The Inferno

“When it became clear that the death warrant for hundreds of thousands
of Irish babies was about to be signed, it broke my heart.
When I saw the grotesque pictures of people dancing in the streets in
celebration it was like a scene out of Dante’s Inferno.”

David Robertson


(Dante)

Dante degli Alighieri was a 14th century Florentine who is most remembered for the epic
poems he composed into a collection known as The Divine ComedyInferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso
in other words, Hell, Purgatory and finally Paradise.

The collection of 3 poems are as epic as they are brilliant.
An allegory for what Dante believed were his own dark days and yet sadly for us,
during these trying days of our own, his words are most timely as they remain as a
reflective mirror—reflecting the emptiness of our own darkness.

As noted by a description on Wikipedia,
“it [hell] is the “realm…
of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites
or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice
against their fellowmen”.

Our friend the Wee Flea, the Scottish Pastor David Robertson, continues in his most
recent post which piggybacks off of the post he wrote just following the passing of the
referendum in Ireland rescinding the ban on abortion, as a most troubling sign of the times.

David likens much of what we are witnessing coming out of Ireland, in particular
what is coming out of the capital of Dublin, with its now jubilant party-like atmosphere
following the passage of the vote,
as something that could be straight out of the pages of Dante’s Inferno.

David notes that the vote, which is in itself bad enough in its own right, almost pales in
comparison to the near-hysterical celebratory mania that has followed the referendum’s passage…
a frenzied jumbled hoopla that is more than disturbing, it is downright barbaric.

Think about it…
a vote passed with an overwhelmingly large percentage in favor of the right to
terminate pregnancies up to 12 weeks…meaning that a mother can decide to
legally kill her unborn child, and the people are celebrating as if some massive
and oppressive enemy has just been finally and thankfully defeated.

Some sort of David and Goliath moment but so utterly far from such.

Prior to this vote, women in Ireland who wished to terminate their pregnancy
had to travel to Britain.

Yet today, women from around the globe are now proclaiming this latest referendum as
a giant victory in the way of women’s rights.
It’s that whole notion of ‘it’s my body, it’s my choice’ nonsense.

But what of it no longer being just your body involved?
Technically it is no longer the choice of a single individual because there are
actually, two bodies now involved.

And if the truth be told, it is not merely a singular choice or even a choice of two…
but rather it is a choice that truthfully involves three…

Yet oddly we never seem to hear about nor count the male who was involved
and assisted in the occurrence of this now rather ominous choice that is proclaimed as
being a singular choice.

David startingly notes that the whereas the politicians and the media have each
joined in the festivities proclaiming this referendum as a victory for the people…
the collective body of Church families has remained eerily silent.

The Catholic Chruch, silent.
The Anglican Chruch, silent.
The Chruch of Scotland, silent
The Free Chruch, silent.
The Baptist Chruch, silent.

A few clergy members here and there have voiced their sorrow but as far as a collective
Christian body response, the voices remain silent…

My favorite quote by Dante:
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis,
maintain their neutrality.”

Perhaps the Chruch needs a reminder of the volumes her indifference speaks…

The Irish Referendum – the Repercussions

Matt. 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked,
“Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble,
it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be
drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mind, body and soul

“C. I. Scofield, in his reference Bible, explains that…
the spirit gives God consciousness,
the soul gives the self consciousness,
the body gives the world consciousness.”

Watchman Nee excerpt The Latent Power of the Soul


(the rocky shore of Lake Huron / Mackinac Island, MI / Julie Cook / 2017)

“In the history of man’s creation we read,
‘The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground’
thus was his body made–
‘and breathed into his nostrils the breath
or spirit ‘of life’:
thus his spirit came from God;
‘and man became a living soul.’

The spirit quickening the body made man a living soul,
a living person with the consciousness of himself.

The soul was the meeting-place, the point of union between body and spirit.

Through the body, man the living soul, stood related to the external world
of sense;
[he] could influence it, or be influenced by it.

Through the spirit he stood related to the spiritual world and the Spirit
of God, when he had his origin;
[therefore he] could be the recipient and the minister of its life and power.

Standing thus midway between two worlds, belonging to both,
the soul had the power of determining itself,
[therefore] choosing or refusing the objects by which it was surrounded,
and to which it stood related.”

Andrew Murray

(brackets are mine)

Sailors delight eh….

“He replied,
“When evening comes, you say,
‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning,
‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’
You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky,
but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

Matthew 16:2-3

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(a view from the driveway on a sultry August Georgia evening / Julie Cook / 2016)

Red sky at night,
sailors delight….

Getting out of the car, at sunset, after a very, very long day
ferrying dad between this doctor and that doctor,
this lab facility and that medical center….
then spending almost 3 hours in traffic fighting to get home….
I look back, over my shoulder, toward the western sky.

The air is thick and heavy with the humidity of August.
Exactly how I’m feeling…weighted down and heavy ladened.

I sigh…

The evening is quiet.
A far cry from where I had just come.

Our son and daughter-n-law will be moving soon..
moving to the city I never seem to miss when I leave it.
But I can’t think about helping with packing and moving…
not yet…

I often think it not wise to write when life is so heavy
or…maybe that’s exactly when one should…write…
pouring out thoughts and feelings…
searching to match the right words with the right feelings…
sorting and making sense of the senseless…

A body that is tired and hurting
joining thoughts with feelings that now are swirling…
I look toward the red western sky…
as if seeking some sort of reassurance…

Surgery on Friday for dad…
the tumor too large to remove…
but trying to shore things up while buying some time…
Time…
another heavy thought…open-ended
full of uncertainty…

A red sky.

Signals a sailor’s delight…

In other words,
smooth sailing…

Hummm….

Again, a sigh…before heading inside…

Signs of the time…

As I am reminded, while looking at the sky…
in the midst of all the madness and heaviness,
That the Master of the sky…
and of the clouds,
and of the stars,
and of the land
and of the sea…
remains….

forever…

DSCN4193

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

Red sky at night, sailors delight.
When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow.

Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.
A red sunrise can mean that a high pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east. A morning sky that is a deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain could be on its way.

(courtesy the Library of Congress, Fun Science Facts)

the tangible and the wonder of the intangible

“One man with an idea in his head is in danger of being considered a madman:
two men with the same idea in common may be foolish, but can hardly be mad;
ten men sharing an idea begin to act,
a hundred draw attention as fanatics,
a thousand and society begins to tremble,
a hundred thousand and there is war abroad,
and the cause has victories tangible and real;
and why only a hundred thousand?
Why not a hundred million and peace upon the earth?
You and I who agree together,
it is we who have to answer that question.”

William Morris

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(memorial cross inside St Patricks Cathedral / Dublin Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Yesterday my good friend Color Storm, over on the Lion’s Den (https://thenakedtruth2.wordpress.com),
offered a beautiful reflection to the last line of my day’s post…
“onward and upward”…
His was a comment in response to the topic of loss and to my choice of carrying on and turning upward.

I’ve always opted for the act of carrying on and the upward momentum in life…
with the alternative of stopping, stooping, becoming stagnant and eventually spiraling downward, not an acceptable nor pleasant option.

I try avoiding downward spirals at all costs.

CS threw out a latin phrase that I had not thought of in a long time…

Sursum Corda

Sursum corda, is the opening to the Eucharistic prayer in many churches…it was, and is still, very much a part of the Rite of the Holy Eucharist in both the Episcopal and Anglican churches…as I suspect, it is still in use in other liturgical based worship services as well.

The Sursum Corda, is Latin for: “Lift up your hearts” or literally, “Hearts lifted”

The service follows as such with the celebrant / priest addressing the congregation:

The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy spirit.
Celebrant: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up unto the Lord.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
People: It is meet and right so to do.

(Then, facing the Holy Table (altar), the Celebrant proceeds)

It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should
at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord,
holy Father, almighty, everlasting God.

(Here a Proper Preface is sung or said on all Sundays, and on other
occasions as appointed.)

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the
company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious
Name; evermore praising thee, and saying,

(Celebrant and People)

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts:
Heaven and earth are full of thy Glory.
Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High.

(Here may be added)

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

(as taken from the Book of Common Prayer)

I watched each Sunday as my godfather, the Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral I attended growing up, would turn to those faithful gathered and raising his arms with a sweeping upward motion, began the ancient and holy ritual that had been said and done for over a millennium prior…

A literal and figurative lifting of voice, heart, soul, body and being….

For there within the heart of celebration of the Holy Eucharist, also known simply as the Communion Service, lies a most holy, sacred and mystical meeting.

That of the tangible joined with the intangible.

That which can be seen and touched colliding into that which cannot be seen nor touched…yet…
which is as present as a beating heart.

Odd how the mere mention of a long forgotten word or phrase can evoke a powerful recollection.

The recollection becomes but a reminder…
A reminder which becomes a window opening to the transcendence of both space and time.

There has been much debate throughout Christendom, ever since Jesus first conducted his own last supper, over the offered body and blood, which was done with the breaking of bread and the passing of a cup of wine.

Is the bread, the wafer, the host and is the wine, the blood, the offering the true mystical body and blood of Christ…
or
are they mere representations?

Transubstantiation—the actual changing of bread and wine into that of Christ’s actual body and blood.

How can that be ask both the believing as well as non believing…?
How does earthly tangible bread and wine turn into heavenly intangible body and blood?

“Take, eat, this is my body…
Drink, this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

“For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread;
and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his
disciples, saying,
“Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”

Likewise, after supper, he took the cup; and when he had
given thanks, he gave it to them, saying,
“Drink ye all of this;for this is my Blood of the New Testament,
which is shed for you, and for many,
for the remission of sins.
Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me.”

(taken from the Book of Common Prayer, Holy Eucharist)

To take,
to consume,
to allow that which is of Him to become a part of us…

Our faith is rooted in the mystical mystery of…
Heaven and earth,
Creator and created,
Sinless and sinful…

For our God transcends mortal comprehension

In an age when seeing is believing,
more is better than less,
everything and anything goes…
When everyone worships at the altar of self,
reality is worse than fiction
and humankind embraces death over life…

Lifting hands and hearts upward, away from the gravity laden death grip of an earthly life,
lifting and reaching from the tangible upward to the intangible…
yearning for our release from here below,
we are mystically transformed, as is the bread and wine…and are never to be the same….

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an angel,
may by his passion and cross
be brought to the glory of his resurrection.
Through the same Christ Our Lord.
Amen.

taken from the Angelus

Hungry?

There is a spiritual hunger in the world today –
and it cannot be satisfied by better cars on longer credit terms.

Adlai E. Stevenson

DSCN0731
(a disgusted jackdaw surveys a tossed aside apple core / Blarney Woolen Mills / Co Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2016)

God will fill the hungry because He Himself has stirred up the hunger.
As in the case of prayer, when God prepares the heart to pray,
He prepares His ear to hear (Ps. 10:17).
So in the case of spiritual hunger,
when God prepares the heart to hunger,
He will prepare His hand to fill.

Thomas Watson

If you saw someone who was hungry,
would you in turn offer them a piece of rubbish or rotting trash?
Would you hand them something discarded and already eaten upon?
Would you toss them a mere rind or core?
Some sort of afterthought, something less than…?

Chances are that you would not.

You wouldn’t feed a hungry person with trash or previously eaten and picked over food.
Rather you would most likely offer them something fresh, preferably warm and cooked.
Something that you yourself would wish to be offered…something you yourself would enjoy.

So we can safely assume that if someone stood before you physically hungry,
you would most certainly feed them or help provide a means for them to be fed…right?

So now, if someone was standing before you spiritually hungry, lost, angry with their life’s lot,
searching for that elusive satisfaction and happiness…
Why then would you not share the word of God?…
offering them the bread of life, the endless waters of salvation,
the body and blood of the only One who can satiate the real and true hunger of man?

For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:9

Have a good life

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Allen Saunders

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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(cross found in the Rock of Cashel cemetery, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just when you thought you had things situated, straightened out, figured out
and felt you were rolling merrily along feeling in charge, doing a good job of keeping your world in the middle of the road… Life’s little wicked twists and turns come calling, sending you careening out of control.

And so it was when the phone rang late this evening.
It was my godmother calling.
I’ve written about both my “godparents” before.
He is a life long Episcopal priest, Dean Emeritus of the Cathedral in Atlanta where I had grown up.
She, his wife, for the past near 70 years.
He’s soon to turn 93 and she 90.
Their bodies and minds failing in tandem.

I first wrote about my godfather shortly after I started this little blog of mine
as he was the one person in my life who had made the greatest impact–
as he basically saved me from myself when he came into my life…
when I was all of 15 years old.
I won’t retell that long convoluted tale as you can read it elsewhere if you so desire,
(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/ ) but suffice it to say, he’s meant the world to me.

Whereas he and I have shared the common thread of each being adopted, as I was a teen when we first found one another, we each had, throughout the years, a sea of ups and downs with our perspective internal baggage. We had our hard fraught moments as much healing took place over the years within both of our hearts as we walked the journey together. He taught me about unconditional love and what it truly meant–as I continued testing the depths of that love.

She was often in the shadows.
As the wife of a very busy and well known national cleric, picking up pieces, tending to children, as well as the home front, would have been the assumed standard lot for such a spouse.
Yet she was never one to shrink or hide.
This was a woman who had had a career on Broadway in the 40’s staring in Carousel along with other well known musicals.
She was outspoken and very very sound in her faith, never mincing her words.

She had more than her fair share of input into the shaping of my life.
So much so that my own mother was often intimidated.
She was the type of woman who saw what needed to be done and simply went about doing it, no matter who or what would or could be in the way or problematic.
“No” was not a word that was within her thought process.

So today when the phone rang, I figured it was a call of checking in and touching base.
Perhaps a thank you for the latest goodies I’d sent through the mail…
But no, this was not that type of conversation.

Before we even finished with the opening pleasantries of the “hey, how are yous”– she begins with “the Lord told me that He wants me to call and tell the people in my life what they have meant to me…so…I want you to know how grateful I am for…how precious you are to me…how much I thank you…how I want you to know…”

“WHOA—what are you saying???!!!” I fumble over the words.
“Well, I’ll be 90 soon, I don’t have much time left….
“WHOA—let’s not rush things shall we….” I hear myself stammering.
“Now let’s not put the cart before the horse shall we…” I continue trying to stop where this conversation is going…for all sorts of reasons–

She continues on with her “speech” when suddenly her mind takes the conversation elsewhere, in a totally different direction and tone… which is what’s more telling to me than her kind and endearing words–
Time is truly of the essence is it not…in this world that is…

Whereas my Godmother is sound in her faith and has no doubts, no regrets, as she continues pushing forward despite failing body and mind, living to hear His word and obeying those words to the very end—I fear there are not many of us who are as determined to do His very bidding up to that last breath we each have on this earth—or perhaps it’s more about having the courage to do so.

And maybe that’s it–
Courage, freedom, determination…

What is it that gives us, offers us, the courage to do and say the words God urges us to speak…. as well as giving us the “why”… as to why we are to speak certain words in the first place… and then there is the “when”… when are we to speak them and to whom.

When do we give ourselves the freedom to speak such words?
And what is it that sets our determination to do all of the above—
is it our health, our time, our circumstance?

As the conversation finally came to an end, with me most thankful as the difficulty and awkwardness of her words were crushing in on my heart, she put my godfather on the phone who proceeds to tell me he loves me and to “have a good life”

Oooooo, this is NOT the conversation I wanted to hear this evening.
Often within adopted folks there is a tiny voice buried deep within that likes to perpetuate a lie that “you’re not really ever wanted,” so hearing, as well as accepting, such deep and meaningful words, that you matter or are dearly loved, or are precious to someone can be very hard to digest… as you simply feel most unworthy…
Plus this whole signing off as if I’ll never see them or hear from them again is most unnerving–as it reminds me that none of us are guaranteed a thing in this world, especially not time…that precious commodity we so often take for granted…

So when this once prolific writer, speaker, preacher, religious leader who just so happens to be my “godpoppa” utters his parting words in an almost singsong sort of fashion
“Have a good life”
I’m like a deer in headlights…frozen in the moment.

Have a good life….
Who says that???!!
An almost 93 year old man who has spent the last couple of years fighting with his mind as it tries to shut down, and he’s hellbent to hold on…

This as I head to Dad’s today which is a whooooole ‘nuther ballgame–

So here’s to life…
Here’s to the end of life…
Here’s to how we choose to live that life, up to the very end…
and here’s to love….

May we all “have a great life…”

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 14:15

Time for a little reflection

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

DSC01492
(luscious raspberry / Julie Cook / 2015)

When I was in college, I worked at a girls summer camp in Black Mt, North Carolina.
There are many posts yet to be written, with some already published, regarding those summers long ago.

The camp counselors were afforded one full day off and one half day off each week.
I would find myself conflicted each time my off day rolled around.
Maybe it’s the built in work ethic I’ve been graced with or maybe my ego was too loud and proud, but whatever the reason, I would always have to force myself to take the time off.

Years later when I was a teacher, I often found myself in a similar situation. Whereas schools don’t afford their teachers time off other than scheduled holidays, I would work even if I was deathly sick–loathing to have to take a sick day. Good teachers you know, never take sick days.
They work through the pain.
And that in turn may actually equate to good teachers actually being stupid. . .but that’s another conversation for another day. . .
But like my principal always said (I had 9 in 31 years so I don’t remember which one)
“a sick teacher is better on any given day than a well substitute.”

I’ve learned over the years that a little time off, a little time for rest, a little time for reflection, a little R & R is often just what the doctor ordered. . .

When I started this little blog 2 and a half years ago, my work ethic carried over from the classroom. I transitioned into retirement from teaching with the help of the blog. I’ve posted something everyday since the inception of this little blog of mine.
In my early days of zealous posting, it was upwards to 3 posts a day.
Luckily for all of us I have mellowed.
I’ve posted sick, tired and even during major events such as my son’s wedding.
As I’m constantly thinking, observing and composing a new post throughout each and every day it’s usually God who has the last word. My original intentions usually take 180 degree turn once His hand is involved. . .

Yet as of late, my life with Dad and Gloria is taking its toll.
I’m finding myself very weary of body, mind and heart.
Each of their respective healths are declining.
Dad has been horrendously sick for the past week.
The doctor keeps throwing out the notion of colon cancer.
Which it very well may be—but I like to think not.
I’ll be taking him next week, despite the initial decision we wouldn’t go, to the gastroenterologist.
He’s sick, looking pale, losing weight and can’t eat a thing but a little bland rice, toast, and applesauce. . .
Gloria has developed Parkinson’s and the dementia is taking a toll—yet she’s fighting it and us with every breath of gusto she retains—she is like a little whirling dervish.

I love the community I have developed here.
You are my dear friends and my life-line
Some of us text, chat and e-mail–sharing our own personal ups and downs.
I don’t know what I’d do without knowing I had your prayers and support–especially on those hard days of driving and doing.

I think I may take a day or two off.
Not stop writing—for Heavens sake no—this is my catharsis. . .
But I’m thinking I may rest over the weekend.
It’s Brenton and Abby’s first year anniversary this weekend and we told them
we’d do something special for them.

So I think I will just kind of “rest” over the weekend
Rest my thoughts, mind and body.
Seek some small diversion to help clear my head and heart.

But as I say that, I probably won’t listen to my own advice and will press on like the good teacher I am 😉
At any rate, we’ll be chatting soon. . .
my love and hugs friends. . . .