thankfulness intertwines with hopefulness

“In giving us this regular hunger for food,
we are also given opportunity to sacrifice for each other and for God
and to discipline our appetites.
Always cognizant of our nature, the liturgical year is rife
with periods of both fasting and feast.
In order to feast, we must also know sacrifice;
in fact, it’s only in sacrifice that we understand what a feast really is.
Our lives can contain an ever-repeating rhythm of each in its proper time.
In the same way that it would be profane to feast on Good Friday,
so would it be improper to fast on Easter.
This rhythm is a reminder of both a need to be filled as well
as a need to strengthen our resolve so that we might long first
and foremost for the feast that has no end.”

Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering, p. 88


(turkey season in Georgia 2017/ Julie Cook)

Ok, so just maybe the above image is not necessarily an image of what we might consider
to be one of thankfulness and gratitude—
well certainly not for this particular creature being photographed that is…

…but oh isn’t it such a beautiful and magnificent bird?

We know Ben Franklin thought as much as he wanted the wild turkey to be our
Nation’s national symbol.
However, I must admit, I suppose wiser heads prevailed allowing for
the eagle to take center stage…

So maybe beautiful, or even pretty, isn’t exactly the right word or words
to describe the turkey.

Let’s just go with, say…colorful, textural, unusual, sublime, prehistoric,
and yes, how about even mysterious.

Mysterious, much like this time of year…
a time of year when we find ourselves entering into that which
reminds us that there is something much bigger and truly greater than
ourselves—even greater than any black Friday sale.

And it is a time that begins with today’s kickoff of the
annual advent of thankfulness.

I’ve always been one to give Thanksgiving day its due…
as in I believe it is a day that should indeed have its own time
in the spotlight.

A set day to remind each of us of all things full of
both gratitude and thankfulness.

Yet far too many of us seem unable or even willing to keep our thoughts
on such notions as we find it difficult keeping our Christmas spirit
of childlike glee at bay.

Many of us have already decked the halls with our Christmas decorations…
having done so well before the final candle of the jack-o-lantern
was even extinguished.

That lingering pumpkin spice scented candle’s smoke still lingers
in the air as Christmas trees, what with their glistening baubles and balls,
now come racing past to take center stage.

Thanksgiving Day, for many, receives only a cursory nod as folks have set their
sights on all things such as sales and bargains laced with the taste of
peppermint and gingerbread.

For me, I think this year in particular reminds me that…no, wait…
I think “reminds me” is the wrong phrase…I think that my soul has
actually been pricked to remember, perhaps actually even prodded with
a red hot cattle iron….
that for me, particularly this year, it is a time to be thankful
and such thankfulness must be paramount…especially this year of all years.

In the midst of a year that has seen its full bait of both loss and heartache,
the sense, that palpable feeling of both gratitude and thankfulness,
must still exist. They must still be allowed to manifest themselves
despite a seemingly insurmountable wall of all things contrary.

Because if we cannot find, if I cannot find or if we cannot
find our ability to give thanks even in the midst of our pain and suffering…
if we cannot cling to a sense of gratefulness despite our heaviness…then
we have lost all ability to hope.

And it is in that hope…that deep down sense of hopefulness,
that we actually find our ability to move forward…
even if that forward motion is simply one step at a time or simply
one more minute in a lifetime full of minutes..
one more breath at a time…

Thanksgiving reminds us of hope.

The notion that things will get better…not simply that they must get better
but rather that they WILL get better—
no matter what that getting better might look like.

It might not be what we imagined, it might not be what we expected…
but it will be hope none the less.

So I wish each of you not merely a happy Thanksgiving day but rather I
wish you each a renewed sense of hope—
for in that hope rests our real sense of thankfulness and gratitude…

“Prayer is an aspiration of the heart.
It is a simple glance directed to Heaven.
It is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy.”

St. Therese Lisieux

“Remember the past with gratitude.
Live the present with enthusiasm.
Look forward to the future with confidence.”

St. John Paul II

Good-bye my dear old friend…

Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.
Saint Thomas Aquinas

Animals are such agreeable friends –
they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.

George Eliot


(Peaches in her beautiful prime / Julie Cook/ 2017)

How do you pick a day, a time or even the place for the death of another?
The death of someone you love dearly?

How can you be the master of another’s right to live or die?

Or perhaps more simply, how can one be given the tremendous responsibility
to glibly turn the hand with a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

…just like those various Roman emperors,
those long ago bloodthirsty leaders who were burdened, or perhaps gifted,
with such decisions— never seemingly having any internal
moral turmoil…none like I have had…

How in the world can one balance both mind and heart in
such everlasting ending sorts of decisions?

Oh there are those out there who seem to give such thoughts no never mind…
Those who have little if any regard for the living or the sanctity of
their, or anyone elses for that matter, life.

The phrase moral responsibility has been tossed at me like a
dead weight over the past several weeks.
As in…. it is my moral obligation to do the “right thing” by my
cat…my pet, my tender responsibility.

That being Peaches, the older of my current two cats.

She is/was 15 years old…
diagnosed with aggressive and advanced bone cancer in her jaw
just a few short weeks ago….

I’ve had a cat in my life ever since I was 6 years old.

Oh there was the occasional bird, fish, mouse, along with several dogs
over the years, but cats have been the constant.

So I did a little counting….
during the course of 57 years… that being from age 6 to 63, I have had a total
of 7 cats.
7 cats spread out over 57 years.

Some of them were more cat-like, while two of them were more dog-like.
(Yes even a vet once told me one of my cats was more dog-like than cat-like…
meaning they had a deeply bonding personality…not aloof and independent like
most typical cats.)

Peaches, who was more cat-like, came into my life in 2007.
She came as a lonely, lost and starving 8 month old kitten.

Our son had just graduated high school and had left for college when Peaches showed
up—it was as if on cue she came into my life when there was a drastic void.
She readily filled that void.
She was tenacious, street wise and determined to live.
And yet faithfully, throughout both the good and bad, Peaches stood by my side.

So fast forward to a recent divorce, upheaval and obvious loss…
all multiplied by a major move—
and suddenly, and oh so sadly, it came time for her to leave her post…leaving me.

So having overseen me resettled, I suppose she believed her job was complete.

It’s just that I wasn’t ready to make that decision for her, for me, or…for us…
not yet…
but whoever said life would be fair…

And so I thank you Peaches, my dear tenacious friend,
Mommy will always love you!!!


(sporting her “Mimi” hat)


(holding on to Percy’s tail, her surrogate child)


(Wednesday at the Vet’s when we said our good-byes)

“The Lord manifests Himself to those who stop for some time in
peace and humility of heart.
If you look in murky and turbulent waters,
you cannot see the reflection of your face.
If you want to see the face of Christ,
stop and collect your thoughts in silence,
and close the door of your soul to the noise of external things.”

St. Anthony of Padua