waiting rooms and prayer

Believers ought to be distinguished not only by their place,
but by their way of life. They ought to be obvious not only by the gift,
but also by the new life. He should be distinguishable by everything—
by his walk, by his look, by his clothes, by his voice.

St. John Chrysostom
from A Year with the Church Fathers


(a Bible sits on a table in the waiting room of a doctor’s office / Julie Cook / 2020)

This is a week spent running from a myriad of doctor’s offices and the hospital for tests…
Long story.
Schedules have just worked out making this a full packed week.

So this morning, on my first stop of the day, I was sitting in the brand new
waiting room for my general practitioner.
They’ve just recently moved into a brand new, state of the arts,
fancy schmancy medical complex that sits across the street from our city’s hospital.

You know how waiting rooms can be.
Someone is always talking on their phone when they shouldn’t be.
There’s coughing, sneezing along with some idle chit chat amongst the fellow waiters.

I had not brought a book and my eyes were tired of squinting at my phone so I
opted to survey my surroundings.

I spied the table sitting across from me to see if there might be a magazine of interest
but then I thought better about picking anything up because the flu was running
rampant around the room.
I’ve been lucky thus far and didn’t want to chance things so I dug out some paper
from my purse to scratch off a list for the grocery store.

Yet before I could even start writing, my eye caught a Bible sitting rather prominently
on the table across from me as I immediately inwardly smiled.
I know that my doctor is an ardent Christian.

So I started thinking.
So many people, the rabid nonbelievers amongst us, rattle sabers when they catch a hint
of Christianity out and about in plain view. They protest the outward symbols of
the Chrisitan faith, claiming it is some sort of infringement of their civil rights.

Yet here in plain sight sat the foundation of our faith.
And what an appropriate place for a book of hope to be found since this is often the
place of bad news and burdened individuals.

Throughout the day, as I traversed from one appointment to another, I was constantly
reminded of the fiasco taking place in Washington…be it from a television in a waiting room
or news alerts on my phone…I knew a three-ring circus was filling our lives.

It is so easy for me to fuss and cuss the idiocy taking place from both sides of the aisle
as these people, this body of governmental leadership, has put the running of our Nation’s
business on permanent hold as they wage a petty battle among themselves.
And for what?
Vindictiveness?

And so looking at the Bible sitting on that table, I got to thinking that I actually had
an opportunity. I could either fuss, cuss and lament about our Governmental leadership,
or lack thereof, or I could do something much more important—
I could pray.

Here are two of the prayers found in the Book of Common Prayer
offered for our Government and President.

May we pray for God’s Mercy and Grace…

18. For our Country

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our
heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove
ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and
pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend
our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes
brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue
with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust
the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we
may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

19. For the President of the United States and all in Civil
Authority

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

lose not our soul…

“One should not say that it is impossible to reach a virtuous life;
but one should say that it is not easy.
Nor do those who have reached it find it easy to maintain.”

St. Anthony of the Desert


(the invasive lionfish composed of found invasive plastics / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“That which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did and suffered for all men,
He did and suffered for each one in particular;
and He would not have thought it too much to do if it had been a question of saving
only a single soul.
The salvation of a soul is, then, the price of the blood of God,
the price of the death of God, the price of the greatest sacrifice that God,
clothed in our human nature, could possibly make! This is incomprehensible!…
It proves that the dignity of a soul is beyond understanding—for God to abase Himself,
for God to annihilate Himself, for God to sacrifice Himself,
only to save that soul and make it happy forever!…
As for us, who believe humbly and firmly all that God has revealed to us,
let us learn, by the contemplation of God upon a Cross, what is the value of our souls.
Let us not lose our soul; let us not prostitute it to creatures;
and to make sure of our eternal salvation, which cost so much to the Son of God,
let us beg of Jesus Christ Himself to take charge of it,
to lead us in the right way and guide us always.
Such an inestimable treasure runs too great a risk in our own hands.
Let us trust it to God and our Savior. Let us make Him the Master of our liberty,
which we may so easily abuse, and the abuse of which may bring about
such terrible consequences.
Once abandoned to the safe and infallible guidance of His grace,
we have no more to fear.
He loves us too much, He takes too much interest in our salvation,
ever to lose the price of His blood and His sufferings.”

Fr. Jean Nicholas Grou, p. 7-9
An Excerpt From
The Spiritual Life

It is the winter of our discontent…may we seek contentment

“I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe,
but rather, I believe in order that I may understand.”

St. Anselm of Canterbury


(an early January morning / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“Francis [de Sales] insists that true devotion must touch every area of our life.
True devotion is not just a matter of spiritual practices but of bringing all our life
under the lordship of Christ. Francis is known for his slogan:
‘Live, Jesus! Live, Jesus!’
What he means by this is an invitation to Jesus to ‘live and reign in our hearts
forever and ever’…
In other words, for Francis, to live the devout life is to reach the point in our love for God
and neighbor that we eagerly (‘carefully, frequently, and promptly’)
desire to do His will in all the various ways in which it is communicated to us:
in the duties of our state in life, in the objective teaching of God’s Word,
in opportunities and occasions presented to us, in response to our interior inspirations.”

Ralph Martin, p. 107
An Excerpt From
Fulfillment of All Desire

to appear before man or God, that is our choice

“He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.”

St. Ambrose


( a quiet January morning / Rosemary Beach / Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God.
Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example,
for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter.
In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived
in remote caves to escape the esteem of men.
The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men,
to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul,
an evil that causes us to forget our God;
it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the
spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God,
we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their
approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.”

St. Alphonsus Liguiori,
p. 128-9
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

A time for yearning…

“If you learn everything except Christ, you learn nothing.
If you learn nothing except Christ, you learn everything.”

St. Bonaventure


(Independant Presbyterian Church steeple / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

I must say that I have a small regret…

My regret is that of time…but who doesn’t regret time right?

Sometimes we might think we have enough or even too much, but if the truth be told,
we never have nearly enough.

I use to be able to catch a youtube or video blog post of Anglican Unscripted.
I use to listen to the podcasts of our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Roberston…
as well as our favorite across the pond rogue bishop, Bishop Gavin Ashenden.

But first, the Mayor came on the scene.
Next, my better half retired.
And then, the Sherrif came on board.
Suddenly there was no more time….well, no more time for me to do those
things I use to do with time before my new time needers all arrived.

Now I am certainly not complaining mind you…as this use of time
is a good use…exhausting, but good.

It’s just that when I had time to do so, I would
listen/watch and take copious notes of the teachings by our two Christian Scholarly friends.
I would craft posts featuring the teachings of these most knowledgable individuals.
I learned and, in turn, wanted to share the learning…that’s a teacher thing and it matters
not if we retire…sharing knowledge is what we do.

So I was very excited the other day when I actually carved out some unexpected quiet
and surprisingly alone time in order to listen to a podcast offered by one of my
favorite publications, the UK publication The Spectator.

Happily, I got to listen, almost uninterrupted,
to an interview by Damian Thompson with Bishop Gavin Ashenden—
who by the way is a recent convert to Catholicism.
The interview focused on the Chruch of England and its current dangerous walk toward socialism.

Now for those of you who think you don’t have a dog in the fight over anything Catholic,
Anglican, Chruch of England or Episcopalian…or even Socialism…
may I quickly remind you that many of our Nation’s current politicians are touting
all things Socialism while Socialism currently creeps its ugly way into our
Nation’s political narrative.

Think Bernie, AOC and the Progressive left…

I think the good Bishop gives a sound foundation as to why all Christians
must be very wary of this most troubling dalliance of the Chruch of England.

The podcast is about 20 minutes and is well worth the time, if you are fortunate to
find some…time.

“Just before Christmas, Dr. Gavin Ashenden, a former Chaplain to the Queen,
converted to Catholicism. But that’s not the main subject of my interview with him in
the first Holy Smoke episode of 2020. In it,
he deplores the Church of England’s surrender to secularism under Archbishop Justin Welby,
who won’t enjoy his former colleague’s assessment of his talents.

Dr. Ashenden may not be Anglican any more,
but he does think that the Established Church has a historic mission –
and that its ‘middle managers’ have betrayed it in favour of ‘soft socialism’.
To which I reply that Pope Francis is busy hoisting the white flag,
or perhaps a red one, on the other side of the Tiber.
At which point our conversation takes an unexpected turn. Don’t miss it!”

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2020/01/holy-smoke-podcast-has-the-church-of-england-surrendered-to-soft-socialism/

it isn’t worth disappointing your grandmother


(Nany’s passport photo circa 1960)

Back in October, I penned a post that began with a look at our seemingly
“Royal” obsession.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/10/21/we-are-a-coveting-people-yearning-for-royalty/

The post touched on our coveting and yearning for a sense of royalty…
At the beginning of the post, I mused over the US obsession with all things Royal, as I
wondered where that may have come from.

A few weeks later I wrote a post about the Queen and her quintessential purse…

So many folks wonder as to why a Queen would constantly be seen carrying a handbag
hanging from her arm.
The post also touched on the boorish behavior displayed by some of the guests she
entertained during a dinner for the NATO leaders

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/12/05/the-purse-never-lies/

So should we think it odd that the Royal family is not even “ours” and yet they are
practically all over every news outlet we have?

We are Royal watchers even if we don’t mean to be as their faces, names,
and stories, especially in recent months, have been all we see.

They are there when we flip on our televisions.
They are there when we are standing at the check-out line at the grocery store staring out at
us from every tabloid stacked on the shelves.
They are there when we click on our computers.

I wonder, are our across the pond cousins equally as intrigued with their Royals as we are?

Elizabeth was crowned Queen on June 2, 1953.
My parents were married on June 16, 1953.

With those two events each taking place within days of one another, my parents
actually received several Royal pieces of china commemorating the coronation
as wedding presents.
Items I still have today.

As long as I’ve been alive, the Queen has always been…a constant during my 60 years of life.
Just as it should be as she is the longest-reigning monarch surpassing
her great grandmother Victoria and her namesake predecessor, Elizabeth I.


Sean Gallup Getty Images

When I was a 21-year-old college kid, I had spent my college summers up in
North Carolina as a camp counselor at a Christian girl’s summer camp.

Our home, when I was growing up, as many of you well know if you have read any
of my posts, was quite dysfunctional.

It was my saving grace being able to transition from my 9 months away at school
to my 3 month summers up in North Carolina.
Meaning, I was home only sparingly.

The last summer that I was working at camp prior to my senior year in college,
when the two sessions had each ended, I came home for a few weeks before I was to head
back to school.
I had several older friends who actually lived year-round on the grounds of the camp
or near the camp and I was already missing them terribly.
Despite being home for only a few days, I was homesick for my home-away-from-home.

If, following graduation, I could have made a full-time job working at camp year-round,
I would have done it.
At that time in my life, it was about the only place I actually felt God’s presence
deep in my being.

So one mid-August night when I was back home,
I’d come in from an evening out with friends finding my brother still up watching TV.
If you’ve ever read any of my posts about my brother, you know he was the lynchpin
of our family’s dysfunction having been diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic
several years later.

Our relationship was fraught, erratic and tenuous.
Yet that particular night we were actually having a civil conversation.
I remember lamenting aloud about how much I missed being back at camp.
I debated about just getting in my car and driving the 4 hours back for the
weekend.
My brother then offered that he’d go with me to see it if I’d like.

Whoa.
Really?

A road trip with my 16-year-old brother allowing me to share with him
something that I cherished…could this be a breakthrough for us???

Ode to the mind of a wistful 21-year-old.
Forget consequences, let’s just throw caution to the proverbial wind, shall we…

He had to work at the grocery store, where he’d gotten a part-time summer job,
the following afternoon so I calculated that we could drive up, getting there
in the wee hours of the morning, hang out with my friends having breakfast,
show him the camp and in turn, get him back in time for work.

But wait…. what about our parents?

They were fast asleep.
They were not ones to embrace such impulsive acts.
Nor was I ever the type of kid to do something so daring.
And in hindsight, something so selfish.

Yet throwing caution to the wind, I scribbled a quick note, leaving it on
the kitchen table.
The note promised we’d be back in time for my brother to be at work…
And with that, in the middle of the night, we headed out the door.

The drive and time we spent at camp were quick but truly nice.
And nice was a very rare experience that he and I ever shared.

I found that I actually enjoyed the civil time we shared on the ride.
I explained how I wished it was light enough for him to see the mountains
cresting over the horizon.
It was as if we had bonded over the thrill of the clandestine.

When we got back home, with time to spare for my brother to go to work,
our parents were so incensed, they did not speak to me.
Not a word.

So with no one speaking that afternoon, I opted to go see my grandmother, Nany.
Nany and I were very close.
She had afforded me a great deal all my growing up and I adored her
and our times spent together.

When I walked into her condo, she was sitting in her usual spot in her den
watching the television.
When I entered the room, she turned her back on me.

Whoa.

Never had my grandmother ever shown anything other than generosity, kindness, and love.
Anger and disappointment were each relegated only to parents and not grandparents right?!

All she said was “you should have seen how sad they were when they came
by here after church.”

Under the weight of a very heavy silence, I showed myself out the door.

Yet as it is with life, both time and my actually growing up worked to heal all gaping wounds.
Soon forgotten were both my youthful stupidity and folly as life pressed us all forward.

However, I have never forgotten my grandmother turning her back to me.
That image has remained in the recesses of my memories.

I was crestfallen back then and it still pains me to this day.

It hurts knowing that I hurt her like that.
That I was capable of hurting her so much.
Funny how hurting her was more troubling than how much I had hurt my parents.

I had been thoughtless and selfish—yet are we not so during our youth
as we often learn the hard way by surviving our many mistakes?

We can only pray that we learn and survive those youthful errors and
often self-destructive ways, hoping to go forward, carrying with us the gift of wisdom
rather than the burden of selfishness and recklessness.

I was but 21—Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is a 35-year-old man.
And yet it appears as if Harry is acting more like a selfish child
than that of a grown man. Putting his wants before responsibility.
He continues to hurt his “Granny,” as she is affectionately known by
her grandchildren, with his on-going selfish and reckless actions.

It has been reported that The Queen had asked Harry to wait before making a
public statement regarding his desire for life’s role reversal,
but he ignored her request– going forward anyway.

I cannot presume to understand the complexities of their tangled
relationships but if I could offer one word to Harry, it would be the word of caution.
I would caution Harry to never put his wants above his relationship with his grandmother–
Of which, if we have ever read much about their lives, is one of
closeness and caring.

One day, sooner than later, she will no longer be here as a tangible and physical
part of his life.
I know all too well that he does not want to look back, with her no longer in his life,
with either sorrow or regret for how his actions may have pained her.

And so perhaps there is a lesson here for all of us…

The lesson being that we need to stop before we act.
Stopping to think while considering the lives of those closet to us…
Thinking about them before we boldly opt to march triumphantly forth—
So bold and headstrong that we go marching gallantly forward carrying those
wants and desires of our hearts on silver platters without ever considerating the
thoughts and feelings of those who are dear to us.
Those who are hurt the most by our misguided and self-centered actions.

Selfishness can be a heavy burden.

Be very careful, then, how you live—-
not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is

Ephesians 5:15-17

won by One who makes imperfection perfect

Satan has a kingdom here on earth.
It’s called the culture of death, but his kingdom has an expiration date.
That’s good news.
Jesus has a kingdom as well.
There is no expiration date.
It will last forever.
Remember, Church, we have been won by One.
The next time the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

Jesse Romero
from The Devil in the City of Angels


(deer moss / Julie Cook/ 2020)

Do they desire to join me in thanksgiving when they hear how, by your gift,
I have come close to you, and do they pray for me when they hear
how I am held back by my own weight?

A brotherly mind will love in me what you teach to be lovable,
and will regret in me what you teach to be regrettable.

This is a mark of a Christian brother’s mind, not an outsider’s—
not that of ‘the sons of aliens whose mouth speaks vanity,
and their right hand is a right hand of iniquity’ (Ps. 143:7 f.).

A brotherly person rejoices on my account when he approves me,
but when he disapproves, he is loving me.

To such people I will reveal myself.
They will take heart from my good traits, and sigh with sadness at my bad ones.
My good points are instilled by you and are your gifts.
My bad points are my faults and your judgments on them.
Let them take heart from the one and regret the other.
Let both praise and tears ascend in your sight from brotherly hearts,
your censers. …
But you Lord…Make perfect my imperfections”

St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions