Book of Blessed — Chapter 4

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Looking at my life for the next few weeks, I think this is where this series is going to end for a while. Too many writing and reading projects (My latest master’s class starts today) are eating up my time. I don’t think I’ll actually get chapter 5 written by next week, or even next month. Maybe I’ll put Blessed down as my 2015 goal…

Psalm 4

1)        Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.

2)        O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah

3)        But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.

4)        Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with you own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah

5)        Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

6)        There be many that say, Who will show us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.

7)        Thou hash put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.

8)        I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

 

Those who speak of the glories of battle often forget to tell you the pain it is to clean up afterwards. Most often because they were not there; and if they were there, they weren’t the ones who had to do the cleanup.  Well, Blessed was there, even if he didn’t actually fight, and he was one of the people who got to clean up.  He wouldn’t have had the latter any other way.

Feeding all the Heathen officers from his larder had it quite empty, shelves whisked and dusted clean by his own hand. Nor had his fields fared exceptionally well, trampled by careless feet and hooves.  He found himself quite thankful that his livestock had been spared deprivation.  The Heathen army had been moving so fast, with an attempt at stealth, that they hadn’t the time to properly forage and plunder him that way.  Their no-smoke ban had prevented them from being able to cook any of his animals, and so they were left alone.

That said, Blessed also had a lot of help from the LORD’s army in the cleanup.  The edge of the desert became an impromptu mass grave – row after row of heaped mounds, marked with simple stone markers – all fortunately out of sight over the ridge from Blessed’s treehouse. The dead horses were another matter.  With the army’s help, and under Blessed’s direction, they actually took care of those bodies first, cutting up the carcases and spreading the meat out to dry and be cured.  Horse meat wasn’t the first choice for his pantry, but it would go a long ways toward preventing his hunger until his farm could replace what he lost.

Actually, there was quite enough there, and beyond for his needs.  What he couldn’t use, the army would fill its packs with for their next march, and what they couldn’t use, would be taken to the market at the fords. The LORD’s army didn’t plunder or waste – He was very strict about that. And they cleaned up so well that Blessed expected it would take little more than a month for the spring growth to eradicate almost all signs that the heathen had ever been on his farm. The same would not be said about the desert, however.  The rows of graves, the mounds of horse bones and remains getting picked over by the renders from the ford, should keep them busy for many a month.

It was the carts of the renders, going back and forth from the desert, across the edges of his farm, the occasional word of greeting and gossip that they passed along, that first raised Blessed’s curiosity and concern.  Something was going on at the ford, an after effect of the recent battle, that he had trouble believing.  So one morning, before the sun had quite peeked over the horizon, he put on his walking sandals and headed out for the fords, choosing to go on foot instead of by punt.

Blessed would have enjoyed the walk to the fords better if he hadn’t been pondering the news that had motivated him to take this walk.  If he had planned on purchasing anything, or taking anything to sell, he would have opted for his punt, but today his limbs felt an excess of nervous energy, energy that the brisk walk only partially dissipated.  He found himself swinging his arms quite briskly, almost to the point of flailing.

His mind was in similar excess.  It was hard to understand how something as resounding as the victory he had been in the middle of could have generated such negative responses from people at the fords.  At least if the whispers and rumors he had heard from the renders were anything close to accurate.

Blessed had been walking for almost an hour before the riverbank started its slight curve to the east, followed by an elbow-curve to the west, squeezing itself between ever steepening banks  that left a road about 3-wagons-width wide on his eastern bank. Beyond the curve, the view spread out, as did the river valley, and eventually the river, making the water shallow enough to ford just a couple of miles beyond the bend.

Blessed took his first look at the ford since the battle.  Distant though it was he could already tell it was different.  The valley broadened and created a shallow bowl as one reached the fords, and the river itself widened and slowed. As Rivers of Waters passed Blessed’s tree, it was already a wide river, and deep, nearly a tenth of a mile broad, and flowing by with a strong, steady current.  But the valley allowed the river to spread itself out and slow extensively, widening out to nearly a mile, with banks covered in drooping willows that shaded the road along its banks to the fords.

A town had grown up along the ford.  Actually two towns, one on either side of the fords, though the intermingling of family relations between the two had been formalized of late years into making it officially one town. Both towns were close to the ford, but neither one came right down to it.  The regular spring floods added a good quarter-mile on each side to the rivers regular width, and were marked by a quick rise of the road from the river valley to the town’s proper of a fathom on either side. Beyond that lip of flood plain on each side, the towns grew  in rough half circles, one side flat against the river plain, the other a curve growing up toward the foothills on either side.  The western town had greater growth into the foothills, the land being greener on that side.  The eastern side slowly tapered off into the desert, where the road made its way from oasis to oasis until it reached the other side of the desert.

Or such was the former view.  Even from his first view at the elbow in the river Blessed could see that something was different.   Barrenness.  That was the first impression.  The gradual progression of green and human dwellings was broken. A brown, barren zone of packed earth separated the core zone of the city from the outlying fingers.  In that barren zone, something equally brown and barren was going up.

Smoke.  Blessed should have noticed it much sooner, for it was visible in the sky, and should have been visible from beyond the bend.  Fires, burning something.  And even more barrenness. He saw gashes of brown where trees had been, but now had been cut down and dragged toward the city core, toward the barren zone, where the smoke, and presumably the fire, came from.

As he approached the city, and started entering the zone of change, he could see more of what filled the barrenness.  Brown bricks, as indecipherable in color as the desert, were being stacked on pallets, readied to be used, for some purpose.  The smoke doubtless came from the kilns where the bricks were being made. As he got closer, Blessed could see the pallets of bricks were being stacked up along the barren curve. Within the curve people were digging a wide ditch, a fathom deep, starting at the edge of the flood plain. Following along behind them were brick layers stacking the brick up to ground level, and others packing the dirt back in around the bricks. The flat surface looked like it could make quite a good road, with quite a good foundation, but why would they need to clear so much space on both sides, especially on the side outside the core town? The path cleared for this barren strip cut across many of the older streets of the town, and knocked down the houses and businesses of people Blessed had known for years.

Blessed followed the eastern road up to the bricked ditch. But when we moved towards it to step on the new “road”, someone with a trowel and mattock came threatening up to him to wave him back. “Hey, get off the wall.”

“Wall?” Blessed said.  “What wall?”

“You blasted ignorant hill-country bumpkins, the wall we’re building to protect us against invasion by heathen armies.” The man grumbled as he went back to his bricklaying. “Probably doesn’t even know we barely defeated an invasion just over a month ago.”

That was a little much for Blessed. He followed the man back toward his bricklaying. “Hey mister, I got a lot closer look at that invasion that you did. I met the officers and got to be their ‘guest’ for a day – rather they were my uninvited guests for that day. That army never got anywhere near the ford, thanks to the LORD and His army.”

A woman hauling bricks up dropped her cart and came up to Blessed.  The woman brickhauler became quite animated.  “Then you should know how close we came to catastrophe. We need security, not some last-minute fluke to save us.” She waved her hands at the vision of the wall-to-be. “I was glad to give up my house to build to wall.  When it is done, I will sleep peacefully, in security again.”

“But the LORD’s army did save us,” Blessed said. “Just as he said it would. Faith, woman, you need faith.”

“What we need,” said another man, getting into Blessed’s face. “Is a little less faith and a little more substance. This wall is substance.  Protection.  Does the LORD offer us that type of protection?  NOOOO.  He’s Mister let-me-waltz-in-at-the-last-possible-moment-to-make-myself-the-hero. Fortunately an accident with a mirror let his army pull it off.  You just can’t count on those type of miracles. We need a little less heroism and a little more substance. ”

“Aren’t any of you thankful?” Blessed said. “This was a glorious victory, yet you are responding as if it were a defeat.”

Another bricklayer, not previously in the conversation, stood up straight to stretch and talk. “You wouldn’t talk that way if you’d come as close as we had to being pillaged…”

“But I was ….” Blessed said.

“Me, I’ll put my confidence in this wall.”

“And what a grand wall it shall be,” said someone else. “Right now we’re rushing to get the main wall done, two semi-circles.  Trying to convince the west-bankers the east bank is more important – the armies come from this way, after all, hasn’t worked.  Each of us to our own.  But once the wall is done, the council is talking about towers, bastions.”

“Perhaps eventually uniting the two semis across the flood plain,” another chimed in.

“Diking in the river, dredging and draining it for boats…”

“Building a bridge…”

The conversation lost its confrontational sound as it lost its focus on Blessed. The people went on with more great improvements for their town … no, their city.  Blessed slowly drifted away from the talkers, shaking his head sadly.  How could they make a defeat out of such a great victory.  He’d been there, he’d seen it, yet no one seemed to care what he had to say.  All they could see was themselves.

Blessed drifted around the curve of the wall-to-be, and eastward into the foothills at the edge of the desert plateau.  The grass and trees had always been tentative on this side of the river, but now, with the clear cutting of trees, and the dragging of timbers across the ground in great gouges, he could see the soil loosening itself.  When the infrequent rains came, and came heavy as they usually did, he could see the erosion washing all that dirt toward the fords, muddying the river and making the road impassable without repairs. Not too many seasons hence the desert would be right up against the river, no green zone, a fitting monument to the new city.

The arroyo Blessed found himself in rose to desert level.  At the desert edge turned to head north once more, following the edge of the desert, during this, the hottest part of the day, until he once more reached the site of the great battle, and the rows of simply marked mass graves. There he knelt down in the sand, knees burning to their touch, bowing his head in shame.

“Oh foolish people,” he cried, “Turning glorious victory to shame, through your vanity and lies. LORD, let me not forget your protection.”

When Blessed rose once more, he looked over to the nearly-vanished heap of battle refuse. A few carrion birds circled the pile, darting in whenever the guards left by the rending crews got careless. The renders were nearly done hauling it away now. Somehow, it now seemed a fitting symbol for what the town had made of this battle.

Though it was only midday, Blessed trudged back to his treehouse, climbed the ladder, and stretched wearily out on his bed.  Soon he was fast asleep.  The woman’s concerns aside, he could still lay down peacefully to sleep, knowing who makes him dwell safely.

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Book of Blessed — Chapter 3

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Two weeks ago I uploaded chapter one of this 150-chapter project I started back in 2008. Only 4 chapters were complete. Last week I uploaded chapter two and started working on chapter 5.

This week I am giving you chapter 3, and I know why I stopped at chapter 5 before — I put in a twist that wasn’t working. Last night I had an idea how to make it work, so I might complete chapter 5 soon, or I might now. We will see.

In the meantime, enjoy another story from the life of Blessed.

Psalm 3

1)        LORD, how are the increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me.

2)        Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah

3)        But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

4)        I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah

5)        I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.

6)        I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.

7)        Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

8)        Salvation belongeth unto the LORD; thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah

 

As Blessed lay in his bed that Sabbath morning, the sun shining through the open window, a light breeze wafted a rumbling sound that was somewhat disquieting.  Blessed remembered laying out on the grass-covered hillside above his treehouse the night before, the clear, star-lit sky. There wasn’t any sign then of a thunderstorm brewing. Yet there he heard the sounds of one coming.  And with the way thunderstorms were around here, he’d better get up soon to close the windows and batten down the chicken coops and other holdings of his little farmstead, if he didn’t want to lose something. Yet he lay enjoying the warmth and the sun for many more minutes, while the thunder grew louder and more persistent.

Finally he got up and looked out the window.  The sky was blue. The sky was clear. He went down to the great room and looked out its great windows that overlooked Rivers of Water River.  The sky was blue. The sky was clear. The waters of the river flowed strong and deep past his tree, and he could follow the current downstream until it rounded a bend a few miles down. Around that bend the river slowed and broadened at the ford, and on both sides of that ford a small town had grown up where the Way of the Righteous forded the Rivers of Water on its path between Judgment and Congregation of the Righteous. No sign of thunderclouds.

But when he went back to the bedroom, to dress, he could see a faint haze, a dust was rising off the desert to the east, just over the ridge that formed the edge of the river valley.  Definitely not a thunderstorm.  But if not thunder, what? Dust storms weren’t anything to take lightly, here on the edge of the desert, but there were none of the winds usually associated with a dust storm, either.

Throwing on his kurta, Blessed climbed down the ladder of his treehouse and up the hillside, through gardens and pasturage, until he reach the top of the ridge.  By the time he reached the top, due to whatever sense of caution, he was crawling, first on his knees, then on his belly. And so he reached the top, and separated the branches of the bushes to look through at what was beyond.

Thousands upon thousands of men, or so he estimated, were marching across the desert, backlit by the dawning sun.  Now which one of the heathen principalities was in that direction?  Blessed couldn’t recall at the moment, nor did it seem to matter from what he could see right now.  All protestations of self defense aside, it looked like the heathen were going on the offensive, and that offensive was starting with him, or near him.  Not that he had any idea what they might be doing elsewhere.

Blessed spent a few minutes observing the army as it approached.  He wasn’t a trained military man, but he felt certain a few observations, as accurate as they could be, would certainly be of help to the LORD’s forces.

The dust made it seem like a lot more men that it was, or else hid how many men there actually were … if he kept on hedging his estimations this way they would be of no help at all!!!!

Well, he could tell there were a lot of horses, but he couldn’t see any wagons.  There were also a lot of men on foot. How they got that many men across the desert.  Coming this way they must have avoided the Way of the Righteous, which followed along the only know oasises that cut across this big loop of the Rivers of Water. But how was less important than that they had done it.  And they seemed to be heading straight toward his tree and his hill.  Drat now the fact that made his tree the highest landmark seeable on this side of the desert!

Blessed slid off the hilltop and headed back down toward his tree.  His mind whirled with what he should do. Some of those men had horses, and they would be to his tree soon.  He only had his feet, and the little punt on the edge of the river.  That would probably be his fastest, safest way to get to the town where he could warn someone.  If the heathen took the ford, they would isolate everyone on his side of the river from the LORD’s forces. Again, not that there were many people on his side of the river.

But it appeared that that option was taken from him, he had barely started down the hill when he heard the jangle of horse tackle. A cavalryman was down by the river, between his tree and the ford. The horse lowered its head and began to drink. The cavalryman dismounted and did the same.  Small, short, cupped handfuls raised to his mouth, as he scanned up and down the river. Alas, no one resided on the other bank of the river here, the slope being too steep, so there was no one to see the soldier over there and send warning.

Then again, a closer examination of the horseman, this as he skulked closer to his own tree via the shelter of various sheds and bushes, showed his appearance to be non-descript, no obvious evidence of armour above what any ordinary wealthy merchant or traveler – one who could afford a horse – might have.  No helmet for his head was visible.  Obviously a scout.  Perhaps he still could get to his boat, and get pushed off far enough out to be beyond the reach of the scout before the scout noticed him and had time to respond.

While he slinked closer to the river, and debated when the right moment might be, the scout stopped his own short drink, and pulled his reluctant horse away as well.  Blessed both admired and cursed the horseman for his wits.  Keeping a very thirsty animal from killing itself by overdrinking after a long drought – he was thankful for the horse, and not so thankful for the life of the scout that it would save.  For both those lives might mean many people he knew in town would soon be dead, or prisoners. Which made his skulking to the punt even more important.

Alas, he was concentrating on the scout downstream so well, he failed to see or hear the one upstream until the jangle of tackle made him turn his head in his sprint for the punt to see the horseman racing down upon him. The sound alerted the first cavalryman, who mounted and started urging his horse into a gallop toward the boat as well.  Blessed had but seconds to decide how to release the punt – attempt to untie the rope, or cut it with the knife he always wore in his pouch. Which would be faster? He always kept the knife sharp, and tied his knots tight.  But it would take time to free the knife, time he couldn’t use while running.  So untie the knot it was.

He ran onto his short dock, barely braking to avoid going off the end, and slipped the knot off the post.  It seemed to take forever, but actually came off faster than he had ever done before. Unfortunately, a punt is not a quick boat to get going from shore. Blessed jumped into the punt, trying to convey as much motion as possible to the punt with his jump. He landed squarely in the middle of the punt and reached for his punting pole. The second, unseen cavalryman rode his horse onto the dock and quickly dismounted.  Blessed was again thankful for their scout status.  Neither of them carried a crossbow. One cannot work a punting pole easily from a crouching position, nor does a punt provide much shelter were he to do so.  To anyone with a crossbow he would either have been dead or a captive. Without the ability to shoot anything at Blessed, the cavalryman ran to the end of the dock and jumped off the end, much as Blessed had done.  He almost landed in the punt creating a big splash that would have helped propel the boat even further from shore, except his hands managed to grasp the punt as he went under the water.

Blessed’s first push with his punting pole was right after the scout’s hands grasped the edge of the punt on his way down.  The grab and his push nearly tossed him overboard.  It did cause him to lose the pole on the bottom as it stuck.  In the moment that he wavered between trying to free the pole and realizing he’d have to pick up the spare, the scout was already hoisting himself up by his arms and kicking one of his legs over the edge into the punt.  Blessed swung his pole at the man, trying to knock him off.  Quite obviously the blow, which hit the man in the stomach, hurt, but just as obviously didn’t dislodge him.  Instead, one of his hands grabbed the pole and yanked hard. Blessed tried to push even harder on the pole, to drive the man into the water, but a second hand reached for the pole, as the scout tried to climb further into the punt. Blessed let go of the pole, rather than have the weight of the man pull him overboard.  But as the scout fell back into the water, he swung the pole sideways, deck level with the punt, and knocked Blessed off his feet, his butt landing on the edge of the punt, and his head toppling into the water.

From there it was a swimming match, which Blessed knew he could have won, if he could have ever kicked himself free of the scout.  But the scout always seemed to get one hand onto him for every one he managed to kick free, until the second scout arrived and splashed his way into the water. The two of them dragged him into water shallow enough for one of them to give him a sound cuffing on the head that sent his senses reeling, momentarily losing control of his limbs.

“Grab the rope and lets get him tied up” the second scout shouted.  “And hurry.  One of us has to catch that punt before it drifts pilotless downstream far enough for someone to come investigating.”

The first scout splashed toward shore and the rope.  Blessed knew this was his last chance, and bucked and kicked wildly with all four limbs to get loose.  And get loose he did. But it also freed the scouts hands, which delivered a double blow to his head.  Blessed blacked out.

When Blessed awoke he was in the greatroom of his tree house, lounging at his kitchen table.  He might have thought everything was normal, except for the rope tying his hands behind his back and the man in an officer’s uniform sitting across the table from him.

“Well, so they didn’t knock you out too badly, though that one hit is going to give you a rather bad bruise on the side of your face,” the officer said.  “Too bad for that. No way we can use you for a decoy with that to draw their attention.  We’ll just have to hope noone comes up this way to check on you for the next day or two…”

Blessed licked his lips with his tongue, trying to feel out his mouth and his voice.

“Oh, come on, spit it out, what are your thinking,” the officer said.

“How long am I to remain here this way? Sir” Blessed added the ending tag, aware how picky some heathen were about their titles, yet not knowing what rank to bestow upon his captor.

“No need to be so bashful,” the officer replied.  “Though I cannot answer that exactly.  We may be here as a liberation army, but too many of you who live by the Rivers of Waters and places west are too brainwashed to realize that.  Once the liberation is complete, however, you will be free to go your own way, living under the new freedoms granted by the governing counsel.

“In the meantime, if you will give me your parole, I will have you untied and allow you the freedom of your house, with our also making use of your house, until we are through.”

Blessed thought carefully before answering. “Your fancy words aside, I know my LORD is my shield and strength, and I look forward to his liberation, not yours.  But I’ll give you my parole.  I will not leave this house until set free by you or someone else, not make escape on my own.”

At the mention of the LORD, the officer’s face contorted into a scowl of anger. He raised a gloved arm and struck Blessed hard on the cheek. “Do not mention his name again in my presence, or I might forget my leniency and have you bound again. Your soul will find no help from him.” He waved an arm at the soldier behind Blessed. “Untie him.”

Blessed tasted blood and felt gingerly at his cheek.  He counted himself lucky to get off that easily.  Since he hadn’t had breakfast, he angled the sun reflectors onto the cooking griddle and then ventured into the pantry for some supplies. Soon some greasy cured meats and floury cakes were sizzling away. The officer had commandeered Blessed’s table for a conference with his other officers, so Blessed started bringing platters of food over to the men there and serving them. As he did so, he found himself humming, merry tunes of praise to the LORD.  He tried to remember to keep them quiet anytime he was near the heathen officers or soldiers.  Only once or twice did they give him a strange glance when they caught a hint of the tune he was humming.

“The men should be rested up, the horses rewatered, by nightfall,” he overheard one officer report. “We should be ready to commence the attack by first light tomorrow morning.”

“I want us under march before first light,” the head officer said.  “At first light I want our cavalry charging the unexpecting fords and the infantry digging in and building fortifications.”

Blessed cooked nearly the entire day, until the sun set.  News of fresh food cycled every officer who dared into the treehouse, down to the lowliest of ranks. As the sun set, Blessed cleaned up his kitchen, turned the reflecting mirrors down, and headed up the ladder to his sleeping chamber.

In his chamber he fell on his knees beside his bed, and looked out the western window toward the LORD’s holy hill. “Arise O LORD, save me,” he said. “Salvation and blessing are yours to provide.  I will sleep in your peace.” And with that, he dropped off to sleep.

For the second morning in a row Blessed awoke to the sound of thunder. It was before dawn, and he expected it to be the sounds of the invading army getting underway to take the fords.  Then he heard shouting, sounds of confusion, the clanking of metal on metal. Looking out his window, he saw the commanding officer and other officers scurrying out of his tree, as other horsemen came over the ridgetop in a raised saber cavalry charge. The moonlight was so bright Blessed could see clearly as the swords caught the on-foot heathen officers on the cheekbone, splitting their faces open and sending teeth flying.

Moments later, the officer leading the charge met Blessed in his great room.

“Hello Blessed, thanks for the signal light.  It led us straight to the enemy army.”

“Signal?” Blessed said.  “I gave no signal.”

“The LORD said to cross the Rivers of Water on the boats he provided, and ride quietly until I saw the signal light in the sky. And there is the source.”  The officer pointed to the griddle mirrors.

Blessed looked at the mirrors.  They were not set where he had turned them off.

“I didn’t set the signal.” Blessed said.  “One of the heathen officers must have been playing with the mirrors.”

“Either way, the LORD knew the signal would be there.”

“Praise the LORD.” They both said.

The Book of Blessed – Chapter 2

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Last week I uploaded chapter one of this 150-chapter project I started back in 2008. Only 4 chapters were complete. I’ve started working on chapter 5 this week. We will see how many chapters I can get done this year. Enjoy another story from the life of Blessed.

Psalm 2

1)        Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2)        The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying.

3)        Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

4)        He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

5)        Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

6)        Yet have I set my king upon my Holy hill of Zion.

7)        I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee.

8)        Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9)        Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

10)    Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

11)    Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12)    Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

 

Blessed sat in the dining nook of his tree-house, reading the morning paper.  It was a quiet, peaceful morning in Rivers of Water.  The sun shone brightly through the window, the birds sang in the branches of his tree, the aroma of spring blossoms filled the air that breezed gently through the window.  The Headlines of the newspaper provide a dramatic contrast to Blessed’s idyllic breakfast scene:

Heathen Rage against LORD:

Kings and Rulers create counsel

Pledge to ‘Break Bands Asunder’

DATELINE HEATHEN – In a prepared statement, the Counsel of Heathen today announced plans for independence from the LORD and his Anointed heir.

“We will break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us” the members of the council declared.

The Counsel of Heathen is made up of most of the kings and rulers of the earth from the territories that have been under the nominal rule of the LORD since recorded time began. The council was formed initially as a way for these leaders to express their grievances to the LORD, but has ended up as a non-too-veiled declaration of independence from his rule.

Their statement continued with a list of complaints again the LORD, his meddling in their abilities to rule as they please in their own demesne. They state their purpose to make this a peaceful break, unless the LORD chose to be the one to raise war against them.

When the press corps reported the news of the counsel’s statement to the LORD, his first response was a non-too pleasant laugh from his heavenly throne.

“I shall give my son, my anointed, these heathen for his inheritance, and he shall rule them all from his throne on Zion,” the Lord said when he finally responded with words.  “He shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them to the ground like a potter’s vase.”

The LORD warned the kings to “be wise” and return their fealty and reverence to Him and the heir. As part of that fealty, they need to appear in Zion to kiss the Son and reconfirm their oaths of allegiance, or he promised his armies shall soon put all the lands of Heathen to waste.

The Book of Blessed

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I was “flipping” through my files yesterday, and ran across the below short chapter of a project I dreamed up in 2008: a 150 chapter project. All I ended up writing at the time was about four and a half chapters, of which this is the first. So here it is as a teaser.

Psalm 1

1    Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2    But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

3    And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

4    The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

5    Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6    For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

 

This is the story, the saga of one man, though it involves the stories of many. This is a very peculiar man.

His name is Blessed.  Blessed does not walk, he does not stand, he does not sit.  He delights in the law of the Lord.  He meditates day and night.

His home is a tree.  The tree is planted by Rivers of Water.  It is a fruit tree.  We will find out what type of fruit sometime later.

There are other points of geography in his world.  There are places called Counsel of the Ungodly and Seat of the Scornful.  The main road connecting them is the Way of Sinners.

Other places of note are the Judgment, and the Congregation of the Righteous.  The main road connecting them is the Way of the Righteous.  The Lord who rules these lands puts good portions of tax money into maintaining the Way of the Righteous.  The other main road, the Way of the Ungodly, he cut off maintenance funds for years ago, with the intention that it no longer be used, though many people still seem to use its rough and warn surface, perhaps because it is bigger and wider than the Way of the Righteous.

Boxing Day — stocking up for next Christmas

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Well, the above picture shows my main haul from Santa, and my main present from Christmas.

In the center is “The Organists’ Manual” — a gift from my mother and sister I asked for, so I can start formal organ practicing instead of the pickup I have done over the years.

But the rest of the picture is what “Santa” brought in the stocking, as he does each year. We get a lot of Holiday Candy around here — both in the stockings, and as free-for-all bags.

So today we will go to Walgreens and purchase candy for next year.  We purchase whatever is left over, at 50% off, and then store it, cool and safely wrapped, until next year, where it become our treat for the next month or so. We do this for each holiday. Too bad there aren’t any candy holidays during the summer 😉

Saving 50% means we could spend half as much — but instead we buy twice as much.