Wisdom and understanding

“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

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Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

(Proverbs 3:13-18)

The morning light, streaming through the kitchen window, hit the raspberries in such a way that it magically appeared as if a scattering of plump rubies had been randomly tossed across the bowl of cornflakes. Lusciously translucent, a smattering of iridescent and succulent gems beckoned to be tasted.
No longer did breakfast seem so unimaginably ordinary.

It was a morning, just like any other morning, as the early rising sun worked its magic to warm the kitchen, despite the bitter cold air on the opposite side of the window pane. The silence was heavy but pleasing as she was lost to her own thoughts.

Thinking back, racing backwards across time, back to the younger girl she had once known, a slight smirk formed at the corners of the mouth which was now anxiously anticipating the crisp crunch of the cereal. How does one start out as that, tossing in a few decades, and voila, is now this. . .as whatever “this” is, is perceived to be so much better than that. . .
A musing mind now ruminated over all of the events that had worked together to bring both she and the ruby red raspberries to this particular kitchen on this particular morning.

“Life is nothing but one big mistake right after another,” she heard a voice echoing off the kitchen walls, coming as if from some place far away other than that of the empty room as she realized she’d caught herself speaking the silent thoughts out loud to no one in particular but herself.
“Hummmm” she mused.
“Mistakes aren’t really mistakes now are they” . . .again hearing the silent thoughts spoken out loud.
“More like the continuous onslaught of life lessons, one right after the other—picking up steam, say around 13, and not letting up until 50 or so . . .”
“Some lessons simply being easier than others. . .as others are more fun with some being downright wearisome. . .” she chewed over the words with each crunch of cereal.

“Cut, honed and polished . . .”
Her thoughts trail off as she works to corral the last raspberry onto her spoon.

The younger girl wouldn’t have bothered with the raspberries, let alone the cereal, preferring to unwrap some sort of cardboradesque breakfast bar while driving to work. “Who has time to sit down for breakfast anymore–“grab it and go” being her mantra of the day.
“Maybe just an extra coffee instead.”
So busy rushing off to some place she didn’t really want to go, preferring to just stay home, as the fleeting thought raced across her mind “the baby wouldn’t stay so sick if he wasn’t having to go to daycare everyday of his life. . .” This as she pulled into the daycare center’s front drive.

Yet the choice not always hers right?
There were the bills. There was the career. Wasn’t that what this was all about. . .the marriage, the family, the career, the “things” that made the life “special”—isn’t that why we did it? What about his schooling, college. . .what about more kids. . .a bigger house. . .isn’t this what we do. . .the quintessential chasing of the “dream”. . .

“Juggling, balancing, and managing. . .”
Her thoughts trail off as she unbuckles the baby’s carseat.

The younger girl races through life hurrying everywhere she goes, never seeming to have time to enjoy, let alone savor, the moments of the present. Her mind is constantly working on the next step, the next errand, the next meeting, the next hour, the next day. . .never on the current time or events at hand.
What of the little boy?
Daycare sees more of the baby.
As do the endless sitters.
And what of her. . .doesn’t she see more of her own students than their parents?
Isn’t that the way it is, everyone raises everyone’s else’s kids. . .as everyone is just so busy tending to their piece of the pie, of this thing known as living. . .
Just part of the price paid for the job, the house, the car, the trips, the clothes, the life. . .
Maybe next weekend will be different, maybe this summer. . . she rationalizes there will be time sometime in the future. . . sure there will. . .we’ll have more time then, right?

The older woman merely casts a knowing smile

Prayer of the insignificant

There is nothing insignificant in the world.
It all depends on the point of view.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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(mum / Julie Cook / 2015)

Who am I oh Lord that you should consider my worth. . .
That you, the God of all that was. . .
Of all that is. . .
And all that will be. . .
Whose hands sweep across time. . .
Who has masterfully scattered the stars across the heavens
And whose own breath is captured in the rhythmic roll of each and every crashing wave. .
Would look upon me, a tiny speck in the vast churning sea of life and humanity. . .
And call me your own

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(mum / Julie Cook / 2015)

A thousand tiny petals. . .
Each lovingly placed by your hand and your hand alone.
Counted, numbered and perfectly aligned
Tightly woven
Spiraling outward
Unfurling simultaneously
An insignificant happening transpiring daily and unnoticed by millions
Yet You are keenly aware of it all as nothing, absolutely nothing,
Takes place on this planet without your desire and knowledge

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(stamens full of pollen / Julie Cook / 2015)

Each tiny microscopic dot of pollen exists because You have deemed it so.
Every single unassuming spore, necessary to set a miraculous chain of events into motion,
Exists only because of You.
Pollination, a miracle unto itself, yet countlessly taken for granted,
Plays out every day, over an endless expanse of time, as yet another flower blooms.

My mind is woefully limited, unable to grasp the vastness of all that is You
I cannot understand how or why You,
The all encompassing You,
Stops because of the small and insignificant me.
Yet stop You do,
You stop to
Listen
See
Touch
Care
Love

Long before my birth, You claimed me as yours
With both the rising and setting of the sun
The Psalmists tells me that each hair on my aging head is accounted for
And that nothing which transpires in my life escapes your knowledge.
As I often. . .
Question
Wonder
Argue
Curse
And rail against the seemingly random and mindless fates of life that appear unfair and unjust

Yet each life is inextricably linked together
Each breath, each tear, each sound of joy, pain or sorrow
is woven tightly together, as the Master of the Universe
Jehovah-Jireh has declared it so . . .
As You, the Master weaver, Jehovah-Rapha has knit my heart to your own.

May the Glory of the Heavens declare your Majesty, Oh Lord. . .
May the earth and all that is in it sing your praise
And may my seemingly insignificance,
which is held tightly in your hand,
as I am never from your sight,
be a testament to your enduring Love
Forever and always
Amen

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(hope in a flower / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ostriches and ducks

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
Arthur Conan Doyle

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mahatma Gandhi

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( two images, one ostrich up close and personal and a female mallard both courtesy the web)

“Faith and Christian witness are presently confronted by such great challenges that only by working together will we be able effectively to serve the human family and enable the light of Christ to reach every dark corner of our hearts and of our world. May the journey of reconciliation and peace between our communities continue to draw us closer, so that, prompted by the Holy Spirit, we may bring life to all, and bring it in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10).

I would now like to turn to my native tongue to express feelings of profound sorrow. Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: “Jesus, help me!”. They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. You, my brother, in your words referred to what is happening in the land of Jesus. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians.”

This is an excerpt, courtesy of Vatican Archives, taken from an address given by Pope Francis earlier this week when meeting with members from the (Reformed) Church of Scotland. The Pope ventured away from the agenda at hand in order to offer his concern, outrage, and prayers regarding the beheading of the 21 Coptic Christians at the hands of ISIS.

Before the World could catch its collective breath, ISIS once again carried out another egregious and malicious act of terror and murder this week by publicly taunting then burning alive 45 men from a western town in Iraq—this while the Obama Administration readied themselves to host a summit discussing “extremism”. . .

The definition of extremism, according to Merriam Webster is: advocacy of extreme measures or views : radicalism

The definition of terrorism, according to Merriam Webster is: the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal

The White House has, as has other Western European leaders, yet to acknowledge what the Pope so painfully stated Monday, that the killing of the 21 Copts was an act of violence against Christians.
The White House is also having a rather difficult time calling the violent acts of barbarism what they are—sadistic, callous cold murder carried out by the whims of Islamic Terrorists. They are Islamic and they are terrorists and they wage a jihad in the quest of a Caliphate in the name of Mohammed and Allah. . .

Yet this is not to say that the “Islamic terrorists” speak for or are representational of the Islamic Faithful. The concern however is that other Muslim Nations and Muslim leaders and Muslims in general have merely tried to ignore and distance themselves from the “extremists”. . .With some quietly agreeing that Western Society is indeed partly, if not fully, to blame for the current crises. Unfortunately however the insidious ooze of hate and radicalism is seeping into corners thought to be once off limits and even impenetrable. It appears as if it is in bad form for Muslims to rile against their Muslim kin as it is better to ignore and hope the ugliness will simply go away. . .

A holy war—an oxymoron if ever there was such a thing. A word phrase of extreme opposites in one spoken breath.
Is there such a thing as a “holy war?”—
Yes—but it is of a Divine nature, as the Heavenly Host wages war against Satan and all that is evil and full of darkness. It is what transpired as Jesus descended into Hell, only to rise victorious 3 days later. Yet Satan continues to walk this earth and still works to wield his madness as we remain in the crosshairs, as the earth remains under his dominion—the battle wages, yet the war has been won. . .

And yet it sadly becomes ingrained in the twisted minds of modern man that he can carry out such a “holy war”

The White House urges calm, reminding us not to jump to conclusions or God forbid we insult anyone.
We find ourselves drowning in a sea of political correctness as people are having their heads cut off and are burned alive in cages. We preen and strut in our technological 21st century modernism and pinnacle of civility all the while as thousands of people are tortured and murdered by means of medieval madness–all in the name of a radical religion, hate or simply both. . .the question remains seemingly unanswered.

Why do I feel it is just me who finds this all so terribly troubling? Especially the comment made by ISIS following the beheading of the Coptic Christians that they, ISIS, would now carry their “war” all the way to Rome.

We can choose, like many Muslims, to ignore the current actions of a group of marauding thugs, as it is, who are “over there”. . . We can sit around a large table and talk about if we just create jobs then we could nip this extremism in the bud.
Really??
We can choose to ignore the fact that the very Judeo / Christian foundation that has been the basis of our existence for centuries is truly threatened—that there are those who wish to see it destroyed.

It would be one thing if this was what various leaders, early on, considered to be just a rag tag group of thugs rattling sabers. . .Rather what we are witnessing has startlingly emerged to be a large and spreading cohesive, and well orchestrated, growing group of “radicals” hoping to achieve their Caliphate or that which is actually known as a governing body with direct descending political and religions powers from Mohammed himself. The ideas such as creating jobs for disenfranchised youth around the globe and maintaining overt politically correct terminology in hopes that no one will take offense to our growing alarm or concern will sadly not do one single thing to stop this growing threat to our very way of life.

Two things—may we be mindful that if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck–therefore we may conclude that it is indeed a duck. . .

Also. . . may we never be caught with our heads buried in the sand. . .

A prayer of the penitent, yet thankful, heart

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
Mother Teresa

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
Søren Kierkegaard

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(the opening of a tulip / Julie Cook / 2015)

O Lord, I beseech you, in your great compassion,
Hear my prayer and look upon me, having mercy. . .

I come before you Father, lowly and meek,
As I know that I am a sinner who is unworthy to stand in your presence. . .

Yet, Father, I know that you are a God of both Mercy and Grace
I know that you hear my cries,
I know that you see me and know of my needs,
even before I was given breath to utter the concerns of my heart. . .

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As the bud of a flower longs to open, stretching toward the light,
I too find myself longing to fully open my arms to you.

I first came to you Father in the exuberance of my youth
I was full of the often misguided energies of zeal and righteous indignation
I banished my sword and expected overwhelming compliance. . .
And yet, my heart ebbed and flowed.

There came a time when I cast myself adrift,
Relishing in the selfish satisfaction of ego and pride,
trusting in my own abilities to cut my own path.
I became what I thought to be my own savior.

My life tumbled and spiraled out of control
I couldn’t understand why things were all so wrong
You watched as I demanded to try it all on my own,
In my own time and in my own way.
Greedily I gobbled up the things I thought would make me complete

Yet you patiently waited and watched through your own tears,
As my chosen path of frustration grew more difficult and wearisome.
In spite of myself, hidden in my heart all these many years, remained a tiny piece of You.
Because of your Grace, somehow I found the strength to shed the falsehood of self,
removing the barriers I had built which separated me from You.

Today I stand before You, striped of pretense and bravado,
having thrown off the cloak of lies and deceit,
My heart is full within me, beating quickly and
welling up in my chest, yearning to love not me, not the world,
but You, just only You. . .
As Mercy and Grace have brought me home. . .
Alleluia,
Alleluia,
Alleluia. . .

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Ash Wednesday

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
(taken from the Book of Common Prayer)

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(ash / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ash Wednesday, in the Christian faith, marks the start of the Lent—the season the Church recalls the 40 days Jesus spent fasting, praying and being tempted by Satan in the wilds of the desert. It was the time just prior to marking the beginning of His earthly ministry.

Today the Christian faithful mark the 40 days prior to Easter with devout self reflection, prayer and fasting beginning with today’s Ash Wednesday Service. Lent is a time of spiritual house cleaning and cleansing.

The use of ashes in the Ash Wednesday service has been a part of the Christian Lenten service since the Middle Ages as ashes have long been associated as a sign of penitence. The ashes used during the service are the blessed and later burnt palm leaves from the prior year’s Palm Sunday Service and are used to mark the foreheads of the faithful as a remembrance that we are all dust and to dust we shall return–a phrase also used during the service for the Burial of the Dead.

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(image courtesy the Daily Herald)

The imposition of ashes was actually removed from the Anglican Ash Wednesday service in the mid 16th century as the Church (rather kingly leadership) felt it more important to focus on the Biblical curses God poured out upon sinners—As we remember this was the time of the English Reformation which had begun under the rule of Henry VIII—
All of which was further advanced under the short reign of his young son Edward.

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Eventually customs and “faith” swung back with a vengeance to the Catholic Mass with the installment of Henry’s eldest daughter Mary to the throne. Throughout the English Protestant Reformation the Church preferred to further examine and focus upon the grave sinfulness and unworthiness of man eschewing many of the traditional parts and observations of the Catholic Mass.

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The practice of imposing ashes was officially added back into the service in the 18th century.

One part of the Lenten service which has withstood the test of time and the changing whims of King and Church and is also prominent in the Eastern Orthodox Service has been the reciting of the Miserere, better known as Psalm 51 (or known as Psalm 50 in the numbering of the Greek Septuagint)– One of the penitential psalms of David

In finem. Psalmus David, cum venit ad eum Nathan propheta, quando intravit ad Bethsabee. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam; et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam. Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea, et a peccato meo munda me. Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco, et peccatum meum contra me est semper.

Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci; ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincas cum judicaris. Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum, et in peccatis concepit me mater mea. Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti; incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi. Asperges me hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor. Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam, et exsultabunt ossa humiliata.

Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis, et omnes iniquitates meas dele. Cor mundum crea in me, Deus, et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis. Ne projicias me a facie tua, et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me. [14] Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui, et spiritu principali confirma me. Docebo iniquos vias tuas, et impii ad te convertentur.

Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus, Deus salutis meae, et exsultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam. Domine, labia mea aperies, et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam. Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique; holocaustis non delectaberis. Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus; cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies. Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion, ut aedificentur muri Jerusalem.

Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae, oblationes et holocausta; tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

The recitation of the Psalm would be followed with these final prayers. . .

MOST mightie God and mercifull father, which hast compassion of all menne, and hateste nothyng that thou haste made: whiche wouldeste not the deathe of a sinner, but that he shoulde rather turne from sinne and bee saved: mercifully forgeve us oure trespasses, receyve and coumforte us, whiche bee grieved and weried with the burden of our sinne: Thy propertie is to have mercie, to thee onely it apperteineth to forgeve sinnes: spare us therfore, good Lorde, spare thy people whome thou hast redemed. Enter not into judgemente with thy servants, which be vile year the, and miserable sinners: But so turne thy ire from us, which meekly knowlage our vilenes, and truely repent us of our fautes: so make hast to helpe us in this worlde: that wee may ever live with thee in the worlde to come: through Jesus Christe our Lorde.
Amen

TURNE thou us, good Lord, and so shall we be turned: bee favourable (O Lorde) he favourable to thy people, whiche turne to thee in wepyng, fasting and praying: for thou art a mercifull God, full of compassion, long sufferyng, and of a great pietie*. Thou sparest when we deserve punishement, and in thy wrathe thynkest upon mercy. Spare thy people, good Lorde, spare them, and lette not thy heritage bee brought to confusion: Heare us (O Lorde) for thy mercy is great, and after the multitude of thy mercies looke upon us.
(pity in some printings)

Prayers from the Ash Wednesday Lenten Service, Book of Common Prayer 1689

Asleep at the helm

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.
Henry Ward Beecher

Even today we raise our hand against our brother… We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves as if it were normal we continue to sow destruction, pain, death. Violence and war lead only to death.
Pope Francis

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(Justice Ginsburg asleep during the State of the Union Address, image taken from Web / 2015)

It is not my intent to delve into the twisted world of the political here on this blog—preferring rather to simply offer a bit of thought, concern and reflection on this thing we call life. . .
However I was recently taken aback when this image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg made its way in and out of the various news agencies and the meme of various websites as this octogenarian was caught napping, as it were, during the recent State of the Union Address.
Adding a bit of insult to injury was her ensuing explanation—“I wasn’t 100% sober”

OUCH!
Really??!

As a lifelong educator, for me, this entire incident has trouble written all over it. Here we have a member of one of the highest offices in our land doing two things that any other mere mortal human would be strung to the highest yardarm for having done. . .
A) she was sleeping on the job
and
B) she wasn’t sober.

“Ok”, you say, “she’s old, cut her some slack.”
Really?
“She technically wasn’t working, she was attending an albeit, perceived by many, boring sort of speech.”

I would think, however, that when one dons the robes of one of the highest offices in the land, that would pretty much be considered working at the top of one’s professional duty.

And now the mantra begins. . .”She’s been sick, battling cancer. . .She’s a tough old bird. Let her have her wine and sleep. It was just a speech. She’s brilliant. It’s no big deal. . .”

And so it appears that the excuse for her having been caught sleeping, which was more or less an alcoholic induced sleep, is no big deal because she wasn’t driving, wasn’t the speaker, wasn’t actually sitting on a case—making it all fine and dandy, and as some may add, a much ado about nothing sort of moment. . .???

Well, I’m certainly not trying the cast stones as I am far from any paragon of virtue, yet I do know trouble when I see it.

Let’s say that my principal, superintendent or even myself, a lowly teacher, had gone to dinner prior to say some sort of school or other important function, opting to have had a couple of drinks or glasses of wine with the meal—only to later attend said function. Taking either the place of honor on stage or on front row of said function and now feeling and reeling from the full effects of being totally satiated and woozy, coupled with it being toward the end of a long day and it’s now a little too warm, plus I’m now nice and still, subsequently falling asleep—Only to blow it off later as “I ate and drank too much prior to the meeting”—-the general public would demand a head upon a plate as that would have been no way for any professional, let alone educator, to have conducted themselves during a public forum of such.

And yet we think it’s okay for a Supreme Court Justice to do such since she’s older, sickly and probably tired. . . all the while as we, the courts, the justice systems and any adult worth their mettle, tell our kids, as well as the general public, do not drink when driving, working, caring for children or the elderly, operating heavy machinery or making important decisions that effect people’s lives. . .let alone opting to be seen by the general population at a massively public forum. . .and better not to drink in the first place, period. . .

I think we mere mortals do expect, as well as often demand, that our elected officials, our leaders, our doctors, our ministers, our educators, our justices, even our parents, act the part of their said position and if they don’t, we, in turn, are very quick to do one of two things. . .We either quickly excuse and dismiss the poor behavior, attempting to make it all quickly disappear, or we quickly assemble the executioning squad.

It’s just that I don’t ever remember seeing Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, being snapped by press or paparazzi, sleeping while attending any sort of state or governmental function. . .nor even Vladimir Putin, who is often seen shirtless attempting to be a hulking he-man, nor Queen Elizabeth (we won’t discuss her children or grandchildren), or other world leaders. . .Therefore do we not observe that certain positions require one to step it up as it were, appearing above board particularly when the lights are on and the cameras are rolling?

Which brings us to the idea of not being caught asleep while standing at the helm.

A colloquial expression used to express the sage warning that anyone given authority, such as steering a ship, should live up to such responsibility, not shirking one’s duty particularly when the heat is on. . .
I can only imagine the jokes that this viral image has now generated amongst not only ourselves and the late night TV talk shows but to the jokes and mockery from allies and enemies alike.

I don’t think I need to remind any of us that we are currently living in very globally grave times. A time that calls upon us to be ever vigilant, mindful, stalwart and resolute. . .

There is another image out today equally as viral yet this one being most vile. . .

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This is an image of a group of Coptic Christian men from Egypt, lined up along a beach in Libya, at the hands of their ISIS captors who are about to video the beheading of the men. Beheaded in retaliation for the death of Usama Bin Laden. . .
But wait!
Weren’t we, the US, the ones who actually killed Bin Laden?
These men were guilty of one thing, and one thing only, they were Christians.
Maybe they were actually guilty of two things—they were Middle Eastern and Christian—a deadly combination.

Somehow I do not think we will ever see images of ISIS leaders asleep at the job, claiming that they were not sober, I often wonder if these evil individuals ever sleep.

“But Julie” I hear you implore– “a sleeping Justice has nothing to do with a global terrorism organization that is comprised of thugs! How can you even put these two events within close proximity to one another?! You’re being terribly unfair. . .”

When we see our country wrestling with and waiting on our Supreme Court Justices to figure out such in-country bickering and struggles over who can and can’t smoke pot legally, whether or not homosexuals can or cannot marry legally, or to what extent does a President’s powers reach— all the while as a growing global army of terrorists quickly decide who can and can’t live, let alone who can or cannot practice a religion and life other than that of extreme Islam, I think we’ve got bigger troubles than what we could ever imagine. . .

May we all be mindful of our responsibilities.
May we be mindful of our duties.
May we be mindful that we are often the only example others may have.
May we be the example of that which is just and good.
May we be strong enough to stand above the crowd.
May we take what we do seriously, no matter how insignificant we may think it to be.
May we understand that too causal is not always a good thing.
May we be mature, stepping up to the plate, when the circumstances demand nothing less.
May we not play the blame game but rather “man up” to take the heat when necessary, remembering that often times the buck does indeed stop with us.
May we not be so quick to write everything off so simply.
May we not tolerate everything we do and say for the mere sake of tolerance but rather may we have the courage to pick and choose what we do and say then have the courage to stand behind our beliefs–
May we remember that there was a time in this country when we could disagree, respecting the right to disagree rather than as today when the mentality of “I’m right and you’re wrong and therefore you must change and change now or else” reigns supreme
And may we remember that there are those forces around this globe of ours who look to take away our very way of life and wait in the shadows for when we are asleep at the helm to take advantage of our sleep and distraction, hoping to change our lives forever. . .

It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.”

Mark 13:34-36

This from that

“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
― Herman Melville

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(the various parts and moments in the life of a tulip bulb / Julie Cook / 2015)

Enter the unassuming white, meaty, brown paper wrapped bulb
Add a little water
Add warmth
Add light
Add Hope
Then add to all of that a little bit of expectancy. . .

Slowly at first, then rapidly picking up speed. . .squiggly spaghetti noodle like roots emerge, sprouting out from underneath. . .
All of this while stiff green shoots reach upward
Yet tucked away, hiding within. . .
the emerging,
the sprouting,
the growing. . .

Hidden away there hides. . .
the mystery,
the color,
the beauty,
the amazing,. . .
the miracle. . .

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