somewhere past Orion’s Belt

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

Job 38:31-33


(Orin’s belt constelation)

Stepping out into a mild early April night…
Knowing that the world has gone mad,
I look up, wondering where you are.

Craziness awaits inside and out while I search the night sky.

Orion’s belt.

I quickly search through the vast darkness.
Are you there…somewhere beyond those stars?

Orion’s belt…
those three aligned stars that have always guided those who
have journeyed through the night.

Desperately and viscerally filled with pain, I long to see your face…just one more time.
to hear your voice…
to relish in your wisdom…
to rest in your embrace.

Can you look down, seeing me, looking up?

Oh for the comfort found in the cadence of your melodious voice…
Your soothing words as I wade my way through this mindfield that is now our world.

A strange new world that I do not care for.
I did not ask for this…but I know you did not ask for your own path.

We share a common bond…adoption.
Lost before we felt found.

Each struggling to make our own way.
You painfully watched my own struggle, knowing that I had to go on my own.

I still struggle and somehow there is comfort in that struggle because
I know you know.

Your had your own battles.
You fought through a world war.
Your heart broke watching your own children fall…
and you unselfishly added me to that fold.

You helped to guide a major southern city through her Civil Rights angst.
You met dignitaries along with the homeless, treating each one as the same.

And despite all the power players and demands, you remained my polestar…my guiding light.
Always pointing me toward which direction I should go.

And yet oddly now, I too have become a Polestar…
A signpost pointing others to their own direction.

Yet in all of this, I wonder… how am I to know which way is right?
How did you know?

You trusted in something, in someone, so much greater than yourself.

You always knew.

You listened and you fought your way through the brambles and vines
that vied to entangle you.

You knew I would and could do the same.

The world is now so odd.
So strange.

Not like anything we’ve ever known.

And yet there remains the signpost…pointing the way.
I hear your confidence and clarity.

Just as I see it when glancing in the night sky..
It’s somewhere just past Orion’s belt…


(Julie and her Godpoppa August 1983)

“He was there alone with himself, collected, tranquil, adoring,
comparing the serenity of his heart with the serenity of the skies,
moved in the darkness by the visible splendors of the constellations,
and the invisible splendor of God, opening his soul to the thoughts which fall from the Unknown.
In such moments, offering up his heart at the hour when the flowers of night inhale their perfume,
lighted like a lamp in the center of the starry night,
expanding his soul in ecstasy in the midst of the universal radiance of creation,
he could not himself perhaps have told what was passing in his own mind;
he felt something depart from him, and something descend upon him,
mysterious interchanges of the depths of the soul with the depths of the universe.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

do you remember…

Memories
Pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories
Sweetened through the ages just like wine
Quiet thoughts come floating down and settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touch them and they burst apart with sweet memories

Lyrics by the Lettermen


(the sun cutting through the clouds / Julie Cook / 2020)

Do you remember when we use to worry about things like tornados, hurricanes, blizzards,
droughts…what about things like The Wall, illegal aliens, the fab four, Madame Speaker,
‘pencilneck’, impeachments, our President, the left, the right, the wrong…

What about the pollen?
The highest ever, in all of recorded history took place this week—

Or what about climate change…oh wait, didn’t it cause the pandemic or was that Trump??

But who has time to worry about sneezing and itchy eyes, the climate, global warming,
ad infinitum, when we can’t even find toilet paper?

Ahhh, those were the good old days…

So isn’t it simply amazing how a pandemic just seems to glibly push all that
other stuff aside?

There was a doctor from Emory University, who was interviewed by the news this morning,
who quipped that we might as well just wipe the month of April off the books cause we
ain’t budging from this life on lockdown for at least 4 to 6 more weeks.

And then to put the icing on the cake, I actually read that Easter was being canceled.

Yep, canceling Easter.

Hummmm…

You mean canceling local egg hunts, Sunday services with fancy new dresses and frilly
Spring hats, the wee hour sunrise services…canceling luncheons and afternoon gatherings…
canceling that Easter right?!

Because we know that nothing…not politicians, principalities, dominions, rulers, kings,
pandemics—-not even death can ever stop Easter…

But of course, we already knew that, didn’t we…??

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

John 11:25

Overwhlelmed

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.
All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”

St. Teresa of Avila


(the Sheriff giving in to his being overwhelmed by the day / Julie Cook / 2020)

Trying times overwhelm us.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts to it…

So during such times, we must be ever mindful that it is precisely how we respond
to such overwhelming trying times that will, in the end, define us—

Will we be the better for it or the worse for it?

Will the difference be life or will it be death?

And will it be either life eternal or death damnation?

Because you see, if we cry out for God’s intervention, will we be prepared for what
such an intervention will entail?

Some of us will and some of us will not.

C.S. Lewis reminds what such a cry entails…

“God will invade.
But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our
world quite realise what it will be like when He does.
When that happens, it is the end of the world.
When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.
God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then,
when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else –
something it never entered your head to conceive –
comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others
that none of us will have any choice left?
For this time it will God without disguise;
something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror
into every creature.
It will be too late then to choose your side.
There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.
That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side
we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.
Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.
God is holding back to give us that chance.
It will not last for ever.
We must take it or leave it.”

C.S. Lewis

Pandemic, what pandemic??

“The difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable.
It is the way we look at them – through faith or unbelief –
that makes them seem so.
We must be convinced that our Father is full of love for us and that He only permits
trials to come our way for our own good.

Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God.
The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him.
As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him.
We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.”

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Here’s to all the grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles as well as extended
family members, and or friends, who are on “lockdown” taking care
of the little ones or older ones, or simply the other ones, while all the others
can do this whole work from home thing!

I was talking typing with
Dawn Marie over on hugsnblessing (https://hugsnblessings.com)
as to how we were both coping with being a grandmother who was helping with our little
grandbabies while their moms were busy teaching from home
while we were all stuck at home…all together at the same time.

I’ve mentioned before that with all the parents now working from home…
someone has got to be helping with all those children who are also at home—

I told Dawn Marie that I wasn’t worried so much about a pandemic taking me out
as much as I was about stepping on the Lego that is now strewn all
around the house…all while I was walking barefooted through the minefield
that is now my home!

She told me how cooking was, becoming for her, almost monastic
as she recalled a prayer by Brother Lawrence.

Now I’ve written and quoted Br. Lawrence before.

And I too understood most clearly what she was saying.

In what seems to be a previous life,
I was once upon a time a mom who also worked outside of the home…
so I knew all too well about balance.
Sometimes I did a good job balancing, sometimes, not so much.

Yet as we fast forward a good 30 years or so, into this now surreal time
of pandemics and lockdowns and sheltering in place and working from home…
I think I’ve now spent more time in my kitchen in the past three weeks than
I have in the past twenty years…or so it seems.

And this comes from someone who loves to cook!

I understand pots and I understand pans… just as I now understand laundry.
Washing, fighting stains, drying, folding…all for many a big and little wee folk
living in my current state of lockdown.

Brother Lawrence spoke of the same sort of menial acts of our lives as being
actually large thank offerings to God.
Brother Lawrence was a simple monk who toiled in the kitchen and laundry of
a Medival monastery and so if anyone knew manual labor and mundae toil and trouble,
it was Brother Lawrence.

His was the work of daily menial chores.
And yet it was in those mundane chores that he could find joy in offering to God
the simple blessings of his life.

So as we each now labor in perhaps a different capacity than what we are accustomed to—
be it working from home while balancing a family,
or perhaps sheltering in place alone and isolated,
or working to provide needed services in this time of emergency…
may we each learn to look at our circumstance not so much as our own,
but rather as a thank offering of joy to our Heavenly Father who sees
and knows of our struggles.

Learning to shift our perspective from that of carrying out thankless and
backbreaking chores into one of giving selflessly with love can miraculously lift
and change our spirits…and if there was ever a time we needed to uplift our
spirits…it would be now!

Brother Lawrence is attributed with having written a small humble book
The Practice of the Presence of God.

You can read about Brother Lawrence here:
(https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/innertravelers/brother-lawrence.html )

This is the prayer attributed to Brother Lawrence,
the French medival Christian monastic who labored in the kitchen of a medieval monastery…
may his kind and gentle thoughts bring you peace during this time of uncertainty.

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
since I’ve no time to be a great saint
by doing lovely things,
or watching late with Thee,
or dreaming in the dawnlight,
or storming heaven’s gates,
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.
Amen/em>

It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood….is it? Is it really Mr. Rogers???!!!

“All of us, at some time or other, need help.
Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.
That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors–
in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”

Fred Rogers


(Fox News)

Here is a great story I caught during a quick foray into doing something novel…
such as actually sitting down, breathing and reading things that were not Disney
or child-related.

And this oh so novel activity took place during the briefest of moments of quiet
when my two wee charges were finally napping simultaneously—

IT’S A MIRACLE!!!

A MIRACLE I tell ya!!!

You do know that the Mayor and the Sheriff, along with their mom,
are here during Coronagedon right?

What is this…nearing the end of week 2 ???
And by the way, what day is this???
Thursday, I think.

So our daughter-in-law is a teacher.

She is now spending 8 plus hours holed up in our makeshift office/ guest bedroom
each Sunday trying to create a week’s worth of lessons for the middle grades
that she teaches—
Social Studies to various grade levels–6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

During the weekdays, she is submitting attendance,
for those students logged in onto the learning platform via the computer each morning.
She is then live on-line for 4 or more hours each day in order to answer questions,
post more webinar assignments while e-mailing with
parents and students— of which is an all-day and night activity.

This is on top of being a mom to two kids who are two years old and 11 months old.

Hence why she’s with us while her husband, our son, is home in Atlanta, working
from home.

The state’s on lockdown so the separation is a little tough on this little family.

And it is beyond my soul as to how two working parents with young children
are managing to work from home during the Coronageden without extended
family to help.

My daughter-in-law is sensing that some parents are getting very testy.
Some have e-mailed words of thanks…
Some, on the other hand, have been downright ugly.
Yet some were ugly before all of this mess, so needless to say,
the caddyness has ramped up exponentially.

It’s as if the parents have forgotten the fact that their children’s teachers
also have children and lives, and are all stuck inside just like they are…
doing the best they can under the circumstance.

Patience seems to be as scarce as toilet paper!

Our daughter-in-law teaches at an Atlanta private school that feeds into the larger
private high schools—so some of these parents are, in a word, a tad uppity
while blessedly some, on the other hand, are more than kind.

As a former educator, I can sympathize greatly.

So let us look at what is happening here with this whole national learning from home
emergency.

Homeschooling has now gone national…as I suspect it has gone global.

We have parents and their children all together in the house
for an extended length of time….as in weeks on top of weeks.

No sports.
No scouts.
No recess.
No clubs.
No nothing.

Just parents, kids and home.

Children are used to having hands-on instructors despite working
on-line or from textbooks…there are still adults in the room
instructing and or assisting.

These are usually trained adults, as in educators.
Folks who know their subject matter readily and fluently.

With schools being shut down, kids are home with “instructor” assistants
who are now their parents…parents working from home and also assisting with schooling.
With the majority of parents ill-equipped to instruct in subjects, they know nothing about.

And all of this just doesn’t seem to be going very smoothly.
Or so the following story seems to explain.

As funny as the story is, I was touched reading it as it seems
that parents all over the country, and I suspect all over our globe, are
now each carrying the educational burden for their children and
they are not carrying it very well.

So my word today to everyone is kindness—as well as patience.
So make that two words.

We are all tired.
We are all stressed.
And we are all in this together.

Here’s the story…

An 8-year-old boy’s hilarious journal entry is going viral for his candid thoughts
on his mother’s attempt at homeschooling during the coronavirus outbreak.

“It is not going good,” says the boy, whose name is Ben.

“My mom’s getting stressed out. My mom is really getting confused.
We took a break so my mom can figure this stuff out. And I’m telling you it is not going good.”

Ben’s mom, Candice Hunter Kennedy, wasn’t entirely upset by her son’s remarks,
seeing as she herself shared a photograph of the journal entry to Facebook.

“Y’all I’m dying!!!” she wrote on Facebook last week, adding that she was
particularly amused by “that last sentence.”

Thousands of Facebook users agreed with Kennedy in the comments,
telling her they found it “so funny,” and assuring her she wasn’t the only
parent struggling with homeschooling her kids.

“My kids feel the same way,” one said.

“This will be all of us next week,” added another.

“Dead,” someone else simply wrote.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear initially recommended the closure of schools in the state
on March 12 in a bid to slow the coronavirus outbreak. All districts soon complied,
with plans to shut down for at least two weeks, per the Louisville Courier-Journal.

In fairness to Kennedy, though, she knew homeschooling was going to be tough on the very first day.

“We are 39 minutes into [non-traditional instruction],” she wrote in a Facebook post on March 16.
“Papers are everywhere. Kids are panicking. I am stress-eating while trying to keep it
together so the kids can’t see my own panic. Teachers need triple raises ASAP!!”

https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/boy-journal-moms-attempt-homeschooling-coronavirus-not-going-good

Captian’s log: Week Two—Chicken and Good Bones

“Life is an onion–
you peel it year by year and sometimes cry.”

Carl Sandburg

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Thomas Aquinas


(the foggy rain accentuates the somber mood of these difficult days / Julie Cook / 2020)

Three years ago I wrote a post entitled ‘The Humble Onion’.
I’ve included the link below.

The post referenced a PBS show that I once loved watching, Foyles War.
It was a seasonal type of PBS show showcasing life in Hastings, England during
WWII—as seen through the life of the local Detective Chief Superintendent, Christopher Foyle.
A local police detective charged with keeping the peace in his small town during war.

Throw in the occasional murder by hire, grand theft, larceny, etc…
all compounded by the burden of war and it was a weekly captivating tale of intrigue
while living under a time of siege.

One of the episodes featured a story about a lottery over an onion.

The humble onion, as lowly as it is…is actually an integral component to cooking—
for it adds nuance, flavor, and depth to any dish to which it is added.

I was intrigued by the fact that they were having an office lottery over
a single onion…

They each longed to win the onion.

Yet what my 21st-century mind failed to wrap itself around was the fact that during the war,
onions were a difficult commodity to come by.

For those of you who don’t cook, you should know that onions are a prized culinary wonderment.

And this fact was greatly apparent during the days of rationing and sacrifice since
onions were not easily come by.
Just as this conundrum can quickly become a modern-day reality when I suddenly realize
I’m all out of onions during the height of a cooking extravaganza that requires an onion.

So flash forward to our present day.

We are all currently living life under siege.
Not the siege of war, but rather the siege of pestilence.

And now having been scavenged by a populace afraid of shortage,
many grocery store shelves are now bare.
Meaning we too are living with shortages and near rationing proportions.

It’s been a surreal adventure in our normally overloaded world of plenty.

For the past two weeks, I’ve made several mad runs to my local grocery of choice
in search of supplies to feed our family—a family who is now currently calling
our house, home central, while hunkering down.

Besides toilet paper, chicken, of all things, has been hard to come by…
as in, the shelves have been completely empty and bare.
Shelves that are normally filled with a plethora of organic, free-range, farm-raised,
all-natural parts and pieces of thighs, breasts, wings, drumsticks and even
entire roasting hens…now stand barren.

And wouldn’t you just know it— all I’ve wanted to cook is a chicken.

A humble yet succulent yard bird.

So yesterday morning…despite my husband’s foreboding and warnings of the dire
consequences should I risk my life while it was pouring down rain as infection
was waiting with my name on it, I made off to the grocery store…in search of chicken.

I thought the rain would hamper others who might come on a similar quest.

I was met by gals who had bleached and alcoholed shopping carts and were handing them off
to incoming soaking wet and leary shoppers.
Folks wearing masks and gloves, while I simply donned a ball cap and rain jacket.

I made my way past the produce section and bakery, making a beeline for the
poultry section.
Would it be there?? I fretted…

And what to my wondering eyes did appear—
it was my heart’s delight…chicken!!!

A large sign alerted shoppers that only two packs could be purchased per household.

I opted for a roasting hen and a pack of chicken tenders.

I was so excited.

I made my way through the store gathering what I could from my list.
Things that were in stock but limited to, once again, only two per household.

I couldn’t believe how happy a single roasting hen could make me feel.
Something I would normally take for granted.
Something that would normally be plentiful and considered average fare.

But to me, a roasting hen is a blank canvas that has become my symbol
of comfort and normalcy.

And so later in the evening, after we enjoyed our wonderful dinner,
my daughter-in-law shared something with me
that I’d like to share with you.

It was something she read that Jenna Bush Hagar, one of President’s Bush’s twin daughters
has posted. It is a piece entitled Good Bones written by Maggie Smith.

It’s poignant, harsh, tender, painful and yet, there remains in the end…hope
The hope of what could be…
May we, for the sake of our children, try for what could be…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/the-humble-onion/

Captian’s log: It’s all in the management

“Start with the end in mind.”
Stephen R. Covey

(a prized commodity / Julie Cook / 2020)

The Mayor has caught wind of the dire straits besetting the shelves of our stores…
as in, they are bare.

She has made an executive order—
As Mayor of Woobooville, she will keep tabs on any and all rolls of toilet paper
in the house.
She will dole out each family member’s allotted daily TP amount…
nothing more, nothing less…baring any sort of stomach virus during
our days of confinement.


(the Mayor busy at work sorting out each family member’s toilet paper ration / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so it dawned on me…
We are a people accustomed to living in the land of plenty.
We come, we go, we want, we buy, we gather…
The latter half of the 20th century, into the current 21st century,
has been a time of nothing but plenty.

Generations not knowing much about sacrifice.

The majority of our population has not known so much need as they have want.

My grandmother use to always say that “your wants will never hurt you”
This coming from a woman who was a young widowed mother raising two young girls
during The Depression and a world war.
She had little patience with wanting for the sheer sake of wanting.

We, however, are living in a time when kids will actually kill other kids
over a pair of tennis shoes…not because they need the shoes but because they
want a pair of popular trending shoes—
that’s when you know our’s is a society not so much of need but rather of want…
want of things and not the want of needs.

And so I wonder what this pandemic will teach us.
Other than the fact that we seem to think hoarding toilet paper is a key
to survival.

The Mayor asked that I share this video of Neil Diamond offering his take on
doing out part in washing our hands during this crisis of a virus…
Leave it to Neil Diamond to remind us that we can do this!!!!

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous,
without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit,
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness,
but denying its power. Avoid such people.
For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women,
burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,
always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth,
men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all,
as was that of those two men.

2 Timothy 3: 1-9