Let There Be Light

Genesis 1 commentary

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” (Genesis 1:1-4)

Light is indeed good as we are reminded in the opening days of March that we will not be held forever frozen in the cold, dark abyss of winter. Around the 7th day of March each year, it begins to dawn on us that Daylight Savings time is just a wisp of wind around the corner and that the extra light will do us “good.” Good because it helps to bring us out of winter’s hibernating stupor and good because it reassures us that there is order in the universe – that we can find consistency and dependability in the rhythmic coming and going of seasons.

Indeed, the extra light of spring can be a welcome reprieve, bringing the goodness of beauty found in the cheerful colors of spring’s flowers, particularly at a time when it is so easy to become discouraged by the anarchy, disorder and turmoil that seem to surround us. One can find daily commentaries about the chaotic state of the world confirming the experience felt by many: that we are living in a hard, dark, disturbing and confusing time. As Geoffrey Norman notes in his article, “The United States of Dogs”, from the February 27 issue of The Weekly Standard: “It is a hard world and getting harder.”

As we step out of the darkness of winter this year into the promising light of spring, it would be good to recognize that it is in the messiness and chaos of life, whether it be in our personal lives or in the political vicissitudes of our nation and our world, that opportunity exists. Opportunity, not as powerless agents of a predetermined world, but as free agents capable of moving through the darkness and through the difficulties into a more excellent way of being. As theologian W. Sibley Towner writes: “If there were no freedom in this creation, no touches of disorder, no open ends, then moral choice, creativity, and excellence could not arise.”

In fact, the term “the deep” from Genesis 1:2 (“and darkness covered the face of the deep…”) comes from the Hebrew word “Tehôm,” signifying confusion and disturbance. Typically applied to the ocean to convey the restless motion of its waves, it is used here to describe the “chaos as a surging mass of shapeless matter.” It continues: “In the Babylonian legend, Tiàmet, the Hebrew tehôm, is represented as overcome by Merodach, who out of the primaeval anarchy brings order and beauty.”

It is in the darkness of our many struggles and challenges that our need for light arises. And it is light that illuminates our path and brings us to order and beauty.

It is out of the darkness that light was born. It is out of the darkness that we must come.

Singing in the New Year 2017: Hallelujah!

“There’s a blaze of light in every word;
it doesn’t matter which you heard,
the holy, or the broken Hallelujah!

I did my best; it wasn’t much.
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
with nothing on my lips but Hallelujah!”

– Lines taken from the legendary song “Hallelujah” by the legendary Canadian poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen (1934-November 7, 2016)

Edinburgh sunset
Edinburgh, Scotland; December 2016

In the Beginning…

“In the beginning was Power, intelligent, loving, energising. In the beginning was the Word, supremely capable of mastering and moulding whatever might come into being in the world of matter. In the beginning there were not coldness and darkness: there was Fire.”
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), French Philosopher & Paleontologist

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The “Sunshine of the Lowcountry”

“I was born and raised on a Carolina sea island and I carried the sunshine of the low-country, inked in dark gold, on my back and shoulders.” –Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides  

Pat Conroy quotes
South Carolina Lowcountry, May 2016

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” –Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

“Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink, and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment of its swift, breakneck circuit?” – Pat Conroy, My Losing Season

A Memorial Day Salute to Our Fearless Protectors

In honor of Memorial Day, we salute all of those who courageously gave their lives to protect our great nation and the values it espouses by highlighting the military’s steadfastness, discipline, order, bravery, humility, integrity and respect, reflected in the below excerpts, creed and poems. Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day quotes

Virtue & The Soldier’s Soul (taken from Endowed by Their Creator: A Collection of Historic Military Prayers 1774-Present, 2012)

“Virtue is the ‘animating spirit’ of the American military and is the ‘keynote’ of a Commander’s sworn duty of exemplary behavior, supervision and correction.”

“Successful armies consist of uniformly disciplined, patriotic, well-trained, obedient soldiers, whose high morale demonstrates a special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of their military officers and civilian military leaders.”

“…General George C. Marshall, author of ‘The Marshall Plan’ to rebuild Europe after World War II, taught that morale comes from ‘the religious fervor of the soul.’ It is the essential element of achieving military objectives, and is ignored at great peril, when soldiers hold only guns and orders, with no strength of virtue.”

Said Marshall:

“…I look upon the spiritual life of the soldier as even more important than his physical equipment…the soldier’s heart, the soldier’s spirit, the soldier’s soul are everything. Unless the soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his command and his country in the end.”

“In 1828, Noah Webster defined ‘soul’ as; ‘The spiritual, rational and immortal substance in man…which enables him to think and reason, and which renders him a subject of moral government.’ The soul’s training for self-government yields a commensurate level of good order and military discipline. American military services are especially constituted to train effective and disciplined forces, to lead and defend the country ‘in time of national peril,’ and must therefore be keen to the soul and the true source of American virtue, honor and patriotism.”

prayer for courage

United States Navy SEAL Ethos

Below is the stand that every U.S. Navy SEAL learns:

“In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.

Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life.

I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.

Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

military quotes

Three military prayers below:

The Prayer of a Midshipman
from Vice-Admiral Harry W. Hill (1890-1971) Superintendent, United States Naval Academy

“Almighty Father, whose way is in the sea, whose paths are in the great waters, whose command is over all and whose love never fails: Let me be aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and in deed, and helping me so to live that I can stand unashamed and unafraid before my shipmates, my loved ones, and Thee. Protect those in whose love I live. Give me the will to do the work of a man and to accept my share of responsibilities with a strong heart and a cheerful mind. Make me faithful to my duties and mindful of the traditions of the Service of which I am a part. If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should is the mark, give me courage to try again. Guide me with the light of truth and keep before me the life of Him by Whose example and help I trust to obtain the answer to my prayer, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

West Point Cadet Prayer

“O God, our father, Thou Searcher of men’s hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth…

Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live about the common level of life.

Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.

Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer.

Help us, to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished an unsullied and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country. All of which we ask in the name of the Great Friend and Master of All. Amen.”

Prayer by Lieutenant General G.S. Patton, Jr. United States Army Commanding General, Seventh Army (WWII)

In response to a request alongside President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower to contribute a prayer to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Prayer Book, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1944, General Patton composed the below prayer for courage:

“God of our Fathers, who by land and sea has ever led us on to victory, please continue Your inspiring guidance in this the greatest of our conflicts.

military prayersStrengthen my soul so that the weakening instinct of self-preservation, which besets all of us in battle, shall not blind me to my duty to my own manhood to the glory of my calling, and to my responsibility to my fellow soldiers.

Grant to our armed forces the disciplined valor and mutual confidence which insures success in war. Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting, but rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived.

If it be my lot to die, let me do so with courage and honor in a manner which will bring the greatest harm to the energy, and please, O Lord, protect and guide those I shall leave behind. Give us the victory, Lord. Amen.”

Setting Sail Into New Realms

adventure quotes

beautiful ocean sunrise
Photo courtesy of Madeline Huemme

From the East to West Coast and the North to South, set sail this summer – on ocean or lake – to bask in the sun’s golden hues and wander the waters of new realms.

See the “Best Boating Destinations for Summer“, courtesy of Travel Channel :

1. Marina del Ray, California

2. Newport, Rhode Island

3. Key West, Florida

4. Lake Havasu, Arizona

5. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

6. Seattle, Washington

top sailing destinations

See also the “Top 10 Sailing and Yachting Vacations in North America“, courtesy of iExplore :

1. Florida Keys

2. New England: Newport, RI; Boston, MA; Coast of Maine

3. California: San Francisco, San Diego

4. Outer Banks, North Carolina

5. Hawaii

top sailing destinations U.S.