a little update, in pieces…

“But the stars that marked our starting fall away.
We must go deeper into greater pain,
for it is not permitted that we stay.”

Dante Alighieri, Inferno


(a wedding day in 1983)

We’ve been talking recently about prayer…
but I thought we’d take a little break while I continue working on putting something uninformed for
us to use as our “prayer” tool
Heather, Salvageable and IB all added some great words yesterday, so I’ll compile our composite…
and throw something out to us next week.

I did want to offer an update on a few other sundries but first, a little back story as this
will be a two-part post–in part to keep things relatively brief.

You see that grainy picture up above?
Well, that picture is from a very hot late summer’s day back in 1983.

My mom is happily looking on as my godfather, the priest who was to conduct that day’s wedding,
came to the “brides” room, in the basement of the church, where all the girls were getting ready
for that day’s big event…

A 23-year-old me had stayed up late the night prior in order to write a long letter.
A letter of gratitude and love between a goddaughter to her godpoppa…

I had slipped the letter under his office door early that morning, long before the
big day’s event was to unfold.

He had read it and came to find me.

Ours is a long convoluted story of a relationship that began when I was barely 15.

It was a relationship between a father and daughter who were neither to the other…

He had 4 children and I had a father…yet we both knew God had a hand in this
mismatched union of two unlikely individuals—as I was considered a 5th child and he was
a surrogate father…a true God-parent.

It was a relationship that began perhaps as happenstance but was actually Divinely conceived.

I know that God knew I would need a guide…much like Dante with his guide Virgil—
Virgil leading Dante through his journey through hell—while The Dean guided me through my own
tumultuous life….that of adolescents, adoption, and dysfunction.

Something you should know…we were both adopted individuals.

And whereas that may seem coincidental, the relationship was God-given as there is a great
deal buried in the heart of an adopted individual….the Dean had lived that and knew
I was just in the middle of mine.

I needed not only guiding but I needed healing.
A literal laying on of hands with an anointing of oil and serious prayer.

Dean Collins had had his time of living with those holes in his life…and he helped
me to see, soothe and heal my own.

Shortly following my leap into blogdom 6 years ago…
I wrote a post about that very adoption.

I reread the post yesterday and went back in to clean it up a tad as I have hopefully
gotten a bit better at this thing called blogging and perhaps it flows a bit more easily …

It is a post that explains some of my life growing up adopted…with a nod to the story
(a different early post) of my adopted younger brother’s spiral into darkness and our family’s
sad dysfunction from that darkness.
He could never come to terms with having been given up for adoption despite having been
an infant at the time and yes, eventually committed suicide despite my parent’s desperation
to find every sort of help available—- up to granting him an annulment—
the first annuled adoption ever in the state of Georgia.

In the post, I also explain how I reached out to Georgia’s Adoption Reunion Registry
in order to receive nonidentifying information regarding my “case”…

Yet when the papers arrived, I received only a copious amount of bewildering questions.
More painful questions rather than fulfiling answers.

Here is the link to that previous post:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/who-in-the-heck-is-sylvia-kay-and-what-have-you-done-with-her/

And so now we fast forward to the present day.

DNA.

Something that wasn’t available nearly 10 years ago to the general populace wishing to glean
information regarding ancestry and or unknown medical issues.

And so I took the two tests that are available for the curious.
Ancestry and 23 and Me.

The latter’s results came in this week.

The genealogy is on the money…English / Scotch / Irish….nearly through and through.

The results also provide a list of those individuals in their pool of testers whose DNA
links to your own…
be it parents, siblings, cousins…on down the line…
meaning that there are relatives…relatives either known or unknown…

And here is where we will end Part I of this long and odd individual’s tale…

Oh—
the man in that picture up above, that man with that mischievous
twinkle in his eye…
well, he passed away two years ago and that young girl is now knocking
on the door of 60.

When I went to bed the other night carrying the burden of what
I should or should not do…
wrestling with the idea of initiating a search for my biological parents…
in large part because I want some solid information about my past to
give to my son and now my grandchildren…
I lamented how I wished my godpoppa was here to continue with his guidance…

And so the following morning when I pulled out those now 9-year-old papers
from my initial non-identifying adoption case packet,
out fell a printed copy of a 9-year-old email.
It was a letter written to my Godfather from a biological cousin
he had found when, in his mid 80’s, he discovered while searching for his
biological family.

The letter spoke of his long-deceased mother and the difficult decision she,
as a young unwed woman bore in the 1920s in having to “give” her infant son “away” —
but as to how one day…they would again meet…and she would embrace him with a lifetime of
love that had been stored away in her heart.

Seems my “Virgil” continues guiding me during this roller coaster journey of mine…
out of the Inferno and Purgatorio, as I work my way to the light of Paradiso…
always pointing me back to the place I truly belong–in the arms of
my loving Heavenly father—our Omnipotent Father…Abba

Daddy rabbit

“You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions,
nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(wild rabbit / Julie Cook / 2018)

When I first looked out and over from the deck, surveying the yard,
as I was preparing to grill our supper,
I saw my favorite warren of rabbits enjoying the waning day’s lowering heat.

These rabbits are most active early in the morning as well as late afternoon into evening.
The youngest of the clan, three of them, were chasing one another all over the yard…
much like any young group of children would do when let loose to play.

There was one rabbit, the larger of the group, sitting off by himself directly
in the rays of the setting sun.
My first thought was that perhaps he was sunning himself, enjoying the peace.
As I zoomed my camera in on him, I noticed that this particular rabbit,
who I call ‘daddy rabbit’, was actually acting as more lookout than sunbather.

Living as wild rabbits do, being out in the open is often an invitation for trouble…
be it from a hawk, a dog, a cat…or where we live–snake, fox or coyote.
Yet these rabbits pay us humans who live here no never mind…
in that, they will not run if we are out in the yard pittling about.
They’ve figured out that we mean them no harm.

So daddy rabbit was actually keeping a wary eye open as the children played.

Canadian geese are much the same.
The daddy goose will stand sentinel as the mom and goslings wander about feeding.
Even boldy daring cars that may be attempting to drive on a road where the geese are
either trying the cross or simply feeding by the side of the road.

These “daddy” animals know no fear when it comes to their young clan and will
fight to the death to protect and defend…
much like our own dads.

Seems the idea of being a loving protectorate crosses over into the animal kingdom.
And I say loving not because animals “love” per se, but because I equate loving
with the idea of both protecting and caring for…

There’s been a lot in the news as of late regarding children…think the illegal
border mess.
The heart-wrenching separation of parent and child.

There’s also been a lot of what I call male bashing…think the #metoo mess
with most males now being warily eyed…
while being placed in crosshairs of empowered feminists.

Sadly I actually read a lot of negative stuff regarding our recognizing of
fathers on Father’s day. With some out there referring to Father’s day as
“Happy Toxic Masculinity Day”
A ridiculous and disheartening idiocy now raging throughout our uber caustic progressive
society.
Something I have found to be completely asinine.

Granted not every father out there has been ideal…
with some being MIA or less than sub-par…
but I firmly believe that a dad’s role, in the life of a child, is crucial for the
positive development of that child.

I don’t care what folks out there will now say…what latest argument will be raised to the contrary…
but having an active mom and dad sharing the responsibility of child-rearing is vital to
the raising of productive and well-functioning children…end of sentence.

I would dare say that the majority of child psychologists would agree that in the end,
a two-parent effort is far superior then one parent or a same-sex union attempt at parenting…

And so with all this talk about daddy rabbits and geese, dad’s and fathers…
my thought seems to naturally turn to that of our Heavenly Father.

God, the Father, is often referred to as Abba, particularly by Jesus in the New Testament.
Abba, which is an Aramaic word that translates directly to our word “daddy.”

Have you ever considered calling God “daddy”?

Oh, you’ve probably used the word Abba to refer to God without even realizing as that
is just part of your religious terminology all along never realizing that you have,
in turn, been calling Him, daddy.

Daddy is an endearing word that most young children call their fathers.
For many children, it is the first true words uttered…dada.
Not mama crazily enough but dada.

I don’t know if those letters are easier to parrot out, but dad’s are usually the lucky ones.

There is also a sense of intimacy in terms of a relationship associated with the word daddy.

Often as we age, we shorten the word daddy to that of dad…
as most of us feel that we have actually outgrown that sweet name from childhood.

Christians have a basic concept of God in their heads.
It is one of wonder, awe, omnipotence, revering, magnificent, all-powerful, supreme…
a lot of really big and powerful words to describe and acknowledge the God of all that
was, that is and will be…

The God that is big and oddly out of our true reach.

We allow for this notion to create a standoffish respect.
As in God is over there or up there, while we remain small and over here or perhaps down here…

It’s a hands-off sort of mentality.
Look but don’t touch.

But when I read the following words by Cardinal John Newman, I was reminded of
the ‘one on one’ we each actually have with this “daddy” of ours…

A Daddy who watches, ordains, gives, determines, imparts, provides
and washes us in an amazing perfect Love…

Just what a real daddy is supposed to do…

“O my God, you and you alone are all wise and all knowing!
You know, you have determined everything that will happen to us from first to last.
You have ordered things in the wisest way,
and you know what will be my lot year by year until I die.
You know how long I have to live.
You know how I shall die.
You have precisely ordained everything, sin excepted.
Every event of my life is the best for me that it could be,
for it comes from you. You bring me on year by year, by your wonderful Providence,
from youth to age, with the most perfect wisdom, and with the most perfect love.”
Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, p. 103

An Excerpt From
Everyday Meditations

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

What’s in a commandment?

“God gave us free agency, and then gave us the commandments to keep us free.”
― Cecil B. DeMille

DSC00642
(lone sparrow / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just hearing the word “commandment” can make me feel somewhat oppressed, burdened, guilty, poorly behaved and much like a naughty little child. As in there is this heavy, as in literally heavy two tablets, full of laws hovering over my head which I’m suppose to be living my life by. Wanting but not always feeling as if I’m following them to the letter of the Law. Oh I don’t mean those biggie rules. . .the whole murder and stealing business. . .I try to stay away from those, but its to some of the lesser ones I think most of us falter over—as in who isn’t a bit envious of a neighbor’s windfalls and who among us hasn’t fallen at the foot of a golden calf such as our fixation with our gadgets, cars, clothes, food, yada, yada, yada. . .

As I continue reading Meditating On The Word by Dietrich Bonhoeffer with translation by David McI. Gracie, I have reached the final section of the small devotional. The book closes out with Bonhoeffer’s commentary of Psalm 119.

Psalm 119 or as it is known in Hebrew “Ashrei temimei derech” (happy are those whose way is perfect) is the longest Psalm, as well as chapter, in the Bible. The psalm is divided into 22 stanzas with each stanza containing 8 verses. Psalm 119 was supposedly Bonhoeffer’s favorite psalm and he began his reflection, intending it as a devotional for the young seminarians he was instructing, but this was all just shortly before his involvement in the German resistance and Bonhoeffer never finished his commentary. Bonhoeffer has chosen to reflect on a section at a time making this particular commentary the longest in this little devotional.

With life proving to be a great challenge this week as each daily crisis builds upon the next crisis, my own sense of well-being, nerves, fortitude, heart and spirit have come under siege.
With aching spirit, dejected soul, tear streaked face I have crawled into bed each night fretful and filled with dread, despair and grave concern.

It is indeed during such hard times of life–those times that are most painful, challenging, and traumatic. . .those times when we are filled to the top and overflowing with weariness, fatigue, sorrow and sadness, that just as a lost child may cry out to a parent, I, you, me cry out.
“Hear me Oh Lord. . .”

It is at such ebbing times that we find our thoughts, soul, mind and heart in unison crying out to the One and only One who we know and think and hope can offer us help.

The Great I AM
Jehovah
Yahweh
G-D (as those most devout of the Hebrew faith do not find it possible to even write His name as it is the most holy of names)
God Almighty
Heavenly Father
Abba
Adonai
Elohim

His presence often comes in the form of an unexplained peace, a needed inner strength, the aid of a stranger or friend who comes calling out of the blue, a profound wisdom, or the opening of a window when every door is slammed and locked shut.
His Being comes to us in song, words of wisdom, a warm embrace, a gentle breeze, or a fierce wind.
And even frustratingly, He may simply come to us as Silence. . .
But rest assured, whenever we call, come He does.

As I was reading over the devotional’s commentary regarding God’s commandments two nights ago, I was suddenly struck by God’s power as mirrored by Bonhoeffer’s own reflections on the subject. . .

4 You laid down your commandments, that we should fully keep them.

That in this entire psalm God is addressed, and not human beings, is shown by the “you” with which the one who is praying now turns to God. Nor do the commandments stand in the center of this psalm, it is rather the One who commands. Not an “it”, an idea, but a “you” meets us in the commandments. A further sign of this is found in the Hebrew word for “commandments” in this verse. It is a word that cannot be translated by a single word of ours. It derives from the verb for seeking, visiting, paying attention to. Hence, the commandments are what God looks at, pays attention to, and the means by which he seeks and visits the human being. The commandments then reflect God’s way toward the human being. They have a definite purpose and goal for me. They are not given for their own sake, but for our sake, that we “should fully keep them.” We ought to keep them in the sense of holding fast to them; indeed, we should do so fully, with all our might, so that we do not lose them or let them be torn away from us. God’s commandment is not only here for the moment, but for the duration. It is intended to penetrate deep within us and to be held fast in all situations of life.

Did it ever occur to any of us that God’s decreed commandments were not merely sets of laws, the proverbial dos and don’ts for human beings, but rather that these commandments were actually extensions of God’s “visiting” and “seeking us,” His actually paying attention to us??!!

That God, the most Holy and Omnipotent God would, though His words, wish to visit us, seek us, pay us attention. . .

So as I closed the book for the night, turning off the light and laying back onto my pillow while staring blankly out into the dark, contemplating my own perception of the idea of a commandment, I felt a tremendous sense of Power that was far greater than the trials of my latest tribulations. The knowledge that there is One who is greater than any suffering or pain who simply wishes to seek me out with His Laws which sweetly translates into Love, left me rather amazed. I also found a Peace along with a new and deeper appreciation for what most of my life had seemed to be a mere list of rules and heavenly dos and don’ts.

And as I closed my eyes, I whispered into the darkness. . .may Your will be my own. . . .