Jennifer’s Blog

 

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

 

Leonardo da Vinci

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Advent, the beginning of an event.

Advent, the beginning of an event.

 

It is a snowy day today, everything has turned a magical white outside my window and it creates a sense of urgency within me. Yes, Christmas is around the corner and it is time to prepare for this event.

 

I was at Foyle’s in London a few weeks ago and I found myself inclining towards Christmas books and poems like the one written by Janet Morley, ‘haphazard by starlight’

 

Here is a poem for you written by Rawan Williams:

 

ADVENT CALENDAR

 

He will come like last leaf’s fall.

One night when the November wind

has flayed the trees to bone, and earth

wakes choking on the mould,

the soft shroud’s folding.

 

He will come like frost.

One morning when the shrinking earth

opens on mist, to find itself

arrested in the net

of alien sword-set beauty.

 

He will come like dark.

One evening when the bursting red

December sun falls up the sheet

and penny-masks its eye to yield

the star-snowed fields of sky.

 

He will come, will come,

will come like crying in the night,

like blood, like breaking,

as the earth writhes to toss him free.

He will come like child.

 

Advent is a time of waiting. I want to feel the movement of time through its length, in waiting for His coming ……

An Autumn Haiku

An Autumn Haiku

 

The vineyard is embracing autumn

 

vine leaves are shedding their spring remains

 

exposing their shining red souls

 

 

 — Jennifer Riegler

 

 

 

Another Loss, Another Gain

Another Loss, Another Gain

 

Roger Federer lost once again.

 

Then Thiem surprised and looked promising.

 

I got involved and saw him lose to Nadal.

 

I was comforted and told it is only a game!

 

I wish it were. It is not just a game. It is so much more!

 

It is a battle.

 

It is a four-hour saga.

 

It is about determination and courage; it is about losing outwardly, but having crossed many barriers and taking one giant step closer to the goal post.

 

It hurts.

 

We have been there many times in varied situations and battles in our own lives.

 

At times I identify with the winner and at other times with the loser .

 

Perhaps as I grow older I identify more with those who lose, because I know now that winning is momentarily rewarding, it makes for a good memory and worldly recognition, but losses enrich you within. They get you ready for the big win, they teach you to fight for the win that matters, the eternal win. And then it is worth the loss for now. It is only for now and if you let it do its thing, you will find your reward.

When summer’s end is nighing

When Summer’s End is Nighing

 

When summer’s end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.

 

The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.

 

From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.

 

And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.

 

The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.

 

They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.

 

So here’s an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer’s parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.

 

— A E Housman -1922

Spring by Christina Rossetti

Spring

 

Frost-locked all the winter,
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
What shall make their sap ascend
That they may put forth shoots?
Tips of tender green,
Leaf, or blade, or sheath;
Telling of the hidden life
That breaks forth underneath,
Life nursed in its grave by Death.

 

Blows the thaw-wind pleasantly,
Drips the soaking rain,
By fits looks down the waking sun:
Young grass springs on the plain;
Young leaves clothe early hedgerow trees;
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
Swollen with sap put forth their shoots;
Curled-headed ferns sprout in the lane;
Birds sing and pair again.

 

There is no time like Spring,
When life’s alive in everything,
Before new nestlings sing,
Before cleft swallows speed their journey back
Along the trackless track –
God guides their wing,
He spreads their table that they nothing lack, –
Before the daisy grows a common flower
Before the sun has power
To scorch the world up in his noontide hour.

 

There is no time like Spring,
Like Spring that passes by;
There is no life like Spring-life born to die, –
Piercing the sod,
Clothing the uncouth clod,
Hatched in the nest,
Fledged on the windy bough,
Strong on the wing:
There is no time like Spring that passes by,
Now newly born, and now
Hastening to die.

 

 

  — Christina Rossetti

Today is Good Friday

Today is Good Friday

 

Today is Good Friday; a day of quiet and being still. It is a challenge to stay in one attitude all day long, and yet it is a day of great significance for me, for you, and for our entire planet.  As C.S. Lewis said, “Death and Resurrection is what the story is about and had we but eyes to see it, this has been hinted on every page, met us in some disguise at every turn, and even been muttered in conversations between such minor characters (if they are minor characters) as the vegetables.”

 

I suffer from a pollen allergy and  I dread the beginning of April because it ushers in a few weeks of heavy sneezing, puffy-itchy eyes and a general sense of ill health for a couple of weeks. But it is quite different this year as we are arising out of a deep, deep winter and the first signs of sneezing and puffy eyes have in some uncanny fashion given me hope, for it is also a sign of life sprouting around me in the bushes and in the trees.  I hear the arrival of  sweet sounding birds that have migrated and are once again making their homes in our gardens and forests. Spring has begun! The grass is turning green, the daffodils have popped up here and there in my garden and the tiny daisy buds are full of promise!

 

And so it is with Good Friday. It is the advent of Eternal Spring for those who believe. I do.  To quote C.S. Lewis again, “Some people probably think of the Resurrection as a desperate last moment expedient to save the Hero from a situation which had got out of the Author’s control.”

I am not one of them. I am convinced beyond a measure of doubt that the Lord of all creation executed a well planned and well thought of strategy to save His creation. He succeeded. Only He could have saved what He had created. And on Good Friday we remember His  choice. His sacrifice. He enrolled Himself among sinners and in doing so He became their advocate. I leave you with a few words from Charles H. Spurgeon and wish you a day full of hope and joy for you have been released and set free. You may wish to claim it for yourself if you haven’t already. It is a free gift from the Lord of all creation! 

 

“Why did Jesus cause Himself to be enrolled among sinners? This wonderful condescension was justified by many powerful reasons. By doing so, He could better become their Advocate. In some trials there is an identification of the counselor with the client, nor can they be looked upon in the eye of the law as separate from each other. Now, when the sinner is brought to the bench, Jesus appears there Himself. He stands to answer the accusation. He points to His side, His hands, His feet, and challenges Justice to bring anything against the sinners whom He represents. He pleads His blood and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with them that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go, deliver them from the pit, for He has provided a ransom.” Charles  H. Spurgeon

 

It seems too good to be true. In a morally fallen world, it seems too good to be true. A Resurrection is needed. The good news is that it happened over 2000 years ago. It is a matter of time before the advent of Eternal Spring. It will happen in the twinkling of an eye, no sneezing, no puffy eyes, just the sweet scent of the Risen Saviour! I am excited and it is worth enduring all the emotional and spiritual allergies that come our way now as we continue to live and endeavour. Saint Paul has truly said, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

 

I wish you a time of deep reflection, joy, peace and hope as you live through Good Friday and wake up on Easter morning!

 

 

 

 

 

We are not always glad when we smile

We are not always glad when we smile

 

We are not always glad when we smile:

Though we wear a fair face and are gay,

And the world we deceive

May not ever believe

We could laugh in a happier way.–

Yet, down in the deeps of the soul,

Oft times, with our faces aglow,

There’s an ache and a moan

That we know of alone,

And as only the hopeless may know.

 

We are not always glad when we smile,–

For the heart, in a tempest of pain,

May live in the guise

Of a smile in the eyes

As a rainbow may live in the rain;

And the stormiest night of our woe

May hang out a radiant star

Whose light in the sky

Of despair is a lie

As black as the thunder-clouds are.

 

We are not always glad when we smile!–

But the conscience is quick to record,

All the sorrow and sin

We are hiding within

Is plain in the sight of the Lord:

And ever, O ever, till pride

And evasion shall cease to defile

The sacred recess

Of the soul, we confess

We are not always glad when we smile.

 

James Whitcomb Riley

 

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring

 

Though cloudy skies, and northern blasts,
Retard the gentle spring awhile;
The sun will conqu’ror prove at last,
And nature wear a vernal smile. 

 

The promise, which from age to age,
Has brought the changing seasons round;
Again shall calm the winter’s rage,
Perfume the air, and paint the ground. 

 

The virtue of that first command,
I know still does, and will prevail;
That while the earth itself shall stand,
The spring and summer shall not fail. 

 

Such changes are for us decreed;
Believers have their winters too;
But spring shall certainly succeed,
And all their former life renew. 

 

Winter and spring have each their use,
And each, in turn, his people know;
One kills the weeds their hearts produce,
The other makes their graces grow. 

 

Though like dead trees awhile they seem,
Yet having life within their root,
The welcome spring’s reviving beam
Draws forth their blossoms, leaves, and fruit. 

 

But if the tree indeed be dead,
It feels no change, though spring return,
Its leafless naked, barren head,
Proclaims it only fit to burn. 

 

Dear Lord, afford our souls a spring,
Thou know’st our winter has been long;
Shine forth, and warm our hearts to sing,
And thy rich grace shall be our song. 

 

  — John Newton

Déjà vu

Déjà vu…

 

On the 28th of January 2018, Roger Federer did it again!

 

He won his 20th Grand Slam. Decency won. Humility, Grace, Elegance, Kindness, and Patience won; Hard Work and Resilience won all over again.

Joy won. Tears won. Hope won. 

 

Simon Barnes writes in A Book of Heroes: Or a Sporting Half-Century: “Even if someone were to come along and beat his record in terms of numbers, it is unlikely that they would do so by means of such beauty and artistry, such style. Federer really is the greatest of all time. It is not necessary to worship him as a god: but a certain amount of deference is — well, therapeutic.”

 

Well said Simon Barnes!

 

Thank You God for Roger Federer!

 

 

Wishing you a new Soul!

A New Soul!

 

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”

 

–G.K.Chesterton

The Wrong shall fail, the Right Prevail

The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail!

 

“And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Many are the plans in a person’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails!

Proverbs 19:21

 

Advent time is upon us

Advent time is upon us…

 

It is the 27th of November. I am usually packing my bags to leave for India at this time of the year. It is a time spent in the sun meeting a few dear friends, shopping and attending to things that need to be done. Then I head back home before Christmas, having tanked up a few weeks of sunshine to help me through the long winter. This time however, I felt I had to stay put and transit into winter, head on! ‘Winter Time’ as we call it, sets in at the end of October when we turn our clocks and watches one hour backward. Just one hour. But to me that ‘just one hour’ means much, much more. It is the advent of winter!

 

My evenings are longer, sunset is much, much earlier; I am in the middle of my day and I suddenly look up from my laptop or my book as I sense the pitch, dark silence. But it is only 4 p.m.! I peep out of the window and take a look at the dark world outside, street lights have come on much earlier, I see golden light streaming through my neighbour’s window, neon signs are blinking in a distance and below those street lights I see thick fog hanging in the air. It is ‘Winter Time’ indeed! And so it helps to pack my bags and head to India, where the sun is shining and I feel the sweat trickle down my back as I walk through the narrow lanes shopping for veggies and fruits. But I am going to receive Winter with open arms this time!

 

My heart seeks Christmas much earlier this year. I have often been critical about the commercial side of Christmas. The streets are festively lit up and the supermarkets have ‘Christmas’ pasted all over their shelves with varied offerings much too early! But I find myself doing just that this year! My home is beginning to look Christmassy already! We have lit up our garden house and the fir tree. We’ve built our own crib with pieces of left over wood and painted it too. The floor has been carpeted with golden dry rose petals mixed with some hay. It looks warm and cozy in there with baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph; the ox and the donkey are in there too, there is fodder lovingly placed on tiny handmade tables for them, but they won’t eat! They seem to be taken in by the recent event in the crib. They are watching over baby Jesus and gazing at Him with adoration!

 

The wise men from the East have arrived as well! The star in the eastern sky seems to have guided them here to our home much before time; the shepherds are here too with their sheep. They are all here in and around our crib looking on at our baby Jesus with stunned astonishment! I see shoulders drooping and knees bowing down, they are worshiping Him and presenting their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Him.
And even though I cannot see them, I sense a multitude of angels hovering around out crib, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

 

I’ve waved my magic wand and all our beautifully carved ceramic creatures and friends have sprung out of their wooden chest! They have shed their ceramic skin and have come to life and they can’t wait to nestle and settle in on the branches of our Christmas tree. That shall be done in time as well. The first advent is just a week away. I am so excited. I have never felt this way about Christmas. There is a desire to open my coffer and start from scratch with my Lord. There is a yearning to get ready to receive Him as King of kings and Lord of Lords! I want to blow my trumpet, I want to make melody in my heart, I want to get fresh wax and keep my candle burning bright for Him. I want to clean up the stable of my heart and make space for those who have none. I want my life, my soul, to be that crib where Jesus dwells and brings forth His peace, and His love and His joy to all around me. There is a lot of scrubbing and cleaning to do in this crib!

 

I look forward to the coming time of advent, there is a lot to do in me, but with His grace and favour, I shall get ready to greet Him. And then together with my husband and the multitude of angels, we will hover around our crib on Christmas Eve and sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

 

I wish you a blessed advent time, making melody in your heart unto the King of kings!

Autumn’s Colours….

Autumn’s Colours….

“Merry Autumn” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

 

It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell 
    About the breezes sighing, 
And moans astir o’er field and dell, 
    Because the year is dying.

 

Such principles are most absurd,— 
    I care not who first taught ’em; 
There’s nothing known to beast or bird 
    To make a solemn autumn.

 

In solemn times, when grief holds sway 
    With countenance distressing, 
You’ll note the more of black and gray 
    Will then be used in dressing.

 

Now purple tints are all around; 
    The sky is blue and mellow; 
And e’en the grasses turn the ground 
    From modest green to yellow.

 

The seed burs all with laughter crack 
    On featherweed and jimson; 
And leaves that should be dressed in black 
    Are all decked out in crimson.

 

A butterfly goes winging by; 
    A singing bird comes after; 
And Nature, all from earth to sky, 
    Is bubbling o’er with laughter.

 

The ripples wimple on the rills, 
    Like sparkling little lasses; 
The sunlight runs along the hills, 
    And laughs among the grasses.

 

The earth is just so full of fun 
    It really can’t contain it; 
And streams of mirth so freely run 
    The heavens seem to rain it.

 

Don’t talk to me of solemn days 
    In autumn’s time of splendor, 
Because the sun shows fewer rays, 
    And these grow slant and slender.

 

Why, it’s the climax of the year,— 
    The highest time of living!— 
Till naturally its bursting cheer 
    Just melts into thanksgiving.

 

 

It is election time!

It is election time in Austria!

 

Austria goes to the polls on the 15th of October, 2017 and Austrians will have their say in the National elections. I will be one among them. It has been my privilege to cast my vote for different leadership positions in this beautiful country that I call ‘home’ and I have handled it as earnestly as I possibly could.

 

But it does feel a whole load different this time. Since my last ballot box experience, the world has changed dramatically! It has been a tough time trying to keep up with events and comprehend what’s going on. I have been torn apart trying to find a balance between being a part of this world and yearning deep solitude and isolation.

 

A handful of historical elections have also taken place all over the world and it has made me rather cautious! Thank God for Saint Paul who tells me in one of his epistles, that I am a citizen of heaven! Honestly, I have not appreciated this truth as much as I now do! I am deeply relieved and thankful! However, here I am at the moment, and I must stay involved.  Every election that has taken place from India to the United States, UK, France  and recently in Germany have been of  immense significance signalling a change of guard  in our world.  A change of guard that does not seem promising or uplifting or morally right in some cases. I have voiced my opinion at times and have observed, absorbed and tried to use the learning to prepare myself for this day when I will have to vote and not just voice an opinion.

 

So what am I going to do? I am going to the only Supreme Entity I know of, Who I can truly trust and I am going to examine the decision I have already made mentally, in the light of His Word.  Saint Timothy says, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

— 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

A few weeks ago a dear young friend sent me a verse from the book of Proverbs. She sent it to encourage me through a situation that I found myself in at that time. Here it is:

 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the hearts.

 — Proverbs 21:1-2

 

I have been preparing myself for a long time to be able to take a good decision to vote for a leader and his agenda that seems most acceptable to me as a follower of Jesus Christ. It has not been easy. But I feel good knowing that the Lord will weigh the heart, that He will swing the results of the Austrian elections in the direction He wants!

 

I am not going to fret and sweat. The decision is made. I stay open for any new revelation from God in the next hours before I vote, but unless I sense a need to change my mind I am going to vote for the candidate I have chosen. There are a few more days to go before I get to the voting booth; I am going to use it to talk to my Lord and ask Him to take the heart of my candidate in His hands and then I know that like the rivers of water, He will turn it wherever He wishes!

 

I am a citizen of heaven indeed, but for now I am glad to call Austria my home and I am so thankful to be able to play a tiny part in the history of this country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye-Bye Summer

The Sun was shining on the Sea

“The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright
— And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

 

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done
— “It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun!”

 

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead
— There were no birds to fly.

 

In a Wonderland they lie
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summer die.”

 

— LEWIS CARROLL, Alice in Wonderland

 

My refuge and fortress

Jesus Christ is my refuge and my fortress…

 

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge;

 

His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand,

 but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

 

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,

no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For He will command His angels concerning youto guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

 

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him,

for he acknowledges My name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,
 I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

 

— Psalm 91

Perception

On Perception

 

I watched a merry, sweet Sea Otter in a pool in Lisbon, giving himself the rub of his life! Sometimes gently and sometimes a real hard rub here and there. Sometimes in smooth circles around his face and at other times with rigour behind his ears and around his belly.

 

It was fascinating to watch him and I felt frozen in the moment. A board nearby informed me that the Sea Otter spends most of his time rubbing himself, as he does not have any fat reserve under his very furry coat. He rubs himself to generate enough warmth to beat the cold and to stay warm.  And I am sure he enjoys the rub too!

 

I couldn’t get over that sight. I had to talk to Christ about it. I wondered if He saw meaning in what that Sea Otter was doing all day?! God had surely not forgotten to give the Sea Otter a layer of fat! I sensed that God had designed and created this lovely creature for a couple of things only, namely, rubbing, rubbing, rubbing. foraging, eating and then rubbing, rubbing, rubbing himself allover again!

 

I believe that it gives God immense joy to watch his Sea Otter rub and forage and eat and rub, rub, rub himself all day long and it gave me such joy watching him as well. What a  Sea Otter of a life he has! 

 

There is meaning in being and doing what God has created you for. The Bible says that above all else we have been created to know Him and to love Him with our whole heart, mind, body and soul.  And if I were to spend the rest of my time here on earth learning and doing just that, it would do. He will approve. It will give Him immense joy. I will be fine. I will meet Him one day.

 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

— WILLIAM BLAKE, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Sun

Summer Sun  by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Great is the sun, and wide he goes 
Through empty heaven with repose; 
And in the blue and glowing days 
More thick than rain he showers his rays. 

 

Though closer still the blinds we pull 
To keep the shady parlour cool, 
Yet he will find a chink or two 
To slip his golden fingers through. 

 

The dusty attic spider-clad 
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad; 
And through the broken edge of tiles 
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles. 

 

Meantime his golden face around 
He bares to all the garden ground, 
And sheds a warm and glittering look 
Among the ivy’s inmost nook. 

 

Above the hills, along the blue, 
Round the bright air with footing true, 
To please the child, to paint the rose, 
The gardener of the World, he goes. 

 

 

 

 

Magical

God’s creation  is visible and invisible….it is magical!

 

“I don’t believe in things like that – fairies or brownies or magic or anything. It’s old-fashioned.’
‘Well, we must be jolly old-fashioned then,’ said Bessie. ‘Because we not only believe in the Faraway Tree and love our funny friends there, but we go to see them too – and we visit the lands at the top of the Tree as well!”

— Enid Blyton, The Folk Of The Faraway Tree

 

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.