more and more alone…but we all know we are never alone…and she knows too!

“What you are to do without me I cannot imagine.”
George Bernard Shaw

“The strongest men are the most alone.”
Ibsen


(BBC)

Anyone who might have watched the funeral Saturday for Prince Philip,
or even caught a passing news story regarding his service,
undoubtedly saw the painful image of an elderly woman clad in black, stooped
with age, sitting alone in a cavernous and seemingly empty sanctuary.

Donning a black mask–attempting to breath, shedding tears, mouthing
the ancient words to an ancient faith…muffled and hindered–all adding
to the heaviness of grief.

It matters not that she just happens to be the current sitting Queen
of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland along with
other realms, as well as head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith…

On Saturday, Elizabeth that elderly woman, was very much alone.

Elizabeth is the only ruling leader, from around this great big world of ours,
who is a part of that Greatest Generation…
She is the only remaining active leader who can personally remember the
time when a world was torn a part and a time when she,
along with the rest of her generation rolled up their sleeves,
doing what it took to fight tyranny and defend Western Civilization’s
democratic freedom.

I was deeply struck by that thought…
the only remaining currently active leader…

Awed by such a thought and yet I also was left feeling rather empty.

We are losing members of our Greatest Generation daily…
actually quite rapidly.

“According to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 325,574
of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive in 2020.”
nationalww2museum.org

Those who I have known and loved, those who served either in war or
at home, are now gone…all but my one remaining aunt who will be 96
later this year.

Before they were wed, Prince Philip served active duty in HMRN
(His Majesty’s Royal Navy) and while as a young princess, Elizabeth,
upon turning 18 in 1944, insisted on joining the women’s branch
of the Royal Army–the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS)

Despite royal lineage, they each chose the path of service.
It mattered not that their service would be precarious and even dangerous…
doing one’s part for the betterment of the whole was the only thing
that mattered.

And that is what troubles me.

Elizabeth is now alone—as in having lost those who lived that
previous time with her.
Those who knew peril yet persevered none the less.
They were stalwart.
They didn’t complain, they simply pressed on…ever forward.

No limelight, no self seeking attention, no apology tours, no
tell all books, no interviews of self complaints…
no “look, woe is me” placards worn around one’s neck…
there was nothing about self because there was no time to
think about self–there were too many others to worry over.

More or less, it was a stoic approach to a foreboding and
unrelenting storm.

And by the way, you and I, and all the generations behind us,
are the better for their generation.

But the thing that truly saddens me is that the following generations
don’t get it…they have no idea as to the sacrifice or lessons that
are to be gleaned.

I can only imagine the grief this woman feels in her heart.
Her family are all a rather fractured lot and now she has lost her
only remaining stalwart companion–
a man who had been by her side for 73 years.
That companion, that husband, that “stay” is now gone–leaving
a woman lost in her solitude.

Her grief, as witnessed in that picture of a lone figure bidding
her husband good-bye, is palpable…but I also know that Elizabeth
has a strong faith.

She and Billy Graham had a chance encounter decades ago.
A documented encounter that appears to have had a lasting effect
on Elizabeth’s faith.
So whereas Elizabeth is certainly feeling most alone today,
she actually knows that she really is not alone…not ever really.

She knows who her Savior is.

So whereas I am not worried that Elizabeth will succumb
to her grief–because she is a woman of duty and service who knows where
her true Hope lies—rather—I worry for us…
I worry for both you and I.

We are rapidly losing the leadership who understood what it meant to serve.
To put others ahead of self…putting others before their own self-centered
wants or needs.

No talk of self or selfish agendas…
No dalliance in to false ideologies.

Simply the defenders of both freedom and faith.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and in view of his appearing and his kingdom,
I give you this charge:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—-
with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires,
they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say
what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship,
do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

we stand on the periphery

We should weep as we watch our society regress into the pre-Christian Greco-Roman/pagan
view of the world.

David Roberston


(Laocoön and his sons, also known as the Laocoön Group. Marble,
copy after an Hellenistic original from ca. 200 BC.
Found in the Baths of Trajan, 1506.)

It’s no secret that I ardently follow and read the words and observations of two very
different, yet actually very similar, clerics who both happen to live in the UK.
One is a Free Church Presbyterian Pastor in Scotland the other is a former Chaplin
to the Queen and former Anglican priest,
who now happens to be Bishop of the Christian Episcopal Chruch.

They are evangelical, conservative, orthodox, traditional–clerics of two vastly
different denominations yet both are much more similar than they are different.

I’m not sure as to whether either man is familiar with the other but I would suspect
that they have some sort of knowledge of one another as each man has had his
fair share of attacks by a more liberal press for holding to and freely voicing a
strong Biblically rooted Christian faith.

When it comes to defending the Christian teachings, neither man is afraid to
take on MPs, authors, professors, reporters or other clergy members.
They are each, in their own right, true defenders of the faith.

They are both very learned men and well read.
And they can certainly hold their own and not think twice nor bat an eye when
it comes to professing the Truth as it is met with every form of attack and or assault.

I admire that in them.

They do not buy into the feel-good dribble being passed off in so many churches these days
as a modern take on Christianity—that when stripped and pared down to the bare bones,
it is nothing more than the self-proclaimed gospel of the individual verses
the Gospel of the Risen Christ.

In Christianity, there are some very hard truths.
Truths that we in this 21st century of ours have grown unable to stomach as we find them
difficult as well as uncomfortable and therefore intolerable to acknowledge or accept.

Jesus did not come into this world to pat us on our heads and tell us of the marvelous
job we are doing.
He did not come to applaud our half-hearted efforts nor the notion of ‘if it feels good,
it is good’ nonsense.

Jesus came to save the sinner.
And the sinner is each one of us.
Each of us is at fault.
If you don’t believe that then your ego is bigger than your very soul.

Each one of us falls short.
Each one of us needs a savior…if not saving from the world…saving rather, from our
very selves.

The fact that our culture is not progressing, as we so often quip with our labels of post
modern progressivism… but rather, in actuality, we are regressing…
Regressing back to a time of self-absorption and intolerant barbarism as we live
our lives preferring the paganism of a myriad of self-created demi-gods to the One True God.

We are slowly becoming what we so smugly deemed of those in the past as primitive,
ignorant, egotistical, ancient and primal.

Hedonistic is the better description.

I am encouraged knowing that there remains those who continue to speak the Truth despite
the world’s desire to dispel it.

Whereas those of us who hold steadfast to the Christian faith know that the battles
continue to rage, the war has already been indeed won—
Yet we may still weep as we take stock of the battles we are beginning to fight.
As fight, we must.

https://ashenden.org

https://theweeflea.com

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead,
and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of
teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist,
discharge all the duties of your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

To blend or not to blend?

“There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy”
― Henry Miller

RSCN7985
(cloudless Sulpher Butterfly on yellow snapdragons / Julie Cook / 2014

DSCN7973

RSCN7958

RSCN7964

On this lovely Fall afternoon, I was most appreciative of the small gift of a visit from a Cloudless Sulpher butterfly visiting the yellow snapdragons dotting my yard. Here it is mid October, a time when cool breezes and fading sunlight should come calling, yet it still seems as if we are caught in a perpetual season of summer—very warm as the familiar summer residents, who should be long gone by now, are still very much at home.
Hummingbirds, all manor of butterfly, cicadas—all still present and accounted for.

Odd weather indeed.
It’s entirely too warm during both day and night as there is very little color to leaves which are simply falling off, entirely prematurely, before dazzling our sight with the fiery display expected this time of year.

Unseasonal indeed.

Yet as I followed the jittery herky jerky motion of this late season visitor, I was intrigued as to how well my little friend blended right in with the yellow snapdragons. It was almost difficult to distinguish between creature and flower. I suppose it is suitable and most desirable to blend in with Nature when one prefers to dodge predator and foe. . .

And as I pondered the necessity of blending in, I was suddenly struck by the contrast of what it means not to blend in.

Scanning the headlines of today’s news, I was so happy to learn that Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who was shot point blank in the head, almost two years ago to this very day, for simply speaking out against the Taliban’s ban on educating girls, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

It was this time last year that I had written a post about my hopes that she would win the prestigious award. You can catch that post here as well as the follow-up post:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/building-a-firm-foundation/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/post-script-regarding-malala/

Malala was targeted by the murderous thugs of the Taliban because she chose not to blend in. She chose rather to stand boldly for her belief that education, in particularly the educating of young woman world wide, is a key to ending the vast entrenched thuggery, violence, and fear that suffocates and silences woman and children across this globe. A view counter to the militant forms of Islam running rampant on this planet.

When her school bus was ambushed two years ago by a group of armed men, with a lone gunman entering the bus carrying a loaded Colt 45, all the girls cowered and covered their faces, praying to blend in and hide. . .all except for Malala. The gunman then asked, “who is Malala?” At that point Malala turned to face the gunman as he proceeded to unload 3 rounds point blank at her head. Malala, at the time was 15. Odd that an “organization” such as the Taliban would be so very fearful of a 15 year old girl. . .

Malala could have chosen to blend in as the other girls by lowering her face and covering it with her veil and hands—yet she had made a conscious decision to live her life by not blending in. Despite her youth, I think Malala was well aware of the danger of taking such a bold stance in her corner of the world of intolerance and fear.

I wonder. . .
As a growing secular world, that is joined by the likes of such movements as ISIS, continues to stifle, as well as works tirelessly to silence, and in some cases eradicate, the Christian faith– as Western society continues to brush such a reality aside by writing the worry off as the view of extremist conservative paranoia, do those of us who claim that Faith as our own, have the courage and strength to chose not to blend in. . .have we made the conscious decision, just as a young 15 year old girl made a conscious decision, to stand boldly in the face of fear, persecution and slander and proclaim the Truth?

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:1-5