Donald O'Dell holds a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree in history from North Texas.
As an ordained United Presbyterian minister, he served as a street gang minister in Trenton, NJ. In addition he had two separate pastorates in Oklahoma, where he also served as Chaplain in a county hospital. He continued to serve smaller congregations after he joined the private sector in business.
Today he enjoys a semi-retired living in North Carolina. He also remains an active in networking with groups and organizations in new thought and critical thinking strategies.
Yesterday (March 11) I sent out Message 2 for the Month. It was entitled “Reacting From Fear/Anger or Responding From Love.” In that message I was trying to describe the difference it makes when I slightly begin to see with spiritual vision rather than physical, egoic sight.
Today, Sunday March 12, I was in the sunshine on a crisp cold day in eastern Tennessee reading a new-to-me novel. It contained a passage that verbally painted a secular picture of this spiritual phenomenon. I found the book last weekend in a thrift store. The title is: “The Twilight of Courage” by Bodie and Brock Thoene [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994].
The passage is describing the return to England by an American AP press reporter (Josephine – aka Josie) who had been trapped in Warsaw, Poland as the Nazi army stormed and devastated that country in 1939. She was escorted out and finally caught a boat from Amsterdam to Southhampton, England, where she was met by a fellow reporter named Alma.
The horrors Josie witnessed, as the German Wehrmacht followed by Nazi Waffen SS units, decimated the city and its people, were indescribable: rotting, dead and dying civilians, livestock, and pets; destroyed churches, mosques, and synagogues; purposeful bombing of civilian buildings of safety – municipal buildings, museums, opera houses, and block after block of residential areas.
Her last conversations were with a Catholic nun, Sister Angeline, as they desperately tried to assuage the suffering of victims in the Cathedral of Saint John in Warsaw. Then the roof began to collapse after the strike of yet another shell. It killed Sister Angeline.
Alma has been pestering Josie for information by asking her questions like “What was it like?” and ”How did you manage?” and “Why didn’t you bring your luggage?”
[From pages 41-42 – italics are in the original text] “Alma’s mindless chatter grated like fingernails on a blackboard. The final words of Sister Angelina echoed in Josie’s mind. No man limps because the foot of another man is injured. England will not come to help us, Josephine. They will not think of us again once we are buried. To do so would make them ashamed. But you? Leave this place with joy in you heart, daughter. You will never see the world as you saw it before. You will find God’s presence in ways you had not imagined.
“They stepped out into the sunlight. For the first time Josie felt the glory of all that was ordinary: church steeples and slate rooftops standing as they had for hundreds of years, the tangle of chimney pots.
“The unbroken skyline of the city gleamed in russet hues: brown brick, red brick, black brick. The day throbbed with color. A seagull cried as it soared overhead. The air smelled of ocean and the musty scent of leaves about to drop from the trees. Autumn would soon arrive in England. There was a wonderful living aroma. Had Josie ever really noticed before? And if she had noticed, had she tried to define what made it so spectacular? She was suddenly filled with an exquisite joy.
“’What is wrong with you?’ Alma grumped.
“’It’s lovely here. So ordinary.’
“’Lovely warehouses? Lovely seagull droppings? Lovely screaming American tourists stumbling out of taxis?’
“’Yes, I suppose.’
Alma could not comprehend. She had not yet witnessed the world turned upside down. She had not breathed the air in Warsaw, and so she could not know the sweet air of England, even in ordinary Southhampton, was something holy. How could she understand what had happened to Josephine? Drawing a breath in safety had become an act of worship.
“’I’m really thankful to be alive, Alma,’ Josie said in a tone so serious that it made Alma laugh. Her laughter did not matter.
“’Well, so am I!’
“Josie stopped her on the sidewalk at the end of the taxi queue. ‘No. I mean . . . I am truly glad I was in Warsaw. Glad I got left behind. That I met all those people…. It’s okay. I’m different, you know? Nothing to worry about. I mean . . . I am thankful.’”
Seeing with gratitude is seeing with love – with vision. It’s responding rather than reacting. As I closed yesterday’s message, I can close this addendum: “These are the moments of unity we need to focus on, the collateral beauty in the midst of chaos….”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and getting to know me – warts and all. As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#2a Mar 2017