Essential oneness

For what is Mysticism?
It is not the attempt to draw near to God, not by rites or ceremonies, but by inward disposition?
Is it not merely a hard word for ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within’?
Heaven is neither a place nor a time.

Florence Nightingale

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(morning light at an inlet harbor near Sligo, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The desired oneness of the created bound to the Creator.
A bridging of the here to the there.
A crossing of the chasm between You and me…

Beyond the noise, beyond the distractions, beyond the life of this world…
He is there…as I am here.
Yet it is in the stillness and the silence within…as well as without,
where He waits…

Pulled and torn from this and that, I struggle to work my way towards Him…
It shouldn’t have to be this difficult, this hard…
but the world won’t allow anything other than her own desires…

It has become a life’s quest…
A fractured journey which consists of splinters and pieces…
The longing of wholeness found in the joy of One…

Heady times

“God is over all things,
under all things; outside all;
within but not enclosed; without but not exclude;
above but not raised up; below but not depressed;
wholly above, presiding;
wholly beneath, sustaining;
wholly within, filling”

Hildebert of Lavardin

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(Timoleague Friary, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There had been a whirlwind of emotion
Exuberance road wildly as if on the back of a bronking bull…
Holding on for dear life…
Yet madly giddy within the rush and exhilaration of the ride.
Major changes raced across the winds…

Soaring endlessly upward, words and feelings rapidly flowed downward…
as if caught in a raging torrent…
There was so much that needed to be shared, expressed, re-lived.
Time was the enemy, this much we knew…
If put on hold or held back, it might all be too late…
or so we reasoned…

The depth of feeling was so raw yet so very real.
Clarity had been granted, but for how long was anyone’s guess.
There was a sense of power beyond self…
As if one was being guided and willed onward from some other different place and time.
This was bigger than all of us combined and it had to be shared…
It was truly a race between life and death…

All consuming is the best way to describe it.
Mad we were labeled…the activity deemed by the State…nefarious.
Hope and death mingled dangerously together…yet at the same time there existed a calm which surpassed understanding.
We had seen the results of being caught, accused, condemned….
Yet a resolute feeling of determination prevailed…we knew that all would be well…
With this feeling of hopefulness spurring on the momentum…
It was a heady time…

It was a time of grave danger with imminent death if discovered.
Yet there was no turning back…the die had been cast
Three years had laid the foundation, three days cemented our fate
A lifetime would be our legacy as thousands more would follow suit.

As it turned out, time would not be the deterrent…
We would weather the centuries of both denial and persecution…
We would work together across the oceans of the world, hand in hand…
allowing our words, our deeds, our actions to tell the story…
There were times when voices were silenced and many lives were lost…
But transformation had been found
Renewal had become a reality
Power was indeed found in the weak
The blind had seen and the lame had walked
As Salvation blanketed the land…

Yet now we wonder…
Where has the urgency gone?
Where has the importance of this story gone?
Has the truth been lost in complacency?
Where is the momentum…?
Do lives still not hang in the balance?
Is Hope not still viable…?

Miracles have not ceased…
Hearts are still turned…
Life has indeed conquered Death
Yet the headiness,
the acuteness,
the gravity…
seem all but lackluster…

The importance
The need
The urgency
are still very much necessary…
Yet those of us who have been left to further the cause, spread the word,
live the story…
have fallen into lethargy, compliance with the world and sadly indifference…

May we once again find the strength, the need, the urgency to continue to fight the good fight…
For it is Time who is no longer on our side….or so we have been warned.
The winds have shifted, the signs are real and the headiness of exuberance, need and necessity is all but waiting…for our time has come….
are we still willing to be the voice behind the story….
If not us, then who….


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-9

I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 4:14-17

Clowns to the left, jokers to the right…

“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.”

Lyrics from Stuck in the Middle with You
Stealers Wheel

“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.”

Martin Luther

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(an abandoned gristmill stone, Cables Mill, Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Townsend, TN / Julie Cook / 2015)

A two front war…it’s what Churchill longed for and what Hitler loathed.

As soon as the US threw her hat into the ring, following the attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler had set his sights on Russia, Churchill at long last knew that it was now only a matter of time before Hitler would crumble as the result of fighting a two front war.

History tells us that a two front war is a very difficult prospect for any warring nation as it requires a vast wealth of fresh troops, endless resources, new equipment, ample food, unending ammunition and free flowing cash in order to keep the fighting machine well fed.

It is exhausting and vastly draining on multiple national levels.

It is the ultimate squeeze play…a forcing of the hand…with all cards having to be be played at the same time as there is no longer the luxury of hiding anything…it’s now or never.

And that’s exactly how our ancient adversary enjoys plaguing us most…
Squeezing us on multiple fronts, diverting all of our energies, our attentions, our resources, our nerves, our health, all as we battle multiple opponents on multiple levels simultaneously.

It is disheartening, physically and emotionally exhausting, depressing, and very near crushing.
Defeat almost inevitably appears to be galloping toward us on the horizon as the specter of Death raises his scythe for the final blow….

And it is at that exact moment when we gratefully hear the rallying cry…

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Hymn A Mighty Fortress is our God
words and music by Martin Luther

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46: 1-3,7

(****whereas to many Martin Luther’s name cries of derision, division and contempt, these ancient words speak to all Christians…Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant alike as we, the collective followers of Christ, continue finding ourselves pitted against an ancient foe who neither tires nor grows weary of making our lives miserable—it behooves us to always remember that we never go into battle alone)

3 minutes ’til

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(old wall clock in the Jameson Distillery, Midleton, Co Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The Doomsday Clock

A metaphorical clock created in 1947 by a group of scientists who all had a hand in creating the nuclear bomb.

A clock whose hands, when set at midnight, would signify the almost certain and impending demise of all mankind.

Interesting that those who helped to create “the bomb”… the very thing touted as being the be all to end all wars…in turn create a clock marking the end of mankind….hummmmm

The clock is currently set at three minutes ’til midnight.
The only other time, during its 69 year existence that the clock edged closer to the ominous midnight hour was in 1953 when it was set at 2 minutes ’til midnight.

What pray tell, one may ask, could ever be a determining criteria to the fretful moving of the two hands ever closer to or further from the dreaded bewitching midnight hour?

Well the obvious threat would be that of nuclear war or the use of nuclear weapons somewhere across the globe….
think Iran, North Korea, China, Pakistan, Israel, India, Russia, the US, ISIS….you get the picture.

Global economic stability…or lack thereof…think IMF, stock markets, world banking, black markets, recessions, depressions….

The precarious health of the environment….think global warming, global cooling, locusts, plagues, floods, erosion, pollution….

Seeing any or all of the latest headlines ringing round the world and you can get some sort of idea to the scope of “criteria” as to what makes the doomsday hands tick closer to the proverbial pumpkin turning, glass slipper seeking, fairytale stroke of midnight turned reality tale type of harbinger of cataclysmic death and destruction.

Yet I’m not really certain as to why we need a group of world renowned scientists, nobel prize winners and leaders in all things academic amassed together in some sort of board room or labortory telling us we’re almost ready to implode. One look at the news and anybody with any sense can plainly see the alarmingly rapidly increasing impending demise of mankind splattered across every news outlet from Sydney to Katmandu, from Spokane, to Liverpool, from Tibilsi to…..you get the idea.

It all reminds me of those homemade beacons of foreboding doom stuck in the ground along wayward roadsides declaring to one and all… “REPENT! THE END IS NEAR”

And yet, I’ve not noticed a run on the churches…
You know, like when the weathermen start predicting an impending storm and suddenly all of humanity descends upon every grocery store within the bullseye of the storm in order to snatch up every loaf of bread and every gallon of milk as if those two things alone are the only things that can sustain us throughout the duration of hunkering down and battening down the hatches…

One might imagine that when the rallying cry of doom is sounded by those in the know, the average citizen would feel as if he or she may want to get serious with that whole getting right with one’s God concept, as in the time has come….filling the local pews to the brim as everyone jockeys for position while seeking the saving grace before the you know what hits the fan….

Or maybe not…

Maybe everyone is just so jaded, so gloom and doomed out…so hardened of heart…
as in over it…
as in sick and tired of thinking about the dreaded end…
merely preferring to think that destruction and mayhem are either over rated or merely part of the inevitable and that there’s just not avoiding the inevitable.
I actually think one of the networks has a new show, a black comedy, coming out focusing on the very concept of living life in the wake of “the end”….

At any rate, I found the story as well as the fact that the BBC found it necessary to report that the hands are somewhat stuck…as in they aren’t moving, most interesting. It’s three minutes ’til and that seems to be it for now…no moving backwards or forwards—and depending on one’s outlook, maybe that’s a good thing…at least we’re not moving forward, with maybe a chance to go backwards…

However, given the precarious global situation I don’t think backwards is going to be an option anytime soon.
And whereas man may need reminding every once in a while that he’s sitting on the brink of total annihilation, I am reminded of many a biblical passage which addresses this rather interesting position we’ve gotten ourselves into….

…And yet, I am not running about like Henny Penny proclaiming that the sky is falling…rather I am resting in the peace of the knowledge that no matter what may or may not blow at this supposed midnight hour, my life rests in the blood of the lamb, in the saving Grace of the One True Resurrected Savior of Jesus Christ.
Come what may, I am His and He is mine—
and there is a great deal of contentment found in that one small fact…

Here’s a link to the story…
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35412454

Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10

Homesick

“I felt a pang — a strange and inexplicable pang that I had never felt before.
It was homesickness.
Now, even more than I had earlier when I’d first glimpsed it, I longed to be transported into that quiet little landscape, to walk up the path, to take a key from my pocket and open the cottage door, to sit down by the fireplace, to wrap my arms around myself, and to stay there forever and ever.”

Alan Bradley

“Give me the waters of Lethe that numb the heart,
if they exist,
I will still not have the power to forget you.”

Ovid

God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.

Meister Eckhart

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(sheep on a teaching farm / County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

A fitful night…
dreams seemingly more real than not…
To wake…
On and off, over and over…
as the dream simply picks up where it left off.
A continuous movie playing out inside my head, all night long…

Trying desperately hard to find you, to call you…
Yet I can’t reach you.
I am there, not here…
but I am lost…
I need for you to come find me…
for it is only you who can help me….

Yet why is that?
Why do I seek you and your help?
Are there not others…?
Others even more capable…
Those who are more near and not so far away…?

Waking….
Perplexed, exhausted, wondering…
What ever does it mean…
or not mean…?
As the thought,
the memory,
the utter physical uneasiness…
hangs heavy over the day.

Homesick, yet here at home.
Missing and longing…
Aching for something else…
someplace else…
something more…
Yet what could it be…and why…?

You are there and I am here.
A melancholy heaviness clouds my thoughts.
It was all but a mere brief crossing of paths.
Yet with a lasting effect.
There was a change.
Deep and profound…
And I am the better for it…
Yet there remains a yearning, a hunger, an aching…
for more…

So very much more.
For hearing,
for seeing,
for feeling,
for learning.

Yet frustration is found in the simple being…
of so very far away…

My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.

Isaiah 26:9

Proclaim

“Our concern is not to explain but to proclaim”
A.W. Tozer

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(the cliffs of Slieve League, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

How much energy is lost in the never ending battle of explaining, defending, defining?
As most words of defense and explanations fall upon deaf ears and closed hearts.
Make a point today to proclaim, leaving the explaining to another day…

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,
“who is, and who was, and who is to come,
the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:7-8

Knit

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth,
Knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name…”

Psalm 86:11

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(spinning wheel located at the Glencolmcille Folk Museum, Glencolmcille, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Kint—to bind and join together… by use of a single thread…
The weaving and the woven…
Of two separate pieces,
bound to one another…
the binding and joining together of two by use of a single spun thread…
in order to make two, one…

If the seamstress is really talented, the casual observer will not even notice a seam —
Two separate entities embraced, seamless and whole.
Unaware that there was ever anything but one….
To become inseparable…

How close do you believe you are to the One who has claimed you…
long before you ever came into being?
He who knit you, fashioned you, formed you in your mother’s womb?
Whose breath is your very own…

He who has marked you as His own.

For you have been never separate…
Never a lost single piece of cloth…
Never alone nor forgotten…
Contrary to what the world would have you believe…
or you believe of yourself

Yet rather…
You are…

bound
joined
woven
knit…

to Another…
Forever…

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
Romans 7:4

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(Glencolmcille Folk Museum / Glencolmcille, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)