SIGNS

Geese in the Water

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Who in my land can ever forget the week that was, from the 19th to the 24th of November 2022?

          A week of learning the earth-moving lesson that when the call to radical trust comes, one must walk blind. One must pray with the communion of saints for it will be almost impossible to hold on to prayer when the winds are tearing at you, and you will need the saints’ help. One must hope against hope, even as each passing hour brings news upon news, shattering and shattering everything within us.

A week that taught me that when we cross the Jordan, it is the tearing winds that we must beware.

          For these are winds fed by an evil that abhors peace and hope. Each time we give up and give in to disappointment, we feed satan. And each time we feed satan, he raises the winds in violence against us, dashing us upon rocks, till we are no more.

Never feed satan, our angel lays the quiet caution into our hearts.

          Oh, what a week! And the blessed angel led the way forward. Against the winds. Out of the gathering darkness.

          We have crossed the Jordan to safety now, we have finally reached the shores. From days of the most violent of tumults to utter, absolute joy! Spring in Winter. As I close my eyes to draw breath, the old, old words from years back find me once more,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest     St. Mary of Egypt

          How true!

         And now, il dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing, St. Pio reminds me, his voice the freshness of spring in the gathering of winter’s cold.

          Rest? But there’s so much to do.

          And then, I see.

          The geese are in the water now.

          It is indeed time to rest.

Spring Comes Even in Winter

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          The mists hang low this morning. Like a soft lace shawl around our home, heaven is putting its arms around us.

It must know how very tired my husband and I are.

Yet, November is far from over.

          Just as I was waiting to rejoice that after weeks of hard work, I’ve more or less cleared up my yearly work portfolio well ahead of time, the news came that yet another programme was on the way, made that much heavier by a boss seeking to burnish his personal credentials through our efforts. Then came a meeting with my supervisor and suddenly, in addition to a packed-to-the-gills November, I found myself staring at 3 massive deadlines in an already crammed road leading to Christmas.

          Although I didn’t flail and weep as I am wont to do, a quiet anguish nonetheless lanced the calm waters within my heart.

          These past weeks, from a distance, I had been hearing God’s call to prepare for winter – but in a slightly different way than before.

To prepare for winter by intentional shedding of the weight of the year.

Once I heard it, I understood why I had been led to push myself these past weeks, why despite the worsening chaos at work, I had remained very focused on clearing my in-tray. I was preparing for a winter of quiet and rest. From something that I had feared and struggled through these past years, winter was now a time to look forwards to! And that knowledge filled me with happiness, for nothing compares with sitting by my Lord’s fireside, my head on His knee.

          But now, with the new tasks and deadlines, it seemed as if, in a single stroke, life had rendered that hope gone. From seeing the sun’s rays push deeper into my November, all the windows had now been shut tight and resolutely against the happy light. Why tell me to prepare for a quiet yet joyous time and yet allow these huge boulders to crowd the path? I asked God.

          All through our travelling through winding roads to the family wedding this weekend, I thought about those boulders which had to be cleared in such a short time. How on earth was I to accomplish that and yet keep still, in watchful silence in the lead up to Christmas?

          No direct answer came to my seeking.

          But something else did. Looking out at the friendly mists that gathered around our trees this morning, I realised that recently I had been seeing geese in some way or other a number of times. Just as a sudden sighting or hearing of the kingfisher’s call is a sign for me to Quieten Down and Listen Up, from this year, geese have become another avian sign to me. Seeing them soar determinedly across the skies told me that one season had ended and soon another would take its place. That it was time I too made ready to pack and move on to whatever lay ahead. With a sigh, I would then nervously and reluctantly move to comply.

          But this year, the geese began to herald something else. They began to come as a sign of hope where there appeared to be none.

The hopes of spring even in the deeps of winter.

          As I pondered the various geese sightings in recent weeks, slowly, a learning wove its way into my heart.

          Life seldom works out the way we envision it, no matter how well we plan. We could work hard, face down all the Goliaths in our way, do all the right things and still find the road ahead marked with rocks and stones. It is easy then to give way to fear and worry, to dejection and defeat.

          But we often forget that it’s not our job to actually move those boulders. That power to move mountains rests only with God. It’s not for us to put our worn shoulders against the burdens that can often be too much for us, and to heave and push till we break. And yet, we often do just that because we forget to take His yoke upon us. We might pray for strength and wisdom even as our first response to a problem is to swing into action to wear down or circumvent our hurdles. But what often slips our memory is to first ask what His will for us might be.

And that includes asking if we have any business going near those huge rocks in the first place.

          This is where I fell. Some weeks ago, God had sent an emissary to tell me to continue to keep my eyes upon Him and not upon the rocks in my path. Since then, I have been trying to do just that – but I’ve been doing it from a place too close to those boulders – because I thought it was up to me to get them out of my way. As a result, I’ve inadvertently allowed the coming work and deadlines to block out a lot of God’s light and the cold of anxiety and disappointment has slowly begun to trickle in.

        Today, as the early morn sun slowly warmed the mists to a gentle shimmering, my heart saw what heaven had been trying to tell me through the sighting of geese. Keeping my eyes on God meant exactly that – eyes on God. It was not as I had been doing, praying, yet with my gaze full on my work and studies.

          Still, even as the morn’s gentle lesson wound its arms around my heart, I remained by my window, uncertain. How do I do that? I asked God. How would I know I am doing it right, that I’m going about my Father’s business and not mine?

           Ever so slowly, on the breaths of eventide came the softest reply,

When you believe unwaveringly

that even in winter, spring can come. 

The Sign of Children

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Many spiritual undertones are concealed in little things.

~ Entry 112, Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.

          This has been the lesson over the past few days. Taught over and over, yet differently each time, it feels as if all of heaven has suddenly come together to impress upon me the signs of the times, the signs for the way forward and the signs of the things to stay away from. From near absolute stillness, there has begun now a sort of insistence, gentle yet with power, telling me that the signs are in the little things. That even as the world shouts and attempts to influence us about events and threats and all manner of future events, God wants my eyes on the little things because that is where the signs will be concealed.

In things which lie underfoot, hidden, obscured among the brambles and chaos of distraction and human insistence.

          The first sign came through one of the two most trusted people in my life. I had sought their holy discernment of a dream I had on the morn of Sept 14th, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Instead, they hurried to give me their thoughts, as they themselves made clear. For such a holy and devout couple usually given to prayerful consideration of everything, all of a sudden, their personal perspective took centre stage. The result was a body hit that that left me reeling, the tumult of old fears once again attaching themselves to me with glee.

          Still, I resisted my own intuition. I’ve been wrong about things many, many times before. I could be wrong this time as well. And so, even as my entire spirit rose in rebellion, I probed the waters gingerly, seeking a sign that said I was wrong and they were right.

          It took many hours of pondering and prayer. But I refused to yield to hurt, instead going deep into the heart of my family, the Heart of God in man. There, from its deepest, most pure confines, I saw it. It was the littlest of signs, hidden among the other things that were said. The sign told me to heed the cry of my spirit – and not insistence that was blinded by human frailty – even if it came from people I had always trusted, even if it came from elders of the church.

And the sign was of children.

I was told by the people I trusted that my hands would not be sanctified until I ministered to those in the dark even at the cost of endangering my children.

          What sounded the trumpet was that God has taught me many times that my children must be my life. And I have learned some hard lessons when I chose to turn away for a while; in fact, anything that has taken me away from my children has not worked out well. Hence, now, while I will not withhold them from sufferings that strengthen and purify, I will fight anyone who tells me I must put my heart’s loves in danger – supposedly in the name of God.

          That was why heaven screamed its warning through the events of the weekend. Because, in effect, I was told I had to put my children in harm’s way so that “the Light” could be shone into dark lives.

          Once the truth seized me, I gently made clear my stand, then turned away. It is sad when truth comes to us this way, more so when it involves family. But when we give our lives to God, earthly pillars are bound to crumble and fall. Some of those we trust and respect might fall before our very eyes. Some might reveal to us their hearts. It is a pain I must learn to face and bear, for I know it is in exchange of something far, far greater – complete trust in God and in God alone.

          And so, I left the tumult of the weekend, to come into the new week. Give me a sign. A sign as high as the skies, I had prayed many times. And so, it began. The stream of signs didn’t end with the weekend revelation. One after the other, they came, tiny, tiny ones, gently and in quiet order.

          Like a little child shyly pushing his play blocks towards me, seeking only my eyes and my love.

The Time of Now

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          Dry days are here and my spirit has gone to its desert. Even as I partake of life and laugh and love and pray, the aridity within me does not yield. Nothing reaches my innermost sanctum, except –

photos of harvested hay bales sitting in fields

and

the phrase, It is time.

          What do they mean? Why do scenes of a harvest – yet only those with hay bales – quieten me into watchful silence?

The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun…   ~   Matthew 13: 39 – 43

          In every season of our life, it is always time for something. So, what is the time of the now for me?

          As if in answer, 2 things appear before me.

          First, a dream from last year. A dream about my neighbour, and her daughter moving back in with her – and the number 4. On the Feast of the Assumption this year, I received a sign indicating that the time for the fulfilment of that dream is near. Although that dream and its fulfilment per se has little to do with me, I now understand that it is the time of that fulfilment that is relevant to me.

          Still trying to discern, I turn my mind back to the day of the dream last year. I had awakened from it, instantly clear-minded and alert but I did not understand the dream. At that moment, from deep within me, I had heard the unmistakable strains of a Christmas song, an old Michael W. Smith one. Knowing instinctively that the song was linked to the dream, I let it play in my mind until the answer became clear. But soon, my mind had misted up and I didn’t know where I was going. So, I sought the help of St Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. St Anne, I had prayed at that moment, which part of the song must I focus on?

          It was as if St Anne had been waiting for my question, so swift and smooth was her reply.

You’re almost where the journey ends
Where death will die and life begins.

          Now, a year after that dream, asking for what the time of now means for me and for us as a family, the very same lines from the song appear before me once more.

You’re almost where the journey ends
Where death will die and life begins.

Almost There

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          Last night, I was with my family in my living room, engrossed in my reading while the rest were watching something on the telly. Suddenly, from the telly came this,

Something is about to happen. Trust in me.

          I didn’t even look up to see who had said that or what was playing. It was as if everything had immediately tunneled into introspection.

Something is about to happen.

Trust in Me.

          Trust in Me had been a constant reminder, with a few more chimes earlier that day. A few hours earlier, I had asked God to give me His sign for whatever lay ahead, what I needed to do, whatever He wanted of me. In a new daring, I had asked for a quick and clear reply, but when that didn’t materialise, I just shrugged and stuck to my perch by His heart.

          And then, when I least expected it, came that voice out of the television.

          I had an idea about what might be coming, but as usual, there was more than what I was expecting. Today, on Trinity Sunday, at 3pm, we received news that the restricted movement order in my country was being lifted. Work and life would more or less go back to what it was before except for the social distancing.

          Of course, the part about work was enough to cast the clouds deep and heavy. Nevertheless, I pulled myself up firmly. God had given me more than 2 months’ respite from that hell. It had been unexpected and totally welcome, a true gift. I would not slump now.

          But there was more. I soon heard that almost everyone in my workplace was looking forwards to returning to the office. It had nothing to do with the longing to work or the mounds waiting for them.

They were plain sick and tired of being stuck at home with family.

          That hurt me to the core.

          They were ready for the daycares and care providers to take over what they had struggled with these past months. They were ready to resume their posts by the beaches of fun and play. The blasting of music. The endless celebrations. The parade of buy-and-shows from online shopping.

          The children were a burden. The husbands were useless free loaders. The wives trying and annoying. Work was the escape my colleagues missed and longed for each and every day of the lockdown.

          For me, that spelt the worst thing ever to return to: a life unchanged. To work amongst people who considered family a burden. Even worse, these were a people who had barely been touched by the sorrow Covid-19 had wrecked upon so many countries, so many families. As far as they were concerned, Covid-19 had justly been the infidel’s nightmare; their faith had protected them from the worst of the ravages.

          Needing a short rest, I took my heavy heart to bed. Before I closed my eyes, as an affirmation of my trust in Him, I told Jesus I was leaning against His heart. I asked for St. Anne, St. Faustina and St. Margaret Mary to sit with me, to help me understand His words.

          Just before I woke up fully, I dreamt of my neighbour’s clothesline, all laden with laundry. They seemed to have more than the usual lines strung up. And on the line closest to our fence, hung 4 little baby clothes. As I gazed at the 4 sweet baby-wears, I mused that my neighbour’s eldest daughter must have returned with the restricted movement order now lifted.

And then someone placed my eyes squarely on the number of baby clothes hanging there.

4

          With that, I woke up.

          4 had marked the start of this lockdown with the 4 crosses in the night sky. 4 warriors going to battle for us.

          And now, as the time in our hermitage draws to a close, 4 returns once more.

          What does it mean, 4 baby clothes on the line? I asked St. Anne, St. Faustina and St. Margaret. Slowly, as if from a great distance, I heard the strains of a Christmas song that has come thrice before during this lockdown – Michael W. Smith’s We’re Almost There.

          Hearing it today made it the 4th time.

          For some reason, I completely lost the lyrics in my head. I could only hum along, the words all gone. Again, I turned to the 3 saints who had stayed with me. Which line? I asked them.

          Gently, they unfurled the answer,

You’re almost where the journey ends
Where death will die and life begins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 27 ~ The Sign is Given

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          I was roused from sleep early this morning with the words,

… will die from this

          ‘This’ referred to Covid-19. And I was told the family member who would succumb to it.

          Then, I was taken back to an old dream of 2016, of a white map in the sky, pointing to a time of coming terror. In that dream, my gaze was directed to 3 continents in succession. Not together. I saw them one after the other.

First – Africa

Second – Europe

Third – Asia

          Almost a year later, in 2017, another series of events on a single day. And through them, I was made aware of the need to consecrate the world to Jesus – through Mother Mary.

Mary the Gate

          Several times, I brought up this dream of the white map to some people dear to me. Together we tried to make sense of it. Each interpretation made complete sense. Yet, I was always left feeling that our views were not quite on the mark; that there was something more.

          Yet another year later, in 2018, suddenly the mists parted a little.

Africa. Europe. Asia.

wasn’t referring to continents specifically. It was pointing to 3 consecutive years.

2017. 2018. 2019.

          3 years before the explosion of events, leading to the Covid-19 pandemic in the 4th year.

          In the dream of the map, everything had been covered in white. I sensed it meant something but didn’t know what it signified at the time of the dream. In 2018, interiorly I understood that it referred to a coming winter. Sure enough, soon winter began to appear at unexpected times and in unexpected ways, in Nature as well as metaphorically.

But this morning, I finally saw what that white of winter actually meant. It was the time of being indoors as one would in the winter. And that winter was this pandemic. A winter being experienced by every country on God’s earth.

          One by one, slowly things were revealed and illumined this morning.

The death

The map

          And finally, When Communism comes again. This prophesy was given to a seer of the Garabandal apparitions which began in 1961 in Spain.

When Communism comes again, everything will begin to happen.   ~  Conchita Gonzalez

          When Communism comes again, it will be the marker indicating the time we have been alerted to in many different ways. A time of sorrow. A time of revelation. Of unmasking. There are several predictions about this time when the unimaginable begins to happen, and I concurred with at least one.

          But what was conveyed to me in the dark pre-dawn hours of this morning was that the marker of Communism coming again is Covid-19, originally named the Wuhan virus, after the city of Wuhan in Communist China. Where it all began.

Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!   ~  Isaiah 7: 10 – 11

          I asked for a sign on the Feast of the Annunciation yesterday. Covid-19 is that sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 20 ~ A Time to Trust

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Restricted Movement Order.

          It feels good to be at home and not at work where I’m unhappy. Good to be away from the senseless, endless, inane chatter. Away from the stress and terrible work weeks we’ve had.

          The sun dapples kisses on the grounds and the winds hold trysts among the greening trees. Everything is in bloom. Every day, a new zinnia blooms, a new rose. Even the Desert Rose is about to bloom. The girls’ marigolds are coming up too. They’ve never planted Mary~golds before, and are happily awaiting the first flowers.

          In this little sunny spot bordered by pretty blossoms, it’s easy to feel as if God has cupped it out of the land just for us. Sitting beneath the whispering star tree and the purple~crusted brooches it wears, looking out at the green grass and all the loveliness before me, the anxiety over the pandemic falls silent. Despite the dark news, despite the worrying updates, peace blankets over the fears and the worries.

          Last night’s 4 Crosses in the sky feel like 4 swords, belonging to 4 warriors – all those I’ve consecrated my country to. But that is my thought; God hasn’t spoken to my heart yet. Some who have heard about it saw it as a warning and advised vigilance. Others felt joy. God is watching over us, said my cousin.

          I believe all of them are right. It is not a time for merrymaking nor for careless and irresponsible cheer. The sprawler’s revelry must end. It is a time of quiet and waiting. We must take up our positions in the watchtowers and along ramparts. All the signs and words written on my heart from years ago are slowly converging.

Prepare

This is the year

Go indoors

The warning will only be given once

 

          A promise is about to be fulfilled. We stand in vigil at the cusp. There is only one prayer for the moment, and that is,

Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 19 ~ Night of Four Crosses

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We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with You.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in Your presence today…   ~  Daniel 3: 38 – 40

 

          I had been praying with blessed oil for physical and mental healing of a few people. Then, I missed the prayers two days in a row. Today, I went back to the blessed oil – but with an odd knowing – I am to pray differently. As if the missed days were some sort of marker, a break to indicate a transition of intention. So, I trace the Cross on my forehead today and pray a special Protection Prayer for all I carry in my heart – beloved family and friends, – and well, for the not so beloved by me too.

          Restricted Movement Order issued. A few steps removed from complete lockdown. From being cheery and carefree yesterday – despite knowing about the order – today – a strange urgency and uneasiness descends upon me late this morning.

          On business in the city, far from home. I’ve got to get home, I’ve got to get home. No panic. Just urgent.

          In the face of the pandemic, I had asked my husband a few days ago if we needed to stock up on essentials, in case we went into lockdown. No, we’re fine, he replied confidently. I left it, trusting him.

          Today, I’m away from home in the morning, and he calls me and tells me he’s gone and bought us enough supplies.

          This wasn’t what we discussed yesterday. My stomach tightens at what made him change his mind.

          I’m driving back in the afternoon. Uneasiness increasing. I probe it, trying to discern the reason. I tell myself it’s to do with the Restricted Movement Order, but deep inside I’m not so sure. I pray for the safety of all in my heart. Anxiety increases.

Jesus, place Thy hand upon my heart, I pray. If it’s from You, tell me what to do. If not, take it away.

In a slice, the tension vanishes.

          I reach home. Life goes on. I’m my old self again.

          Hours later, returning home with my husband late at night after a quick trip to the town, I think of the empty church in the city and in many places the world over. Masses and prayer services cancelled. This was prophesied centuries ago, I tell my husband as I alight from the car.

          Looking up at the dark night sky, the Southern Cross constellation catches my eye. Nothing new. Every time we get home at night, I see it when I get out of the car. I pause and gaze awhile at it. As I always do.

          But as I shut the car door behind me, I catch sight of a second Southern Cross. My husband has busied himself with his roses. I turn back to the sky, trying to puzzle out what I’m seeing. A mirror image of the first constellation. I must be mad.

          I call for my calm and practical husband and he comes. And he sees it too.

          Then, he raises his finger towards the dark sky, dotted by a million diamonds. There’s a third Cross, he points out.

          And he is right. Out of all the stars, yet another set of 4 especially bright ones, unmistakably positioned as a Cross.

          I am calm. No fear nor excitement. Fully alert.

          Look, says my husband again. There’s a fourth.

          Four Crosses in the southern night sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross of Light

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          On this delightful day of simple joys, I asked God once more for His sign for me. All through the chimes of hours since the break of Christmas dawn, through Christmas Day Mass, and Christmas visits, I waited in peaceful expectation of His answer. Towards evening, home again, tired yet happy, I gaze up at a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary above my front door, on the eastern side of the house. Last year, on Christmas Day too, during sunset, I witnessed something impossible in the Heart of Jesus, which I never saw before or after that day.

The sun setting in the west on Christmas Day last year had shone through the Heart – but from behind it.

At that moment, I felt Jesus was reminding me about the Illumination of Conscience.

          Today is Christmas once more. A whole year has gone past. Like a playback, I’m in my living room once more, listening to the tangerine~pinked winds sing the last song of the day. It is sunset again as the sun prepares for grateful slumber. My thoughts return to the miraculously illumined Heart of last year.

          Suddenly comes a prayer I’ve never seen, bringing to light a secret hope of a reunion.

Prayer to St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings

O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for! May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy. Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze.

          Is it a sign or a mere coincidence? Is it a trick? I look at out at the trees bathed in the last rays of the setting sun to clear my head.

          At that very moment, the rays of the Christmas sun pierce the trees in a bright, unmistakable Cross of Light.

          And I have my answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Have Passed a Threshold

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          Over the past 3 days, one word has been shining out like a star, tiny, yet as brilliant as a diamond.

Vindication

          On the first day, watching the news on tv, my husband heard it and mentioned it. It lodged in my memory because my husband has a gentle spirit; the spirit of this word has no foothold in him.

          The next day, to my amusement, it winked at me from the 1st reading from Isaiah 48:

If you would hearken to My commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea   ~  Isaiah 48: 18

          Today, on the memorial of St. John of the Cross, I pause to hold close to my heart the saint who saved my life. Perhaps it is a sign of his presence that once more  vindication appears, this time in the Responsorial Psalm.

Commit to the LORD your way;
trust in Him, and He will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.   ~  Psalm 37: 5 – 6

          This time, it sobered me. It drew me back to the months of this year especially. The year with the almost incessant hits and near misses of every sort. I had often mused that we seemed to be passing through a spiritual asteroid belt, littered with the stones and rocks of numerous challenges and trials.

          Vindication is certainly not new to me nor to my heart of hope, but only now, with these 3 chimes, has my spirit hearkened to it. It is not my human hope – of that I am certain. Since I sealed my gaze to the Evening Star, since its peace slipped into my heart, my spirit has found a different meadow, one carpeted by the blooms of skips, mirth and light. And later as I stood beneath her, the final full moon of the year and of the decade on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe gave me a deeper than usual sense of comfort, calm, and strength as I gazed upon her.

Each giving seemed like a benediction.

          The uncertainties of coming weeks and months are ever present. But for now, I am strangely untroubled.

          It is into this significance that vindication lights its lamp today. As my spirit stills before it, God sends His word through a dear friend who tells me, …there are 6,666 days between SEP/11/2001 and 12/12/2019, the last full moon of the decade.

          If I discern this well, he says, we have passed a threshold.