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A Magnificat Morning

Today I woke up much earlier than normal, and John called me to the window. “Just in time”, he said, “to see this beautiful dawn”. I was absolutely breath-taken by the depth of color spreading out before us.  “It’s a rainbow sherbert morning” he said with a big smile, remembering his favorite childhood ice cream. Yes, it was delicious to watch, a feast for the eyes, the windows of the soul. I turned off the lamp, and sat on the little loveseat in front of the living room window, trying to remember all the colors before they faded in the rising sun’s glory. But these were colors an earthly artist would find hard to replicate. I couldn’t paint what I saw, but these are the words that came as I quietly waited in adoration….


Wakened by a magnificat morning:
my soul magnifying the Lord of Creation,worshiping at the footstool of my couch,
before the horizon’s altar, laden with a blue lagoon of silk,
 bands of singing robins filled the branching chambers all around me,
then moved in waves of throbbing praises, east and west,
weaving the shadowed pattern of fabric unwinding from their wings;
and the window, a portal of beauty above me, latticework  of gold and rose,
filtering the soft pinked flock of clouds, gathered into lace with lilac thread,
soon scattered ribbons of light upwards, till all was luminous,
and the day star ruled the winter solstice sky.








John’s Christmas Story

Luke is usually the preferred storyteller when it comes to the birth of Christ. He includes the many human, homey details we love to hear, and children never tire of hearing about: angels singing, shepherds running, kings traveling from afar to worship the King of Kings born in a stable. But then, even in this most beautiful story of all the stories we will ever hear on earth, there are the negative details. An earthly king, fearful of losing power, seethes with jealousy and rage after he hears about the birth of a king, foretold centuries before him,  by the prophet Micah.  Feigning an interest in this prophecy, he uses the information about the birthplace to issue an unthinkable order to his Roman soldiers. “Kill every child, two years old and under, born in and around Bethlehem!”  Alongside all the masterpieces depicting Jesus’ birth, there are some horrific ones graphically depicting the slaughter of babies by the Roman sword. Birth and death, beauty and horror, the slaughter of innocents, the lust for power, the untrammeled greed for wealth and position, still comprise all our daily news feed.

John’s Evangel gives us an eternal perspective, and takes us behind the headlines of that day:

Shepherds reported seeing and hearing a choir of angels singing…A caravan of monarchs  following a star arrive in Jerusalem…Reports of an infant King born in Bethlehem…Herod denies any connection to local Judean infanticide; 28 children brutally murdered!!

What’s really going on here? According to John 1:9-14  NLT:

” The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

Beautiful words that hold great promise and hope. Surely this light was so welcomed, especially after centuries of great darkness, and silence. But men have always preferred to hide in darkness because their deeds were evil. Remember Adam?

“He came into the very world that he created, BUT the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.”

“BUT all who believed him and accepted him he gave the right to become the children of God”.

Wait a minute! How could this be? And what gives him the right to offer this?

“They are reborn, not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, BUT a birth that comes from God.”

John later explains this “rebirth” in detail as he records Jesus’ secret meeting with Nicodemus in Chapter three.

“The Word, [the logos, the principle that governs the world, the agent of creation, the source of God’s message to his people, the one who “holds all creation together”, “the express image of the invisible God”] became human, [became visible and tangible], and made his home among us.”

This is so overwhelming. We bow before such mystery. And we can only ask, why?

“He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness”.

How do you know this John?

“And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”

John was a living eye-witness who wrote about seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Now, you yourself, look upon an image of his face, painted by a young Russian girl, who had visions of heaven and many encounters with Jesus. This is how she saw him.

a vision of Jesus
a vision of Jesus

She sees him as the Prince of Peace. How do you see him?




The Vanishing Point of a New Perspective

Whether we use our eyesight, hindsight, or foresight, it’s all about perspective. Casting a vision, or making a prophetic statement, is really based on a clear moral insight of the present, and not so much on foresight into the future. We surely need hindsight to illuminate the past and transcribe history. “Right vision”, as described in Buddhist philosophy, is the ability to see clearly what lies before us, by not contaminating it with imagination or emotion. Jesus taught us to see with a “single eye”, a way of seeing purely and deeply the interconnectedness of everything and everyone, not discolored by dark shadows of selfish motives and desires.

When painters in the Renaissance rediscovered “the vanishing point”, they modeled their work on Nature’s way of seeing things, i.e., closer =larger and further away=smaller. Earlier styles of painting would depict those considered more important as larger figures, disregarding the principles of perspective. People of  less prominence were painted in as miniatures. ** The media does a good job of painting in those who grab the biggest headlines, and painting out the losers.

Having watched my own grandchildren and several other children being born, it’s always a wonder to see them open their eyes for the first time to a new world, and to the familial relationships they will inherit.  It takes another kind of birthing process to have our spiritual eyes opened. Thousands of years later, Jesus introduced this truth to an eminent Jewish scholar who had not yet learned he was born blind, when He said, “Unless you are born again from above, you cannot see the Kingdom of God”. This made no sense intellectually, so the scholar used common earth sense to ask, “How are these things possible? Must a man enter again into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered him by describing a mysterious wind that comes down from “above” and rests upon a person. (The Hebrew word for wind is spirit). When the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Adoption*, opens our eyes to see Jesus, that revelation births us into God’s family, as His sons and daughters.  My second birth happened long ago in Big Sur on top of Pfeiffer Ridge, and it opened my eyes to see Jesus and His world,  the unseen Kingdom of God all around me.

It’s a hard truth to bear and to hear: we are born spiritually blind. It’s simply the human condition we’ve inherited from Adam’s choice to be independent from his Father. He chose to be “like God” in the wrong way. He lusted after knowledge, not only of what is good, true and beautiful, but also knowledge of the dark side. He lost his moral compass when he calculated that his advantage in gaining the whole spectrum of knowledge was better than simply being an obedient son. His loss was incalculable. He and Eve were cast out of their birthplace and earthly home forever, blindsided by the evil one.

Spiritual rebirth radically changes our human perspective on time and eternity. It is a vanishing point that transforms how we see our life on earth, and how we fit into the eternal scheme of things. One day as Jesus was walking by the Temple with his disciples, they were marveling at the size of the stones (37 1/2 ft. long, 18 ft. wide, 12 ft. thick!) Who wouldn’t be impressed? Haven’t we done our share of gawking in this life journey?  As Jews, they were proud of this structure and boasted of its beauty and grandeur. But Jesus saw it differently. His vision was untainted because he clearly saw past the immense grandeur of this last Jewish Temple, and  viewed it as an immoral monument to Herod’s greed and power, paid for on the backs of human lives. And Jesus prophesied that it wouldn’t survive the judgment that was coming.  It was unthinkable then for some of the disciples to conceive that one day, in their own lifetime, they would watch the long arm of Roman power topple those massive stones from their foundation.

Which brings us to the Divine perspective. Who looms largest in God’s sight? Psalm 113 gives us a glimpse of God stooping down to lift up the poor and needy, the powerless, the insignificant, and setting them on an equal plane with those in power and authority. God corrects our nearsightedness with the lens of His Word. He washes our spiritual eyes, the windows of our souls, with the water of His Word, and dispels the darkness of our hearts.  He purges our guilty conscience with the fire of His Word so we can become a lightening rod of provocation through love and good works. Our spiritual eyes will have a single focus, and the true light of Jesus will shine through us!

* Romans 8:15-17

**I am indebted to David Davies for planting these seed thoughts through his writings in “Disciplines”, a devotional by Upper Room Ministries.


The Beginning of Act Three

Moving on, they say, moving on. Don’t get stuck in the mud of circulatory thinking. Don’t spin your wheels. Keep the conversation going.

And so, in the year of our Lord, 2012, we have. But then isn’t all of life a moving on, or else, a territorial leap from here to there? Isn’t that what happens when you fall in love?  When John and I began our life together over 32 years ago, our two hearts leaped ahead into the future, beginning something uniquely ours in the universe, and an Anthony family tree was built from scattered branches.

It all began last May, when we fell in love with the mountains. The ocean views in Santa Cruz no longer hold sway. We looked and kept on looking at ads of houses and lands. We had so many questions, doubts and fears, least of all the pile of funds you should have accumulated. But we did have some, so we boldly proclaimed our desire, and earnestly prayed for God’s guidance.

Then one day a friend named Terri and I were actually standing in a vacant house, and me, proclaiming it was mine, feeling like an explorer who had just found the hidden treasure. That began a ritual chase that ended on an auction block, and further from our reach. Our daughter Aimee was our real estate guide, and apologized for the roller coaster ride of emotions: now you have it, now you don’t. We plucked up our courage and made an offer on a charming house for a great price. Aimee called it a “classy Tahoe style cabin”, and was excited for another possibility on our horizon. Since it was in a short sale category, we were warned of waiting endless days ahead.

We endured the interim, punctuated by the silence of the unknown: would they accept our offer, and if they didn’t, what next? But then we started to preempt any negative answer by looking at some more houses. John kept coming back to one that had dropped in price from $260,000 to $154,000, all 2600 square feet of it! My first reaction was: it’s way too big!! All I wanted was a little cabin in the woods, etc.

But we had to investigate, and called Aimee for her input. As we three compared the two homes, it became obvious that this bigger one was so much better for our family and for growing older needs. Boom! We put in another offer, and were accepted, much to our surprise, because there were quite a few other offers in the mix.

Though it had gone into foreclosure, the house had “good bones” and was still pretty much in move-in condition. Then began another wait, and much counsel about the type of loan we should get. The Lord led us step by step, through a steep learning curve, and we moved from our 850 square foot apartment on Sunday, Jan. 8th, with quite a few helping hands and willing feet. Our son-in-law Tom had made a beautiful mantle for the stone fireplace, and installed it and a new window in our office/craft room in one day!! Lucy, Tim and the boys were on hand to ease the transition. Together we lovingly endured the mounds of boxes, the chaos and the endless questions of where things should go, and me mumbling answers like: don’t know, not sure, maybe here, that looks good.  John and I crashed very early that first evening at 8:30 pm, and said goodnight to our company of movers and shakers.

After three weeks had passed, my friend Terri came by, marveling that it seemed like we had been there for years. Curtains were hung, some pictures and plants filled in the spaces, the kitchen was functioning, and the fire was dancing on the hearth, but we were still waking up in a state of shock, and saying: Do we still live here? Is this the place we will call home from now on? And yet we had been preparing for this moment for 15 plus years and were as ready as we could be.

The curtain has ascended on Act Three, the winter season of our wonderful life, as we finish the race set before us, giving thanks for the grace of growing old together in joy and peace, surrounded by such beauty, and gently led by the kindness of our Shepherd.



Be Like a Tree

That’s what I hope my book is like. It has been sent out, and lives apart from me, standing now on its own newborn legs, uprooted from the coir of memory. Pieces of my life, stitched together with words, pulsating with meaning, and bursting with hope, etched into the living tissue of its progenitor, became pages of flesh made from crushed pulp, hammered into a parchment we can touch with lingering fingers, and hold and fondle with our eyes.  A book must be as malleable, and palpable to be born whole,  and translated into a new life. It is really gone from me, and lives in a distant place, separated into something we call a shared existence.

It’s been a difficult birth: the labor oozing pain that stabbed the heart, the muscle strain that stretched the soul’s opening, the mind unlocking an ever-widening embrace to catch the cry and the song.

Why be like a tree? Trees are meant to bear fruit, reach for the sun, grow upward and outward, while bearing downward, running its roots deeper into  veins of flowing water, to be nourished, and to nourish, to bend and bow underneath the force of seasons, to build a shelter for the littlest pilgrims singing, chattering, groping along on their journey.

The song of my redemption has been recorded for posterity, and in eternity. For the Redeemed of the Lord must say so, must come with singing into Zion, and be heard.

May it be like a tree, planted by rivers of living waters, whose leaves will not wither, bearing fruit in every season, whether late or early, and who will  prosper everything it touches.

A prayer from Psalm One

from a friend

Ohhh Mary!…..words can’t describe how much I love your book! I couldn’t put it down! Had it devoured in one day! Thank you for sharing so openly. Praise God for His protection through those crazy years and for reaching down with His love and mercy to create the person we know and love today! I cried through the pages where you found Him and was vividly reminded of my own story. Thank you…..thank you! Can’t wait for Book Two..

“When I see the rainbow in the clouds…”

What happens when you see a rainbow?

Do you chase it, or stop in your tracks to drink in its beauty?

Is it just another light show, a momentary magic without real significance?

When God sees it he says, “I will remember the eternal covenant between God

and every living creature on earth.” (Gen. 9:16)

It is a banner flying over us from eternity, painted with colors so pure, they are

unearthly, and a symbol of celebration. There had been a war, and devastation so

vast that all seemed lost. But heaven made peace with earth, FOREVER!

Noah had built an altar and offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving to celebrate a

second chance for all of mankind walk upon the earth, to be fruitful and multiply.

John and I have both been given more than our share of second chances in life.

We stay close under the banner of His love and mercy, as pictured above on a trip to

Yosemite with friends a few years back. We had to stop and let the beauty overshadow us.

Today we are celebrating the offering of our life story together to the Lord,  the publication of Book One,

“Love Song of a Flower Child”, and pray it will demonstrate the wonder of His Love for us,

his frail creatures, who needed to be rescued from the wreckage of our own lives.