Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


The Desert of the Soul

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.

The wilderness of the solitary way: the desert, the great, vast, desert. One gasps and stutters at the imensity, at the scope: it is of horrible, wonderful beauty and fear. It is empty, for most of its great span and breadth, miles upon miles upon empty miles of dirt, sage, and stone, fading off into a dull yellow sheen over the horizion. Here and there mesas and buttes thrust up, roaring forth in a thousand shades of red and orange and sepias and purples- but at my feet there is nothing but scraggling sage and dust. The wilderness of the desert. In such we wander, and we hunger and thirst: for we find the wilderness empty. The springs are bitter and deadly; the washes and gullies are dry, or flowing with silt and filthy water. Our soul faints, we gasp, we groan, and we cry out to our Lord.

Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.

He leads us, He carries us, He bears us forth: but see, we are still in the wilderness for a time, and then comes the City. This wilderness, how hard its paths are! The desert is a place of difficult travel: sand, gritting its way into eyes and flesh, raises up against us, and we must pull our cloak fast about us. We must clothe ourselves in Christ- for our torn garms cannot bear it. Down in the washes, as we plunder over the slickrock, the thunderheads rumble down, loosing a torrent into the washes and canyons. But the Living Stone, our great and immovable mesa, stands fast, and to Him we cling, and His water cleanses and refreshes us, the sweet water of the hidden desert spring, the well of life. As our strength flags climbing the clefts and crags, and our feet and hands are sore from the fierceness of the stone, He gives us Himself as sustenance, and His wounds are our balm and healing. Out upon the high flats, where the sage is thin and the rock is burning, we find that we have a tabernacle, a shelter, against the noonday heat- under Him we cast ourselves down. When night comes- how sharp and cold the night in the desert is- the pillar of fire looms above us, guiding, leading, ever onward, towards that Holy Mountain, that Holy City, which we seek.

He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.
And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation

But as we follow, we find the desert blooming and flourishing. It becomes our refuge, our abode, as we abide in Him, we find the desert a place of rest. Temptation and rest both dwell here. It is a mingled place, of great beauty and great terror both, of fear and peace. The wonders of it are beyond words, for they are of Him Who is Good, and in Him this desert, this empty place, this place of death and thirst, is made whole, is made a place of healing and life, of quenched lips. So on I go, in this desert of the soul, a desert both of hardships and troubles, and of unspeakable love and utter joy.


He Is Risen!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

He is risen!


Maundy Thursday

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand." Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you." For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "Not all of you are clean."
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, 'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.' I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."

John 13:1-20

"What I am doing you do not understand now"- O, do any of us truly understand even now, two-thousand years later? Do we consider it at all? The very One through Whom all things were made, and are held together, the One by Whom all things can be said to even exist- the very Word made flesh, God Himself manifest Himself to us: took on flesh, and shared in our shame, our sin, our troubles. And here is Jesus before His disciples, having just instituted the Sacrament of His Body and Blood- hours away from His sacrificial death- washing His disciples feet. In the garm of a servant He comes to each and cleans their feet, stooping down, and lovingly wiping them. He tells them to follow in His example: and so must we also, for indeed who are we compared to His glory? Let us love, let us stoop below all- for Christ has lowered Himself to us, He has washed us through His very body and blood.


Palm Sunday

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
"Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!"
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, "You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him."

John 12:12-19

Palm Sunday has drawn down into a warm, clear, moon-lit night. Standing outside my house upon arriving home from church services I listened for a while to the chuck-wills-widows' songs: the first I have heard this year. For those who unfamiliar with this charming and unusual bird (close kin to the better known, and more northernly, whipoor-will), it is an eclectic amaglation of things: the habit of an owl, laying under cover by day and flying about by night; the whiskers of a cat; a grand, gaping mouth that is employed for the pursuit of insects; a dappled moltage that fades into the forest floor; and a lovely, haunting song-something along the lines of "chuck-wills-widow" whistled softly. Tonight I heard two joining in concert back through the piney woods, blending their voices into a single soothing, restful song. They are the soul of Southern woods at night- how glad I am that they have recommenced their singing.

As I listened to the chuck-wills-widows my eyes caught dim flashes of light in the yaupon and privet thicket near the house: fireflies in their silent symphony of light. The first fireflies of the year. I think it is anappropiate thing for them to return to their bright and mysterious displays at this time: as we look upon He Who is light, lifted upon the Tree, and behold the Light and Life of men piercing and shattering the darkness of death and sin- our glorious King, breaking the iron and bronze bars, and freeing the captives. Death is swallowed up in victory! Behold, O Zion, thy King cometh! Hosanna!


What I'm Reading

From my book-piles (I've only a small bookcase, so most of my volumes are in cluttery little piles stacked along or near my reading-chair or bedside):

Flora Britannica , by Richard Mabey: this is a fine little- actually quite large- tome of British trees and herbs, with grand colour plates. Quite a few of the plants detailed in the flora have either made it over here by human agency or are natives both here and across the Pond.

John Cassian,The Institutes: I have only set into the first chapter and a half or so, but it's quite an enjoyable read. I must confess that I have never imagined ordinary clothing to be capable of having such Scriptural significance as Cassian records, in regards to the garb of Egyptian monks.

The Celtic Monk: Rules and Writings of Early Irish Monks: Many wonderful gems in this little anthology of Irish monastic writings. I am particularly fond of the poems and litanies therein- my sentiments and theirs are remarkably close. I should like to think I have inherited some of the Celtic spirit, even if the idea is romantic folly and easily dismissed by phsycological factors.

From Glory to Glory; Texts From Gregory of Nyssa's Mystical Writings: Gregory is fascinating, though I find myself scratching my head at some of his exegesis! However, there are some wonderful selections contained therein.

Golden-mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom--Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop, by J.N.D. Kelly: I like Chrysostom- he was of the sort we in the South would call a character. I am as yet only half way through his life. I shall likely go back through it again in the near future, as I read a good deal whilst engaging in personal ascetics a few weeks back in the partially untamed wilderness of nearby DeSoto National Forest. Reading by a pale halo of flourescent lantern and flickering campfire is not of the most enviable sort.

Letters Concerning the Holy Spirit, by Saint Athanasius: I must admit that my understanding, and indeed my thought, of the Holy Spirit has tended towards one of poverty- a terrible thing, and something I have begun attempting to rectify: and Saint Athanasius is providing ample aid.

The Contra Amatores Mundi of Richard Rolle of Hampole: A wonderful little book- I shall perhaps expound it further, with some quotes, on a later day.

The Brothers Karamazov: My second reading now, this is, I think, one of my favorite pieces of fiction. Magnificent, magnificent.

Apostolic Fathers, Volume I: Lastly but certainly not least, this little volume- compact, pocket sized, which fact has brought it along afield with me- I have enjoyed immensly, particularly- mostly- St. Ignatius. "It is better for a man to be silent and be [a Christian], than to talk and not to be one. It is good to teach, if he who speaks also acts. There is then one Teacher, who spake and it was done"


Yesterday I watched an anvil shoot. Which is to say, I watched grown men engage in the awe-inspiring craft of blasting one hundred pound iron anvils six hundred feet into the air- with the accompanying grand explosion and smoke cloud. There is something about the human condition that delights in blowing inantimate objects to kingdom come. It is deeply illogical, I think, that blowing a blacksmith's tool hundreds and hundreds of feet into the air- that sucker got so high you couldn't half see it- should cause full grown men to illicit cries of glee and exclamation.

Of course, I should note this hobby- of which I am, of course, only a spectator, and a one-time as of now at that- is limited in participants, perhaps owing to a certain eccentricity of the whole operation. After all, while the human condition may respond favourably to loud explosions and adrenenline rushing endevaours, blowing anvils into the sky is not the most obvious means of such entertainment.

For those who have the channel Turner South, the event was filmed by the show Liars and Legends. They filmed me, and I'm hoping that I made it into the final cut- the only time I've been on television before was a brief passby at a political demonstration in Pensacola, FL a couple years back. The show will likely run towards the end of the summer. Ted Turner jokes were common, though I don't think any made it on the camera...


Dear reader, please pardon my utter laconicness. I am rather reluctant to post links and short comments, and while I have a hundred things I should like to express in words, I have not felt capable of doing so worthily. That, and I have a number of other things to do, such as choosing a major for college, which I am planning, if the Lord wills, to start this fall. I am considering several things, including history, botany, or literature- I'm quite open. I suppose I should begin formulating at least a rough idea of what I wish to do, but do not desire to rush hastily into anything. Some days I find my self caring not a whit about secular education, and imagine myself divorcing utterly from 'secular' fields and becoming a pastor or priest or monastistic. Well, maybe not a monastistic... but standing firm in the faith and growing in the knowledge of Christ has become more paramount in my mind than my education- and vocational- future. That, and I am a fellow of so many interests that I am gripped with indecision among the competing fields. Whatever I engage in, I pray I may do it to the glory of God through Christ, and that I may bear His image.

Prayers are, of course, coveted. I have grown greatly in the past several months, especially, and with bounds in the faith have come troubles- narrow is the Way that leads to life, and of little ease: but of great and joyful reward. Life is a remarkable thing, made all the more remarkable in considering that the Eternal Logos bearing flesh, The Son of God clothed in manhood, has shared it with me.