drawn to God, He is waiting for you

“If you wish to strengthen your confidence in God still more,
often recall the loving way in which He has acted toward you,
and how mercifully He has tried to bring you out of your sinful life,
to break your attachment to the things of earth and draw you to His love.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori


(gull / Rosemary Beeach, FL / Julie Cook)

“God will forgive you if you ask him to.
Though your sins be numerous as the grains of sand on the shore,
God’s merciful forgiveness is far greater than your sins.
Do not be afraid. Trust in his love.
Repent of your sins without delay and return to the house of the Father.
He is waiting for you.”

Patrick Madrid, p.15
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Bible

when feeling insignificantly small

“If you once realize that to-morrow,
if not to-day, you will die and nothing will be left of you,
everything becomes insignificant!”

Leo Tolstoy


(a lone little sanderling eyes both sea and beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

The morning reading began with a portion of Psalm 119.

Incline my heart to your decrees and not to unjust gain.
Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless, give me life in your ways…

Psalm 119:37

The reading was actually verses 33-40 but it was verse 37 that actually reached
out and grabbed me by both shoulders.
It shook me so hard and fast that it caused me to reread what I had just read twice!

I grabbed a pen.

I underlined.

I digested.

And then I felt a sense of a galactic knowingness…an invisible nod from a great
and distant Source that approvingly found satisfaction in the
“by jove, I believe she’s got it” moment of knowing.

I think it was the part about “turning my eyes from watching what is worthless….
give me [rather] life in YOUR ways….”
(with accent and brackets being mine…).

Turn…me…from…worthless…to…You….

in a nutshell!

Maybe it’s because that’s what I’ve been doing all these many months.
I’ve been watching this whole global and national situation as if being some sort
of innocent bystander.
Someone who is watching madness unfold yet is either being held hostage or is
helpless to do anything of any real significance to stop the madness.
As both society and culture…careen out of control.

And then there came the readings closing prayer….

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly;
and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away,
to hold fast to those that shall endure;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Collect for the Sunday closest to Sept 23rd, Book of Common Prayer

As in let me not be anxious, fretful, depressed, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated
about earthly things…BUT [rather] love things heavenly…hold fast to that which will endure—that being Jesus Christ who lives and reigns along with the Holy Spirt
and the One True God…for ever and ever…

And whereas I have at time felt very much like a small insignificant David standing in the shadow of an overwhelming Goliath….as the world and her ills have appeared more than challenging, more than daunting, more than overwhelming…
as I add to that my own more seemingly insignificant yet equally comsumming
issues of life, God has spoken…
He has not forgotten as He remains consistent and steadfast…
Nothing is too great or too overwhelming for a great and Awesome God…

And the people were heard to say AMEN!

God does not take a vacation

“Stacking stones claims ordinary moments of life for God and invites those who pass by to
notice the holy ground on which they already stand.”

Jayne Hugo Davis


(a gull sits by a cairn or prayer stone stack found on the shore of Mackinac Island in
Lake Huron, Michigan / Julie Cook / 2017)

During these precious weeks of Summer…
as you make plans to scatter either here, there and yon…

Or if you’re merely daydreaming of doing such….

If you’re eagerly anticipating escaping your hectic pace and grind of an
often monotonous and even overwhelming life…

Simply longing to seek cooler climates, grander vistas, idyllic sandy shores…

Remember one thing as you eagerly unplug, unwind, let go and forget all the
burdens you wish to leave behind…

God never takes a vacation.

He’s always there…wherever you may roam….
always near…
and always reminding you that you’re still His number one priority….

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them:
for it is the Lord your God who goes with you;
he will not fail you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

a humble heart

Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.
Saint Augustine

“It is no great thing to be humble when you are brought low; but to be humble when you are praised is a great and rare attainment.”

St.Bernard

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(a humble snail near the Cliffs of Mohr / Country Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

It’s hard balancing a humble spirit when one is living in the land of the free and home of the brave…
Whose fighting force boasts “the few, the proud, the marines”…
We are accustomed to being a world power, a superpower, a leader among nations…
When others run away, we rush in….
We are stivers, fighters, winners.
If we’re ever knocked down, we get back up.
We love those come from behind stories of triumph.
We are like the cream, always rising to the top.
We prefer being accomplished, polished, knowledgeable as well as rough, tough and scrappy…

That’s just how we are and we like it that way.

Yet at times we forget that we are not the be all to end all.
We forget that we have come to and by this rather lofty position of ours by hard work, toil, suffering, bruising and bleeding by digging our way out from under plight, oppression, depression, aggression…doing battle——battles we have considered as necessary, right and just within our purist of freedom for all.

We speak of unalienable (or inalienable depending on what you’re reading) rights given to us by the Creator–meaning that such “rights” cannot be taken away as they have been pre and hard wired within our being as human beings, granted to us at time of “creation” by the Creator. A Creator we now no longer have much time to listen to let alone give any sort or credit or credence to…

Some of us see that from time to time it can be hard to remain humble of heart and spirit when we’re accustomed to being large and in charge. Sometimes arrogance slips in along with haughtiness.
As we grow proud over and by our accomplishments and endeavors, we tend to gloat and boast more than we should. We pride ourselves in our self-efficiency, our knowledge and in our very “freedoms.”

Yet I fear we lose sight of our humble beginnings.
We begin to take things both tangible and intrinsic for granted.
We puff up our chests while resting on the laurels of our predecessors–forgetting that it could all be taken away tomorrow, or today…leaving us where we started, with little to nothing to call our own.

We assume perhaps more than we should.
Many of us have forgotten what it is to “go without”
We place our actors, sports figures, entertainers, politicians, successful entrepreneurs, slick talking religious leaders and leading officials in the limelight and up on pedestals, touting them as heroes–forgetting what a hero actually is and that these individuals are merely fallible human beings as we seem to sickly marvel and oddly enjoy watching them fall. Funny how that is with human beings.

Yet we continue to yearn and covet what it would be to “be like them” for we too want to be in the limelight and one of the “beautiful people” as we want the glitz, the glitter, the money the success—as we rationalize that we would handle all of the “pressure” of being famous far better, not allowing it to go to our heads while giving “x amount” to charity…

How many of us rationalize that if God would just let us when the lottery, we’d be so good with the winnings by giving a designated share to charity, we’d remain just a plain and simple are we are…yet deep down, we feel as if it would be the money, the abundance of which, which would make our lives so much easier and better…and perhaps for a while it would as we would set off in the pursuit of paying off only to obtain and to have…new cars, new homes, new vacations, new clothes…

We must be mindful that there are those around this planet of ours who don’t rationalize about winning a lottery…rather they dream of escaping their lot in life and fleeing to America because that is the land of freedom and of choice and of abundance and of safety…

It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose…

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(seagull rest on the head of a statue / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook /2015)

And yet it is those voices of ancient wisdom and those voices of the past— those who were able to see through the haze of brilliance, pride and self efficacy–who understand that it is the humble heart which is the true attainable goal.

Being able to yield to the one who is always Greater–as we are the ones who are finite and it is He who is the infinite.

I fear we have lost sight of our own humility of being as we have forgotten that it was the king of Kings whose birth was predestined to take place in a lowly stable, of lowly parents in a small and lowly village of insignificance. . .seems this humility business is not an underlying theme by random chance.

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
1 Corinthians 28-29

Often all it takes in order to knock one down a notch or two is for a bird to rest over or simply fly over ones head, doing what birds do– reminding one of one’s place in life…as the birds neither discern or discriminate as to whom is better than another–

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(a seagull surveys the city of Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There are plans

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

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(A lone sentinel sits watch along the outer wall along the Rock Of Cashel / County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I lose sight you know…

Losing that certain knowledge…

Lost in the day to day…

It’s truly…simply lost…

In fact, I think I, as in myself, my life, my very being, has gotten lost.

I didn’t quite realize it until just recently.

The din of madness from this chattering world of ours, with its dark vacuum and slick diversions, has sucked it all slowly away.

I am like those crumbling ruins of ages past…
Once great and grand, sure and solid…
Impressing both self as well as others…
Made to last forever. . .or so it seemed…
Yet over time and little by little, the beauty and loftiness has faded…
The glory is now forgotten…
I sit alone and abandoned left feeling more numb than sad.

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(the crumbling edifice of the Rock of Cashel which dates to the early 12th century / County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(the crumbling edifice of the Rock of Cashel which dates to the early 12th century / County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(the crumbling edifice of the Rock of Cashel which dates to the early 12th century / County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Then one day, when it is least expected, a single ray of light shines into the blurry, chilly grey abyss…there is a word, a touch, a feeling, a reminder…

We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. “No man can come to me,” says our Lord, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: “Thy right hand upholdeth me.”
A.W. Tozer

The notion that I, as in me…who out of the billions of human beings on this planet, has been considered worthy enough for the most high Omnipotent God to have long ago, well before I came into being, placed a piece of His own Divinity within my very being…only to call out to that very tiny particle years later, is a thought that is more than difficult to wrap words, let alone thoughts, around.

It is as if two missing pieces, separated forever ago, now palpably yearn, nay ache, to be joined and bound together—at last…in order to finally become one, to be made whole.

Those who are adopted often come prewired with a sense of unwantedness.

It is a psychological hiccup in the cornerstone of formation sadly instilled in utero.
It is a hindrance that is carried beneath the conscious mind throughout life, only to rear its ugly head in the myriad of relationships held throughout the course of a lifetime.

It is that hidden sense of unwantedness that acts to repel the notion that one is deeply and passionately loved, wanted, savored…particularly so by the very Creator of all of Life Himself as it is He who instilled His loving “want” at the time the unwantedness was issued.

A contradiction in utero–the sacred and the carnal colliding in the creation of life.
Want and rejection become a stalemate of one.
Brokeness is pushed forever deeper as all manner of satiation is sought throughout the journey known as life–anything to fill the unrecognizable carnality subconscious ache.

Yet the Divine Want far surpasses any secular carnal unwantedness.
Grace, Redemption, Desire, Love, Acceptance each flows freely, coursing through veins which had narrowed in their ill perceived lack of want and years of temporal satiation.

It is as if someone has taken hold of both shoulders and shaken so hard that a revelation has actually, thankfully, finally been jared loose, knocking all falsehoods off balance. The ah ha moment of the very reality of Creation crushes down on the hardened ego of self and on the sheer act of survival– as joyfully selfless Love indeed trumps all…

…and so it is, the tiny wee particle, buried deep within, hears its long awaited missing half…a Voice speaking through the mist —
“You are indeed worthy…for you have always been mine…
There are plans…”

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Chapel window from Kylemore Abbey / County Galway, Ireland / Julie Cook/ 2015)

The parable of Sister Buzzard

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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(a soaring turkey buzzard over the skies of Troup Co. Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

I asked for wings so I could fly my way to find you,
because I knew you were just beyond the clouds.
By day I would search the endless skies,
. . . but you were not to be found in the skies.
By night I would scan the dark horizon,
. . .but I could not see you in the darkness.
I flew over vast oceans seeking you,
because I knew you would be sailing across the seas.
I soared over every body of water on earth,
. . . but you were not to be found on the oceans, rivers or steams.
I flew through valley glens and mountains high,
because I knew you would be walking across the earth.
. . .but you were not found traversing the land. . .

My heart grew heavy because my wings did not help me find you.
My eyes failed to see you
My ears failed to hear you
My nose failed to find your scent

With no other choice, I flew onward, continually seeking your presence,
yet I began to fret. . .
The question of why echoed in my thoughts.
My failure to find you plagued my heart.
Was it because. . .
I am dull and bland?
I am not majestic or grand?
I am not flamboyant or colorful?
I am not popular or sought after?
I am a seeker of that which is discarded and thrown away?
I am ridiculed and looked down upon?
I am chased away and shunned?
I am not wanted?
I am not pretty?

On a deep blue cloudless day, as the brilliant Sun danced lightly across the sky,
Brother Sun stopped to ask, “Sister Buzzard why do you seem so sad?”
I explained to Brother Sun of my quest. . .that it was my desire to fly, where ever my wings could carry me, in hopes of finding you.
Brother Sun warmly wrapped me in his rays and said to me,
“Oh sweet Sister Buzzard, be of good cheer young bird, for you are greatly loved and richly blessed beyond measure.”

“But Brother Sun, how do you know this?” was my sad reply

“Sister Buzzard, I smile upon you daily, just as He asks me to in order to warm your wings.
Brother Night envelopes you each evening, allowing you to rest in peace, just as He commands.
Brother Rain falls upon you cleansing the air you both fly and breathe in, exactly as He would have it.
Sister Moon glows for you at night, offering you hope in the darkness, just as He requests.
Brother Wind blows lifting you gently higher in the sky just as He desires.
Sister Mother Earth provides you life as well as death for your very survival, just as He has deemed.
You need no longer fly endlessly searching. . .for He is constantly at your side and you are forever in His presence.

And so it was. . .Sister Buzzard had found her peace, which was never far from her touch, resting in the warm thermal skies as she now contently swirls in the new found knowledge of the Love of the One who has deemed that all shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of thing shall be well. . .

But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.
Deuteronomy 4:29-31

Vigilance

“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”
John Philpot Curran

The preservation of peace and the guaranteeing of man’s basic freedoms and rights require courage and eternal vigilance: courage to speak and act – and if necessary, to suffer and die – for truth and justice; eternal vigilance, that the least transgression of international morality shall not go undetected and unremedied.
Haile Selassie

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(sparrow / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

As I turn on the news each evening or peruse the electronic news feeds, I am constantly reminded, by the headlines of the day, of the perilous balance of liberties and freedoms–the same liberties and freedoms that we have grown blindly accustomed to. The freedoms that the Western World always seems to take for granted.

Our liberties, of which we merely assume are enjoyed around the world, those that are threatened on a daily basis, as the simple freedom of living is put to the test across the globe.
The freedom to worship.
The freedom to vote.
The freedom to choose an education—or not
The freedom to work as one wishes.
The freedom to live where one chooses.
The freedom to shop as one desires.
The freedom to dress as one pleases.
The freedom to travel openly.

All of which we take for granted—assuming to be our God given right.
We take as a given of simply being. . .
But oh how tenuous is the balance which the world hangs between. . .that of tyranny, oppression and death.

I do not propose that we of the “free world” are to be the police of the remainder of this world, nor are we to necessarily impose our form of belief upon others. . .but oh how I wish that those in this world, who continue to impose violence upon woman and children, those who impose death upon their fellow countrymen, those who wish death upon the innocents, or those who live to destroy our way of life, could / would understand that thuggery, death, violence, coercion, manipulation, torture, are not the answer.

May we be mindful to remain vigilant rather than rest in our complacency. . .