a year ago

Old Time, in whose banks we deposit our notes
Is a miser who always wants guineas for groats;
He keeps all his customers still in arrears
By lending them minutes and charging them years.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

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(image from Gallagher’s Boxty in Temple Bar / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Exactly one year ago today….
I fell in love with something new…
yet oh so familiar.

I fell in love with a city.
I fell in love with a country.
I fell in love with my own heritage.
I fell in love with the comfort of a chicken boxty
and a delightfully crisp, soothingly dry beverage…
Stonewells Cider…

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And just because I was busy falling in love, didn’t mean that the rest of life
wasn’t busy being just that…
busy….
while at the same time, it was pretty much staying the same…

Yet…

unbeknownst to anyone in particular, life was secretly gearing up for change….

I was holding life together by a very fine thread.
Just enough in order to get by and get gone…

And it worked for a while.

Yet during these 365 days which have come and gone,
all since eating a chicken boxty,
there have been great changes,
both good and bad.

Life changing as well as life altering.

And as it always is, it all began before I even came back home from being away…
and it’s been that way ever since.

For there have been actual lives which have come and gone…
while others remain hanging in the balance.

Life has that way about it…
that way of never sitting still.
And it doesn’t much matter whether we like it or not…

Within a day,
a week,
a month,
a year…
heck, even within just a mere hour…
our lives change,
for both good and bad.

There is simply no avoiding the changing…
No matter how hard we try to hold onto all the sameness…
change will always be greater, stronger, and ever more relentless…

So as I reminisce about comfort food and comfort places…
I know that time and life and change are each busy at work…
Working hard at changing me..
my time and my life.

But the one constant that I cling to….
the one thing that is not held by either time nor space…
not held by change nor even life itself…

Is the love of an omnipotent Father….

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine
or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-38

lovely words

“We must escape the slavery of words and give loyal adherence to meanings instead.
Words should express ideas, not originate them.”
A.W. Tozer

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(statue of the sacred heart of Jesus on the grounds of Klyemore Abbey, Connemmara , County Galway, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015—yes I know I’ve used it before, but the image is so right for the post)

A.W.Tozer, the great 20th century American evangelical theologian, often dissected man’s view of God.
Tozer noted that when “we say that God is love; we say that God is light; we say that Christ is truth; and we mean the words to be understood in much the same way that words are understood when we say of a man, “he is kindness itself.” By so saying we are not stating that kindness and the man are identical, and no one understands our words in that sense…”

Our words for and of God are really mere descriptors.
Words we have assigned to Him.

Nothing more.

These types of words are man’s feeble attempts to describe or even ascribe to God things that we feel are important characteristics which need to accompany any sort of dialog or introduction of His being.
A Being which defies and is beyond the limitation of human words.

We Christians often use the pity little phrase “God is Love” to sum up, to one and all,
what makes God… God

Yet…is God not so much more than Love?

What of Peace…which passes all understanding
What of Holiness…
What of Omnipotence
What of being Sovereign

In our statemet that God is Love, we have ascribed love as being God and God being Love…
with any and all other love being less than because if God is love, then all other love is therefore different is it not, and in turn not of God…
and if it is therefore something else, less, below, inferior, what then is it…
For if God is, as we say, love, then the whole concept of love comes back to being that of God….as we base our understanding and definition of love on one thing and one thing only…God

God being Love in turn becomes the benchmark so to speak.

That being the level we should all ascertain to when we seek love, offer love and give love…for love is indeed of God and is in turn Godly

Yet we have watched as love has fallen
It has become cliche.
It has become small
It has become cheap
It has become carnal
and it has become dirty.
It no longer seems to mean what we have said…God is Love
Have we allowed ourselves, by lessening the word love with our flippant and empty usage, to lessen and diminish God?

God, along with this love of His, are each deeply much much more than the one dimensional sweetness found simply in a deity being described by the human definition of the pure essence of love. To say that one loves another was never something trite or small…it was a big deal to declare love. It was earnest, sincere, deeply felt and beyond the surface of casualness. It became the verbal declaration of a bond that went beyond understanding. Just as God is beyond understanding.

Yet what then when we speak of His mighty wrath?
What of His being the Light of the world.
What of His being Justice…or of being Life itself….?

Are we saying that we believe, dare assume, that these very words are actually God?
Or are they merely metaphorical descriptors?
Do we separate the two or causally blend them together?
Or is there something much deeper happening and truly beyond us when we speak these words which we ascribe to God?

If we say God is Love, what then of all the other types of love?
Do we say that God is but one type of love?
A bigger love while all other love is little?
Or is love always love, with God being the highest form possible…
Therefore all love, all the feelings, the emotions, the definitions come back to one thing
God being love…with the love we offer, seek, want, give being interconnected to the love of God.
With our love being God’s love as love becomes One..as in the true intent of Love…two becoming one

Yet at the same time how do we describe, define, spell out who and what God is?
Simple Love?

How do we say that He is Love when someone loses a loved one due to tragedy and or illness?
How do we say He is Justice when we watch a life methodically ended by the hands of another?
How do we say He is Peace while we watch the results of fighting and wars?

It is then, at those very moments, when we declare that God is obviously not of of this world…
Separating ourselves from Him.
We create a divide.
As our love and His love suddenly become different…no longer one and the same..the One has separated and become two again.
As our descriptors, our words, our definitions become less, and less, and less…

For the Love,
The Peace
The Justice
The Life
The Sovereign of all Creation
has all remained the same…

What He is, does not, has not, cannot change….
His love does not change, therefore we know that Love has not changed…despite our changing….
our diminishing the words, the meanings, the definitions….
God, His love, are constant, forever….He, it, does not change.

It is us who change…for we are constantly changing the relationship….redefining, altering
rewriting the rules…
We change the meanings, the importance, the intent of the words and all that is associated with the words…

Love doesn’t change.
Love remains the same.
God remains the same.
The meaning of God and of His love has never changed.
For God is God and therefore cannot change or alter who He is…
For God has always been and will always be…God.

We are the ones to change.
We grow tired, bored, lazy and wish to rewrite what we know.
We want our words and their meanings to accommodate our whims, our wills, our desires.
Not the other way around where we must accommodate to the word…
and in this case the love of God…

Despite our best efforts to twist the word, the meaning, the message the definition.
Love is still Love and Love is still God, and God is still love…
And we are still the object of that Love.

The question therefore remains…what will define our love and what will define our God?

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished
Malachi 3:6

Consistencies

Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties.
Charlotte Bronte

Part of courage is simple consistency.
Peggy Noonan

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”
― John Wesley

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(worn weary cross, Sligo Abbey / County Sligo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

As much as we…
try
arrange
rearrange
plot and plan
inconsistencies will forever be a constant.
For there is nothing in our lives that will remain without glitch, hiccup, accident, or
bedevilment

Not family
Not friends
Not health
Not government
Not weather
Not land
Not sea
Not sky

The only consistent aspect of our lives is our relationship with God
Void of any and all inconsistencies…
He alone is the only one true constant any of us will ever know…
Forever was
Forever is
Forever will be…

And so He comes….

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
1 Colossians 1:15-17

You have no idea. . .or maybe, perhaps you do

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
Thomas Merton

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(backyard neighbor / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(backyard neighbor / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(backyard neighbor / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ode to the backyard rabbit. . .

You have no idea just how much you truly mean to me. . .
Not that you know me or that I know you—
Yet we know of one another’s existence.
You are out there and I’m back here, usually up, looking outward at you, down there.
And I know you know, just as you know I know.

For you see, I need to know that you and your world remains, as always, the same.
I need to know that when I have fought through another day, another journey, another time of attending to duties I would prefer would disappear, I know you are out there, doing what it is that you do day in and day out.

When I turn on the television, only to see a world that I no longer recognize, I know you are the same, as in, you never changed.
When I see a country I no longer understand, I can thankfully understand you.
When I grow weary of the pettiness, the arrogance, the self-centeredness of man, I can look out at you, unencumbered, offering no pretense, no bravado. . . just being yourself. . .
and I can exhale–simply enjoying watching you, simply being you. . .

And as I ramble on about the small joys received in the simple act of sitting back and basking in the solitude of watching a wild rabbit, or two, going about its life–eating, running, jumping. . .appearing simply happy to be alive, I am struck by the very words I have used to offer up to a little rabbit—that in much the same vein, the words may be offered up as a simple prayer to God—

That He knows, before I know, just how much He means to me. . .
despite my inability to grasp or readily recognize that need.
That I can actually rest in the knowledge that He is who He is and has been since the beginning of time–That He is not merely the Creator of all that was, and all that is, and all that will be. . .
but that He is also a Father. . .my Father. . .
who loves,
who comforts,
who sees,
who knows,
who indeed does understand.
That He mourns just as I do when I look out over this world of ours.
As thankfully, He remains steadfast, always the same—
unmoved,
unchanged,
never transformed or moulded by mortals who are constantly changing and transforming our own world to fit our own selfish desires, perverse pleasures, and arrogant agendas.

He offers me the gift of Creation—as I find in that Creation a small creature, that offers me a glimpse of everlasting peace. . .

And whereas the rabbit and I merely recognize one another’s existence, I can rest in the fact that The God of all of Creation, does indeed know, and knows most personally, me. . .and that single thought alone is what allows me the ability to exhale at the end of each long and hard fought day. . .

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(backyard neighbor / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(backyard neighbor / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(backyard neighbor / Julie Cook / 2015)

The only thing that matters

And somehow all that matters now is You are holy, holy
Lyrics from Holy sung by Nichole Nordeman

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(a tiger swallowtail amongst the heather / Julie Cook / 2015)

Five weeks ago a phone call changed everything.
Just like that, life is different.
That’s usually how it all works. . .
A call,
a visit,
a move,
an accident,
an illness,
a beginning,
an ending. . .
then poof, everything that was, is now no more. . .

Today’s morning is the first morning that an opportunity presented itself for a small “work out.” Thoughts are lost in the music of prayer, as sweat and tears mingle down as one.
There is no longer an order or routine.
No evening out, no smooth path, no clear direction.

Tired muscles and lungs ache as a burdened heart slowly breaks.
The frustrations of a body’s betrayal, when time does not exist for such,
compound both day and night.
Calls, emails and texts dart in and out over the course of a day, a week, a month.
Each barrage enters with its own set of requests, demands or alerts.
Dread now slips in at the sound of a simple call.

Watching two individuals who are unhappy, confused, sad and depressed,
laboring to make sense of the day, the change, the sense of loss, is heart wrenching.
Sadness prevails in distant eyes.
Agitated, paranoid, fretful, threatening all collide into misery.
As the middle works at balancing life on two separate ends.

Racing to quench burning fires, while walking a tightrope.
You go this alone, because that’s all there is.
You miss those who are long gone.
There are no answers, no solutions, no words to make it all better.
Time becomes the enemy.

Overwhelming, exhausting, frustrating. . .
Consumed in the loneliness of one, the crushing knowledge of helplessness is suffocating.
Tears constantly perch just behind the eyes.
This was never how it was suppose to be.

But the question begs. . . when does life ever cooperate?

There is however one constant, one single factor, that does not vary or waiver.
It is the only thing which remains true.
It is what sustains the battered soul.
It is what propels the worn and tired body forward.
It is a knowledge so deep and entrenched that it is within one’s very breath.
Through all of the struggles and the heartache, it is the one remaining single truth to cling to and hold on to. . .
I am the Lord your God. . .and I am Holy

For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Isaiah 57:15