for those who do not know or have forgotten—living forever

“I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus
to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.”

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


(The Mayor’s big reveal / Brenton Cook / 2021)

“Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever,
and this must be either true or false.
Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about
if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about
very seriously if I am going to live for ever.”

C.S. Lewis, p. 74
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

****we’re off to the Mayor’s for her big party this weekend…you know how it is to turn 3??!!!

give my your Light

“Everything becomes more and more itself.
Here is joy that cannot be shaken.
Our light can swallow up your darkness;
but your darkness cannot now infect our light.”

C.S. Lewis


(they take the bulbs and shades…so life is in the dark / Julie Cook / 2020)

Transition seems to bring about a variance of both light and dark.
I can have a lamp, but without a bulb or electricity, I have only darkness.

The same remains true for the soul.
If there is no light, there is only darkness.

We pray for light.
Give us you light oh Lord…

“In me there is darkness,
But with You there is light;
I am lonely, but You do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help;
I am restless, but with You there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience;
I do not understand Your ways,
But You know the way for me.”

“Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor
And in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.
You know all man’s troubles;
You abide with me
When all men fail me;
You remember and seek me;
It is Your will that I should know You
And turn to You.
Lord, I hear Your call and follow;
Help me.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

at home…with God

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis


(our home in December 2017 during a winter storm / Julie Cook)

As we prepare to move homes…from a house we built to one we did not,
I have become keenly aware of what it means to be rooted as well as somewhat uprooted.
What it means to be sheltered.
To be comfortable.
To feel safe.

Yet that’s not always the case for many of our sisters and brethren.

For many, there is no sense of stability.
No sense of security nor well-being.

So within the melancholy I’m finding in leaving,
there is a greater sense of gratitude.

If a house can feel emotion, which we know it cannot, my desire would be that this house
could feel our deep level of not only a bittersweetness in leaving but more importantly,
that it could sense our level of thankfulness for the years of shelter, safety,
and rootedness it provided.

And so it is within this flood of emotion…the type of emotion that only transition
can bring…of which I know is not coming from the leaving, the going, or the coming that
is the root of my unsettledness…it is the longing I have for “home”—
a longing for a home that transcends this world.

I know that our hearts, none of our hearts, will be at rest until we find
ourselves embraced in the arms of our Father…


(Julie Cook / 2019)

The peace coming from the Holy Spirit is more than relief from suffering,
a sense of well-being, or a sense of equanimity.
It is rooted in a deep sense of home, home amid the cosmos
(which we who have faith know is being at home with God).

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.
from Christ vs Satan in Our Daily Lives

‘patches of Godlight’

“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could
never get from reading books on astronomy.
These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’
in the woods of our experience.”

C.S. Lewis


(shelf fungus oddly existing on the dry red dirt of Georgia / Julie Cook / 2020)

I think we need to go to the woods.
Why?
Because we need a diversion from ourselves.

I am oh so weary from the vitriol and hatred that is eclipsing our senses.

We need to be reminded that we are truly small and that there is a world out there that is
actually much greater than ourselves.

We actually need to be put back in the food chain in order to grasp
the bigger picture—-
however sadly, we tend to run in the realm of human predation…so what can I say.

Let’s get out of our cities, our lockdowns, our narrowmindedness.
Let’s get out from under the bickering and hatred racing around our lives.
Let’s go to the woods…

But before we actually get into the woods, we’ve got to park the truck.
We’ve got to start walking…
and here’s what we see before we even get into the woods…

We see a lone downy turkey feather covered in the morning dew…


(turkey feather covered in dew / Julie Cook / 2020)


(detail of turkey feather covered in dew / Julie Cook / 2020)

Before we venture much further, before we leave the rutted red dusty path and diverge
into the thick stand of trees and vines, we see a carpet of dew-covered netted webs…


(a spider web covered in the dew / Julie Cook / 2020)


(detail of dew covering a spider web/ Julie Cook / 2020)

More tomorrow when we finally venture readily and willingly deep into another world…

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

it isn’t easy, nor is it ever fair…

“The demand for equality has two sources; one of them is among the noblest,
the other is the basest, of human emotions. The noble source is the desire for fair play.
But the other source is the hatred of superiority.
At the present moment it would be very unrealistic to overlook the importance of the latter.”

C.S. Lewis


(a roped off area where a sea turtle has laid her eggs / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)

Life is hard and it is certainly not always ever fair…

And yet we humans seem to be trying oh so hard to keep things as equitable, even, fair,
as well as level, as far as our conscious demands…

That is until we are stymied…

Stymied not so much by our fellow man or menacing mob, but rather stymied by
the likes of someone much more powerful…that being Mother Nature.

We can scream at one another about fairness, justice, injustice, and unfairness all we want.
We can make other men kneel at our sword and cower to our words and demands.
We can threaten, harass, harangue, and even inflict harm all in the name of making
others bend to our will for a purported notion of justice or fairness.

Yet in the end, it really isn’t any of us who will have the final say.

We had made plans long ago to come down to the Gulf this week…
our plans were long before a string of storms began advancing.
But such is any planned trip to a beach during this time of year.

The Gulf’s latest intruder is named Sally.

Unfortunately, I left my transfer cable for my camera at home so all of my
pictures from my camera will have to wait to be uploaded onto my computer when I get home…
I did, however, manage to get a few pictures using my phone.

This is the time of year when the sea turtles come to shore in order to lay their eggs.

There are beach volunteers who will mark and rope off the areas where a turtle nest
is situated.
Sea turtles, their nests, eggs, as well as hatchlings, are all protected.

Walking the shoreline yesterday evening, only hours before the storm would advance
as it has today causing massive erosion, we saw several roped-off nesting sites.
Some of the sites were far enough away from the battering surf but there was one
directly in the surf.

Poor turtle, I thought, her hard efforts, her nest, her offspring,
will most likely be in vain.

Had the weather been calm, the nesting site would probably have faired well but
I knew given the storm, there would be no site remaining the following day.

This was what we found this morning—a single staub jutting out of the surf
where yesterday there were four well marked and roped staubs.

And as we walked later in the day, as the gulls and plovers roamed what sand
was not underwater, we found a lone egg.
Cracked and dented.

(a lone turtle egg / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so as I ponder Mother Nature…her fickled ways with both life and death–
my prayers are with our neighbors to the West…those who are living in the midst of
hell on earth as wildfires ravage Oregon, Washington, and California—
just as I think and pray for yet another Gulf area that will be hit by yet another hurricane.

We may think we can bend man, or woman, to make him or her do as we please…
but in the end, it will be Mother Nature,
her and her alone, who will always have the final decisive say.

And yet…in actuality,
it just might be what we do in the wake of her decisions that will make the more
lasting difference on humanity…be that for good or be that for bad.

She plays her hand and then we must respond.

Maybe she just wants to divert our attention from ourselves for just a brief respite.

By my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth, mankind,
and the animals that are on the face of the earth, and I give it to whomever I see fit.

Jeremiah 27:5

to be saved, we must first lose

But there must be a real giv­ing up of the self.
You must throw it away ​“blind­ly” so to speak.
Christ will indeed give you a real per­son­al­i­ty:
but you must not go to Him for the sake of that.
As long as your own per­son­al­i­ty is what you are both­er­ing about you are not going to Him at all.

C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity


(scene from The Chosen when Jesus heals Mary)

To be saved, we must first lose.

The concept of losing doesn’t make much sense to the mind of a 21st-century individual.
Especially to a 21st century American…losing is not something Americans are accustomed to.
Nor is it a concept on the minds of many Americans who are busy with protesting
rioting and looting…losing is not on their radar.

Burdened by so much that is taking place around this pain-racked Nation of ours,
I turned to a new devotional written by the writers of The Chosen.

The following was the entry for Day 3:

To save our lives, we must lose them.

That’s a mind-bender, for sure, but clearly vital to understand.
Jesus said it to the disciples after they’d already dropped everything to
follow Him from town to town.
They sacrificed their careers, homes, and relationships for the man
they believed was the Messiah.
Life as they knew it had turned upside down,
but more would be required of them, and Jesus was doubling down.
He knew what lay ahead. He knew He was leaving.
And He knew they would become pillars of the early church,
in charge of spreading the truth about salvation to the world,
disciplining the masses, and claiming Christ in the face of imprisonment, torture, and death.
They would lose their lives on earth—figuratively and literally–
for the sake of all they would gain in heaven.

And they did it well because their testimonies,
their personal stories of what Jesus had said and done,
were potent demonstrations of His transformative love and power in their lives.
They shared the gospel with an unstoppable, contagious, relentless passion that—
to be honest–seems kind of rare these days.

How come?
Well for starters, they weren’t in love with themselves or their own stories.
They weren’t branding their Christian narratives for maximum personal benefit,
approval, or sump[athy…or for clicks or likes.
They weren’t assigning themselves the hero role or belaboring their “before Christ”
dysfunction with all its juicy, sensationalistic tidbits.
When you look at biblical examples it’s amazing how few words are given to their broken pasts–
the almost exclusive focus is on Jesus.

Take Mary Magdalene.
The fact that she was delivered from seven demons is a crucial aspect of her
testimony because it showcases Jesus’authority and why she responded to Him
the way sed did.
And then that’s it.
That’s all the detail we need to know.
In other words, her autobiography wouldn’t have been titled
The Dark Years with three hundred pages dedicated to describing the monsters within.
Fascinating?
Sure.
But powerful and effective and glorifying to the one who rescued her?
Not so much.
There’s a reason we meet Mary subsequent to her healing—because that’s where the real story is.

There are a few other things we know about her:
(1) she followed Jesus and financially supported His ministry until His crucifixion,
which means she gave everything she had to follow Him;
(2)she endured the crucifixion and stayed close to Jesus while He suffered and died;
and
(3) as mentioned in “Delivered”, she was the first person He appeared to after
He rose from the dead, and she was the one He sent to tell the disciples
the universe-altering news.
All because the old was gone and dead.
Jesus had given her new life.

Which means that even if you’ve been a believer for all of ten minutes,
those minutes are entirely more relevant than the twenty, forty,
or eighty years of darkness prior to your conversion.
Reason being, we’re called to represent Jesus and to die to the lives
He saved us from. When we do that, and when He stays the hero of the story,
our words and lives become real-time, potent demonstrations of
His transformative love and power.

The Chosen
40 Days With Jesus

footloose and …

“I was not born to be free—
I was born to adore and obey.”

C.S. Lewis


(the Mayor’s picture of her brother the Sherrif…drawn with a little help)

We are footloose and COVID free!
The Sherrif had a viral infection, and that is all…
Sad times when we are thankful for just the run of the mill infection and blessedly not COVID.

The Mayor will head back home tomorrow and we will pray that this does not become a pattern
in this surreal new normal of ours…

Thank you all for your prayers as the Sherrif’s fever has finally dissipated and he is now
getting back to his duties of sheriffing.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

favorable conditions…

“We are always falling in love or quarreling,
looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering,
following public affairs.
If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other
to end before we can really get down to our work.
The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly
that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable.
Favorable conditions never come.”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory


(a local acorobate dangles upside down on a birdfeeder munching on my blueberries/ Julie Cook / 2020)

I love this quote by C.S.Lewis don’t you?
Isn’t it just so us, so now, so today?

Favorable conditions never come…do they?—
Especially when one is out to find the facts and the truth.

These days, both facts and truth, are collateral damage…
Not many folks are interested in such.
They prefer a fluid sort of something that is quite far from fact or truth.

So those of us who really want to seek out such, that being the knowledge of actual
facts and truth…
well, we simply can’t wait around for the perfect conditions or for the planets
and the heavens to align.
Not now, not today.

So before we tackle such topics…let’s take another day for just ourselves…
let’s take a small reprieve from the heaviness of our times
and let’s peek at what’s going on in God’s realm


(our wee beastie gives us a wee peek / Julie Cook / 2020)


(female hummingbird resting inbetween darting and dashing from feeder to feeder / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a hawk hummingbird moth …who knew of such / Julie Cook / 2020)


(black swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2020)


(even a moth gets in on the act / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary that is on his last wing…/ Julie Cook / 2020)

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

The timelessness of C.S. Lewis as found in a pandemic

I read a marvelous passage by C.S. Lewis over on the blog of
‘Smoke of Satan and the Open Windows of Vatican II’—

The blog title comes from a quote by Pope Paul VI:

“We would say that, through some mysterious crack—–no, it’s not mysterious;
through some crack, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God.”

And so I would dare say that it would behoove all Christians, Catholic and non, to understand
that Satan has long fought to ooze into the tiny minuscule cracks found within the Church’s
earthly foundation.

Have we not seen such in the way of sexual abuse scandals, the acceptance of homosexuality,
and a myriad of schisms to name but a few of demonic attacks…

But that story of Satan’s attempt to breach the walls of the Church is but for another day…
for today—we turn to the timeless wisdom of C.S.Lewis.

The following passage is actually from an essay written by Lewis in 1948
addressing the fear of living in a frightening new atomic age.

He was addressing a real fear suffered by those of his generation.

There was the constant and real worry of “is today the day?!
The day we are incinerated??!!
The day life ends as we know it??”

And how often have we, the generations of today, asked ourselves a similar question…
Is today to be the day that is the end of life as we have known it?
Will a pandemic bring us to our knees?
Will the specter of Death now knock on our door following
a mere trip to the grocery store because we stood near another who coughed?

Lewis reminds us that we have each been sentenced to death long before
there was a bomb, or in our case, a virus.

He admonishes us to “pull ourselves together”
He practically commands his readers to stop cowering
under the pretense of what might be and to instead live as we are…

There is much wisdom to be found in the words of Lewis…offered to a previous
generation…but oh so timely and pertinent to us today as we live under the shadow
of our nation’s response to a pandemic.

Do we hide and cower while waiting for death or do we choose to live?

I pray we choose life!

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.
“How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply:
“Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London
almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia
might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed,
as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis,
an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents,
an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation.
Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death
before the atomic bomb was invented:
and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways.
We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics;
but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing
long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death
to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all,
but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is
to pull ourselves together.
If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb,
let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying,
working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis,
chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like
frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.
They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.—

“On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays.

https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/wisdom-from-c-s-lewis/

We joke, we laugh, we speculate…but…

“Will you come with me to the mountains?
It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened.
Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.
But will you come?”

C.S. Lewis


(the blooming quince / Julie Cook / 2020)

I can’t say how this will all play out…how it will all end.

I think, however, I can speak for all of us in saying that we beg that it end.

We laugh at those online videos, those memes shared…
because we know that misery loves company.

We try so desperately to make light while trying so hard to laugh in our
seemingly unified endless misery.

Yet throughout all of this we must remember…
there are those who have suffered.

Those who have…
Suffered the loss of income.
Suffered the loss of livelihood.
Suffered the loss of stability.
Suffered the loss of wellbeing.
Suffered the loss of health.
Suffered the loss of life.

Let us keep in our prayers and hearts those who have lost…

Now when Jesus saw the crowds,
he went up on a mountainside and sat down.
His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:1-12