when the crud is not the crud and other odd phenomenons

“There is no such thing as moral phenomena,
but only a moral interpretation of phenomena”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil


(Dr. Seuss’s Sneeches)

There was a time when we would catch a cold, or more accurately the crud, as those sorts of symptoms
are lovingly referred to a catch all crud…you know the symptoms…
that of a sore scratchy throat,
a runny or stuffy nose, a post nasal drip
with a hacking or phlegmy sort of cough…
at times, it’s even accompanied by aches and / or light chills.

A typical winter visitor.

Nowadays however…those sorts of symptoms have folks looking at you a bit sideways.
Leary and skeptical as they step an extra 6 feet away.

“Did you just cough???” an alarmed voice practically shrieks.
Fever, do you have a fever???
Can you smell??—

Well if your nose is all clogged up and your sinuses are giving you fits, breathing,
let alone smelling, are both difficult at best.

Suddenly you feel the need to tie a bell around your neck.
You feel you’re living in Nathanial Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter…
although your letter is not a giant red A but rather the mark of the Covid beast.

Colds, sinus infections, even the flu are now all considered Covid unless otherwise noted
by a medical professional— and then people are still skeptical.
You saying you’ve gotten a cold or suffering from allergies is no longer good enough.

Folks want to tie you down and slam a giant swap up your nose.

I’ve had Covid and I’ve had a bad cold.
I know the difference.
And right now, it’s a bad cold.

But try letting the general population know the difference and
‘them become fighting words.’

No one believes you anymore.
Your word is no good.

I ran into the grocery store the other day and almost had to laugh out loud.

Naturally we were all wearing our masks like good stewards,
but one young lady had also added a pair of ski goggles.

I looked for a biohazard suit but she just had on a major mask with some
serious goggles.

I thought to myself…”you know, I would hate to live with that much fear…”

So before you mark me as some capitol rioter or uber conspiracy theorist…
just know that I realize that we’ve been hit with half a million deaths in this country.
And yes I’ve known those who have succumbed and died from the virus.
And I have even known some who took the vaccine and died two weeks later.
So yes, I do know it is real, but I also know hysteria when I see it.

So while we’re talking about hysteria, let’s take a look at, for instance, Dr. Seuss.

That almost mystical and rhythmical child’s author of yore.

Seems that our dear Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is rapidly becoming persona non gratis.

A pariah of sorts.

The once beloved children’s author, who was the epitome of tolerance,
had he still been living, would have turned 117 yesterday.

Yesterday, as in “Read across America Day”, as in my grandkids went to daycare
in their Dr. Seuss pj’s all for Dr. Seuss PJ reading day…as in we all love Dr. Seuss…
or so I thought—we loved him last week.
This week, obviously, not so much.

As in my beloved The Grinch Who Stole Christmas book that I still have these 61 years later…
is now looked at sideways.


(1957)

Sadly it seems that our current Woke folks out there have decided that Sneeches and Whoos and
red fish, blue fish are currently out of step with our suddenly perfect society.

Isn’t it just grand knowing we live in a perfect society?
However, I fear that in that perfect society, it might just be filled with
imperfect residents.

Woe be unto us all.

For these days will pass by like a puff of wind.

And all those who are perfect among us will be caught up in the wind…

Grab the hand of a Sneech because we’re all about to be blown away.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy,
and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it,
because the time is near.

Revelation 1:3

So much change yet so much anticipation…

There is a rich parallel between farming soil and spiritual soil.
It’s no accident that one of the most important virtues of the Christian life is humility,
a word that stems from the Latin word “humus”, meaning “earth”, or literally, “on the ground.”
Humility is a virtue required of men and women alike,
and truly the one virtue all the saints hold in common.

Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering
from Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking


(early January 2020 / the sun comes up over the ocean / Julie Cook)

I took the above picture almost exactly a year ago to the day.
It was early January 2020…

2020.

Let that soak in.

A year, that before it would blessedly come to a close, we would all eventually grow to loath.

Yet on this particular morning in January of 2020, it was just a quiet walk along the beach.
Life was life.
Peace was found in the rhythmic sounds of an undulating surf that simply
was breathing in and out.

We had yet to hear of words such as Wuhan, COVID, Coronavirus, pandemic,
lockdown, masks, George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, riots, protests, CHAZ, socialism,
radicalism…
words that would soon come washing over us like a callous Tsunami.

There was however already the nauseating media circus over an impeachment proceeding…
but had we not all basically grown somewhat numb to the media’s OCD obsession over
all things Trump?

And who could have known that a year ago, when life seemed typical and average…we would find
ourselves, a year later, yearning and pleading for things to be just that…
simply typical and average?

I learned a long time ago to be cautious about wishing one’s life away.

On a collective whole, we have all grown to hate the year 2020.

Oh there are some who had joy throughout the year, but we haven’t
heard much about that joy or the positive milestones nor of the blessings.
Rather we have been inundated with the negative, the darkness, the isolation
and the death.

And so the collective thought is for a good riddance to 2020.
Yet in that good riddance, we must be both willing and open
for welcoming in a new and unknown.

So my prayer on this new day of this new and unknown year is appropriately
from the Book of Psalms…sung prayers.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8

A Happy NEW year to us all!

“If you would suffer with patience, the adversities and miseries of this life,
be a man of prayer.
If you would obtain courage and strength to conquer the temptations of the enemy,
be a man of prayer.
If you would mortify your own will with all its inclinations and appetites,
be a man of prayer.
If you would know the wiles of Satan and unmask his deceits,
be a man of prayer.
If you would live in joy and walk pleasantly in the ways of penance,
be a man of prayer.
If you would banish from your soul the troublesome flies of vain thoughts and cares,
be a man of prayer.
If you would nourish your soul with the very sap of devotion,
and keep it always full of good thoughts and good desires,
be a man of prayer.
If you would strengthen and keep up your courage in the ways of God, be a man of prayer.
In fine, if you would uproot all vices from your soul and plant all virtues in their place,
be a man of prayer.
It is in prayer that we receive the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost, who teaches all things.”

St. Bonaventure, p. 25-26
An Excerpt From
The Ways of Mental Prayer

cancel Christmas, bah humbug!

“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’
on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of
holly through his heart. He should!”

Ebeneezer Scrooge


(Alistair Sim as Scrooge)

So I’m currently up to my elbows in bubble wrap…as we continue the overwhelming task of
packing up the house for a move in mid-January.

But despite my current state of distraction, I have managed to hear, read and see the growing
crescendo of rumblings being offered up by various governmental leadership, on both sides of the pond,
all talking about “canceling” Christmas.

Canceling Christmas?

Hummmmm…

Well it seems that I am not the only one who has heard of these latest
COVID restrictions being mulled over by the various politicians both far and near.

Mandated—-

There shall be no collective gatherings—or so they say.

No family get-togethers.
No Midnight mass.
No live nativities.
No shared meals.
No singing.
No caroling.
No parties.
No worship.

So instead of mistletoe and Christmas pageants, there are to be fines, warrants,
and arrests for anyone choosing to defy the Draconian proclamations.
Woe be unto anyone who wants to live out a life full of the depth of holiday cheer
and Christian Joy.

It seems that our friend the Wee Flea, the Pastor David Roberston, hailing
these days from the land down under, has written his latest post about this very notion–
the idea of canceling Christmas.

David even offered up a bit of a history lesson—
Did you know that Christmas was once actually illegal in England?…

“After all was it not Cromwell who banned Christmas?
Not quite…

On 19 December 1643, the English Parliament passed a law encouraging its citizens to treat
the mid-winter period ‘with the more solemn humiliation because it may call to
remembrance our sins, and the sins of our forefathers, who have turned this feast,
pretending the memory of Christ, into an extreme forgetfulness of him,
by giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights’.
From then until 1660, Christmas was actually illegal in England.
In Scotland we banned it from 1640 until 1686.
In fact Christmas was not a public holiday in Scotland until 1958 (unlike New Year) –
Boxing Day in 1974.
We can’t blame Cromwell for that.

I have grown to love Christmas as a great time to reflect upon the incarnation
and to communicate the Gospel.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see –
hail the incarnate Deity.
Yet I also loathe the commercialism, excess and
‘carnal and sensual delights’. Excessive drunkenness,
as well as the declining popularity of the church,
meant that the tradition of midnight Christmas carols, was already becoming less.
Who knows, but Covid may have killed it off?
In St Peter’s in Dundee I introduced a carol service and a Christmas day service –
both were great opportunities for outreach and fellowship.
I suspect McCheyne would not have approved.

But what about this year?
In Sydney, we are debating about whether we can go ahead with outdoor carol services
and get over the ridiculous ban on singing.
In the UK and the US, I suspect the Covid hysteria will be ongoing and
just when they need some Christmas cheer they will be reduced to what
the Scottish Government is calling a ‘digital Christmas’.
It won’t be long before the daily message from politicians includes the
sickly message that Santa is not banned.

But perhaps we can give a different message?
Perhaps churches can ‘reset’ so that we turn Christmas to what it should be –
a celebration of the incarnate God. At a time when churches are being urged
to be less incarnational we can proclaim the one who did not come ‘digitally’,
nor did he die or rise ‘spiritually’.
He came in the flesh.
Pleased as man with man to dwell.
A real baby, with real tears (crying he did make),
in a real world where an unknown number of baby boys were killed in an attempt to get him.
Real angels…real shepherds….a real star…and real glory.
In a world that is governed by misery and fear, we can bring
‘good news of great joy for all the people’.

We should be singing like the angels in the public square…
we should be proclaiming Christ from the rooftops, in our pulpits
and on our digital platforms.
We should be looking at creative ways to engage church,
children and community with the Gospel.
Perhaps some will not be permitted to bring people to church –
but is there any reason why we cannot go out –
by whatever means possible – and, like the angels, take the good news of
‘glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men on whom his favour rests’?
Instead of churches seeing Christmas as an exhausting burden of endless services,
perhaps we can find a more sustainable way to use this
time to proclaim and glorify Christ.
Maybe even Cromwell would approve of that.

Have Yourself A Merry Cromwellian Christmas – AP

And so I now think about Christmas.

I think about the secular vs the spiritual of Christmas.

I think about what it means to keep Christmas in our hearts.

And so, as Tiny Tim said, “A Merry Christmas to us all;
God bless us, every one!”

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me,
the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience
as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory forever and ever.
Amen.

Timothy 1:15-17

Yes, God bless us each and everyone!!!

it’s all metaphysics…or is that Greek??

I devote my very rare free moments to a work that is close to my heart and devoted
to the metaphysical sense and mystery of the person.
It seems to me that the debate today is being played out on that level.
The evil of our times consists in the first place in a kind of degradation,
indeed in a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person.
This evil is even much more of the metaphysical order than of the moral order.
To this disintegration planned at times by atheistic ideologies we must oppose,
rather than sterile polemics, a kind of ‘recapitulation’ of the
inviolable mystery of the person.

(In his continuing struggle against Marxism in Poland after the Second Vatican Council,
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla identified the doctrine of the person as the Achilles’ heel of the Communist regime.
He decided to base his opposition on that plank.
In 1968 he wrote to his Jesuit friend, the future Cardinal Henri de Lubac

John Paul II and The Mystery of The Human Person, Avery Dulles)


(detail of Socrates and Aritstole from the School of Athens by Raphael / The Vatican)

Metaphysics: noun, plural in form but singular in construction
1. a division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of
reality and being and that includes ontology, cosmology, and often epistemology
metaphysics … analyzes the generic traits manifested by existences of any kind

When it comes to metaphysics, well, it’s all pretty much Greek to me.
get it…Greek?? HAHAHA…

In all seriousness, it is such thinking, those of the various schools of philosophy,
that can push my poor brain to the limit.

That whole ‘if no one is around to hear it when a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?’
Well, duh…yes, yes it does…
I think we call it vibrations and sound waves but I digress.
Why even waste breath and time debating such??

However, man has always debated the world around him as well as debating his
very own interior being.

My son was a philosophy minor…and yes, I thought he was off his rocker.
But philosophy is very connected to the study of religion so I took pride
knowing that he was there to defend the faith of the Triune God in today’s very very hostile
area of thought regarding Christianity.

The pharse Cogito, ergo sum comes to mind…
I think therefore I am…uttered by René Descartes,

But I say no to that thought…it’s more like when I get poison ivy…I itch therefore I am.
That’s how you know.
A physical reaction to and from an outside source…but again, I digress.

I was afforded a bit of uninterrupted quiet time yesterday morning and I actually listened
to a brief podcast offered by the British periodical The Spectator.
The podcast was a discussion between my newest favorite Catholic, Dr. Gavin Ashenden (aka our dear
favorite former Anglican Bishop) and British journalist, Damian Thompson

This is the written intro for the discussion:
Boris Johnson’s package of Covid restrictions announced this week included
a rule that weddings will be limited to 15 people and funerals to 30 –
numbers plucked out of thin air that will have questionable effect
on the transmission of the virus.
You might think that a ruling that affects only weddings and funerals
isn’t such a big deal for the churches, but that is to underestimate the fanatical zeal
of their leaders for implementing, and expanding, restrictions on their own worship.
The control-freak Archbishop of Canterbury, predictably,
seemed quite thrilled by the government’s intervention.
My own reaction, informed by conversations with many clergy outraged by their
bishops’ baffling willingness to accept any curtailment of church life,
was to wonder whether some Christians will be forced to ‘go underground’ –
that is, find a way of worshipping that quietly disobeys their own leaders.
To an extent this is already happening: at the height of the pandemic,
Catholics were holding secret Masses that reminded me of their ancestors’
defiance of Protestant penal laws.
I didn’t report it because I didn’t want them hunted down by their own ‘fathers in God’,
the local bishops.
So that’s the subject of this week’s Holy Smoke,
a very wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Gavin Ashenden of the sort that you
would never hear on the BBC.

What I took away from listening to the discussion was that our friend Dr. Ashenden
finds that this whole control and resist mindset regarding the restrictions
placed on us by our leaders regarding COVID boils down to something quite
simple…

We can go out to eat, we can go to stores, we can get a haircut, we can visit a liquor store,
and in limited numbers, we may attend a wedding as well as a funeral…
however, only 15 can go celebrate a wedding while 30 can go celebrate the passing of a life—
odd numbering given life vs death, but I am obviously not in leadership.

And yet…our worship services are being curtailed, canceled, or simply
shut down.
And therein lies much of the frustration.

Will the faithful eventually find themselves in the underground?
Worshiping in secret?
Shades of the early days of Roman persecution?

Dr. Ashenden notes that it seems
we are either prioritizing the immediate power structures of our day or we
are prioritizing the teaching of the Gospel…and sadly it seems as if it is our power
structures that are receiving the total focus.

The good doctor notes that this seems to be a power struggle between the secular, or non-supernatural,
vs the Metaphysical, that being the Spiritual

Secular vs Spiritual…and sadly— secular is winning.

Here are the links…enjoy exercising your brain…

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/57442176/posts/2929431852

https://www.spectator.co.uk/podcast/is-it-time-for-christianity-to-go-underground-

the sharing season is here…

“Wisdom cannot be imparted.
Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else…
Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
One can find it, live it, do wonders through it,
but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


(black swallowtail caterpillar / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well, I knew it was just a matter of time.

The caterpillars have found the parsley.

There must be at least 15 caterpillars now making the most of my nice pot of parsley.

And so you should know that this lowly creature will…

Become this lovely creature:

And this one…

And this one…

And this one…

Will all become one of these…


(Black swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

These guys, well, I moved one of their caterpillars out from the garage yesterday,
so there are no before images…only the after shots


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so now, I share…my parsley.

Yet I must confess that sometimes I’m not too keen to share certain things.
I think we all have a bit of the selfish child that remains buried within.

As adults, we know that sharing is a good thing.
And so we can bend our will in order to do what is kind, considerate and decent.
We strive to teach children to do the same.

We must teach them to share as they/we seem to come into this world
hardwired with a distinct “mine” mentality.

When I first started to keep a garden…I would get so mad at the rabbits, the crows,
the other birds, the squirrels, the deer, and yes the caterpillars, who would
all invade, dig up or purge my labors by eating seeds, the tender new shoots
or the actual fruits of said labor, my fruits and vegetables.

And then I figured out that if I planted a little extra or a few distractors, things
that would appease my thieves, I could then strike a delicate balance between
what I knew would be stolen versus what I wanted to be harvested.

And sometimes, despite my best-laid plans, it just came down to who was the fastest
on the scene.

Now granted this was not always the perfect relationship as the deer would seem to
poke their feet in the melons simply to be spiteful…or the birds would jab
each blueberry, leaving the berry on the bush, full of holes.
But if I was going to be successful with a garden…there had to be give,
take and yes, share.

And so speaking of sharing, last week when I had to go to Atlanta to keep the Mayor,
who had contracted the Sheriff’s viral infection from the previous week, the
very notion of sharing took place in the form of “rain.”

And no, I do not refer to the sort of rain that falls from the sky.

If you’ve ever been around a young child who coughs or sneezes or
God forbid, suddenly needs to throw up…well, you know that kids
don’t cover their mouths, turn away, cough into the crook of an arm, or
race to the bathroom when an emergency calls.

To a child, if it comes, whatever it might be, it comes for good or bad…
matters not who might be in its path.

So there was a puny Mayor, who was sitting on my lap last week while we were watching cartoons.
Suddenly she started sneezing…and a spray of mist subsequently blanketed my lap and legs.
Gleeful the Mayor happily announces “RAIN”!!!!

“Yes”, I sardonically noted, “it has rained…”
…as I grabbed a sacred Clorox wipe in order to wipe down my legs and arms.

So should I be surprised that I now have felt like crap for the past two days and find
myself unable to breathe due to such a cloggy nose?

No.
No, I am not surprised.

For a sick child shared her “rain” with me.

And well, despite the shelves being long bare of Clorox wipes…
the sacred canister we had on hand was simply no match for the Mayor.

And so why do we seem so mystified when folks continue getting that
Wuhan flu??? That COVID mess?
Why do we ponder as to how it keeps making the rounds?

Sharing just seems to happen…even when we try being selfish.
No matter the best precautions, the best-laid plans…sharing is going to happen
whether we want it to or not.

Oh and for the record…that poison ivy…well, it keeps sharing too.

Everything seems to want to share…all the wrong sort of things!!!

So regarding the following verse, just know that God did not mean that we should share
our germs…but other more treasured items and deeds….
the germ part is just part and parcel of being alive.

The good and bad.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16

footloose and …

“I was not born to be free—
I was born to adore and obey.”

C.S. Lewis


(the Mayor’s picture of her brother the Sherrif…drawn with a little help)

We are footloose and COVID free!
The Sherrif had a viral infection, and that is all…
Sad times when we are thankful for just the run of the mill infection and blessedly not COVID.

The Mayor will head back home tomorrow and we will pray that this does not become a pattern
in this surreal new normal of ours…

Thank you all for your prayers as the Sherrif’s fever has finally dissipated and he is now
getting back to his duties of sheriffing.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

OK, here’s my story…


(the Mayor and Shreiff checking a fall hunting blind / Julie Cook / 2020)

Ok, so I kind of abruptly signed off mid-week with a bit of a sketchy post…
A post eluding to a bit more than met the eye.

So here’s the story….

The Mayor (it’s always the elected officials at fault–just so you know) and the Sheriff
started a new daycare for the new school year.
They started sporadically in July, hitting full stride the past two weeks
as their mom was having to gear back up for the coming school year.

Ohhhhh the coming school year…but I digress.

So the Mayor always gets daycare crud…always…and not just once but throughout
the school year.
In turn, I always get daycare crud because I then have to keep her when she can’t be in
daycare because she has the crud.
I think you see the vicious cycle here.

So this time last week when she came home puny with the crud, her daddy got the crud.
Daddy thought he had strep throat.
He called his doctor…in Atlanta some are still sticking to “telemed”
They told him to go to urgent care.
He did.
They treated him for strep but sent him to go be tested for COVID…or what my
husband sneerily refers to as the Chinese Flu–he says if we can call it the Spanish flu,
we can call it the Chinese flu,…but again, I digress.

So the Mayor’s mom, aka our daughter-in-law, had to tell her principal that her husband
was having to be tested.
That “having to be tested” phrase is a death sentence in our society.

So her principal, despite school starting in person, as well as virtual,
on the very following day, Wednesday, sent her home on Tuesday until the test results
could have a chance to come back.

That also meant the kids had to come home from daycare until we knew the results.
That, in turn, meant she and the kids needed to come to us ASAP…
She was now having to teach totally virtually.
Think March all over again…think Groundhog’s Day.

Possible COVID coming to a 60 and newly turned 71 year old might seem unwise…
but they had already been with us the previous weekend for “Da’s” birthday,
so we figured if we were exposed, well that had happened last weekend…
call us brave, call us stupid–you do what you have to do.

We had dinner plans Thursday evening for our Anniversary but that had to be put on hold.
They came down Wednesday morning and we’ve been running full throttle ever since.

The Mayor still had crud but was feeling footloose and fancy-free.
So I wasn’t worried…plus her dad, our son, felt 100% better after being on
the strep antibiotic… but yet he still had to wait.

If you were ever a teacher then you can understand our daughter-in-law’s sense
of anxiety having to miss the first few days of school.
That would be nerve-racking enough during a normal year, but this is certainly not
a normal year.

As a former teacher, to be home when I wasn’t the least bit sick, would have
felt like sitting on the bench while watching one’s team being down by 7 and knowing
you could easily score to help the day.

So finally, blessedly, our son got the green light late Friday afternoon.
He was COVID free…thank goodness.

Our little motley crew was then ready to pack up and head home to
be together as a family.

Tired, exhausted, I cleaned the house in the aftermath of chaos,
but all the while wondering…what will next week bring.
What will all of this uncertainty bring?

We are all so tired.
So tired of waiting for the other shoe…knowing it will drop…
because it is only a matter of time.

And remember, I’m coming off all hormones…talk about one
massive hot flash!!!

So yeah, that’s my story.

Let us pray for all those affected by this virus and let us pray for
our cities and the poor businesses in those cities affected by the
virus of civil unrest.

Lord hear our prayers!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23