Lord, I stand in awe

“Lord, help me to make time today to serve you in those who are most
in need of encouragement or assistance.”

St. Vincent de Paul


(Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Fear of the Lord does not mean to be afraid of God.
St. John tells us that where there is love, there is no fear.
Rather, fear of the Lord is to stand in awe and wonder before the greatness of the Lord.
It is to recognize that God is the creator and we are the creatures.
Fear of the Lord should lead us to praise and worship.”

Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM, p.95
An Excerpt From
Daily Meditations with the Holy Spirit

mother and child reunion

I am the hawk, and there’s blood on my feathers.
But time is still turning, they soon will be dry.
And all those who see me, and all who believe in me
share in the freedom I feel when I fly.

John Denver
lyrics
Eagle and the Hawk

(all images of a young immature Red-tail Hawk / Julie Cook / 2017)

I heard him long before I spotted him.
Scanning the tree line I finally located the almost frantic and very intense
commotion perched precariously atop the very tip of a pine tree.
He was “crying” loud and furious…as another hawk made its way to the tree.

Despite his intimidating size, this was a baby…well…
maybe not exactly a baby but more like an adolescent,
yet still more child than adult.
Oddly younger hawks are larger than the full grown adults.
This fussy bird wasn’t acting much better than a fledgling.
Crying for all to hear.

This immature bird was crying for mom…
who did swoop in as they traded places.
Mom took over sitting atop the tree before both birds flew off.

If you’ve never seen a bird of prey up close and personal, they give renewed sense
to simply being Awed!

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

Awe

“The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.
Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.”

A. W. Tozer

francoisboucher_adorationoftheshepherds
(Francois Boucher / Adoration of the Shepherds / 1750)

Awe,
Awesome,
Webster’s dictionary defines awe as mingled dread, veneration, and wonder.
English Bible translations employ the words “awe” or “awesome” almost exclusively to
refer to the person or work of God.
While the word “awe” appears only rarely in the KJV,
modern English versions such as the NASB and NIV translate as many as six
different Hebrew words and three different Greek words as “awe” or “awesome.”
The most common Hebrew word, yare [עָרִיץ aer”y], occurs in various forms over
400 times in the Old Testament, and is commonly translated “fear.”
Both the NIV and NASB, however, often render “awe”

(e.g., Exod 15:11 ; 1 Sam 12:18 ; Psalm 119:120 ; Hab 3:2 ).
(Biblestudytools.com)

To stand in Awe…
to that which is awesome, wonderful, astonishing…
to be overwhelmed in its presence,
to be full and overcome with fear by the utter greatness,
to quake and stand trembling,
to be stuck dumb as in…
to be rendered speechless…

“That kind of worship is found throughout the Bible
(though it is only fair to say that the lesser degrees of worship are found there also).
Abraham fell on his face in holy wonderment as God spoke to him.
Moses hid his face before the presence of God in the burning bush.
Paul could hardly tell whether he was in or out of the body when he was allowed
to see the unspeakable glories of the third heaven.
When John saw Jesus walking among His churches, he fell at His feet as dead.”

AW Tozer

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants
of the world stand in awe of him!

Psalm 33:8

Innocence and wonderment…

“In any case, you must remember, my dearest,
that the main strength of innocence is innocence itself.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
Albert Einstein

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(an alert fawn in the backyard / Julie Cook / 2016)

It is now time that we all just stop for a moment.

Time to stop with all the…
malice and ill intent.

It is time to stop the…
polarization,
the divisions,
the anger,
the lies,
the slandering,
the accusatory nonsense…

It is time we stop just long enough….
Just long enough to remember…
to remember and recall that there is still a world…
a world where we can find…
innocence,
joy,
wonderment,
rapture,

A world still full of the…
amazing
miraculous
mystifying
and the loving…

A world where God’s Grace still remains…

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 8-10

The advent of Advent

The Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, come into nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up with Him. It is precisely one great miracle. If you take that away there is nothing specifically Christian left.
~ C.S. Lewis

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(a golden red carpet / Cades Cove, TN / The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Advent—the season of waiting, watching and expectancy…

As in waiting and watching with expectant anticipation.

With the anticipation being so wonderful, so indescribable, so over the top…you can barely contain yourself.

This is not the worrisome dreading sort of waiting.
Not the “oh no we’ll never make it” gloom and doom of the negative waiting.
Not the looking constantly over your shoulder with fear rising up from the pit of your stomach while you fret waiting for the other shoe to drop sort of the anxious dreading type of waiting, watching, looking, fretting and worrying…

This is rather the so great and so grand magnificent, I can’t wait, I’m so excited, as this is going to be really really good and really really big…full of sheer giddiness that I’m about to explode sort of joyful waiting and watching…

As in I can’t wait because there is going to be such wonder, relief and good things that all thoughts of bad, negative, dread and woe are simply nonexistent…

Yet is this the season that you’re all excited and giddy over because of the getting and receiving of more stuff? The I can’t wait to go to the mall and bask in the holiday specialness and magic of mega retail savviness sort of excited…??
Is it because this is the season you’ve long waited for because of the gathering and the getting of those gifts and presents and all manner of things that you’ve decided you just can’t live without sort of season…??

Is it the season that you’ve been long waiting and watching for as your calendar will now be filling up with all manner of parties, gatherings, galas and events offering the excuse of buying shiny and sparkly outfits with the expectancy of seeing and being seen while you imagine all the goodies to be sampled and savored…??

Is your watchfulness, your waiting, your expectancy over those things of this planet, this world, this generation’s idea of a good time?

Or is your watchfulness, your waiting, your expectancy over something else?
Something that is much bigger, more awesome, more unimaginable and more over the top than any of things of this life…those things and events which pale in comparison as they are simply fleeting and merely passing by…

For there is something really big and really monumental that is soon to be taking place
and those of us who wait, who watch, who look, who anticipate, who are full of expectancy, wonder and awe…. are not to be disappointed…

“God travels wonderful ways with human beings, but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people. God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather, his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof. Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels, where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be. There he confounds the reason of the reasonable; there he aggravates our nature, our piety—that is where he wants to be, and no one can keep him from it. Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

Lessons from a garden

The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon

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(the remnants of a strong gusty wind and thunderstorm–blown over corn stalks / Julie Cook / 2014)

Calamity!
Or so it appeared.
Just when I thought I had successfully, yet wearily, finished one apparent battle, vanquishing the hidden foes; I am suddenly blindsided by a more ominous battle unleashed by Mother Nature.
No rest for the weary. . .

Saturday afternoon a rather nasty little thunderstorm blew up. Strong gusty winds swept in from the Northwest as the sky overhead darkened to an ominous heavy grey.
We received about a 30 minute gushing rain, which I was happy to receive, as the yard and garden were all in need of some ample watering. It wasn’t until Sunday morning, when I actually realized how the strong winds of Saturday had ushered in a near catastrophe on Sunday.

My corn stalks had proved to be no match for the wind.
When they were just young tender shoots, I had spent a full day hand packing dirt up around their bases. . . all for this very reason–all in preparation for the tempests of summer.
Yet my best laid plans were simply no match for Mother Nature.

I spent the better part of the day, this hot Sunday, trying to salvage the stalks– propping them back up and repacking bases. Hoping for the best–that my bent and blown stalks will straighten back up and will not have suffered too terribly.

Moments such as these, as I spend hours in 90 degree heat, bent over, scrapping up fresh soil to pack around the bases of a multitude of corn stalks, gives me great pause.
A humbling pause.

I am reminded of the fragility of life and strangely of my simple place in this massive universe we call home.

I am reminded of those individuals, living in the heartland of this Nation, who are currently recovering from the deadly destructive and ferocious winds of tornados from this past week. Imagine those midwestern corn fields if a mere afternoon thunderstorm could lay waste to my own corn stalks! Not to mention the homes and business now totally destroyed or even gone. . .

I am reminded of the hardships of those first settles who originally claimed this Nation of ours as a new home. The sweat and toiled labor of clearing land, building communities from the ground up with only simple tools and determination, growing food for basic survival. . .
They did not have the luxury of, if the home garden failed, of running to the Farmer’s Market or grocery store to supplement disaster and failure. Their’s was truly a feast or famine existence.

I am reminded of a time in this Nation when the word “dustbowl” was one of the most frightening and destructive words known to a farmer. Faded black and white images capture a snapshot in time of the barren wasteland known as the Midwest– as the Nation fell into a grave time of hardship. Collapse of crops coupled with the collapse of financial institutions delivered a one two punch to the entire Country. How ignorantly smug we’ve grown today with our technology, global resources and imagined infallibility. Do we think we are immune to widespread disaster?

I am made most mindful of the small, yet important, lessons rendered from time spent working and reworking in a garden. Not merely from the reaping of the literal fruits of one’s labors but more importantly the reaping of the more intrinsic fruits of a life lived with reflection and intent.

1. Patience—as in “have they sprouted yet, bloomed yet, turned the right color yet?
Are they ready yet??!?
The answer for the longest time will be NO—
not until suddenly, on one single day, it’s all ready at once.

2. Perseverance—as in when the varmints sneak in when no one is looking,
and in one single dinning experience, can wipe out months of work and tending.

3. Awareness—as in if it looks cute, pretty, or odd it is either poisonous,
hungry or both. Don’t touch.

4. Preparedness—as in if you walk through the tall clover and grass
before the yard is cut wearing chacos (sandals),
a bee will sting you or fire ants will attack you.

5. Sharing—as in “we can’t eat all of this, who wants some or needs some??”

6. Timeliness, as well as, “there is no time like the present”–
as in it’s too bad if it’s hot, if it’s wet, if the bugs are out–
one must may hay while the sun shines–
as in get busy now!

7. Establishing and maintaining the importance of a good Work ethic–
as in working with ones’ hands, as in dirty manual labor is not beneath anyone
and is good for the soul—
plus you’ve got to “get at it” despite soreness, heat, and not feeling like it. . .

8. Life is cyclical—as in things wither and die, but in turn things sprout and grow

9. Frugality, Innovation, Thankfulness—as in “do not be wasteful and that water is essential to life”—be prepared to preserve and care for the bigger picture of our environment–as this is critical because nothing is guaranteed to last forever–make use of what you have and sometimes you must be innovative

10.Mystery and Awe—as in life, as well as death, there remains awe and mystery. As I am always reminded every day that I am the created and not the Creator. I am a steward of what has been given to me–I must care for it as the precious gift that it is and be thankful for the small as well as the large blessings helping those who may be hurting now, as we will all need help at some point in our lives.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
John 12:24

Oh to be a child again

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

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(antique Santa figurine / Julie Cook / 2013)

There is a joyful magic, which sweeps in on the cold winds of late December, bringing to those of us lucky enough to be in its path, a respite from reality, albeit fleeting, full of wonder and awe. Children, with their innocence and almost reverent joy for the mysteries hidden, invoke a contagious mass amazement which spreads the ripples of excitement to the most jaded among us. Young, and now old, all seem to gather in anticipation of something most tantilizingly special.

Memories of happier times come rushing to the forefront of our adult minds with each inhaled scent of freshly baked cookies, roasted marshmallows, cinnamon sticks and peppermint candy canes. The laughter of children building snowmen, the angelic sound of choirs singing, the ringing of a single bell, and the dizzying din of the masses flooding the malls and stores each provide a bit of giddy excitement in even the most hardened of hearts.

The special magic which this time of year seems to create is enjoyed and savored by not only believers but by those of all faiths as well as non believers alike. Perhaps that is the true gift of this most treasured time—those who believe reawaken their vigilant search, looking for the ever present star as a continued sign that a King and Savior of all mankind, is once again re-born—As for those who do not believe, their hearts are made equally as light as the mystery and magic of what Christmas is all about, and has been about around this globe for centuries, is once again bathed in the radiant light of magical moments, anticipation in what can be, and the hopefulness that is once again ignited for all mankind.

My hopeful blessing to you all during this most special time of year is for Peace and Goodwill to all men, woman and children. Merry Christmas.