Wednesday, April 30, 2008

National Zoo

Liam had a great day at the zoo, and they even let us bring him home.

A train trip, walk through DC, tour of the zoo and a Lebanese lunch later and we still have all the kids we started with!

Sarah and Robert's Wedding

We spent the weekend in Boone, NC at Heather's cousin's wedding, and if says anything about the weekend, we were having too much fun to think about taking pictures, except for these few.

Every great wedding has bubbles!

I am not happy to be in this sled ... can you tell?


The Road to North Carolina

These are the eyes of a child addicted to Cracker Barrel Peppermint Sticks

The road ahead

Liam with his new balls before the Great Smokies

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm no longer keeping up with time or dates

I did leave for our trip to North Carolina with the full intentions of keeping a daily log of what we were doing, but somewhere after kicking off our third day after my retirement, I decided I would save that for after we start the cross country trip this summer.

The final driving leg of the trip on Friday was good and despite finding a great Fabric and Pottery Discount shop in which we loaded the back of our Vue with 5-gallon clay planters and bolts of colorful fabric, we still arrived in Boone, NC ahead of schedule. We visited with other family members who had arrived for the wedding at the Green House Inn, a historic inn from the early 1800's, and managed to get Liam to take a nap before the wedding.

I had a great time meeting lots of Heather's cousins I had never met before and the bond was great enough that most of us went out for breakfast the next morning before heading on our ways home, but the greatest thrill for the trip came just a few minutes later when we vered off the main road and found a gorgeous little shop called GREEN MOTHER GOODS, where we discovered a great, environmentally sound community nestled in the Smoky Mountains. Heather spent 2 1/2 hours talking to one of the owners, who also happens to be a midwife. It was a great connection for her and Liam even walked away with a new pirate ship.

We returned and I spent Monday at a training session for LOVE AND LOGIC, so today, we took Liam on a trip to see the National Zoo. He is completely exhausted after a long metro train ride and hours in the park jumping with amazement at all of the animals.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Day Twoish of Retirement

ROANOKE, Va. -- Day two of retirement was spent servicing the Vue and packing for the roadtrip, leaving on time, and turning back at the next exit to get a forgotten blanket and pillow.

We made it as far as Roanoke, Va. on our trip to the wedding near Boone, N.C. We stopped at a hotel to sleep, but Liam obviously thought it was a Playover instead of a layover. This of course meant jumping on the bed, running rampant, clicking through TV shows and wanting to wrestle. The idea of sleep took a lot of convincing but he woke up this morning ready to roll, so off we go on day three.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Retirement Day One

If I believed in Karma I could surely trace the downfall of my working life to someday in my late teens when I scoffed at someone who was living on disability. This would have made sense, given the fact I am 37 and am beginning the second period of my life post-retirement-for-life-changing-injury.

To catch new readers up to speed, I was medically retired from the Marine Corps in 2003 after failing to recover quickly enough from a hip injury, then a couple of years later, I was well enough to join the Prince George's County Sheriff's Office where I have served for 2 1/2 years, but due to an in-the-line-of-duty injury, I am now limping away with a busted ankle and another meager pension.

But as I said, I don't believe in Karma, and thanks to the Grace of God, I get to stay at home and be with Heather and Liam all the time, and we are thus planning a Cross Country tour. We'll be leaving in June to go to Maine, then making a u-turn and heading South to Alabama. From there, its a cross country trek to the Grand Canyon, ending in Oregon then down to Yosemite National Park. On our final leg, we will stop over in Las Vegas for my best friend's wedding the we'll follow US 50 back to Maryland.

Today, we began working on the house, replacing our stove and dishwasher, so if I don't eletrocute myself rewiring the kitchen, I'll be back tomorrow to tell you how Day Two is going.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Devil from a Jewish Perspective

Ask anybody from Jerusalem where Gehinom is and they’ll probably point to the southwest of the city. Of course if you are in the religious sector of the city, you will probably prompt a discussion that will hopefully include an invite to sit, learn, and drink tea.

For those with the spiritual question, most Jewish scholars have pointed to Gehinom being a physical place, somewhere deep in the earth, where the souls of the dead are sleeping,, as in the Hebrew Sheol, and in the cases of a few sects of Orthodoxy, the wicked are being punished.

Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, of the 12th Century, wrote about a place with dimensions, while other sources in Kabbalah, Chassidut and the Midrash traditions depict it strictly in a more abstract, and ethereal term. Nachmanides, as Rabbi Nachman was known, also followed the metaphorical line, describing Gehinom in manifold layers of earthly and mystical proportions. Therein, those listening to Christ preach to them would have had an understanding of a physical place of the dead, where bodies decay jointly with a place where souls rest and either endure, or prepare to endure, a temporary, restorative cleaning of the soul.

This is likened to an impure metal, when exposed to the proper tempering of fire, will produce a sufficient, pure metal, stripped of impurities. To restore, the flame must be regulated, and temporary, and so the Jewish mindset sitting before Christ, whether gleaning the good news in his words or lurking with evil intentions, was that a soul, when deceased from this life, would be given a period of rest, before enduring a cleansing wherein all punitive accusations are released and the soul is ultimately awarded with reconnection to God. This, according to Jewish belief was the reward for all Jews and Righteous Gentiles, who observe the Noahide Commandments.

Now, for the issue of Satan.

To the 1st Century Jewish audience, and to today’s Orthodox Jewish community, Satan should more properly be reference as The Satan, or The Accuser. They accepted the Torah teaching that no spiritual force opposed the will of God and all things are of God and to God. To the Jewish mindset, and to which Christ never gave an opposition, Satan, the Accuser and Prosecutor of man does all for the sake of Heaven. To them, nothing happened outside of God’s plan, and everything was for eventual reconciliation with Him.

To this end, the Jewish listeners did not perceive Satan as an archetype to God, but rather a necessity to his plan. Only by enduring the trials issuing from him would the grace of God be made evident – without the problems of this world, how could the life after be fully realized. To that end, they did not see the necessity of an outside ultimate evil force when the inner being was wrought with a sinful nature. Satan’s design was to make us realize that inner frailty, and thus our dependance on God.