you can’t love two and still be true, so I’m leaving on a midnight train…

“No one can serve two masters.
Either you will hate the one and love the other,
or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

Matthew 6:24


(the hydrangeas are quite stunning this year, the first time in a couple of years /Julie Cook / 2018)

Years and years ago…in what was once another lifetime…
I was once a young gal in college who worked summers up in the mountains of
North Carolina at a Christian camp for girls.

I loved my summers working at camp.
For all sorts of reasons.

I’ve written about it before…as well as to how that time spent as a camp counselor
answered my prayer about whether I was to remain an Education Major or switch to Journalism.

Those summers were basically my green light from God…
but like I say, I’ve written about that before, a few years back,
writing all about how and why I spent the majority of my adult life in the classroom.

And so if you know anything about camps or have ever attended a summer camp,
church camp, etc—
well, you know that there are always going to be camp songs.

Both silly and fun songs.

One such song has lent itself to the title of today’s post…

“Darling you can’t love one…

Darling, you can’t love one, darling you can’t love one…
you can’t love one and still have fun
I’m leaving on a midnight train la di da, um huh, oh boy…”

On and on goes the counting and the rhymes…

Darling, you can’t love two, darling you can’t love two,
you can’t love two and still be true,
I’m leaving on a midnight train…la di da, um hum, oh boy…

Hence the title for today’s post…you can’t love two.

And there’s a lot of truth in that one line.

As we are reminded we cannot serve two masters.
We cannot love both masters, whomever or whatever, they may be.
We will love one and resent the other.

And so it is with this thought in mind that our favorite rouge Bishop has
offered a lovely homily marking the Frist Sunday following
the blessed Trinity…better known as the feast of the Trinity.
The first Sunday following Pentecost and marking 50 days since Easter Sunday.

According to CatholicCulture.org a nice historical explanation of the
feast day of the Trinity is…

“The fundamental dogma, on which everything in Christianity is based,
is that of the Blessed Trinity in whose name all Christians are baptized.
The feast of the Blessed Trinity needs to be understood and celebrated as a
prolongation of the mysteries of Christ and as the solemn expression of our faith
in this triune life of the Divine Persons,
to which we have been given access by Baptism and by the Redemption won for
us by Christ.
Only in heaven shall we properly understand what it means, in union with Christ,
to share as sons in the very life of God.

The feast of the Blessed Trinity was introduced in the ninth century and
was only inserted in the general calendar of the Church in the fourteenth century by
Pope John XXII. But the cultus of the Trinity is, of course, to be found throughout
the liturgy.
Constantly the Church causes us to praise and adore the thrice-holy
God who has so shown His mercy towards us and has given us to share in His life.”

In his homily (all of 8 minutes of which I’ve provided the clip below) Bishop Ashenden
reads to us from the Book of Samuel…1 Samuel, chapter 3 starting with verse 1.

This is where God basically explains that following a political world,
or any other sort of world for that matter is not better than living one’s life by
following the Spirit.

We see that God offers opportunity after opportunity to those who stubbornly continue
to refuse His offerings…
So naturally, He tires of such folly and foolishness and replaces them with those more willing.

Just as we read later in the book of Samuel about God losing patience with the folly of
King Saul and allows him to be replaced.

This idea comes into play again in the Book of Revelation when God tells the 7 churches
what happens when they opt to live for and with the world and her culture…
rather than the life and world of the Spirit.
All of which boils down to what extent they, the churches,
will be given the Holy Spirit—or more aptly, not be given.

The good Bishop explains that it is “the Spirit versus those who practice merely “religion”
rather than practicing a living relationship with God.”

Woe to those preferring to go their own way…

Enter Jesus—

The sacrificial lamb who came to find us, love us and bring us home.

And yet we still remain fixed to live a life of the cultural…

bats in the belfry

“The devil gets up to the belfry by the vicar’s skirts”
Thomas Fuller

“If our condition were truly happy, we would not seek diversion from it
in order to make ourselves happy”

Blaise Pascal

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(a surreal image borrowed from the web)

Let’s deviate today to a little humor shall we…
obviously from this tale, it has been needed…

Growing up I attended the Cathedral of St Philip…
the Episcopal Cathedral in Atlanta.
“St Phil on the hill,” as it has always been lovingly called by both member and local Atlantan alike,
has sat perched atop this particualr hill in Atlanta, acting as a sentinel and beckoning lighthouse looking out majestically over Peachtree road toward downtown Atlanta, since 1960…
The current very English, very Anglican gothic church replaced a small gray stone church that had moved to the present location in 1933 with the original St Philip having been erected in downtown Atlanta in 1848.

At the time, to my youthful mind, this church of mine, with that towering bell tower,
sans any bells, had to be full of bats, right?

When I was in high school and active in the youth group there at the Cathedral, a group of us decided to dub ourselves The Bats in the Belfry, or BITB for short.
Our hijinks and innocent shenanigans were well known to the reigning clergy at the time as we would often decorate the parking lot and various rooms, offices and the parsonage late at night..
or we’d leave little notes, balloons, confetti in and around the church grounds proclaiming our nighttime presence at church.
Given what we could have been doing during those disco psychedelic days of the early 70’s, I think the clergy was more than grateful that we wanted to “hang out” on church property….

ls
(The Cathedral of St Philip / Atlanta, Georgia)

It became a personal quest of ours to figure out how to climb up to the bell tower,
up to the very tip top…as bats always needed their bell towers…

To finally put to rest our / my persistent clambering about the bellower, bats and why were there no bells in a church bell tower, one of the priests, with permission of his superior, my godfather the then acting dean of the Cathedral, took us on a late afternoon climb. A feat most likely impossible today given insurance regulations and safety codes…
but this was in the good ol days of ignorance….

We had to climb up a back set of stairs leading to the back upper choir loft…next through a hidden door in the paneled wall leading to the organ pipes for the small adjacent chapel.
Then it was through another hidden door in the rich wooden panelling into a tall narrow opening complete with metal ladder welded to the long shaft.
Upon climbing the ladder we reached another metal door attached to the stone wall that our priest and guide had to unlock with a key

Finally clamoring out of the shaft we found ourselves standing in the vastly
expansive and very empty bell tower itself.
But our journey was not yet over.
Along one wall of the bell tower was another long ascending metal ladder.
Briefly forgetting my fear of heights, one by one, we began climbing upward.
At the top of the ladder, high above the floor of the empty bell tower,
we reached once again another metal door.
As our priest and guide unlocked this final door,
our motley crew emerged out into the balmy Atlanta night sky.

We had finally reached our destination.
The very tip top of the Cathedral’s towering bell tower—
as we were rewarded with a beautiful vista of a 1970’s something glistening skyline of Atlanta…

Now let us fast forward 40 years or so to last night in my den.

You remember that story from a week or so ago about the bat right?

The bat that decided to make my back deck his daytime bedroom?
The post retelling how I had to wait for the bat fly out in search of a nighttime meal..
all the while as I sprayed said bedroom with hornet spray…
just so he’d decide not to come back….

Well it worked.
He didn’t come back.

So back to last night…
Here it was, about 10:30 PM last night…
My husband was dozing sweetly in his recliner,
as I was perched on the couch watching football…
One cat nestled placidly on my lap as the other lounged on the back of the couch.

I was in mid debate as to whether or not I should head to the shower and then off to bed…
as it had been a very long day with Dad and the CT scans and our son’s apartment….
when suddenly Percy,
my oh so faithful watch cat,
swivels around in my lap, cocking his head upward at a 90 degree angle.

Thinking he’s spotted an errant wasp that often escapes from the fireplace having come down the chimney,
I cast my gaze upward.

Our’s is a den with a cathedral ceiling…with a brick fireplace and chimney that reaches the
full height of the room.
Way up on the top where brick meets moulding sat a brown object…
hunkered up tightly between brick and moulding

Immediately I hear a familiar voice screaming
“GREGORY THERE IS A BAT!!!!!!!!!!!”
as in it was my voice…

My husband who has now been jolted from his peaceful snore-laddened slumber,
thinks there’s been a home invasion or the start of WWIII…
He jumps up looking for intruder or war…

“IT’S A BAT!!!!!!”

What???

Are you sure???

“HELL YES I”M SURE!!!!!!”

This as I’m scooping up two wide eyed cats and throwing them in the bedroom slaming shut the door,
keeping them locked away from what I’m assuming is rabies with wings gracing my den….

DO SOMETHING!!!!!!

I hear myself scream as my husband just stands there mumbling something about
“how in the world did that get in here?”

Whereas I am not concerned with the hows of the moment,
I am however more concerned with rabies and parasites and bacteria, and poop,
and sharp little teeth flying down on my head.

I flip on every light in the house—they hate light right?

I’M GETTING THE HORNET SPRAY”
I hear myself shout.

No you’re not!
You’re not spraying a can of poison all in the house.

“BUT IT SHOOTS 20ft”
I again hear myself scream.

GUN!!!! GET A GUN!!!!!!
again with the out of body screaming.

“Gun?”

“Shoot it in the house?”
I hear my incredulous husband ask.

“HELL YES”
I continue hearing panic controlling the situation as I think we are all
about to have to endure $50,000 rounds of rabies shots that insurance will not cover.

My husband goes to the basement to find my grandfather’s century old 22 rifle
while I grab two crab nets…
You know the nets used to grab crabs…

DSCN5889
(yours truly a couple of summers ago at the beach examining my crab net)

I also grab the BB gun…just incase.
I did teach riflery at a girl’s summer camp 100 years ago….

My husband climbs the stairs to our second floor where he positions himself,
with trusty century old gun, up against the opening to the den below
in order to steady his shot.
He is now just slightly below said bat…yet at a slight distance.

This is were the PETA folks must turn away—
if there had been any other alternative,
I would have sought it as I don’t like hurting any living creature—
but the thought of bats and rabies in my house with both my husband, me and our cats…
left no other recourse….

BAM

mortar shards shoot outward as a brown lump drops like a brick to the floor below.

THUD

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
I hear coming from somewhere out of my mouth….

My husband yells for me to throw the net over it.

I survey the victim and it appears to be sufficiently deceased.

My husband scoops it up using my two nets asking where I want it.

Are you freaking kidding me????

OUTSIDE!!!!!

Take it outside to the other side of the driveway in the grass at the pasture.
I can carry it off to the woods tomorrow or maybe a coyote will find it tonight.

What about your nets? my husband asks.

I’ll spray them with Clorox and leave them out ’till morning.

So…..

Early this morning, as my husband was about to leave for work, we walk over to where
the body of the victim was to be found…
yet, we find nothing.

My nets were still sitting in the driveway but there was no body, there is no bat.

“I bet he flew away” I hear my husband grouse.
“No, no” I counter, that thing was dead as a hammer.

As my husband goes to get in his truck, I amble over to the side of the driveway
to take a gander over at my lone potted tomato bush when something wiggling
by the side of the house in the pine straw catches my eye.

“GREGORY ITS THE BAT!!!!!!!!”
I hear myself scream.

Bless its heart, that bat scampered 50 feet from one side of the yard all the way back to the house….
and was now baring its fangs at me.

“GET THE NETS!!!!!”

I hear myself scream.

“Knock it in the head” I hear my husband holler.

Knock it in the head????
Are you freaking kidding me?
It’s not a bug!!
I’m not about to club anything in the head.
That would be cold blooded murder….
Oh…
Wait,
I think we already tried that murder thing.

I scoop up the bat gingerly into the two nets as my husband readies a box.
My head is turned as not to see this unsightly sight.
I throw bat and both nets into the box and slam the top shut.

“What about your nets?” my husband asks.
“I don’t want them…”
“Now will you please take this box, bat and nets to the dump” I hear myself calmly demand.

This as I now wonder how I ever had such a fascination for bats….
as find myself somewhat relieved for this latest slight diversion to my otherwise crazy life….

Reverence, Revered and Respect

“Let parents then bequeath to their children not riches but the spirit of reverence.”
― Plato

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

DSC01683
(how pure is white / Julie Cook / 2015)

I was driving to town today when the cars in front of me suddenly began pulling over to the side of the road.
I wondered if an ambulance was approaching as I also began rapidly slowing down while making my way to the edge of the road.

The lead car of the approaching procession was one of the local police.
Following close behind was a solemn black hearse and behind that was a long line of cars with their hazard lights all flashing.

Those of us on the opposite side of the road, the now growing yet stopped line of on-coming traffic, waited patiently and respectfully until the funeral procession passed us by.

I am always greatly moved when I happen to find myself on the road when such a sad and somber processional of cars rambles by—well wishes and prayers are silently sent to those passerby’s on their way to a rite of passage full of difficult farewells.

Incidents like the one this morning always bring to mind a memory I hold of a similar time of respectful observance. It was several years ago when I was visiting Cortona, Italy. My aunt and I had wandered into the local Pharmacia. Italian pharmacies are truly experiences steeped in decorum and order. . .which is such a contrast in a country known for its unexplainably chaotic traffic as well as its passionate and unrestrained emotions.

As we were wandering about the store, looking at a display of the cutest sandals of all things, the lights in the store were suddenly turned off as the sales lady reverently crossed herself as she moved toward the door in order to shut it. She held her finger up to her lips, hushing the now curious patrons inside, before turning her attention back to what was soon to be passing by the store.
And that’s when we all saw it.
Along the ancient cobbled stone road a white hearse slowly made it’s way through the small medieval town followed by a long line of mourners who were marching silently behind.

As soon as the funeral caravan had passed, the door was reopened, the lights popped back on and it was business as usual.

When it comes to our dead and dearly departed, it appears that both respect and reverence are deeply rooted and widely universal.
And yet I am bewildered by the lack of such which we woefully fail to show, demonstrate or deliver to the living, our fellow human beings.

Sitting on the side of a small town’s road, as a local funeral procession snakes its way to a countryside cemetery, my thoughts turn from this current scene of respect and reverence to one of tragic disrespect. . .to the very real and raw emotions, coupled with the agonizing questions now swirling around a signal sinister act, in a sister state’s colonial coastal city. . .

A gunman walks into a church in Charleston
A gunman walks into an elementary school in Connecticut
A gunman walks into a youth camp in Norway
A gunman walks into a museum in Tunsia
A gunman walks into a classroom at Virginia Tech
A gunman walks into a publishing office in France
A gunman walks into a synagogue in Denmark
A gunman walks into a mosque in Wisconsin
A gunman walks into a hospital in Germany
A gunman walks into a school in Colorado

On and on and on it goes.
The disrespect of the lives of those who are innocent, fall away one by one.
Lives disregarded as easily as discarded trash, taken for granted and considered expendable.
Lost in the chaos of twisted, broken, evil and hate filled minds. . .

Sterile
Immune
Safe
Exempt
Sacred
Off limits
Protected

Nothing seems to remain as it appears we have lost all respect for the sacred, the holy, the young, the old. . .even losing our reverence for both life and death. . .

Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:17

Give to everyone what you owe: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:7

I lift my eyes to the hills

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I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you–the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121: 1-8

When I was in college, I worked for a girls camp up in the mountains of North Carolina (see Post Why teaching, or how God dropped my life on my head). I loved being in the mountains. I had grown up in Atlanta and even though this was about 35 years ago, Atlanta was much as it is today–crowded, noisy, terrible traffic, exhaust from a sea of cars and buses, a huge mass of urban sprawl. In the mountains there was peace, quiet, no confusion, no (obvious) pollution. Life was lived much slower as the “rat race” seemed to be “down in the valley” back in the big cities.

I felt so much closer to God. The very distractions, the things that vied for my attention, were not here. I can remember hiking to the top of a mountain outside of Black Mountain, the location of the camp, sitting down and surveying the beautiful view. There was nothing but hills/ mountains, green, trees, blue skies, a massive silence only broken by an occasional call of an unseen bird, as white popcorn clouds lazily floated overhead. I hated the very thought of ever leaving. I can remember specifically “talking” with God, or rather pleading and lamenting as to why I would ever have to go back “down there”—back to where I knew I would not be able to hear Him as well. I could be a “better” follower and listener up here. It just made sense that I should stay here. This would be my cloister, my convent. I would live a contemplative life here.

The dichotomy of my life, playing out once again. The frustration of the part of me that so desperately sought nature, a simpler, slower life, a call to serve God by sitting at His feet each day and simply listening, verses the part of me that was the “city girl”, the “get up and go” girl. I couldn’t see then what it was that God saw and knew was to be my life.

Back home, as I was student teaching and having to traverse the Atlanta expressways,— the deadly 285, better known as the Perimeter–the interstate lassoing this massive city– each day, making my way from my home to the school, I often found myself sitting in a traffic nightmare, sitting behind a Marta bus (Atlanta’s transit system) breathing in the heavy noxious fumes of a diesel engine…wondering why it was that I was sitting here and not in the mountains somewhere.

I wrote of my remorse to a friend who did live in the mountains, as he lived at the camp year round as a caretaker. One day a package arrived at my house from Black Mountain. Inside was a jar of water. Placed inside the jar of water were various stones, shells, and other “natural” objects. There was a note..the note read that whereas he, my friend, could not give me the mountains or the life I seemed to be yearning for, he could send me a part of that world–captured in this small jar. The clear water represented the mountain streams and the clear blue skies. The stones and shells represented just that, all things found in nature. Each time I felt lost, sad, or simply found myself yearning to be elsewhere, I was to look at the jar and remember that it was/is all still there, waiting for me to come back for a visit.

I have carried that jar with me all these many years since. It sat in my classroom for 31 years. Each new year would bring a group of new students, always asking as to why I had a glass jar of water, with rocks in it, sitting on my desk. And each time I would proceed telling them my story, again and again. The kids would be somewhat reflective upon hearing the story as I think they too understood yearning for something more, or something else–most often as a young person, naturally, does yearn for more to life. But my yearnings were deeper and of a most spiritual nature.

I still find myself yearning for more of God and maybe that equates to my yearning for more from God. Yearning to serve Him better, yearning to hear Him better. Wondering where my journey, this life of mine, will take me. And just as it was then, it is now, today, the same–He can see all of that well before I can even sense it. And so I must trust and continue trusting and I must listen and continue listening. As I serve others I sense I am always closer to Him, no matter where I may be–and I suppose that is the point of it all—serving others brings me closer to Him.

I will continue lifting my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help—my help, my solace, my encouragement, my peace. May you too find your help, your solace and your peace–wherever God may lead you. Amen

(photograph: Cades Cove, TN /Julie Cook 2011)

Why Teaching or How God dropped my life on my head

People have often asked me why I wanted to be a teacher.
When children are asked what they want to be when they grow up,
my response was always that I wanted to be a lawyer.
I don’t know why that was; I didn’t know any lawyers to speak of.
Maybe it was because I had (have) a tendency to argue and/ or defend my “case”—
or so that’s what my husband seems to think.
Wonder why he thinks that?

It’s just probably because I’m stubborn and that I’m always usually right.
I don’t see anything wrong with that.
If the truth were known, I probably watched Perry Mason with my parents and thought that
I could do what Perry Mason did.
How hard could it be to get up in front of 12 people and talk?

Of course I also thought professional football looked fun.
We watched a lot of football when I was young.
When I was little, on January 1st,
all the big bowl games were played on that single day, not like today as we have a month of
bowl games.

My dad would move the small black and white television we had in the kitchen, and then the
one from their bedroom, all to the den in order to have 3 TVs for the 3 major networks
showing all of the games.
It was like a “holy” day in our house.

I was a tomboy and loved football.
I wanted to tackle.
I also wanted to be a receiver because I thought I could run for touchdowns—

How hard could that be?

However, I was also about 8 years old.

Our neighborhood was small but there were lots of kids.
We all gathered in one particular yard.
It was the flattest yard in the neighborhood.
We would play football every fall Saturday afternoon.
If I remember correctly, other than the times I was flattened by the bigger and much older
teenage boys, having the breath knocked out of me, I was pretty good.
I didn’t like, however, how hard the boys threw the ball.
It made it difficult for me to catch the ball.
Maybe that was their point.
They needed to work on that.

By the time I made my way to high school,
I fell in love with history (see the Post Thank you Mrs. McKibben)
even taking a Law class that our Social Studies Department offered to seniors.
I participated in the Mock UN that was held at each year at Georgia State.
It was a statewide event, hosting high school students who had been invited to participate,
representing various countries—just like the “real” UN.

I sat on the Security Council.
We dealt with real-world issues of the day and conducted business just as the real UN.
It was a wonderful experience for high school juniors and seniors,
opening doors of possibilities for kids who probably never would have thought of
exploring a world greater then their own town,
let alone state.
I wanted to be an Ambassador.

How hard could that be?

Problem with me being an Ambassador,
it helps being able to speak another language.
For whatever reason, God did not bless me with the gift of language.
That has always been one of my greatest frustrations/ regrets.
When I was in elementary school, the Fulton County School System decided, in its
infinite wisdom, that all children in the 4th grade should learn French.
Funny I seem to need a command of Spanish these days, not French—but I digress.

By the time I reached the 7th grade,
with three years of French under my belt,
the French teacher would recommend whether or not a student should move on to high school level,
which for us started with the 8th grade, taking the “advanced” level of the language.

My French teacher reluctantly recommended that I could go forward,
taking the “honors’ level of French for the following year.
I wonder if she felt sorry for me since most of my friends were “smart”
and excelled at learning the language, me, not so much.
I think my high school French teachers would have preferred to disagre with this woman,
but luckily for me, they didn’t know me yet.

8th grade was ok because the French teacher, Mademoiselle, seemed to like me.
Looking back I think she actually felt sorry for me.
I struggled to say the least.
Bonjour, Au revoir, une, deux, trios…
I got that.
When it came to having to go around the room reading aloud from our French version of
Dick and Jane, it’s a wonder I’m not scared for life.
I often wonder what happens between the eye, the mind, and the mouth.
What my eyes took in, my brain, failing to process, sent to my mouth for delivery—
brutal.

By the time I was a sophomore, I had Madame.
Madame did not like Julie.
Julie did not like Madame.
I think it was because Julie was not strong in her French learning.
For some reason, unbeknownst to me I often had to stay after school, quite often.
Madame had me “look at the clock.”
I don’t know what that was all about.
However, I suppose it beat writing a hundred times on the board that I was sorry
I did whatever I had done.

It might have had something to do with the time Madame separated me and 3 of my friends,
for, perhaps chatting amongst ourselves about French no doubt.
She moved each of us to the 4 separate corners of the room.
I don’t know exactly why we suddenly felt the urge but one of us stood up and started
singing the latest hair product commercial jingle…
“oh we’ve got streak personality”,
with the next one standing…
“oh we’ve got tip personality”…
“oh we’ve got frost personality”…
and so it went.
I somehow recall it had something to do with the fact that she wouldn’t let our class
have a French breakfast.
I wonder why that was…

I certainly could imagine myself living abroad in some exotic land.
Negotiating, entertaining, wining and dining dignitaries—

How hard could that be?

I liked the idea of travel,
I was sociable, I thought I knew politics and I was pretty certain I knew history.
I was certain I could wing the whole language thing—
surely the world speaks some bit of English…..

As Life progressed, I was simply the best-laid plans of mice men sort of girl who was resting
on shifting sands.

Maturity came creeping in slowly but surely—much to the joy of my teachers.
Funny how by the time a teenager becomes a junior and senior, there comes a “settling” period.
For those who don’t find that “settling” period of Life, for all involved, life
becomes most difficult… as any parent or teacher will tell you.

I was fortunate, as I’ve written in previous posts,
to have had some caring adults in my life,
while I was attempting to navigate the murky waters of adolescents,
coupled with my frustrations of surviving the dysfunctionality of my family.
Had I not had those caring adults, and had I not known that they cared,
I most likely would not be here writing this Post.

A plan began forming in my still immature mind.
Teaching…
counseling…
the priesthood…

No wait!, I’m a girl (that wasn’t cutting edge back in my day)—
I know! a nun…hummmm…

As my luck would have it my high school had two very old and very tired guidance counselors.
I can recall only one visit. It was my senior year and it was time for the final ‘checkoff’
making certain I had met all the requirements for graduation.

That was it—in all of 5 years, I had managed to see a guidance counselor only once.

Theirs was not the open door policy for teenagers who might just need to talk or vent.
We were just coming off the turbulent ’60s—maybe they were all talked out.

That’s it then, I triumphantly thought, I will be a counselor!

someone who is not just concerned with the red tape of credits,
testing, and graduation.
As I know I certainly wish I had had someone who could “counsel” a drowning teenager
it would now fall on me to counsel others.

How hard could that be?

How hard could it be for me to listen to teenagers ramble on about teenage angst.
I was full of opinions; I could whip anyone back into shape…hummmm

Shortly after arriving in college I took my first Psychology course.
I had the head of the department. Everyone told me to drop his course.
“Drop the course?” I thought, how hard could a man be who wore Hawaiian shirts to
a class full of 500 students, lectured a little bit, departed, only to leave the poor
lab mice grad students to pick up his pieces and do the really hard dirty work.
For extra credit, I could go participate in “experiments”…

How hard could that be?

Hummmm

Lesson learned and advice duly noted far too late.
After the quarter, I dropped the Major.
I moved to History.

I stayed with History for two years, unfulfilled and unhappy.
It was all so boring.
The professors were boring.
The reading laborious and this was not my area of love as far as history was concerned.

This was awful.

I had to change or I would be changed.

I moved over to Education.
Not exactly sure why I chose Education…in particular Elementary Education…
but this was when Mrs. McKibben kept telling me to find a rich boy and get married
(people don’t say that anymore, but they did when I was young).

I had to take a course Art for the Elementary Teacher.
I had had art all throughout high school,
with a couple of whacky art teachers
(remember the principal who told me that I didn’t look the part–see the post An Isolationist’s tale).
I liked art well enough but had not gravitated in that direction.
Remember I wanted to “help” young people.
I found myself excelling in the course.
I think the Art Education professor was amazed and pleasantly surprised.
I’m certain he dreaded working with the Elementary teacher wannabes
who struggled with the whole art thing.

As I liked this art business I decided to take some drawing courses where I had a
delightfully laid-back professor.
He knew that I was not the cream of the crop but he must have seen that I was
indeed teachable and trainable.
He asked me why it was that I wanted to stay in that awful Education building,
the big square ugly behemoth on south campus,
studying a major that was just about the same—square and boring.
I told him I wanted to “help” young people.

I don’t think he was impressed.
It was also at this time that the Art Education professor asked me as to why I wasn’t
an Art Education Major…hummm…

To be honest I had never considered teaching art,
remember, my two high school art teachers were whacky.

This was late spring quarter;
soon we’d all be heading home for the summer.
I was at a loss of what I really wanted to “do” with my life.
I wanted to “help” young people but I just never felt that there was a major,
leading to a profession, which would allow me to do such—
maybe Social Work?

Maybe I should just ditch the whole idea, switch over to journalism and write…
For even back then, the expressing of self on paper was a big part of who I was.
Remind me to tell you how, after mother’s death,
I was cleaning out a closet and found all of my old diaries.
I started reading them and immediately disposed of them–permanently and forever!!!
Ode to the angst of a young unhappy teenage girl…was I ever really that morose??
Lordy!!

Yet blessedly clarity did come.

I can remember the very spot where I was…
crossing the tracks from Rivermill Apartments where I was living at the time,
heading over to East Campus Rd for my afternoon run
(I tried to be healthy back then).

I sent up an arrow prayer to God.

I was going home the next day for the weekend and was to start the dreaded job search
for summer employment.
That was another thing, where in the heck could I work??
I had hated my last couple of spots.
I told God that if He wanted me to stay in Education,
he would have to drop some kind of job on my head letting me know.

I have never been one to have a clear vision.
I am a waffling queen…
“is this right, is that right???”

I have never been able to hear, read, or see whatever direction it was God was/is wanting me to go.
I have spent my entire life fumbling in the dark,
as far as all of that is concerned.
So I asked that He literally drop a job on my head for the summer that would help me know
what I needed to do with my life.

I got home early enough that Friday to scour the phonebook.
I wasn’t certain what it was exactly what I was looking for.
Maybe a day camp?
Maybe if I found a day camp that I could work for,
I could then see if I really liked kids enough to stay with my major.

I found two in the metro area that I was familiar with,
as I had attended one of them when I was a kid.
I called the camp but they were all full for the coming season.
I drove out to the other camp, same response.

Crap!

Had I waited too late?
There was one more.
I’d not heard of it before.
Camp Merri Mac for Girls in Black Mt., North Carolina—obviously not a day camp.
But what the heck—remember, I was the one who dreaded coming back home as ours was a
home of anything but tranquility (see the post Forgiveness one step at a time).

I called the number and the man who answered told me to come for an interview.
His home was near my church.
Seemed they lived in Atlanta in the off-season.

I headed over to his house.
A beautiful old Tudor style house in the heart of old Atlanta.
A rather odd place for a camp director to live I mused.

I knocked on the massive oak door.
A nice looking, spry short man, in his mid 50s opens the door.
I introduce myself as he asked me to come out back to the office.

I never knew there were waterfalls in Buckhead.

His yard was reminiscent of a tranquil wooded scene form some sort of postcard.
The “office” was located in an out building perched by a creek and the very pretty waterfall.
The “office” smelled musty and mildewish.
Definitely outdoorsy.

His name was Spencer Boyd.
Little did I realize at the time,
but Spencer would soon become one of the most important people in my life.
I will write a post about Spencer one day soon as the world lost Spencer
a couple of months ago at the young age of 82—

His life is a post unto itself.

The first question he asked me was whether or not I could shoot a gun.
I told him that I had taken riflery as a kid at camp when I was younger,
but that was the extent of my marksmanship abilities.

I can’t recall what exactly he said but it equated to a “you’re hired”
however he would arrange for me to do some adjunct shooting at the ROTC school at UGA,
as he knew the shooting instructor.
He wanted me to teach riflery as well as be the head counselor for a cabin of
6th grade girls.

Piece of cake, I got this.
How hard could it be?

I will write another post about Spencer and Camp as those two intertwined subjects are long,
amusing and quite poignant.
Suffice it to know that camp was good.
I fell in love.
I worked for Spencer for two summers and would have made a career out of it if I could.
He was going to let me work in the off months traveling and promoting the camp
but he wouldn’t be able to pay much,
I knew I needed to move forward as badly as I hated leaving him and camp behind.

The long story short, I switched to Art Education.
I graduated two quarters later than I should have,
putting me out looking for a job at Christmas.

Who hires teachers at Christmas??

Unbeknownst to me, someone had given my name to the principal of a high school
in a small west Georgia town who was in need of an art teacher as his current art teacher
had just decided to leave mid-year, in order to go back to school.

I received a call right before Christmas asking if I’d be interested in coming
for an interview…

The rest, 31 years later, is history.

There is a great deal more to the story but it will have to be woven into another post.
I came into teaching in the most round about way,
but with one goal always in view—
I wanted to “help” kids.

I hope that after 31 years, there are some who will say that I did attain my long-sought goal.
There will be, no doubt, those who will say otherwise—
such as it is when dealing with young people.

But for the most part, I hope I did help and I hope that many of my “kids”
were the better for it.
Or at least I hope they found a bit of a respite on their tumultuous journey to growing up,
while spending time in my classroom.

God did hit me on the head with a job—a job that was to last a lifetime.