Saturday, March 5, 2016

A painful price is paid when one reaches his hand into a swarm of bees to swipe some of their honey. Stingers fly and welts flare. I raised hives of bees as a boy and once I was stung 35 times in one day.

Wild honey is not collected from wild bees without burning pain and suffering. Today there is protective equipment and methods to harvest honey, but in times past it took a man willing to experience bitter pain today for the sweet rewards later. 

 There seems to be a principle built into the real world that is expressed with maxims such as “good things take time,” and “no pain no gain.” A paycheck is preceded by forty hours of work. Muscles appear after weeks of sweat equity and exercise.

Shortcuts seldom pay off and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Achievement takes effort and rewards are given to those who work hard.

 Suffering is shunned by most people. Pain is avoided. We usually chose the path of least resistance. It seems most people are hard-wired for pleasure, relaxation and personal gratification. Following these baser impulses rarely reap the rewards human beings aspire to.

 The number forty is used symbolically in the Bible over and over again. Jewish and Christian tradition has known this from the beginning. Forty is the number of testing, suffering, fasting, repentance and self-denial.

It often precedes new beginnings and new stages of salvation and restoration. Noah’s flood lasted forty days, Israel wandered in the wilderness forty years, Jonah gave Ninevah forty days to repent, Elijah fasted forty days and nights—as did Jesus in the wilderness.

 John the Baptist wandered in the Judean Wilderness east of Jerusalem. He wore rustic clothing and suffered the pain of harvesting his own wild honey. He ate his wild honey with locusts, another word for a grasshopper.

Such hopping insects were declared “clean” foods for the Jews (Lev 11:22). I once jokingly told a group of pilgrims I “loved living the Bible in the Holy Land” and if they found a grasshopper I would eat it like John the Baptist had done. They went on a mission and found a 4” wiggly grasshopper. I had no choice but to imitate the Baptist. (See me eat it here.)

 In the summer months the wilderness of Judea hovers around 120?. John looked and acted a lot like Elijah the prophet and it was from this exact location that Elijah was assumed body and soul into heaven.

No wonder the Pharisees questioned if John was the Elijah who was to come. He was baptizing repentant Jews about thirty miles down from the mountains of Jerusalem and about three miles from the ancient community of Qumran.

John undoubtedly associated with these devout Essenes who had moved to the hot wilderness to seek God and become the Children of Light. The wilderness, like the number forty, is usually associated with seeking God and a sincere holiness brought about by self denial and isolation.

 Christian tradition from the earliest times understood the spiritual benefits of established periods of fasting, repentance, prayer and self-denial. This practice of self abandonment to the wilderness for forty days was incorporated into the liturgical year. It was called Lent. The word originates from an old English word meaning “spring” and was used because Lent, the time of fasting and prayer was practiced in the spring of the year in preparation for Easter. 

 John the Baptist wandered in the wilderness to mortify the flesh and earthly desires, focusing his mind and heart on things above. He was seeking holiness and spirituality. Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the same wilderness to be tempted by the Devil and prepared for his ministry.

The Church wants us to share in this deeper life of God. Lent is a time set aside so that we can join John in the wilderness—setting aside the distractions of daily life and earthly pursuits, turning to God and prayer. 

 Of course it is not as easy for most of us since we have families, work schedules, diapers to change, houses to clean and on and on. The Lord and the Church understand this completely. But even the daily service of a family, the quality labor provided on the job and extra love shown to others can be an act of penance and self-giving.

We can all fit in time for confession, a bit more prayer and spiritual readings, deny ourselves a few extravagances or pleasures and seek to get closer to God. It is never easy—it wasn’t for John, Jesus or others who wandered for forty days looking for a deeper walk with God and a richer human experience.

 We buy honey in the store and few of us like John are willing to reach into a hive and grab the honey at great cost. But like John we can impose a bit of self-denial upon ourselves, entering into penance, prayer, repentance and self-denial—though it often feels like reaching for the honey. The minimal pain of Lent can bring about the sweetness of holiness. 

 These places in the desert still exist. We can walk through the ruins of Qumran, see the mist over the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab in Jordan and stand on the shore of the River Jordan at the place Jesus met John after his forty days of temptation when he stepped out of the wilderness to have the Holy Spirit descend upon him. No prayer or sacrifice, no self denial or charitable act will go unnoticed by God. The sweetness of the Spirit will certainly be our reward.


By Frosty Wooldridge. Frosty Wooldridge (born 1947) is a US journalist, writer,
environmentalist and traveler. (I ,Steve Ray who is posting his article, was born in Detroit. My ancestors lived there since the 1700’s.) I posted this a while ago but thought it worth revisiting again with Detroit recently in the news.

For 15 years, from the mid 1970’s to 1990, I worked in Detroit, Michigan I watched it descend into the abyss of crime, debauchery, gun play, drugs, school truancy, car-jacking, gangs, and human depravity. I watched entire city blocks burned out. I watched graffiti explode on buildings, cars, trucks, buses, and school yards. Trash everywhere!

Detroiters walked through it, tossed more into it, and ignored it. Tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands today exist on federal welfare, free housing, and food stamps!

With Aid to Dependent Children, minority women birthed eight to 10, and in one case, one woman birthed 24 children as reported by the Detroit Free Press, all on American taxpayer dollars.

A new child meant a new car payment, new TV, and whatever mom wanted. I saw Lyndon Baines Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ flourish in Detroit . If you give money for doing no thing, you will get more hands out taking money for doing nothing.

Mayor Coleman Young, perhaps the most corrupt mayor in America , outside of Richard Daley in Chicago , rode Detroit down to its knees… He set the benchmark for cronyism, incompetence, and arrogance. As a black man, he said, “I am the MFIC.” The IC meant “in charge”.

You can figure out the rest. Detroit became a majority black city with 67 percent African-Americans.

As a United Van Lines truck driver for my summer job from teaching math and science, I loaded hundreds of American families into my van for a new life in another city or state.

Detroit plummeted from 1.8 million citizens to 912,000 today. At the same time, legal and illegal immigrants converged on the city, so much so, that Muslims number over 300,000. Mexicans number 400,000 throughout Michigan, but most work in Detroit . As the whites moved out, the Muslims moved in.

As the crimes became more violent, the whites fled. Finally, unlawful Mexicans moved in at a torrid pace. Detroit suffers so much shoplifting that grocery stores no longer operate in many inner city locations. You could cut the racial tension in the air with a knife!

Detroit may be one of our best examples of multiculturalism: pure dislike, and total separation from America.

Today, you hear Muslim calls to worship over the city like a new American Baghdad with hundreds of Islamic mosques in Michigan , paid for by Saudi Arabia oil money. High school flunk out rates reached 76 percent last June, according to NBC’s Brian Williams. Classrooms resemble more foreign countries than America. English? Few speak it! The city features a 50 percent illiteracy rate and growing.

Unemployment hit 28.9 percent in 2009 as the auto industry vacated the city. In Time Magazine’s October 4, 2009, “The Tragedy of Detroit: How a great city fell, and how it can rise again,” I choked on the writer’s description of what happened. “If Detroit had been ravaged by a hurricane, and submerged by a ravenous flood, we’d know a lot more about it,” said Daniel Okrent. “If drought, and carelessness had spread brush fires across the city, we’d see it on the evening news every night.”

Earthquake, tornadoes, you name it, if natural disaster had devastated the city that was once the living proof of American prosperity, the rest of the country might take notice.

But Detroit, once our fourth largest city, now 11th, and slipping rapidly, has had no such luck. Its disaster has long been a slow unwinding that seemed to remove it from the rest of the country.

Even the death rattle that in the past year emanated from its signature industry brought more attention to the auto executives than to the people of the city, who had for so long been victimized by their dreadful decision making.”

As Coleman Young’s corruption brought the city to its knees, no amount of federal dollars could save the incredible payoffs, kick backs, and illegality permeating his administration. I witnessed the city’s death from the seat of my 18-wheeler tractor trailer because I moved people out of every sector of decaying Detroit .

“By any quantifiable standard, the city is on life support. Detroit ‘s treasury is $300 million short of the funds needed to provide the barest municipal services,” Okrent said. “The school system, which six years ago was compel led by the teachers’ union to reject a philanthropist’s offer of $200 million to build 15 small, independent charter high schools, is in receivership. The murder rate is soaring, and 7 out of 10 remain unsolved. Three years after Katrina devastated New Orleans , unemployment in that city hit a peak of 11%. In Detroit , the unemployment rate is 28.9%.

That’s worth spelling out: twenty-eight point nine percent.” At the end of Okrent’s report, and he will write a dozen more about Detroit, he said, “That’s because the story of Detroit is not simply one of a great city’s collapse, it’s also about the erosion of the industries that helped build the country we know today. The ultimate fate of Detroit will reveal much about the character of America in the 21st century. If what was once the most prosperous manufacturing city in the nation has been brought to its knees, what does that say about our recent past? And if it can’t find a way to get up, what does that say about our future?”

As you read in my book review of Chris Steiner’s book, “$20 Per Gallon”, the auto industry won’t come back. Immigration will keep pouring more, and more uneducated third world immigrants from the Middle East into Detroit , thus creating a beachhead for Islamic hegemony in America . If 50 percent illiteracy continues, we will see more homegrown terrorists
spawned out of the Muslim ghettos of Detroit . Illiteracy plus Islam equals walking human bombs.

Large mosque in Detroit with Islamic school attached

You have already seen it in Madrid, Spain; London, England; and Paris,
France with train bombings, subway bombings and riots. As their numbers grow, so will their power to enact their barbaric Sharia Law that negates republican forms of government, first amendment rights, and subjugates women to the lowest rungs on the human ladder. We will see more honor killings by upset husbands, fathers, and brothers that demand subjugation by their daughters, sisters and wives. Muslims prefer beheadings of women to scare the hell out of any other members of their sect from straying.

Multiculturalism: what a perfect method to kill our language, culture,
country, and way of life.



“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” — Benjamin Franklin