I am encouraged

“How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of,
and which no other people on earth enjoy!”

Thomas Jefferson

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(1883 painting of Washington viewing his weary ragtag army)

On April 30, 1789 George Washington took the oath of office in New York,
telling those gathered that,
“I walk on untrodden ground.”

Fast forwarding to today (Friday) and to the event taking place some 500 miles north of me…
it is an event that our Nation has witnessed taking place for over 200 years…

The peaceful transition of power.

Today’s event is NOT a political event but rather, as one commentator noted,
a hallowed event of our Nation’s sacred civil republic’s duties and actions.

A non-partisian moment for all Americans.
A non political event that is rather,
a unifying civil event.

It is a moment that visibly demonstrates that what makes America,
America,
works.

It works in great part due to the fact that she is grounded with the world’s
longest surviving constitution.
A living breathing document that has sustained a democratic republic for 226 years.

And yet in Washington’s obvious trepidation of charting a new course for a new nation,
I surmise that the first President couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of encrouagement.

Encouragement for his newly formed fledgling Nation that was badly torn and tattered,
but oh so encouraged that she was finally moving forward none the less.

So when I awoke this morning,
I too was encouraged.

The sun was rising,
as it was ready to vanquish the night.

I readied myself…
in order to make my way to Atlanta to spend the day with Dad,
who, is defiantly holding his own…
a fact that leaves me buoyed with encouragment.

During my journey along the highway,
I was happy to see the storm clouds from the night prior parting,
giving way to snippets of a welcoming blue sky.

I was encouraged hearing and feeling the thunderous rumblings of the myriad of
tractor trailer trucks passing by…
signaling that American commerce was busy at work.

As I topped a hill on the periphery of the city,
I was greeted by the ever-growing and ever-widening skyline of Atlanta.
Encouraged that the air was clear and that the view welcoming.

I was encouraged knowing,
that as I made my way closer and closer to Dad,
America was still America.

I was encouraged that there had been no global market collapse,
no marshal law instated,
no mass hysteria,
no lemmings diving off cliffs en masse.

The day, as well as life, was progressing forward…
despite all the fear mongering,
the ugly protests,
the naysaying,
the name calling
the overt negativism,
the chanting of ill and bad will,
the hateful rhetoric,
the wailing,
and gnashing of all the disillusionist’s teeth…

America was doing what she does and has always done best…
she was moving forward…once again…
without ever skipping a beat.

And in that one fact I know President Washington would, just as I am,
be thoroughly encouraged.

“For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man,
we must entertain each other in brotherly affection,
we must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities for the supply of
others’ necessities.
We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness,
patience and liberality.
We must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own,
rejoice together,
mourn together,
labor,
and suffer together,
always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work,
our community as members of the same body.
So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace,
the Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as His own people
and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways,
so that we shall see much more of His wisdom,
power,
goodness,
and truth then formerly we have been acquainted with.”

John Winthrop

May God bless the Republic

“Revolutionary soldiers were convinced that
“God had chosen America to preserve and to exemplify self-government for the world.”
Their sense of self-government was a defense of God’s plan for human governance that was calculated to inspire mankind and so lead humanity toward a godly way of life.”

For Liberty and the Republic:
The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775-1861

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(a surviving example of the 1777 Trumbull pattern of American flag)

John Adams in a speech to the military in 1798:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending
with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . .
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.
It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In 1815, Adams wrote while reflecting over his thus 65 years of life:
“For this whole period I have searched after truth by every means and
by every opportunity in my power, and with a sincerity and impartiality,
for which I can appeal to God, my adored Maker.
My religion is founded on the love of God and my neighbor;
on the hope of pardon for my offences, upon contrition;
upon the duty as well as the necessity of supporting with patience the
inevitable evils of life;
in the duty of doing no wrong, but all the good I can,
to the creation, of which I am but an infinitesimal part.”

John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence,
the Bill of Rights and our nation’s second President.

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world:
We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence,
we may dwell secure in your peace.
Grant to the President of the United States,
the Governor(s) of each State (or Commonwealth),
and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will.
Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness,
and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen.

(Prayer for the President of the United States
The Book of Common Prayer)

unseasonable

“Preserve me from unseasonable and immoderate sleep”
Samuel Johnson

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(Helleborus / Lenten Rose / Julie Cook / 2017)

Unseasonable warmth gives way to
an unrelenting chain of events…

There is…

emerging,
birth,
growth…

A fullness of life…

there is preparing,
and a signaling of readiness,
and the ushering in of the new…

there is hopefulness…

Yet it is all so dangerously premature.
It is ill prepared,
unsuspecting,
and unsustainable…

It is out of step with time…

It is not strong enough to ward off that which will certainly be coming…

It is the living of a falsehood.

Living without regard for the Word,
while there is disregard for the Sovereign…
with contempt for the Promise…
Ignoring or discrediting all that has been proclaimed and foretold.

It is like the premature bloom…

Blooming,
growing,
living…
out of step and out of time…

Ignoring the rhythmic nature of what is to be,
only ushers in an inevitable destruction…
brought about by the reality of rebellion and ignorance.

What makes you think you are any different from the premature
blooms lulled into the pretense of Spring by an unrealistic and untimely change?
You who simply ignore the Truth because you find yourself basking in a
a false and unseasonable warmth…

All the while as you know, in the back of that mind of yours…
you who are fully aware that none of this of the superficial and self indulgent will last…

As you find yourself now unprepared to ward off that which is surely coming…

You will be defenseless and ill prepared.
You who have been basking and relishing in the allure of something other than the Truth.

Be not fooled by your own folly of bliss over the distortion of reality.
The Lion roars as winter is coming…
The premature thaw and warming winds will not last…
Take heed,
for you have been warned and now told…

Only those hearts humbled and now knowledgable will be ready…
for they have not given way to these foolish and heady times…

For out of the North,
and then the West,
while up from the South,
and finally the East…
the premature blooms will be trampled under the hooves
of the stampede…
those who run seeking a safe haven…
who will find none.

Yet the faithful will not dismayed…
you who have been prepared and ready…
Your time draws near…

As Hope is ushered in on the returning winds of change…
As His way has been prepared and now made ready,
as you who have been waiting,
now find yourself more than ready to pay homage to
the returning of the King.

Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of
the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Matthew 24:20-21

shame healing

“I cry, I cry and I cry again…the religion of Christ, the true faith,
has fallen so low that it is an object of scorn not only to the devil
but to the Jews and Saracens and pagans…
these keep their law, as they believe it;
but we, intoxicated with the world, have deserted our law.”

Pope Gregory VII

Healing and miracles have been a mystery to men of all times.
To some, the phenomenon is frightening, while others find it exhilarating.

Mother Angelica

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Christ Pantocrator / Hagia Sophia / Istanbul,Turkey)

“Our nation will not know healing in any measure through the work of mutual shaming.
There is no life to be found in it, only anger, depression
and the continued darkening of our culture.
Only light gives life.
Creating is difficult, careful work.
Destruction is easy – child’s play.
Forgive those who do not deserve it.
Forgive before they ask.
Forgive as though it is Judgment Day and your own soul will be held to the scrutiny
you extend to others.
It’s ok.
You won’t lose anything through forgiveness.
In holding onto the shame of others you will only increase your own.
Speak kindness.
Be generous.
Set your prisoners free.
No more shame slaves.”

Fr.Stephen Freeman

worry, what me?

“The same has happened on this side of the pond when Christians
think that their views on Brexit are essential to the maintenance of the gospel.
Do we not realise how puny and pathetic it is that we play power politics with
our limited knowledge and abilities?
Does it not display a lack of trust in the sovereignty of God?
We are certainly entitled and encouraged as free citizens in a democracy
to have our own political views–
but we are not to make the Kingdom of God dependent on them.
Sometimes the Lord will use a pagan king, like Cyrus,
to fulfill his will.
Sometimes he will convert the Emperor.
But at all times those who are his people need to rely on him to open the door.”

David Robertson

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(Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman)

For some odd reason, mainstream media, most political leaders, liberal Hollywood…
the list only grows daily,
are all feeling as if the world, as we know it,
will be coming to an end by week’s end.

And then on the other hand, we have a growing number of the faithful
who believe that the ‘end of time’, once again as we know it,
is to take place,
as well,
by week’s end…
as in Jesus will be trumping, no true pun intended, Friday’s inauguration.

And if you’re anything like me, you may actually be hoping for the latter as
I’ve had just about all of the naysaying, whining, grousing, fussing, cussing
and downright vile vitriol sputum flowing out of the mouths of most of this
angst ridden nation of ours that I can stomach.

We have governmental elected officials and leaders who are threatening to boycott
a presidential inauguration.

Shame on you.

We have entertainers who are encouraging defiance and protest before and during
a presidential inauguration.

Shame on you.

We have colleges, state funded mind you, providing “safe places” on their campuses
for their dismayed students to be able to cry and be comforted because
of a presidential inauguration.

Shame on you.

We have fellow Americans threatening other fellow Americans because of a presidential
inauguration.

Shame on you.

We have other country’s warning and threatening us with reprisals, retribution or retaliation
over a presidential inauguration.

Shame on you.

We have the birth of fake news taking place because of a presidential inauguration…

Shame on us all…

It beats all I have ever known in this lifetime of mine.

News flash.

I don’t think the end will be ending on Friday.
Pretty certain you can take that to the bank.

It’s all just a shame.

A shame that educated adults are behaving so badly
as we wonder why the kids are behaving so badly.

Adults setting examples of immaturity, pettiness, ugliness, hate, tit for tat,
alarmism, rudeness, disrespectfulness…
everything accusatory that was shouted at the president elect for what was claimed that he
was displaying and demonstrating
is now being demonstrated and carried out by those very accusers—

So now it appears that no one is acting any better than the other…
and there’s nary a soul in this Nation who has decided to demonstrate real character by
taking the high road…

A few weeks back I read a wonderful article by a Scottish pastor, David Roberts, reflecting on
a bit of this current obsessing over the idea of the end times…
as it seems everyone on either side of the fence, faithful and not,
are in some sort of rising state of panic….

I offer a link here for the faithful and the non faithful alike….

Why Christians Need to Stop Worrying about the End Times – (Revelation no.7)

A coach teaches a profound lesson

“[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them.
They remember what you are.”

Jim Henson

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As any educator worth their salts will tell you…

No…

wait….

let’s not make this just a teacher thing…

As any person who has ever worked with young people, will tell you…
a visible and physical lesson will go further in making a profound impression
and lasting remembrance than any lecture, paper or book.

Currently it appears as if there are many of us who are dumbfounded, flummoxed, sad
and down right angry as to the widespread level of disrespect currently rippling though
this country as far as our flag, our national anthem, the office of the president,
etc, etc, etc…
are each concerned.

Why don’t they get it???!!
we shout at the television when each new “protest” is broadcast.

Well today I saw a teachable moment about this very issue that should be shared.

My husband and I had gone to Home Depot in search of some sort of downspout
water thing…
There we were in the cavernous building,
wandering far off to some lone aisle searching deep within the bowels
of all things home improvement…
my husband seeking as I wandered behind a few steps pondering
if I should go find some plants that might need a new home….
when I was jolted back to the current moment as I heard
the alert on my phone informing me that I had
just received an email.

It was one of those forward things from my cousin.
Some of those things are interesting and good,
while some of those are utterly stupid or trash.

Curious, I clicked on it.
A couple of moments in,
I hollered out to my husband to halt in his tracks and come look at this.

There we stood, the two of us alone on a mostly forgotten aisle,
in a massive home improvement store,
on a Sunday afternoon,
staring at my phone with tears now streaming down our faces….

For you see…in this forwarded video clip we see a coach who is living and teaching
by example to each one of his players…

He offers a profound teaching moment to a group of young men as to why they are to
spend those early 2 minutes prior to each of their ball games giving their flag, their
National Anthem and their Country their full attention and respect….

poppycock

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous,
the sensible man hardly anything.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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(icicles along the fence / Julie Cook / 2017)

Tears.
One of the various lubricants disbursed throughout the bodies of most mammals.

A physiological function to keep the eyes from drying out.
A physiological reaction to dust and debris.
A natural wash to help rid the eye of any invasive object, particle or fume.

A bodily function that is in direct reaction to a trigger that is perceived as invasive.
Very similar to that of a reflex or a contraction…
as in a response to something else…

Yet this reaction or reflex, for humans, may actually be both physiological
as well as psychological…as in emotional.

As in tears may be shed not only as a defense or mere physiological reactionary necessity,
but they may be shed due to a psychological stimuli such as pain, sorrow or even joy.

A dual action.

And whereas other living creatures cry out, howl or groan when in pain or traumatic suffering,
humans appear to be the only living creatures who shed tears due to emotional distress.

And for those who see no correlation between tears serving a dual purpose in humans verses
other living creatures, caring not to question or even wonder as to the apparent distinction…
preferring rather to eschew the obvious, this one more unexplainable nuance of human beings…
as a result of something merely developmental or evolutionary…
denying any sort of Divine touch….

I simply respond,
poppycock.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away

Revelation 21:4

a piece of my heart….

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for
that which has been your delight.”

Kahlil Gibran

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord,
and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Augustine of Hippo

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(my wedding day, 1983)

My priest
My confessor
My Godfather
My “god poppa”
My surrogate father
My confidant
My best friend

The Very Reverend David Browning Collins,
December 18,1922—-December 29, 2016

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(My god poppa and Pope John Paul II /
Dean Collins was the American Anglican representative
to the Catholic–Anglican conference held at the Vatican 1980 )

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(my godfather, a WWII Naval Officer, loved the sea and moved
to the Georgia coast once he retired from the priesthood / Julie Cook / 1988)

Just as the storm surge batters the tender sands of the shore….
The season of the long good-bye is currently battering my heart…
As such is the season of this time in my life…

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(my son’s rehearsal dinner, Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2014)

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when righteousness perseveres

“Man approaches God most nearly when he is in one sense least like God.
For what can be more unlike than fullness and need, sovereignty and humility,
righteousness and penitence, limitless power and a cry for help?”

C.S. Lewis

“Righteousness acts never in its own interest,
but in the interest of fellow men.”

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

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(The Rev. Samuel Leighton Green)

Say what you will about battles, conflicts and wars…
…such that there is no such thing as a just war.

And that may very well be true…

For historians still question the necessity of such wars as WWI
yet concede to the fundamental importance and necessity of WWII.

Yet both wars were some of humankind’s bloodiest conflicts…
with each resulting in a catastrophically global loss of life.

While at the same time each war has helped to shape the world, for both good and bad,
as you and I know it today.

And as is the case with history…
importance becomes more real, more relevant and more personal when it is
picked apart and examined individually…
by each single person after person, after person…
for it is in the details of each participant that we begin to see things
more narrowly verses that of a generic and sweeping panoramic view of
the statistical and numerical.

The following link is to a story found on the BBC regarding
the Reverend Samuel Leighton Green.
Green was one of a special group of men who served during the brutal
trench warfare of WWI.

As a member of the clergy, he was exempt from the mandatory draft,
yet volunteered anyway as he knew someone would have to tend to those
“fighting lads” spiritual needs.

Green also felt a moralistic sense of justification to the war’s necessity.

He served with the “blasphemous and foul-mouthed” 1/4th (City of London)
Battalion–the Royal Fusiliers.

Green served alongside this brave group of men throughout the duration of the war.

Green was awarded the Military Cross not once but twice for his bravery under fire.

It would behoove us to uncover more of these stories of such selfless souls…
those brave men and women who remain a part of the “Constant” to which mankind so
clings during the chaotic…

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-37377025

a continuation of beginnings and comings

See me safe up: for in my coming down,
I can shift for myself.

Thomas More

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(the frozen demise of the mint / Julie Cook / 2017)

Despite our having just journeyed through the season known for all things of anticipation…
that sacred time of observing Advent, which then culminates with the wondrous arrival
of the illuminating Nativity…
we actually, in this silent and slumberous time of deep winter,
continue finding ourselves waiting and watching.

Found in the Latin word adventus, which is the translation of the Greek word parousia,
we find a word and meaning that has traditionally been used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ.
Not so much denoting a single and initial birth, but rather embracing the anticipation of
a second birth…a sort of re-coming…

Yet, as William Stringfellow observes,
“we live now, in the Untied States, in a culture so profoundly pagan that Advent
(or any other Christian “season”)*
is no longer really noticed, much less observed.
The commercial acceleration of seasons,
whereby the promotion of Christmas begins even before there is an opportunity to enjoy
Halloween, is superficially, a reason for the vanishment of Advent.
But a more significant cause is that the churches have become so utterly secularized
that they no longer remember the topic of Advent.
*(parentheses mine)

And so it seems that our secular and worldly selves have given way from our
continuation of waiting and watching to rather the glossing over of a key
observational time within our faith.
We have allowed, as it appears we have preferred, to move away from that which should
still be our focus, yielding rather, to the superficial luster of the fleeting.

For it seems that the notion of Advent, or any other of the “seasons” of the church,
has fallen way to the more glamorous secular association of what should actually be the truly
innate spiritual rhythms of our beings.

Yet as unrelenting and ever-faithful,
we now find ourselves transitioning from the anticipation found in Advent and the Nativity
to Epiphany, leading way to Ash Wednesday and the heaviness of the somber Lenten season…
as it too shall give way to the unending promise of Hope…

We enter, once again into a time of waiting and watching…
waiting not so much for the first birth with its earth shattering life that was cut
tragically short by a brutal yet necessary death…
but rather we, the dwindling yet tenacious faithful, both wait and watch
not for an ending associated with death but rather for the continuation of what is to come…

Life anew and everlasting…

As we find ourselves listening to once again, as well as claiming, those prophetic words of that
lone figure who cried out to the masses so long ago…
as his words continue to resonate in our hearts…

MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!'”
Matthew 3:3