Sunday, 26 April 2015

Bright Sunlight

"Girl in Bright Sunlight", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Once again, I was drawn to a painting because of the hands -- actually, in this case, it should be "hand".  I can't explain it, but, lately, I find that I am frequently inspired by "models" who have their hand or hands in interesting and challenging positions -- as the girl does in today's drawing.

The work that I used as my model is a painting entitled, "Far Away" by the artist, Sophie Anderson whose work has inspired me previously (see posting for February 15, 2015, "Girl at Butterfly Conservatory"). I have found two more paintings by Anderson that I also plan to use as models and in both of them, it's the hands of the women that first caught my attention.

Sophie Gengembre [Anderson] (1823-1903) was a French-born British artist who specialized in painting children and women in scenes from everyday life, typically in rural settings. She began her career as a lithographer and painter of portraits, collaborating with Walter Anderson (an English artist who was a painter, lithographer, and engraver) whom Sophie eventually married.

In a moment of whimsy, I considered calling this drawing "Where are my sunglasses when I need them?"  However, as you can see, I restrained myself.  I did find myself, on occasion, squinting just a bit -- as you do in bright sunlight -- while drawing the hand shading the eyes! As well, I reflected (no pun intended) a bit about the fact that sunlight -- whether in a clear, blue sky or reflecting off grey clouds filled with rain or snow -- has always been my enemy. People with fair skin that gets freckled easily know better than to stay out in direct sunlight with uncovered skin for more than a few minutes at a time!  

As well, my eyes have always been very sensitive to bright lights of any kind and, in consequence, I have often gotten strange looks from people when I have been wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day. What people forget is that with eyes that are sensitive to light, even the glare of a cloudy day can be uncomfortable.  As well, bright lights -- particularly flashing ones -- have always been a migraine trigger for me. Yet, without that bright sunlight we would not be able to see beautiful shadows or the inviting shade on a summer's day.  



Ronàn still working on those teeth!

Braden with a truck that is almost as big as the real thing!



"Surely, you didn't awaken me just to
take this picture -- did you?!!"
Suki continues to enjoy this cooler weather that seems unwilling to ever depart! I may be fed up with cold weather, but Suki continues to enjoy it.

I mean, here it is almost the end of April and, yet, it has remained cool enough so that the furnace has come on throughout the day in order to keep the indoor temperature at about 21 degrees Celsius!  As you might guess, it's this business of the furnace that Suki has been enjoying.

You see, long ago I placed her favourite chair in a position so that when the furnace comes on, the warm air blows directly across the back of her chair. Suki finds this quite delightful and you can actually see her snuggle down into the cushions, ever more deeply, whenever that warm air begins to blow.  

It has always puzzled me how much cats enjoy heat.  You would think that with that heavy, fur coat they are always wearing, extra heat would be the very last thing they would seek out. Yet, typical images of cats show them sleeping soundly in direct sunlight, curled up next to a fire or draped over the top of a floor-furnace grate. This is true of cats not only in the cold of winter, but even on a summer's day when you can find them sleeping on the window sill with the hot sun shining directly on them.

What a wonderfully, strange creature is Miss Suki and her fellow felines!

As for me, I am continuing to re-do all my various imaging tests at the hospital. I was there again on Friday for CT scans of my spine (particularly the lumbar area) and of my neck.  The process was more than a bit unpleasant, but I managed to put my body in the required positions long enough for the images to be successfully taken! I still haven't quite recovered, however.

Thankfully, this coming week contains no appointments -- just a visit from a dear acquaintance -- someone I haven't seen in a number of years.  I am very much looking forward to seeing her again.



Add caption

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”   John 10:11-18

In quiet moments, when rational thinking comes easily, we say that we believe or disbelieve one thing or another.  We may say we are Nihilistic -- that we don't believe in anything and all values are meaningless.  Or, we may say that we believe in many gods -- one or more of whom are in charge of all the different areas of our lives.  Yet, interestingly, when most of us are in imminent and terrible danger -- as the earthquake strikes, as the hurricane makes landfall, as the car skids out of control, what do we all cry out in our own language and way? "God help me, God save me". 

So, I have to admit that no matter how conflicted I may feel about matters of faith at various times, deep down I yearn to believe that there really is a loving God -- a Good Shepherd -- who, personally, loves me so much that He is willing to lay down His life in order to protect me from "the wolf" -- that symbol for life-threatening danger -- a Good Shepherd who is not only willing to lay down His life to protect me, but who is also, in His omnipotence, willing and able to "pick it up again".

So I pray that the Good Shepherd will lead us all "beside still waters and restore our souls" so that we may know with certainty that even when we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil".


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Vireya -- Rhododendron

"Vireya -- Rhododendron Blossoms with Spanish Moss",  drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

To be honest, I have no idea exactly which species of Vireya I have drawn.  There are so many of them as well as so many cultivars that I found it absolutely impossible to say "yes, this is Rhododendron dianthosmum," for example  So let's just call it Vireya.

The first published description of what is now known as “Vireya” appeared in 1822 based on material collected by the author, William Jack, while he was in Sumatra, working for the East India Company. In 1826 a further five species of similar plants were described by Carl Blume, the director of a botanical garden in Indonesia. For these plants, he proposed a new genus to be called Vireya in honour of his friend Julian Joseph Virey. The rank of genus was rejected by Blume's peers; however, the name has continued to be used for this sub-genus (section) of the genus Rhododendron.

About a third of all rhododendron species are tropical Vireya rhododendrons. While Vireyas, like azaleas (also part of the rhododendron grouping), do not look like rhododendrons they obviously have characteristics that make them definite members of the rhododendron (Ericaceae) family. 

They are usually called Vireyas not rhododendrons; however, when you search for them on the Internet, you always end up getting results with the word “rhododendron” attached! As well, Vireyas do not grow where other rhododendrons grow. They are more likely to be growing in the same sort of area where orchids might grow. Thus, they are found in tropical areas where there is no frost.

As well, they are often epiphytes (growing on other plants in the rain forest with their roots growing on the bark but not parasitically). Some even grow as lithophytes, meaning they grow on rock surfaces. Usually the rock or bark on which the Vireya is growing is mossy and the moss seems to provide the correct environment for the roots. 

Most Vireya are native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea. Almost half of the 319 Vireya rhododendron species grow in Papua New Guinea, just south of the equator.

As usual, I enjoyed drawing the flowers; however, I must admit that I enjoyed trying to draw Spanish Moss even more!  Spanish Moss always reminds me of the deep South where I grew up and, particularly, it reminds me of my sister, Betty, who died in early March six years ago. Her home, in north-central Florida, was surrounded by huge live oak trees filled with Spanish moss. Requiescant in pace, dear sister. 

Portions of the above information were taken from various Internet sources.



Suki -- She Who Must Be Obeyed!

Suki has been relatively well behaved this past week.  Of course, I have been very conscientious -- 
  - making certain that she is fed on time, 
  - making certain that her sandbox is always fresh and clean, 
  - making certain that my lap is available whenever she decides she wants to sleep there.

The only real problem area is the ongoing battle between Suki and myself regarding the time I am willing to get out of bed in the morning.  I have made it very clear to this crazy cat that I am perfectly willing to let her awaken me any time after 5:30 a.m.; however, Suki continues to try for somewhere closer to 5 a.m. So, this battle of wills continues with me stubbornly staying in bed, even if I am already wide awake, until the clock reads 5:30! 

"She (Suki) who must be obeyed" is not pleased about this -- but, then, neither am I.  So, my friends, expect this battle to continue.

As for other activities, I did have a long chat with the specialist at the pain management clinic this past Monday.  During the course of our conversation, it became obvious to the doctor that my pain is no longer being "managed". So he decided that I need to repeat all the x-rays, CT scan and MRI that were done of my spine (cervical and lumbar) and head in early 2011 so he can clearly see how much worse things may have gotten and adjust my treatment accordingly. 

"Chippy", a photograph taken by G.W.
(Copyright 2015, used with permission) 

Once again, I am including another excellent nature photo taken by my dear friend, Grazyna. 

The picture of the friendly chipmunk was taken using her iPad. 

I really like the composition of chipmunk and shadow.  The colours and lighting say to me: "spring is here at last."



"Icon -- Emmaus and Revelation", by the hand
of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2015

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  Gospel portion Luke 24:35-40

Even though today's Gospel is really about the appearance of the risen Christ to the disciples gathered in the upper room, I decided to use the icon of the revelation which occurred at Emmaus -- referred to at the beginning of the Gospel.

I have always been intrigued by that story which depicts a moment of revelation that changes how those two disciples would see everything for the rest of their lives.  Hopefully, we have all had moments like that -- moments where we suddenly see what before had been hidden -- that moment of understanding and insight which can come after hours, days, weeks of puzzling and questioning.  A light shines and something new is revealed -- suddenly, all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place -- and in that moment of revelation people are frequently heard to say something along the lines of: "how could I have been so stupid not to have understood this before now?"

Lord, open our eyes that we may see.


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Will Winter Never End?

"Lady with Her Hourglass", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Time... what is it?  This is a question philosophers have been asking since the "beginning of time".

We are told by scientists and philosophers that time does not really exist.  That it is our brains that categorize our sense of the present moment, of time passing, of time past, along with the expectation that a future time is coming.  Yet, all of these only exist in the present moment.

We have our clocks and we watch the hands as the days, years, decades pass and, yet, all we ever really have is this present moment of awareness.  The past only exists in our memories which are stored in our brains and even those are subject to distortion and fading. Yet, the only way we can perceive of living, of having lived a life, is to be aware, in some way, of each moment's arrival and passing -- even if it is only by glancing at the clock occasionally and seeing that the hands have moved from one position to another.

Most of us have experienced some distortions of time in our lives either through meditation, drugs, illness, dreaming or traumatic events.  We all know what it feels like when something bad is happening to us and time seems to have stopped or, at least, slowed down to a crawl.  Other times, in moments of great happiness or joy, time passes so quickly that we simply cannot believe it when someone tells us what time it is. 

Because I have suffered from PTSD, I have experienced, on occasion, something known as an "dissociative disorder".  There are a number of different types of dissociative disorders; however, in my case, during a dissociative episode, usually triggered by a flashback, I "lose" time.  Let me try to explain:  
A flashback occurs and once again, I am "inserted" into some violent scene from my past -- then, suddenly, everything goes blank. I mean, hours pass during which I have no awareness of myself and when I do become aware of myself again, I have no memory of the time that has passed, no sense of time having passed at all.  

People who have observed me during one of these episodes have told me that all I did was sit, staring into space! As far as my brain is concerned, I remember sitting down in a chair, suddenly and vividly recalling an event from my childhood for a few seconds and then becoming aware of my surroundings again.  My brain says less than a minute has passed.  Those observing me tell me that three hours have passed.

In spite of all these difficulties with time, we still, most of the time, just keep it simple and get on with things.  We live our lives as though present, past and the expected future are all reliable constructs that are as real as anything else we experience.  This sense of time passing is what the featured drawing above is all about.  Our sense of time is what allows us to say to one another: "will winter never end?"  "It feels as though it has gone on forever!"

For so many of us, this winter has been far too long, too cold and too snowy.  We are ready for it to be over.  We are ready for spring to arrive in all its glory.  We want the sand in the hourglass the lady is holding, which represents the passing of wintertime, to run out completely so that there will no longer be snow on the barren branches; rather, the branches will be covered by leaves of springtime green.  

Up here in the frozen north, we are all saying "enough is enough". It is time for winter to be gone.  It is time for spring to arrive.  If you are living in a place where it is already spring, be very grateful.



 Ronàn may be just a wee lad, but he already has that look 
that will cause the heart of many a lass to melt...


2.  "I found one!"
3. "Look at all my eggs!"
1.  The Search Begins

4. "The Easter Bunny was very
good to me!"

Braden sharing his moment of glory with his brother --
while saying to himself:  "thank goodness, Ro is still too young
for chocolate!"



"Some days it's easier just not to move at all..."
Suki normally, after eating a meal, gets onto (or into) one of her favourite sleeping places and stays there for anywhere from two to four hours before moving on to a new sleeping place.

This past Monday, even though Joycelyn was cleaning various things in the vicinity of Suki's sleeping place, the cat was zonked out as usual -- only occasionally opening her eyes just a bit whenever Joycelyn and I started talking again.

Suddenly, though, mid-way through the morning, Suki simply disappeared.  Of course, there was a bit of a crisis going on at the time which might explain her behaviour, but where could she be? Joycelyn and I searched everywhere and it appeared that Suki had simply, magically vanished from a locked apartment.

Perhaps, I had better explain a bit about the crisis...  I have one of those useless balconies -- useless because it is the balcony at the end of a long line of balconies which all slope slightly downwards towards my balcony.  This means that all their debris, melting snow and rain water end up on my balcony.  Unfortunately, whoever designed this system of balconies failed to put in a large enough drain in my balcony to handle all of this stuff  Thus, I have a balcony which is constantly in a state of flooding -- usually caused by the debris blocking the one drain hole.  This means that someone has to frequently go out onto my balcony and clear the drain hole in order to keep the water from backing up into my apartment.  

On the day Suki disappeared, Joycelyn noticed there was some flooding on my balcony (probably from melting snow) and the next thing I knew, she had the balcony door wide open and was out on the balcony with a stick and a broom trying to get the blasted drain hole clear.  My building's maintenance supervisor was outside while Joycelyn was clearing the drain hole and there was a certain amount of shouting back and forth as she enquired as to our activities.  I suppose this was all just too much for Suki and so she decided to pull a disappearing act.  We only noticed she was gone, of course, after clearing the water from the balcony and closing the door.

At any rate, we searched and continued to search but there was no sign of the crazy cat. Calling her got no response -- not even rattling her food dish accomplished anything.  After we had searched through all the usual places (and even the unlikely places) a second time and just before I picked up the phone to call the Humane Society asking them to be on the lookout for a fat, black cat, we heard a slight scratching sound.  Joycelyn and I both stopped and listened carefully.  The noise had gotten a bit louder. It was definitely coming from the coat closet near the front door -- a closet with sliding doors -- doors which Suki is able to both open and close.

I hurried over, opened the doors and there discovered Miss Suki crawling out from a very narrow space between two large plastic boxes -- one for storing extra scarves, mittens, hats, etc. and the other for storing blankets and lap robes.  She had obviously been sleeping as she looked up at me with those half-open, sleepy eyes. We looked at one another for a few seconds and then Suki said, rather plaintively, "meow".

We had checked that closet twice but I had never imagined that fat Suki could fit into such a small hole, but cats, as all cat lovers know, can, amazingly, fit into all sorts of unusual spaces.  We figured she must have gotten in there when the balcony door was open and I was shouting to the maintenance lady.  Suki has a real fear of whatever lies outside of this apartment and is prone to run and hide whenever the balcony door is open even a little bit.  As well, she dislikes shouting or any loud noise and has been known to run and hide when people get too boisterous.

Although I welcomed Suki back from hiding with much happiness, I told her straightaway that this adventure did not entitle her to extra rations!  I knew this was what she was hoping for as she immediately began to try to lead me into the kitchen -- the way she does at meal times.

Otherwise, things have been relatively quiet for me this past week. I had two "medical" appointments -- a fasting ultrasound one day and a visit with the podiatrist on another.  There has been no news back from the ultrasound and my feet are doing as well as can be expected.

This coming week I have two more medical appointments -- one with the pain specialist and another for a particular testing procedure.  I expect these to be routine as well although I am hoping that the pain specialist will have some suggestions for ways to treat these new pains in my neck and upper back -- suggestions that do not include taking more pain killers!   



"Icon -- My Lord and My God", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2015

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  John 20:24-29

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, I am reminded of what I once heard a priest say.  It went something like this:

"At the time of my death, if there is anyone waiting on the other side asking me what I have to say for myself, I plan to say only one thing and that is 'mercy', 'mercy', 'mercy'."

This has become my plan as well.  

I have missed the mark; I have fallen short; there is nothing I can say that would justify all the wrong I have done in my life.  And, so I cry out now and forever, "Lord, have mercy".


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Cherry Blossom Time

"Cherry Blossoms in Springtime", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015
(Japanese characters mean:  Cherry Blossoms in Spring")

When people speak of cherry trees, they may be speaking of any of several trees in the genus, Prunus (Family, Rosaceae), which includes a number of different species, including quite a few cultivars.

The best known of these is the Japanese Cherry, Prunus serrulata. This is the one tourists visit Washington D.C. and Ottawa to enjoy in its glorious springtime flowering. 

However, in North America, we are very familiar with the related species Prunus avium ( the Sweet Cherry) and Prunus cerasus (the Sour Cherry) – both of which produce edible cherries. As well, there is Prunus cerasifera, known as the Plum Cherry tree, which also produces edible fruit. There are many varieties which have been cultivated simply for ornamental use and produce inedible fruit or no fruit at all. 

The Cherry tree is speculated to be native to the Himalayas. Currently it is widely distributed, especially in the temperate zones of Asia (Japan, South Korea, China, etc.) as well as in the Northern Hemisphere (Europe, the United States, Canada, etc.). 

The drawing I am featuring today shows a flowering branch of a cultivar of Prunus cerasifera

P. cerasifera is commonly known by the name of Cherry Plum Tree. The cherry plum is a popular ornamental tree for garden and landscaping use, grown for its very early flowering. 

Numerous cultivars have been developed from P. cerasifera, many of them selected for their purple foliage. These purple-foliage forms (often called purple-leaf plum trees), also have dark purple fruit, which make an attractive, intensely coloured jam. They can have white or pink flowers. 

Some kinds of purple-leaf plums are used for bonsai and other forms of living sculpture. As well, the cherry plum has been listed as one of the 38 plants that are used to prepare Bach flower remedies, a kind of alternative medicine promoted for its effect on health which, may, or may not, have any true healing qualities.

As you can see in my drawing above, I added some Japanese characters which are supposed to represent the words "spring", "in" and "cherry blossoms" which in English we would read as "cherry blossoms in springtime".  I was actually inspired by the striking Japanese pen and coloured-ink drawings of the beautiful cherry blossoms.

Some of the above information was taken from various Internet sources, particularly Wikipedia.



Ronàn Reads a Book

"What shall I do next?  I know, I will read a book."

"This looks like a good book.  I think I'll give it try."

"Yum!  I never knew literature could be so delicious (and feel so good on the gums!)."
"Maybe I really am a genius just like Mom says!"


Me be naughty?  Never!  Just look at this sweet face.



Suki half-asleep while lazing in the sunlight

Did you know that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear (and still they ignore you).  The only indication that they have heard you is that slight twitch of the ear using one or two of those 32 muscles.

Of course, when you want them to ignore you, too often they don't. This is certainly the case with Suki.

For example, I have spent years trying to train the people in my life to never call me around 11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. -- unless they have make a previous arrangement with me or unless it is a real emergency.

You see, if I know that someone wants or needs to call me around 11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m., I can make certain that I have my portable phone next to me.  This means I do not have to get up out of my chair to answer the phone, but can simply stay where I am and talk with them comfortably.

However, if the call is unexpected, my portable phone will likely be on its charging stand.  If so, I will get up and hurry to reach the closer of my two phones. If I am on the computer, the closer phone would be the wall phone in the kitchen.  Are any of you beginning to guess what my problem is here?

As you have read often, Suki's feeding times are 6 a.m., 12 noon, 6 p.m. and 11-11:30 p.m.  So, if I end up having to go into the kitchen to answer the phone at 11:30 a.m., let's say, then what do you suppose Suki does?  Does she just twitch one or two of those 32 ear muscles and go back to sleep?  Of course not.  She leaps out of her chair, follows me into the kitchen and begins a vigourous campaign to get me to move her feeding time ahead by 30 minutes.

How many of you have ever tried to have a conversation with someone while a 13 lb. cat is attempting to manipulate you into feeding them?  Well, let me tell you ... it isn't easy to concentrate at all. What makes it even worse in my case is that the phone is located next to a "breakfast counter" which means that Suki can leap up onto the counter top and then attempt to climb onto my shoulders so that she can lick my ear!

All I'm saying is:  if you really need or want to call me around 11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m., please let me know beforehand. Otherwise, expect our conversation to be short and very confusing. Probably something like:  "Yes, (Suki stop that) I am feeling (Suki get away from my ear) about the (Suki stop licking my hand) same as I did (Suki stop that) last time we spoke (SUKI) ..."

People usually realize, after hearing a response like this, that they are either going to have to ask if they can call me back at a more convenient time, or graciously request that I phone them when it will be easier for me to talk or wait on the phone while I go ahead and feed the cat! 

I mention this because I have had several unexpected phone calls this past week between 11:15 and 11:45 a.m. and, as a consequence, Suki is beginning to think that her feeding time has been moved ahead to 11:30!  To paraphrase the song from The Sound of Music:  "what do you do with a problem like Suki..."

Otherwise, my life remains much the same.  I suddenly seem to have a number of medical appointments coming up, but they are all of a routine nature -- mostly annual checkups of one sort or another such as my yearly visit to the ophthalmologist. 

"This ain't the Easter Bunny!"
Photo by my dear friend, Grazyna W.,
copyright 2015, used with permission.
One thing new and interesting is my dear friend, Grazyna's, growing interest in using her iPad to develop her obvious photographic talents.  

Here is a recent example of one of her nature photos which, considering it was taken without a telephoto lens, is really quite good.  She posted it on Facebook so I used the title she gave it there.  I hope to be including more of her work in the future.



"Christ is Risen, Alleluia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2015

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
John 20:1-9

Well, finally Lent is over and we are celebrating, once again, the victory of Love.  Evil has done its worst, but Christ has shown us that even though He did not raise a hand to ward off the blows of the fists or the hammer; even though he allowed Himself to be tortured and killed; Love still triumphed.  Love triumphed then; Love triumphs today; Love will continue to triumph eternally.

I, so often, have twisted the teachings of Christ into all sorts of life-denying shapes during my lifetime, and, yet, I know deep down that whenever I turn away from a loving response to any situation, I am turning away from God, the God who is Love.  

So, as we celebrate once again the victory of life-giving Love over death-loving Evil, I pray that we may all be open to receive the God-given grace we need to be Christ-like in our daily lives.  May we always find the strength to choose that which is most loving, most life affirming -- no matter what the cost may be.