There are no accidents

“In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences”
Pope John Paul II


(a two legged okra? / Julie Cook / 2017)

Tuesday I spent the day doing something that needed doing.
It needed doing ages ago.

I pulled out two step ladders along with a box of dusting clothes and proceeded
to take everything off my bookshelves—

These bookshelves were builtin cabinetry, on either side of the fireplace,
and it was the thing about the house that I loved most when we moved in
20 years ago…
Because I always wanted a place to properly put my books.
And did I mention my book collection, within that twenty year time, has
only grown.

But it wasn’t just books that had since found homes on the shelves.
Maybe it’s the art teacher in me but these where mini display shelves of
design and creativity….they held my “treasures” from trips,
they held memories.

However to the causal observer, I feared, they held chaos.
Hopefully organized chaos, but chaos none the less.
And as I age, I think I’m finally understanding…less is more.

I took down every last book, picture, knick knack, souvenir, treasure…
emptying all shelves as if preparing to pack up, box up and move…
which mind you I do consider constantly as I hear the ocean often call
my name..but then I’ll hear the mountains call out as well…
so to keep things quiet…
I just ignore them and stay put….

I climbed up and down, balancing precariously on the cabinet edge, in order to get
everything moved, off and down.

I next proceeded to dust.

Finally I had a clean slate.

I spent the remainder of the day sorting.

What should be boxed for Goodwill.
What should be boxed and stored.
What should be moved elsewhere.
What should be allowed to stay.

We had brought back 9 very old decoy ducks that had been Martha’s.
Beautifully old decoys of various species, sizes, shapes, ages and colors…
with one being a giant rustic fish and one being a giant sitting turkey hen.
All now having come home to roost with the 4 I already had.
My flock of 4 sits on the fireplace—
what would I now do with Martha’s flock of 9???

It all started for me when I inherited my grandmother’s very old wood carved decoy
of a male canvas back duck named Henry…Henry is now nearing 100.
In her last years of life, as the dementia set in, Mimi named the decoy Henry
and he sat at the foot of the bed as if it were a pet…and I believe
in Mimi’s mind, Henry was real and was indeed her pet….

Eventually I decided to strategically place the decoys up on my shelves—
sitting a couple on top of books, while others were flanked by a few books.
I threw in few antique plates, a framed photo or two…
Poked and placed until I got something that I think to be tastefully presentable…
rather than stuffed to the gills full.

But all of this rearranging is not the point of this post.
Nor are the ducks or books or dust or junk…

As I was sorting through the wealth of books that I’ve acquired over the years–
with the bulk being based on Christianity, the Saints, Monasticism, Prayer,
the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, European history and lots of Art history…
one little book literally fell out amongst the hoard…
resting at my feet on the floor.

Most of my books are hardback, some are large and lovely, some are old and rare..
but this little paperback book simply seemed to fall out of nowhere….

It’s a book I remember ordering years ago.

There Are No Accidents
In All Things Trust God

by Fr Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R
with John Bishop

I remember that I never finished reading the book for whatever reason,
which I do remember starting while I was still teaching.
Time then was never on my side…not that it is now,
but these days I try to be more diligent with both my time and reading.

The book is based on an interview with Fr. Benedict..
as he was known by his first name and not his last.
He was a Franciscan monk, teacher and retreat leader who died in 2014.

He was also a monk who was hit by a car while crossing the street at the
busy Orlando Airport in 2004.
His survival was very questionable.
He was an older gentleman who sustained some very serious injuries.
Both broken bones and severe head trauma.

There were surgeries, long stints in ICU, ventilators, physical therapy….
He never walked again without assistance nor could he raise his right arm
but yet he survived and he persevered.
For he had a mission.
And that was to continue sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The doctors warned that if he lived, he’d never talk again,
never think again as he most likely would be severely brain damaged.
They also said he wouldn’t walk let alone dance…
but he was ok with not dancing
because he never liked to dance anyway.

I’m beginning the book anew.

For I too believe there are no accidents—
for behind every accident, every incident, be they minor or devastating…
it is there our Omnipotent God resides…

There are blessings to be wrestled over but we do not like nor do we
want to wrestle.

And therein lies our challenge…
our challenge to comprehend, to sort and to accept.

We stand as a lost child feeling overwhelmed and frozen by fear, pain
sorrow, horror, devastation, disbelief, greif.
Our thoughts, our faith, our being… rocked all to the foundation,
as we are left to rile with unbridled anger.

Because this God of ours is not reacting…
this God of ours is not playing the role…
this God of our is not doing things the way we would have Him do…
and therefore we decide we don’t need, don’t want, don’t like this God
as we assume ourselves to be the better god….

And there rests our trouble….

“There are no accidents.
Evil things occur because of bad will or stupidity or fatigue,
yet whatever the cause, God will bring good out of it if we let Him”

Fr Benedict

“even when we do not choose evil, we choose the good so half heartedly
and with so many qualifications that mediocrity becomes our canonized statis quo.”

Fr Benedict

Dumb and dormer or the age of the mea culpa

“…our impulses are too strong for our judgement sometimes”
Thomas Hardy

DSCN8418 2

Should a soon to be 55 year old woman climb out of the dormer windows in order to scrub the mildew off the trim and gutters?
Don’t answer that. . .not yet.

Trees around a house can be a messy affair.
There is the annual profusion of dropped leaves or pine straw.
There are the mishaps of falling limbs and branches during storms and ice.
Then there is the dampness which hides in the shadows causing havoc to roofs, gutters, trim and paint as the moisture never dries—plus trees have a tendency of sloughing off “stuff.”

After cutting down our trees a couple of weeks ago, the ugly mildew around the windows and gutters, which I had not noticed prior to the cutting, now taunts me from above.
I have a couple of options:
A. I can clamor around on ladders, precariously holding aloft a pressure washer hose, getting soaked in the process during this nippy time of year, possibly knocking off some integral piece to the house, say the shingles, and finally slipping off said ladder. . .
B. Let my husband do the above as I hold the ladder, receiving the full brunt of roof run off and worrying that he’ll fall off the ladder, on me.
C. pay a fortune trying to find someone who does this sort of thing professionally.
D. climb out the windows and scrub the sides myself, worrying about the gutters later.

Hummmmmmm. . .

I announced that I was going to “clean” windows one morning recently as my husband was leaving for work.
“What do you mean clean windows? he asks.
“As in the dormers and all that mildew. I’m going to open the windows and hang out as far as I can reach and then scrub.”
“Well whatever you do, don’t you dare try getting out on that roof” this said on his way out the door.

Hummmmmmm. . .

Opening the windows, spying my mess, I begin scrubbing everything within arm’s reach.
Hummmm, the roof is a bit slanted but it doesn’t look all that steep. . . .
Maybe if I just climb out while holding onto the window frame with one hand. . .

Hummmm. . .
Rope.
Where’s a rope?
I could tie the rope to. . .the bed? A doorknob?

Hummmm. . .

The roof was beckoning and I was wanting to answer.

Two little me’s perch on my shoulders.
One little me reminds me of my husband’s last words as he left for work.
The other little me asks “what does he know?!”
The first little me brings up my broken ankle and the never repaired torn ACL
The other little me says “you’ve got this”
The first little me reminds me of my birthday this week, as in turning 55 then queries “what about the osteoporosis?
The second little me say’s “you’re fine. you’re as young as you feel. it’s not like you’d fall very far”
The first little me reminds me that it is a two story drop and “whereas there may be bushes down below, there is also cement.”
The other little me tells me to “grab the gutters on the way down, you’ll be fine. . .”

Hummmmm. . .

Adventuresome and Daring
or
Hard-headed and Impetuous.

Fool hardy and Tempting
plus
Reckless and Impulsive

Impulsive behavior, with the often very public apology or acknowledgement of poor decisions, has become all too common in our culture–
I call it the age of the mea culpa.

Everyone from entertainers to politicians, to news personnel, to athletes, to law enforcement officers, military personnel, musicians on down to your average everyday person–everyone seems to adhere to the latest trend of — Act first, think later.

Public, as well as private, apologies abound. Turn on the television or flip through any newspaper and someone is apologizing for some indiscretion or egregious action.
I often think the tide of apologies sadly stems from the mindset of having simply gotten caught and therefore an apology must follow.
I don’t know if we have grown more bold, more greedy, more self centered, more daring,
but self control appears to have been thrown out as the proverbial baby with the bath water.

Sadly it appears we have forgotten. . .
Forgotten that our God is a God of control and order, yet not a controlling God–there is indeed a difference!
He is not a god who condones the uncontrollable self absorption of a willy nilly gobbling up whatever comes down the pike people. The mindset and philosophy of today’s society appears to be ‘if I see it, I want it, and I’ll take it or do it”—-and it doesn’t matter what the “it” is—be it food, clothes, sex, drugs, people, money, etc. and to heck with the consequences.

We (as in the human race) were once given regulations, laws, commandments if you will, as to how we should live—laws which would make things much easier and simpler if we chose to abide by the “rules.” If not, then there are the inevitable consequences.

But somewhere along the lines we grew selfish, we grew impatient, we grew egotistical, we grew grossly independent, we grew desensitized, we grew hungry for things and experiences which would hopefully satiate the growing need within our inner core. Our psyches were / are in need of a deep “fix” of sorts and we are desperate to ease the ache. Somewhere along the line we grew puffed up with self and of our own sense of self importance which trumped the empathy required of living on a planet full of other people in need.

The roof was calling, self control was lacking and the sense of adventure coupled with the anticipated sense of accomplishment of having tackled a major chore all on my own glistened in the very bucket of cleaning solution I held in my hand.

But my husband said “don’t” for a reason.
It doesn’t matter that I’m an independent modern sort of freethinking woman.
My husband said “don’t.”
I could easily be hard headed and fool hearty, knowing that I’m old enough to make my own decisions and choices, selfishly disregarding how my actions could negatively impact those around me.
I could be impulsive, act now, go for it, shrugging off the potential for danger thinking, so what I fall off and break my neck. . .
I could be brave tackling a problem and perhaps save us from having to hire someone.
or
I could let better judgement prevail.
I could acquiesce to my husband as a Christian wife, who does look to her husband as the head of the household.
I could wait until I had help and not feel as if I had to prove my independence to say, the squirrels.

So rest assured this very soon to be 55 year old woman yielded to the better of the two mini mes— opting not to climb out onto the roof. Reminding myself of that very freethinking independent southern woman, Scarlett O’Hara, who so famously quipped, “I’ll think about that tomorrow for tomorrow is another day, fiddlededee.”

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

That, however, is not the way of life you learned—when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:18-24