04 May 2015

My Personal Psalm

O G‑d, I am unprepared for the task at hand,
but you know the end from the beginning.
I’m at a loss, O G‑d,
but you are my Rescuer.
I see only white paper before me,
but you, O G‑d, are the Word.
My thoughts are lost in darkness,
but darkness is as the noonday to you, O G‑d.

Map out my path, O G‑d,
and set my feet upon The Way.
Speak to me your words, O G‑d
and open my ears to your whispers.
Give strength to my hands, O G‑d,
so that I may move my pen across the page.
Breathe your Life into me,
and rekindle the Light of Creation buried within me.

31 March 2015

Praying with Icons

In class last night, our session was “Praying with Icons.” I’ve never done this before and wasn’t too sure what to think about it. But there was one thing I was sure of and that’s the idea of “communion with the saints.” That is, someone explained it to me like this — “Did you ask your Mom to prayer for you when she was in this world?”

“Of course,” I replied.

“Then why wouldn’t you continue to ask her to pray for you now that she’s in the Otherworld?”

See, for me, it was about my belief in the resurrection. Do I really believe that my loved ones are alive?

Jesus was asked a similar question in Mark 12.18-27. There, he responded —

“As for the resurrection from the dead, haven’t you read in the scroll from Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how G‑d said to Moses, I am the G‑d of Abraham, the G‑d of Isaac, and the G‑d of Jacob? Yahweh isn’t the G‑d of the dead but of the living. You’re seriously mistaken.” (vv. 26-27; adapted).

So, what does this have to do with icons? As one person put it, “Icons represents someone who’s already praying. When one walks up to an icon to start praying, she’s joining prayer that’s already going on” (paraphrased). It would be as if I walked into the classroom late and my classmates were in a circle praying. I would walk up and join the circle. Praying with icons is the same thing. They represent people that are already praying and we join them in prayer.

In class, there were several icons placed throughout the space. I was drawn to this icon.

“The Transfiguration”

However, I honestly didn’t feel anything with it. Just observations:

I noticed an “eye” behind the Christ.

I noticed that the Christ seems to be holding a scroll in his left hand.

Moses and Elijah appear to be bowing at the waist in service to the Christ.

I noted smaller halos around Moses and Elijah.

There’s a shadow on Elijah, but not Moses.

The various positions of the disciples Peter, James, and John. One looks like he fell backwards. One looks like he’s bored because his head’s resting on his hand. The last look like he’s cowering behind a rock — he’s not, though. Upon closer inspection it appears to be his cloak. Two of the disciples, assumably James and John, are covering their eyes in reverence. The other disciple, Peter, seems to be saying his (in)famous speech, “It’s good we’re here! Let’s build three shrines for you guys!”

I noticed that the “glory” of the Christ was piercing the disciples — very pointed, like a laser.

The disciples are in shadow, in darkness. Their clothing even seems to be darker (in the print last night).

My take away from this icon is this: The Law and the Prophets (represented by Moses and Elijah) were to serve the Christ, to lead the Jews to the Messiah but then, as the Scriptures tells us, the disciples saw “no one except Jesus himself alone” (Matthew 17). Jesus is the goal of the Law (as Paul says in Romans 10). The transfiguration is not just for the Christ alone. As the laser beams of glory illustrate, it’s for people, too. After Jesus was glorified, that glorification transfigures all creation. And it’s not something that happens “later,” in “heaven.” No, as the icon shows, the transfiguration takes place “on earth.” Once more showing that the Realm of G‑d comes “on earth as in heaven.” It’s for transfiguring the whole world.

So, then the take away becomes a prayer:

“Loving G‑d, creator of all that is, seen or unseen. Through the Passion of your Child, Jesus the Christ, you have rescued creation and set in motion it’s transfiguration. Help us, your people, to be co-workers with you in restoring creation and implementing your Realm on earth as in heaven. Through Jesus the Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One G‑d, world without end. Amen.”

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

12 March 2015

Happy 150th Anniversary Peterson Pipes!

As many of you know, I smoke pipes. Not all the time, mind you; just occasionally. And when I say “occasionally,” I mean I think I smoked less than a dozen times all of last year. I started several years ago when a friend of mine threw away a pipe bag. He had left the sliding window of his truck open during a rain shower. The rain had soaked the interior of his truck and saturated his pipe bag. I dug through the bag and found a Dr. Grabow that wasn’t too badly damaged. In fact, it was virtually dry. I cleaned it up and went down to a local tobacconist.

“So,” I asked, “how do you smoke one of these things?” The guy behind the counter went to the back and returned with a few sheets of paper.

“Here,” he said, “read this. It’ll tell you everything you need to know.”

So, I bought some of their best selling tobacco, matches, and pipe cleaners then set off to learn how to smoke this strange instrument.

After a couple of years, and a couple of “cheap” pipes (the ones that range below $50 in a box or bin), I did some research on the “best” pipes within my budget. My search led me to Peterson of Dublin, manufacturers of smoking pipes since 1865.

Charles Peterson was hired by Fredrick Kapp in the Dublin shop around 1876. Fredrick died, however, in 1881, followed by his wife a year later. Charles Peterson managed the business and was the master craftsman of the pipes. When the Kapp’s children, Alfred and Christian, became old enough, Charles and Alfred bought out Christian’s share of the shop. The name was then changed to Kapp & Peterson.

In 1891, Charles patented his “system pipe.” An additional chamber was drilled in the shank to collect the moisture one generates while smoking. This enables the smoker to enjoy a cool, dry smoke. In 1898, he patented the “P-Lip” stem (regular pipe stems are sometimes called “fishtail” stems). The P-Lip stem has a hole out the top of the end. This allows the smoke to ascend to the roof of the mouth and prevents it from touching the tongue, thus eliminating “tongue bite”.

My first Peterson pipe was a System pipe — Rustic Standard 314. Since that time, I’ve purchased several Peterson pipes. My most prized Peterson pipe is a Mark Twain pipe I picked up at an antique store. This pipe was based a Peterson pipe that Twain owned.

If you’ve ever considered smoking a pipe, I don’t think you could ever go wrong with a Peterson’s. As the saying goes, “The thinking person smokes a Peterson.”

Check out the anniversary video below!


In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC