I’m baaaaack

“The glory of God is man fully alive,
and the life of man is the vision of God.”

St. Irenaeus


(a willet in the surf /Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2021)

We got home yesterday from our week away and I’ll share more about our
adventure with the Mayor and Sheriff at the beach… soon…
just as soon as I get alllll these clothes washed.

My last post was about the homecoming for Sgt. Rob Holloway’s as he
and his wife returned home to Carrollton after months in two
different hospitals…this following his having been shot in the
wee hours of April 12th during a high speed chase.

Rob and Stephanie got home Wednesday…they were to spend a few days home
before heading back to Atlanta to begin a transition period at Pathways
which is a program to help Rob learn how to manage his daily routines
while getting back to “normal” as best as possible.

However on Thursday, Rob began running a fever.
The Hospital told Stephanie to get him back to Atlanta ASAP
where he was placed back in ICU.

He has since received IV fluids and antibiotics…
and is reportedly feeling better.

Because bullet fragments remain lodged in Rob’s brain and due to having the
reconstructive skull surgery, the risk of meningitis remains high.

So will you please join me as we offer up prayers for Rob and his family…
as we also pray for all our men and women in blue, as well as for their families…
those members of our various law enforcements who give their all for us….

“The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of one poor little person
to save a multitude of others, redeemed like her at the price of His Blood.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

last hour of grace…

“Never will we understand the value of time better
than when our last hour is at hand.”

St. Arnold Janssen


(purple finch / Julie Cook / 2021)

“‘The Lord measures our perfection not by the number and
greatness of the works we do for Him, but by our manner of doing them.
And this manner is only the love of God with which,
and for which, we do them.
They are more perfect as they are done with more pure and perfect love,
and as they are less mingled with the thoughts of pleasure or
praise in this life or the other (St. John of the Cross).
‘When St. Bernard was assisting one night at Matins,
he saw some angels who were carefully noting down the merit of
each of the monks.
The merit of those who were praying with much fervor,
they set down in golden characters; of those with less fervor,
in silver characters; of those with good will,
but without affection, in ink; of those with sloth and drowsiness,
in water; but as to those who were in mortal sin or voluntarily
distracted, they wrote nothing, but,
standing motionless, they lamented their blindness.”

Anonymous, p. 292
An Excerpt From
Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery With the Saints

raise your eyes

“Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if
He wants anything of you,
He will fit you for the work and give you strength.”

St. Philip Neri


(a sky of pelicans / Julie Cook / 2020)

Hands which sustain the heavens are all powerful to supply our necessities,
to uphold us in temptation, and to turn all things to our profit.
And why should we not have confidence in God?
Is He not the most powerful as well as the most tender of fathers? …
Do not dwell upon your unworthiness or your failings,
but raise your eyes to God and consider the infinite goodness
and mercy with which He deigns to apply a remedy to all our miseries.
Reflect upon the truth of His words,
for He has promised to help and comfort all who humbly and confidently
invoke His sacred name.
Consider also the innumerable benefits which you have hitherto
received from His paternal hand,
and let His bounty in the past inspire you to trust the future to Him
with renewed hope.
Above all, consider the merits and sufferings of Christ,
which are our principal title to God’s grace and mercy,
and which form the treasure whence the Church supplies
the necessities of her children.
It was from a confidence inspired by such motives that the saints
drew that strength which rendered them as firm as Mount Sion,
and established them in the holy city whence they never could be moved.
(Cf. Ps.124:1).”
Venerable Louis of Grenada, p. 404
An Excerpt From
The Sinner’s Guide

warm weather color

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form,
can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”

Oscar Wilde


(goldfinch / Julie Cook / 2021)


(purple Iris /Julie Cook / 2021)


(daisy’s / Julie Cook / 2021)


(gardina–a southern classic / Julie Cook / 2021)


(purple aster / Julie Cook /2021)


(Sunflower…all pics taken from my daily walks or backyard / Julie Cook / 2021)

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—
and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Ephesians 5:13

on the move

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand,
as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven,
we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it–
but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


(a plethora of piping plovers / Julie Cook / 2021)

Since the notion of moving has been my current train of thought, I certainly appreciated
seeing these little guys doing much the same…
They always make me smile.
Smiles are good!


(piping plovers / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2021

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19

spirit of compassion

“We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness of other people,
and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion which is truly the spirit of God.”

St. Vincent de Paul


(double headed yellow head Amazon parrot / Parrot Mt and Gardens/ Pigeon Forge, TN / Julie Cook/ 2020)

This picture of a double yellow-headed parrot reminded me of a time ages ago when I
was charged with caring for a similar bird…

Way back in the day, when I was probably in about the 8th or 9th grade,
my family had traveled up to north Georgia in order to visit my dad’s brother…
my aunt and uncle.

It was late fall in the north Georgia mountains, so it was cool and wet.

Out in my aunt and uncle’s garage was, of all things, a parrot.
A tropical bird in a place that was anything but tropical.
A yellow-headed parrot living life in a large cage in an enclosed garage.

It seems that my cousin, their only daughter, was now living life away as a freshman
in college, and had left behind her rather exotic pet.

Back in those days, regulations were obviously lax…
my cousin had brought the bird back home following her senior trip to the Bahamas.

My mother and I had both felt so badly for the bird that we asked my aunt if we could take
it home.
My aunt was ecstatic…as in please, YES!

So the parrot, Horatio, came to live with us in Atlanta.
This was at some point in the early ’70s.

Horatio was a smart bird.
He, she, it would call our dog by name…reaching out to grab the dog’s tail when
he’d walk past the cage.

We’d let the bird out of its cage in order to hang out with us in the den.
Horatio loved peanuts and would climb up on my mother’s arm, reaching for her
thumb while attempting to “crack open” her thumbnail as if it was a peanut.
That was a bad trait.

Since Horatio’s cage was positioned on our sun porch where he, she, it could watch TV,
he, she, it would sing the theme song from Flipper…the show about a dolphin…
this due to the fact that the bird was watching what I was watching each afternoon.

“They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No-one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there-under, under the sea!”

We had the bird for about two years until one day the bird came down with a cold.
We learned the hard way that parrots, birds in general, do not fare well with colds.

We carried Horatio to a vet, way across town, who specialized in exotic animals.
Back in the day, exotic pets were not keen on the radar of local vets.

We administered the required meds.
Monitored our beloved bird while we hoped and prayed…
However, on Thanksgiving morning of all mornings, Horatio succumbed to his, her, its cold.

The irony was not lost on any of us.

Animals come and go in our lives…and I always believe we humans are the better
for their presence in our lives.

So here’s to Horatio and the exotic parrots and birds at Parrot Mt and Gardens up in Tennesse.

When we visited this bird sanctuary about two weeks ago, it was a rainy day
in the Tennesse mountains.
My daughter-in-law called the park to ask if they were open due to the weather.
The lady told my daughter-in-law that these were Tennesse birds, they knew weather.
So off we went.

So let me just say, the birds made the Mayor very nervous.
Maybe it was the very loud and raucous calls of all the birds.
Maybe it was when we posed for a family photo with about 10 birds on our arms, shoulders,
and in our hands.
Neither the Mayor nor Sherrif would have anything to do with the birds.


(the Indian pheasant is off the mayor’s shoulder perched on the ground in the enclosure)

Despite her hesitancy, I am glad that both the Mayor and Sherrif could see up close and personal
a different type of animal.

We are better for animals.
We are better for nature.

“When uncertain about God’s will,
it is very important that we tell ourselves:
‘Even if there are aspects of God’s will that escape me,
there are always others that I know for sure and can invest in without any risk,
knowing that this investment always pays dividends.’
These certainties include fulfilling the duties of our state in life and practicing
the essential points of every Christian vocation.
There is a defect here that needs to be recognized and avoided:
finding ourselves in darkness about God’s will on an important question…
we spend so much time searching and doubting or getting discouraged,
that we neglect things that are God’s will for us every day,
like being faithful to prayer, maintaining trust in God,
loving the people around us here and now. Lacking answers about the future,
we should prepare to receive them by living today to the full.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 55
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

Paris, Portland, Philadelphia, Nice, Milan, Chicago, New York…

“Because to take away a man’s freedom of choice, even his freedom to make the wrong choice,
is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person.”

Madeline L’Engle

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be,
since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”

Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ


(a caged collared aracarai / Parrot Mt. and Gardens, Pigeon Forge, TN/ Julie Cook / 2020)

If your senses have been on election overload, you may not
be aware that there are some other very serious news stories taking place.

If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have missed that France has had to raise
its terror threat level to its highest mark due to a recent spate of terroristic attacks
throughout the country.

The attacks, three of which involved machetes, and or knives, left several innocent
individuals dead, decapitated along with many others wounded.

“Allahu akbar” was the cry each attacker was heard to shout over and over while
innocent people had their heads violently lopped off.

These attacks, with three happening within the past two months,
come at the moment when France’s President, Emmanuel Macron
is putting France back under its pandemic lockdown.

Maybe another lockdown will help the innocents keep their heads.

One recent victim was a history teacher in northern Paris who literally
lost his head for having shared with his class some of the political cartoons
published by the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo…of which had
lead to some of France’s deadliest terror attacks back in 2015.

This week’s latest victims in Nice had been attending church.
Three were killed, one decapitated, while others were left wounded.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/france-knife-attack-church-terrorism-suspected

Maybe perhaps you’ve at least heard of the more local violence taking place
here at home.
Violence that has been written off as civil protests due to police violence.

An eye for an eye has become the people’s mindset…
matters not the original offense.
And with that comes the excuse to rob, steal, and take that which is
not theirs to take.

It’s a ‘Black Friday’ each and every night in our major cities as masses
smash, loot, and grab…taking whatever they want…

Did you happen to catch the image of the fellow carting off a
washing machine from the looting of a Walmart in Philidelphia?

What does the stealing of washing machines have to do with the discontent
of precieved police violence?

Nothing.
But then again, I don’t think Joe Biden or any of the Democratic party seem to “get it.”

126 days and counting in Portland, Oregon of violent unrest.

NYC you ask?
Well, just don’t go.

Burning, looting, rioting, violence…
From sea to shining sea.

Chicago has had over 500 homicides.

Philidelphia, the city of brotherly love, has been racked by mass lootings and violence
all this week.

And yet our progressive liberal politician’s focus is on locking down
along with pandemic preemptives.
All the while, they turn a blind eye to the unrestrained violence and stealing…

Riots and mass looting, which are taking place during a time of mandated social distancing,
madatory mask wearing and a variety of versions of lockdowns, just doesn’t make sense.

I just don’t know anymore.

Italy has locked down again, totally.
And Milan is rife with protests due to the now reoccuring loss of freedom.
Small businesses and restaurants have been given a death sentence.
Just like many businesses here.

I don’t know the answer.

But one thing I do know…we are a skewed people.
We no longer know right from wrong.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,
but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear
that their deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

John 3: 19-21

Each man is good in His sight

I am a red man.
If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have
made me so in the first place.
He put in your heart certain wishes and plans,
in my heart he put other and different desires.
Each man is good in his sight.
It is not necessary for Eagles to be Crows.

Sitting Bull


(A crow perches in a tree in Cades Cove, Great Smokey Mts National Park / Julie Cook / 2020)

Native American Indians always believed that spirits resided in the beings of
the creatures of the earth…all the way from the mighty bison and bear
to the majestic eagle, the stealthy wolf all the way down to the lowly turtle and snake.

Each animal and creature was aforded various human-like traits.
They protected or watched over the one who claimed them as a ‘spirit guide’
Imparting power to the one they protected or looked over.

One such spirit was that of the crow or raven.
The bird was known as a trickster or prankster,
the mischievous one.

Years ago we took our son, who was about 9 at the time, on a vacation that had us
heading west.
West to places like New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and then up towards
Montana and South Dakota.

Places that a Georgia born native son needed to see and experience.

We stopped at places like the Painted desert, the Badlands, Yellowstone,
the Grand Canyon—we went to cities and towns such as Taos, Sante Fe, Cody,
Salt Lake City, Logan, Cheyenne, Jackson Hole…
while visiting various Pueblos, Reservations, monuments, churches, museums
and national parks…

And yet in all that mighty and grand greatness, there was one small thing that caught
both our eyes.

It was something vastly different from the beautiful landscapes found around this
great nation of ours.

We were each drawn to something that was small yet skillful.
Tiny yet intriguing.

As the art teacher, I was drawn like a magnet to the inticracy…
As a young boy, my son was drawn, as most young boys would be, to all
things of imagination and of cowboys and indians.

The draw you ask…???
They were small tiny stone carvings by Zuni indians known as a fetish.

Tiny carvings of animals created in stone, fossils and shells.
Each held in the palm of one’s hand.

According to the Black Arrow Gallery:
Fetishes, charms, amulets, or simply good luck pieces, call them whatever you would like,
but virtually every culture has them. Fetishes are small carvings made from various materials
by many different Native American Tribes.
These carvings serve a ceremonial purpose for their creators and depict animals and icons
integral to their culture.
As a form of contemporary Native American Art they are sold with non-religious
intentions to collectors worldwide.

Origianal fetishes are no longer available for purchase as they are considered
museum worthy.
Yet there are some very well known tribal artists who continue to create these tiny
artistic treasures to sell.
And the better known artists and their art carvings fetch high prices.

During our trip, as a rememberance from this particular vacation,
my son and I each bought a few affordable carvings.
We were told that the fetish would choose the buyer.
Each fetish supposedly possessed certain characteristics and traits
which would draw the buyer.

Well, I was drawn to several.
A bear, a beaver and yes, a crow.

Crows and Ravens are birds of a feather…with ravens being of the larger feather.
So my crow was most likely a raven…but it was still a small marble black bird
with two turquoise eyes.

Again, according to the Black Arrow Gallery:
The raven is not a traditional fetish but he is carved often, and beautifully,
by a number of artists.
Some artisans will put a stone in the raven’s mouth.
He is generally carved of jet or black marble though he can appear in virtually
any stone of the artist’s choosing.
While considered somewhat of a prankster, he doesn’t have the negative characteristics
associated with the coyote.
The raven can help us work through failure and short-comings by reminding
us that anything we have the courage to face, we have the power to transform.

I imagine that the reason crows / ravens were afforded a place at the tribal table was
in part due the fact that these birds are actually very intelligent.

Those who study crows and ravens know that these birds have a language of calls all their own.
They can actually communicate with one another.
They also have keen memories and have been known to bring “gifts’– various sparkly
found objects to humans who interact with them.

I have had a long love-hate relationship with crows.

I find them irritating when they gang attack a hawk who flies
into their territory.
I’m not a fan of gang activity.
However, I imagine that there is some sort of perceived threat
when a bird of prey intercepts one’s private airspace…I digress.

And yet I love throwing out stale bread for the crows to come gather.
They will often wake me at dawn with their loud raucous caws as
they swoop into a tree outside our bedroom window where the
bread still sits from the prior evening.

So reading the wisdom of Sitting Bull in today’s quote, I am reminded of
that song sung in many a child’s church chapel…Jesus Loves the Little Children

Written by C. Herbert Woolston and George F. Root.

According to hymntime.com
Words: C. Her­bert Wool­ston (1856–1927).
Wool­ston was one of George Root’s fa­vo­rite lyr­i­cists.
Child­ren oft­en sing just the re­frain, which is a song all to itself!

Music: George F. Root, 1864, Root orig­in­al­ly wrote this tune for the Am­er­i­can ci­vil
war song Tramp, Tramp, Tramp.

Jesus calls the children dear,
Come to Me and never fear,
For I love the little children of the world;
I will take you by the hand,
Lead you to the better land,
For I love the little children of the world.

Refrain

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,

All lives matter…both living and yet born.
All lives matter… each man, woman and child…no matter their color or race.
For all are not only good, but rather are most
precious to our God, our Father and Great Creator.

It just takes a crow to remind us of such.


(a camera friendly crow / Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2020)

Hunger for God

“The soul hungers for God, and nothing but God can satiate it.
Therefore He came to dwell on earth and assumed a Body in order that
this Body might become the Food of our souls.”

St. John Vianney


(a curious macaw parrot at Parrot Mountian and Gardens Pigeon Forge, TN / Julie Cook / 2020)

“In the old days, people demanded ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’
and to repay evil for evil. Patience was not yet on the earth,
because faith was not on the earth either. Of course, impatience made full use of the opportunities the Law gave it. That was easy when the Lord and Master of patience was not here.
But now that he has come and put the grace of faith together with patience,
we are no longer allowed to attack someone even with a word—not even to call someone a fool
without facing the danger of judgment.
The Law found more than it lost when Christ said,
‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 5:44-45).
This most important commandment summarizes in a word the universal discipline of patience,
since it does not allow us to do evil even to people who deserve it.”

Tertullian, p. 104
An Excerpt From
A Year with Church Fathers

O mortal

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


(a blue heron caught trapsing through the woods on a my husband’s trail cam / 2020)

When I read my ‘daily verse’ Friday morning,
a new verse for each new day that I receive each morning,
I read Friday’s verse, over my phone, early while still rather bleary-eyed.
BAM
it was like being stung by a hornet from out of the blue.
An electric shock ran through my entire being.
I simply put my phone down…staying silent for quite some time, stung by
what I had just read.

O mortal.
What does the Lord require of you?

Talk about a wave of real humility washing over me.
And that’s when it hit me.

We are each, indeed, mere mortals.
And we are here to do the work of The Creator…
not the work of man…

And so when have you heard that on the news..

We are the created, not the Creator.

How do I behave toward my neighbor?
How toward my brothers?
If I except a single one, it is not Jesus Christ I consider in them.
If I love them, it is merely so that I may be liked and considered,
or because their character suits mine. Let us each one see Jesus Christ in his neighbor.

St. Claude de la Colombière
from The Spiritual Direction of Claude de la Colombière