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)

expect the unexpected

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city,
spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James 4:13-14


(the back of my dads old Philco radio/ Julie Cook / 2021)

Some of you might be old enough to remember that radios, televisions, and other pieces,
of so called old school electronics, all once required vacuum tubes in order to work.

Wikipedia offers us a small history lesson:
A vacuum tube, an electron tube, valve (British usage) or tube (North America),
is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes
to which an electric potential difference has been applied.

The type known as a thermionic tube or thermionic valve uses the phenomenon of
thermionic emission of electrons from a hot cathode and is used for a number of
fundamental electronic functions such as signal amplification and current rectification.
Non-thermionic types, such as a vacuum phototube however,
achieve electron emission through the photoelectric effect,
and are used for such purposes as the detection of light intensities.
In both types, the electrons are accelerated from the cathode to the
anode by the electric field in the tube.

The simplest vacuum tube, the diode, invented in 1904 by John Ambrose Fleming,
contains only a heated electron-emitting cathode and an anode.
Electrons can only flow in one direction through the device—from the cathode to the anode.
Adding one or more control grids within the tube allows the current between the
cathode and anode to be controlled by the voltage on the grids.

These devices became a key component of electronic circuits for the first half
of the twentieth century. They were crucial to the development of radio, television,
radar, sound recording and reproduction, long-distance telephone networks,
and analog and early digital computers.
Although some applications had used earlier technologies such as the spark gap transmitter
for radio or mechanical computers for computing,
it was the invention of the thermionic vacuum tube that made these technologies
widespread and practical, and created the discipline of electronics.

In the 1940s, the invention of semiconductor devices made it possible
to produce solid-state devices, which are smaller, more efficient, reliable,
durable, safer, and more economical than thermionic tubes.
Beginning in the mid-1960s, thermionic tubes were being replaced by the transistor.
However, the cathode-ray tube (CRT) remained the basis for television monitors
and oscilloscopes until the early 21st century.
Thermionic tubes are still used in some applications,
such as the magnetron used in microwave ovens, certain high-frequency amplifiers,
and amplifiers that audio enthusiasts prefer for their “warmer” tube sound.

As a young man hoping to tune into his favorite radio program during the early 1940’s,
The Shadow, my dad would eagerly await the week’s latest new episode…
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”

Yet if the radio suddenly blew a tube, there’d better be a replacement or there’d be no
new episode but rather, there would only be silence.

Recently rummaging through dad’s old attic, I actually found an old box
of replacement tubes.
Dad always wanted to be prepared lest he miss an episode of his favorite show.
He never felt the need to toss the tubes despite the advancements in technology.
He wanted to be prepared…old school or not.

And just like Dad, I prefer to always be prepared for the unexpected.

So imagine this move…

We only thought we had everything plotted and planned…but this house,
this new nemesis, is testing our mettle on preparedness.

A leaking roof…
a need for an electrician…
a need for a plumber,
the need for a painter…
throw in a few trees that needed to be cut from around the house…
and the list of needs has grown exponentially.

Nothing that had been anticipated.

Just today, we experienced yet another unexpected surprise.

A gentleman came out to grind the stumps from those cut trees—
the trees that were only adding insult to the house and roof,
and as he worked his grinder, he hit the main waterline.

The sun was quickly setting, the rains were moving in,
and we had big problems on our hands.

Yes, we did think to have the utility lines marked…
but…
somehow, someone forgot to mark the water line.

Ode to the unexpected.

So the one thing we do know…life is not neat nor tidy…
no matter how much we plan or wish it were.

So my advise… always expect the unexpected!

That Unexpected Last Day
Would it not be good for us to put away the vain dream of countless earthly days and face
up to the blunt fact that our days on earth may actually not be many?

For the true church, there is always the possibility that Christ may return.
Some good and serious souls hold this to be more than a possibility,
for it seems to them as it seems to this writer that
“the earth is grown old and the judgment is near,”
and the voices of the holy prophets are sounding in our ears.

And when He comes, there will not be a moment’s notice,
not an added day or hour in which to make frantic last-minute preparations.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation,
drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen,
and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).

A.W. Tozer
https://www.cmalliance.org

her name was Eunice Dunn

I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger

Lyrics by
Ron Lane / Ronald David Wood
Sung by Rod Stewart


(Eunice and mom / June 16th, 1953)

Throughout my entire life, I only knew her by her first name…Eunice.

Eunice passed from this life shortly after I arrived into this world–
into this family…

I was born in 1959 and eventually adopted in early 1960— Eunice,
on the other hand, had already long since “retired” from the years she spent
with my grandmother, mother, and aunt.

I imagine that our family’s circle was somewhat complete when Eunice finally
met me when mom and dad had brought me home from the adoption agency in 1960.
They were so proud to show off their new baby to this very special part of my
mom’s story.

I had always heard about Eunice but really knew very little about her.
As long as they had lived, both my mom and aunt spoke of Eunice with
only adoration and abiding love.

For you see, Eunice was more the mother to these two girls rather than their
own mother.

Eunice was a black woman, only a year older than my grandmother.
A black woman who raised two white little girls.

I found her listed on the Atlanta 1940 census records.
She was listed as a part of the household of my grandfather…listed as a servant.
And it was in that census record that I first learned of Eunice’s last name…Dunn.
And that she was but a year older than my grandmother…
My grandmother was 36, Eunice was 37.

This, however, is not a tale about the well-to-do verses something akin to “The Help.”

This is a story about a young working widow and the other woman who helped her
raise her daughters.

Two women working to make ends meet during a precarious time in our Nation’s history.

The part of the story that I always knew was that my grandmother was widowed in 1940,
at the ripe young age of 36.
She had two young daughters–one who was 6 and the youngest who was 1.
My grandmother’s husband, my grandfather, died of alcohol-induced TB while
spending his final days in a TB sanatorium–dying at the age of 40.

My grandfather had squandered their entire life’s savings during the great depression.
My grandmother, as long as I had known her, had a deep wariness of men and
never trusted a man who drank…despite her affinity for Vodka later in life.
Over the years, she liked my dad yet despised my uncle, my aunt’s husband.
Probably with good reason but that’s a story for another day.

Growing up, I can never ever recall my grandmother ever speaking of her husband…
my grandfather.
A man who died nearly 20 years before I was born.

This man–his name, his memory was deemed persona non gratis within this small family.
No pictures.
No stories.
No recognition.

But Eunice…Eunice, she was special.

My grandmother, at 36 years old, while during a depression and world war,
had two little girls who she needed to provide for.

Eunice at 37 also had a family she needed to provide for.

My grandmother went to work and even took in borders during the War.

Yet despite these precarious times, I always knew that my mom,
aunt and grandmother had Eunice.

Eunice was a black woman who worked as a housekeeper for my grandmother.
Later, in order to make ends meet, my grandmother actually took in her older unmarried sister.
The two opened a beauty salon for the upper crust women of Atlanta.

While they spent their days cutting, perming, and dying the hair of Atlanta’s upper crust,
Eunice tended to my mother and aunt.
She cooked, cleaned, and fed the family.
She bought groceries, got my mom and aunt ready for school each morning
and met them each afternoon following school.
She always had supper ready and waiting for my grandmother and her sister after they’d
take the bus home late each evening.

Eunice would arrive each Monday morning and would stay until Saturday morning.
She had her own room and basically kept the house running.
She would go home to her own family on Saturday afternoon, only to return to my grandmother
every Monday morning.
This routine ran for 20 plus years.

Years later my aunt and I would both lament about the sacrifices Eunice had made
for both her own family and my grandmother’s family.
It was a difficult time as the world suffered through both the Great Depression and a world war.
This was a generation that was more familiar with the idea of sacrifice over protests
and demonstrations.

I remember my aunt telling me about how, as a little girl, she would have to ride
in the back of the bus with Eunice.
This being life in the South during segregation.

However to my mother, aunt, and grandmother…there were never any color barriers…
no segregation…all they knew was what made a family, family…
and Eunice was very much a part of that family.

The only pictures I’ve ever seen of Eunice were found in a musty old envelope of photos
that had been stored away in our attic…in a box of things that had been dads following
mother’s death in 1986.

I’ve looked and looked over the internet for any little nugget I could find regarding
Eunice—but the only thing I found was the 1940 census record which listed her
as a part of the Watson’s family.

I wanted to write something that would provide Eunice with the place of honor
that she so rightly deserved and held in the hearts of both my mom and aunt…
but with so little to go on, that has proved difficult.
With the loss of my grandmother in 1989, mother in 1986, and Martha in 2017—
those who knew best are now long gone.

I wanted people to know that despite what our current culture screams about racism,
there has been love that remained colorblind long before the radicalism
of movements such as the Black Panthers or today’s Black Lives Matter.

So I want to say thank you to a woman who I never really knew but who had met me
a very long time ago.

I want to thank her for making both my mom and aunt into the women they become,
in turn, making me the woman who I have become.

Love and family are strong bonds.
Bonds that have each helped to make me the person I am today.

Thank you, Eunice.


(Mother and Eunice, 1953)


(Mother on her big day / 1953)


(Mother with her mother, Mimi / 1953)


(mother with her father in law, my beloved Pop / 1953)


(Mother and dad off to a honeymoon / 1953)

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

losing, looking, knowing, seeing…

“There are two ways of knowing how good God is:
one is never to lose Him,
and the other is to lose Him and then to find Him.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(Christ Pantocrator, the oldest known Icon of Christ, 6th Century AD / St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai)

This past week has been one full of ups and downs, highs and lows,
and a week of all things in between.
Much of which has been beyond our immediate control.

So I think it was Tuesday morning when I actually was afforded my “quiet time”—
a time when I could truly be alone and in fellowship with God.
A time that was once as regular as clock work…
then people retired and mornings were no
longer my own…
Juggling time took on a whole different sort of meaning.

Tuesday morning I opened my morning devotion, a book of The Divine Hours—
I pray the liturgy of hours—an ancient form of
prayer based on a fixed time of prayer during the course of a day—
mine is an abbreviated devotion of morning, midday, and vespers.
A typical monastic cycle is based on a schedule of 7 times dispersed over a 24 hour period.

According to prayerfoundation.org:
The Seven Historical (Canonical) Hours of Prayer is based upon Psalm 119:164
“Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.”

6:00 am – First Hour (Matins / Lauds / Orthros)
9:00 am – Third Hour (Trece)
Noon Prayer – Sixth Hour (Sext)
3:00 pm – Ninth Hour (None)
6:00 pm (Vespers / Evensong
9:00 pm (Compline)
Midnight Prayer.

These times basically overlap in the three large liturgical denominations…
Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican communions.

When I was attending the church of my childhood, Evensong was my most favorite service–
It was small, quiet, and intimate.
And that’s probably because I grew up in a massive Cathedral
and Evensong was always in a small gothic chapel rather than the cavernous sanctuary
and was always sparsely attended…but I digress.

Nowadays, I’m just lucky to be able to get in the morning devotional–

So Tuesday morning, when I began my reading and recitations, I began reading the affixed
reading for the day—a reading from the Book of Revelation:

Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing,
that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth.
I am coming quickly; hold firmly to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God,
and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God,
and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God,
and My new name.
The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Revelation 3:10-13

This is not a revolving sort of reading but a fixed reading.
Meaning it was not chosen precisely for this year of 2020.
It was not chosen for this surreal time but was rather more of a permanent piece of scripture–
it is the same verse read over the years, over the seasons on this particular day–
this Tuesday, the 3rd week of Advent.

And yet here it was staring at me on this particular Tuesday morning,
plain as day— speaking so pointedly to our trying days and time,
speaking plainly to our current prickly world which has been trying our souls day and night
since early March.

We have got to remember that God still sees and He still knows—
He knows we are heavily burdened.
We knows we are down trodden.
He knows.
He sees.
And in that seeing and knowing, He will write his Name upon us.
We will be His and He will be ours.

Hold fast.
The time draws nigh…

Advent.
We wait.
We watch.

dying unto self

“Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus,
contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful.
A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren,
participates in the great work of saving souls.”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich


(Vasari’s Annunciation / The Louvre / Julie Cook / 2011)

“The life of our flesh is the delight of sensuality;
its death is to take from it all sensible delight.
The life of our judgment and our will is to dispose of ourselves and what is ours,
according to our own views and wishes; their death, then,
is to submit ourselves in all things to the judgment and will of others.
The life of the desire for esteem and respect is to be well thought of by everyone;
its death, therefore, is to hide ourselves so as not to be known,
by means of continual acts of humility and self-abasement.
Until one succeeds in dying in this manner, he will never be a servant of God,
nor will God ever perfectly live in him.”

—St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, p. 126
An Excerpt From
Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery With the Saints

When I read these two quotes, my thoughts went immediately to that of The Annunciation.
That momentous moment in time when Mary willingly died unto self—
all in order to say a simple “yes” to God.

And so I went hunting for an Annunciation image that I had used in some previous post.
I opted for a more obscure image…not the typical Leonardo image.

I wandered back to 2015 and found this image by Vasari.
Curious as to what post I had written prompting me to use the image, I re-read
that 5-year-old post.

Imagine my surprise when reading the post and discovering that I was writing
about an issue that we, as a society, are still allowing to percolate and circulate throughout
our culture–that of white privilege and that of “white” images causing stress to
both whites and non-whites alike.

Irrationality…but more like silliness really.

Here is the story in a nutshell:

“Well it seems that upon a recent visit to the Met,
as this individual was viewing some paintings of the museum’s collection of several
Renaissance and Baroque masters depicting Jesus Christ,
this said individual suffered “personal stress” as the images contained,
typical of the time, images of a “white” Jesus.
This individual is now claiming that these images of a white Jesus are racist and should be removed”

I’ve included that post…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/whats-wrong-with-this-picture/

Thankful (a repeat)

As seen on a rural church sign:
It’s not happy people who are thankful…
It’s thankful people who are happy


(painting by Henry A. Bacon 1877 of Mary Chilton stepping onto “Plymouth Rock” /
Mary Chilton is my long ago relative)

(as I stated earlier in the week, ’tis a busy and or crazy time for so many…
So I thought this post from last year’s Thanksgiving was worth enjoying again…
of course it is, it was life before 2020…)

Back in the early 1950s my grandmother, my dad’s mother, did extensive genealogy work.
She had her reasons and I confess that I am so grateful she did

It is because of her exhausting work that both my family, my cousins and I,
have a valuable gift of our lineage.

Lineage, that being the line from whence we come.
Even the Bible offers us the extensive lineage of Jesus—
We are also all a part of that same extensive lineage, yet that story is for another day.
Today’s tale is about a single family’s lineage and the gratitude for that lineage.

Now if you’ve read my posts regarding my adoption,
you know I actually have two family trees.

I have a biological tree that I know very little about.
And I also have an adopted tree, a tree and a people that have each embraced me
as their own.
It is a most extensive tree.

What my grandmother started almost 70 ago was no easy task.

She had to do a lot of leg work on her own as well as seek the help of many others.
She had to write a myriad of letters and make many personal phone calls to various state
record departments as well as to state historians in order to enlist their help in
researching her family’s past.

This was long before there were computers, databases, DNA Genealogy companies—
as archaic landlines were the standard norm.
Most calls were considered long distance…meaning you paid extra for long-distance calls.
But my grandmother was determined.

What she didn’t realize then, in her seemingly very personal quest, was
that she was giving her lineage, her grandchildren
one of the greatest gifts she could give.

That of a collective uniting history.

In those days there were no immediate connections, so her quest took time.

She had to request birth, death and marriage certificates.
She had to scour family bibles and records.
She had to have documents notarized and verified.
She traveled to courthouses.
She had to get the assistance of others in other states to visit distant courthouses
and churches and cemeteries in order to do a large portion of the digging.

For you see, my grandmother knew she had come from a line of people who
were important to the founding of this now great nation and she needed the proper
validation to be able to be granted the acknowledgment by such organizations as
The Daughters of The American Revolution, The Daughters of the Mayflower, The Pilgrims Society,
The Colonist Society, The Huguenot Society, etc.

This woman, who was born in 1896 in a small country town in the middle of the state
of Georgia, had actually come to be there by way England.

But from England, it was first to Plymouth…and from Plymouth, Massachusettes it was
to various towns in the colony of Massachusetts then to the city of Bristol in the colony
of Rhode Island, next, it was to the city of Savannah in the colony of Georgia
and finally to the tiny town of Molena in the state of Georgia…
but the final resting place was to be Atlanta, Georgia.

Her 10th great grandmother was Pricilla Mullins of London, England.
Pricilla Mullins was married to John Alden of Essex, England.
John was a cooper aka, a barrell maker.
John had a dream and Pricilla shared her husband’s dream.

They were on that fateful ship that we tend to remember each Thanksgiving,
just as we remember that first colony of Plymouth and of that first
celebration of not only survival but the beginning of thriving in a new land.

The Alden’s first daughter born on this new mysterious land was named Elizabeth–
the purported first white European girl born to the Plymouth Colony.

So yes, Thanksgiving is important to me on a family’s historical level…
but it is more important to me as a grateful American.

For it matters not how we came…be it those who were first here on the continent,
or if we came via Plymouth, a slave ship, Ellis Island or came with a visa in our
hand seeking citizenship…we have come…
We also have come in various shades of color.
Red, White, Brown, Black, Yellow…

We fought and died creating a new nation just as we’ve fought and died keeping her free.

It troubles me terribly that our society has developed a tendency to gloss over Thanksgiving…
basically jumping from Halloween to Christmas in one fell swoop…
But we can blame that on our obsession with materialism…
which is in actuality a loss of thankfulness.

Yet what is most troubling is that we now have many voices crying out that we rename this
day of thanks.
Some smugly stated that this is only a day of overindulgence and eating.
They claim Thanksgiving is not a day this Nation should recall let alone recognize.

One of our fellow bloggers, Citizen Tom, offered the following post regarding
our Nation’s Thanksgiving observation and celebration.

I highly recommend taking the time to read his post as it is a beautiful reminder
as to why Thanksgiving matters.

AN AMERICAN FIRST THANKSGIVING

This from President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789:

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next
to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being,
who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is,
or that will be–
That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–
for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming
a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions
of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–
for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty,
which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner,
in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government
for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–
for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed;
and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;
and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath
been pleased to confer upon us

time keeps on slipping into the future…

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future

Lyrics by Steven Haworth Miller


(Fire in Rome by Hubert Robert, 1778 / MuMa – Musée d’art moderne André Malraux, Le Havre, France)

In 64 AD, Rome burned.
And supposedly the Emporer Nero fiddled with abandoned glee.

Now whether or not there was any fiddling on a fiddle taking place, there was no doubt
some fiddling of the facts taking place.

Once the fire had been contained and finally extinguished,
over two-thirds of the city lay in ruins.

The Emperor blamed the Christians.
That subversive religious “cult.”

However, historians actually believe that Nero himself had the fires set because he wanted
to create a grandiose “golden house” that would be a massive endeavor, a tribute
to his reign, and cover an expansive portion of Rome…
so long story short, Nero needed the space.

As the ever gracious Emperor, he immediately began offering food and aid to the
masses of his people whose lives were now decimated.

How kind.

Fast forward to Berlin, 1933.

The German Chancellory, The Reichstag…the home to the German Parliament, burns.
Hitler blames a known Communist sympathizer, however historians are in agreement,
Hitler had the Reichstag burned.


(Burning of the Reichstag 1933, Berlin, Germany)

The burning was the excuse Hitler needed in order to round up all the Communists,
allowing his Nazi party to finally fill in the gap;
the party could take the majority of seats in parliament, and in turn,
take control of the Nation.

How convenient.

Fast forward to 2020.

There is a pandemic along with a quarentine lockdown.

The Speaker of the House brags, while standing in front of her expensive subzero
refidgerators / freezers, that she is ‘enduring’ the lockdown with top shelf ice cream…
all the while small businesses are told they must shutter their livlihood or else.
Houses of worship are closed.

Civil unrest breaks out.

Cities are burned.

Businesses are destroyed.

Lives and livihoods are left in shambles.

Throw in a contentious election with a deeply divided Nation.

The conservative republicans, in particular those “MAGA” supporters,
those who support the President, are the ones who the progressive left
blame for all the woe…

Is there some sort of pattern here, or am I just imagining things…

Ode to the power of the power hungry…

“Therefore their way will be like slippery paths to them,
They will be driven away into the gloom and fall down in it;
For I will bring calamity upon them,
The year of their punishment,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:12

refuge found in a memory

“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


(a statue to Saint Anthony in the small chapel of St. Blasiuskirche, Salzburg, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

When I first read the quote that I’ve opted to use today,
I was immediately transported to a different time and place…
and to a previous post.

It was 2012 and I had recently retired from 31 years of teaching—I was also preparing
to embark on an arduous journey with my elderly father…how arduous, I had no idea,
but I knew life was changing and I knew it was not going to be for the better.

My aunt, another friend, and I had all embarked on a bit of an adventure
during that fall of 2012.
It was a wonderful trip which holds some very precious and treasured memories…
especially since my aunt is no longer with us.

Yet during that trip, there were a couple of very special moments that have stayed
near to my heart…and one thing I’ve learned over the years,
adventures offer lessons.

And so I looked back at that original post and found that the serenity that I had experienced
during that adventure, and later in the writing of the post,
I realized that I greatly needed to relive, as well as share, again, that
peaceful gratitude I found one quiet fall afternoon.

And so here is that post from October 2013 about a warm fall afternoon in 2012
in Salzburg, Austria:

The deep groaning and creaking sound of the huge ancient wooden door being pulled open
echoes loudly throughout the small yet cavernous chapel.
It must be the vaulted ceiling helping to carry the sound deep into the hallowed room.
The burning votives cast an otherworldly glow.
There is a lingering scent of incense mixed with the musty dampness.

There is a lone figure, an older woman, kneeling at one of the front pews…
her rosary woven through her fingers, moving ever so slightly,
bead per bead as she silently makes her petitions before the small statue.

I once heard it put that religion was just something for old women and children.
Pity that…as that must mean that older women and children are the only ones
who “get it”…everyone else must be too vain, too prideful, and too arrogant
to truly understand.

My eyes begin to adjust to the lack of lighting as the cool air is a welcomed feeling
against the late afternoon Autumn warmth outside.
I walk slowly, quietly, reverently down the small aisle,
my hand resting on the smooth wooden end cap of each pew, as I make my way to my seat of choice.
I kneel slightly, the genuflection of reverence, before slipping into the pew.

I’m not Catholic but raised Anglican–yet I oddly welcome and greatly appreciate the nuances
of ancient worship–-more than would be expected from my raising.
There is a deep mystery that I believe many in our mainstream churches miss.
This Christianity of ours is an ancient faith but that is too sadly forgotten in this age
of the technologically savvy megachurch.
The ancient components of worship seem lost on those now sitting in stadium type seating waiting,
as if ready for the latest blockbuster to begin,
to be wowed not by participation but by passive viewing.

Despite my pained attempts to muffle my movements,
each step, each rustle of my jacket, causes deep reverberations through this ancient room,
I feel very conspicuous even though just one other person is present.
She never wavers from her intense focus to her prayerful conversation.
She is oblivious to my presence.

I take in my surroundings before dropping to my knees.
The chapel is hundreds of years old as worship here dates back to the 1200s.
Dark wood paneling with cream-colored walls.
Arched vaults line the ceiling with stone columns systematically placed,
acting as supports, creating the aisles throughout the room.
This is not one of the beautifully bright and light Rococoesque churches of Austria
that the tourists clammer to enter in order to view famous paintings,
statues and frescos with ornate altars boasting a multitude of plaster cherubs
heralding glad tidings.
This chapel is small, dark, ancient, and humble.
Perhaps that is why I was drawn inside.

I slip down to my knees as I make the sign of the cross.
I begin my “conversation”—-it is one of thanksgiving and gratitude as a tremendous sense
of warmth and contentment engulfs me.
I then begin my petitions—-not for myself,
but for those I love who are not with me on this particular journey.
After some time, I open my eyes.
How long had I been praying?
I rest in the moment as a tremendous sense of safety and peace washes over me–-it is almost palpable.

Am I a tourist or a pilgrim? I like to think that when I travel, I am a pilgrim.
I want to not merely observe, but rather, I want to partake…
I want to be a part of each moment in time.
I am not here to watch an old Austrian woman in prayer,
watching from the shadows of an ancient chapel as some sort of voyeuristic individual
or as someone viewing animals in an enclosure,
but rather I want to pray beside her to the same God who hears each of our prayers.
I am in communion with her even though she never glances my way.
I want to appreciate this chapel that is a part of her daily life,
wishing I too had such a special and reverent place of retreat.

The history here is so old as countless individuals previously have gathered
here to worship, to seek, to lament, to rejoice.
I slowly rise from my knees slipping out of the pew.
I make my way to the small alter to pick up a fresh votive.
I gently touch the fresh wick to one of the existing burning flames–my hand slightly shakes.
I feel the warm heat against my cheeks rising from the candles.
I place my lit votive in an empty slot silently thanking Saint Anthony
and God for this time of communion with not only them but with this woman
who never seems to notice my presence.

I am grateful.
I slip a few coins into the small metal locked box by the door.
I make my way back outside, into the light.
It almost hurts my eyes as it is now so sunny and bright.
The sounds of the throngs of people on the streets are almost painful to my ears.
This is Oktoberfest, the streets and alleyways are teeming with a sea of people.

For a brief moment, I had a glimpse of the Divine.
I feel different for the encounter.
Changed.
Better.
Not in an arrogant sort of way but more in the way that I have been fortunate
to be privy to something so rich and so special.
I look out at all of the throngs of people reveling in this historic and exciting
city during this raucous time. I slightly smile inward thinking that I hold a special
secret that no one else knows…no one other than that older woman back in the chapel
and myself.

do not allow your arrogance to convince you that there is nothing left to learn…

“So long as I am acting from duty and conviction,
I am indifferent to taunts and jeers.
I think they will probably do me more good than harm.”

Sir Winston Churchill

“One man with conviction will overwhelm a hundred who have only opinions.”
Winston Churchill


Sir Winston Churchill speaks at the Hall on Thanksgiving Day, 1944

“We have come here tonight to add our celebration to those which are going
forward all over the world, wherever allied troops are fighting in bivouacs and dugouts,
on battlefields, on the high seas, and the highest air.
Always this annual festival has been dear to the hearts of the American people.
Always there has been that desire for thanksgiving, and never,
I think, has there been more justification, more compulsive need than now.

It is your Day of Thanksgiving,
and when we feel the truth of the facts which are before us,
that in three or four years the peaceful, peace-loving people of the United States,
with all the variety and freedom of their life in such contrast to the iron discipline
which has governed many other communities –
when we see that in three or four years the United States has in sober fact become
the greatest military, naval, and air power in the world – that,
I say to you in this time of war, is itself a subject for profound thanksgiving.

We are moving forward in this struggle which spreads over all the lands and all the oceans;
we are moving forward surely steadily, irresistibly,
and perhaps with God’s aid, swiftly towards victorious peace.

There again is a fitting reason for thanksgiving, but I have spoken of American thanksgiving.
Tonight here, representatives of vaster audiences and greater forces moving outside this hall,
it is British and American thanksgiving that we may celebrate today.
And why is that? It is because under the compulsion of mysterious
and all-powerful destiny we are together.

We are joined together, shedding our blood side by side, struggling for the same ideals,
and joined together until the triumph of the great causes which we serve has been made manifest.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the end of the Second World War,
Churchill spent six years as leader of the opposition to Clement Atlee’s Labour government of 1945-1951,
before being re-elected in 1951 for a second term as Prime Minister.

This rare video footage shows Churchill speaking at an event organised by
the Women’s National Advisory Committee (now known as the Conservative Women’s Organisation)
on 27 May 1954, discussing his government’s policy of
“peace through strength”:

(archives from the Royal Albert Hall)

“You have enemies? Good.
That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Winston Churchill

Lessons from the Blitz and four essential human freedoms

Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is,
and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present,
and from the present, to live better in the future.

William Wordsworth


Blitz damage in Coventry, November 1940 (© IWM)

Throughout much of the past couple of months leading up to last week’s
debacle, I mean election,
I’ve been slowly making my way through my latest read…a book by Erik Larson.

I had read other books by Larson in years past, and I expected this current read to be right
on par with his previous books…books that look back to a past of darker days…
darker than the days of our current time…
As in yes, there have been darker times…if you can imagine such.

The book is titled The Splendid and The Vile:
A Saga of Chruchill, Family, And Defiance During the Blitz

I can’t even begin to do justice here, within my small reflections, as to what it was like
for the British people to live through the nightly bombings of their cities, towns
and villages by the German Luftwaffe.

For 8 long months, every single day—hundreds of German planes filled the skies
over the United Kingdom dropping tons upon tons of explosives and incendiary deceives
indiscriminately over an innocent people–only to leave destruction and death in their wake.

When the bombings stopped, over 32,000 civilians had been killed.
Over 87,000 had been maimed, burned, and injured.
Of those, 7,736 children were killed and 7,622 were seriously injured
while many were left orphaned.

London alone endured 57 straight nights and days of bombings.

The bombings took place predominantly at night but would, at times, happen both day and night.
As in a double whammy of insult and injury.

Sirens would sound, people would run for shelter as their world, bodies
and lives were literally shattered.

In just one single night, November 14, 1940, 16,000 bombs were dropped on the
city of Coventry.
The ancient 14th-century Cathedral in Coventry was just one of many churches
which would take a direct hit


(Death from the skies: An aerial view of the wrecked cathedral / The Mirror)


Winston Churchill and the Mayor Alfred Robert Grindlay visiting the ruins of Coventry Cathedral in September 1941
Horton (Capt)-War Office official photographer-This is photograph H 14250 from the collections of the Imperial War Museum

In London, the fickleness of war was clearly evident when after
London’s worst day of bombing, St. Pauls Cathedral appeared triumphantly and
miraculously to rise up from out of the smoke and ash.


St Paul’s Cathedral survives the Blitz, December 1940 (© IWM)

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33314462

Yet, as with all wars, the human toll is unimaginable.


(Upper Norwood, London, 1944 (© IWM) )

In early 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his State of the Union address.

In his speech, the President spoke of the lend-lease act that he was
going to be presenting to Congress…
a plan intended on assisting the British people without the US technically involving
herself in a war that the United States wasn’t keen on participating in.

“The future and the safety of our country and of our democracy
are overwhelmingly involved in events far beyond our borders…”
the President noted.
According to Larson, Roosevelt described a world to come that would be founded upon
“four essential human freedoms” :
speech, worship, and freedom from want and fear

It has been 79 years since Roosevelt’s speech.
Since that time, there have been other wars, police actions, along with a myriad of
perils that have each threatened both our democracy and that of the
pillars of Western Civilization.

And yet throughout it all, those four essential freedoms have stood the test of time…

They stand in part because of the foundation found buried deep in the fortitude
of the human spirit…along with that of determined and clear-minded leadership.

Those were dark and dire days and yet Western Civilization prevailed over the
chokehold of fascism, socialism, and communism.

My hope and prayer for our world today is that none of those past perils shall
be forgotten or tossed aside as today’s leadership and her people seem to be
giddily racing to embrace that which we once fought so hard to defeat.

‘Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this
world of sin and woe.
No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.
Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except
for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…’

Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

Everyone is in favor of free speech.
Hardly a day passes without its being extolled,
but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like,
but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”

Winston S. Churchill