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

time changes everything

“We should take as a maxim never to be surprised at current difficulties,
no more than at a passing breeze, because with a little patience we shall see them disappear.
Time changes everything.”

St. Vincent de Paul


(piping plover / Rosemary Beach, Fl /Julie Cook / 2020)

“Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

Birds of a feather

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”

Emily Dickinson


(a great pictures of happy turkeys caught on my husband’s trail cam / 2020)

Ok…if you’re feeling like I’m feeling, you’ll agree that life has gotten
really really heavy.

A crushing weight rests on our shoulders.

Pandemics.
Politics.
Elections.
Civil unrest.
A roller-coaster stock market.
Football is a mess…

Every political voice currently hitting the airwaves is rising in a crescendo of volume
as they speak of all sorts of apocalyptic happenings come November.

Take today.
The gal who cuts my hair was making me a new appointment and it so happened to fall
on November 4th…
I asked her…”do you think we will all still be in one piece on November 4th?”
She responded, “probably not, but I’ll pencil you in, just in case.”

And so when I saw the picture of those turkeys on that trail cam, I laughed out loud.
Turkeys so excited that it’s almost November and it won’t be Turkey season in
Georgia until March…no Thanksgiving table for these birds…

Enjoy it while you can they seem to be saying.
So yes, let’s enjoy life…while we can.

Always be impartial and just in your deeds.
Put yourself into your neighbor’s place, and him in yours,
and then you will judge fairly . . .
Frequently, therefore, examine your heart, whether it is so disposed towards your neighbor,
as you would have his disposed towards you, were you to change places;
for this is the true test.”

St. Francis de Sales, p. 226
An Excerpt From
Introduction to the Devout Life

photobomb

Photobomb:
noun: photobomb;
plural noun: photobombs
a photograph that has been spoiled by the unexpected appearance of an unintended subject
in the camera’s field of view as the picture was taken.


(a piping plover inturrupted by a wandering gull / Julie Cook / 2020)

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,
what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body,
what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field,
how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon
in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,
will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father
knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his
righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:25-34

the sharing season is here…

“Wisdom cannot be imparted.
Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else…
Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
One can find it, live it, do wonders through it,
but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


(black swallowtail caterpillar / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well, I knew it was just a matter of time.

The caterpillars have found the parsley.

There must be at least 15 caterpillars now making the most of my nice pot of parsley.

And so you should know that this lowly creature will…

Become this lovely creature:

And this one…

And this one…

And this one…

Will all become one of these…


(Black swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

These guys, well, I moved one of their caterpillars out from the garage yesterday,
so there are no before images…only the after shots


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so now, I share…my parsley.

Yet I must confess that sometimes I’m not too keen to share certain things.
I think we all have a bit of the selfish child that remains buried within.

As adults, we know that sharing is a good thing.
And so we can bend our will in order to do what is kind, considerate and decent.
We strive to teach children to do the same.

We must teach them to share as they/we seem to come into this world
hardwired with a distinct “mine” mentality.

When I first started to keep a garden…I would get so mad at the rabbits, the crows,
the other birds, the squirrels, the deer, and yes the caterpillars, who would
all invade, dig up or purge my labors by eating seeds, the tender new shoots
or the actual fruits of said labor, my fruits and vegetables.

And then I figured out that if I planted a little extra or a few distractors, things
that would appease my thieves, I could then strike a delicate balance between
what I knew would be stolen versus what I wanted to be harvested.

And sometimes, despite my best-laid plans, it just came down to who was the fastest
on the scene.

Now granted this was not always the perfect relationship as the deer would seem to
poke their feet in the melons simply to be spiteful…or the birds would jab
each blueberry, leaving the berry on the bush, full of holes.
But if I was going to be successful with a garden…there had to be give,
take and yes, share.

And so speaking of sharing, last week when I had to go to Atlanta to keep the Mayor,
who had contracted the Sheriff’s viral infection from the previous week, the
very notion of sharing took place in the form of “rain.”

And no, I do not refer to the sort of rain that falls from the sky.

If you’ve ever been around a young child who coughs or sneezes or
God forbid, suddenly needs to throw up…well, you know that kids
don’t cover their mouths, turn away, cough into the crook of an arm, or
race to the bathroom when an emergency calls.

To a child, if it comes, whatever it might be, it comes for good or bad…
matters not who might be in its path.

So there was a puny Mayor, who was sitting on my lap last week while we were watching cartoons.
Suddenly she started sneezing…and a spray of mist subsequently blanketed my lap and legs.
Gleeful the Mayor happily announces “RAIN”!!!!

“Yes”, I sardonically noted, “it has rained…”
…as I grabbed a sacred Clorox wipe in order to wipe down my legs and arms.

So should I be surprised that I now have felt like crap for the past two days and find
myself unable to breathe due to such a cloggy nose?

No.
No, I am not surprised.

For a sick child shared her “rain” with me.

And well, despite the shelves being long bare of Clorox wipes…
the sacred canister we had on hand was simply no match for the Mayor.

And so why do we seem so mystified when folks continue getting that
Wuhan flu??? That COVID mess?
Why do we ponder as to how it keeps making the rounds?

Sharing just seems to happen…even when we try being selfish.
No matter the best precautions, the best-laid plans…sharing is going to happen
whether we want it to or not.

Oh and for the record…that poison ivy…well, it keeps sharing too.

Everything seems to want to share…all the wrong sort of things!!!

So regarding the following verse, just know that God did not mean that we should share
our germs…but other more treasured items and deeds….
the germ part is just part and parcel of being alive.

The good and bad.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16

evil lurks in a garden…humm…where have I heard that before?

When confronted with two evils,
a man will always choose the most attractive.

Anonymous


(the quince faded and yet in the summer’s dogdays, are now reving back up / Julie Cook / 2020)

With little to no time to tend to the yard as I would normally do this time of year…sadly,
surreally, this time of year has not been like previous times of year…

So having taken out the garbage the other evening, I glanced once again forlornly,
over to the ever-growing leggy quince, the fledgling maple trees,
and some stubborn resprouting crepe myrtles all dotting the back bank…

Disgusted by what I saw…weeds were thriving amongst that which was treasured.

Neglected entirely too long!

Is this not the current story of our lives?

The negative now flourishing amongst that which we hold dear because of our distractions,
our worries, our heaviness…

So I threw the trash in the bin and grabbed my clippers…enough already!!!!

I went over the quince first.

I wanted to hit the high spots…that obnoxious giant poke salat and those
annoying runners from the crepe myrtle that was cut down years ago and those shoots
from the maple trees…
but as I clipped and yanked with the ire and determination of a woman frustrated with
much more than aggravating weeds…something caught my eye…

WHAT???

Hidden amongst the quice was something rather unkind and most unwelcomed.

Poison Ivy.

Or was it worse..was it the dreaded thunder wood?

I had already clipped and pulled, without my gloves mind you, several of these
“pesky” weeds, before realizing these pesky weeds were much more insidious than shoots,
runners or the blooming plants from random dropped seeds by passing birds.

I dropped my bundle of weeds, along with my clippers, practically running inside to immediately
wash my hands.

The next day I saw this:

Okay I thought, I have prescription cream for such…I’ve got this.

The day after that, two more spots on my shoulder.

Okay, more cream.

The day after that, after itching through much of the night, may we now times these
few red blistery spots by at least 100 that now currently cover my entire torso.

The doctor gave me a steroid shot today and a prednisone pack.

Did I mention the 6 or more hot flashes I’m already experiencing throughout the night
due to stopping the HRT?

Itching, hot flashes…
Sleep?!
HA!

Insomnia is my middle name!
Don’t worry about that twitching eye, it’s trained on the madness raging all around us.

Yet in all of this, I was reminded that where we think beauty and peace reside,
where we believe calm and simplicity rest, our ancient nemesis does not sleep.

Remember this as you ponder the current madness ravaging our nation.


(Christ smashing the head of the serpent in the Garden / The Passion of the Christ)

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8