Exalt life

“Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man ceases to live unreflectively and begins to devote himself to his life with reverence in order to raise it to its true value. To affirm life is to deepen, to make more inward, and to exalt the will to live”
Albert Schweitzer

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(Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly / Julie Cook / 2016)

We live in a world that not only embraces but is equally embraced by violence….
We warp ourselves tightly in the maelstrom of discord and bloodshed
It oozes in and out of our entertainment…
It’s become our way of life
And serves us as a means to an end.

Gangs
Bullying
Abortions
Terrorists
Wars to end wars…

Teetering out of balance…out of control…
the scale is tilting…

Has it tilted too far?

Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.

Psalm 25:1

The great big lie

“If it is necessary sometimes to lie to others,
it is always despicable to lie to oneself.”

W. Somerset Maugham

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(Red spotted purple butterfly / Julie Cook / 2016)

I want it all,
I want it all,
I want it all,
and I want it now…

Queen

Somewhere, on some playlist, television commercial or throwback album
Freddie Mercury and Queen are belting out
“I want it all”
And if the truth be told, Freddie Mercury was certainly under the assumption that he could,
truly, have it all.
Sadly, tragically, he could not.
Mr Mercury was one of the first big names of the lime light,
big time entertainers of the 70’s and 80’s,
to die of AIDS….

A larger than life personality living larger than life itself.
Excessiveness giving in to every wonton, lewd, perverse desire and want that came down the pike.
I think it is safe to conclude that Mr. Mercury bought in to the notion
that one could have one’s cake, eating it all,
only to then ask for more…

Our entertainers, our politicians, our leaders, even our friends, all seem to tout the notion
that we live in a society that allows, affords, begs for all of us to in turn…
have it all.
The job, the family, the cars, the clothes, the education, the beach house, the lake house, the younger woman, the younger man, the fame the fortune…you name, you want it, it’s yours…all you have to do is name the “it”…

Seems that somewhere along the line, the land of opportunity become the land of having it all.

Those who don’t or can’t seem to have it all, yet who in turn want it all, have been known to resort to hoodwinks, shenanigans as well as hook and crook to join those already basking in the allness of having it all….

But…
And it’s a big but…
What we all need to understand is that whoever said “you can have it all” was a liar.
A liar of epic proportions….

Woman were told, sometime right after Ozzie and Harriet, that they could have it all—forget staying at home to be a mere housewife left raising the kids….
Corporate American is calling, Hollywood is calling, Politics is calling, heck,
the priesthood is calling… anything other than staying home is calling…
there are jobs if you so choose,
husbands if you so choose,
families if you so choose…
and don’t forget the the nannys, the au pairs, the country clubs, the prestige….the all…

Men were lead to believe that they could have it all and then some.
Wives, as in plural… forget the ’till death do us part’ business…
the girlfriends,
the younger girlfriends,
the endless travel,
time spent with the boys at the club, the bar, the course…
the office with the corner window…
more fun and less responsibility…

Then one day, we don’t exactly remember when, something happened…
Something catastrophic…
Something devastating…

Something happened to the nuclear family.

It was no longer cohesive or bound together.

That which God mandated…
that husbands were to represent Christ–head of their homes as Christ is head of the Church,
loving their wives as Christ loves the collective “Church”..
cleansing her, washing her, adoring her, loving her….
Something happened….

Wives were to love their husbands, children were to love their parents…

But something happened…

Husbands left
Wives left
Children left

Self esteems crumbled
Drugs helped deaden the pain
Suicide rates skyrocketed
Hearts turned cold

Kids began raising kids.
Grandparents were raising grandkids
Dads came around maybe every other weekend…if at all.
Dads started marrying dads as moms were marrying moms…
things were turned upside down.

The big lie of being able to have it all….
gave way to the reality of having, in the end,
nothing at all….

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

“But this is what I commanded them, saying,
‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people;
and you will walk in all the way which I command you,
that it may be well with you.’

Jeremiah 7:23

When blooms, butterflies, bees and bugs become blueberries…

God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works.
He is transcendent above all His works even while He is immanent within them.

A. W. Tozer

“God has made all things that are in the world to be our teachers.”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Honey bees, wasps, hornets, ladybugs, Georgia Satyr Butterflies, Red spotted purple butterfly, Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on Quince, blueberries

New found freedom

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 8:2

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(Tiger swallowtail butterfly visits the blueberries / Julie Cook / 2016)

Anyone who has ever felt the full weight, the abject heaviness of the shackled chains
of all that they have ever done that was…
bad,
wrong,
deceitful,
selfish,
sick,
illegal,
lewd,
hurtful,
hateful,
evil,
vile…

Sinful…

Whoever has carried, lived with, bore up under…
all that was less than…
Less than that which has ever been known to have been better not to have been…
done,
said,
acted upon,
thought,
harbored,
carried out…

An empty tomb
A new day
A new life
A promise fulfilled…

Has finally set you free…

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

Rejoice

“That like as Christ was raised from the dead…
so we also might walk in newness of life”

Watchman Nee as taken from Romans 6:4

I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done

Psalm 118:17

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(cloudless sulphur butterfly / Julie Cook / 2016)

Rejoice this day…again, I say Rejoice
For you who were captive of both sin and death, have been set free….
forevermore…..

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Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
Acts 13:38-39

Sacrifice and Silence

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

Isaiah 53:7

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(a contented sheep / The Cliffs of Slieve League / County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

It is finished…
The deed is done.
The trade off is complete.

It couldn’t have been swift nor easy…
No, it had to be drawn out and wrenching…
There had to appeasement, propitiation, satisfaction…

A slow sadistic lingering…
Torment was the only demand…
The satiation for the hunger of death

With each and every misdeed, slight, wrong and heinous sin…
Those that were and those that continue on…
Each grievous act was marched before him…
As each piece of flesh was torn away for payment…

The nails were driven.
The body convulsed.
The pain seared.
The blood flowed.

Gone now are the crowds.
Gone now are the faithful.
Gone now are the skeptics.
Gone now are the hopes….

As only silence permeates the earth.

And so now, we wait…

O God, you sent Christ Jesus to be my shepherd and the lamb of sacrifice. Help me to embrace the mystery of salvation, the promise of life rising out of death. Help me to hear the call of Christ and give me the courage to follow it readily that I, too, may lead other to you.
This I ask through Jesus, my shepherd and guide.

People’s Companion to the Breviary, Vol. II

Costly Grace

“God’s merciful love lives in the midst of its foes.
It is the same Jesus Christ who by grace calls us to follow him
and whose grace saves the thief on the cross in his last hour.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(detail from the altar at Klyemore Abbey,Connemara, Co Galway, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Costly Grace is the hidden treasure in the field, for the sake of which people go and sell with joy everything they have.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer