Written in stone

This quote from Psalms was engraved in stone over the entrance to St. Bede hall at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.

written in stone KMassa

It says “I will bless the lord, who hath given to me understanding.” – Psalm 15.7

I like reading Bible quotes in context, so I went to look this up. However, there was a problem.
There is no Psalm 15:7. Psalm 15 stops at verse 5. So it isn’t even a numbering issue. Christians often number the Psalms differently, as well as change up the order of the books of the Bible from what is in the Hebrew Scriptures. Why this is done is a topic for another post, another day. But this wasn’t the issue in this case.

It reference has to be to Psalms 16:7, but only one translation says “understanding” – most say “counsel”.

It was the Douay-Rhiems translation that said “understanding”. No other one has that word, so I don’t think it is accurate. I did more research.

According to Wikipedia, “The Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the English College, Douai, in the service of the Catholic Church.” It dates from 1582.

The translation is from a translation – so it is already suspect. You want to go to the original. You’ll always lose something in translation – especially from Hebrew which has so many layers.

So the only thing wrong on this is the citation, in terms of the stonecarver. I’m sure he was going by what he knew to be correct. It – however, is wrong. Should I tell them?  I have a strong suspicion that they wouldn’t care what a non-Catholic, and especially a  woman, has to say about this.


This discovery calls the phrase “written in stone” into question.  It implies that something is permanent and trustworthy.   And yet we see here that nothing should be left without examination.  We cheat ourselves when we accept everything at face value.  We need to use the minds that God gave us to dig deeply and learn truth.


I didn’t have a copy of the Psalms in Hebrew, so I looked up the word “counsel” in my Hebrew dictionary. The word is a verb and a noun, and has a slightly different form for each. I went with the verb, as that is how it is used in all of the other translations. I would look up “understanding” if I didn’t get anywhere with “counsel”.

Strong’s says the word is used in Psalm 16:7, so I could stop there.

The Lord gives us counsel, not understanding.  We are not ever able to truly understand anything, being limited as we are as mortal beings.  “Counsel” makes far more sense as a word, as Jesus tells his disciples that he will send the Counselor (also known as the Holy Spirit) to them, to instruct them in new ways. There were things he wanted to tell them that they were not ready to hear at that time. He wanted to make sure that they would be guided into truth after he was no longer with them.

John 16:5-13
5 “But now I am going away to Him who sent Me, and not one of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 Yet, because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.8 When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.

Isaiah 11:1-3
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;…

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.


Here are some various translations from Psalm 16:7, copied from Bible Hub – –
New International Version
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

New Living Translation
I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.

English Standard Version
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

New American Standard Bible
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

King James Bible
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I will praise the LORD who counsels me– even at night my conscience instructs me.

International Standard Version
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; indeed, my conscience instructs me during the night.

NET Bible
I will praise the LORD who guides me; yes, during the night I reflect and learn.

New Heart English Bible
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
I shall bless Lord Jehovah who counsels me and my kidneys teach me in the nights.

GOD’S WORD® Translation
I will praise the LORD, who advises me. My conscience warns me at night.

JPS Tanakh 1917
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel; Yea, in the night seasons my reins instruct me.

New American Standard 1977
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

Jubilee Bible 2000
I will bless the LORD, who gives me counsel: my kidneys also instruct me in the night seasons.

King James 2000 Bible
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel: my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.

American King James Version
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

American Standard Version
I will bless Jehovah, who hath given me counsel; Yea, my heart instructeth me in the night seasons.

Douay-Rheims Bible
I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding: moreover my reins also have corrected me even till night.

Darby Bible Translation
I will bless Jehovah, who giveth me counsel; even in the nights my reins instruct me.

English Revised Version
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: yea, my reins instruct me in the night seasons.

Webster’s Bible Translation
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night season.

World English Bible
I will bless Yahweh, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.

Young’s Literal Translation
I bless Jehovah who hath counselled me; Also in the nights my reins instruct me.


“Short and Strange” is now available!



Twins. Talking dolls. Aliens. Mis-matched couples. What’s not to love about short stories that are a little bit strange? You get to wander into an unusual world for just a little bit – but not too long. You don’t want to get stuck there, do you? You might never come back… Every story in this collection was inspired by an unusual black and white photograph the author found. These stories were written between October 2015 and July 2017.


Now available on Amazon!


Waiting by the fountain 

He waited for her by the fountain for over an hour. She said she’d be there. After the first 15 minutes (the standard it college to wait for the Professor – how interesting that it didn’t work the other way) he checked his watch again. Maybe it was fast? So he asked a bystander, a mother watching her children frolic in the little geysers that were part of the park. She switched from texting to the homepage on her phone and showed him the time. 2:15. His watch was right.

Then he wondered if he was in the right park. “Excuse me ma’am. I’m sorry to bother you again but is this the only Coolidge Park?” She assured him that yes, it was, and gave him a funny look which he ignored. He didn’t feel like explaining that he’d waited for someone at Nashville’s Centennial Park, having not correctly heard Bicentennial. They were less than 3 miles apart, but because he was on foot it might as well have been 100 miles. It would take him an hour to walk there, and then he’d be truly late.

He learned from his Papa that you could be at the right place but if it was the wrong time you were still wrong. Later he learned that everything depended on the right amount as well. Something might be the right time and the right place, but too much or too little effort and you might as well have not done it at all. Or you can have the right amount of effort in the right place, but too late or too soon and it wouldn’t work out.

He had plenty of time to ponder this while he waited, but an hour was the most he was willing to sit around. Was she fooling him? Did she not want to meet and sent him on a wild goose chase (or a snipe hunt)? Maybe it wasn’t like that. Maybe she forgot. Or worse – maybe she’d been in an accident. He would have called her if he could find a payphone. Of course he had a couple of quarters with him. His Mama had taught him that. Too bad her good advice would only have worked well in the era she grew up in. Then you needed money to call home in case the date went badly. But then it was easy to find a payphone. Now, because everyone (everyone except her son, he mused grumpily) had a cell phone there was no need for payphones everywhere. And how was he supposed to find one? With a smartphone you could turn on ‘maps’ and ‘location services’ and type “payphone” and you’d have a handful of little red dots all over the virtual map telling you which way to head towards. But (he thought ironically) if you had a smartphone you wouldn’t need to know where a payphone was.

Maybe he’d have to bother that distracted mother again and ask to borrow her phone and give his (maybe) girlfriend a call. Or maybe he just walk home and call it a night. He didn’t want to appear desperate. But he was.


The word “selah” is comprised of the Hebrew letters
Samech סֶ֫
Lamed לָ
Hey ה

So many translations say “Selah” is an unknown Hebrew word, possibly giving a musical notation, as it is most often used in Psalms. This makes sense, as they were meant to be sung.

However, Hebrew is pretty simple if you know that the letters are essentially pictograms – and the “images” spell out a simple sentence. Each word has its meaning within the letters themselves.

“Samech” means a prop – support, or turn. It can also refer to Satan / snake
It is a time to stop and check your path. Are you heading in the right direction? It is a warning and a chance to reform – re direct your path. Are you walking towards God? Are you walking with Jesus? Or are you following your own ideas?

“Lamed” means cattle goad, staff. Symbolically it means prod, go toward, toungue. It is the prodding stick used to move an ox. Sometimes we are like that ox and need a strong stick to get us going in the right direction.

“Hey” is a window or fence. It refers to revelation, to perceive. It is also the definite article “The”. It reminds us of THE God – not a god. It is sometimes used as a shorthand for referring to the Name of God. “Hey” is a way of focusing your attention – of keeping out what will distract you, lead you astray. Praise God the God the one, in silence and all. Turn from your own understanding. Awaken and turn towards life.

You praise God by taking this time to think about what you just heard. Inwardly digest it. Let it reorient you.

Be silent, and listen in your heart to the Words you just heard.

Stop – and praise God by meditating upon his Word.

Be still and know that I AM God.

It is like how Jesus would say “He who has ears to hear should hear.”

Essentially it means to give praise to God by being silent and contemplating what you have just heard in the Word. Your praise is not one of noise, but a contemplative silence.

Two different walls

This intersection is at McCallie Avenue and Central Avenue – headed North West.  To see it online, you can look up 1001 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN and turn left.



Here is a wider view courtesy of Google street view –


These walls used to be the same.  They were old and interesting.  Now the one on the right is obviously new.  I like that it tries to look old, but it is missing something. Sure, they could have just used concrete or bricks, so I’m glad it kind of blends in.


But it just doesn’t have the character of this old wall to the left.


Is the new wall even real stone – or is it concrete made to look like stone?  Doesn’t someone know how to stack stones like this anymore?

The lot on the left used to be part of a home.  There was an interesting house here.  It has been gone for years – but there is nothing there.  Further research will be required to find out why this valuable area has been empty all this time.

The “Before I die…” wall

I’d heard about this interactive art exhibit for years.  They pop up and are there for a brief time.

And then I came across one in Chattanooga, tucked away in a corner.  I almost missed it.  It was dark, I was tired.  I told my husband that we should come back tomorrow in the daylight.  He talked me into turning the car around and going to see this right then.

wall 7

It isn’t exactly on the main path.  Here is the view of the area from Google street view from above.  The wall is approximately in the middle. It is to the left of the bridge.  This is near Coolidge Park, but not part of it.  It is at the blue square, which is a roof for some machinery.

wall above

Here is a view from street images from February 2017, showing the wall in the daylight before the exhibit.  This is a short walk from Sushi Nabe – a very good Japanese restaurant in Chattanooga that is also off the beaten path and worth finding.

wall before

This exhibit was unveiled July 21st, 2017, and is sponsored by Hospice of Chattanooga.  Tracy Wood, CEO of Hospice, said that the goal was to create an opportunity for Chattanoogans to think about life and live every day as if it were their last.

According to the Before I Die website “Over 2,000 walls have been created in over 70 countries and over 35 languages…..The original wall was created on an abandoned house in New Orleans by artist Candy Chang after the death of someone she loved.

Here is the banner attached to the exhibit to explain it.

wall 2

Here are some of the photos I took of it.


wall 3wall 4wall 5

Several simply said “LIVE”


A few defined that as “Sky dive”

Several wanted to travel – namely to France, or Japan, or New Zealand.

Several wanted to marry  – some naming the person.  I wonder if they proposed at the wall?

Some were funny –

wall 11

And the last one that I saw was poignant –

wall 6

Saying simply “I want to live a clean a sober life” – and dated that day.  I paused, remembering my own struggle to get clean and sober.  I prayed for this anonymous stranger to have strength.  Sobriety is hard but it makes life much more meaningful.  A life spent messed up isn’t really experienced at all.

What would you write on the wall?


The garden gate. Abandoned project #4

They made a concession for the southpaws but not for large people. There was only so far they were willing to bend. Exception after exception had been made over the years in the name of inclusion, of being welcoming to all. But this was the final straw.

The gate to the embassy garden wasn’t the only entrance to these grounds, of course not. They would never presume to be that overt. The main entrance was large and welcomed everyone. It wasn’t quite ostentatious – it wouldn’t do to appear vain. It might attract the wrong sort of person who might defect, thinking Trevlig-staat was prosperous. It was, certainly, but not in how they would ever imagine. No, their wealth wasn’t something you could see.

They didn’t need laws in Trevlig-staat. There was no Codes department. There were no courts. Everyone who lived there knew the difference between right and wrong without being told, and certainly without it being written down. Laws written on paper can change in an afternoon, but laws written in the heart last forever.

Trevlig-staat was a country that had no national anthem, no flag, and no citizenship test. You were either in or out, and no money crossing the hands of an official could change that.

Being born here wasn’t enough, either. It helped only that you got a head start on learning the unwritten language of how to be a citizen. You weren’t even a “good” or “bad” citizen – only good ones were allowed to stay. Bad ones were ones that never mastered the rules – either through ignorance or intent – discovered things just didn’t go well for them. They wouldn’t get promotions or they would get fired. Their property kept getting notifications about the height of the grass. They wouldn’t get approved for loans, or the interest rate would be astronomical. It didn’t take long before they moved elsewhere in search of better luck, never realizing that they took their luck with them wherever they went.

But there was still a need for an embassy. Citizens of Trevlig-staat liked to travel, and while they never caused problems abroad, sometimes they encountered them. Riots and civil wars would occasionally erupt in these less civilized locales, but that was to be expected. They didn’t have the high standards Trevlig-staat did. The embassy was modest and welcomed all in a genteel style, never fully admitting anything to any visitor until they revealed through their actions and language that they were citizens. There was no password, no shibboleths. There was nothing to worry about others overhearing and using like a passkey to gain admission.

The garden at the Embassy was for citizens only. This is why it was so critical to ensure proper admission. The walls were 12 feet high to keep out lookey-loos. The trees provided shade but also provide privacy from satellite mapping services. And there was just one gate, with a center door-handle, and only 3 feet high and 18 inches across. Children could easily enter, but this made sense. They were the most likely to be loving and guileless. Adults had to be either very short or very flexible, able to bend low as if entering a Japanese tea house. Those who were obese were not able to enter at all, but they would never be citizens of Trevlig-staat anyway, for the same reason that gamblers or hoarders or braggarts wouldn’t. No, Trevlig-staat wasn’t for everyone, and it certainly wasn’t for those who couldn’t even get along with themselves.