what was…

“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.”

―Søren Kierkegaard

“Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.”

― Mother Teresa

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(a hodge lodge of broken bits and pieces of stain glass, Bunratty Castel / Co Clare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

We are not like the generations of the past, you and I.
Those generations before us were often forced to sacrifice, often having to go without.
They were brave yet they would not consider themselves such.
They were merely living the best way they knew how.
Yet we look back to the past and those prior generations…
and what we find is not often to our liking.

So we think that maybe erasing and then rewriting what we don’t like..
Thinking that will make things better…making us better.
We decide to use the lenses of the 21st century to rewrite perceived wrongs of the past.
But what we don’t understand, don’t get, is that those wrongs of the past,
weren’t exactly wrong….back there in the past…or at least they were not perceived as such.
It’s what seemed right for that generation of then…not necessarily for us here in the now.

For good or bad, that’s where it is…or rather where it was.
In the past.
Rewriting it, altering it, hoping to hide it, won’t change it.
Our overt political correctness and our joining of hands in kumbaya over all things tolerance
cannot change what was…no matter how hard we try a re-do.

Flags once flown,
Anthems and songs once sung
Stories once told
Monuments once erected
Wars once fought
all the fodder of the hopes and the dreams of a people now gone.

Do we serve them well by replacing them with us?
In someways and in some laws…perhaps…
Yet we must remember that they are not us, nor are we them…

Their’s was a different time.
Perceptions were different.
People were different
Lands and maps were different.
Hopes and dreams were different…

We can’t erase them, their lives, their moments…
simply because we no longer agree, see eye to eye, or possess the same filters of sight.

Yet we are allowing the loud voices of today to force our compliance in a desecration of a people that simply once were.

History is that….history… as in the past.
We learn from it, we can correct it’s mistakes in our today’s world but we can’t correct what was then in their world…
No matter how we try.

We learn over time…
We learn from experiences and mistakes…
We hope to learn not to repeat the same mistakes of the history of those who went before us.

Germany
Russia
Japan
Great Britain
The US…

We all have dark histories that we are now none to proud to bear.
But part of our responsibility to both those of the past, as to all of us now as to those who are yet to be, is not in hiding what was, whitewashing it into a nonexistent netherworld…
but rather to see it for what it was, good or bad, learn from it and then not to repeat it.

If we whitewash over everything,
pretending it never existed or offer a shoddy job of trying to rewrite it, trying to fix it to meet today’s standards, then we risk a far greater calamity in hiding or changing the truths of the past by exchanging them for the hopes of the future.

It is a dangerous job to pretend things were different when they were not.
It is dangerous to erase what was while changing it in to what is…
because what was can never be what is…
but it can be repeated…with a greater degree of ferocity…

He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.

Daniel 2:21

Adversity; Hooray for the human spirit

“Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

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(images of a very hungry and grateful blue jay / Julie Cook / 2014)

Everyone, ehm, every living creature, needs a helping hand at some time or other.
Just as in the case of this blue jay enjoying a welcomed piece of cornbread as his world, in the now icy white, is offering little in the way of sustenance.

And so it is, on this, the day after the winter storm debacle in Georgia—more specifically, Atlanta, which is the witness to the offerings of kindness from one to another. . .
such is today’s tale.

Poor Georgia.
Poor Atlanta.
Oh I am certain we could add to the dirge of woesomeness, that of Alabama and most likely Mississippi, but my news world has been exceedingly limited during the past 36 hours due entirely to the misery of my state—and in particular the capital of this gracious state, Atlanta.
Has anything else been taking place outside of the state in the last 36 hours other than a winter storm? Seriously, we haven’t heard.

Oh the anger.
Oh the blame.
People stuck in the snow and ice impacted gridlock for hours–12 hours, 16 hours, 20 hours, 24 hours only to abandon their gas deprived, ice immobile vehicles to walk the treacherous interstates in search of home, a safe haven, help. . .

Both Mayor and Governor now battling the media.
The Department of Transportation battling the media and now the public.
The National Weather Service battling the media and now the Governor and Mayor.
School Systems defending the decision of holding school despite the news of potential, repeat potential, winter weather to the parents who are now beyond irate as children were stuck on school buses for 12 to 16 hours, or had to remain at school over night.

Sadly on this now sunny, potentially thawing day, the blame game begins.
The finger pointing.
The deflections.
The denial.
Is the rest of the country thinking us to be idiots?
I hope not, we do the best we can.

Yet in the midst of all the negatives, all the seemingly poor choices, the failures, the lack ofs— emerges the best of human beings.
The stories which will no less continue for weeks to come— but it is those stories which are first appearing, the stories needed to act as the soothing balm for our negative weary souls.

The stories of:
The firefighters who welcomed in the cold, lost night wanders who arrived unannounced, all on foot, having long abandoned cars in search of a safe haven. They gave up beds and food for the strangers–offering warmth, protection, assurance.

The truckers who aided the young pregnant woman stuck in her car for 12 hours without food or water, let along a bathroom break. Aiding her in climbing over a 7 foot tall highway wall to an awaiting rescue vehicle. They took tool boxes from their big rigs, stacking them up to create a makeshift stairway up, over and down the wall.

The tales of the babies born in the gridlocked cold cars all through the icy night–delivered by total strangers.

The two strangers united with the one intent of service. They meet along the side of the highway, one pulling a sled and cooler full of food– the other caring a cooler full of sandwiches–distributing food, water, and kindness to frightened weary travels.

The news reporter, who was prepped to report on the gridlock, finds a family–mom, dad, and their 2 year old and 6 month old daughters, all who had been in the family van overnight without any food or drink. The reporter, an avid backpacker, had foods suitable for both children.

To the teachers and bus drivers who put their own families, lives, safety, comfort aside in order to care for their students, not only during the school day, but all through the night, as kids were either stuck in a bus in the midst of the slick icy nightmare or hunkered down for a long night at school.

Would you like to entertain 600 teenagers who can’t go home, who are tired and of ill disposition all night long? Would you want to comfort the elementary kids who just want their moms and dads, their beds, their warmth—all night long? Would you want to sit, huddled with a bus load of kids on a dark icy road hour after hour. . .all night long?

Perhaps it is the adversity, that which is life’s counter balance, which serves as a reminder to us all of our humanity, our capacity to care—to care for complete strangers. Echoes of “when, when did we see you naked and cloth you, when did we see you hungry and feed you. . .?”

All along a cold icy interstate–all through the rages of a winter’s storm—-that’s when.

Is it the calamity of life, those times of trial which test our fortitude, our sanity, our souls? Are these the types of situations which reach down to our very core–those which speak to our true humaneness and our ability to connect with other living beings? Is it during such times when we are the better, not the worst? When we shine and are not shattered?

In the coming days as Atlanta, and really the entire State, attempts to defend the choices of actions taken or not. . .as a State tries to explain to a Nation why 3 inches of snow, coupled by a sheet of ice, can put an entire region on hold, as officials hem and haw, as visitors vow never to return. . . may we all be reminded of the good which, just as the soon to be blooming bulbs breaking forth out of the cold barren ground signals to us all that wonder and joy can come from a long bleak cold winter, that it is in the depths of adversity and calamity where our realness and our goodness—our true identities, resides.

As those of you who have no doubt seen and heard the stories of “Snow Jam 2014”– of what seems to be the ineptitude of another Southern State which can’t seem to get its act together in winter weather, you must know that there was and is much more happening than mere gridlock and state and city officials scrambling for explanations—human beings were / are shining, goodness was / is taking place, kindness was / is the real issue at hand.

Perhaps we may not be able to handle ice and snow, but we will be there for you in a pinch, in a crisis, in a disaster as our Southern hospitality and tenacity, which are forged in the depths of the southern heat and red clay, is not only intact but it rises to the occasion in order to rescue, to comfort, to reassure, to defend, to care for–we will give you our beds, our food, our graciousness. . .but most importantly—we will give you ourselves.