selfishness and self-preservation vs selflessness and the love of the game

“It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second.
This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up.
Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it’.”

Audrey Hepburn


(UGA kicker Rodrigo Blankenship)

Anyone who knows me, knows I love college football!

I’d say it was simply because of an innate love that was passed down to me from the sports-loving
genes of my dad…
but since I’m adopted…it must simply be from the gene pool of another.

But that’s the thing, my dad loved college football.

He lived and breathed for New Year’s day…that holy day of all things football.
I’ve written about this love affair of his before.

Back in the dark ages, back to the time of my youth…those early heady days of the 1960’s…
it was a time before things like a picture within a picture, split screens, Hulu, red zones…
or even color TV for that matter…were a thing.

My dad would haul every TV in our house into the den so he could
have all three major networks playing simultaneously…just so he wouldn’t
miss the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl or the Sugar Bowl…
or any other bowl game that was airing.

I obviously inherited that love by osmosis I suppose.

And as I’ve settled in to enjoy this year’s bowl season, I must confess, I have a few issues.

Issues such as the way the powers that be have set up this playoff mishmash.

The top 1, 2, 3 and 4 teams that are all vying for the top prize are sitting pretty
while other very deserving teams are left out of the coveted top 4 positions.
Cinderellas with no invitation to the ball.

And on top of that wouldn’t you know it…those powers that be also wrote in a little clause for this
playoff business that it can’t be revisited for discussion for at least 12 years.

Really?
Geeeees….

I just don’t find it fair for those undefeated teams who are passed over–think Central Florida…
teams unable to have any sort of chance to participate in a playoff with the argument being that they don’t
play the same caliber of teams as say those top seeds.

But I’m thinking that if you are a Division 1 team…
then should not all Division 1 teams have an equal opportunity for the coveted trophy of
National Champion?

You’re not Division 1 for nothing right?
Be they a Notre Dame, a Central Florida, a Boise State or an Alabama.

But such decisions were not left to me to decide.
And no one ever said life was fair.

There is, however, another more troubling issue that leaves me particularly unsettled this bowl season.
Something that boils down to a fine line between selfish self-preservation and that of selflessness
along with the simple love of the game.

The trouble is with the current mindset of those players who are currently draft-eligible and who
have decided to opt out of their perspective team’s bowl games.
Opting out and deciding not to play— preferring rather to sit out the game lest they get hurt and mess
up their chances for a nice high draft position.

This little predicament is leaving their coaches and teammates scrambling to fill in the
gaps before a major televised ball game.

Do bowl games even matter?

Well they matter to rankings and they matter to monies earned by schools for ticket sales
and they matter for future recruiting.
Plus they matter for the bragging rights of being a top alfa dog for a year.

Many of these kids who are going to school are on scholarships…
having earned a coveted “paid for” position on the team.
They, in turn, for the most part, have free food, free books and free tuition for their
wanting to play football.

But of course, it is their option and choice to go to a school to play.
And they usually opt to go to the school who offers them the most buck for their bang.
Hard work and talent leads them to this choice.

(now there are other sports and other scholarships, but I am focusing on football only)

The NFL, however, dangles bigger carrots in front of the faces of these kids
than whatever a college could dare offer.

Thus a kid can and at times is encouraged to “quit” school, in order to enter the draft.
“Oh you can always go back and earn a degree later, but you can only play at the top of your
game for a limited time” rings the argument.

According to the NFL official rules,
“To be eligible for the draft, players must have been out of high school for at least three years
and must have used up their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season.
Underclassmen and players who have graduated before using all their college eligibility may request the
league’s approval to enter the draft early.

Players are draft-eligible only in the year after the end of their college eligibility.

We are actually seeing sophomores who are eligible for the draft, forgoing the thought of finishing
playing four or five years for their school while earning a degree…all just to play for the NFL.

While the thoughts of “fame and fortune” dancing enticingly around the heads of these young men.

There are those who try to justify this phenomenon.
They argue the notion of hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars,
being the greatest incentive as to why so many of these “impoverished” or struggling kids want
to move on.

Money talks.

Yet the respected retired coach of the Colts and now a football commentator, Tony Dungy, in his book
Quiet Strength notes the high percentage of NFL players who eventually end up divorced, broke or both.
Noting that all that glitters is not necessarily gold nor does it last.

Yet many argue that a large number of these kids come from broken homes or impoverished homes,
and are living on the edge of either succumbing to and falling through the cracks to things like
gangs and trouble if they aren’t given such wonderful financial incentives.
While very few seem to be singing the praises of rising above the negative by earning a degree and
finding success outside of sports.

Like Coach Dungy, I don’t buy the empty arguments of the hurry up and join the glamour of the
NFL mentality and I don’t fall for the money carrot argument.

Oh I get it and I see it but I don’t find it a viable argument…
that being that this is their only ticket out of a life considered less than.

I personally think a college degree will help a great deal more with forging a life that is content
and fulfilled verses that of a draft pick.

However, the draft pick promises the big bucks fast while the degree and the eventual job
will be a slower building to that long sense of security.

I think it is a poor precedence allowing players to opt out of playing for their school’s respective
bowl game just so they don’t get hurt and mess up jockeying for a draft position.

We are doing kids such a huge disservice when we cut them slack from the responsibility they
have to their school, to their team and to their teammates when we “allow” them the “right” of opting out
of a commitment because the money carrot has dangled early and most brightly.

Case in point Michigan had about 4 or 5 kids sitting out their bowl game against Florida.
The Gators won and I’m not complaining as I like to see fellow SEC schools win but
I feel that those boys who opted to sit out their final game of the year,
a game that was an honor as their team had won the right to play in a bowl game,
yet, in turn, they let down their fans, their coaches and their teammates…
for selfish and self-preserving reasons.

One player, however, a young man who is also draft eligible, and who needs surgery following the
season before participating in the draft, stated that he was indeed disappointed by his teammate’s
decision to sit out and that he would have to be dead not to play the final game for
his school and team.

Now that is a young man who has a love of the game and a sense of responsibility to and
for his team, his coaches and his school.
He has a team mentality.

And maybe that’s what’s missing.

We are no longer teaching responsibility or duty or honor, or even sportsmanship or what it
means to be a part of a team, a part of something bigger than ourselves…

We see this at the college level, at the high school level and now, sadly, at the
little league level.
It’s called the trickle down effect.

We have allowed our sports to become bigger than the various games themselves.
And in turn, we have lost those team building qualities that instill in both
young men and women the meaning of selflessness and that there are things greater in life
then that of the individual.
As in it takes a team to win a game, not merely one player.

Just another reason as to why I hate those end zone theatrics.
There is no room for showboats on a team full of individuals who work together to make those
successful moments for the team as a whole.

Rodrigo Blankenship is a kicker for the University of Georgia who was a walk-on and redshirt
freshman.
After his first year with stats that would make veteran kickers envious, 26 for 26 kicks,
he was informed that he would not be receiving a scholarship.
He might be offered one the following year but that was by no means a guarantee.

Most kids and their families would consider transferring over such news.
Transferring to a school that would give a scholarship as the family could certainly use the
assistance.

To have worked as hard as he had worked helping aid the team week after week in consecutive
wins throughout the season,
yet to be denied monetary assistant when those all around him had long been given their
scholarships, was news hard to swallow.
Yet Blankenship loved his team and his school.
He wanted to stay, despite the snub by the School’s Athletic Association.

“In 2017, when Blankenship was a redshirt sophomore, he hit a 30-yard field goal with 3:34
remaining to give Georgia a 20-19 lead against Notre Dame.
The Bulldogs won the game by that score, and the post-game locker room scene included Blankenship
proudly announcing to his team, upon a prompt from Smart,
“I’m on scholarship,” followed by a roar of celebration.

(Red and Black)

There are thankfully all sorts of stories like Rodrigo’s…
stories of selfless players who persevere without the rewards of glamour or money
but the sad fact remains that there are currently a good many players across this country
who are sitting out of bowl games because they are putting personal gain above that of their teams
and schools…and that speaks volumes as to what our culture and our Sporting Associations are teaching
our youth and to where we place our values.

We will be whatever we teach our young…be that good or be that bad.

I’ll go back to watching football now, but I’m afraid it will have one more grey cloud
hovering over its legacy.

Go Dawgs!

Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:4

indoctrination, starting young…beware!

“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking
educated people seriously.”

G.K. Chesterton


(the Pteranodon family from PBS Dinosaur Train)

I was the only one left behind that Christmas Eve day…
that being myself and The Mayor of course.

One of our numbers was still at work, one had to run to the bakery and the other to
run errands…
I learned a long time ago, you never ask too many questions on Christmas Eve.

As my daughter-n-law was dashing out the door, she volunteered to turn on the television
so I could be somewhat entertained… that is if caring for the Mayor is not entertaining,
let alone consuming, enough!

I normally don’t watch TV during the day…albeit with the exception being during
the Bowl season…
yet sadly there were no bowls to the season currently bowling due to the
Christmas observation….so I was more or less nonplused regarding a
TV on or off.

Plus The Mayor is not really one to “watch” much television herself, of which I pray
will be a habit which will carry on throughout her life…
However…I must confess that my dad was a TV junkie and, in turn, aided in turning
his number one partner in crime, aka my son and The Mayor’s dad, into a bit of a
TV aficionado.

So as everyone went their merry way this merry day, The Mayor and I found before us
what appeared to be a cute little cartoonesque show airing on PBS.

Television options for children, airing throughout the day, leans toward either a Disney
channel or a Nickelodeon channel…
and I must confess, my days of watching Disney and or Nickelodeon
went the way of the growing up of our son.

And for the record, I tend to like PBS—that would be if we could scratch out their money
raising marathons, of which I totally understand when it comes to maintaining a relatively
commercial free world, however, it usually cuts into my enjoying Andrea Bocelli
in mid tenor beauty.

So we settled ourselves into watching Dinosaur Train.

A mini parental seal of approval promo introduced the show informing viewers that this
particular couple’s son actually learned his ABCs by watching Dinosaur Train.

Hummmmm…

The show’s intro begins with a catchy little tune as the shot zooms in on a nest of 4 eggs…
three eggs suddenly hatch into what I thought were pterodactyls but I was mistaken,
they were pteranodons…so much for my dinosaur knowledge!

The 4th egg hatched into what looked like a little orange T-rex while
Mother Pterandon sang that despite this orange oddball mixed in with her obviously
biological winged group, they were all about being an inclusive family embracing
differences because different species don’t matter in a family because their
family is all about inclusiveness… (eyes now rolling)

Hummmmmmm I mused as I sensed a nod to culturalism…

I was simply waiting for the ABC lesson.

Since it was Christmas Eve, I wondered if there’d be some sort of Christmas theme.
We had just caught the tail end of a cartoon cat singing about Hanukkah, so surely
dinosaurs could be singing about Christmas.

However, there were no ABCs nor anything about Christmas.

As cute as the show was, complete with a real human paleontologist, popping in with
some neat little fun facts about dinosaurs, I quickly learned that Dinosaur Train
was a victim of…or maybe that should be more like an accomplice to,
our modern culture’s obsession with all things anti-Christian
with a heavy pro-progressive left leanings to quasi inclusiveness while turning
out all remnants of Christianity…
SIGH.

The theme of the day for the dinosaurs was celebrating not Christmas nor Hanukkah but rather
the Winter Solstice…
REALLY?

Here it was Christmas Eve for crying out loud and this was a children’s show…
and yet the programming gods in their infinite wisdom found the need to celebrate
all things, Pagan.

Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years.
This start of the solar year is a celebration of Light and the rebirth of the Sun.
In old Europe, it was known as Yule, from the Norse, Jul, meaning wheel.
Today, many people in Western-based cultures refer to this holiday as “Christmas.”
Yet a look into its origins of Christmas reveals its Pagan roots.
Emperor Aurelian established December 25 as the birthday of the “Invincible Sun”
in the third century as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations.
Shortly thereafter, in 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent the birthday
of Jesus, and by 336, this Roman solar feast day was Christianized.
January 6, celebrated as Epiphany in Christendom and linked with the visit of the Magi,
was originally an Egyptian date for the Winter Solstice.

Circle Sanctuary

Gotta love the Pagans who continue with their not so veiled attempt at connecting the
dots between early Christianity to that of the day’s pagan heritage…
It seems they think once a pagan, always a pagan…God forbid there could
be any true conversion to the belief in the Grace of Salvation.

And the best person we should look to who actually did a phenomenal job of incorporating
the current day’s beliefs while teaching the new Christian faith to the local
pagan population would be St Patrick…

In a previous post that I wrote regarding dear St Patrick, I noted that
Patrick spent 40 years of his life wandering the mystical Pretanic Island,
preaching and teaching to the Druids and the Celts.

The Celts were actually a fierce warrior nation comprised of the bloodlines of Vikings,
Danes, Druids, Picts, and members of the northern regions of ancient Albion
(northern Great Britain). And as an island people, these superstitious tribes
were deeply connected, attuned to, as well as dependent upon the land.

Ireland was a rich and fertile island due in part to being on the receiving end of
the warming and wet energies of the Atlantic gulf stream.
Patrick knew that the best way to get the attention of the Celts was to utilize
those things that were common and entrenched in everyday life.
A prolific example being the humble clover.
The clover was a perfect teaching tool as it so beautifully manifests the image of
the Holy Trinity.

To this day the shamrock is synonymous with Ireland’s Christian spirituality and heritage

In another post, we learned a bit more of Patrick’s teaching…

It is said that the pagan Celts considered the sun to be an integral part of their worship.
Circles have been found etched and carved on many excavated Celtic ruins.
I think it’s rather easy to understand the importance behind worshiping the sun for the Celts—
if you’ve ever spent much time in Ireland, you know how wet and grey it can be.
There are parts of Ireland which receive up to 225 days of wet rainy weather each year,
in turn, making any and all sunny days a rare and treasured commodity.

Patrick had to be innovative if he wanted to get the Celt’s attention and gain their trust
as the ultimate goal was total conversion and allegiance to the one true God.
So Patrick set about with a brilliant plan combining both a component most important
to the Celtic nation, that being the sun–a revered circle,
bridging the abyss to the most important image to Christians,
the Latin cross, with the addition of a circle ringing around the cross–a
combination representing both sun and Son as the circle is also a Christian
symbol representing God’s endlessness.

As a teacher, I can honestly say that there is no better way of teaching something new than
making connections with what one already knows and understands.

(both full posts found here:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/la-fheile-padraig-sona-dhuit/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/good-for-the-goose/)

So yes, there was a great deal of overlapping with what had long been entrenched
with the superstitious and very keen people who were linked to all things seasonal
while introducing the new religion of Christianity. The overlapping has melded into
the Christian faith we recognize today.

But the premise, for these past 2000 give or take years, remains consistently the same.
Jesus Christ is the resurrected son of God….as is stated in the Nicene Creed.

WE BELIEVE in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

Yet most theologians and Christian scholars agree on one thing…
that December 25th was most likely not the exact date of the birth of Jesus.

The extrabiblical evidence from the first and second century is equally spare:
There is no mention of birth celebrations in the writings of early Christian writers
such as Irenaeus (c. 130–200) or Tertullian (c. 160–225).
Origen of Alexandria (c. 165–264) goes so far as to mock Roman celebrations of
birth anniversaries, dismissing them as “pagan” practices—a strong indication that Jesus’
birth was not marked with similar festivities at that place and time.
As far as we can tell, Christmas was not celebrated at all at this point.

biblicalarcheology.com

I say all of this as I actually recalled a few past posts written by two more learned
individuals than myself…more learned in regards to the theology and history of our faith.
It’s those two favorite across the Pond clerics…Pastor David Robertson, aka the Wee Flea
and that rouge Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden.

They have both noted, with great alarm, the insidious indoctrination of our children
that seems to be creeping in earlier and earlier.

https://theweeflea.com/2018/12/13/now-theyre-coming-for-the-nurseries/

https://ashenden.org/2018/02/28/christianity-the-antidote-to-cultural-brainwashing/

Thus the one important lesson that I learned on this Christmas Eve as the Mayor and
I thought we were settling in to watch some cute little flying dinosaurs,
be they pterodactyls or pteranodons, teaching us our ABCs…
I learned that culturalism and anti Christian rhetoric is alive and well
in children’s programming…and it seems that a heavy dose of indoctrination
is coming faster and earlier than we may have ever imagined.

Thus as Believers it would behoove us all to be ever vigilant with our children…
no matter how young they are…remember… imprinting begins very early.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your strength. Take to heart these words that I give you today.
Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home or away,
when you lie down or get up. Write them down, and tie them around your wrist,
and wear them as headbands as a reminder.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen.
Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live!
And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.
Never forget the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Mount Sinai,
where he told me, Summon the people before me, and I will personally instruct them.
Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live,
and they will teach their children to fear me also.”

Deuteronomy 4:9-10

A void and the Junk Guys

“We become aware of the void as we fill it.”
Antonio Porchia

Mephistopheles: Within the bowels of these elements,
Where we are tortured and remain forever.
Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place, for where we are is hell,
And where hell is must we ever be.
And, to conclude, when all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall be purified,
All places shall be hell that is not heaven.”

Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus


(circa 1985 readers / Julie Cook / 2018)

What you see here is a pair of very dated readers…a pair of reading glasses that date
back to, oh say, about 1985 or thereabouts.

I found them yesterday in an equally dated Etienne Aigner cordovan leather purse.

Etienne Aigner was just one of “the” purses to own back in the late 70’s and 80’s.
It was a designer purse that didn’t totally blow the whole wad such as say a Louis Vuitton
or Gucci bag would have…

It was the type of bag middle American ladies could afford and still feel fashionable
without sinking a small fortune into a bag whose staying power would end by the following
fashion season.
Aigner bags were a bit timeless at this particular time.

It was the type of bag a woman like my mom would have had.

In fact, it was the bag my mom had.

I had something similar as well.
Mine, however, has long since vanished…Mom’s…not so much.

This past week, while I was up in Atlanta keeping a sickly Mayor, who by the way
has graciously shared her sickness with me–her chief aide, I arranged for
The Junk Guys to come to empty out, as much as they could in one day, the basement
to the house, the Mayor calls home.

A house and home that became my house and home in 1962.
I was almost 3 years old when my parents bought the 4-year-old 1958 stately
ranch house on a quiet cul-de-sac in the boomtime of America’s urban sprawl.

Up until then, we had lived in an apartment.
An old-school sort of apartment complex that still stands to this day in Buckhead…
a word that is now synonymous with all that equates to being uber chic and trendy
in Atlanta…a once upon a time simple place that was just merely a junction of a couple
of divergent roadways with a buck’s head mounted on a local watering hole.

It’s an apartment complex that is probably on the National Registry of Historic Places
as the complex has been around a very long time…

Whereas I can vaguely remember the apartment I can, however, remember almost every
nook and cranny of the house.
Recollections of the house that was…not so much of the house that is now.

In 1967, my grandfather died suddenly from an artery surgery gone wrong.
The company he started in the early 1930’s…a business he owned and operated
until his death, was then quickly sold by my dad, the company’s lone salesman.

On a hot humid June day in 1967, a huge Mayflower moving tractor-trailer truck
pulled up outside of our house as men quickly worked moving the contents of a nearly
40-year-old company to our basement.

When they were finished and the basement door was shut behind them,
time immediately stood still in that large section of our basement.
A visible physical reminder of death.

Large wooden desks, metal filing cabinets, metal chairs, leather rolling chairs,
wooden cabinets… all still chocked full of file folders, Rolodexes, business cards,
staplers, gem clips, tacks, hand stamps, mailers, postage stamps, pencils, writing pads,
office signs…all sat still and quiet, in the back half of a dimly lit basement,
collecting dust and cobwebs.

That was until this past Saturday.

Along with that collection of office equipment, a plethora of dinged up and dilapidated
antique chairs, one formal victorian sofa, a couple of vintage dining room tables,
a vast array of rusting tools, circa 1960 metal cabinets filled with
glassware and figurines in various conditions, stacks of vinyl albums dating to the 1940’s,
various beds, Dad’s childhood wormwood bedroom suit, boxes filled with musty books of all
sizes and subject matter, photos and pictures, early computer equipment with heavy monitors and
dial-up modems, cameras, jackets, boxes galore filled with a variety of junk and unsundries,
complete with two giant plywood model train sets had all come to call this basement home.

One family had slowly faded…two by death and one by choice as the lone owner remained…
eventually bringing in a new wife, a new life and new junk to this precarious keeper
of time.

Years, lives and the leftovers of family’s…families who had come and gone,
and all of their forgotten stuff…stuff stuffed down into a dark cavernous basement
left to sit…
But for what reason?

Sentimentality?
Hoarding?
Identity?
Moving?
Life?
Death?

Well, that was until Saturday.

With a new baby on the way…the much-needed purging of previous lives had finally arrived.

When one shuts a door to such a basement…what is in that basement is usually quickly forgotten.
The shutting of a door closes away that which is… as the ‘it’ suddenly becomes what was…
as in the proverbial ‘out of sight, out of mind’ sort of mentality.

Unused space being a prime example of a law found in physics…
a void will eventually be filled…or so it seems.

Before the Junk Guys arrived, I needed to look through a few things…actually a lot of things.
Yet time, this past week, was not my friend as I was needed to tend to a sick baby.
No time to rummage in a cobweb infested musty overflowing time capsule.

On one quick trip down the rickety steep stairway, down just long enough to find a somewhat
hidden away Lord & Taylor box, sitting out of sight in a long since sealed cabinet.
Lifting off that signature colorful box top, I found a box filled with letters.
Letters still in their original envelopes, all addressed to two parents,
who each now seems long gone, were written by their eldest child.
Letters that were written home from college…
written from me to them.

I quickly put the top back on the box.

Mother had saved those letters, yet I wasn’t ready to read over a bunch of trite angst-filled
letters that were written by a shallow self-absorbed younger and more foolish self.
Not yet.

In another cabinet, I pulled out a small box filled full of “do-dads”…
small trinkets that Mother had gathered over the years which had filled her ‘what-not’ shelf
that graced a wall in the kitchen.
Trinkets that were once considered tiny treasures.

As the cleaning committee arrived complete with heavy-duty gloves and boots,
I found the pocket-book.
That same cordovan Aigner bag that I immediately recalled seeing on her shoulder.

It was shoved back on a top shelf of one of those metal cabinets.
Dad had obviously brought it down here to the place where things came to stay,
not necessarily die, but to stay… caught in an odd passage of time and space.
A purgatory of such.
All being oddly caught in a sad surreal stoppage of time.

Everything remained inside, albeit for a wallet— untouched, just as it was on the day dad
rushed her to the hospital that 25th day of July 1986—

And yet she never came home to claim her purse.

I quickly brought the bag upstairs to the light of day, leaving behind the small army
of purgers in that overflowing basement.
I wanted to dump the contents out onto a table where I could actually look at what
a life stopped in time looked like.

Yellowed and faded bank statements, tuition notices for my brother, grocery lists and receipts,
a sterling silver tortoiseshell comb which was a wedding present from dad back in 1953 along
with a couple of pennies, two tubes of lipsticks and a small bottle of Tylenol
all came tumbling out…along with that pair of reading glasses.

Funny, I never remember Mother wearing glasses…only sunglasses.

Quickly I pushed aside the glasses, the comb, a couple of the bank statements and one
grocery receipt before throwing away everything else while carrying the bag back downstairs
to join the host of junk being hauled out to the two moving trucks that were eagerly
ready and waiting to carry away the remnants of the various previous lives that had all
called this house theirs, leaving open space for new lives taking shape.

It would behoove each of us to remember that our lives here on this earth are finite.
Lives that may be painfully short or generously long…
yet each life, regardless of allocated time, is limited…meaning that each of our lives
will be eventually ending…whether we like it or not.

We hold onto things in an odd twisted attempt to keep that which was.
All the stuff becomes the tangible to that which we have lost…
of which is simply fleeting and finite.

Dad’s basement is and was testament of that.
It was the filling of the void.
The proof of resting in purgatory.
Be it good…
Be it bad…
Be it sad…
Be it happy…
or…
Be it simply bittersweet…

All that we have and all that we are will pass away or perhaps worse, simply be discarded…


(a mere portion of the purging basement / Julie Cook / 2018)

Left to being eventually thrown away by The Junk Guys…

What, therefore, you ask, lasts… as we are a people who yearn to last…

Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?
C.S. Lewis

is my heart strong enough???

The goodness of God is the highest object of prayer, and it reaches down to our lowest need.
It quickens our soul and gives it life, and makes it grow in grace and virtue.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(The Mayor is all smiles…if only she knew what was coming her way…./Julie Cook / 2018)

Almost two years ago, before my husband sold out his business and before we had
The Mayor in our lives…
we had both already lost our parents, I was retired and our son and daughter-n-law
had moved away.
We knew we didn’t have much that was remaining keeping us here in our current community.
No family to speak of…so selling, downsizing or simply resizing seemed like a
viable thought.

We toyed with the idea of perhaps moving and in turn, started kind of looking around.

I like nature, the woods, the mountains, the ocean, water…
He likes nature, the woods, the mountains, not so much the ocean, but definitely water
as in lakes and streams.

Maybe someplace out west?
Someplace wide, unpopulated and quiet?

Maybe somewhere down in Florida’s panhandle…white sands or better for him, out on the bay?

Maybe up in the mountains of Tennessee or North Carolina?

It doesn’t hurt to look and dream right?

We actually came very close to pulling the trigger a year ago on a place in Florida
but walked away before going too far.

And it was shortly thereafter that we found out that The Mayor would be coming.

Sooooooo our vision changed. We couldn’t be far away.

The idea of The Mayor coming into our lives put a halt to ever being further away
then we are now.

The notion and thought of different, however, remained…particularly as my husband
sold out the business in June.

Maybe we should move closer to The Mayor?

Despite having grown up there, I hate Atlanta…
And my small town husband…well, I think living in the city would kill him or kill
me for having to live with him in said city!

Still, there just wasn’t anything keeping us here…albeit the house we built 20 years ago.

And it’s 5 acres are getting more and more overwhelming…
more than either of us can physically maintain…we have
more than enough bedrooms…let’s just keep looking…right?

So we thought we had found a place in North Georgia, up in the mountains and not much
further from The Mayor than we are now.

We got right close to closing on this latest pipedream of ours when we realized
the impending house was in worse shape than we actually were aware and that getting
it up to speed, to the necessary shape expected before the closing, just wasn’t happening…
and who wants to buy a house in bad shape for a price beyond its shape???

Not us.

So that was our wrinkle this past week, besides drawing the ire of realtors.
But such an investment needs to be worth what you’re paying for—not something you
want to be overpaying for…only to turn around to pay more down the road as an
unending fixer upper…think the classic movie The Money Pit.

We’re too old for that.

Add to all of that… we are both still dealing with the messes our respective father’s
each left us upon each of their deaths.

Besides having almost been house poor, we are currently a bit lawyer poor.

At some point, I will be free to write about these two messes we’ve inherited….or
perhaps I’ll simply write a book from our experiences…
Maybe I could title it…
“When it’s your time to go,
make certain those who remain aren’t left cleaning up after you!”

Sooooo…there we were Wednesday night, eyes glazed over, licking our wounds
when the phone rang.

It was The Mayor.

Well actually it was The Mayor’s father who was facetimeing Moppie and Poppie on
behalf of The Mayor.

Our son says…”Mother move away from the phone, just let daddy look”

Hummmmmm…what’s up with that I wondered???!!

Peeking over my husband’s shoulder, aka Poppie, I see The Mayor rolling about like
the wild rabbit she is…I notice she’s wearing some sort of new little shirt.

I can make out only one word, but it’s a keyword that has me instantly jerking the
phone out of my still clueless husband’s hand as I immediatley holler into the phone…..

OH MY GOD, ARE Y’ALL PREGNANT???????!!!!!!!”

The shirt reading “I may be small but I’m going to be a Big Sister”

WHAT THE HELLO DOLLY?????


(The Mayor is mad to be held still so Moppie can clearly read the shirt)

So yeah…not planned, but The Mayor is about to have an assistant…

The assistant, James Gregory, is due May 1…and yes it is a he…
and it’s a safe bet that Poppie is already planning a fishing trip…
So I just bet a lake may be in our future…who knows…

All I do know is that I only thought we were consumed by The Mayor…
now there will be two…under two…

Yes… God help us all!!!!!

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Julian of Norwich

out of pocket

A poet ought not to pick nature’s pocket.
Let him borrow, and so borrow as to repay by the very act of borrowing.
Examine nature accurately, but write from recollection,
and trust more to the imagination than the memory.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pocket.
But I found it would be too long;
and the age of the great epics is past.

Gilbert K. Chesterton


(ode to a good ol pair of jeans / Julie Cook / 2018)

I’m currently out of pocket…
aka…not at home with no time to spend sharing the Good word…
or any word for that matter…

Things are “a changing” in our little world…for the good, I think.

But…

I have always read and truly believe that the closer one grows toward and attempts
to boldly speak the Truth of God’s word, Satan works overtime.

“Satan battles against us because we are God’s witnesses to the world.

When the apostle Paul described lostness,
he often framed it in terms of spiritual warfare.
Non-believers follow the prince of the air (Eph. 2:2).
They are blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3–4),
bound in darkness (Col. 1:13, Acts 26:18), and caught in Satan’s snare (2 Tim. 2:25–26).
His goal is to keep us from proclaiming and living out the gospel that sets
people free.”

(International Mission Board)

So assaults are pouring on our heads…as we work toward some changes…
And so we are busy, tired and overwhelmed.

When Dad died, I inherited his messes.
Those messes are nipping at my heels.

When my husband’s father died, he also inherited his messes.
Those messes are continuing to bite our ankles.

Two steps forward and 5 steps back.

But more about all of this later on…when I’m back in the pocket.
Of which will be tomorrow afternoon.

I don’t know about how it is where you live, but fall and her glorious colors are
proving slow in coming…
They’re saying we had too wet a summer…hummm…

Yep, things are a changing….

He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.

Daniel 2:21

Daddy rabbit

“You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions,
nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(wild rabbit / Julie Cook / 2018)

When I first looked out and over from the deck, surveying the yard,
as I was preparing to grill our supper,
I saw my favorite warren of rabbits enjoying the waning day’s lowering heat.

These rabbits are most active early in the morning as well as late afternoon into evening.
The youngest of the clan, three of them, were chasing one another all over the yard…
much like any young group of children would do when let loose to play.

There was one rabbit, the larger of the group, sitting off by himself directly
in the rays of the setting sun.
My first thought was that perhaps he was sunning himself, enjoying the peace.
As I zoomed my camera in on him, I noticed that this particular rabbit,
who I call ‘daddy rabbit’, was actually acting as more lookout than sunbather.

Living as wild rabbits do, being out in the open is often an invitation for trouble…
be it from a hawk, a dog, a cat…or where we live–snake, fox or coyote.
Yet these rabbits pay us humans who live here no never mind…
in that, they will not run if we are out in the yard pittling about.
They’ve figured out that we mean them no harm.

So daddy rabbit was actually keeping a wary eye open as the children played.

Canadian geese are much the same.
The daddy goose will stand sentinel as the mom and goslings wander about feeding.
Even boldy daring cars that may be attempting to drive on a road where the geese are
either trying the cross or simply feeding by the side of the road.

These “daddy” animals know no fear when it comes to their young clan and will
fight to the death to protect and defend…
much like our own dads.

Seems the idea of being a loving protectorate crosses over into the animal kingdom.
And I say loving not because animals “love” per se, but because I equate loving
with the idea of both protecting and caring for…

There’s been a lot in the news as of late regarding children…think the illegal
border mess.
The heart-wrenching separation of parent and child.

There’s also been a lot of what I call male bashing…think the #metoo mess
with most males now being warily eyed…
while being placed in crosshairs of empowered feminists.

Sadly I actually read a lot of negative stuff regarding our recognizing of
fathers on Father’s day. With some out there referring to Father’s day as
“Happy Toxic Masculinity Day”
A ridiculous and disheartening idiocy now raging throughout our uber caustic progressive
society.
Something I have found to be completely asinine.

Granted not every father out there has been ideal…
with some being MIA or less than sub-par…
but I firmly believe that a dad’s role, in the life of a child, is crucial for the
positive development of that child.

I don’t care what folks out there will now say…what latest argument will be raised to the contrary…
but having an active mom and dad sharing the responsibility of child-rearing is vital to
the raising of productive and well-functioning children…end of sentence.

I would dare say that the majority of child psychologists would agree that in the end,
a two-parent effort is far superior then one parent or a same-sex union attempt at parenting…

And so with all this talk about daddy rabbits and geese, dad’s and fathers…
my thought seems to naturally turn to that of our Heavenly Father.

God, the Father, is often referred to as Abba, particularly by Jesus in the New Testament.
Abba, which is an Aramaic word that translates directly to our word “daddy.”

Have you ever considered calling God “daddy”?

Oh, you’ve probably used the word Abba to refer to God without even realizing as that
is just part of your religious terminology all along never realizing that you have,
in turn, been calling Him, daddy.

Daddy is an endearing word that most young children call their fathers.
For many children, it is the first true words uttered…dada.
Not mama crazily enough but dada.

I don’t know if those letters are easier to parrot out, but dad’s are usually the lucky ones.

There is also a sense of intimacy in terms of a relationship associated with the word daddy.

Often as we age, we shorten the word daddy to that of dad…
as most of us feel that we have actually outgrown that sweet name from childhood.

Christians have a basic concept of God in their heads.
It is one of wonder, awe, omnipotence, revering, magnificent, all-powerful, supreme…
a lot of really big and powerful words to describe and acknowledge the God of all that
was, that is and will be…

The God that is big and oddly out of our true reach.

We allow for this notion to create a standoffish respect.
As in God is over there or up there, while we remain small and over here or perhaps down here…

It’s a hands-off sort of mentality.
Look but don’t touch.

But when I read the following words by Cardinal John Newman, I was reminded of
the ‘one on one’ we each actually have with this “daddy” of ours…

A Daddy who watches, ordains, gives, determines, imparts, provides
and washes us in an amazing perfect Love…

Just what a real daddy is supposed to do…

“O my God, you and you alone are all wise and all knowing!
You know, you have determined everything that will happen to us from first to last.
You have ordered things in the wisest way,
and you know what will be my lot year by year until I die.
You know how long I have to live.
You know how I shall die.
You have precisely ordained everything, sin excepted.
Every event of my life is the best for me that it could be,
for it comes from you. You bring me on year by year, by your wonderful Providence,
from youth to age, with the most perfect wisdom, and with the most perfect love.”
Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, p. 103

An Excerpt From
Everyday Meditations

when do we know love becomes stronger than hurt?

“Dad’s genuine contrition took the fun out of holding offenses against him.
In choosing weakness, his love became stronger than my hurt.”

Joshua Rogers


(daddy’s idea of fun / Julie Cook / 2018)

When does one first know that they are a daddy’s girl?
Is it in the womb?
Is it in the delivery room?
Is it upon the very first face to face meeting?

Is it when he looks down and sees not only himself or his wife, but his own dad
in that tiny new face staring back up at him?

Is it during that first visit to the doctors when tears are first really shed?
That he reaches to hold you, comfort you, to protect you?

Is it during those early on sleepless nights?

Is it when daddy is left to babysit and dresses you in your first crazy outfit
unbeknownst to mom…are those Mardis Gras beads?

Or is it when daddy watches his own father who once cared for him when he was your age,
who is now taking on a new role in both of your lives?

Or is it when daddy shares the Mickey Mouse show with you,
just as his grandfather had done with him at that very same age?

No matter when it is…when that first moment registers that this is the man who is charged
with your care and protection…
the man who has been given the most important role of watching after you,
caring for you, providing for you, training you, teaching you, instructing you,
having fun with you, having to correct you…
exemplifying all this it means to be a father…
just as God is Father to us, in turn, entrusting our earthly fathers to be that
same living embodiment of God Himself…

We all know that living up to such a trememdous role and responsibility is a monumental task.
It is not for the faint at heart.
For there will be joy, but there will also be gut-wrenching heartache.
Because to love is just that…
an uncontainable joy matched with unrelenting pain…

There will be those who will fall and those who will, at times, fail.

It is with all of this in mind, my son’s first Father’s day, my husband’s first Father’s day
as a grandfather, that I came across a most sobering reminder of the power of both love
and forgiveness within the complicated role of parent and child.

How both love and forgiveness far outweigh anger and resentment.

Click on the following link to read one man’s story of his own relationship with a man
who had spent a lifetime letting him down, but in the end, taught him about the
most important lesson a father can offer…
that in forgiveness, there is power.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/06/16/my-dads-stunning-response-when-told-him-off.html

Happy Father’s day to the two most important men in my life….
from the one little girl whose hearts of yours, she has captured now forever.