Lobsters, tears, steroids, redos—the tale of distraction

“The life of the body is the soul;
the life of the soul is God.”

St. Anthony of Padua


(Saint-Sulpice, Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

I don’t cry…often.

Well, there are some commercials that can get me to shed a tear or two.

The Toyota commercial that ran during Christmas with the mom
going off the bring her husband home while the son was busy enlisting the
help of all his friends in the neighborhood to make a row
of snowmen, lining the road up to their house, all saluting his returning veteran dad…

The camera pans to the dad who sees the saluting snowmen.
The mom pulls into the driveway where the snowmen are saluting alongside a saluting son.
The dad gets out of the car, stops to salute his son before engulfing him in his arms…

See…
tears as I type.

That is the kind of commercial that “gets me”

Other than that, I’m pretty stoic.

I cry usually when I am totally and utterly exasperated or when I’m really really sick.

Let us recall my little predicament from last week.

Last week I had a root canal that went awry….not away but awry.

Over the weekend, the endodontist called in a different antibiotic after the
original prescription appeared not to be working.

Clindamycin.

I took the first pill Saturday.
That evening after showering, I noticed I was itching on my abdomen and noticed a
red blotchiness.
Hummmm.

I took the next dose right before bed.

By morning’s first light, I looked like a freshly boiled lobster being pulled hot from the pot.

From head to toe, front to back… I was a giant red itchy rash.
And my root canal tooth…well it was throbbing so badly that I started scouring
the house for a pair of pliers.

We went to breakfast with our son and daughter-n-law and the Mayor.
I didn’t feel much like eating but I’ll never miss being with the Mayor.
My face was red as a beet but given our location, my daughter-n-law slyly noted
folks will just think you’ve had a facial peel.

Calls to the endodontist, the clindamycin was quickly discontinued.
Up the Motrin, use the pain meds, and get some Benadryl to counter the drug reaction.

I don’t usually take Benadryl but I took one and then dozed off during the
poor play calling against the Saints.

Which from what I hear was best.

I tried writing my post for the following day but it was as if I had been drugged…
I couldn’t type out one word without it being a mishmash of letters.

I dozed some more.

My daughter-n-law text asking how I felt.
I sent back a scathing text of woe…but somehow I sent it to the endodontist instead of my
daughter-n-law…

Oooops

Profuse apologies followed but at least he understood, in no uncertain terms,
that I was in a bad way.

I dozed again.

The Saints lost, the Patriots won, I was red, itching and had a throbbing head.
Sunday was tough.

So back to the notion of crying.

This morning I felt so bad, I had had so many meds that were meant to help…
feeling so so bad such that I almost passed out, twice.

I fell onto the bed and broke down in tears.
Tears of frustration and hurting, tears of feeling bad and tears of knowing
how busy our lives are soon to be while thinking that I need to be 100%.

Typical mom thinking.

My husband is not used to this.

I am the little rock.
I am the chief caregiver.
I am the take charge and ‘it’s time to get rolling’ member of the family.

And so…he did what most husbands do when given such a predicament, he panicked.

“We’re going to the ER” he exclaimed.

Yet his better option appeared to simply pace the floor back and forth in front of me—
which in turn was making me a nervous wreck.

Crying and husbands, a true difficulty.

I told him I’d just call the doctor when the office opened.

I called both my doctor and then the endodontist.

My doctor could see me at 10:45
The other at 2 PM

When the nurse called me back, with one look, she said what we always say down here
in the South when things are bad…
“Bless your heart”

The doctor walked in…”Oh my gosh!! Bless your heart!!! You ARE a red mess!”

I could only muster a feeble “help me…”

She countered with a resounding “You need a good slug of steroids.”

She proceeded with two shots–steroids and B-12— as my B-12 levels were way low
according to last week’s labs.
Then there was a prescription for oral steroids.

Next, it was off to the endodontist’s office.

He proceeded to do a redo root canal.
Working basically backward…undoing what he did then
redoing it all over again.

As I type, the novocaine is still lingering.
The throbbing remains at bay.
The steroids have kicked in.
The red is slowly dissipating as the itching is lessening.
There is indeed a small ray of sunshine…

No, literally the sun is shining… we haven’t seen it in a while.
So that’s a good thing.

But this tale is really just a tale of distraction.
A distraction from the pressing matters that need addressing.

Issues like some young boys from a Catholic school who have become the
latest fodder for all things social media and wrongful reporting.

Issues like the obvious hypnotizing from the new Marxist left of the general populace.

Issues like showing any support for the current sitting president equating to hate.

Issues like a fetus being considered not a human being.

Issues like the billboard that I recently caught while buzzing down the interstate at warp speed
that read:
“IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED.
(Call xxx-xxx-xxxx for more information)

But that’s it right?
That’s the bottom line.

God Created.

End of sentence.

And so now the question remains, what shall we do with the stewardship we have been
given over that creating?

That is the real question and the real issue…

So as soon as things clear up on this end, we’ll get back to what’s really the issue at hand.

God Created.

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.

1 Colossians 1:16

The Creator

“To argue that God is “trying His best” to save all mankind,
but that the majority of men will not let Him save them,
is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent,
and that the will of the creature is omnipotent.”

Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God


(Le Mont-Saint-Michel / Normandy, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Now, may our God be our hope.
He Who made all things is better than all things.
He Who made all beautiful things is more beautiful than all of them.
He Who made all mighty things is more mighty than all of them.
He Who made all great things is greater than all of them.
Learn to love the Creator in His creature, and the maker in what He has made.”

Saint Augustine, p. 136
An Excerpt From
Augustine Day by Day


(a view of the “chruch on the rock” at low tide / Julie Cook / 2018)

looking for saints in all kinds of places

This is the very perfection of a man,
to find out his own imperfections.

St. Augustine


(St. Augustine of Hippo painting by Philippe de Champaigne, 1650)

Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise;
your power is immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning.
And so we humans, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you –
we who carry our mortality about with us,
carry the evidence of our sin and with it the proof that you thwart the proud.
Yet these humans, due part of your creation as they are, still do long to
praise you.
You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy,
because you have made us and drawn us to yourself,
and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

The passage above appears to have been written by a person who was painfully aware
of his own mortality and sins yet yearns, nay longs,
to be in the arms of the Beloved Creator.

And so perhaps it might be hard for those of us reading these long ago penned words
to imagine that this person was not always so deeply attuned to
living life worshiping the Triune God.

For the past couple of days, my posts have veered toward the idea of saints.
No particular reason really…and when there seems to be no real rhyme nor reason for my
ramblings, that usually just means the Holy Spirit is at work and not so much
me.

Yesterday’s post offered two quotes summing up the notion of sainthood quite nicely…
yet it was especially the Kierkegaard quote which serves to remind us that God’s mastery
of creation is one thing, but to be able to make saints from sinners…
well, that’s something else altogether.

Augustine of Hippo…
a giant when it comes to thought and theory has been studied down through the ages by
all sorts of students—from theologians and philosophers to literates and historians…
many of whom have been Believers and many who have not.

Yet Augustine was not always one of Christendom’s most learned and revered theologian
turned saint.

According to Wikipedia,
“His first insight into the nature of sin occurred when he and a number of friends stole
fruit they did not want from a neighborhood garden.
He tells this story in his autobiography, The Confessions.
He remembers that he did not steal the fruit because he was hungry,
but because “it was not permitted.”
His very nature, he says, was flawed.
‘It was foul, and I loved it.
I loved my own error—not that for which I erred, but the error itself.”
From this incident, he concluded the human person is naturally inclined to sin
and in need of the grace of Christ.”

Augustine went on to have a long-lasting affair with a woman who bore him an
illegitimate son.
He later broke off that relationship in order to marry a 10-year-old heiress but had to wait
two years until she was of legal marrying age.
During his wait, he took up with another concubine.

Yet the time came in which Augustine abandoned all concubines and fiancees alike
lamenting“that he was not a lover of wedlock so much as a slave of lust”

Eventually, at the age of 31, Augustine broke off all his relationships with these
various women because he, like many before and after him, had his Road to Damascus moment.
He was struck from his lofty, self-absorbed, carnal way of living by the
One True Omnipotent God who literally called out to him..

As Augustine later shared
“his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him to
“take up and read” (Latin: tolle, lege), which he took as a divine command to open the Bible
and read the first thing he saw.

Augustine read from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans –
the “Transformation of Believers” section, consisting of chapters 12 to 15 –
wherein Paul outlines how the Gospel transforms believers,
and the believers’ resulting behaviour.
The specific part to which Augustine opened his Bible was Romans chapter 13,
verses 13 and 14, to wit:

“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness,
not in strife and envying,
but put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

It was at this moment that his life turned.

Augustine eventually penned an autobiography of sorts which many of us,
trained in the classics were at some point, required to read— Confessions.

It is from the pages of his Confessions that we read these beautiful and deeply
haunting words:

Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold,
Thou wast within and I without, and there I sought Thee.
Thou wast with me when I was not with Thee.
Thou didst call, and cry, and burst my deafness.
Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispel my blindness.
Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.
For Thyself Thou hast made us,
And restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease.
Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever old and ever new.

And thus what we have learned is that many of those who are known to us today as saints
seem to have, at some point or other figured things out.

Namely, that life isn’t all about them.

But life, rather, is a yearning…and that yearning is the created’s longing to be
one with the Creator.

Some seem to understand this better than others.

Many have been rogues and scallywags.
Some have been liars and drunkards.
Some have been rich and arrogant.
Some started out as cowards and turncoats yet became brave and true.
And some will simply be known only to God and God alone.

And so with all this talk about saints and sinners, I am struck by a current circus of sorts.

Brett Kavanaugh, the latest Supreme Court nominee, has been in the center of a maelstrom.

I don’t know much about him, but from what legal experts and judges on ‘both sides of the
aisle’ have said, he is a stellar wealth of legal prowess.
A fair and just man who is deeply knowledgeable with regards to right and wrong.

Yet his experience, his record, his knowledge, his examples don’t seem to matter to
this pack of hearing committee members who are foaming at the mouth,
as they rip into this man for the simple reason that they hate the man who nominated him.

Desperate Democrats are grasping at ugly straws to do their darndest to stop this nominee’s
chance of confirmation…even resorting to highschool hearsay.

And in so doing…these very politicians who so vehemently cling to the separation of
Church and State and find themselves cringing over the notion that their precious
Roe v Wade would be overturned… these worshipers of all things cultural and secular
now seem to be seeking a saint…a saint who doesn’t exist.
As all of this is just one more example of the irony of man standing at odds with
his blinding self-serving pride.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micha 6:8

fusion

“To join two things together there must be nothing between them or
there cannot be a perfect fusion.
Now realize that this is how God wants our soul to be,
without any selfish love of ourselves or of others in between,
just as God loves us without anything in between.”

St. Catherine of Siena


(image from the Passion of the Christ)

The word fusion, according to Merriam Webster, is defined as a union by or as if by melting:
such as a: a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole

A merging of diverse, distinct, separate elements—
Merging…as in combining, blending, joining together… a union…
the binding of two pieces in order to become one.

That is what God desires…a fusion of created to Creator.

But this is actually more of a re-union…a re-joining of two who were long ago separated…
for, in the beginning, there was a union… but with man having chosen to defy the Creator…
the union was torn asunder.

Yet as St Catherine of Siena reminds us, God longs to be reunited…He longs for the two to
be fused back together…

However, for the fusion to hold, there can be nothing which exists in between…
there must be nothing.

Not the thinnest, smallest, tiniest or slightest separation…
not any passion, nor desire, nor want…nothing that we think we simply must have
can exist because if it does, we remain separate and not one.

And so as we read below an excerpt from the Catholic Catechism…
whether we be Catholic or not, we read that it is by Christ’s passion…
his sacrifice, his willingness to offer himself in place of our own damned fate
that we are able to be reunited.
He has fused himself to us as we are re-united in “his redemptive Passion.”
As He joins the Father, we in turn re-join the Father…

“Often Jesus asks the sick to believe.
He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands, mud and washing.
The sick try to touch him, ‘for power came forth from him and healed them all’.
And so in the sacraments Christ continues to ‘touch’ us in order to heal us.
Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick,
but he makes their miseries his own:
‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases’.
But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God.
They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover.
On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and
took away the ‘sin of the world’, of which illness is only a consequence.
By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering:
it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.”

Excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Chruch, pp.1504-05

berries, cherries and bears, oh my

“Haven’t you ever thought of living
unconsciously like bears, sniffing the earth,
close to pears and the mossy dark,
far from human voices and fire?

Nâzım Hikmet Ran


(a mama bear and her cub perch high in the wild cherry trees / Julie Cook / Cades Cove, TN / 2018)

Some folks would say it’s the sign of an impending cold winter…
What with the numbers of bears we’ve seen in just a two-day span, gorging themselves
on berries and apparently the prolific wild cherries that grow plentiful in the
Smokey Mountains.

Twelve bears and counting.

An amazing feat really given that we’ve been coming to this area on and off now for 35
years and have seen maybe a total of 5 bears over the course of that time—
and those were just at a glance here or there.

Today we ran into 5 more bears with one almost literally running into me.
We were actually walking through a field along the woodline, walking away from one of
the few remaining original cabins in Cades Cove when my husband turned to say something to me
yet he could only muster that single word again, BEAR!!

I turned just in time to see a small black bear right behind me before he kindly bolted
into the woods.

Next, as we were exiting out of the cove we saw a mom and cub perched high in the wild
cherry trees enjoying a late brunch.

Then later in the evening, on one final drive through the cove,
we came upon another young bear eating fast and furiously…


(all bears seen in Cades Cove / Julie Cook / 2018)

Not knowing when I’ll make it back this way, as it’s been about 5 years since our last trip,
I savor these moments.
Breathing in deeply, holding it as long as possible before slowly exhaling.

These snippets, these glimpses of things that are truly greater than our hurly-burly
hectic ant-like lives…
lives spent hurrying here and there as we always seem oh so preoccupied and
tremendously busy…I consider these moments, these gifts of time, one of the
greatest privileges offered.

Being able to see animals in their natural habitat, in a place that is stopped in time,
doing what they do best…simply living and being the wild animals that they are…
is a gift…a gift offered by the Creator to one of the created…

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.

Colossians 1:16

incommunicado or detached by forgetfulness

“Put your heart aside. Duty comes first. But when fulfilling your duty,
put your heart into it. It helps.”

St. Josemaria Escriva


(Lily Tomlin from the One ringy dingy skit from Laugh-In)

Once upon a time, human beings came into this world with 4 appendages.
At some point in the latter part of the 20th century, human beings added an appendage…
the cell phone.

This new appendage became attached serendipitously.
It seemed to bring a sense of well-being and even wholeness to most.

It became so indispensable, so oddly necessary, that when there would be some sort
of separation, human beings would go into apoplexy.

For you see, we humans can’t seem to part with this relatively new appendage.

I confess that I’m sadly and equally guilty of living in this surreal false sense of need.

Take for example today.

My husband and I were in Atlanta babysitting, even having spent Wednesday night as
we all went out a few days early to celebrate my husband’s upcoming birthday.
A birthday that my husband has decided will be his last to actually recognize but
a first in that we had a new little granddaughter in attendance at dinner.

The following day, Thursday…there was a pouring monsoon. Due to our daughter-n-law
starting pre-planning with her new school system and having to attend a faculty retreat
and our son having to work late, we opted to take the wee one home with us for a few days.

Maybe not a wise decision as the wee one is teething, but I digress.

As we were packing up, our daughter-n-law called making certain all was well.
Mindlessly I handed my son the phone.
After a brief conversation, he put down my phone.
We all then worked a joint effort in order to get the wee one in the car
without getting soaked.

With great trepidation, we bid our son a farewell (but I’ll be heading back Saturday to redeliver
the wee one home) as we made our way to the interstate for the long wet drive home.

Driving on the interstate in the pouring down rain, sandwiched between
tractor-trailer trucks who were oblivious to the weather or other cars or
that of their own speed, I saw an interstate road sign flashing deep
within the foggy rainy misty air…
DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE

For you see, Georgia just passed a law forbidding the use of a cell phone
while driving.
A few too many lost lives too late yet long overdue.

This means no calling, dialing, talking or texting.
Bluetooth through the car is ok.
GPS is also ok…so there are still a few of those grey areas but this is finally
a step in the right direction.

But when I saw that flashing interstate sign working its magic in the pouring down rain,
I thought to myself…”cellphone???”
As in… where IS my cellphone?

I quickly ask my husband to reach to the back seat to check my purse.
“Nope” he annoyingly replies.
For you see he figured I’d probably have done a U-turn right then and there on this
precarious section of 285 sending tractor-trailer trucks scurrying for cover.

But I didn’t.

I calmly kept driving.

I didn’t even frantically make my way to the nearest exit in order to backtrack to our
son’s house because I now remembered that the phone was sitting on the coffee table.
Right where my son had put it down after finishing talking to his wife…
all while we were putting the wee one in her car seat.

So I’m now missing an appendage.

A friend later called on our fossilized landline when word got out I didn’t have
my phone.
“Oh my gosh…what are you going to do??!!” was her incredulous query.

“I’ll get it on Saturday when I take the wee one home” I nonchalantly replied.

So on this day without my extra appendage…I do feel small moments of panic forcing
themselves up to the surface as I involuntarily reach for something that is not there.
I wonder who has text me.
Who has tried calling me?
I can’t track my Fitbit steps.
I can’t readily look up some unnecessary thing as if my life depended on it.

And to be quite honest…it’s all rather liberating.

Maybe if we felt the same way about our relationship with our loving Father and
blessed Savior as much as we feel about our phones…
maybe our lives would right themselves back upright…upright as they should be.
I think it’s a matter of priorities and living in the moment really and not living
in some another moment of some other dimension of both space and time—that being
the dimension of the life on those phones of ours.

What a small piece of joy…as well as freedom…

What else are we allowing to vie for our attentions?
What else is distracting us from our true nature of created of the Creator?

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:2

pet rocks

Rocks and waters, etc., are words of God, and so are men.
We all flow from one fountain Soul.
All are expressions of one Love.

John Muir

I suppose we all think the eras in which we grew up were the craziest of times…
but I really think the mid 60’s through the late 70’s most likely will take the
cake in the annals of time…
that or those of the roaring 20’s

Thankfully I was too young to be a hippie…
So the craziness which was known as the time of love-ins, Woodstock, the summer of love,
bra burning, sit-ins, Woman-power, Black Power, and those days of the psychedelic high were,
thankfully, not pieces to my raising.

Yet I remember it all most vividly as I was an impressionable preteen during those
early days.

And those early days were truly heady days…
they were wild, weird and full of fads…
Bellbottoms, birth control, peace signs, smiley faces…and…pet rocks.

I can remember wanting a pet rock.

By the time Pet Rocks became popular,
I was driving, babysitting and making my own spending money.
So blowing hard earned money on a rock touted as a pet…well I suppose it wouldn’t be
my last endeavor into wasted folly…

As I write this, I vaguely recall the Tamagotchi craze of my son’s childhood—
at least a digital pet was a bit more interactive, or should we say demanding,
than a rock…but I digress.

Imagine a rock being marketed as a pet.
Let that sink in…
A rock.. a hard inanimate wad of some sort of mineral or other sundry substance…
being marketed as something to be cared for, held and loved…

And imagine it coming with its own vented carrying case and little straw bed.

The only positive, you didn’t have to feed, water, or clean out it’s “cage.”

Genius or madness??
Perhaps we should consider the millionaire…

Pet Rock is a collectible conceived in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl.
Pet Rocks are smooth stones from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach.
They were marketed as live pets, in custom cardboard boxes,
complete with straw and breathing holes.
The fad lasted about six months,
ending after a short increase in sales during the Christmas season of December 1975.
Although by February 1976 they were discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold 1.5 million
Pet Rocks for $4 each, and became a millionaire.

Wikipedia

Anywhooo…since I’ve mentioned several times, in oh so many days, the notion of the
singing rocks of which Mark reminded us of the other day…
I suppose its only natural that the memory of pet rocks pops into mind…

For I am still left marveling at the thought of rocks singing…
singing because God would command such.

The thought which leaves me both marveling and utterly humbled by the thought of God,
the magnificent Creator of all that was, is and will be, never allowing His praise
to be silenced.

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:39-40

I read those words and I am made small…
and it is because I am small as compared to all of Creation
that yet I know not a single hair on my head falls without God’s knowledge.
And trust me, with a bad thyroid, hair falls…
Yet not a single hair falls without Him seeing and knowing…for He has counted each hair,
He knows each hair…

I read those words and I am silenced because I am small…
Because I am the created and He is the Creator…

Yet others will read those words and won’t even blink an eye…they won’t flinch and some
will even find such words folly and fantasy…

What is it that makes me stop and actually shutter over such words while others
are left empty or even chuckling??

When you heard the message of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him,
you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession,
to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14