compliance

“All I want is compliance with my wishes, after reasonable discussion.”
Winston S. Churchill

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(the dammit doll is ready for action / Julie Cook / 2016)

I’ve been in my car, driving back and forth to Atlanta a lot lately.

I’ve spent a great deal of time as of late in, out and around the ER.

The most recent being over the course of the weekend.
And no I’m not talking about working at the Emergency Room or being there on my own behalf.
I’m actually talking about my stepmother.
During the course of the past three months there have been:
4 emergency trips to the ER
2 via ambulance at 1300 bucks a pop
1 four day hospital stay
2 black eyes
5 staples in the crown of the head
stitches in one arm
a bruised shoulder….
Just think Yul Brynner in The King and I, when as the King of Siam, he would extol the goings on of things with a rousing round of
Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera……
Add in countless x-rays, CT scans, colonoscopies, EEGs, EKGs,
and any other scan, test or emergency procedure one can imagine….
And the thing is…. each and every last visit, test, stitch, staple, black and blue bruise…
were all entirely preventable.

A single word stands between her, good health and the well being of all concerned…

Compliance

For you see we have set in place a care system for her wellbeing that if followed would result in health, happiness and longevity for not only her, but all of included in and around her as well.

Now mind you that this time last year, she actually asked for everything that is now in place….
With Dad having been the initially reluctant one of this twosome…
yet having seen the logic to the madness, is now happily on board.

Not so for my stepmother.

Rather than being compliant, cooperative, pro-active, she has opted to be contrary and defiant to each and every service, help and assistance offered.

She refuses to use the walker…end of sentence…
Preferring to weave and wobble, fall and bleed.
She refuses to allow the caregivers to assist her with any and all physical needs.
She refuses to take what meds have been prescribed.
She refuses to eat foods prepared.
She refuses to go out and about with each opportunity offered…preferring her self imposed imprisonment.
There have been proposals, insistence, pleading and demanding…yet she remains contrary as well as living with self-imposed misery.

Resulting in exploding medical bills due to accident after accident after accident…
As each new accident grows in damage and ferocity.
Yesterday’s trauma could have and near did kill her.
The collective summarizing is that the next one could be THE one…

We will meet Tuesday to put heads together one more time to formulate some sort of action plan…
before it’s all too late.

If she would just cooperate…. it wouldn’t have to be so hard on her and on everyone near and dear…
Nor would it be so scary or so miserable…

if only she would….

and that’s when it hits me….
the similarities with my stepmother’s defiance mirroring our own defiance with God as Father.

All of our own refusals along with our stubborn dug in heels as we ignore or refuse to adhere the protocols and procedures that He has put in place…
All for our well being and hoped for happiness of living…
If only we would cooperate following his plan… we just might not have so much suffering, trials and misery.

If only we could understand that being compliant with the commands, the directives for living, that God has put into place and just get with the program…life could be so much easier…for us all….

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

the tontine

If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time.
And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.

Mahatma Gandhi

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(The Rock of Cashel cemetery, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

A tontine…
A french word used during the 17th century to denote an investment created by several individuals…With the premise being that each member of the group agrees to initially pay a set sum…
The money is never touched, rather it is allowed to grow over time.
As the years pass and the members of the group eventually, one by one, die off, the remaining shares grow…with the last surviving member of the group amassing the lump of the sum plus all accrued interest.

The idea of a tontine played out on one of the episodes of the hit show M.A.S.H.

In this particular episode Colonel Potter, the patriarch of the cast, received a secretive and oddly strange package of which suddenly cast a grave pall over his entire demeanor. Naturally those closest to the beloved leader, Hawkeye, BJ, Margaret and Charles each grew terribly concerned seeing that the Colonel had grown almost inconsolably depressed after having received this most odd package.

The entire episode evolved around what was in the package, what was wrong with Colonel Potter and what could this rag tag group of friends do to help.

Finally Colonel explained…
The package was a bottle of fine French Brandy.

The story behind the bottle was that during World War I, when Colonel Potter was a young soldier, his regiment had found themselves dangerously deep behind enemy lines in German occupied France. His small group of comrades had come upon the bottle of brandy as they hunkered down in an abandoned shell of what was once an elegant home. Right then and there this little group of beleaguered soldiers made a pact, or more appropriately a tontine. Should they survive the war, they would save the bottle of brandy by placing it in a safety deposit box. The bottle would then remain under lock and key until there was but one lone survivor of the group–upon which time the bottle was to be delivered to the “last man standing” who would in turn drink a toast to what had been.

Colonel Potter, who now bitterly found himself still fighting, what seemed to be a lifetime of wars all these many years later, was the last living soul remaining from his once youthful regiment, as his own mortality now mockingly taunted him as it stared him in the face… all the while a lonely bottle of brandy begged to be consumed.

Life is indeed bittersweet.

If we are fortunate, we live a long life supported and surrounded by family and friends.
We journey together through both joy and sorrow, trepidation and gallantry.
We ride the waves of triumph both high and mighty then hold fast and tight during the calamity of storms.
We experience shared moments, good and bad, which become the mortar between the building blocks of our lives.

Then one strange day we suddenly realize, that while we weren’t paying attention or taking much notice, ever so slowly and one by one…our numbers mysteriously have decreased…

We find ourselves on the opposite side of happily ever after, looking back wondering where the time has gone. One by one we are left more and more isolated and alone, until finally we are the last man / woman standing out of a once large troupe of beloved comrades, family and life long companions.

Gone are those who were in our lives to protect, to cheer on, to share with, and to relish with….those who were the life-lines, the wise ones, the sages of our lives…
Leaving us in the unfamiliar position of now being those very things for a much younger lot than ourselves…
A lonely feeling.
A bittersweet feeling.
A very sad feeling.

And that was the very overwhelming realization for dear ol Colonel Potter…

The friends that had transitioned with him from boyhood to manhood, under cloak of war, we’re all now gone. Those who had lived through and understood a lifetime now long past had all but vanished, leaving him as the only remaining one who could recall and understand a time that was as he found himself now surrounded by a much younger group who had not been there nor done that…he was now the odd man out.

Yet through the heavy sense of loss with the weight of age suddenly bearing down and crushing his shoulders, our dear Colonel Potter understood that as he may be the last of his particular group to survive, he was still surrounded by companions, loved ones and friends… albeit of a different generation.
Life was still to be lived, relished and enjoyed.
Occasionally he could look back and recall all that was, but life was indeed for the living and it was time to say good-bye to the past while looking toward the future.

And so as he opened the bottle of bandy that had delightfully mellowed with time, offering a toast to those who once were and to a life that was well lived…he also offered a toast to those standing by his side and to the life that was yet to be…
toasting the memories of friends now gone and toasting the lives of those friends now standing by his side.

May those of us who now find ourselves standing closer to the end of our own life’s tontine remember, that as our numbers maybe decreasing, our importance in the lives of those who come behind us is greatly increasing.
Our experiences, our history, our life’s knowledge is all necessary in order to help light the path for those generations behind us as we continue moving toward an unknown future of the possibilities of what will be.
We stand as the mile markers and guideposts for future generations…may we, with God’s grace, direct them well…

And the world and its desires are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
1John 2:17

The agreement

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(the ole Methodist Church in Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Let us just agree to disagree”

How many times have you heard that?

How many times a day have you heard such during the course of the past couple of years?

The heated debates…

The “he said, she said”
The “yes they did, no they didn’t”
…all of which we’ve gotten so good at in this country…
The liberal verses the conservative
The democrat verses the republican
The pro verses the con
The Christian verses the Muslim
The Jew verses the Palestinian
The Atheist verses the Believer
The homosexual verses the heterosexual
The young verses the old
The male verses the female..
On and on ad infinitum it goes…
As the polarization grows ever deeper and wider…
and yet we ask…what good has come?
Has there been resolve, peaceful discourse, common ground, compromise, agreement…?

Far from it…

Hatred, disagreement, resentment, anger, ill will, division…it grows and multiplies daily to a dangerous and explosive level.
The sides have been chosen and the battles are looming….

So before we all finally explode, perhaps it might behoove us to take a look at what exactly this idea of agreement is all about….

An agreement: harmony of opinion, action, or character–
or
a contract duly executed and legally binding

An agreement can also fall under the header of a covenant…as in…

A covenant: a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action….or
A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and a person or group of people. God sets specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey those conditions. When we choose not to keep covenants, we cannot receive the blessings, and in some instances we suffer a penalty as a consequence of our disobedience.

Now what exactly happens when, let’s say, an agreement or covenant is broken?

There is most certainly legal recourse, consequence or reparation on the part of second party (the breakee) to the initial party of the first party issuing the agreement or covenant… perhaps even a monetary or judicial penalty…

Seems as if the breaking of agreements, aka covenants, has been an age old problem and just might be linked in part, if not totally, to our current state of polarizing division….

Let us hear the words of The One who issued the original agreement, aka covenant:

The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.
Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.

If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. You must destroy all the peoples the Lord your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.
Deuteronomy 7:7-17

All a bit harsh sounding?
Difficult to read?
A bunch of ancient gobbledygook?
Myth?
Fairytale?
Cruel?
Uncaring?
Words spoken by a malevolent tyrannical deity?
Why would anyone want to believe in a deity who sounds so..how shall we say…harsh, hard and exacting?
It is just an agreement, or if you insist a covenant, after all…wait… did we sign anything!?

Oh I don’t know…..
It just seem as if things have been spiraling downward ever since the day we, the 2nd party of the agreement, chose to ignore what the initial issuing party of the agreement, God, had originally offered…