is it well with my soul?

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul”

stanza from the hymn It Is Well With My Soul
Horatio G. Spafford


(an end season skipper visits a blooming wildflower/ Julie Cook / 2017)

Is all well with your soul?

Probably not.

I know it’s not with mine….not in recent months…

If you are a breathing, sensory processing, thinking, feeling sort of human being,
chances are, that given the current day and times, all is not well with
your soul either.

How could it be?

I for one have gravitated from being an observer to what all is currently happening
around us to feeling angry, helpless, sad and frustrated.

From natural disasters that seem to ride in on each incoming wave to to the human
tragedies as seen in Las Vegas, to just our constant state of civil unrest and
disdain for our fellow citizens…
this oh so divided nation is breaking my heart.

Add in to that each of our own personal struggles and tragedies—
and life is becoming heavy to say the least.

Those of us of the faith pray, we read scripture, we listen and often we grow weary
by the weight of it all.

Those non believers amongst us often then jump on that weariness as some sort of sign of
our waffling and inner struggle as they gleefully shout that they told us all along…
there is no loving God….

And of course we know better than that…but it sure gets frustrating because we pray
and we pay and we just keep wrestling with the never-ending madness.

Growing up in the Episcopal church, the hymn It Is Well With My Soul was not
one of the hymns we sang…however I was familiar with it none the less…

So as I sat here today stewing a bit with the current condition of my “soul”—
as the heaviness just seems a bit heavier today than usual,
I did a little digging into the background of the hymn.

What I found was heart wrenching to say the least.
If there was a soul who wrestled with the heaviness and frustration and heartbreak
of life, it was Horatio G. Spafford…a successful businessman out of Chicago during
the mid 19th century.

I offer to you the following back story to this well know hymn…a story of reality, tragedy and eventually peace….
a peace in knowing that there is One who is always greater
than any trial, tragedy or frustration that we will ever face in this life….
A peace in knowing that there is One who has overcome each and every sorrow…

It Is Well with My Soul”
Horatio G. Spafford

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

With this hymn comes one of the most heartrending stories in the annals of hymnody.

The author, Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888), was a Presbyterian layman from Chicago.
He had established a very successful legal practice as a young businessman and was
also a devout Christian.
Among his close friends were several evangelists including the famous
Dwight L. Moody, also from Chicago.

Spafford’s fortune evaporated in the wake of the great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Having invested heavily in real estate along Lake Michigan’s shoreline,
he lost everything overnight.
In a saga reminiscent of Job, his son died a short time before his financial disaster.
But the worst was yet to come.

Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck tells the story:
“Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters as well as wishing to join
and assist Moody and [his musician Ira] Sankey in one of their campaigns
in Great Britain, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873.
In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments,
he had to remain in Chicago,
but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the
S.S. Ville du Havre.
He expected to follow in a few days.

About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic,
the Ville du Harve collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Suddenly, all of those on board were in grave danger.
Anna hurriedly brought her four children to the deck.
She knelt there with Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta and prayed
that God would spare them if that could be His will,
or to make them willing to endure whatever awaited them.
Within approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath
the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers
including the four Spafford children.

A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down,
spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage.
It was Anna, still alive.
He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which,
nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales.

Another of the ship’s survivors, Pastor Weiss, later recalled Anna saying,
“God gave me four daughters.
Now they have been taken from me.
Someday I will understand why.”

From there she wired her husband a message which began,
“Saved alone, what shall I do?”
Mr. Spafford later framed the telegram and placed it in his office.
Spafford left immediately to join his wife.
This hymn is said to have been penned as he approached the area of the ocean
thought to be where the ship carrying his daughters had sunk.

Another daughter, Bertha, was born in 1878 as well as a son, Horatio, in 1880,
though he later died of scarlet fever.
After the birth of daughter Grace in 1881,
Spafford and his wife moved to Jerusalem out of a deep interest in the Holy Land.
There they established the American Colony,
a Christian utopian society engaged in philanthropic activities among Jews,
Muslims and Christians.

After decades of benevolent activities, the Colony ceased to be a communal society
in the 1950s, though it continued in a second life as the American Colony Hotel,
the first home of the talks between Palestine and Israel that eventually led to the 1983 Oslo Peace Accords

(excerpted from both an article written for the United Methodist Discipleship Ministries
by Dr. Hawn who is professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology, SMU as well as from a story that ran in the St Augustine Record)

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding,
shall keep your hearts, your minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

snowflakes

“The paradoxes of today are the prejudices of tomorrow,
since the most benighted and the most deplorable prejudices
have had their moment of novelty when fashion lent them its fragile grace.”

Marcel Proust

black-amp-white-flakes-photography-snow-snowflake-favim-com-286496
(image courtesy Favim.com)

There’s a lot of talk currently in my neck of the woods about snow.
In fact the “talk” is more like a warning of an impending National disaster.

Yesterday while driving into Atlanta to Dad’s…those matrix boards above the interstates
alerting drivers to accidents, etc. were all running the same ominous and foreboding message…
Winter Storm Warning

For much of this hearty country of ours, such approaching weather systems
are no big deal…
it’s just more of the same ol typical winter weather…
but in this tender southern state, those signs might as well have read:
THE END IS NEAR AND WE ARE ALL DOOMED!!!

So this morning, with all the local news forecasting the Apocolypse,
I figured that maybe I should run out to the store to grab another half gallon of milk…
Lord knows I’d hate to be iced in, snowed in or both,
without ample milk for my coffee or any sort
cake or recipe that I may want to whip up while being stranded and cut off
from all civilization…

The shopping center looked like it did a couple of weeks ago during the
Christmas shopping frenzy.
I had passed school buses running basically backwards…
as in they had just taken the kids to school
and now they were bringing them all back home due to the early dismals
in observance of the impending disaster.

While I was making my way through the maze of shopping carts frantically filling up
with survival foods such as chips and sodas…
I debated about picking up something different for supper.

The chicken section was almost empty with only a few errant packs of thigh / leg combos.
When did chicken make the list of the typical disaster foods besides bread and milk?
Of which I am happy to report that the milk section was fully stocked…
or should I make that restocked…

Next stop, the bank.

Fridays are never a good day to go to the bank as everyone is getting paid and
in turn, heading to the nearest bank.
Add impending doom…
and shades of 1929 come racing to mind.

While standing at my teller’s counter there was a couple in their mid 20’s at the teller next to me.
They were loudly lamenting to the gal behind the counter,
and everyone else in line, that they were “tired of being adults.”

Really? ( thought in a monotone of sarcasam)

I chuckled and turned to look at this forlorn lamenting duo.

They continued on about how they were ready to trade in their “adult cards” wanting,
I suppose, to return to the Land of Nod and innocence.
“How,” had they known, “that if life would be like this,”
whatever “this” may have been,
“would have squandered more of their money while trying to “enjoy life” …

I kid you not.

I offered, rather bemusedly, that it doesn’t get any easier…
which certainly didn’t offer any comfort to their sense of gloom and doom…
but then again I am a realist and one who is a believer in the phrase
“aging is not for sissies”

Later back home,
I stumbled upon the reference of snowflake being used with regard to this
same mid 20’s aged group, twice!

Once on a news program discussing the impending inauguration being akin to another
type of apocalypse to many, and that colleges are providing their tender charges
places of calm and comfort, in hopes of soothing their mounting fears.

Another reference came while I was reading the blog of a Scottish pastor waxing on
about today’s colleges which are providing warnings (trigger statements)
to students that biblical studies will have graphic imagery regarding the crucifixion and
veterinary studies will have to discuss such topics as dead animals,
while the forensic students will be seeing, wait for it, dead bodies.
Obviously things all too gory and disturbing for these tender “snowflake’s” sensitive likings.

They are a most fragile lot are they not?
And will certainly melt at the drop of a hat…

Or so it seems as many adults, especially those in higher institutions of learning,
fear as they race to coddle their youthful charges.
And so it is as I am now hearing it first hand with my own ears, while at the bank…
That many of these snowflakes are actually already tired of the real world and
simply want to go back to being “irresponsible kids”….

Hummmmm….

This coming on the heels of the news of that now infamous and most heinous viral Facebook
story coming out of Chicago…
the story about those 4 young people who were arrested for kidnapping, beating and torturing
a mentally handicapped young man.
Ranting on and on at him about F’ing Trump and F’ing white people while cursing him,
cutting him, taunting him as he was tied up and had his mouth duct taped shut….
They filmed their antics while boasting that they wanted this recording to go viral…
they wanted the world to see what they were doing while laughing all the while doing it.

Chicago’s police chief said that these sorts of horrendous incidents from young thugs would,
in the future, only escalate.

Here we have not so much snowflakes, but rather icicles…
cold and dangerous youth living without
regard for the sanctity of human life.

So maybe those interstate signs should read:
“Warning and Shame”
“We’ve let our youth run amuck and now we are left trying to pick up the pieces”

As our same Scottish pastor laments that the Church herself is as much to blame as anyone for
the wailing of these youthful generations as she has dumbed down Christianity into
a Disneyesque sort of happy fun thought…
where things like sin and death…that whole ransoming of our sins with payment coming
in the form of death on a cross,
being just all too much for this up and coming youthful generation
who are either too sensitive or too callous for the reality of life, death and faith.

Shame indeed.

Here’s to the impending snow storm…
may we have enough milk, bread and now chicken, to survive….

Snowflake Theologians Given Trigger Warning about the Crucifixion

limp or love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

DSCN3431
(placard that hangs by my backdoor / Julie Cook / 2016)

Anyone old enough to remember the 1960’s knows that that decade was known as the decade of peace and love…
It was also the decade of war and unrest.
With much of that unrest running rampant on American streets.

The decade began with a dashing new young President who was tragically cut down prematurely in the prime of his life.
Death loomed heavily over the United States as the war in Vietnam continued on and on….
Tensions grew exponentially on our college campuses.
Draft cards were defiantly burned, young men ran away to Canada as wooden coffins continued flying home.

The war was murky and deadly…
As a new type of warfare had been unleashed.
Guerrilla fighters lurked in the jungle and rice patties as Napalm was unleashed on entire villages.
The end goal had gotten lost in Washington and no one really understood why we lingered…
If we couldn’t finish successfully what had been started, then why remain buried in all the carnage.
The country definitely exclaimed that enough was enough.

As the decade wore on, other hopeful voices were silenced…
Bobby Kennedy then Martin Luther King were each snatched away just before the turning point.

Even the Catholic Church was not exempt from the decade of turmoil as the groundwork for the first Vatican Council held in over 100 years, better known as Vatican II, saw sweeping doctrinal change–some welcomed the change, some continue to curse the change to this day.

As the bras burned and the peace signs were hoisted high, as the hair grew longer and the season of love saw a brand new dawn…some wondered if life had simply spun out of control…

In 1966 a parish priest at an inner city church, on Chicago’s south side, needed a song for his youth choir to perform.
However nothing seemed fitting for the kids nor for the times in which they were barley holding on…
Peter Scholtes penned a quick tune he felt appropriate…
It was based on verse 35 of John 13…

Almost two thousand years prior, on a warm Jerusalem evening, the night of the Passover, what we now refer to as the Last Supper, was being observed by a rag tag group of friends.
Jesus had just admonished Judas that if he was to go, to do what he had destined himself to do, he must go quickly in order to get on with it…
The air was heavy as an odd tremendous sense of sorrow hung over those gathered.
This was no ordinary Passover and the disciples all sensed it.

Jesus tells those gathered that in just a short while, he will no longer be with them.
This sends a frantic pulse racing through the group.
A heightened sense of panic now replaces the somber melancholy.

Jesus quickly tamps down the nervous chatter…his words send a powerful calm throughout the room.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus knew what was soon to take place, the disciples had not a clue.
Yet He wanted to leave them with a powerful and clear path once he was gone.

The lasting legacy that Jesus offered that solitary night so long ago for not only those remaining 11 friends gathered around that table is also a continuum offered to us to this day…a continuum of love

That Love, which was culminated on a lone wooden cross, is more than an offering or gift, it is a charge.
A charge that came at a tremendous cost.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us of what that cost actually means…“It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

Many believe, and wrongly so, that the love Christians were charged with so long ago is a passively weak sort of oozing emotional goo. A surface sort of feeling that cannot weather the impending storms of life.
And for those who do not truly grasp the depth, the demands and the drive of this said Love…
they are left lost in its wake…for they underestimated its cost and expectation…

Yet in actuality this Love is a hard love and a tough love.

It is a love that demands not a piece or part, but rather the whole…the entirety of self

It is a love that casts out both doubt and fear.

It stands in the wake of pain and suffering as it is the only thing remaining once the dust of the
battlefield of this life has settled.

The love offered by Jesus that night to his disciples, which is the same love offered to both you and me on Calvary, cost not only Jesus his life but it cost God the life of his only son….it was a life sold for 30 pieces of silver… for both you and I…
And it was paid for, for our salvation, which in turn means that we were bought and paid with Love…

So will you be recognized for the Love of Christ which radiates as your guiding force through the minefield of this most turbulent early portion of the 21st millennium or will you be recognized by your limp…

For they will know us by our Love for we are One in the Spirit….

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 14:16-18

Bad things do happen to good people

“Once a thing is set to happen, all you can do is hope it won’t. Or will-depending. As long as you live, there’s always something waiting, and even if it’s bad, and you know it’s bad, what can you do? You can’t stop living.”
Truman Capote

DSCN0462
(stone bust on Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I can remember shortly after my mom died, at the young age of 53 due to a short battle with lung cancer, a well meaning friend gave me a copy of the book, When Bad Things Happen To Good People by Rabbi Harold Kushner.

Eventually I read the book, but it certainly didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know.

1) Despite what we may hope or think, none of us are exempt from bad, sad, evil, crime, illness, accidents…
No matter our age, our race, our sex or our life’s dealings…
Life happens and that is unfortunately part and parcel for living.

2) God does not have it out for us.
He does not exact His vengeance or wrath or displeasure on us hapless souls down below.
We are not His little chess pieces that He moves giddily around on some giant chess board of Life…
Never ever does He sadistically derive pleasure by “messing” with or in our lives nor does He find pleasure in being some giant unseen voyeur who receives sick thrills by watching us hurt and / or suffer.

3) There are just some things, no matter how advanced we may think we are or how smart and savvy or how pious…that we will ever fully understand while we walk this planet.
As hard as all of that is to understand, that’s just that, like it or not.

So much of our anger and frustration in such is that we find ourselves totally out of control.
We can’t stop certain things from happening…no matter how careful, thoughtful or preventative we may be.

4) That there is a mighty spiritual battle that rages all around us and like it or not, believe it or not, Satan walks this earth as this earth is his realm.
That there are those most learned individuals who will write such a statement off as a myth, a fairytale, a comment made by the weak, the naive, the ignorant. But it is they, in my opinion, who are the ignorant ones.

Evil is real.
It is all around us.

Those of us who are believers find peace in the knowledge that the war is already won, yet we also are aware that the battles, well, they continue with a vengeance.
And God is no puppet master controlling the strings.
We all have free will…the good as well as the bad…which makes us all vulnerable… throw in disease, genetics on top of free will…and it’s pretty much open season….
As we live in a world that unfortunately knows disease and sickness of both mind and body.

One of the biggest arguments / questions raised by humanity is why won’t He [God] intervene when, especially when, ‘the innocent’ are the victims…???
Those who are infants, children, the elderly, the vibrant, the giving, the loving, those who are simply going about life, minding their own business….

I don’t know that answer…as I have often been left to raise an angry fist and voice skyward as I have vehemently expressed my anger, frustration and sheer bewilderment…“if you love us like you say you do, why……….?

And that is sadly where some members of my family are at this very moment.

My cousin’s daughter and son-n-law along with their two young grandsons live in Chicago.
The family has been there a little over a decade. It is their home where they are raising their two little boys ages 3 and 6.

Tim Anderson, my cousin’s son-n-law, works at a bank in downtown Chicago. He commutes daily via train from their home out in the suburbs, in The Village into town.
He left home early Monday morning, like he always does, yet he never made it to work.
In fact Tim has not been seen nor heard from since he left at 4:30AM for the train station Monday morning.

His abandoned car was found hours later near a vast wilderness park area which is no where near home or the train station. His wife has also noted that he had actually left his work bag behind in those wee hours Monday morning. Something seems to have been terribly wrong at the very beginning of this sad mystery.

The family is financially sound.
Happy, healthy… both physically and mentally.
My cousin and his wife flew up from Atlanta yesterday to join other family members and friends as the search continues for Tim….

Yet just now (Wednesday) as I’ve been pecking at this post, the latest update from Chicago has been that a body has been recovered from the wilderness park.
Leaving more investigating and the continuing struggle to answer the unanswerable questions…as well as how to explain to two little boys daddy isn’t coming home….

Something bad has happened to this young family.
Why, we don’t know.
Just like in so many cases when “bad” happens, we don’t know nor perhaps we may never know the reasoning, the rationale….as there simply is no quick, easy or right answer…just as there are no acceptable answers during these bad moments of life.

Sadly bad things are happening to both good people as well as bad as I type these very words…all across this planet of ours throughout our human family ..

A request for prayers please for this young family…husband Tim, wife Cathrall and their two young sons, as well as for both the Brumby and Nichols family members in Atlanta and the Andersons in Chicago.

http://abc7chicago.com/news/body-of-missing-arlington-heights-father-found-in-forest-preserve/1194528/

My small gift to you this morning… the joy of a little color

There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.
Pablo Picasso

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

DSCN1561 2
(Millennial Park, shore of Lake Michigan / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

DSCN6039
(Open air market flower stall, Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

DSCN6053
(Boston Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

DSCN1559
(Millennial Park, shore of Lake Michigan / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

DSCN1560
(Millennial Park, shore of Lake Michigan / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

DSCN1593
(Millennial Park, shore of Lake Michigan / patch of black eyed susans / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

“you say you want a revolution. . .”

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.
Anne Frank

DSCN4606
(detail of an antique fire bonnet/ Julie Cook / 2014)

Whoa retired art teacher. . .those are some pretty strong words are they not?
I suppose you’re right dear reader, the word “revolution” does evoke all sorts of radical connotations.
Just posting the word on the blog probably has some government top dog out there curious as to the tom-foolery this retired educator is trying to stir up. . .

With the ongoing escalation of tensions between the US, Europe and Russia regarding the state of the free and democratic country of Ukraine, the continuing saga in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel–peace talks on, peace talks off. I’m 54 years old— these “peace” talks have been ongoing and the tension ever present. . .long before I ever entered this world and it has all been going on almost since the beginning of time. Even before Israel became an independent state, the discord has existed, and will continue as the biblically minded among us simply nod in a sad understanding. . .it does seem that the world at large is indeed in need of some sort of Revolution.

And then there were the headlines out of Chicago this past week. . .

I was fortunate to have visited the toddling town this past August, falling in love with life on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city itself is full of delightful green space, attractions for the eyes, the intellect, the tastebuds, the sports minded, as well as for the outdoor enthusiast. We walked to most destinations and took taxis for those out of reach. We felt safe and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

I am also quite familiar with Chicago’s darker past of the bygone days of Speakeasies, Gangland activity and Government corruption. Sadly it seems, however, that the past may never have truly been eradicated and redeemed as news from this midwestern hub of commerce and charm appears most dire and grim.

Over the course of the Easter weekend, there were a reported 45 shootings in the city, out of which there were 45 wounded or dead.
(see the full article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/22/how-chicago-became-chiraq.html)

Many of the victims were children. Reportedly, involving one most disturbing incident, when a car pulled up, at a park were young children had gathered after Easter Church services to play— a passenger in the car points a gun at a group of kids, with the oldest child being age 11, asking if they were members of a gang. Before the children could respond, they were all shot.

I should have suspected something was a rye when, on the morning of our final day in Chicago, I had flipped on the morning news. It was a Monday in mid August, the first day back to school for the kids of Chicago. The lead story was of the neighborhood safety watches, with individuals literally posted along sidewalks, in order for the kids to be to able to walk to school without fear of gun violence. “Wait a minute,” I silently muttered, “we did not see anything like this during our visit!. . .” The teacher and parent in me filed this away as most unsettling.

The city, of which I have recently learned, has the dubious nickname of “Chiraq”—a butchered mixing of the words Chicago and Iraq—and with 45 shot dead or wounded during the course of a single weekend, I can understand the war zone distinction. But I suppose we could say the same for the streets of Compton, Detroit, Atlanta. . .as the list goes on and on.

We can argue that all of this is a direct result of guns or that it’s because of the drugs, or it’s because of the gangs, or it’s because of the broken family unit, or it’s because of welfare, or it’s because of unemployment, or it’s because of race, or it’s because of the social structure, or it’s because all of the above and them some. . . etc, on and on, ad infinitum, as it does go on and on.

We can tout that if we simply eradicate, educate, communicate, placate, eliminate, etc, then we can fix our mess of violence in this country as well as in this world.

Did any of that intellectual rumination matter this week in Kabul, Afghanistan when the man chosen to guard, defend and protect 3 American doctors and medical volunteers, who were in that country to help save the lives of woman and babies, thought it better to shoot and kill these selfless aid workers at point blank range?

How simple was it to understand that their mission was merely one of service and aid, yet even that didn’t seem to matter to one who convinced himself that their death outweighed their service.

Who thinks like that?!
Who thinks it’s ok to shoot kids?
Oh I best not start with the questions, as we’d be here all day. . .

The revolution of which I speak is a not a Revolution of unrest, violence and destruction but rather a Revolution of Love.
Not some dippy hippy, day of yore, let’s make love not war, mubmo jumbo. . .but an actual revolution of Agape.

Agape–ἀγάπη, agápē
Greek for unconditional love.
Not a romantic love, not a sexual love, not an obsessive love, not a self love, but the love of one human begin for another–the same love of the omnipotent God for His creation and in turn, His Creation for Him.

Unconditional, meaning without strings attached–the concern of another human being without regard to self and self’s wellbeing—just like what those doctors in Afghanistan possessed. . .

But Julie, how can one love others when staring down the barrel of a gun, when one is holding a dead or dying loved one in one’s arms, when all one has spent a lifetime working for and building is destroyed and or taken. . .? Does not violence, hatred, death and destruction beget only more of the same?

Examples are indeed all around us—as they have been down through the ages.
Notable examples of such are the Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe who voluntarily gave his life in place of a jewish man in the death camp of Auschwitz. Mother Teresa who spent a lifetime picking up the diseased and dying Hindu and Muslim in the streets of Calcutta. Corrie Ten Boom, the Christian Dutch resistance underground worker whose family spent much of the War hiding Jews in their home, who were all eventually arrested, sent to Ravensbruck Concentration camp, where she alone survived. Her book The Hiding Place documents this harrowing and dark time of the world’s history.

We can also say that individuals such a Mahatmas Ghandi and even Martin Luther King Jr were also shining examples of what peace and the demonstration of Love can accomplish when staring at violence and death head on.

I for one have grown weary of the gangs, the drugs, the wars, the hate, the resentment, the needless killings, the disregard for human life and human dignity.

When will enough ever be enough?

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right!

(Lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)

Worn out welcome? Just getting started…..

It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution. The
reverse is true. As one grows older, one climbs with surprising strides.”

― George Sand

DSCN1758

STOP!! My husband should be use to that familiar command but for someone reason he still thinks he’s just run over something or someone each time I shout out my need for him to stop. I don’t know why he gets so upset, all I want is for him to stop the car so I can jump out in order to get what seems to be a marvelous picture. Who cares if we’re in the curve of the road, the wrong side of a hill, in a blind spot, or in the middle of traffic—nothing like capturing the moment—if I don’t get the picture NOW, a great opportunity just might pass us by. I don’t understand why he isn’t on my same page with all of this….but I digress as usual.

We were out driving the other day, on some sort of mission of his, when we go sailing past a piece of property that was once home to some sort of arts and crafts yearly festival. Sadly, from the looks of things, that’s been quite a while.

STOP!! I bark out my need. Luckily we were in the middle of no where and he actually complied, imagine that!

As this was in the middle of no where, in the middle of an overgrown woody sort of area, he reminds me of one thing as I bound out of the car, wearing sandals mind you…..”watch for copperheads…” Hummm….yes, well, perhaps a careful tiptoeing over to this one time entrance gate.

Haven’t you ever felt like this thing looks?!—definitely worse for the wear. Maybe I feel a kindred connection to this thing. Moss growing on the roof, my sides, uh- I mean, its sides falling in, the welcome sign faded and skewed, overgrown by the invasive weeds of time complete with trash dumped at its feet. This thing’s got my name written all over it!

I suppose I should feel sad and melancholy, nostalgic for a by-gone heyday of sorts. And yes… the fact that this little booth did once “welcome” people to come enjoy and have a good time.. but is, sadly, now forgotten, abandoned and left to be taken over by Mother Nature…it is all quite dismal but I actually have to smile because this little puppy is actually singing my song.

I see what it was in its glory day. I also see the potential… given a little TLC, a few nails, a few new boards, a little paint, I think the moss on the roof is aesthetically pleasing, albeit not a positive for the workings of a sound shingled roof…but that moss might just as well be the grey laying claim to my hair!!

One person may see a derelict building needing to be torn down, I see hope. “Julie, are you crazy?!” I know, I know …and don’t think I can’t hear you. I’m not saying I need to go in to rescue this booth, this forgotten area of festival making—but I know that I could if I was so inclined.

When I look in the mirror, the face looking back has, well, “aged”. I use to think that I really didn’t look older…but suddenly my eyes look at though they are disappearing. Didn’t I use to have lids? I use to be able to see lashes, I have lashes, right?—are they shrinking or just falling out, or both?

When we were in Chicago a few weeks back, we had wandered into the building that housed Nordstrom’s. We had just finished with a boat tour of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Let’s just say I have looked better—the wind blown hair look just wasn’t working for me. There in the middle of the “mall” was one of those kiosks selling some sort of cosmetic mess. I’m usually good at avoiding these little intense sales bee hives but I was tired, overwhelmed with this magnificent mile business and must have looked like easy pickings.

A sales girl immediately grabs me before I have a chance to look away as if previously occupied. My husband just stands there being no help at all in staging a rescue. The sales girl, a cute girl from Lithuania, immediately clutches my hands and before I even know what’s happening she looks at my nails as if in horror. “You must be a teacher or a nurse?!”

“Teacher.” I flatly reply almost apologetically. No, I’ve never been one to “do” my nails—whats’ the point when you work 24/7 with your hands—so I suppose it must show. She whips out her array of nail treatments and does a number on one nail. Wow, I didn’t know my nails looked so bad as this one nail now made the other nine look, well, in a word, wretched. Next, some nice looking young man, who must have been her boss, leads me over to a chair.

By now we all seem to know one another’s life stories. He is actually from Israel and loves my glasses. My husband is standing there with his hands on his hips—impatient and wondering why I don’t jump up and run. Suddenly I’m kind of liking this long needed pampering. The sales guy takes off my glasses…ooo, this is so racey. He begins applying some sort of creme on my eyes. He dabs on this and that, blots with a cotton ball, adds something else, swivels me around in the chair to a mirror and VOILA! I squint to see what he did— remember he removed my glasses. “Don’t do that” he practically screams—“no squinting, it makes wrinkles”…..oh,is that what did it? Well I must have squinted myself to death.

Long story short and $300 later, as my husband was guilted by this slick sales duo into aiding with his tired wife’s reverie, I walked out feeling lighter, a little brighter. Amazing what a little special attention can do for one’s psyche. And you must know that I have been using the eye serum religiously since our return…3 times a week and I can actually tell a difference—I think its purpose is to diminish wrinkles—maybe it’s just my imagination (such an oldie but goodie..digress…) but I think my eyes actually look a little younger, a little lighter. Is that my old twinkle I’m noticing? And my nails, well lets just say they’ve never looked so, cared for…..

What I’ve taken from my appreciation of an old abandoned building and of my old and dilapidated aging body…is that with a little attention here, and a little pampering there…that’s often all that is needed in order to have a complete turn around….or at least the encouragement of a new direction. Not being a big frufru girl..remember, I’m a tomboy at heart, it is quite amazing what just a little 20 minute single fast-tract sales pitch of a mini hyper-speed makeover of one nail and one eye can provide….it offered a tired older body a little hope of what could be, knowing what was, and of how to be ok with what’s in the middle…

So the next time you see an abandoned little building remember that it once had an important purpose. And the next time you look in the mirror, remember you too had an important purpose, the wonderful thing is that you still have that purpose, it just may be a little dingy and rusty, but it’s all still there. Now if I could just remember where I put that face creme…sadly, first the eyes, now the mind….