En Masse

Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself.
Carl Jung

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(an October Georgia evening as a flock of starlings seek a place to roost for the night / Julie Cook / 2014)

Their numbers are limitless.
Their sound is deafening.
Their precision is inspiring.
They are just a bunch of birds,
and yet. . .they represent so much more. . .

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Upon first glance, it appears as if there is a giant moving, living, breathing black cloud undulating overhead.
It glides across the sky to and fro, with no particular rhyme nor reason.
It is not following the current of the wind as it sets its own course.
It defies any law of gravity as it goes where it chooses, when it chooses.
The cloud descends, en masse, onto power lines or within the tops of trees with a deafening din of chatter.
It is as masterful as it is precise.
It is greater and more artfully versed than any human could ever hope to choreograph.

To watch a flock of birds in flight, especially a large mass of birds such as starlings and / or blackbirds, is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of birds in one maddening swarm move in and out, up and down, shifting and weaving with such precision, it’s simply difficult to comprehend.

These birds, although individuals, combine to make what appears to be a single living and breathing mass or entity which for all apparent purposes appears to have a mind of its own.
They, these individual birds, must interact with such agility and precision as not to fly into one another as well as avoid colliding with trees and / or power poles. Their ability to work effortlessly in tandem is nothing short of humbling.

As I stand staring, as if in a hypnotic trance, gazing skyward–listening and watching the ethereal ariel spectacle, my mind fumbles for words. I think of the verse in Matthew, Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

That the omnipotent one true God of all of Creation knows the birds.
That He knows each bird. . .
Each bird in this massive, confusing swarm of precise madness, and yet. . .
I am told that He also knows me.
He knows me even more so then He knows these birds.
Knows, as in an intimate relationship. . .
as in everything known and hidden, good and bad. . .as He is said to have formed me (knit me together) in my mother’s womb. . .
the same mother I never knew, yet it is He who knew me. . .even before I was formed, He knew me. . .
I am also told He cares for me more so than these birds.
These birds who are able to dance across the sky with grace and magic, soaring and diving in grand unison.
And yet, He is aware of me.
More than aware. . .He has a deep abiding knowledge which goes beyond acquaintance.
He knows, He sees, He loves.

And as I continue staring at a black cloud dancing across the horizon, a tremendous sense of well being engulfs a weary soul. . .

and the Angels rejoiced

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
― George MacDonald

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(the closeup of a gorgeous heirloom pumpkin, pieces of God’s marvelous creative talents / Julie Cook / 2014)

And on the first day, when God went about the task of creating Creation,
The Angels rejoiced.
God waved His hand, suddenly appearing out of the nothingness, there shone a great Light.
The Angels rejoiced.
He raised His head both up and down establishing a vast sky above and an open landscape below.
The Angels rejoiced.
He shed a single tear and immediately vast oceans, seas and waterways filled the landscape.
The Angels rejoiced.
He blew the dust from His hand, which in turn set the stars and the planets in motion, sending them dancing across the heavens.
The Angels rejoiced.
He formed both sun for day and moon for night.
The Angels rejoiced.
He placed his hands on the landscape and pulled his fingers across the surface, all manner of plant and tree sprouted forth from His very touch.
The Angels rejoiced.
He opened up his hand and from his palm poured animals, reptiles, insects and birds of every size, shape and color.
The Angels rejoiced.
He took handfuls of the mud which covered the landscape. The mud was full of the water, bits of the land–it was full of the plants, leaves, pollen, seeds and straw, as well as the dung and droppings of all the animals, reptiles, birds and insects.
He began pushing and pulling the mud, mixed with all the bits and pieces of His new Creation, through His strong yet tender hands.
He smiled contently as He felt the warm, soft, wet mud move and squish through His fingers.
He worked steadily but thoughtfully.
He shaped the muddy mix and moulded it until it was just right.
And there in the palm of His massive hand rested אֲדָמָה, adamah, Adam.
and for now, the Angels Rejoiced.
But God was not finished.
There, in the center of the first Light, the true Light of Light, from the very God of the very God, lay a tiny piece of God’s heart. It beat in unison with God’s heartbeat yet is stayed perfectly suspended in the center of the true Light.
For God knew that Adam was a product of both light and dark.
There would be a time that Adam and his people would prefer life in the darkness.
God knew that in order to bring Adam and his people back to the true Light, He would have to provide Adam and his people with the small beating piece of God’s own heart.
And God proclaimed “I will be his father, and he will be my son (2 Samuel 7:14)
And the Angels Rejoiced.

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(closeup images of gorgeous heirloom pumpkins, pieces of God’s marvelous creative talents / Julie Cook / 2014)

Where is your Peace?

Above all things let us never forget that mankind constitutes one great brotherhood; all born to encounter suffering and sorrow, and therefore bound to sympathize with each other.
Albert Pike

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.
Mother Teresa

“Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”
― Meister Eckhart

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A female mallard glides gently in the pond in the Boston Public Gardens / Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014

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My heart is agitated and restless within me.
I am troubled by our times.
Global headlines are dire and grim.
Our own country is troubled by an exodus which is flooding into our land as we fret and worry how to best tend to these masses.
The weight of heartfelt burdens grow by the minute.

Yet you tell me simply not to worry.
“Forget about it”
“Don’t dwell on the negative”
“Think happy thoughts”
“None of this effects you, why worry”
“You can’t do a thing to change it, so don’t think about it”
“You don’t have a dog in this fight, therefore it’s of no concern”
“Be the ostrich and just put your head in the sand”

But I will not will myself to forget about troubles in our world.
I will not pretend everything is fine just because I am not being directly impacted.
It is true that there is very little I can do, if anything at all, to alleviate any of these maladies.
I am helpless, just as you are, watching dramas play out daily in the headlines.

But I ask you, how do I:
Tell the Dutch people not to worry?
Tell the Malaysian Airliner Company not to worry–agian?
Tell the Malaysian people not to worry–again?
Tell the Ukrainians not to worry?
Tell the Russian people not to worry?
Tell the EU not to worry?
Tell the small bordering countries of Russia not to worry?
Tell the Israelis not to worry?
Tell Jews worldwide not to worry?
Tell the Palestinians not to worry?
Tell the children of Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, El Salvador not to worry?
Tell the Americans in the border towns not to worry?
How do I tell all the parents who have lost and are losing children throughout the past week to simply dry those tears and carry on?

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Where does your peace hide?
Where is your wellbeing located these woeful days?
Not your distractions.
Not your diversions.
Not your poisons to deaden any and all feeling.
But rather your Peace?
Your wellbeing?
Your clam?
Your anchor?
Your harbor?
Your refuge?

In such times, it is to Nature, which offers a soothing clam, that I turn.
In Nature is where I may observe life, as it goes steadily and happily along, despite global worrisome events.
To spend sacred time silently with the Creator of the Universe.
Finding in Him and in His handiwork the offerings of silence, of hope and of beauty which joyfully continues spilling froth from all His creation.
Here is where I find it possible to offer prayers for hope because here is where hope still exists.

May you find that place which continues to hold you in comfort and care—that place which offers you Peace. . . and may you then, in turn, offer prayers for the desperate healing of which our world is in such need. . .

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(St Francis in a small garden adjacent to the Old North Church / Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand
in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
you, Lord, detest.
But I, by your great love,
can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
toward your holy temple

Psalm 5: 1-7

The beauty of the harvest

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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(offerings from the yard–Yellow tomato, yellow bell pepper, thyme, basil / Julie Cook / 2014)

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9

Oh how we marvel at the wonders that seem to literally sprout from out fingertips. We toil and labor—tilling, sowing, watering, watching, imagining. . .then triumphantly sit back in self righteous wonderment at the results and fruits of “our” doings. . .

When in actuality, with little to none of our input, buried in the cloak of darkened soil and hidden away from all to see, lies the true and marvelous mystery of Creation. As much as we boast about the results of our toil and labor, there is not much that we, from our hands and talents, will have done which can actually permit us to take full credit—-for we are merely the co-workers in this mystery of life and growth.

It is the Master of Creation, who with one single sweeping motion of His hand, has sent the seed in motion—germinating, sprouting, growing and unfurling into a fanfare of sustenance. Oh yes we may till and work the ground, we may gently lay the seed, we may weed, water and watch, but it is the Master who works in hidden silence.
Constantly, consistently and mysteriously providing for both you and I.