or the Urim and Thummim [priestly means of divination] as to his best course of action against the assembled forces of the Philistines. Following the orders of the king, the woman summons the ghost of Samuel from the abode of the dead, to give Saul advice. However, no such advice is given.  Rather, after complaining of being awakened from his long sleep, the prophet's ghost berates Saul for disobeying God, and predicts Saul's downfall, with his whole army, in battle the next day, and adds that Saul and his sons will join him, then, in Sheol, the abode of the dead.  Saul is shocked and afraid, and the next day the army is defeated and Saul commits suicide after being wounded. (I Samuel 28:3-25ff).


A Delightful Correspondence

On November 16th, I received the following enquiry: "Sallie.... On Thursday, March 18, 2010 you posted a picture of a little girl sitting on a suitcase with her dog. My granddaughter saw that picture and wanted to paint it......I've the pleasure of teaching her how to do watercolors.......and she loved that particular "story". Did you take that photo or find it somewhere? My interest is in getting permission to paint it without any copyright infringements. Please let me know......."

I responded and said: "The photo is one of a series of dog and children photographs that I have collected over the past few years. It is not one of mine and I have no idea who actually took the photo in the first place. It has been “floating” around the Internet for the past little while. As for getting permission to paint it, you do not need any permission. If your granddaughter is using the photo as a “model” for her watercolour, then there is no copyright infringement. Artists do this sort of “copying” all the time. I, for one, cannot draw something without having a photo of the item I want to draw in front of me. In fact, in art school, you are taught to paint by copying the works of other artists. So, I would recommend that you worry no more and simply enjoy helping your granddaughter complete a watercolour of a little girl and her dog. Her finished work will be her own creation and not an infringement of the copyright of anyone. Actually, I would love to see a photo of her finished work. Maybe I could even post it on my blog and tell her story. Let me know. God bless you and your granddaughter, Sallie"

The gentleman wrote back saying: "Sallie. I appreciate your response and your input. Erin (my grand daughter ) loved her experience painting that picture. It's her first attempt at painting anything......and she did it in watercolors. I was very pleased with her first attempt. She just turned 12 and was excited about trying a watercolor. Attached it a photo of her and her painting."

I was so impressed that I wrote back immediately, asking: "Thank you so much for your photo and information. I am really impressed with the finished work. Has Erin been studying art for very long or is she just a natural talent? Would it be possible for me to use the photo on my blog along with a copy of the original photo Erin worked from?"

He wrote back, immediately, giving me permission and saying: "Erin would be delighted to see herself on your blog. You're welcome to use her photo......and first name. She has drawn for the past several years.....and after I picked up painting last year she had shown some interest. This is her first attempt......and my first attempt at teaching..... I have to admit.....I'm pleased with both. She has a lot of natural ability. I barely get by......but she's a natural. I'll keep you posted......she's going to do an oil next."

So here you are -- the original photograph that Erin wanted to work from and the photo of Erin and her finished work. As you can see for yourselves, Erin is indeed a natural.

"The Long Goodbye"  photograph by unknown artist

Erin with her finished work!

I am frequently delighted these days by how the this blog reaches out, bringing me into contact with all sorts of wonderful people.  I feel so blessed.


Suki and Sallie

Suki as outsiders see her!
 Yesterday a friend came by for a visit.  She had not met Suki previously and was delighted to see Suki come out from under the table to investigate her.  After Suki had a few sniffs, she made her way slowly over to her favourite chair.  As we watched her walk across the floor, I saw what I usually see -- my NOT overweight cat, but my pleasingly plump cat.  My friend, however, saw the reality.  She said:  "we once had a fat cat like that and my children called her stomach hanging down her 'jelly belly'."

I quickly spoke up to correct her, saying:  "I don't know why Suki's tummy hangs down that way as she is not really that overweight."  My friend looked at me in amazement and said, "She is definitely overweight, Sallie.  She is fat." 

Suddenly my eyes were opened.  Like it or not,  I had to admit that she was telling me the truth that I had been denying.  Poor, Miss Suki is fat, but then I told myself right away, she is a happy, fat cat, isn't she?  I hadn't wanted to face this truth as now I feel as though I must do something about it -- but what?  I have never had a cat that was so demanding about eating frequently.  I feed her low-fat food, but I am usually in too much pain to try to do any serious play with her -- the type of play where she would really get some good exercise.  Perhaps I should get an extensive cat condo like my friend, Eugene, has for his cat, Desi.  I wonder if that would work?  So I am turning to you, kind readers of my blog, for suggestions and recommendations.  Please help.

As for me, this old body of mine continues to fall apart!

On Wednesday I learned that the artificial joint in my right jaw has fractured and that the broken part is trying to push its way through the bone and up into my brain!  This explains the occasional pain I have been having there. 

I had to have both TMJ's replaced back in 1999 due to osteoarthritis in the joints -- so now I will have to have both of the prostheses replaced.  Why both, you may ask?  Well, the artificial joint design has been greatly improved over the past 12 years.  The new ones sit just a bit differently so it wouldn't work to have one new and one old.  Thus I have either one or two surgeries ahead of me (back in 1999, the surgeon did two operations but I don't know if the replacements can be done in one or will also have to be done in two). 

The surgery is, of course, just the beginning.  After the surgery comes the weeks of soft food, the frequent exercises to make certain that my mouth will open properly again and just simply learning to use my jaws again.  The fact that I have been through all this before is both good and bad -- the good part is that I already know what is involved and I have no delusions about the amount of pain and rehab required, but, then, that is also the bad part in that I cannot wait for my surgical date in blissful ignorance.  BTW, the date for surgery has not been set yet as I am simply in the queue.  So, please pray for me that I will continue to trust in God's willingness to provide the grace I need to go through all of this again successfully -- and that I will joyfully join all my suffering to that of Christ's Passion so that both I, and others, will be blessed.


Now, after all that serious stuff about me and Suki, I will leave you with a cute image that almost every computer user will wish that they had on their computer.

Wishing everyone a blessed beginning of Advent on Sunday.  May your Advent Season be filled with the joy that the Christ Child alone can provide.
How amazing, how incredible, that God sent a wee babe to save us.
May the peace of God be with us all.

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