when man reaches up towards Heaven…

“Spira, spera.”
(breathe, hope)
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The day we met,
Frozen I held my breath
Right from the start
I knew that I’d found a home for my heart…

I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more…

(Lyrics from Christina Perri A Thousand Years)


(Pieta by Niccola Coustou / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2019)

Notre Dame—Our Lady of Paris

850 years of–

Christianity
faith
religion
spirituality
mysticism
relics

history
ingenuity
construction
architecture
labor
sacrifice

art
sculpture
poetry
prose
music
colored glass

revolution
desecration
coronations
funerals
burials
weddings

bishops
nuns
confessions
monastics
saints
sinners

humanity
bloodshed
loss
wars
peace
victories

humankind
survival
life
death
breath
hope…

Yet for now, there are too many emotions to express regarding this collective sense
of sorrow, grief and loss.

Our frail and feeble earthly attempts to reach upward to God will each eventually perish
while fading to both ash and dust…

and yet…

Our Heavenly Father’s reach, downward to us his children, will remain for eternity…


(detail of Virgin and Child by Antoine Vassé / Norte Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2019)


(detail of the iron work on the main entrance doorway / Norte Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2019)


(detail of the central portal (central enterance) of Notre Dame Cathedral / The Last Judgment, constructed in 1220/
Julie Cook / 2019)


(vaulted ceiling of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2019)


(South Rose Window / 1260 / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook 2019)


(South exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)


(detail of flying buttresses and gargoyles / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)


(detail of bell tower / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2011)


(south view of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)


(Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / 2011)


(Wesrtern facade of the bell tower entrance Notre Dame Cathedral /Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

“He therefore turned to mankind only with regret.
His cathedral was enough for him.
It was peopled with marble figures of kings, saints and bishops who at least
did not laugh in his face and looked at him with only tranquillity and benevolence.
The other statues, those of monsters and demons, had no hatred for him –
he resembled them too closely for that.
It was rather the rest of mankind that they jeered at.
The saints were his friends and blessed him; the monsters were his friends and
kept watch over him.
He would sometimes spend whole hours crouched before one of the statues
in solitary conversation with it.
If anyone came upon him then he would run away like a lover surprised during a serenade.”

Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

a plethora…

“Well, you just told me that I had a plethora,
and I would just like to know if you know what it means to have a plethora.
I would not like to think that someone would tell someone else he has a plethora,
and then find out that that person has no idea what it means to have a plethora.”

El Guapo (played by Alfonso Arau) from the movie ¡Three Amigos!


(a vast array of tomatoes and vegetables at Campo di Fiori, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

A plethora…an abundance…a profusion…

And that is exactly what I am grateful for…

I am grateful for the abundance of family and friends that I have both here in
my small corner of the blogosphere as well as those in my small corner of this world
in which we live.

Thank you…each of you for stopping in…
for visiting, reading, caring, writing, sharing, loving…
and for making me smile, laugh, cry…as well as think…

Thank you for being my friend…even for those of you who do not see eye to eye
with what I write.

May God’s Grace abundantly bless each of you…
Keeping you safe, happy, warm, dry, well fed, free from harm and at peace…
during not only this Thanksgiving Day but throughout this season of wonderment,
joy and awe.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Oh, and by the way…The Mayor has requested that her closet aides accompany her on a bit of
an excursion during the next couple of days.
Something about wanting to visit the place where she has her earliest family roots
while taking in a bit of serene history…she’s calling it a working holiday…
she can be such a slave driver…but when she says jump, we aides say how high 🙂

Plus… if you read yesterday’s post, I lived through the pumpkin pie making as well.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

Seize us oh Lord

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You.
Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back.
Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness.
Let us love.
Let us run.”

St. Augustine


(flower stall / Zurich, Switzerland /Julie Cook / 2018)

“When you sit down to eat, pray.
When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you.
If you drink wine,
be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness.
When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes.
When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars,
throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way.
Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises,
when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God,
who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know,
love and praise their Creator.”

St. Basil the Great

out of pocket

A poet ought not to pick nature’s pocket.
Let him borrow, and so borrow as to repay by the very act of borrowing.
Examine nature accurately, but write from recollection,
and trust more to the imagination than the memory.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pocket.
But I found it would be too long;
and the age of the great epics is past.

Gilbert K. Chesterton


(ode to a good ol pair of jeans / Julie Cook / 2018)

I’m currently out of pocket…
aka…not at home with no time to spend sharing the Good word…
or any word for that matter…

Things are “a changing” in our little world…for the good, I think.

But…

I have always read and truly believe that the closer one grows toward and attempts
to boldly speak the Truth of God’s word, Satan works overtime.

“Satan battles against us because we are God’s witnesses to the world.

When the apostle Paul described lostness,
he often framed it in terms of spiritual warfare.
Non-believers follow the prince of the air (Eph. 2:2).
They are blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3–4),
bound in darkness (Col. 1:13, Acts 26:18), and caught in Satan’s snare (2 Tim. 2:25–26).
His goal is to keep us from proclaiming and living out the gospel that sets
people free.”

(International Mission Board)

So assaults are pouring on our heads…as we work toward some changes…
And so we are busy, tired and overwhelmed.

When Dad died, I inherited his messes.
Those messes are nipping at my heels.

When my husband’s father died, he also inherited his messes.
Those messes are continuing to bite our ankles.

Two steps forward and 5 steps back.

But more about all of this later on…when I’m back in the pocket.
Of which will be tomorrow afternoon.

I don’t know about how it is where you live, but fall and her glorious colors are
proving slow in coming…
They’re saying we had too wet a summer…hummm…

Yep, things are a changing….

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

Daniel 2:21

all in a day’s walk in the park

“With beauty before me, may I walk
With beauty behind me, may I walk
With beauty above me, may I walk
With beauty below me, may I walk
With beauty all around me, may I walk
Wandering on the trail of beauty, may I walk”

Navajo: Walking Meditation

Did someone say walk???
As in a stroll?
As in an outing?
As in outside?

And so as the notion of a nice leisure stroll was considered…
we decided to venture out for a walk.

We ventured forth…
We ventured out.
We ventured up
And we ventured away…

Away throughout a city that magically transforms itself into something else and
into something so much more…

But it takes a bit of really hard looking…looking in just the right places…
to see what makes a certain ordinary and otherwise crowded, noisy place…
something so much better than what one quickly sees when looking at things with a cursory
first glance.

All strapped in and ready go, after multiple outfit changes, we departed…

We first walked the three-mile loop around Chastain Park.
A 268-acre wedge-shaped park, the largest park in the city of Atlanta that happens
to be in the northeast area of the city and only about 3 miles from where I grew up.

It’s a park where I first learned to swim.
The park where my dad took me when I was a little girl to go sledding in my first
real snow.
The park where I attended the yearly Brownie and Girl Scout jamborees.
The park where my brother played little league baseball.
The park with the swingset where I secretly rendezvoused meeting the boy I had a
crush on in the 8th grade…
And the place where my mom learned to play tennis…a game that actually helped
my mom find her own place in life.

Originally the land belonged to the Creek Indians but in 1840, 1000 was acquired by the
state of Georgia.
There would be built an almshouse and a TB sanatorium as well as a paupers cemetery.
Eventually, in the mid-1940’s, a golf course was designed, a community pool was built,
an amphitheater was created, riding stables and a barn were added as well as
cabins and cookout areas….as the almshouse and sanatorium were eventually transformed
into a private school.
A school that has only grown in size and scope along with the growing park.
Chastain is now the site of the city’s major outdoor concert venue.

But we were ready and even excited to take in what this transforming area had to offer…

Walks and parks are always good for both body and soul.
But they can be exhausting…

Here’s to many more days of walks in the park…

Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you,
so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

Deuteronomy 5:55

people of distraction

Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible.
It wears us out by multiplying distractions and beats us down by destroying our solitude,
where otherwise we might drink and renew our strength before going out to face the world again.

Aiden Wilson Tozer


(one of my local bunnies, not distracted by my presence / Julie Cook / 2018)

We are a people of distraction.

“Oh no we’re not” you counter.
“People of distraction have ADD or some other affliction that keeps them
from focusing.”

And whereas that is partially true, I’m here to remind all of us that yes,
we are indeed a people of distraction.

This revelation began to dawn on me last evening when I caught the tail end of the evening news–
although I’ve actually been aware of it for many years it’s just taken the latest idiocy
racing around the country to actually bring this little problem of ours into full focus.

It seems there was some sort of sudden national obsession over the sounding of a word…
‘Was it Laurel or was it Yanny?’

Huh?

I don’t “do” FaceBook, thank the Lord, so I happily don’t catch a lot of this trending
buzzy mess bombarding the masses out there.
This is where I joyfully exclaim, much like Viva La France, yet rather
more accurately “ignorance is bliss!!”

But right there, on the closing segment of the national evening news was some sort of
nonsense about the ‘heard pronunciation’ of a word…or more accurately a name.
It was such a to-do that it even became fodder on Capitol Hill.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan actually closed-out the day’s session on the same note as
that of national news by telling all present what word he had actually heard.

Really??
You guys don’t have more pressing issues to contend with than the latest viral buzz
out there???

The following morning I went to get my hair cut.
I sat in the chair as the gal who cuts my hair got to work, yet there was a buzz in the room.
And the buzz was not the noisy din of hairdryers—it was more of that same nonsense
I heard the evening before…

“Do you hear Laurel or Yanny??

This as each person in the salon had an opinion.

I just sat there listening and looking back and forth.

Next, they quickly moved on to that craze a few years back over the color of a dress
that had also made the viral rounds—” was it blue, black, gold…??”
“and oh, what about those sneakers…pink, grey or white…??”

I couldn’t believe my ears.

All around me grown men and women were chattering about the colors of images of
dresses and shoes as well as the sounds of names all racing around the internet.

I was somewhat dumbfounded as the conversations all truly bordered on, dare I say it,
the dumb.

Hawaii is about to blow.
Half of the country hates the president and the other half that likes him.
North Korea is threatening everyone all over again.
Russia keeps buzzing our jets.
The American Embassy is finally in Jeruselum after a 23-year stall.
Great Britain and every news outlet is going bonkers over an impending wedding
(another copious wasted amount of time).
And everyone else is abuzz over sounds and colors on the internet????

Why am I reminded of the Israelites when Moses went up the mountain??
Throw in a golden calf and suddenly the Great I Am is all but a faded memory…

Our lives on this earth are short in comparison to most of Creation…our length
of time is not guaranteed.
And yet we fill this precious time and these precious days with mindless and idol frivolity.

When all is said and done, I don’t think a dress, a shoe or even a name will
truly matter.
And it might just behoove us to remember who loves the fact that we are
so easily distracted…

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.
What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes

James 4:14

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

fed up with measured responses

A ‘measured’ response?
I’m fed up of ‘measured’ responses to major sins.

David Roberston


(Farm Security Administration / United States Office of War Information / Migant mother
by Dorothea Lange / 1936)

Fed up.
This one well-recognized photograph by Dorothea Lange became the face, the poster child
if you will, of the plight of most Americans during the height of the Great Depression
and The Dust Bowl.

It is an image of a tired woman who is past fed up…who is now devoid and resigned to the
measured response offered by a Government who, in her small corner of the world,
has let her and her children down.

Ms. Lange later explained after the photograph was published:
“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet.
I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her,
but I do remember she asked me no questions.
I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction.
I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two.
She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields,
and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food.
There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her,
and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me.
There was a sort of equality about it.

(Wikipedia)

This particular photograph was obviously taken at a time when color film was the
exception and not the norm.
I strongly believe that the black and white photograph speaks more profoundly to the
desperate depths and hopelessness of this particular time of America’s situation
during the dark and heavy days of the 1930’s than that of a photograph that could have
been taken in color.

All of the sensory overloads, the eye-popping, eye-catching pizzaz is pared down to
the obvious harsh reality of black and white.

Nothing in between.
Nothing hidden.
Nothing left to cover up the ugly.
There are no ifs or ands…
Just what is…

Plain.
Simple.
Hard.
Desperate.
Resigned.
Hopeless.

That same sense of importance of the simple, of the bold black and white versus the
distracting and color, came barrelling to mind when reading David Roberston’s response to the
Chruch of Scotland’s take on Transgenderism, homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

His is the observation of one church denomination’s take on the culture wars and the church’s
own politically correct “Christian” response cloaked in naivete and falsehoods.

The Chruch of Scotland is no different from most of our current Christian body
denominations and their seemingly awkward desire to “play nice” with a culture that
blatantly flaunts its disdain for Christianity and the very Word of God.

David Roberston is fed up…
I too am fed up.

Fed up by measured responses to blatant sin.

Why aren’t more Christians fed up?

Sin is sin…the acceptance of such by a culture desperately trying to rewrite the narrative
is unacceptable…

So why then are so many members of the Christian body, our Churches, accepting the
measured responses to sin.

A ‘measured’ response?
I’m fed up of ‘measured’ responses to major sins.
Thank God that Elijah didn’t offer a ‘measured response’ to the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel;
or that Paul avoided a ‘measured response’ to the foolish Galatians;
and that Jesus wasn’t ‘measured’ and ‘Christlike’ when he told the Pharisees in public that
they were like whitewashed tombs, twice dead!

Note our Lord’s lack of measure when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip!
Or his rudeness when he said that the lukewarmness of the Laodiceans made him sick.
One can only suspect that CFS (Covenant Fellowship Scotland) would have been appalled at Paul’s lack of measure in suggesting to Timothy that the Judaising circumcisers should go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

David Roberston

Apostasy?
Is that not too strong a word?
I’m currently reading John Owens Nature and Causes of Apostasy from the Gospel
(in volume 7 of his works).
It is a stunning and apposite work for my own denomination and for the Church of Scotland.
I think there is a danger of apostasy in the Free Church,
as there is in any other church – but I thought the following was particularly appropriate –

“Men are apt to please themselves,
to approve of their own state and condition,
wherein they have framed unto themselves rest and satisfaction.
Churches content themselves with their outward order and administrations,
especially when accompanied with secular advantages,
and contend fiercely that all is well, and the gospel sufficiently complied withal,
whilst their outward constitution is preserved and their laws of order kept inviolate.”
(John Owen – Works vol.7 p.53).

Covenant Fellowship Scotland also intends to provide leadership.
Many orthodox people in the Church of Scotland are shocked and dismayed
by the trajectory which the Church has been on for several years.
Many are losing heart, looking for leadership and feel powerless.
We have frequently been asked, ‘Is no-one doing anything?’
It is imperative that Covenant Fellowship Scotland offers people a rallying point
for dissent now, as well as leadership for the future.”

The Lion has Whimpered

I’ve heard a great deal recently from folks who just think total acceptance is the
the path of least resistance.
The turning of the blind eye to any and all while burying heads in the sands of
ignorance and compliance.

The give and take that is more give…taken… and soon to be gone.

“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

Isaiah 58:1