gifts

“What you are is God’s gift to you,
what you become is your gift to God.”

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Prayer


(Michael Davenport, a handicapped Athens street artist)

It was almost a year ago…
We were still living on the western side of Georgia when I caught a news story that was
taking place on the eastern side of our state, in the city of my alma mater.

There was a street artist in the Classic City of Athens, Ga. named Michael Davenport.

Street artists in Athens are nothing new.
I was an Art Ed. major in Athens 40 years ago…artists in any college town tend to
prevail upon the streets.

This story however is not a typical artsy story.

Rather this is the story about a handicapped middle aged man who had lost
both of his arms as a teen.
There was some sort of electrical accident.
Michael lost both of his arms at the age of 13.

Eventually Michael taught himself to write and draw by using his mouth.

I learned about this talented young man about a year ago when there was a news story about
Michael being attacked and robbed.

It seems that some low life thug cold-cocked Michael while he was in a Athens
parking lot doing his art.
Michael was knocked unconscious and robbed of both his earnings and art supplies.

I made a mental note– I wanted to support this young man–I wanted to eventually buy
one of his UGA bulldogs drawings.

Fast forward to yesterday.

My husband and I make almost daily runs to the Lowes and Home Depot in Athens as we continue working
on our new “home” project.
This new home of ours is about 10 minutes outside of Athens.

And as life would have it, it just so happens that Michael stands in front of
the Athens Lowes where he is set up out in the parking, drawing his UGA art.

As I pulled into the parking lot, my husband noted that “‘my artist’ was over there
making his pictures.”

WHAT??

I practically leapt out of the car racing across the parking lot toward Michael.

“Michael, Michael, my name is Julie, I saw you on the news…”

Michael began to tell me his story.

He explained how he was still healing from the brutal attack almost 11 months ago.
Still going to doctors.

He was just finishing up a bulldog that he drew using various Sharpies on a white canvas.

“Michael”, I began, “I don’t have much cash on me, but I would be honored if I could
buy one of your drawings…could I come back tomorrow or would
you be willing to take a check?”

Michael thought for a minute and eventually told me that he would indeed accept my check.

All the while various shoppers were stopping and patting Michael on the shoulder.
Cars would pull up, arms stretched out of windows, each offering cash in hand.

Michael told me to undo the the canvas from the easel and take the pictures he had just finished.

People like Michael remind us all what it means to persevere.
He shares a gift.
A gift that emerged from tragedy.
A gift that has been tested and tried but a gift none the less.

How blessed I was today.

Thank you Michael.
Thank you God.

https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/athens-artist-without-hands-inspires-national-audience

https://www.fox5atlanta.com/video/858408

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

troubling times…saved by wine? Hmmm

“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not
show itself in protection from suffering….
The love of God did not protect His own Son….
He will not necessarily protect us–
not from anything it takes to make us like His Son.
A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go
into the process.”

Elisabeth Elliot


(Mom and the Sheriff keeping guard / Julie Cook / 2021)

I think we’d all agree that we are indeed living in some of the most troubling
and trying times.
And no, I am not suggesting that we should drink our woes away…
so just stay with me a bit and I’ll explain.

Friday, when we’d traveled to Atlanta for the Mayor’s big day on Saturday, I needed
to help my daughter-n-law shuttle the kids to the pediatrician’s office.
The Mayor was to have her 3 year old check up.

Due to the Pandemic still being at full throttle, the pediatrician’s office is not allowing
siblings to come into the office together.
It’s only a one child at a time policy.

The procedure now is that one is to text the office once arriving at the building.
The receptionist will text when they are ready for you to come in,
as well as texting which examination room you are to go directly to when you enter the office—
no more sitting in a waiting room.

In my mind, the trouble comes when you have more than one child in tow or that you
need for all your kids to be seen…so someone has to hang back in the car.
You’ll need a helper…another person who can sit in the car with the other kid(s)
while the parent takes the specified child in at the designated time.

Now, enter another conundrum.
Safety.

Given our idiotic defund the police movements mirrored by the rise in violent
crimes in our major cities…
sitting in a parking deck, even in broad daylight, is simply not wise.

I grew up in this city.
As kids, my mom and aunt walked these very sidewalks near this particular doctors office.
Back in the 30’s and 40’s, while they were growing up,
my mom and aunt would walk to school, to the homes of friends and
especially to the movies…
exactly right where the Sheriff and I were now to wait in the car.

We were parked in a single floor covered parking deck of which was a bit obscure.

Since it was cold, my daughter-n-law wanted to leave the car running, while leaving
me the keys.
She suggested that I move over to the driver’s seat incase I needed “to gun it” in order
to get away.

HUH??

Was it really that bad here I asked.

“Yes!”, she replied as there have been carjackings, armed robberies and various
violent crimes all within blocks of where we were…and not just in the cover
of darkness but now in the light of a sunny day.

She and the Mayor headed inside the building as I locked our doors.

The Sheriff did not appreciate being left behind, even while sitting with “mom”
and in turn, began to cry.

Needing a diversion, I quickly sought out his favorite things—two paint brushes.

While I’m on my knees, turned around in my seat trying to get him happy,
I vigilantly scope out our surroundings—looking left, right and in front.

Next I start looking around in the car for anything I could use to bap any would be
intruder on the head. I was determined to get the drop on any criminal
before they could get to us…gun or no gun.

Nothing like a threatened grandmama bear protecting her little grand cubs

“Why does your mommy have a bottle of wine in the back seat?” I ask the Sheriff
thinking he’d readily answer in his sweet gibberish way.

I decide to hold onto the bottle just incase.

After about 20 minutes, the Mayor and her mom are exiting the building, making their
way to the car as I quickly unlock the doors.

Since she didn’t need any shots, the Mayor was none the worse for the wear.

I proceed to tell their mom that I was going to use her unopened bottle of wine
as a weapon if needed…and by the way, why was there a random bottle of wine
in the car?

“Oh, it was Catholic Teacher Appreciation week and that’s what they gave us.”

Working on a wing, a prayer and a bottle of wine—and it all worked on
this fine Friday afternoon in Atlanta.

Now….may we each pray for God’s healing Grace

no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 54:17

the best valentine’s day ever!

After nearly 37 years, I must admit that this has to have been our best Valentine’s day…
ever!!!

Here’s how it went…

Firstly— “mom” and “da” drove down to Atlanta to babysit so a young couple with little
children could actually go out to eat like real civilized adults…alone as a couple…
all without the typical pure chaos that usually occurs at their dinner table.

Next there was ball toss and catch…

Followed by some good napping…and eventually Sunday night bath time…

First for “Je” (aka James the Sheriff)

Then it was the Mayor’s turn to beautify…

Finally…once everyone had played, bathed, eaten and gotten their parents back…
“mom” and “da” journeyed homeward on the highways and the byways, all through the misty dark
only to have their own late but extra special romantic dinner…
who knew prosecco and hotdogs could totally compliment one another —-

Ode to the love of family and grandkids….

“…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15

The real enemy is already vanquished…for good

“But since the adversary does not cease to resist many,
and uses many and diverse arts to ensnare them,
that he may seduce the faithful from their faith,
and that he may prevent the faithless from believing,
it seems to me necessary that we also,
being armed with the invulnerable doctrines of the faith,
do battle against him in behalf of the weak.”

Justin Martyr (St. Justin),
Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection


(detail from Caravaggio’s The Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri) 1605)

I have always loved the works of Caravaggio—his play with dark, light and the juxtaposition of space.
Such skills helped to create a dramatic punctuation—effects found in many of his paintings.
Such skillful drama was only highlighted by Caravaggio’s own personal torment and
living the life of a rounder, rapscallion and wanted criminal.

Lots of symbology rests in this particular painting of The Madonna and Child with St. Anne


(Galleria Borghese, Rome)

An unusual image yet one that is both visceral and powerful.

I personally like the imagery of both mother and son, Mary and a young Christ,
each stomping the head of the snake.
It is an allegorical take on Christ’s victory over Satan.
And with Mary’s initial yes to God, she became privy to that very victory.

However it would indeed pierce, if not nearly breaking, her heart before there would be
that final Glory.

I can’t help but think about this image while watching our nation’s news play out in front of us.

With this second impeachment of former President Trump, as a taxpayer, I have been rather incensed.
Because if you are an able body with a pulse, you and I are paying taxes…
and these taxes of ours are helping to pay for political shenanigans.

The former President, along with us taxpayers, have been in this same spot not long ago.
It was a political circus act then, a wasteful black hole of time, energy and our money—
just like it was this past week.
A cheap and tawdry fictional paperback novel masquerading as a real political process.

So one would hope and think that with his having been voted back into normal private life,
that would be the end of our troubles with our rabid political leadership’s fraudulent
spending of ‘we the people’s’ money.
Yet sadly that has not the case.
Being returned to private life is not enough.

So the image of someone who is terrified of snakes,
who has taken a hoe to the head of said snake,
chopping off the head yet not being satisfied with the notion of the head being severed
and thus the snake being dead, continues to pound at and chop up the snake just to be
satisfied that that is indeed to end of the snake.

So don’t get me wrong— I’m not saying the former president is some sort of serpent,
contrary to what many may think.
And no, I’m not saying that there is a correlation to Jesus crushing Satan in any of this
political fiasco…it’s just that I can’t help but picture in my mind some crazed person
with hoe in hand, beating and chopping an obviously dead snake…adding an exclamation point
to the end of said snake…much like our political leaders—as in enough just isn’t enough.

However…the wonderful moral to this, as well as to all stories, is that politicians, snakes,
fiascos, lies, taxes, politics, republicans, democrats, presidents, pandemics, etc, all aside..
it that the victory, in the end, is indeed ours— Jesus has crushed Satan and in the
end we, both you and me, win.

So Jesus has no need to beat a dead horse—He’s already won… and in turn—so have we!

For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.

Deuteronomy 20:4

fix your sights and do not hide!

“Fix your minds on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Inflamed with love for us, he came down from heaven to redeem us.
For our sake he endured every torment of body and soul and shrank from no bodily pain.
He himself gave us an example of perfect patience and love.
We, then, are to be patient in adversity.”

St. Francis of Paola


(bullseye glass / Paris, France, Julie Cook / 2018)

“Now man need not hide from God as Adam did;
for He can be seen through Christ’s human nature.
Christ did not gain one perfection more by becoming man,
nor did He lose anything of what He possessed as God.
There was the Almightiness of God in the movement of His arm,
the infinite love of God in the beatings of His human heart and the
Unmeasured Compassion of God to sinners in His eyes.
God was now manifest in the flesh; this is what is called the Incarnation.
The whole range of the Divine attributes of power and goodness,
justice, love, beauty, were in Him.
And when Our Divine Lord acted and spoke, God in His perfect nature became manifest
to those who saw Him and heard Him and touched Him. As He told Philip later on:
Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father [John 14:9].”

Fulton J. Sheen, p. 21
An Excerpt From
Life of Christ

revisiting a 6 year old post (Turning Point)

What most of all hinders heavenly consolation is that you are too slow in
turning yourself to prayer.

Thomas a Kempis


(detail of a pinecone / Julie Cook / 2014)

** I made a terrible mistake last evening…I watched the news.
It was Fox, who since the election, I’ve just kind of cut ties with,
just as I’ve cut ties with all major news outlets…
I am more than disheartened with the “conservative” news program’s seemingly
feeble attempts to stand up against the growing national oppression of our freedom
of speech and thought…
yet sadly, they fall woefully short…and still….I watched.

I was quickly reminded as to why I now avoid all news.
It is sickening.
It was a startling reminder that we are living George Orwell’s 1984.
We are living Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Maybe we are even living in the midst of the Book of Revelation…

And if that’s the case, things really are scary, but thankfully in that
most frightening of thoughts, there remains hope for those of
us with weary souls because we know Our Redeemer will reign supreme
and this nightmare will end.

We are living in the midst of a massive Spiritual battle..
a battle of light vs darkness.

A place where Americans view one another as their own worst enemy.
Free speech and thought as not free or even allowed.
We have forgotten our past, our history, our ideals…
We have become our own worst enemy.
And it all began when we turned our back on God.

So as I watched, I felt sick to my stomach.

And since we are living life in the Twilight Zone…
I decided to cast my thoughts backwards…tumbling back in time.
I went back 6 years ago…6 years ago to a time that was pre-Trump.
It was life during Obama’s reign.
And oddly what I wrote those 6 years ago did not speak of calm, peace and a kumbiya existence–
but rather it was a shadow of things to come…it’s just that we had no idea of knowing
how bad it would all become…

Here is that 6 year old post….

As a tale-end Baby Boomer and child of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, the USSR,
The Federation of the Russian Republic or simply Mother Russia,
has always been an uncomfortable shadow over my shoulder,
just as it has for most everyone my age and older.
The enigma known as Russia, who most graciously hosted the world last February
for the Winter Olympics only to turn around and shock us all a few months
following with the “invasion” of Ukraine, has remained a conundrum for the free world
since the Russian Revolution of 1917 which gave way to birth of Communism.

When I was in high school, which seems to be many lifetimes ago,
I had the good fortune of taking a Russian History course—with the most memorable
experience being of my introduction to the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
I had the good fortune of reading several of his books…
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Gulag Archipelago and Cancer Ward.

Now all these many years later I find myself drawn back to the writings
and words of Solzhenitsyn,
of which I find more prophetic than I had ever imagined.

For those of you unfamiliar with Solzhenitsyn, in a nutshell,
he was a Russian soldier (WWII), Gulag prisoner (for nearly 10 years),
writer and novelist, historian, Soviet dissident,
Nobel Prize recipient and finally, again, Russian citizen.

As a life long member of the Russian Orthodox Church,
Solzhenitsyn was guided by a deeply spiritual moral compass.
He was a very loud and vocal opponent of Totalitarianism,
of which expedited his forced exile from the Soviet Union,
yet he could also be equally critical of the West and its obsession with Capitalism,
Consumerism and Materialism. All of which reminds me of the chastisement the West
often received from Pope John Paul II,
as well as Mother Teresa—as perhaps those who have suffered more grievously under
the Socialist and ultra Nationalistic Regime of the Nazis and then that of
the Communist Soviets, have perhaps a clearer perspective of our
often blind view of what we consider to be “the good life”

I am poignantly reminded of Solzhenitsyn, his words and wisdom as well wise counsel
and rebukes of those who have witnessed first hand the sinister wiles
and atrocities of Evil, particularly during this time of year as it seems
the world always appears to crescendo to a heightened sense of madness–just
as the holidays come into focus. I don’t know why that is except that
as the world seems to not only witness an abundance of joy and goodwill,
there seems to be an equal measure of evil and chaos.
Perhaps it is because Christians are drawn to the birth of the Savior and Jews
begin the celebration of the miracle of light and the rededication to the Second Temple–
a time of a tremendous pull of people toward God—as it seems Evil
must have its share of the pie by unleashing its part of unimaginable
pain and suffering in order to create some sort of sadistic counter balance.

Perhaps our senses are on hyper drive this time of year as we keenly
feel the highs of Joy and Wonder along with the bottomless pit of despair
and suffering as they each roll in to one. These thoughts reverberate
in my mind just as Sydney, Australia was held hostage Monday
by a radical Islamist madman leaving 3 individuals, including the gunman, dead.
Then on Tuesday, Pakistan witnessed an unimaginable attack on a school
leaving 132 children and 9 adult staff members dead all at the hands of the Taliban.

We currently have a menacing cyber attack taking place at Sony as North Korea
is suspected to be retaliating to the release of a tongue and cheek movie
which sadly mocks an attempted assassination of an, albeit, unhinged world leader.
Sometimes I think we, those of us in the West with our often sophomoric
entertainment industry, have lost our sense of what is considered off limits or
morally wrong when it comes to the exploitation of movie making and entertainment–
but I suppose a moral compass would be needed in the first place in order to be
reminded of such. . .

We have just marked the tragic anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre
as we continue reading headline after headline of local, national and global tragedies.
Just as the world tries to come together in some sort of unity marking two
very sacred holy times of the year as well as the secular merry making
of Santa, Papa Noel and Kris Kringle’s arrival.

In reading Solzhenitsyn’s book Warning to the West,
which is actually a brief composite and compendium of the texts to three
separate addresses made in the US in the late 1970’s,
it is startlingly frightening noting the parallels of then verses now.
I am keenly reminded of the relevance of Solzhenitsyn’s words which were uttered
almost 40 years ago as they could very well be spoken on the world stage today
regarding today’s global state. I will leave you with a few pieces of his
excerpted texts in order to ponder and ruminate the relevance and warnings
which echo across our prosaic landscape as we wrestle to make sense of the
tragic events which continue to unfold before our very eyes this holiday season. . .

“Is it possible or impossible to transmit the experience of those who have
suffered to those who have yet to suffer?
Can one part of humanity learn from the bitter experience of another or can it not?
Is it possible or impossible to warn someone of danger?
How many witnesses have been sent to the West in the last sixty years?
How may waves of immigrants? How many millions of persons? They are all here.
You meet them every day. You know who they are: if not by their spiritual disorientation,
their grief, their melancholy, then you can distinguish them by their
accents or their external appearance. Coming from different countries,
without consulting with one another, they have brought out exactly the same experience;
They tell you exactly the same thing: they warn you of what is now taking
place and of what has taken place in the past.
But the proud skyscrapers stand on, jut into the sky, and say:
It will never happen here. This will never come to us.
It is not possible here.”

“In addition to the grave political situation in the world today,
we are also witnessing the emergence of a crisis of unknown nature, one completely new,
and entirely non-political.
We are approaching a major turning point in world history, the the history of civilization.
It has already been noted by specialists in various areas.
I could compare it only with the turning from the Middle Ages to the modern era,
a shift in our civilization. It is a juncture at which settled concepts
suddenly become hazy, lose their precise contours, at which our familiar and commonly
used words lose their meaning, become empty shells, and methods which have been reliable
for many centuries no longer work. It’s the sort of turning point where the
hierarchy of values which we have generated, and which we use to determine
what is important to us and what causes our hearts to beat is starting
to rock and may collapse.
These two crises, the political crisis of today’s world and the oncoming spiritual crisis,
are occurring at the same time. It is our generation that will have to confront them.
The leadership of your country,
which is entering the third century of existence as a nation will perhaps
have to bear a burden greater than ever before in American history.
Your leaders will need profound intuition, spiritual foresight,
high qualities of mind and soul.
May God granted that in those times you will have at the helm personalities
as great as those who rested your country . . .”

(excepts taken from a speech delivered in New York July 9, 1975,
at a luncheon given by the AFL-CIO)

love does not mean being a pushover

“We must stand up for the rights of our neighbour who is suffering from injustice;
we must defend them all the more vigorously because we see Jesus present in them.
Surely this is our duty because of our love for others for his sake.
We have no right to be ‘sleeping watchmen’ or dumb watch-dogs.
Whenever we see evil we must sound the alarm.”

Blessed Charles de Foucauld


(Sainte-Chapelle / Paris, France /Julie Cook / 2018)
Just because we are Christians does not mean that we are to bend to every whim of man.
We are not commanded to bend to everything and anything that happens in the name of
worldly tolerance and acceptance.
Our Christian beliefs in such things as compassion, acceptance and love…does not equate to the
acceptance and approval of sinful acts and actions.
Things that go against the word of God.

As Christians we understand that God has issued commandments.
A simple list of life lessons to live by.

As stated, we as Christians are created to love and are commanded to have compassion and to forgive…
yet we also understand that if anyone continues to sin,
continues to live a life outside of the commands of God,
then that is not a pass for approval nor acceptance.

We love, we forgive but we also honor the commandments of God.

“When we continually ‘see’ the work of God in our life,
there is less need for faith. When the perception of blessing or presence is removed,
there is an opportunity to exercise faith on a deeper and purer level,
which is very pleasing to God and unites us in a deep way with Him,
even when His closeness to us might not be felt.
John of the Cross tells us that it is this ever-increasing purification that most
directly and immediately unites us to God.
The act of deep trust and abandonment and fidelity that faith entails is very pleasing
to God and brings us very close to Him.”

Ralph Martin p. 170-71
An Excerpt From
The Fulfillment of All Desire

monkeys throwing nuts

“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide.
If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts
at each other out of separate trees.”

T.H. White, The Once and Future King


(Born in the USA album cover)

Long ago and far away, I was once a ripe and tender 25 year old teacher.

This was about my third year teaching and I was teaching high school art,
art history and science of all things…
(they were shy a science teacher that year and I was the lucky one tapped to take that on)

Always having a deep and abiding love for all things Renaissance Art,
I got the bright idea that I should take a group of students and adults on an educational tour
of the art capital’s of Europe for a few weeks during summer break. We would go to the great museums
and the architecturally rich historic treasures of about 7 countries.

Great ideas do not always turn out so great…but that’s a different story
for another day.

I’ve written about this bright idea before and won’t bore us today over the tales of
my first and last major trip of responsibility with teenagers abroad—
however there is one moment that I vividly recall and
it seems rather applicable to share given our current divisional crisis taking place
in this nation of ours.

Did you catch the Super Bowl Sunday evening?
Maybe you saw the new Jeep commercial featuring Bruce Springsteen?

But before I go on with that thought, let me back up to the tale of that 25 year old teacher.

When I took that group of folks, both young and old on that trip,
I was newly married and found myself rather homesick half way into the trip.
Probably just homesick for a lot of reasons.

We had made it to Venice and our tour guide took us that evening to a disco as he
thought the kids would love to see an Italian style disco.

I was just ho-hum about it all until the DJ began playing the song Born In the USA.
One of the hallmark songs by “the Boss.”
Springsteen was the epitome of Americana.
Or so it seemed back in those heady day’s of the early 1980’s.

Hearing his song blaring throughout the disco, we all immediately took to the dance floor,
those in our group who were in their 60’s along with my young teen charges.
All singing united, gleefully proud to be Americans.

Yet sadly over the years, musicians, actors and entertainers have become more and more vocal
regarding their political leanings—going so far as to expressing vehemence for
anyone who takes a different view of things from their own.

It has become a ‘my view or no view’ mentality within much of the entertainment community.
So much so that even going all the way back to the election of George W. Bush,
many an entertainer, etc, was loudly proclaiming,
practically threatening, the decision to move from the US should Bush win.

Well, he won and yet they all seemed to stay.

Flash forward to this last election…there was once again a rising crescendo of those folks
singing the same old song…”I’m out of here if “he” wins!—this time, he meaning Trump.

Bruce Springsteen announced during the previous election that if Trump won,
the Boss would be moving to Australia.

Well, the election turned out in the Boss’s favor—so he could stay in the US, making his
big US dollars.

And so now Mr. Springsteen has the audacity to star in, as well as narrate, a Jeep ad—
an ad for a vehicle that screams Americana…it was an ad that oozed with the notion
that we may now all be able to be united…because we all know that liberal democrats unite
while conservative republicans obviously divide.

So… it really doesn’t seem that the Boss truly represents us as Americans…
Sadly, he has drawn a line in the sand and half of this country, it appears, is on the other side of his line…
his line and the line of most of our Nation’s leadership, entertainers, and sports figures
has smugly excluded one half of these ‘united’ states…

Something sounds quite divisive about all this new unity….

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be
no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 1:10

Death means not ruin but restoration—undertake that which is for God’s glory

“So, if God has not resolved to cast His work back into nothingness forever,
if this earth, sanctified by the footsteps of Christ, is destined,
once radiant and renewed, to remain forever,
then man must rise again in a future life to reconquer its scepter and kingship.
Hence, once more, it follows that death means not ruin but restoration.
If God has decreed that our earthly abode shall one day be dissolved,
it is not for the purpose of despoiling us of it, but to render it subtle, immortal, serene.
His aim may be compared to that of an architect, says St. John Chrysostom,
who has the inhabitants leave his house for a short period,
in order to have him return with greater glory to that same house,
now rebuilt in greater splendor.”

Fr. Charles Arminjon, p. 84
An Excerpt From
The End of the Present World


(Cable’s Mill / Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mt. Nat. Park / Julie Cook / 2020)

“Undertake courageously great tasks for God’s glory,
to the extent that he’ll give you power and grace for this purpose.
Even though you can do nothing on your own, you can do all things in him.
His help will never fail you if you have confidence in his goodness.
Place your entire physical and spiritual welfare in his hands.
Abandon to the fatherly concern of his divine providence every care for your health,
reputation, property, and business; for those near to you;
for your past sins; for your soul’s progress in virtue and love of him;
for your life, death, and especially your salvation and eternity—in a word,
all your cares. Rest in the assurance that in his pure goodness,
he’ll watch with particular tenderness over all your responsibilities and cares,
arranging all things for the greatest good.”

St. John Eudes, p. 363
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Saints

where or when did it all go wrong

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.
It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same,
or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s
children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Ronald Reagan


(Time Magazine cover from 2007 / Julie Cook / 2021)

So many boxes.
So many books.

The heavy dead-weight boxes of books are categorized by genre…
history, political, spiritual…Bibles, Pope John Paul II, St. Francis, Mother Teresa,
presidential biographies, WWII, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, The Holocaust,
saints, cookbooks…on and on it goes…

Unpacking this unending mountain of boxes, I stumbled upon my collection of books
regarding Ronald Reagan.

I gingerly pulled out the books and magazines from this latest deep abyss,
taking stock of what I wanted to keep readily available and what could be stored away.

In the treasure trove, I found the above Time Magazine.
It was dated 2007.

I was still teaching at that time and I remembered that I had the magazine sitting on my
desk in the classroom.
A student saw the magazine and had a knee jerk reaction…
they scrawled a written response to the title of the story line…

I had a fit as I can’t stand to deface something I want to save…

The cover image was powerful…the scribbled black ink “GWB” was nothing more
then graffiti.

Sigh.

“How The Right Went Wrong”

This student penned GWB—as in George W. Bush

At the time, in 2007, some of my young charges were less than pleased with then President
George W.Bush.

We were embroiled in a seemingly endless war in the Middle East.

And so I now wonder…where and when exactly did the Right go wrong?

I suppose once life slows down, I will re-read that article–
looking back to what 14 years ago we wondered what might be the problem with Conservatism.

In 2007 we wondered what went wrong.
In 2021 we now consider such a word as pariah.
A taboo sort of mindset.

It seems much more has gone wrong than merely the loss of the right verses the wrong.

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20