Beautiful hope is found in the weeds

“You are like a chestnut burr, prickly outside,
but silky-soft within, and a sweet kernel,
if one can only get at it. Love will make you show your heart some day,
and then the rough burr will fall off.”

Louisa May Alcott


(a thistle prepares to bloom / Julie Cook / 2020)

Thistles, to me, are most alluring.

To Eeyore, they are a tasty ‘smakeral’ or so Pooh would observe.

They begin, in the early spring, as a spikey mass or clump, of uninviting serrated leaves
emerging oddly from the ground.

Trust me, don’t use bare hands in an attempt to pull them up in order to rid your space
of this most unwanted visitor.

They will eventually send forth one, or even several, shoots sporting a purplish fringed bulb.
As this odd bulb unfurls its full glory, the bloom is almost regal in a crown-like
explosion of texture.


(a thistle crown / Julie Cook / 2020)

And like all earthly glories, these odd blooming weeds eventually fade, turning themselves
back to seed.


(a field of thistles gone to seed /Julie Cook / 2020)

And yet the fact that these plants are considered useless and invasive and even noxious
weeds, there is a beauty found in their blooming and a bit of
respect found in their tenacity.

Saturday I was reading Kathy’s post over on atimetoshare.me —
Kathy was offering some waxing thoughts regarding our world’s current pandemic situation.

I found one passage most enlightening…

Our current younger generation are those who will not experience the pageantry of
a real graduation – those who will not go to their Senior prom –
those who have been through the good, the bad and now the ugly –
those who will be running our country in the next few years.

These unique young people will become a generation of problem solvers,
creative thinkers, money managers, inventive and innovative thinkers all because
their world was turned upside down by a little germ.
They will be the second greatest generation, because they have experienced plenty or at least enough.
They have been on the cutting edge of technology.
They have seen their nation at its worst and at its best.

SATURDAY SOUND OFF

Kathy noted that this current class of seniors, be it high school or college, are presently
experiencing a great many firsts in the way of loss.

Losses of certain rights of passage.

No Spring sports.
No state championships.
No Spring breaks.
No year-end award ceremonies.
No trophies.
No classes
No proms.
No senior days.
No graduations.
No graduation trips.

Only a seemingly unending sense of loss, isolation with more questions than answers.

And yet Kathy notes that this will be the group to become our next class of problem solvers.
They will be our newest innovators and creative thinkers…in part because
such a role and responsibility has been thrust upon them.

They have been handed a mantle of burden and responsibility despite not necessarily seeing
such coming their way.
And it is perhaps not truly a burden they have wanted…but they have been handed such nonetheless.

And so in this time of surreal losses and misses, there is a generation
that will have to rise to the occasion of problem-solving.

They have the tools at their fingertips as a pandemic has now spurred them on–
be it out of frustration, resentment, or simple curiosity…
hope now rests in the beauty of a blooming generation…

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

What separates Christians from the rest of the pack…

From April 12, 2018
(yes, life is that manic…
but I want to wish each of you joy this Easter morn….
Hail thee festival day!! (one of my favorite hymns)

(this is an oldie but a goody)

“Life [had] replaced logic.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


(a soon to bloom peony / Julie Cook /2018)

The image of the bloom used in today’s post is that of a peony.
I call this peony my resurrection plant because I bought it two summers ago, in July.
It was a very expensive plant.
Yet anyone living in the deep South knows you don’t sink a lot of money into a
plant, dig a hole in the hot dry ground, plop in said expensive plant and expect it to live…
especially in July and especially in a summer experiencing a full-blown drought.

I wrote about this plant last spring and the reason as to why I call it a resurrection plant—
of which you can read from the following link…
but that is not the true gist of today’s post

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/resurrections/

Today’s post is a reminder of what the Resurrection is all about…
and if you are a Chrisitan, it’s a reminder of what that exactly means to you.

The reminder rests in the fact that we’ve just celebrated Easter…

Easter being the holiest celebration, besides the birth of Christ, within the Christian Chruch…
Some would argue that it is the sole holiest celebration…but I suppose we can’t have a
resurrection of our Savior without his immaculate conception and birth…
all of which supersedes the ability of man’s small mind to grasp and process…
hence so much of the consternation in mankind since that very first miraculous morning.

After watching the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted featuring our favorite
rouge Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gavin Ashenden, I’ve come to realize that
there are many in our fold who really don’t know what they think about
the Ressurection…
And what is even more startling, many members of the clergy don’t quite
know what to make of it either…

In a nutshell, it is the what which separates Christianity from every other religion.

How in the world can you offer anyone, let alone speak of such things as
Hope, Salvation, Grace, if you can’t find the words to say that you believe, without
a doubt, in the Ressurection of Jesus?

You can’t.

Because the Resurrection is the defining key to our faith.
It is the impetus to faith…the belief in that which is a mystery, undefinable,
and greater than oneself.

Without the Resurrection,
Christianity is nothing… nor is it any different from a myriad of other belief systems.

C.S. Lewis explained this very point in 1950

I heard a man say,
“The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival,
evidence that the human personality survives death.”
On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men,
the difference being that in Christ’s ease we were privileged to see it happening.
This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought.
Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened.
Christ had defeated death.
The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open.
This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival.
I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival.
On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion,
Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost.
The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection
as something totally different and new.
The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death;
they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe.
Something new had appeared in the universe:
as new as the first coming of organic life.
This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”.
A new mode of being has arisen.
That is the story.
What are we going to make of it?
The question is, I suppose,
whether any hypothesis covers the facts so well as the Christian hypothesis.
That hypothesis is that God has come down into the created universe,
down to manhood—and come up again, pulling it up with Him.
The alternative hypothesis is not legend, nor exaggeration, nor the apparitions of a ghost.
It is either lunacy or lies.
Unless one can take the second alternative (and I can’t) one turns to the Christian theory.

C.S. Lewis,
“What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” (1950)

So if you claim to be a Chrisitan and yet find yourself unable to acknowledge the mystery
and the might behind the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you need to rethink your allegiance.
And if you are a member of the clergy and find the words and concept uncomfortable,
you need a new profession because the calling, was not for you….

what comes from the Spirit

“The adorable Heart of Jesus is our comfort, our way, our life.”
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


(a winter treat blooms / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

“The experience of the Church and the saints demonstrates a general law:
what comes from the Spirit of God brings with it joy, peace, tranquility of spirit,
gentleness, simplicity, and light.
On the other hand, what comes from the spirit of evil brings sadness, trouble, agitation,
worry, confusion, and darkness.
These marks of the good and the evil spirit are unmistakable signs in themselves.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe

wants and fears

“You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation if you had it—
so by not getting what you’ve asked, you really are getting what you want.”

St. Catherine of Siena


(black-eyed susans / Rosemary Beach, Fl / 2019)

What really hurts is not so much suffering as the fear of suffering.
If welcomed trustingly and peacefully, suffering makes us grow.
It matures and trains us, purifies us, teaches us to love unselfishly,
makes us poor in heart, humble, gentle, and compassionate toward our neighbor.
Fear of suffering, on the other hand, hardens us in self-protective,
defensive attitudes, and often leads us to make irrational choices with disastrous consequences.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 47
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

nothing in between

“To join two things together there must be nothing between them or there cannot be a perfect fusion.
Now realize that this is how God wants our soul to be,
without any selfish love of ourselves or of others in between,
just as God loves us without anything in between.”

St. Catherine of Siena


(mother’s rose bush is making another comeback, once again / Julie Cook / 2019)

The strength of the soul consists in its faculties, passions and desires,
all of which are governed by the will. Now when these faculties,
passions and desires are directed by the will toward God, and turned away from all that is not God,
then the strength of the soul is kept for God,
and thus the soul is able to love God with all its strength.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 259
An Excerpt From
Ascent of Mt. Carmel

practice prayer…

“A soul which does not practice the exercise of prayer is very like a paralyzed body which,
though possessing feet and hands, makes no use of them.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori


(baby morning glories found in the woods /Julie Cook / 2019_

[Today] invite Jesus to heal you and to touch any hurt or sadness.
Invite Him to help you walk in forgiveness.
Ask Him for the graces you need to respond in faith to what He revealed to you.
Ask Him to help you live out His love toward others.

Karen L. Dwyer, Ph.D. & Lawrence A. Dwyer, JD
from WRAP Yourself in Scripture

\

freedom of speech or cultural marxism part II…hummm

“The shape of sadness is universal:
Christ represents it in his affliction and shouldering of the world’s sin and pain…
Each of your pains, however seemingly inconsequential to others, is part of a
fractal pattern with Christ’s pain; you suffer in him, he suffers in you and with you.
In prayer, your pains are raised from your shoulders.
They rise to God and say: The world needs to be closer to you.”

Sally Read
from Annunciation


(blossoming St John’s Wort / Julie Cook / 2019)

Time has certainly been getting away from me as of late…
for a million and one crazy reasons…

All good reasons mind you, of which I will share at a later date…
But blessedly I actually found a few spare moments, day before yesterday,
in order to read that day’s latest from one of our two favorites…
those two across the pond clerics.
The latest post–
“In Defence of Freedom of Speech”

Freedom of speech seems to be so much the talk these days does it not…

However, I fear that the current notion of freedom of speech is a far cry from, dare we say,
from what was meant in our Constitution or by our founding fathers.
(ode to those white men of old…)

Yet sadly, or perhaps blessedly, we know that misery loves company…
And so it should come as no surprise to those of us here in the US that we are not the
only ones who are contending with the idea of freedom of speech…

As freedom of speech is pretty much at the cornerstone foundation for all democracies.

And therefore are we surprised that the United Kingdom is also wrestling with
the new cultural definition of ‘freedom of speech?’

So much so that it has warranted a direct response from our favorite
rouge Anglican Bishop.

Our dear bishop begins his post by recounting that two individuals who he has often
greatly enjoyed listening to over the years, whether he agreed with their views or not,
have recently been banned from speaking on college campuses in the UK.

One being the renowned feminist Germaine Greer.

Banned not because she is a feminist mind you, but banned because she has differing views
regarding transsexuality then what our culture’s current universities and colleges now hold
as gospel.

And because Ms. Greer does not condone this particular lifestyle, she is now persona non grata
on the progressive liberal campuses of higher learning.
It seems that many of the ardent founders of ‘feminism’ argue that such lifestyle choices
are actually detrimental to the feminist movement, yet try telling the new culture police
that such thinking is actually truthful.

So, I suppose we shouldn’t be shocked that the 21st-century culture police are speaking from
both sides of their mouths…
They chant ‘freedom of speech’ as long as your speech or mine matches their speech.
If not…menaing if our speech is indeed different from their own,
then our “freedom” is revoked.

Because you see, to them, these culture gods of the 21st centruy, there is but one freedom of speech
and that is their speech and their speech alone.

The good bishop asks “so what is happening in our society that free speech
is being closed down.
We need to know who the enemy of free speech is.”

Well, what they are trying to do is to create a society that is a far cry from what our nation,
or any democracy for that matter was founded upon.

Bishop Ashenden notes “I hate the fact that Charlie Hebdo published ghastly cartoons of
the Virgin Mary on their cover. But no Christian threatened to murder them to silence them.

Because Christians are dedicated to an idea of ‘God’ that is rooted in the quest for truth.

If you believe that ultimate reality grows out of Truth
(it grows out of Love as well, of course) you can never afford to stifle speech.

Instead you have to weigh and sift it and let it tell you what its true character is.
It’s a great regret that there have been times when Christians, having gained power,
lost their confidence in the truth and shut others up.
But it usually happened when the Church got muddled up with the state.”

And so the good bishop asks again,
“so who are the enemies today of free speech, and what are they trying to do?”

And we only have to look back to Karl Marx to begin to understand our answers…

“It is no longer about the haves and the have-nots;
it’s about the oppressors and the oppressed.
It’s about making them ‘equal’.
It’s all about the redistribution of power.
So to do that you have to take power away from those who have it.
Generally this is mainly white men.

Whenever you hear someone railing against white men, you know the cultural
Marxist has broken cover.

But the oppressor can change in the blink of an eye –
because power relations are all relative.”

Please find the good bishop’s full post, his most insightful observation about a dear commodity
that we now find in jeopardy, here:

In defence of Freedom of Speech.                                           Gavin Ashenden 

By the Grace of God

For the sake of the world, for our own sakes, and for the sake of God,
we desperately need, as individuals and as a Church,
not to behave as if what we have in the way of spiritual or material goods is due
to our own merit or a result of our own will or strength.
Rather, it is the pure grace of God

Ralph Martin
from Fulfillment of All Desire


(a bumble bee buzzing the new blossoms of the blueberry blooms / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man?
Today he is, and tomorrow he appears no more. Fear God, and thou shalt have no need of
being afraid of man. What can anyone do against thee by his words or injuries?
He rather hurts himself than thee, nor can he escape the judgment of God whoever he be.
See thou have God before thine eyes and do not contend with complaining words.
And if at present thou seem to be overcome,
and to suffer a confusion which thou has not deserved,
do not repine at this and do not lessen thy crown by impatience.”

Thomas á Kempis, p.148
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

What is truth?

Truth is not just an abstraction.
Truth is a person, and His name is Jesus.

Jerome Bertram
from Jesus, Teach Us to Pray


(wild crabapples blooming / Julie Cook / 2019)

“And let me make it quite clear that when Christians say the Christ-life is in them,
they do not mean simply something mental or moral.

When they speak of being ‘in Christ’ or of Christ being ‘in them’,
this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him.

They mean that Christ is actually operating through them;
that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts—-
that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body.

And perhaps that explains one or two things.

It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief,
but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion.

It is not merely the spreading of an idea; it is more like evolution—-
a biological or super-biological fact.
There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God.
God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature.

That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.

We may think this rather crude and unspiritual.
God does not: He invented eating.
He likes matter.
He invented it.”

C.S. Lewis, p. 64
AN EXCERPT FROM
Mere Christianity

Truth.

We could ask Aristotle, Socrates or even Plato…

It is absolute.
A fact.

The beating of a heart.
The rhythmic breathing in and out.

I rather like what Jerome Bertram has to say
regarding truth.

Jesus Christ is Truth.

Plain and simple.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

breadcrumbs to home…


(mom’s magnolia tree is in full summer to be regalia / Julie Cook / 2018)

Few things are more indicative of life in the South than the large white billowy blooms
of the Magnolia.

Well, maybe a few other things such as mosquitoes, heat, and humidity might also come to mind…
but if the truth be told, the Magnolia is by far, the best of the bunch.

The large majestic blooms are hailed as the state flower for both Louisiana and Mississippi.

These are not dainty, delicate nor demure flowers by any means…
words which are often associated and used to describe life here down South…

Rather these beauties are large, tenacious, enduring and oh so sweetly fragrant.
Words I prefer to use when I think of those native Southerners.
Words such as tenacious…think fire ant.

I’ve spent the better part of the week up in Atlanta babysitting and I am happy to report
that Mother’s magnolia tree is in full bloom.

While the grass was still damp with the morning dew and the air thick and heavy with the
lingering damp humidity from the day’s prior thundershowers,
I walked out into the backyard while holding my tiny yet curious granddaughter.

I know that this little girl will never meet nor ever know either of my parents…
yet their presence permeates her small world like the lingering smoke circling the
air from a smoldering brick hearth.

I was greeted this misty morning with a deep sense of satisfaction and great comfort
being able to point out to this wee one of mine those long lasting and enduring
breadcrumbs that had been originally and randomly scattered long ago by my own mom…

Breadcrumbs that were, at the time unbeknownst to Mother, being left as trail markers…

And after all these many years, these inconspicuous directional markers remain to this day,
firmly in place.

Be it the tiny tea rose bush Mother never knew would live let alone thrive now decades later…
to a stand of currently runaway and run amuck monkey grass…
to this now stately and massive magnolia tree…
A tree I vividly remember planting with my mom and my grandmother when I was
just a little girl.

A tree whose blooms will, for this new generation, act as a polestar as to how to
recall finding one’s way back to “home.”

And whereas we all have that place we hold in our mind’s eye as to what constitutes the notion
of home, be it a fond treasured memory or rather a memory preferred to be long forgotten,
we each have that place.

Yet what many of us never truly realize is that that place of which we all oddly
so long for despite often already thinking we are there, is not to be found here
among the trees or buildings, fields or roads…

Home, that most sacred place we often seem to ache for despite often being physically
in the place, we think we call home, is not to be found here on this earth…

And so as we are left to navigate our way to this place where we will know
without doubt that we are indeed truly Home, we remain continually seeking those
often overlooked breadcrumbs left to us by the One who has come, gone and will come again…
breadcrumbs of hope and salvation, of which will rightfully lead us to that place
where we finally can claim that we are Home.


(the four stages of a magnolia bloom / Julie Cook / 2018)

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed,
we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,
because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened,
because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our
heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God,
who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home
in the body we are away from the Lord.For we live by faith, not by sight.
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home
with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him,
whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body,
whether good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10