Twelve Minutes of Pure Joy

This video is twelve minutes of a much longer performance by the Virsky Ukrainian National Folk Dance Ensemble.

It is exuberant, colorful and uplifting.  Posted on February 27, 2022, following the Russian invasion.

Inspiration to start your week!


When Will Easter Come to Ukraine?

The dark night of the soul.

HOPE:  From a world-wide community of faith that believes in their witness.


Hope from 3,000 years ago. Isaiah chapter 65:

New Heavens and a New Earth

17 “See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
    in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
    and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
    and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
    will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it
    an infant who lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
    will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred
    will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
    they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
    or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
    so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
    the work of their hands.
23 They will not labor in vain,
    nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
    they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
    while they are still speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
    and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.


Precious Good Fridays

Everyone will experience Good Fridays in their lives.   Sometimes it is only temporary–moments of doubt, distrust or feeling alone.

The Good Friday Christian story is much harsher.  It  includes betrayal, denial, false witnesses, suffering and ultimately a cruel death.

How we react or interpret these moments defines what we believe.   Some will call upon faith; some fate; others just accept these trials as the ups and downs of the human condition.

Our society has grown skeptical of public testimonies of faith.  The words often seem mismatched with the deeds or the personality of the speaker.

Until you see an example that rings so true, it erases any doubt about the power of belief.  Especially in public life.  When everything is at stake for you.  And for all those around you.

For example, the picture of a Ukrainian solo cellist playing Bach in a vacant city square asserting his artistic humanity in war.

A Profession and a Calling

The brief recording below was posted on March 5, 2022 by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (KSOC).   That is ten days after the Russia’s invasion when the battle for Ukraine’s capital was much in doubt.

All religious music—including the great oratorios such as Handel’s Messiah—were banned under Communist rule.

These compositions based on Scripture,  declare God’s glory to the nations. The musicians of the KSOC see music as both a profession and a calling. Their members are graduates of the world-renowned Tchaikovsky National Music Academy and regularly perform in Ukraine and tour the U.S. and Canada.

Their response to weapons of war are words of faith.  When a prayer is sung,  God hears it twice.  In this case, first in Ukrainian, and then in English. The members of the KSOC are a witness to their country of the power of faith.  And to the rest of us when we enter Good Friday moments of deep doubt and hurt.



That same week the BYU singers offered this musical prayer hymn in Ukrainian.  The spirit can be uplifting and contagious.



Why the Ukrainian People Will Be Victorious

This arrangement of a familiar American spiritual is by John Rutter, an English composer who in March composed an anthem to honor the Ukrainian spirit.

The recording below is by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, two and half years ago.  In Ukraine.

For me it celebrates the indomitable spirit of the people, their artistic joy, and the universal longing all share for peace.

From November 18, 2019:  “I ain’t going to study war no more”


Ukrain is a democratic country in which courageous leaders arise, respected in their generation and to be honored by those to come.

Winston Churchill in July, 1940, after Poland, Belgium and France had been conquered, foresaw this present moment when he said to the world at that time: “And now it has come to us to stand alone in the breach, and face the worst that the tyrant’s might and enmity can do. Bearing ourselves humbly before God, but conscious that we serve an unfolding purpose, we are ready to defend our native land against the invasion by which it is threatened. We are fighting by ourselves alone; but we are not fighting for ourselves alone.”


Common Sense by Velensky

Thomas Paine on The Crisis

December 23, 1776

THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” and if being bound in that manner is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God. . . .

President Zelensky to the US Congress:

Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided, the destiny of our people, whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to preserve their democracy.

Russia has attacked not just us, not just our land, not just our cities. It went on a brutal offensive against our values, basic human values. It threw tanks and planes against our freedom, against our right to live freely in our own country, choosing our own future, against our desire for happiness, against our national dreams, just like the same dreams you have, you Americans.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, Americans, in your great history, you have pages that would allow you to understand Ukrainians, understand us now when we need you, right now.

Remember Pearl Harbor, terrible morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Just remember it. Remember September the 11th, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories, in battlefields, when innocent people were attacked, attacked from air, yes. Just like no one else expected it, you could not stop it. . .

And in the end, to sum it up, today — today it’s not enough to be the leader of the nation. Today it takes to be the leader of the world, being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.

Peace in your country doesn’t depend anymore only on you and your people. It depends on those next to you and those who are strong. Strong doesn’t mean big. Strong is brave and ready to fight for the life of his citizens and citizens of the world. For human rights, for freedom, for the right to live decently, and to die when your time comes, and not when it’s wanted by someone else, by your neighbor.


For Ukraine’s Hour of Need

From English composer John Rutter:

Blue Skies Over Golden Fields of Grain

The Ukrainian flag is literally about grain

General Patton on prayer (December 8, 1944:

Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by Praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that’s working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes.

Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part, or margin in everything, That’s where prayer comes in. Up to now, in the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy. Simply because people prayed.

But we have to pray for ourselves, too. A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working–it’s his “guts.” It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don’t know what you call it, but I call it Religion, Prayer, or God.




Perspectives on War

John Donne:

”If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

John Donne, Meditations XVII, 1623)


Walter Cronkite


Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Russia’s state-run Channel One network

March 14, holding sign on Russia’s Main TV Channel: “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda.  They are lying to you.”