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

hanging on by a thread

Oh, I am not redeemed by corruptible things
Not by silver, not by gold and not by aimless tradition
But by the blood of Gods sacred son Jesus
Oh, You alone are my living hope and my inheritance is incorruptible

Watermark, Incorruptible lyrics

God has ordained that Satan have a long leash with God holding on to the leash
because he knows that when we walk in and out of those temptations,
struggling with both the physical effects that they bring and the moral effects that they bring,
more of God’s glory will shine.

John Piper

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(Georgia box turtle ambling across the driveway that has nothing to do with today’s post, I just like him / Julie Cook / 2016)

I am tired.
spent,
worn out,
frazzled
and frayed.

I don’t think I’ve even realized how stressed I’ve been until just recently.

It really started to ramp up with Dad and my stepmother over a year ago…
Their failing bodies, minds and health…
Caregivers coming and going, nurses leaving,
frantic calls, frantic racing to the rescue….

We added my father-n-law to the mix..
Then came his sudden death.
And now a wealth of woe comes with attempting to settle his affairs…
A legal nightmare really.

There’s been the worries parents still have over their grown children…

There’s the business and the agony of retail…

There’s all of that and even so much more….

It’s as if an all out assault has been coming in on all sides…
a blitzkrieg of attacks.

Nerves raw, emotions reeling…as one works to hold it all together…

Take care of yourself they say—
Well, that’s all fine and good but the main person charged with all the caring can’t
just runaway…
however there are days that such a thought is more than just a little appealing…

I think I’ve lamented the fact before…
I spend more time these day’s in a five mile radius of where I grew up
than I do here at home in my own community.
I’ll also be the first person to tell you—DON’T move to Atlanta…
or any other major metropolitan city for that matter—they are just too blasted big…
chalked full of people and their cars that they cannot drive.

There was a time when I loved Atlanta.
I missed it when I was away at college.
I missed it when I was away working during the summers at camp.
I mourned it when I graduated college and moved away taking my first job.
After I married, I finally said good-bye to that hidden thought of one day returning…
to live….

Silly me.

I now neither miss it nor mourn it.
In fact, I now loath it.
As it is no longer the city I knew growing up.
Sadly I believe they call that growth and progress…
I call it a mess.

Dad still lives in the same house they bought when I was 3, way back in 1962.
The area around it however, the neighborhoods and that small community feel, is shrinking.
It’s as if the walls are closing in, but rather than walls, it is entire neighborhoods.

Entire homes are now either demolished and rebuilt into those so called “mcmansions” or they have been entirely obliterated, making room for mega office towers or shopping complexes, along with the resulting urban sprawl.

At the top of the main street, a main artery that Dad’s little street runs into, there once was a condominium complex. It had been there since I was in high school–a good 45 years ago.
Many of the unmarried teachers who worked at my high school actually called it home.
Not that the complex was pretty or particularly nice–but it was low rising, only two stories and the site was lush and wooded, offering a secluded feel in the midst of the city.

Over the years the clientele has changed, as has the whole area.
And once again progress steps in.
A couple of months back, the entire complex was totally demolished as the massive corner of rolling acres was clear cut, graded and leveled.
A new live, work, shopping community is going up.
All this about a mile up the road from Dads.

As I was heading back home this afternoon from Dads, I noted the hive of construction now taking place.
There was a gigantic crane lifting sheets of concrete high up into the air so effortlessly that the massive concrete slab being fit into the massive parking deck like a puzzle piece, appeared suspended like a mere piece of paper swaying gently in the breeze.

Here was a multi ton slab hanging in the air by a single thin cable…dangling from a huge crane.
The construction workers below, donning their hard hats, watched as the crane operator easily maneuvered both crane and slab, angling the concrete sections into place on the ever growing massive parking deck.
Piece of engineering cake.

Yet I knew that with one snap of that cable, all those men below would be crushed out of site.

“Such faith” I heard myself muttering to no one in particular.

It was amazing really.

Those men had such a trusting faith in that crane operator and more importantly in that single thin cable…

A cable of faith…

Much like the same sort of cable that holds me…
As I am suspended between this life and an omnipotent God.
A cable that links me to an unconditional Love.
A faith that holds all that I am, extended from all that He is.

It is knowing that He is holding on, not letting go and that I am tethered…
Attached to something so much bigger and so much greater…
That cable of faith, linking both created and Creator, is my unbroken connection
to the one true Hope
It is knowing that nothing on this earth escapes Him…
His knowledge, His vision, His Love..
That I am His and He is mine…

And just like the construction workers working beneath the crushing slabs of concrete, I too can go about my business with the weight of the world hanging over my head knowing that everything is going to be ok because He is totally in charge and will not allow me to be crushed….

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Luke 12:6-7

Knit

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth,
Knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name…”

Psalm 86:11

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(spinning wheel located at the Glencolmcille Folk Museum, Glencolmcille, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Kint—to bind and join together… by use of a single thread…
The weaving and the woven…
Of two separate pieces,
bound to one another…
the binding and joining together of two by use of a single spun thread…
in order to make two, one…

If the seamstress is really talented, the casual observer will not even notice a seam —
Two separate entities embraced, seamless and whole.
Unaware that there was ever anything but one….
To become inseparable…

How close do you believe you are to the One who has claimed you…
long before you ever came into being?
He who knit you, fashioned you, formed you in your mother’s womb?
Whose breath is your very own…

He who has marked you as His own.

For you have been never separate…
Never a lost single piece of cloth…
Never alone nor forgotten…
Contrary to what the world would have you believe…
or you believe of yourself

Yet rather…
You are…

bound
joined
woven
knit…

to Another…
Forever…

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
Romans 7:4

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(Glencolmcille Folk Museum / Glencolmcille, Co Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Threads

“If everyone gives one thread, the poor person will have a shirt”
Russian Proverb

“The soul that is attached to anything however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for, until the cord be broken the bird cannot fly.”
St. John of the Cross

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(just a few of my friend Charlotte’s tools of her trade / Julie Cook / 2015)

IMG_1519(just a few of my friend

The question we each eventually find ourselves asking,
at some point or other during our lifetime is. . .

“To what and or to whom am I bound?”

What is it that ties us, binds us, secures us to this thing we call life?

Is it family?
Is it work?
Is it that cadre of friends?
Is it the joy of hobbies?
Is it wealth?
Is it the pursuit of wealth?
Is it what we amass. . . our things, our toys, our possessions?
Is it a belief, a faith, a thought, a lifestyle, a life choice. . .?
Perhaps a combination of all of the above. . .?

The threads, those intricate strings, ropes, chains, cords, wires that tie us and bind us to this world, those that help to keep us grounded. . .but at the same time limited and tightly bound. . .
We must wonder. . . do they bind us, tether us just like the dog who is tethered to a chain run in the yard—affording a measured amount of space and length to run about, jump, sit, sleep. . .that is until we reach the end of the line– only to be rudely and abruptly yanked back into place. . .into our safety zone.

Are we tethered to these items and people just like the chained dog living in a limited world?
Do we look at these threads, these ropes, these chains as various life lines which offer security or rather do we need to be tied down and constantly connected, growing more and more tangled up the more we run about?

If we allow ourselves to be tied to this and that, to be bound to all the earthly goods in our lives, clinging to those things and people we allow to consume us, then what room do we allow for God and for what all God wants to be and to give within our lives–the offerings, the compassion, the Grace?
We can never soar upward, freely, toward the Creator if we are as a puppet—full of strings that bind and eventually knotting up and holding us to everything but Him.

The more we amass in this world, the heavier we become with more and more threads—hindered by the things that tie us up ever tighter to the world and to its life sucking needs. We become ensnared and entangled in each thread that leashes us to each and every thing and person–being unable to even lift a hand, reaching outward toward a God who wants so desperately to take our hand.

Maybe it’s time to untie, even cut, a few strings. . .to be willing to let go of a few things that we foolishly have thought to be too important. With our focus being so overtly grounded, we are unable to begin to look up and away to that sacred place where God longs for us to be.

Oddly we may believe that the threads that tie us to even our churches, to even certain relationships, too important to loosen—but we must realize, before we are so terribly knotted and tangled that when the threads are too many and too tight to the church or to anything or anyone other than the Omnipotent God of Creation, not allowing us to tie and tether ourselves to HIm and what He alone has to offer, then we are surely lost as we drown in a sea of colored threads.

God wants His thread to be the only thread we ever need or use.

It’s what St John of the Cross so eloquently surmises in today’s quote—it matters not what we are “tied to. . .for until the cord is broken [cut, severed], the bird cannot [be free] to fly [or soar]

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord;
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God, and He has given us light;
Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I give thanks to You;
You are my God, I extol You.

Psalm 118:26-27

I see you, seeing me

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
― Meister Eckhart

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A tufted titmouse taking a quick bath out my back window / Julie Cook / 2013

What beautiful words this morning from Meister Eckhart—of an endless, timeless, omnipotent, connection which transcends the very grasp of thought or reason. A boundless union that existed before my own existence and will exist when I am gone form this life.

The small “i” joining the great Thou…joined together at the very moment of being–the Alpha and the Omega of an interconnectedness which forms a mystical union and bond that is woven together to become one….

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

(Psalm 139: 7-24 NIV)

A binding Love that seeks you and me ….”for I am of the Father, and the Father is of me and what is of me, I offer to you…..”

Connected and bound…healed and freed….for the two shall be as one……