Conduct of God, conduct of man

“Totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for your love.”
St. Clare of Assisi


(winter shells cast across the surf / Julie Cook/ Rosemary Beach, Fl / 2019)

“Consider not only that God your benefactor is present but also that He acts continuously
in all His creatures.
And for whom is this continual action, this work of God in nature?
For you.
Thus, He lights you by the light of day;
He nourishes you with the productions of the earth;
in a word, He serves you by each one of the creatures that you use;
so that it is true to say that at every moment the bounty,
the wisdom and the power of God are at your service and are exercised in the world for
your wants or pleasures.

This conduct of God toward man should be the model of your conduct toward God.

You see that the presence of God in His creatures is never idle;
it acts incessantly, it preserves, it governs.
Beware, then, of stopping at a sterile contemplation of God present in yourself.
Add action to contemplation; to the sight of the Divine presence add the faithful
accomplishment of the Divine will.”

St. Ignatius, p. 182
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

Salutations Madame

“And then, just as Wilbur was settling down for his morning nap, he heard again the thin voice that had addressed him the night before.
“Salutations!” said the voice.
Wilbur jumped to his feet. “Salu-what?” he cried.
“Salutations!” repeated the voice.
“What are they, and where are you?” screamed Wilbur. “Please, please, tell me where you are. And what are salutations?”
“Salutations are greetings,” said the voice. “When I say ‘salutations,’ it’s just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning.”

― E.B. White

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(images of a praying mantis resting on a sweet bay / Julie Cook / 2014)

How gracious and kind most creatures seem to be upon first meeting.
It all begins with the startling moment of the initial encounter.
There is an equal and somewhat awkward moment of contemplation.
Not so much a confrontation, but more of a cautious observation.
Both parties wary yet curious.

A wide berth is usually offered by both opposing parties.
Plenty of space with the avoidance of claimed territory.
Eyes remain intently locked on one another’s every move.
No one wants any trouble, as the curiosity remains.
A healthy respect provides a safe barrier.

Heads pivot as glances are exchanged
Each partner vies for the best viewing advantage
One scampers under as the other moves in a bit closer
A minuet of odd dance partners befitting an eloquent choreography.
Slow step in, slow step out, turn, up and under all in 3/4 time.

And just when each entity grows more relaxed, more comfortable,
the exchange is suddenly over,
as each individual returns to the world of other.
Appreciation, respect, wonderment and awe,
it all begins with a simple greeting

What is the fruit by which you are known?

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”
Saint Basil

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(Photograph: Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

You may have noticed from a previous post or two how much I love nature….trees in particular….so massive and majestic. I feel embraced by their sheer stature. Living in the South as I do, I’m not a fan of our ubiquitous pine trees–tall sticks with needles–and they seem to exude heat which only compounds the heavy air we breath 4 to 5 months of the year. It is however our gracious oaks that speak to my soul.

I suppose I should one day write a post about trees. How I really love the western birch and Aspen trees with their silvery smooth bark and their leaves flickering in the wind like little muffled chimes— there are the beautiful northern firs that signal that I am “home” in the mountains I dearly love. And yet there is just something about the southern oaks—be it white oak, black oak, red oak or water oak… Stately and yet lazily offering delightful shade and respite from sun or rain.

They, the trees, have always provided us humans so very much–everything from shelter to food. And sadly we have taken them for granted just as we have with most of our natural world…but today is not the day to bemoan our poor stewardship of our natural world but rather a day of thankful reflection–as this is Sunday—a day of rest, a day of worship, a day of thanks and a day of reflection.

As blessed St. Basil reminds us, today, as well as any day, is the day that we should plant in order to reap. And yet we must be mindful of what it is that we plant. We have a lovely colloquial expression here in the South—you get a whole lot more with honey than you do vinegar…..Meaning a kindness usually generates a returned kindness…like for like…and so on…..

So on this beautiful Fall day of reflection, contemplation, rest and joy–consider what it is that you plant–if you are not pleased with the harvest you may need to check your “seed”
Happy Sunday