Silly old bear…

“As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.”
A.A. Milne

The most splendiferous day spent together at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art
viewing the Winnie the Pooh exhibition.

A marvelous adventure indeed…

Next was supper with a cooling smackeral of Raspberry sorbet


(Autumn trying Moppie’s raspberry sorbet / 2018)

And finally, back home with a new Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear…

silly old bear, Pooh…..

All the sketches of the Winnie the Pooh characters are from the actual drawings on loan
to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta—
many from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London or from private collections.
Most sketches date from 1928 and are drawn by E.H. Shepard

And Autumn is, well…just Autumn…
A marvelous adventure indeed…

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

work done while sleeping….

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long.
If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


(tiny prayer box / Julie Cook / 2018)

The above image is that of a tiny, badly tarnished silver, prayer box.
This particular little box, along with others like it, was very popular in the late
80’s early 90’s.
This is the one that I had at the time.

Just inside the tiny box, you can see a bit of blue paper.
And might I add, that is a very tiny piece of blue paper with an equally tiny
written prayer.
But we might note that the prayer was anything but tiny.

Below is an image of another prayer box.
This particular box was discovered buried along a street in the old City of David sandwiched between some tile during construction taking place in a car lot.
This tiny box, made of some sort of animal bone, dates from either the 5th or
6th century AD and is considered to be a Byzantine prayer box.

Rather than a tiny piece of paper with a tiny scrawled prayer resting inside the tiny box, there is actually a small and very worn Icon, or painted image, of what is thought to be Mary.
Such a prayer box was intended to be carried in a pocket or pouch and acted as a
tiny traveling church, as one could open the box and pray before a holy image…
taking one’s prayers directly to the source.

The Byzantine time period from which this little box dates was a very tumultuous time
for the Middle East along with the whole Mediterranean region.

The Roman Empire had fallen to the Visigoths and Carthage had fallen to the Vandals…
add in the push from Attila’s Huns and it was a very dangerous time to be either
Jewish or Christain.

I can only imagine the prayers offered before this ancient little box…
as I am left to wonder whose box it was and how did it come to rest buried
in a parking lot in Jerusalem.

Right before Christmas a longtime blogging friend emailed me that she wanted me to
look into something she had just purchased.
This friend has since moved on from the blogging world, as she is a working mom
with young children whose time has not been her own.
She is an extremely devout Christian with a deep Jewish heritage.

She is very familiar with the idea of prayer, particularly those that are written and
placed before God.

It is a tradition that at the Wailing wall in Jesurelum, prayers are written down and placed in the crevices of the wall, as the wall is considered Holy by Jews as well as many Christians.

Often seen rocking slightly back and forth as their heads gently touch the wall, Jews will stand for long periods of time before the Wall, hands resting outward with palms facing upward or either with hands reverently folded…they will be immersed in deep meditative prayer.
Others, be they tourists or locals, merely push tiny bits of paper into the cracks as they lay their written prayers before what it thought the Divine Presence of
God Himself.

The Wall is considered Divine because it is a remnant of the actual Temple.

Human beings seem to have a very deep need for the tangible when it comes to their relationship with the Divine Presence of God…to be able to touch, to write to physically connect is of the utmost importance to many of the faithful.

Be it prayer beads, a knotted prayer rope, icons or even a prayer box–the
tangible and physical connection between penitent and God is a deeply profound
yearning as well as a mystery.

What my friend wanted me to look into was what is known as a sleeping Joseph.

Now that might sound odd and even appear odd but the story behind the small figurine is anything but strange and is actually rather full of gentleness and a gracious sense of comfort.

We know very little about Jesus’ earthly father Joseph.
He is only mentioned early on in the Gospels of both Matthew and Luke and later in the books of Mark and John
It is in Matthew (1:1-18) that we read of his lineage harkening back to
David.

It is also when we read of the importance of dreams regarding Joseph as God came to Joseph at the most key moments in his life as a husband and father during his sleep. First Joseph is reassured that Mary is indeed telling the truth regarding her pregnancy and that he is to follow through with marrying her.
Secondly, Joseph is warned to take his young family to Egypt in order to flee Herod’s wrath and the killing of the Innocents.

I can remember my Godpoppa, the Episcopal priest, giving a sermon one Father’s day
about Joseph.

And he noted what we already know, that historically, we know very little regarding Joseph as he seems to simply “disappear” from scripture once Jesus begins
his earthly ministry.
He is not mentioned throughout the three years of ministry as being present and is not by Mary’s side at the crucifixion.

And so we simply and sadly assume he died at some point during Jesus’ growing up.

As we are left to wonder about this earthly father of Jesus.

Thinking about Jesus’ earthly father actually brought tears to my Godpoppa’s eyes as he had lost his own father when he was only 16. His was a heartfelt observation about what a life Joseph must have lived.

He most likely taught Jesus the skills of carpentry.
How to be a craftsman using both his mind and his hands.
He taught Jesus what it meant to be reverent and prayerful
He taught Jesus the demonstrative nature of what Jesus intuitively knew,
how to worship His actual Father…no doubt a precarious balance and a heavy burden
for the earthly father.
He also taught the young boy respect.

There was a humble yet focused obedience that Jesus learned from Joseph.

And he learned about the importance of prayer…

The small figurine my friend shared with me is a prayer box of sorts.
The idea being that as you ready for sleep you place your concerns, worries, prayers
written down while placing them under the sleeping Joseph.

How often is your sleep disrupted by the heaviness of concern and worry?
Your thoughts, including your subconscious, consumed by the weight of whatever it is
that is eating at you. Your family, your friends, your work, your health, the health of those you love…there is a quickening of need that plays out even while you attempt to sleep—you pray as you drift off only to toss and turn…

The Joseph “prayer box” asks that you write down these concerns and or petitions,
laying them beneath Joseph—a man who was accustomed to Godly encounters during his sleep through his dreams, as you literally give your concerns over to God.

Trusting that He will, as He does, see, hear and know…

This is not a discussion on the topic of Saints nor of the notion of their interventions or of denominational differences, infighting, and angst…
it is rather a reminder of the human need and desire for a tangible and or physical connection as we literally acknowledge the weight of our concerns, worries and thoughts along with the very real need to literally give them over to God.

For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they slumber in their beds,

Job 33:14-15

sweet and precious

“Promise me you’ll always remember:
You’re braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.”

A.A. Milne

Ordinary riches can be stolen;
real riches cannot.
In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.

Oscar Wilde

DSCN4180
(our resident fawn / Julie Cook / 2016)

RSCN4163

DSCN4168

Blessings for a peace filled Sunday….

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

Isaiah 43:4-5

our bonds

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Incase you missed the feel good story of the week, I wanted to share it with you.

This particular surveillance video has gone viral,
ever since a homeowner in Louisiana spied a young boy sneaking into her garage each day
simply to hug her dog.

Not knowing the identity of the little boy, Hollie the homeowner posted the video to her Facebook inquiring if any of the neighbors might know the identity of the young boy…she wanted him to know that she would welcome him to come by anytime he’d like to play with her black lab Duchess.

It didn’t take long before she learned the identity of young hug bandit.

His name is Josh and it seem that he has been dealing with the loss of his own dog who had passed away early in the year.

There was something very moving and emotional about the image of the young boy throwing down his bike as he hurried his way into a strange garage in order to throw his arms around the neck of this dog…
lingering but a moment before running off, grabbing his bike and disappearing from sight….only knowing he would return day after day.

There is a deeply mystical wonderment to what it is that draws us so intensely to other creatures.
The need for companionship, love, affirmation, security, comfort…

With all the bad we see and hear each and everyday…
for all the hardness in our hearts…
for all the stoicism and cynicism…
for all of our jadedness and self-centeredness…
seeing a young boy wanting, needing, to hug a dog….
is a raw reminder of something that is as ancient as time…

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14

I will awaken the dawn

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”

― A.A. Milne

Every Spring, God rewrites the Book of Genesis.
Author Unknown

RSCN2654
(a skimmer visits the cosmos / Julie Coon / 2016)

If we have what the first Christians had, why do we not do what they did?
We must conclude that either God gave them more than He has given us, or we have failed to avail ourselves of what He has given us.

(Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones as paraphrased by the Rev. Simon Ponsonby)

Was God more real way back then,
When we were small and He was grand?

Were we more expectant…
More believing?
When we were less and He was more…?

What was it about way back then
When we knew that man was man
And God was God

When morality mattered and civility was real
When family was important and life was cherished

When we marveled in creation and pondered our place
When faithfulness was an action
And Grace was freely given…

My heart, O God, is steadfast;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 108:1-5

The patience of assurance

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

― A.A. Milne

DSC01131
A chive bloom and small stinging fly / Julie Cook / 2015)

The phone rang 4 times Saturday.
It was Dad, all 4 times, wanting to tell me the things he had previously told me in the previous calls. Of which were reiterations and various renditions of what he’d told me throughout the week, throughout last week and the week before that.

So far today the phone has rung 3 times. . .all calls from Dad.

Today’s calls each consisted of different subject matters yet with familiar themes.
“When are you coming back?”
“Do I have new pills?”
“Well Dad, I was just there yesterday and I’ve got a few things I have to do here at home throughout the week, but if you need me I can come back today, tomorrow or when you’d like. . .”
And yes Dad, the Doctor gave you some new prescriptions but the nurse hasn’t brought them yet—so you don’t have to do anything yet.”
“Why do I need physical therapy?”
Do you remember your little fall last week?”
“I didn’t fall, I just kind of laid down on the floor”
Sigh
“A strange little green card came addressed to me in today’s mail, wonder what I’m suppose to do with it?”
“It’s the certified mail receipt from mailing in your tax payment Dad. . .and there’s nothing to do.”
Sigh
“Oh and what’s this paper that came today from the doctor about new pills?
“That sheet is from yesterday Dad and it’s just a recap of your visit with his notes about the new prescriptions which the nurse is going to pick up for you.
“I don’t have them here?”
No not yet Dad. . .”
Sigh

I found out a long long time ago to never pray or ask for patience.
Something about God having a sense of humor and the notion of being careful what one prays for. . .It seems that there are required, repetitive actions which are necessary in order to hone one’s patience. . .that being situations, often unpleasant, trying and tiring which in turn demand more and more of ones patience. Something about those repeated situations eventually helping to produce the requested end-result of patience.

Motherhood and teaching are both good places to practice the art of needing, requiring, polishing and honing patience. But be warned, neither are for the faint of heart.

My dad and his current world are working in tandem to polish and hone my skill of patience. I didn’t realize that I was in need of an update, a refresher course, an in-service or that I had inadvertently asked for some more patience in my life. I had rather thought that I was most full in that area. . .

Yet apparently not necessarily in the area of Dad’s current tremendous need for reassurance, with that coming from the one person he’s known the longest in his now ever shrinking world—-me.

I won’t talk about guilt or the associated guilt that is a often a by-product from ones need of assurance as this post is not about that. I do feel badly when he obviously has this need to have me as a constant presence in his world. Not that I’m not there with him in and out throughout each and every week, but when life and family here call upon me, it is never easy being in two places at once—but somehow motherhood was a good training ground for being stretched thin, the need for miraculous bilocation as well as the carrying of constant guilt. But as I say, all of that is for another post, another day. . .

This current need, resonating deeply in my dad, has my head and heart swirling with the thoughts and palpable feelings of my own need for reassurance.
Reassurance that reaches beyond my need from my family and friends. . .
It is to my constant need for that of my Heavenly Father, Abba, and of His endless reassurance.
For it is in Him that I find my resting place, my solace, my lifeline.

Just like a frightened child, who in the dark of night, continuously calls out to his / her parents for the reassurance of the parent’s protective presence, I too cry out to my Father in Heaven for the reassurance of His presence in my current uncertain world. . .

And just as sweet little piglet so eloquently expresses to Pooh, “I just wanted to be sure of you”, there is indeed something deep within us all that seeks the resting reassurance of presence.

“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.”
Isaiah 12:2

I love you so much. . .I gave you my cookies

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
― Lao Tzu

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

DSCN8198
(a nibbled box of Sprüngli Amaretti cookies / Julie Cook / 2014)

About two years ago I took a little trek along with my two traveling companions, my aunt Martha and long time friend Melissa—a journey that became known as the Grand Retirement Trip–whereas they had each been retired for several years, the trip was to mark my rite of passage of catching up with them– prompting the adventure.

We kicked off the trip by spending two days in Zurich, Switzerland. While in the picturesque Swiss city, we wandered into the most delectable shop known as Confiserie Sprüngli—a part pastry / part snack shop complete with its very own confectionary store right next door. You and I may not be familiar with the name Sprüngli, but we are familiar with Lindt Chocolates—of which are actually, one in the same. The Sprüngli side maintains the pastry confection part of the business while Lindt is strictly the chocolates. Sprüngli remains in Switzerland while Lindt is in the US.

And of course I had to buy some goodies to take along for sustenance during the extensive trip. One item in particular caught my fancy. It was a small package of about 3 little cookie stacked on top of one another packaged in a cellophane wrapper with a pretty light blue bow and burnt orange tag. They were called Amaretti, an almond like macaroon, and of what I now know to be similar to the Italian treats by the name Amaretti di Saronno. The Sprüngli version however has a creamy cherry kirsch center covered in a delectable bottom layer of decadent rich dark chocolate

I stuffed them in my travel bag, wanting to save them for when I finally made it back home.

After almost three weeks on the road, we finally arrived home. Upon unpacking I sadly realized my once beautiful cookies had gotten sandwiched at the bottom of my backpack leaving me with a sufficiently crushed bag of crumbs.
No matter. . .I tore into the bag, savoring each delectable morsel.
Ooooo, I had to have more.
I went online to the Sprüngli website. Yes, I could order a box or two and they would indeed ship to the US, but. . .I figured it all up, the cost to ship the cookies would far exceed the cost of the cookies themselves. How was I going to rationalize this little spending spree?

Needless to say, I wasn’t. I decided that the only way I’d get any more of these lucious little treats would be if I ever found my way back across the ocean, landing in Switzerland. And that wasn’t happening anytime too soon.

Fast forward to last weekend.
My husband has a really good friend who was born and raised in Switzerland who now make his home in Florida.
It just so happens that this friend travels back home at least once a year to visit family and I just happened to know of his latest trip’s plans. . . I asked that if he happened to wander by Sprüngli’s while in Zurich, would he be so kind as to pick me up a box of the cookies. . .

Long story short, our friend came to visit us last weekend with my box of cookies in tow!!!
Wooowhoooo!!

DSCN8196

Delicious and delectable!
To be savored with deliberate patience, one by one—spreading out the consumption over time, slowly so as not to hurriedly eat them all up. . .as who knows when, if ever, I’ll ever have such a treat again.

I hesitantly offered one to my husband, pretty certain, praying, he wouldn’t like them.
His palate is a more Oreo and Chips Ahoy sort of palate and not the delectable cream cherry kirsch filled almond macaroon leaning of a more patient and delectable palate.
Thankfully, he made a face after his first little tentative bite, putting the remainder of the cookie back in the box.
Whew!
I and my cookies were safe. . .or so I thought. . .

Later that evening, as we were sitting, well after supper, watching Monday Night Football, he gets up from his chair heading for the kitchen.
“Where are you going?” I nonchalantly ask.
“No where” comes the response.
No where?. . . my mind muses, hummm, odd. . .
When it hits me like a ton of bricks. . .
“Tell me you’re not getting my cookies!!!!” I shout toward the kitchen.
He re-enters the room holding something clutched in his hand, the hand he’s trying oh so hard to just hold by his side as if nothing is there.
“YOU DO HAVE A COOKIE, DON’T YOU???!!! I practically scream.

Now mind you it’s not that I don’t want to share my cookies with him, but you must understand, this is a man whose idea of a cookie is a handful of about 5 or more and not the single little special savoring variety cookie that only happens into one’s lifetime once, maybe twice if one is so lucky.
“AGGGHHHHHHH” I scream jumping up as he pops the whole thing in his mouth as he closes with a huge grin.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOO—YOU DON’T EAT THEM LIKE THAT!!!
He’s poised to pop another in his mouth when thankfully sanity regains its hold on him.

With a triumphant smile on his face, he offers me the now melting remaining cookie.
Ugh, I hang my head.
“Go ahead, you can have it” I sheepishly mutter.
Again, popping the whole thing in his mouth, he grins
Oooo the agony of it all. . .

Now that he has sufficiently tormented me, he proceeds to munch on the handful of Fig Newtons he had originally gathered. Who can follow delectable wonderment with a fig newton??!!
See what I mean??

Hours later, as I crawl into bed, with my husband fast asleep and snoring like nobody’s business, I wonder, as well as marvel, how in the world he can be in the bed no more than 5 minutes and he’s already sound asleep, I turn out the light.

Situating myself under the covers, through the darkness I utter a soft “I love you” as I’m certain he’s sound asleep.
Suddenly I hear a very groggy muffled, as if far away, “. . .love you too. . .”
I counter with my familiar “love you more”
again a groggy “no you don’t”
“oh but I do”. . .I whisper, “I love you more because I gave you my cookies”
And with that the heavy snoring resumes as I contently smile in the darkness.

As I lie there in the dark staring up at the ceiling, pondering the thought of what it means to love someone so much so that you’d give away special cookies, I am suddenly struck by the enormity of what has been done and given to me in the name of that same Love I casually wrap myself in like a warm blanket.
Giving and Sacrifice, each on a massive scale.
My thoughts race across time to an ancient form of torture and capital punishment, a cross with a lone figure hanging by 3 piercing iron nails—first in agony, then limp in the utter and total betrayal of loneliness and isolation, cut off from any and all.

With a sudden rush of tremendous clarity, I am overwhelmingly struck by what “loving someone more than” is really all about. . .

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
1 John 3:16

Loving and being loved even more than a box of cookies. . .