shuttered and unplugged

When I was a boy, the priest, my uncle,
carefully inculcated upon me this proverb,
which I then learned and have ever since kept in my mind:
‘Dico tibi verum, Libertas optima rerum; Nunquam servili, sub nexu vivito, fili.’
‘I tell you a truth:
Liberty is the best of things, my son;
never live under any slavish bond.’

William Wallace


(the shuttered windows and doors at the Jameson Whiskey Distillery in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland
Julie Cook / 2015)

Over the course of the following week I will be in and out of blog land—and  more out
than in…
for you see…
for the first time in history….
my husband is shuttering his business this holiday week in order that he and his employees
may all actually be off at the same time…
allowing everyone to enjoy a holiday’s festivities all at the same time.

And in light of this momentous occasion, I will disconnect myself from my electronics,
as it were,
in order to be more focused and more attuned to his first real taste of of freedom
in many many years….

May we all give pause this special July 4th week to remember why we are allowed the freedom
to enjoy such a special time of celebration…

And I will leave you with the immortal words of William Wallace ….

FREEDOM!!!!!!!

I always showed myself in the face of day,
asserting the liberty and independence of my country,
while some others, like owls,
courted concealment and were too much afraid of losing their roosts to leave
them for such a cause.

William Wallace

Battles and busy as a….

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”
Mother Teresa

“Live not for Battles Won.
Live not for The-End-of-the-Song.
Live in the along.”

Gwendolyn Brooks

DSCN0654
(a lone seagul, Kinsale Harbor, Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

You thought I was going to say a bee…or maybe even a beaver…
As in busy as a typical busy sort of creature…
but there’s just something about this rather forlorn looking seagull which seems to sum up the current
state of affairs.

Busy times…
Crazy times…
Surreal times…
have been beset upon me and my brood…

It is during the overwhelming and consuming moments in our lives…those most trying times which seem hell bent on sucking the very life out of our beings…
that I am blessedly reminded of the wise counsel of St Padre Pio…the mystic Capuchin monk from Pietrelcina, Italy…

“Jesus is with you even when you don’t feel His presence.
He is never so close to you as He is during your spiritual battles.
He is always there, close to you, encouraging you to fight your battle courageously.
He is there to ward off the enemy’s blows so that you may not be hurt.”

(8/15/1914)

So it is off this Monday to the battle grounds…

May we all fight courageously…

lost in translation

“The word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘bearing across’.
Having been borne across the world, we are translated men.
It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation;
I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained.”

Salman Rushdie

“Live the questions now. Perhaps then,
someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

DSCN0647
(detail of an Irish manuscript and cover of Timothy O’Neills book The Irish Hand, Scribes And Their Manuscripts From The Earliest Times–as seen in a Kinsale Bookshop, Kinsale, County Cork Ireland)

Ce que tu ne comprends pas?
Lo que no entiendes?
Was Sie nicht verstehen?
あなたは何を理解していません ?
ما لا تفهم ?
Wat begrijp je niet ?
מה אתה לא מבין ?
что вы не понимаете ?
Quello che non capisci?
Nach bhfuil cad a thuigeann tú ?

No matter the language, the question remains the same…
“what don’t you understand?”

It is a question asked of the confused, the lost,
the ignorant, the arrogant as well as the simple.

“Is there some confusion?”

“Do you need for me to re-explain something?”

“I’m sorry, did I not make myself clear?”

“You’re not from around here are you?”

“Are you a moron?”

The way in which the question is asked pretty much explains to the one asking the question whether or not their query is worthy of further explanation or has simply exasperated the one being questioned.

It can even be issued as a defiant statement rather than a question.

As in…

“yeah, you see it, it is what it is…what don’t you understand?!”

Sometimes I feel that way…
as in the frustrated way of things….

As in…
“Yes.
God did say not to do that.
Or
“Yes.
God did say that was okay.”

It’s all pretty simple.
Pretty much cut and dry.

Have you ever had to sign a contract or a legal document?
Have you ever taken the time need to fully read…
or the legal ability in order to comprehend all the fine print?
Has a salesperson or legal type person ever asked, “what don’t you understand?”
With you pretty much resigned to the answer being simply “everything?!”…

God gave a list of some pretty simple commands…
or rather rules for living if you will.

A concise list of don’ts.

Pretty simple.
Pretty direct.
A relatively short list.
With no hidden fees.
No hidden clauses.
All in simple language.
No legalese.
No gobbledygook.

Just very straightforward…

Oh, and by the way, where there were no fees involved,
there were / are penalties with each broken “law”

But they were set to make life easy.
Follow the rules, the laws, and life was to be pretty much… golden….

Later, His Son came along and offered a few more to the list…
This time there were actually a few additions in the affirmative…as in “do this”

Things like…
Loving your God with all your heart, mind, body, and being…
Secondly… love your neighbor as yourself.
Do unto others as you would wish others to do unto you.

Again straightforward with a direct approach.
Nothing buried in the fine print.

There were also a few more don’ts and do’s added to the list.
Don’t have sexual intercourse or anything close with those of your same sex.
Don’t do things in excess…like drink or eat, or…you name it.
Don’t neglect those less fortunate
Do take care of widows and orphans
Do remember those in prison.
Do show mercy.
Do show kindness.
Do show compassion.

All simple.
All direct.
Rules for living—in order to make the living…golden.

Yet over time, everyone has wanted to complicate the simple.
Muddy the waters.
Argue the point.
Defy the point.
Create fine print.
Throw in some hidden agendas and clauses.

And I just want to look at everyone with that exasperated look saying….
“What don’t you understand??????”

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Proverbs 18:2

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:2-5

lost between the lines

DSCN0711
(leaded bullseye glass, Cobh, Co Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

My glasses broke.
In more places than one….
They are unrepairable and I am in desperate need of being able to see…clearly.

I did however finally manage to find time for an appointment,
which has come none too soon as
I have considered resorting to adding some super glue and or a little duct tape…
My husband, the jeweler who fixes all types of glasses all the time,
has flatly observed that mine are beyond his help…

In about a week I should have a new pair…
A new pair that will not be hanging on by a prayer.
A pair that will free me from tilting my head and listing dangerously too far to the right…
Plus I’m hoping that everything will be much more clear and focused….

If seeing clearly was only so simple for this world of ours…

If this misguided, skewed, and oh so lost world in which we live…
could simply slap on a pair of super corrected glasses…
then maybe, just maybe, things would come into focus…
And that which has become grey, fuzzy and blurred beyond recognition, would be readily and easily discerned.

Instead we are living in a world, a society and a culture that is confused…
As it knows not as to whether it is coming or going…
for we use to know…
right from wrong…
good from bad…
boys from girls…
girls from boys…
light from dark…
up from down…
too much from too little
respect from disrespect
moderate from extreme
kindness from hate
Hope from despair
Truth from lies
God’s word from no word…

for in this blurry, fuzzy, lack of clarity world…
the word of God has been lost between the lines….

“‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
Leviticus 26:40-42

Party like it’s….

I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin’, could’ve sworn it was judgment day
The sky was all purple, there were people runnin’ everywhere
Tryin’ to run from the destruction, you know I didn’t even care
Say say two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine

Lyrics to the song 1999 by Prince

DSCN0568
(a retired copper pot (still) on the grounds of the Jameson Distillery, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland, Julie Cook / 2015)

You know the song…
That turn of the century, energy popping, everyone up on their feet, dancing fever crazy song that we shouted out with reckless abandon on New Year’s Eve 1999…

You know how us humans get on the eve on any sort of major potential earth altering event….
What with the turning of the century, and even better yet, the turn of the millennium…
Some of us were carrying the plackets “Repent the End is near”
while others of us were, well, throwing caution to the wind and partying hardy…
like it was 999, 1999…
you get the picture.

With the mindset having been that if this is indeed the proverbial “it,” as in the end of life as we know it, we might as well let out all the stoppers, no hold’s barred and live, literally, like there’s no tomorrow….

Well, guess what…?
Tomorrow came.
We actually survived the turn of the century, the turn of the millennium and even Y2K…
Yet some of us are still carrying on like it’s still 1999…

Our culture seems to be obsessed with the mindset of living and living large in the moment.
As each and every minute we spend waking should be pleasure absorbing—and if it’s not, life is simply less than.

Get, gather, have, possess, and enjoy.

Acquire as many goodies and toys as possible.
Live the good life.
Materialism.
Extravagance.
Glamorous
Rubbing elbows
The who’s who….

Live on the edge, throw your head back, smile, laugh, eat, drink and be merry… and let loose.

Cause this here life is one big party and if you ain’t enjoying and having fun,
then you ani’t living….
…and if you’re not living large, then you’ve got problems…

Or that’s what the world of entertainment and the big marketers of all those goodies would have us believe.

And there are even those of faith who would add to all of that by reminding us that our days are indeed numbered. Because hadn’t God not said that we have been promised but the one day we open our eyes…and even the full day isn’t a guarantee…
So yes, live life to the fullest because you are not promised tomorrow…

Yet that, living life so large that we block everything else out, was never the intent…
despite what the world would have any of us to believe.

Life is not one big party—and I know many of you don’t want to hear that.
“Debbie downer” is such a current quip slapped on anyone attempting to rain on the parade of all things grand.

And Christians get a bum wrap as the deadbeats of any party.
Throughout history those glum and dire faces that seem to exude nothing but sacrifice, denial and misery have not done much to further the faith as it were.
The world standing on one side all festive and shiny, while Christians stand on the other looking all stiff in their hair shirts are viewed as terribly uninviting…

No wonder so many observers are flummoxed over the whole opposing polar opposites of the world vs Christianity.
Who doesn’t want to be happy and have fun?
And who wants to put on a less than fashionable hair shirt…?

But there’s more to it than all of that surface business.
It goes much much deeper.

For you see, this whole world, with all it’s fancy smancy trappings, is but an illusion–
an illusion of both space and time…and the master of this realm works very hard to make you
feel quite at home and “comfortable”…in the illusion.
This world as we know it, is passing all away before our very eyes.
However most of us have been deluded into thinking otherwise…

Yet at the mere mention of such there are those of you who bristle.
You’re in charge of your own thinking, your own observations, and you will think what you choose.
Who wants to hear mumbo jumbo of the what ifs, the stifling Christian dribble…
for you see nothing of merit to the words I speak…

Yet there is something much more serious at the root of all of this…
There are underlying reasons to your unabashedly intense drive and desire for all that glitters..

There’s that disturbing little matter of one’s soul.
The what happens when this little party is indeed finally all over worry…the thing you never want to spend much time fretting over…
It’s the “what then” that is often the missing piece to the puzzle….

Do you really think that when it’s all over, when your life is over, that you just simply cease to be?
That the dearly departed just fall into the abyss of some black hole—the void of pure nothingness?
Is that what bothers you?
As in there is no more and that’s that?
Is it those nagging questions that you prefer not thinking about, is that what this living fast and furious is all about?

Or perhaps you think that it’s ok because you rationalized that if you’re good, you haven’t killed any one, you haven’t really been all “that” bad, as you’ve just wanted to live happy and have certainly done such,
so you think that that’s all ok with God as He’ll obviously let all the good people go to heaven….

What then of Jesus…?
What of His words…“if you love me…”
What of that….?
That nagging question?
There was also a “you will keep my commandments” which followed….
As in “do as I have commanded you.”
“If you love me”

Just like when he said…
“I am going now, leaving you here. But don’t worry, I’m sending a helper.
The Holy Spirit.
He will help guide you.
Don’t fret, I’ve given you what you need…and now it’s your turn…
You’ve got to go forth and share my words…my commands…all to a hurting world.
It won’t be easy.
You will be ridiculed.
You will be beaten.
You will be isolated
You will be thrown out.
You will be separated…
You won’t be believed.
You won’t be welcomed.
You will meet obstacles.
You will face perils.
It won’t be easy…

Yet rich will be your reward…

As in the reward which will follow after this party hardy world is finally quiet and all said and done…

Rich, welcoming, loving, inviting, arms open wide, fall into this love, sort of reward…

So yeah…
When the party is over in this short lived realm, the next party is going to pretty unbelievable and certainly out of this world…
The question…
Will you be invited?
and should you care if you aren’t….?

There is indeed so much more…

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
Revelation 22:12

Heady times

“God is over all things,
under all things; outside all;
within but not enclosed; without but not exclude;
above but not raised up; below but not depressed;
wholly above, presiding;
wholly beneath, sustaining;
wholly within, filling”

Hildebert of Lavardin

DSCN0830 (1)
(Timoleague Friary, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There had been a whirlwind of emotion
Exuberance road wildly as if on the back of a bronking bull…
Holding on for dear life…
Yet madly giddy within the rush and exhilaration of the ride.
Major changes raced across the winds…

Soaring endlessly upward, words and feelings rapidly flowed downward…
as if caught in a raging torrent…
There was so much that needed to be shared, expressed, re-lived.
Time was the enemy, this much we knew…
If put on hold or held back, it might all be too late…
or so we reasoned…

The depth of feeling was so raw yet so very real.
Clarity had been granted, but for how long was anyone’s guess.
There was a sense of power beyond self…
As if one was being guided and willed onward from some other different place and time.
This was bigger than all of us combined and it had to be shared…
It was truly a race between life and death…

All consuming is the best way to describe it.
Mad we were labeled…the activity deemed by the State…nefarious.
Hope and death mingled dangerously together…yet at the same time there existed a calm which surpassed understanding.
We had seen the results of being caught, accused, condemned….
Yet a resolute feeling of determination prevailed…we knew that all would be well…
With this feeling of hopefulness spurring on the momentum…
It was a heady time…

It was a time of grave danger with imminent death if discovered.
Yet there was no turning back…the die had been cast
Three years had laid the foundation, three days cemented our fate
A lifetime would be our legacy as thousands more would follow suit.

As it turned out, time would not be the deterrent…
We would weather the centuries of both denial and persecution…
We would work together across the oceans of the world, hand in hand…
allowing our words, our deeds, our actions to tell the story…
There were times when voices were silenced and many lives were lost…
But transformation had been found
Renewal had become a reality
Power was indeed found in the weak
The blind had seen and the lame had walked
As Salvation blanketed the land…

Yet now we wonder…
Where has the urgency gone?
Where has the importance of this story gone?
Has the truth been lost in complacency?
Where is the momentum…?
Do lives still not hang in the balance?
Is Hope not still viable…?

Miracles have not ceased…
Hearts are still turned…
Life has indeed conquered Death
Yet the headiness,
the acuteness,
the gravity…
seem all but lackluster…

The importance
The need
The urgency
are still very much necessary…
Yet those of us who have been left to further the cause, spread the word,
live the story…
have fallen into lethargy, compliance with the world and sadly indifference…

May we once again find the strength, the need, the urgency to continue to fight the good fight…
For it is Time who is no longer on our side….or so we have been warned.
The winds have shifted, the signs are real and the headiness of exuberance, need and necessity is all but waiting…for our time has come….
are we still willing to be the voice behind the story….
If not us, then who….


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-9

I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 4:14-17

3 minutes ’til

DSCN0571 (1)
(old wall clock in the Jameson Distillery, Midleton, Co Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The Doomsday Clock

A metaphorical clock created in 1947 by a group of scientists who all had a hand in creating the nuclear bomb.

A clock whose hands, when set at midnight, would signify the almost certain and impending demise of all mankind.

Interesting that those who helped to create “the bomb”… the very thing touted as being the be all to end all wars…in turn create a clock marking the end of mankind….hummmmm

The clock is currently set at three minutes ’til midnight.
The only other time, during its 69 year existence that the clock edged closer to the ominous midnight hour was in 1953 when it was set at 2 minutes ’til midnight.

What pray tell, one may ask, could ever be a determining criteria to the fretful moving of the two hands ever closer to or further from the dreaded bewitching midnight hour?

Well the obvious threat would be that of nuclear war or the use of nuclear weapons somewhere across the globe….
think Iran, North Korea, China, Pakistan, Israel, India, Russia, the US, ISIS….you get the picture.

Global economic stability…or lack thereof…think IMF, stock markets, world banking, black markets, recessions, depressions….

The precarious health of the environment….think global warming, global cooling, locusts, plagues, floods, erosion, pollution….

Seeing any or all of the latest headlines ringing round the world and you can get some sort of idea to the scope of “criteria” as to what makes the doomsday hands tick closer to the proverbial pumpkin turning, glass slipper seeking, fairytale stroke of midnight turned reality tale type of harbinger of cataclysmic death and destruction.

Yet I’m not really certain as to why we need a group of world renowned scientists, nobel prize winners and leaders in all things academic amassed together in some sort of board room or labortory telling us we’re almost ready to implode. One look at the news and anybody with any sense can plainly see the alarmingly rapidly increasing impending demise of mankind splattered across every news outlet from Sydney to Katmandu, from Spokane, to Liverpool, from Tibilsi to…..you get the idea.

It all reminds me of those homemade beacons of foreboding doom stuck in the ground along wayward roadsides declaring to one and all… “REPENT! THE END IS NEAR”

And yet, I’ve not noticed a run on the churches…
You know, like when the weathermen start predicting an impending storm and suddenly all of humanity descends upon every grocery store within the bullseye of the storm in order to snatch up every loaf of bread and every gallon of milk as if those two things alone are the only things that can sustain us throughout the duration of hunkering down and battening down the hatches…

One might imagine that when the rallying cry of doom is sounded by those in the know, the average citizen would feel as if he or she may want to get serious with that whole getting right with one’s God concept, as in the time has come….filling the local pews to the brim as everyone jockeys for position while seeking the saving grace before the you know what hits the fan….

Or maybe not…

Maybe everyone is just so jaded, so gloom and doomed out…so hardened of heart…
as in over it…
as in sick and tired of thinking about the dreaded end…
merely preferring to think that destruction and mayhem are either over rated or merely part of the inevitable and that there’s just not avoiding the inevitable.
I actually think one of the networks has a new show, a black comedy, coming out focusing on the very concept of living life in the wake of “the end”….

At any rate, I found the story as well as the fact that the BBC found it necessary to report that the hands are somewhat stuck…as in they aren’t moving, most interesting. It’s three minutes ’til and that seems to be it for now…no moving backwards or forwards—and depending on one’s outlook, maybe that’s a good thing…at least we’re not moving forward, with maybe a chance to go backwards…

However, given the precarious global situation I don’t think backwards is going to be an option anytime soon.
And whereas man may need reminding every once in a while that he’s sitting on the brink of total annihilation, I am reminded of many a biblical passage which addresses this rather interesting position we’ve gotten ourselves into….

…And yet, I am not running about like Henny Penny proclaiming that the sky is falling…rather I am resting in the peace of the knowledge that no matter what may or may not blow at this supposed midnight hour, my life rests in the blood of the lamb, in the saving Grace of the One True Resurrected Savior of Jesus Christ.
Come what may, I am His and He is mine—
and there is a great deal of contentment found in that one small fact…

Here’s a link to the story…
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35412454

Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10