our neighbors, the warren(s)

“Be cunning, and full of tricks,
and your people will never be destroyed.”

Richard Adams, Watership Down

“Love the animals.
God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled.
Don’t trouble it, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness,
don’t work against God’s intent.

Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov”
Richard Adams, Watership Down

We have some neighbors…its a family of 5 and they live outback
someplace behind the house.

We believe there were perhaps 6 or even more, but one of their smallest family
members met a tragic demise…
Our older cat, Peaches, might know something about all of this but we won’t talk
about that today…

Rather we’ll just enjoy those who call our yard their own…

The other day, I went to open the front door and this is who greeted me on the walkway
directly at the bottom of the front porch steps.


(julie cook / 2019)

Next, I went out on the back deck to check on what was cooking on the grill when
something down below caught my eye…
That’s when I spotted him, or is it a her, under my blueberry bushes


(julie Cook / 2019)

Definitely munching on the blueberries…


(julie cook / 2019)

This afternoon I went out front to water my plants when suddenly someone darted
out, right in front of me…


(julie cook / 2019)

That’s when I turned around only to see these two youngsters chasing each other around the yard.


(julie cook / 2019)

Without a vegetable garden these days, I certainly don’t mind our neighbors sharing my yard.


(julie cook / 2019)

Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.
Proverbs 3:29

Grace, Glory and ….a white pigeon?!

“If you are suffering from a bad man’s injustice,
forgive him—lest there be two bad men.”

St. Augustine


(an odd visitor / Julie Cook / 2019)

Yesterday morning, I was out picking the burgeoning blueberry bushes.
I must confess that I’ve gotten a late start doing such due to both a lack of time
and desire…
So in my absence, the birds have pecked their fair share and the latest rains
have plumped them up a bit too much…
Yet I felt obliged to get to my picking responsibilities…

Suddenly I hear my husband hollering.
What he was hollering was alluding me, but I could tell it was with a heightened sense of alarm.

I drop my berry bowl and race up the bank toward the carport.
He’s not there.
I race into the house and he’s now on the back deck scanning the yard looking for me.

“Did you see it???!!” he exclaims—
“See what?” I reply with heightened concern.

“The white bird!!”

Huh???

“The white bird by the driveway??”

“No” I dead pan.

“How could you miss it???”

“Well I heard you hollering and I thought something was wrong…I wasn’t aware there was a bird…”

But sure enough, I walk out into the carport and I see a white bird bobbing about in the grass.

It was too big to be a white dove.

I walked closer.

The bird was nonplused and was obviously accustomed to people as it paid me no never mind.

Upon further investigation, we determined the dove was a pigeon.

Firstly, pigeons don’t hang out in our neck of the country woods and secondly,
a solid white pigeon is certainly an anomaly.
The bird was not an albino.

In his own little world and not bothered by us, the bird sauntered up the driveway
over to the other side of the yard where the grass is actually greener—
he just kept bobbing up and down making his way through the grass while I went back to berry picking.

My theory was that perhaps there had been a wedding over the weekend and
someone released white birds…one of which was not a dove but a pigeon who just
kept flying.

And so as we were gifted by this odd little visitor, a white bird that brings my thoughts
immediately to that of the Holy Spirit…and given the fact that Sunday was the marking of Pentecost,
I will leave us with these thought-provoking words by Blessed Cardinal Newman…

“My God, you know infinitely better than I how little I love you.
I would not love you at all except for your grace.
It is your grace that has opened the eyes of my mind and enabled them to see your glory.
It is your grace that has touched my heart and brought upon it the influence of
what is so wonderfully beautiful and fair . . .
O my God, whatever is nearer to me than you, things of this earth,
and things more naturally pleasing to me, will be sure to interrupt the sight of you,
unless your grace interferes.
Keep my eyes, my ears, my heart from any such miserable tyranny.
Break my bonds—-raise my heart.
Keep my whole being fixed on you.
Let me never lose sight of you; and, while I gaze on you,
let my love of you grow more and more every day.”

Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, p. 44-5

patient in adversity

“I earnestly admonish you, therefore, my brothers, to look after
your spiritual well-being with judicious concern.
Death is certain; life is short and vanishes like smoke.
Fix your minds, then, on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Inflamed with love for us, he came down from heaven to redeem us.
For our sake he endured every torment of body and soul and shrank from no bodily pain.
He himself gave us an example of perfect patience and love.
We, then, are to be patient in adversity.”

St. Francis of Paola


(the bumblebees and the blueberries / Julie Cook / 2019)

The more man freely chooses to sin and place his own truth above God’s truth,
and the more sin becomes a habit and vice,
the more man becomes enslaved to the fleeting goods of this world;
he becomes bound to disordered love and constrained by disordered attachments.
In this way sin establishes an addictive pattern that keeps men from conforming
to the truth of their being.

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers
from Behold the Man: A Catholic Vision of Male Spirituality

when berries ferment, the squirrels, along with everything else, get brazen…

In this world of ours, every believer must be a spark of light,
a center of love, a vivifying ferment for the mass;
and it will be that all the more as, in the depths of his being,
he lives in communion with God.

Pope John XXIII


(Julie Cook / 2018)

This is what happens when both time and berry picking get out of hand…
One of the two starts to ferment…and everything seems to simply…
well, go to hell in a handbasket from there…

And it’s all because the alcohol starts flowing…

Frist the squirrels become brazen…

They stealthily emerge from the security of the woods and boldly skirt across the
large, very open, expanse of yard.

“Hawks be damned” is their day’s battle cry…as they raise their tiny glasses…
all because the bubbly is starting to flow…

Yet the mockingbird, king bird of the yard, is none too keen to share
his private stash of hooch…

Notice very carefully in the lower left of the bush and you’ll see the hidden usurper.
The culprit in which the mockingbird is loudly raising havoc over.

Too bad I didn’t video this melee allowing you to both hear and see the ruckus and the clamoring
taking place between the squawking bird and the barking squirrel…
one protecting while the other usurping…

Now throw in both cats who are merely, and might I add intensely curious, bystanders…
wondering why they have been excluded from this soiree.

But wait…
Is that a rabbit now making tracks across the wide open and dangerous field??
And is his tiny glass empty as well…

Too much of a good thing is really never a good thing…

strictly for the birds…as in, literally

“It takes a purely human courage to renounce the whole temporal realm in order to gain eternity,
but this I do gain and in all eternity can never renounce—it is a self-contradiction.
But it takes a paradoxical and humble courage to grasp the whole temporal realm now by
virtue of the absurd, and this is the courage of faith.”

Søren Kierkegaard


(the spent berries shriveling on the vine / Julie Cook / 2018)

Strictly for the birds…an American idiom coined just following WWII meaning worthless or something not really worth bothering with…

As in the blueberries…
they need to be literally left to the birds!

Both life and time have gotten the better of me so when I walked out this morning in
an attempt to unburden the blueberry bushes I was met with what Bourbon Street smells
like the morning following a Sugar Bowl game for the National title.

There’s that cloyingly and sickly sweet, very overpowering scent of fermentation…
as in the berries are simply overripened and now fermenting…
fermenting on the ground, on the bush…you name it, they’re fermenting…


(fermenting berries rotting on the ground / Julie Cook / 2018)

Those that are overly ripe have simply fallen to the ground which is now covered with
all manner of crawling, biting, stinging things searching for their share of a sweet
rotting juicy treat.

The birds are actually landing in the bushes, with me right there in plain sight, as they
are now so drunk from having gorged on fermented berries that they give me a no never mind.
I merely duck.

Me who is just trying to find the remaining salvageable berries.

Those berries that are not bursting at my mere touch due to being so swollen from the
copious amount of rain as of late have left me smelling like I’ve been on a three day
drunk.

The other berries are simply so small and hard that they are not worth the trouble since
they will never truly ripen.

The mercury was sitting right at 90 with the humidity being nearly the same…
And it was still well before the noonday hour.

I got what I could, overwhelmed by the rest so I simply threw my hands in the air and said
out loud for no one in particular…let them just go to the birds!!!

Much in the same way that I want to say to all those working ever so fast and furious at
creating our current state of hysteria…hysteria that is coming out of our oh so
post-Christian, uber progressive, rabid dog culture.

A couple of troubling things…

The first is obviously the recent fact that a person went into a restaurant to eat…
and because of who her boss just so happened to be, was asked to leave.

She didn’t go to push an agenda, she wasn’t on the clock, she wasn’t “representing” as so
many these days like to say…
She was just trying to enjoy a meal at a place I’m sure she has either visited before
and liked or was with someone who had previously eaten there and recommended it.

And so she left…along with those in her group.

They offered to pay for what they had ordered but were told that would not be necessary.

The owner claims that several on her staff are gay and that was why they wanted her to leave
because her boss made them feel uncomfortable and, I’m assuming, they, in turn, felt hostile
toward her simply for simply being associated with him.

Not that any of them actually even knew her or him…they’ve just assumed the worst.

And let’s remember, this gal’s boss wasn’t even there…
it was just a gal with a group of family and friends who wanted to eat
and enjoy, what I’m thinking, would have been a good meal.

That’s a troubling storm cloud upon our horizon.

As is the one big argument as to why it was ok to boot this lady out…

Many folks are comparing this incident to the bakery who, due to religious convictions,
declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Of which blew up into a nasty lawsuit which became the shot heard around the nation…
It was a lawsuit that, in the end, graciously went in the favor of the bakers.
Yay for being able to still have religious conviction in the good old US of A.

The gay couple had actually gone way out of their way to use this particular baker.
They knew upfront how things would most likely turn out when they actually could have
used many other nearby bakeries they would most likely have been more than willing
to accommodate their wishes.

The owner of the bakery is a Christian who views same-sex marriages as an affront to
a sacred God-ordained union.
I happen to agree, but I am digressing.

That incident was based on a religious conviction.

Getting booted from a restaurant because of one’s boss, well that is troubling in
a completely different direction which has nothing to do with one’s
religious convictions.

Next, there was a troubling mention made in yesterday’s post with the link to one of
David Robertson’s, aka The Wee Flea’s, post.

David was writing a post refuting a recently published book and now book tour, by a gay
Christian artist, Vicky Breeching.

In a nutshell, David tells us that Vicky’s book is about her coming out as openly gay
and how she is claiming to be actually a victim of the Christian Chruch…
so now her’s is a push for what is being dubbed as Gay Christianity.

So obviously gone now are the days of sinfulness or of upholding God’s word and tenants to man.
Because of all those sorts of things are now considered to be some sort of bullying
which produces a sense of victimization.

Yep, you read correctly…living life opposed to God’s commands is liberating because
living under those commands is to live a bullied life resulting in victimization.

Who makes this kind of thinking up???…really, I want to know….because I want
to avoid them at all costs.

A person in the UK had ticked the like button on David’s post and someway or other that simple
the action of “liking” David’s post put this person on a watchdog Governmental list…a list
of those who are being labeled as “homophobic” which, if I am not mistaken,
is now considered a hate crime in the UK.

So to disagree with homosexuality, believing that such a lifestyle runs counter to God’s word,
is to be homophobic and guilty of a hate crime.

This person wrote a comment to David explaining this sudden odd plight over merely
liking David’s post.

Let that sink in a minute.

You are a Christian, or a Jew, or a Muslim for that matter, who believes that because
of your religious convictions,
you believe homosexuality goes against the word of God and is perceived
as a sin…. and so now you are labeled homophobic and are guilty of a hate crime.

I would laugh but the fact of the matter is that that is pretty darn frightening.

This lunacy has got to stop!
Because it is absolutely ridiculous.
As in…. it is all strictly for the birds…

Yet the question remains….when and how…when and how will all of this madness end?

And those two questions are what should have each of us troubled…

But we know that in the end, come what may, we of Fatih know…
we know that yes these earthly battles will rage,
yet blessedly the Victory has already been secured.

Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

beloved seeking beloved

“In the first place it should be known that if a person is seeking God,
his beloved is seeking him much more.”

— St. John of the Cross


(just some of the blueberries picked the other day / Julie Cook / 2018)

The other day I shared a tale about a lesson gleaned from within a blueberry bush.

I spoke of going full on honey badger after the abundance of plump berries.

An expression which means going after whatever it is one is going after with an exuberant
and high velocity of gusto and tenacity.

I likened such a fierce hyperfocus over the act of berry picking,
as small as it is in comparison,
to how God is to be viewed in His quest for and over us…
That He will go full on honey badger for the object of His affection.

A simplistic comparison but an earthly one that is readily understood in its
scope and depth.
A no backing down, no relenting, no walking away sort of approach to attaining the
quest.

And so yesterday morning, when reading the daily offering, the words of St. John of the Cross,
words echoing that same sentiment, I clearly began to see a trend of thought.

So since we’ve come to understand that there is no such thing as coincidence…
only the Holy Spirit…
we know that this “thought” is being revealed for a reason…
A reminder, timely that it is, that we are being sought to such a depth of desire that it
far surpasses our own comprehension of what intent and reason actually mean.

If we seek our earthly desires with such a tunneled visioned steely wanting and precision…
what then of God for us?

So here is a reminder, an offering in the need in knowing, that God will not nor has not,
abandoned us…
A reminder from past to present that God remains steadfast in His pursuit
of both you and me.

A pursuit that has been gravely costly to Him but a pursuit that has never lost its momentum
nor waned nor diminished.

If we stop, just stop doing what it is we are doing, allowing our minds to grasp the very thought
of such a driven quest for such a desire…it is more than we can digest or phantom…
to grasp that we are the end focus of such a quest, such a goal…that we are
the end of His desire, His wants…

If we allow ourselves to ponder and ruminate over such a thought we find that such knowledge
is so very necessary and even crucial in this day and time of ours…

Yes there is a beloved…
and He his seeking His beloved…

and that beloved is both you and me…

amazing really…

“[The] ultimate end of man we call beatitude.
For a man’s happiness or beatitude consists in the vision whereby he sees God in His essence.
Of course, man is far below God in the perfection of his beatitude.
For God has this beatitude by His very nature,
whereas man attains beatitude by being admitted to a share in the divine light.”
— St. Thomas Aquinas, p. 119
An Excerpt from
Aquinas’s Shorter Summa

going full on honey badger

“Honey Badger don’t care”
Randall

Honey Badger.

Two words, one animal.

Honey sounds all, well, nice and sweet.

Badger sounds somewhat cute but perhaps not so nice.

But put the two together and you really have a situation on your hands.

Whereas a honey badger resembles an Amercian badger or perhaps even a wolverine in
its build, think short, flat, stocky and low,
they are actually more akin to the weasel family.

Thick, compact and mean, as in a polecat, and you have a honey badger.

A honey badger is tenacious, determined, fearless and relentless.
Thick skinned and thick-skulled while highly intelligent.

They will not back down from a fight and most other animals…
think poisonous snakes, lions, hyenas, even Africanized bees don’t deter a honey badger
as no animal is too keen to have to deal with a honey badger.

A honey badger takes no crap.

So if you’ve ever watched an episode of the American Pickers on the History Channel,
you may have heard the chief picker himself, Mike Wolfe,
exclaim right before he dives into someone’s barn full of old junk,
that he’s going “full on honey badger.”

And you’d probably be correct in your assumption that that meant he wasn’t about to
let anything get in his way on his quest to find a treasure amongst the junk.

Also if you’re any sort of football fan, you may recall hearing of the former LSU player
and current Houston Texan’s Safety, Tyrann Mathieu, referred to by his nickname,
‘the honey badger.’
Meaning that the guy is a relentless type of player who can take a licking but keep on ticking.

I’ve watched a couple of clips on honey badgers and they do not let anything stop
them or get in their way, especially if it comes to a meal.

I doubt there is a meaner animal on the planet..well maybe the hippo but at least they
don’t look all that mean.
Honey badgers are the epitome of ill-tempered on a chronic bad day binge.

When your diet snacks consist of scorpions, it’s a safe bet you aren’t the sweetest
thing out there.

So if you’ve been with me for a while, you know that each June is the time to
pluck the blueberries.

Each year as the bushes grow, their output of berries grows…
it is becoming a scope and size sort of issue.
The sort of thing that is getting almost too much for one person.
That one person being me.

Last year I was coming off my role as caregiver for Dad, followed with picking up life’s
pieces following his subsequent death, time was limited for much of anything, let
alone picking fruit.

I almost let the season of picking get past me so I had to work like mad
to unburden the bushes or simply let the fruit rot on the bush.

The birds help, but they still leave plenty behind.

This year since I’ve been a caregiver of a different capacity…
more like a traveling babysitter,
I’m finding that once again, the bushes have almost gotten away from me.

I have learned that if you can start picking a little each day as the berries begin
to ripen, you’re way ahead of the game…
But if you let them ripen and keep ripening without picking nary
a berry, well you’ve got an overwhelming disaster on your hands.

And so it was this morning that I was determined to go take care of business…
or more aptly go take care of berries.

I plucked in the hot humid June sun for nearly 4 hours, loading up 3 large containers.

As fast as I kept picking the berries kept multiplying.
Odd how they can do that.

Yet I was determined and relentless in my quest.

I had to go full on honey badger in that I had to make my way up, under and into the
interior of the bushes.
I had to push my way past spider webs, past spiders, past wasps, past Japanese beetles,
past unsuspecting birds, past things with weird bodies and multiple legs, just to get
at some of the better, larger and plumper berries.

As I continued reaching, pushing, pulling, swatting and peeling a wary eye out for snakes…
did I mention that they’re telling us that this is the worst copperhead season in ages?
I got to thinking…is this not what the Father does for me,
what He does for each of us?

Does God not go full on honey badger for us?

Is He not tenacious, persistent and always fighting tooth and nail for us?
Never backing down, never afraid, never willing to give up, fighting literally unto death
for us…
us, the focus of His love and affection?!

That there is One who is so relentless just for me…
such a thought is, well, terribly humbling.
Who goes after me, or anyone for that matter, fighting tooth and nail while I’m
simply going after mere blueberries???

Perhaps it’s time to shift the focus a bit…going after the One
who is going after me…with an equal sense of tenacity and gusto…

It’s time for a full-on Honey Badger!!!

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

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