waiting and hoping toward wider horizons

“He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.
We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel,
that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget,
that until the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man,
all human wisdom is contained in these two words,
‘Wait and hope.’

Alexandre Dumas,
The Count of Monte Cristo


(a view looking out over the north Georgia mountains with veiws into North Carolina / Julie Cook / 2018)

“The way Jesus shows you is not easy.
Rather, it is like a path winding up a mountain.
Do not lose heart!
The steeper the road,
the faster it rises toward ever wider horizons!”

Pope John Paul II

speaking wisdom

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world;
there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.
He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.
We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel,
that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart,
and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal
the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words,
‘Wait and Hope.”

Alexandre Dumas


(late afternoon in Northwest Georgia / Julie Cook / 2017)

Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.

I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?

No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.

For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.

Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.

Psalm 49:1-14

Nous pleurons avec vous France

All for one and one for all,
united we stand divided we fall.”

― Alexandre Dumas

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(Winged Victory, The Louvre / Julie Cook / 2011)

Dear France:
We weep freely for, as well as with, you–our dear friends
Our hearts are breaking
Our minds are reeling
Yet we stand together with you in our determination to live united in Liberté

God bless France
Vive la France

Small blessings

“When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” C.S. Lewis

“Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish, know not what is the real happiness of life, just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the blessings of fair weather.”
Alexandre Dumas

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(the tiniest of bees, with swollen pollen pouches on each leg, graces a coneflower / Julie Cook / 2015)

Should any received blessing be perceived as being “less than” based upon its size or stature?

In order to qualify as a blessing,
must something be so large, so grand, so luxurious. . .
that we fall into it as if we were falling onto the softest,
most plush, most decant goose down bedding?

Or

Can something so tiny, so small, so demure,
such that it can be missed by the single blink of an eye,
be considered any less bountiful a blessing because it is just that. . .
small, tiny and perhaps considered minuscule?

Are we conditioned for the great and grand?
Are we perhaps too expectant that our expectations should soar upward to lofty heights,
so much so that we are prone to brush off the small as meaningless and insignificant?
Missing what may be the greatest moment of our day. . .

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

There must always be hope

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”

― Alexandre Dumas

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Bumble bee nibbling on a calamondin leaf / Julie Cook / 2014

Ok, so I’ve been on a bit of a global tear recently. . .what with the all headlines these days being troubling, frustrating and indeed frightening.
I have had my small epiphany.
This as I was out watering my small Meyer Lemon tree and Calamondin Tree.

As troubling as the times may indeed be, there is one thing that I know to be true.
There is a concrete anchor in the sifting sands of uncertainty.
No matter how dire our lives may become, there is one thing which must always remain a certainty.

And that is Hope

As we trudge forward carrying on, as carrying on is what we must do, it is the thought, concept and idea that all is never truly lost which is what will propel us forward.

And now you might be asking as to where one would find this obscure ideal of which I speak. . .
Thankfully, we need not look far. . .
for Hope is constantly around us.

I was a most fortunate observer of this concept of Hope yesterday afternoon as I was watering my two little fruit trees. It was here where I found my epiphany.

You may remember several months back, when we were all just emerging from the winter from Hell, I posted a couple of pictures of my two little fruit trees which had wintered in our basement during the course of the long winter.

An onslaught of spider mites had stripped both trees of every single leaf. I had put two seemingly healthy trees up for the winter in November at the first frost—with each tree being full of leaves and ladened with ripening fruit. Yet as the winter wore on and as I picked the ripening fruit, the spider mites devoured my trees. I did everything I could do. I pulled them out on warmer days hosing them off, hand rubbing the leaves in a vain attempt to rid them of the nearly invisible parasites. I couldn’t spray them with any poison as they still were bearing fruit.

Finally when the weather folks sounded the all clear for no more destructive deep freezes, I pulled the small trees back outside to bask in the warm Spring sun. Next I bought an insecticide soap and oil. I sprayed down the remaining sticks–as that was all that remained of my tress—brown sticks.
And then I simply waited— and I hoped.

I rolled the two trees, in their massively heavy pots, back to their familiar place on the front walk, fertilizing and reapplying the oil on a regular basis. As Spring continued to work her magic, the brown sticks began sprouting small leaves. Soon more and more leaves emerged. And eventually long tender new stems began to grow outward.

Today, amazingly, both trees are once again looking like healthy green, full leafed, lush fruit trees.

Each tree is sporting beautifully fragrant blooms accompanied by tiny new fruits.
And there are bees.
Lots and lots of happy pollinating bees.

There was a time several months back when I really thought I’d have to scrape the trees, sending them to compost heaven. I figured I was not a fruit farmer as citrus trees are not hearty here in Georgia and I was just fooling myself thinking that I could resurrect green leaves from dead wood.

But the waiting paid off.
My small efforts of oils and fertilizers, coupled by the warming days of sun and the refreshing spring showers, worked their magic.

For the time being, all is well with my little trees—and I know that there may be some new maladies waiting for my little trees somewhere down the road, yet for today, I will relish in the intoxicating fragrance of their tiny white blooms, marvel at the myriad of busy bees and butterflies helping to bring about new life in what was once brown dried up sticks, and lovingly watch my tiny little fruits grow plump and ripe.

Hope—
without it, we have nothing—with it we have everything.

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“Wait” and “Hope”

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must of felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”

― Alexandre Dumas

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The above image is that of the fuzzy buds of a tulip tree which I happened to notice while out walking around the yard this past week. Surveying the frozen silent landscape, I vainly searched for any signs of life. It is amazing, and almost impossible to comprehend that in what seems to have been just a few short weeks prior, this piece of property was full of a dizzying din of movement and life.

The fire ants were still quite active causing the continued angst I harbor for them throughout most of the year– as they are the bane of any backyard barefoot walker. The yellow jackets and wasps were still causing havoc raging a valiant battle for ownership in the grounds around and of the eves of the house. The squirrels were busying themselves laying stake to any and all fallen acorns as the hummingbirds were still whizzing and whirring about toying with the captivated cats.

And just as we were settling into those warm apple and cinnamon scented days of an endless fall, with the long shadows and shimmering lights dancing through the changing leaves, we are all but suddenly and abruptly roused from our tipsy comfort with the now frosty breath, plummeting mercury, and chattering teeth. Winter, for good or bad, has settled in.

Visions of the endlessly frozen mounds of snow coupled with a landscape which lies vulnerable before all to see, barren and stalk naked–void of any sort of vegetation— has many of us longing for better days.

Now you mustn’t misinterpret this somewhat wistful observation. I am certainly a lover of the seasons. I don’t think I could live in a place that does not transition from one season to another. And of course, I do have my favorite times of year, which are more of less, what I consider to be the transitional seasons—that of Spring and Fall. The excess of engery and color mirrored by the fading away of such. . .

And so it was, while out on my journey through a yard, which is in the throws of the slummer of winter, that I noticed the fuzzy buds of the tulip tree. The little tulip tree, as with most of the trees surrounding it, upon first glance appears quite dead. A mass of grey sticks spindly stretching skyward. . . but drawing closer and upon further inspection, one is rewarded with that of a special little secret that only the tree itself seems to be privy to—
“Shhhh”, it whispers, “don’t tell anyone, but you must know that Spring is not too far away.”
The final parting words this little tree offers to both you and I is that we must first “wait” and then “hope” as only the passage of time will soon soothe our all but frozen souls.