I know our problem…Punch Cups!!!

“Drink because you are happy,
but never because you are miserable.”

G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

I have finally figured out our problem…the reason for all the current lack of civility,
violence, looting, hating that is sickening our nation…

It’s PUNCH CUPS!!!

Yep punch cups…

We no longer have, let alone use, punch cups!!

You know, those demure little glass cups that accompany a crystal punch bowl?

You know…those little glass cups your grandmother always used during the holidays
when all the family gathered together…at her house.

Be it wassail, eggnog, or Chatham’s artillery punch…

Oh and don’t forget that floating ice-ring.
My mother just did a flip flop in her grave over my mentioning ice-rings.
She tried her best…but Lord knows, they never popped out as they should.
More slushie and unattractive vs the pictures in her SoutherLiving cookbooks.
Bamming and Bamming that mold on the counter trying to loosen the ring…
but I digress.

And I would bet that you were probably too little and don’t really remember
those little punch cups…
And because you were little, the grown-ups didn’t let you use those little cups–
they were fearful you’d drop one and Heavens forbid, you’d break Grandmother’s
special glass cups.
You were relegated to a jelly jar or dixie cup.

And if the punch was alcoholic, you were offered chocolate milk
or perhaps some kool-aid or Hi-C punch or maybe a Coca-Cola.
If they were feeling festive, you may have even gotten ginger ale with
a single bright red maraschino cherry floating festively amongst the bubbles.

Punch cups speak of day’s gone by…
they whisper of afternoon teas, luncheons, showers, and special gatherings.

This all came to mind when I was cleaning out the laundry room.

We’ve started the arduous task of purging.
We are beginning to clean out this 37-year life of ours with 21 on those 37 years
in our current house.

It’s time to lighten the load in anticipation of a potential spring
change—relocating, downsizing, tightening the ship!

So as I began this insurmountable task this morning, I found an old punch bowl…
not the nice one mind you, but more of a backup…it was one of my grandmothers…
my mom’s mom seems more like the previous owner vs my dad’s mom as she was a bit more frufru.
I’ve got that pretty one in the dining room…this one was the battleship
vs the cruise liner…heavy and sturdy rather than frilly and delicate.

And as I was gathering the cups from various cabinets and hiding spaces…that’s when
it hit me like a ton of bricks…our current culture’s entire trouble is they/we
have no punch cups…or no real knowledge, let alone experience, with punch cups.

For punch cups harken to a time when we celebrated holidays and occasions with
those dear and near-sacred family heirlooms, be they cut class, crystal or pressed glass
or even something really special…silver or more likely silver plate.

They were pulled out of storage, washed and even polished to participate
in a generational ritual…the sharing and celebrating of our lives as a family.
Christmas, Chanukah, births, showers, birthdays, weddings…

And thus these innocuous little punch cups are equated to something so much more…
they represent family and the celebration of family.

We have sadly forgotten such.
We have become entirely too angry, too self-consumed, too divided.

What happened to punch cups?
What happened to celebrations?
What happened to family?

Long live the punch cups!

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

pardon the interruption

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose
all the other ages you’ve been.

Madeleine L’Engle


(The Sheriff enjoying Da’s cake / Gregory Cook / 2020)

We interrupt our scheduled dose of heavier topics as we need to recognize
a most momentous occasion.

Someone on staff at the satellite Woobooville office turned 71 this past week
and thus the Mayor, Sheriff, along with their entourage, came to celebrate.

We’ll get back to the serious stuff after everyone finishes enjoying their cake.

Doesn’t matter whose birthday it is, the Sherrif loves cake!

not exactly the Mother’s day you may have wanted…

“Be a Mother who is committed to loving her children into standing on higher ground
than the environment surrounding them.
Mothers are endowed with a love that is unlike any other love on the face of the earth.”

Marjorie Hinckley


(the styling and profiling Mayor / Julie Cook / 2020)


(The ever smiling Sheriff / Julie Cook / 2020)

What does a Pandemic Mother’s day look like?

Well, I’m not certain.

I wasn’t certain what a Pandemic St. Partick’s day would look like.
Nor what a locked-down Pandemic Easter would look like.

I didn’t know what a 1st birthday would look like as we hunkered down inside…
Nor did I know what a festive Cinco de Mayo would be from home.

What I do know, however, is that we celebrated together none the less.
We lived through and did the best we could with what we had
and with what we could do…making the most of the simple and reserved.

And now I suppose this Mother’s Day will be much the same.

We will miss those who are not with us to celebrate just as we will mourn those who
have gone on ahead of us.
We will grieve for those who now grieve and rejoice with those who rejoice.

It has not been easy on you living here these past two and half months…
away from your own home, your comfort and familiarity, as well as that of
your own complete little family.

Yet we’ve each done the best we could do.

And so, on this Pandemic Mother’s Day,
I want to thank you for allowing me to share your children.

I want to thank you for allowing me to share in the day to day caregiving
and responsibility.
You have been gracious in allowing me to be that now missing and yet extra parent.

There are only three people in my life who I am related to by blood—
and you and I share those three people.

One of those three I have shared with you while you in turn have shared two with me…

And so I thank you for that.

Long ago, one of my own mother’s favorite folks was Erma Bombeck.

She was that folksy, common sense female author and journalist so endeared by
“the commmon woman.”
She was a woman who didn’t need hashtag movements, protests, marches or amendments to know that,
as a woman, she could and would make a difference in the lives of others…all the while, doing
so with a deeply rich and delicious humor.

She was self-deprecating in the best sense of the word.
She knew how to laugh at herself as she invited others to laugh as well.

At that particular time in our culture, Erma Bombeck was the sole spokeswoman
for the most underappreciated being on the planet…that being the mom…
and in particular, the stay at home mom.

My mom was a stay at home mom.

An often lonely and mostly underappreciated role.

She was a woman who did not have extra money like those of her working friends.
She was a woman who didn’t have fancy clothes or a nice car, or a super nice house.
She was a simple woman who probably would have enjoyed being complicated.
A woman who knew how to make $50 dollars a month feed a family of four
while sewing clothes for school.

A woman who knew what it meant to hurt and suffer as one of her children
battled mental illness.
A woman who bore cancer, and its eventual loss of life, without nary a complaint.

And so I share with you a tale by Erma Bombeck—a piece
about when God created mothers—-something my mom certainly understood
and something I think you may already understand.

Happy Mother’s Day to my daughter-in-law…

“When God Created Mothers”

When the Good Lord was creating mothers,
He was into His sixth day of “overtime” when the angel appeared and said.
“You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And God said, “Have you read the specs on this order?”
She has to be completely washable, but not plastic.
Have 180 moveable parts…all replaceable.
Run on black coffee and leftovers.
Have a lap that disappears when she stands up.
A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair.
And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said.
“Six pairs of hands….no way.”

It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” God remarked,
“it’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.
God nodded.

One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks,
‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows.
Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know,
and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say,
‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

God,” said the angel touching his sleeve gently,
“Get some rest tomorrow….”

I can’t,” said God, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself.
Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick…
can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger…
and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

But tough!” said God excitedly.
“You can imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

Can it think?”

Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

There’s a leak,” she pronounced.
“I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model.”

It’s not a leak,” said the Lord,
“It’s a tear.”

What’s it for?”

It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

You are a genius, ” said the angel.

Somberly, God said,
“I didn’t put it there.”

― Erma Bombeck, When God Created Mothers

tik tok…time is ticking

“Cruelty and wrong are not the greatest forces in the world.
There is nothing eternal in them. Only love is eternal.”

Elisabeth Elliot


(shutterstock)

First, let me start out by saying thank goodness for Elisabeth Elliot’s quote.
The following post was a difficult one to write.

It is based on an even harder article; one that I read before being ‘inspired’
to write the post.

So yes, it was good to be reminded that cruelty, and that which is truly wrong,
are not the greatest forces in the world…despite often feeling overwhelmed
by their darkness.

I need to remember that love and love alone is the one eternal constant.

And so if you’ve ever read many of my posts, you already know that I don’t take
the matter of abortion lightly.
I find it to be a painful and ugly reality of human beings being human.

Let me be the first to say that I am really really happy not to be caught up in the constant
shape-shifting and undulating communication formats that just keep morphing and multiplying
in this post-Christian, uber cutting edge, 21st century of ours.
It’s really too much to try and keep up with, as well as maintain if one wants
to be current and trendy.

Formats like youtube and even Instagram are so yesterday when you can
use a platform like TikTok

According to TikToc’s site, they explain that TikTok is the leading destination for short-form
mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.

Creativity and joy.
I’m all for it.

As a former art teacher, I love hearing about a cyber place that affords the opportunity for creativity!
And as a human being, I know that I can sure use some more joy in this world of mine!

It sounds like a nice place.
A nice site for folks to get creative and happy while sharing that creativity and happiness
with others.
A kumbaya cyber gathering spot for sharing warmth and laughter…albeit a place for
some random silliness as people seem to have way too much time on their hands
if posting videos of both animals and people doing dumb things is the latest greatest craze…

However, it appears that TikTok seems to be shifting away from its original mission of
spreading happiness and joy as it is now becoming a site for both darkness and death.

Huh?

Is not darkness and death the antithesis for creativity and joy?

It seems that TikTok is now the hot new place where young gals are posting videos of
their abortion procedures.

Graphic and even disturbing videos.

And yes you have read correctly–there are gals out there, young gals,
who are giggling and being silly while uploading videos of their own abortion procedures.
As in a sick twisted, yet not without the moments of youthful silliness, step by step documentary.

Where, praytell, is the creativity and joy in that?

And so now that you are somewhat befuddled and confused over a story that started out about
spreading creativity and joy and yet has now spiraled into something rather insidious and sinister,
you must be wondering where on earth did I ever hear of such!?

Well, I was reading over yesterday’s offering from The Federalist when one of the featured
stories caught my eye.

If Girls Want To Be ‘Candid’ About Abortion On TikTok,
They Should Livestream It All

MARCH 4, 2020
By Joy Pullmann

This article deals with sensitive information that may be traumatizing especially
for post-abortive men and women and those who have experienced miscarriage.
My heart goes out to you. You can heal.

Pro-life activist Lila Rose says Twitter forced her to remove a viral video she
reposted of a young woman celebrating her Planned Parenthood abortion on the social media
platform TikTok.

According to a twitter post that Twitter removed, pro-life activist Lila Rose wrote:
Our ability to be cruel is endless.
When society celebrates abortion, should we be surprised to see this kind of cruelty?
My heart breaks for this little helpless baby,
killed on camera, his young mother joking about it.
And it breaks for her, who will live with this all her life
twitter.com/lilagracerose/

The article continues with a twitter tit for tat…

Insider summarized the TikTok video this way:

The user @cpcake21 posted a 20-second clip, which began with an apparently positive
pregnancy test belonging to her friend Ashley. The girl shows off her stomach before
the video follows them to a Planned Parenthood clinic,
where they point out a solemn couple in the waiting room before cutting to Ashley
on the table in a medical gown.
The video, which was posted from a now-private profile but posted in some tweets,
is overall lighthearted.
Set to a remix of Bruno Mars’ ‘It Will Rain,’
Ashley nervously laughs and fist pumps before she’s in the exam room.

Twitter removed the tweets it didn’t like, TikTok removed the videos that spun out of control
but not before the damage, sharing, shock, and disbelief were spread far and wide…kind of
like that desire for creativity and joy….spread it far and wide.

A small war ensued between the pros and cons with Twitter and TikToc siding with the pros and
attempting to silence the cons…but isn’t that how things now work?

The author of the article continues…

It’s hard to know where to begin.
With what looks like teenagers joyfully making the choice to have their wombs suctioned out
or induced with a miscarriage?
With the weird and sick trend of abortion-happy posts on the social media platform
saturated with young Gen Zers?
With a “reporter” who has a huge platform encouraging murderous
and self-damaging behavior among teen girls?

Let’s just go with the transparency angle.
You want “open and candid” information about a major medical decision that ends a life you created?
Great.
Let’s livestream it.
The whole thing.
Not just the fist-pump, but also the entire ultrasound the abortionist is watching while
he suctions out the baby, or the blood and tiny body pouring into the toilet
after an abortion pill while the young mother vomits and sobs.
Go ahead.
Be “transparent.”

I dare any mainstream media outlet or abortion organization to go full transparent.
To preserve the mom’s privacy, you don’t have to show her face.
Just show the procedure.
Nothing to hide, right?
Everything to celebrate, right?
Own that rhetoric.
Prove it’s true.

Of course, they won’t.
Because all the “shout your abortion” and “abortion parties” nonsense is a web of lies
attempting to conceal one of the most grotesque national sins Americans have ever allowed
our government to sanction.

The article is extensive as well as graphic.
But isn’t that what abortions are?

They are graphic moments of both life and death.
They are not neat nor are they pretty.

Maybe folks make light of such acts because how else can they cope with something so tragic?
Despite clamoring for legalization, proponents for abortions still wish to keep the details
and graphic nature hidden from plain sight…
that is except for when some young girls, who don’t seem to
grasp the severity of their actions, decide to post an “adventure” and then a few rabid activists
encourage said behavior as “brave.”

When did the taking of a helpless life become brave?

Abortion advocates don’t like for the opposition to lay all the cards plainly on the table for all the
world to see….it’s a messy business.
Ugly, messy and deadly.

They want to be able to perform such acts while preferring that no one really acknowledges
the ugliness of it all.
Keep it light and easy…creative and joy-filled.

The clock is ticking…

Here is the link to the full story.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/03/04/if-girls-want-to-be-candid-about-abortion-on-tiktok-they-should-livestream-it-all/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=3f4087fbae-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-3f4087fbae-84149832

I want my baby back…

Do you know that Chili’s food chain commercial??
The one with the singing jingle about baby back ribs?

A singing voice keeps repeating
“I want my baby back, baby back, baby back…I want my baby back….ribs…”

It’s the kind of commercial that does what it’s supposed to do, it sticks in your head…
whether you like ribs or not.
Of which I do by the way but I’ve never eaten at a Chili’s…
but I digress.

So recently, on more than one occasion, I am finding myself randomly singing that little
jingle in my head…over and over.
Sometimes I’m actually singing it out loud, as in a sense of desperation.
And no, it’s not because I actually want a plate of baby back ribs…
I simply want my baby back!

And so she will indeed be coming back today!!!

YAY!!

Mom and Dad have an out of town wedding and it falls upon me to be the babysitter…
so too bad for me…wink wink 🙂

Maybe I need to fire up the grill and barbeque some ribs in order to celebrate…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

what’s really real anymore?

“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it;
but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal
which have been instilled into them,
and each time they come in contact with the real,
they are bruised and wounded…”

W. Somerset Maugham

Between the books I’m reading, the barrage of breaking “news” stories,
our caustic and even catastrophic political world..add to that those issues that
scream for our attention yet go woefully ignored….
throw in a good dose of life, seasoned with “this time of year”…
and something or maybe everything is leaving me a bit unsettled..

By all outward appearances I am going through all the proper motions…
I am saying all the right things while doing all the necessary things.
Nothing would lead anyone to suspect that anything was awry.
And yet something unseen continues to pull at my sleeve as I unconsciously try
pulling back….such that the unconscious is almost becoming conscious.

Am I just becoming Ebenezer?
Perhaps more Grinch than Scrooge?
Or am I simply now jaded beyond repair?

After thinking about the two posts I wrote earlier this week—
the first being about meat and potatoes vs purposeful yet empty noise and distraction….
with the second tale being about of the continuing saga of the annihilation of
the oldest, as in the very first group of collective Christians, I have found myself wrestling with what it is that we think we’re passing off as Christmas.

Whoa.
Sacred cow now being looked at sideways…

I’ve allowed this thought to ruminate as I’ve chewed the cud over it.

Christmas is for children….that is a certain absolute..as in for sure.
And I have loved Christmas–both past and present as I anxiously await
sharing it with a new granddaughter next year…..
but…..

Christmas, for me and mine, has basically been a joyous time of melding
tradition and custom with Biblical teaching.

But something is starting to really trouble me….
There are…
Advent wreathes with the lighting of candles while there are “Advent” calendars
counting down the days until Christmas—with more and more equating simply to
good food, family and presents…..

There is…
Santa Claus Christmas
and there is….
Jesus Christmas.

Hummmm….

I have Jewish friends who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles,
a menorah in the kitchen as they take the kids to Santa for pictures
and wrap up gifts and goodies in red and green paper to nestle under the tree.

I know nonbelievers who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles
and presents wrapped in red and green under the tree…as their children, along with
those Jewish children, leave out cookies and milk for Santa.

Christmas.

Expectation verses Expectancy
Lights verses Light.
Gifts verses Giving…

Has it all gone too far?
Have we allowed it to go too far?
Have we been sucked into a lie?

I think that which is tugging at my sleeve is the Holy Spirit Himself.
I am being reminded that what I’m seeing as Christmas has nothing to do with
Christ’s Mass….nothing to do with the expectant waiting of the birth of Salvation.

And so I wrestle—where do we as Believers now draw the line?

Do we do so silently…or…a bit more loudly?
Loudly as in no longer just riding merrily along in the sleigh with everyone else
jing jing jingling into the oblivion of Currier and Ives… or rather do we say
a collective “hold up”…

First and foremost Christmas is about one thing…and one thing only….
and that is the birth of Christ…
So don’t try to pass this societal thing you’ve created off as anything
other than secularism masquerading as the Christmas of Christ.
You want your Yuletide but you don’t want the Christians to have their
Christ’s Mass…
You want your goodies and your holidays but you don’t want to acknowledge the
Savior of all mankind…..

And so while wrestling with this gnawing notion rolling around in my thoughts
and heart, I caught the latest offering by the Wee Flea Pastor
David Robertson….talk about reading my mind…

It is the tale of fake news verses real news…..

Is Christmas Christian?
….But what about as a Christian festival?
It can be argued that Christmas becoming a secular/pagan festival is just
returning to its pagan roots.
It was the Church that took over the midwinter festival and turned it into a
celebration of the birth of Jesus
(who was not born on December the 25th – more likely to have been a day in April).
Was this a bad thing?
Some of our ancestors thought so –
and famously refused to celebrate Christmas.
Even in living memory there are those who can recall Christmas just being a
normal working day – with New Year being the main festival.
Most Free Churches still do not have a Christmas Day service
(unless it is on a Sunday) but we do have a New Years Day.

It’s not wrong to celebrate Christmas,
and its not wrong not to celebrate.
Let each be persuaded in their own minds.
What however is wrong is to turn the birth of Jesus Christ,
into an orgy of commercialism, greed and drunkenness.
The idea that people will get themselves into enormous debt to buy things
they don’t need in order to celebrate the birth of the one who though he was rich,
yet became poor, for our sakes, is grotesque.

We are able to use our building to proclaim the good news of Jesus,
as opposed to the ‘fake news’ of the secular Christmas.
In that respect I love what the angels told the shepherds as they looked
after their flocks
“Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will bring great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David,
a Saviour has been born to you.;
he is the Messiah, the Lord”
.
(Luke 2:10-11).

Great Joy for all the People – The Christmas Record

reflective remembrance

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty;
it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.”

― Coco Chanel


(a slice of the Mile High Pie from Bones in Atlanta / Julie Cook / 2017)

As long as I can remember, my birthday has always fallen on the weekend of the
Georgia / Auburn football game.
Never mind if my birthday was on, say a Wednesday,
the birthday has always been marked by this hallowed grudge match.

A grudge match rivalry game considered, by those who write the history of
collegiate sports, to be the oldest college rivalry
in all of college football dating all the way back to 1892.

So this past weekend was no exception when it came to birthdays and football games…
despite the actual day being a few days after the fact of said game.

And so it would have only seemed to make sense that my beloved Dawgs would have
stepped up to the birthday plate by delivering the best gift possible—
a defeat of this most ancient of foes…putting them one more game closer
to a year of perfection….
Yet alas…
it was not to be….

Yet defeat is not the intent of today’s thoughts but rather the musing of what was,
what is and what will be…

When I turned 21, way back when I was in college at this same beloved college of
which I speak of today, I had been invited by a young man who I really liked at
the time, to travel down to Auburn for the game in honor of my birthday.

But I had a conundrum.

My godparents, the priest of my church and his wife, had already invited me to come
home as they wanted to have a small party in my honor.

Now I don’t know too many 21 year olds who would spend even a second weighing out such proposals…as whether to stay or go—as most any 21 year old in their right mind
would have wholeheartedly opted to go to the football game…
excitedly ready to spend a great weekend with great friends
and a potential great beau all the while living it up as one’s team beats
up another—

I however chose the latter.
I went home.

I really can’t say how many 21 year old kids had the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta,
at the time, bake them a birthday cake, but me…

And yes it was indeed a small intimate gathering… yet one that was, obviously, most memorable.

The game would have been no doubt memorable as well…or maybe not…
because I couldn’t even begin to tell you who won that year…
and I can recall that that young man was only a beau for a short time…
but on the other hand I do remember those other particular individuals who loved me
enough to want to make a special day even more special in their own small way.

And so it is with this day of marking the passage of time,
that I find myself being a bit wistful.
Because isn’t that what we do as we age, we become wistfully reflective.

So in keeping with this notion of being both wistful and reflective,
I am poignantly reminded that this is the first birthday that is to be spent
in 58 years without my dad and aunt.

Mother has been gone since just before I was to turn 26, but Dad and Aunt Martha
have been around throughout of what seems to be the duration of time…

Each of them knew how to make a birthday celebration both special and memorable.
As I remain grateful in recalling the years gone past that they did make a special
day just that— special.
Just as I am sad thinking of a new year without them.

And whereas there will definitely be some sadness on an otherwise momentous day…
besides nursing what could have, should have, been with the Dawgs running the table
on a possible all out rout of a season of wins…
it will be a day marked with a sense of without…
of what was and of what is no more…

Yet as our dear friend Coco Channel so pointedly reminds us—
it is not necessarily a matter of what we may have once been or been given,
rather it will be a matter of who and what we will opt to one day be…

May we opt to be both wiser and kinder….


(my husband with his birthday girl / 2017)

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,

Isaiah 42:2,3,4

the bittersweet

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy
are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but
to mature and transfigure us.”

― Hermann Hesse

“Our sweetest songs are those of saddest thought.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley


(image of the bittersweet herb Rue as seen on an herbal supplement site)

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint,
rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God.
You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

Luke 14:42

Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, there are numerous references to
both plants and herbs.
With each, along with salt, having been seen as taxable commodities.

Since these were items that were sold, traded and bartered,
and whereas people were making money from the sales of such items,
officials naturally wanted to impose a tax.

And with such an early example of something so simple being taxed,
is it any wonder that something like tea, which would lead to a
rebellious bunch of colonists tossing crates of such leaves into a harbor, be of
any surprise…

And since both plants and herbs were playing such a pivotal role in early commerce
we began to divide them into categories…
with both sweet and bitter being the frontrunners in the categories of taste, use,
perception and enjoyment.

Enter the Passover seder with it’s mix of bitter herbs
And they shall eat flesh in that night, roast with fire,
and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Exodus 12:8

Or the admonishment of self restraint and to approach things with moderation….
A sated man loathes honey,
But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.

Proverbs 27:7

So all of this talk of herbs and bitter and sweet came flooding in yesterday…
not because of Seders, or cooking, or bartering, or taxes or planting or even quiet reflective Biblical readings..
It actually came about as I busied myself getting ready for of all things…
to take a baby shower on the road.

For you see this is the first big family event that is taking place
without well, family.

We’re having a big baby shower in Atlanta for my son and daughter-n-law this weekend
and I’m the one putting this little shindig together.
There will be about 60 friends and family, old and young, near and far who will
come help them, as well as the grandparents to be, celebrate…

It will be there at what was Dad’s house…with what was once my childhood room now becoming a nursery.

Usually when I do these sorts of events, my trusted helper is and always has been,
right by my side—that being Aunt Maaaatha (aka Martha).

She would have flown up earlier this week, coming with her sleeves rolled up,
ready to jump in with both feet as we’d cook, prepare, buy, shlep,
and haul things here, there and yon.

And whereas I’ve been busy making plans, making orders, purchasing,
cooking and packing everything up… getting ready to transport
things to the big city, I can’t help but feel that tinge of bittersweetness.

What has always been a team effort is now a solo event…
Each time I stop long enough to take a breath, I am a bit haunted by what’s missing.

My dad’s only remaining cousin, who at 92 is the oldest and last living member
of that clan, will be making the trip.
My aunt, my dad’s sister-n-law, who is also 92, will join us as well.
As the top tier of the family now prepare to welcome the newest forthcoming member.

Yet knowing who won’t be with us physically at this party has left me a bit wistful.
But whereas I know there will be those who will not be with us physically,
I do know they will there in spirit.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

celebrations

“People of our time are losing the power of celebration.
Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained.
Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation.
To be entertained is a passive state–
it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle….
Celebration is a confrontation,
giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


(Dad’s cake / Julie Cook / 2017)

Over the years, I’ve read many tales of those who suffered in the death camps
of Nazi Germany.
I also have read a great deal about those who endured exile in the Soviet gulags.
Some of the stories end with liberation while many sadly, or perhaps poetically,
end in liberating death.

One key element that I’ve noticed over and over, that is evident in almost all of the
individual stories of those who endured the horrors of either form of death camp,
is the single element of either anticipatory hope or dejected hopelessness.

Those who chose to hold onto hope, did so in seemingly small, insignificant and almost
unnoticeable measures…

They would simply keep count.

They would count hours, days, weeks, months, years…
the counting of their own particular life’s moments…
Be it birthdays, anniversaries or any of their own personal life’s hurdles or goals…
anything of what life had been outside of the camps to them personally…
They would count and look forward…
forward toward what normal had been….
and holding on to that normal.

Notches were marked on walls, small prayers were silently said as hymns or songs were
privately sung…
As some semblance of recalling and holding onto the marking of these personal moments
could actually keep life sane…
It is what helped those tortured souls hold onto that which was of sanity and routine…
that of life’s normalcy….
all the while as they were being held in the depths of brutal insanity.

There is a bittersweetness found in the holding onto of normalcy during those times
in our lives that are anything but normal.

Those of us who have watched loved ones slowly ebb away due to illness, disease, war, famine,
brutality, paralysis, or any other catastrophic thief understand the importance
of continuing to count.

For if we didn’t count,
if we didn’t hold onto,
if we didn’t hope…even in the face of a seemingly earthly hopelessness…
we would simply succumb to a sorrow so deep, so black and so bitter
that we would be lost to the abyss of utter nothingness…
all of which we would know would equate to utter despair.

One of the hardest bible verses to live out in life is found in the book of James.
(1 James 2….)
We are told to consider it “pure joy” when facing trails.

A seemingly impossible task that many a non-believer throughout time has relished
in taunting the faithful with the sneering
“what kind of loving God would tell you to find joy
in your suffering…other than a maniacally sick puppet master…”

And as it is seemingly impossible to do just that when one’s heart is in the midst of
being torn out of one’s chest….

We continue doing just that….

Because in part we know that what we’ve counted and held onto here in this life,
that which we have considered so dear and so precious…
is but a glimpse of what will be even more so…
once we are liberated and home….

So be we liberated in life or in death…either way…we the faithful…
count our milestones and choose to celebrate…


(this is a really good picture of Dad right now, the other shots look wretched…but there remains
a small twinkle and sly smile in this image)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,
because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

1 James 2-6

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Lord; we beg but one boon more:
Peace in the hearts of all men living,
peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving.

Joseph Auslander

vintageturkeywishes
(vintage Thanksgiving card)

For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves,
we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread.
The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet….
Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host,
and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?

Rebecca Harding Davis

For everything God created is good,
and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4:4-5