October Challenges

October was a busy and challenging month. Christine had two retreats, one with the Soul Sisters Prayer Group and the other with Sarasota Contemporary Women Artists; she also taught a week’s long Icon Class online and is working on two Icon commissions.

While Christine was on retreat I, Michael, focused on my new website and created a store to buy ‘Fun Photos’, which compliments my first website store of the more serious ‘Garden Prints’. When you have a moment, please check them both out on Mickhales.com, they tell a story of what God has been up to in my photography life, and I would love feedback. We also managed a short trip to New York to visit with our children and grandchildren, our first chance to do so since Covid began.

Gustav Klimt

While in New York we had a family visit to the ‘Gustav Klimt: Gold in Motion’, an immersive experience at the Hall des Lumieres. This turned out to be a wonderful engaging visual experience with other illumination performances shown at the same time. Gustav Klimt was a Jewish Austrian artist, who painted before the second world war and as the Nazi’s gained power his paintings were confiscated from prominent Jewish families, when antisemitism grew and became more extreme. The film, Woman in Gold, [2015], staring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds is a wonderful account of when the persecutions slowly became more extreme and the long fight to finally returned the paintings to the relatives of the original Jewish owners in America.

Fears of Today

This last week, I was asked as Chaplain to visit, by one of my community members, who is Jewish. The meeting lasted for about an hour and her deep fear from the rise of anti-semitism which she is experiencing, not only on the national news but within our community, was impressed on me. Someone had mentioned to a friend of hers, that she should not eat dinner with her, because she was Jewish. She emphasized to me the long history of rejection and persecution the Jews have experienced and the violence stirred up against them when extremism rises to the surface. She kept repeating, ‘now I see it happening in America as well with the white supremacists, January 6th, Kyrie Irving and the emerging extreme of the political right wing. How sad that she was fearful for her safety.

This was not a political push from her. This was a living fear she stated emphatically and the fear was back again. The Jews were becoming the scapegoats again and it was shaking her to the core. Her friends were being questioned, “why would you eat with a Jewish person?” Are these the whispers of an approaching storm and how prevalent will it get before we name it for what it is?  Is America sailing blindly towards fascism and autocratic governance?

What would Jesus call for?

If so, will the commandment of Jesus still be shared with LOVE?

 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-30.

Let us cover America in prayer as it goes to the polls. And Let us join together in prayer for God’s love to fill the world and bring peace to all people of good will.

Sending much love,

Michael and Christine

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