slow and determined

“To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to
go right in someone else’s.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

(box turtle / Julie Cook / 2016)

(brown rabbit / Watercolor Resort, Santa Rosa, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

One thing I’ve never been accused of being is slow.

even hell bent…


but slow….


I’ve never been one to be still for very long.
If I’ve got to be somewhere, I prefer early.
If I’m driving someplace, I drive as if life depends on it…
none of this Sunday driver, leisure business for me.

And it’s not as if I made some conscious decision early on
to take the fast lane in life…
Rather it’s just that I’ve always been like that….like this…
Always seemingly in some sort of quickness or hurry.
Straight from point A to B…no distractions with C, D or E in between…

I have made a point of mostly making the most of my time.
Filling it with as much productiveness as I can….
Maybe that comes from being a teacher as teachers are conditioned
to do so much with so little…
squeezing everything possible into a short space of time…

So you should know that with this disc and nerve business…
slow and determined has oddly become the name of the game and my new normal…
It’s as if my world has suddenly been cast into a slow motion stop frame
of agonizingly slow movement and speed.

As I now have to think long and hard about each and every movement—
nothing herky jerky fast or quick,
lest some shooting, searing new pain emerges out of no where.

And speaking of—this nerve business…

Are you familiar with a cilice?
Something like a hairshirt but worse.

Did you ever see the Dan Brown movie…Angels and Demons?
You may remember the poor monk Silas who wore a metal spiked ban
around his thigh under his habit.
He would tighten the ban as a form of self mortification…
unto bleeding….

I’m all for piousness.
I am gratified and humbled by those Desert Fathers and Mothers
and various saintly ones who have sacrificed both comfort and self
for the union of soul to the Spirit….
but this nerve pain gives new meaning to mortification…

It’s kind of like shingles, without the shingle.
Angry nerves running from the left of the lower back to the top thigh to the groin.

Is it bad if I confess that I have cut the elastic out of my underwear?

And may I add that hasn’t helped?

And that the whole thought of just going naked is making perfect sense…

I had shingles once—long ago—and caught it relatively early enough…
Such that it was short lived.

This disc business however has not been short lived.
And being a modest individual, naked would not be my first choice,
but I am a firm believer in drastic measures for drastic times…

I received notice today in the mail that the insurance company has approved the doctor’s
request to perform a nerve block next week.

How kind of them—

Because I fear if they had not been in agreement,
I might just have found myself in their office holding a cattle prod
asking for the individual who decided I did not need the nerve block.
As perhaps being prodded with electrical pulses from a naked person
might just persuade them otherwise…

I have learned a lot from lying on the floor.
I call it the perspective of a cat.
Not so much that I now know all too clearly that the ceiling fans
need a ladder and dusting…
or that dust bunnies can show up just about anywhere out of nowhere….

but rather that things can look overwhelming when looking up…

Yet the cats are undeterred by their short stature…
It bothers them not that the majority of their world towers over their heads.
They confidently saunter about here and there,
even onto my stomach while I’m flat on my back…
which is not a positive when 17 pounds walks on your stomach
and you’re already in grave pain…

I have even found myself telling my husband that I fear I am no longer earning my keep…
seeing that I’m spending more time on the floor then off the floor.

Now before you feminists out there have a hissy fit,
you need to understand that my take
on marriage is that of a constant continuum of contribution.

Each spouse contributes to the relationship.
My part / his part sort of deal.

When one party feels as if he or she is contributing more and more
as the other gives less and less—-resentment builds.

Ours has always been pretty much unspoken as we each have worked hard at contributing.
Be it going to work to make money to pay the bills…
to actually paying those said bills.
From cooking to cleaning to laundry, to ferrying growing child, to ferrying sick pets,
to cutting the grass—

As there must be balance and an evenness to what is done in a marriage.

Yet there is that whole “in sickness and in health” business….
and sadly ours is a society not too keen on that “in sickness” part.
We can “do” colds but when it comes to catastrophes,
sadly we tend to want to run and hide.

My husband reassured me as he looked down at me on the heating pad on the floor,
that I was very much keepable….

Or I think he was looking at me and not the dust bunny I had found….

So whereas I am not so quick these days, I am gaining in wisdom and appreciation.

I appreciate that I am on the floor by choice and
not because I’ve had one too many drinks to deaden the pain…

I appreciate that I don’t think the ceilings needs repainting…
as that is what I stare at now most of the time…

I appreciate the fact that the cats are well fed and perhaps actually
over weight…
yet love their mommy enough to wonder why she’s on the floor…
obviously there for their enjoyment—
cats are self-centered that way…

I am wise enough now to know that slow and steady are ok and as is often such…
goes to the winner of any race.

I am wise enough to know that things could be worse…
as I think…Dad…

I am wise enough to know that I can cry, and have, but trying to find
something, anything funny, is better…

And I appreciate that I can drive to Dad’s today to met the Hospice Nurse..
thankful and appreciative for people who want to come into people’s lives when life is
looking pretty darn bad…

I think we call that running to the sound of battle rather than from it….

Here’s to not seeing me naked holding a cattle prod as I saunter down the street….

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?
So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.
They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly;
I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control,
lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

With Each Simple Action…

(interior of San Chappell/ Paris, France/ Julie Cook 2007)

“I assure you, my children, that when a Christian carries out with love the most insignificant everyday action, that action overflows with the transcendence of God. That is why I have told you so often, and hammered away at it, that the Christian vocation consists in making heroic verse out of the prose of each day. Heaven and earth seem to merge, my children, on the horizon. But where they really meet is in your hearts, when you sanctify your everyday lives…”

Blessed Josemaria Escriva

Many of us, especially those of us who are not Catholic, were first introduced to Father Josemaria Escriva by Dan Brown, in his book The Da Vinci Code and most likely did not even realize it—I for one did not. Fr. Escriva was the founder of the Opus Dei, an “institution” within the Catholic Church which teaches that all ordinary people living ordinary lives are called to holiness and by simply living our lives and striving to serve God and finding His love in the simplicity of our daily activity–that is a path to sanctity.

None of that cloak and dagger business for me. No secret societies or rituals…my true introduction to Fr. Escriva was when I happened to watch a small production movie, There Be Dragons—a movie based on the Spanish Civil war, the true life of Josemaria Escriva and that of one of his childhood friends– how their individual choices of life led to the dramatic climax in the movie.

The movie has its basis in fact, though there are always liberties taken in the name of theatrics. What the movie did however, was to pique my interest in an individual who had been previously painted as perhaps a little dubious by my first introduction to Opus Dei by Dan Brown.

Choices made, especially during the heat of conflict and war, most often showcase the true character of an individual. That an individual will continue doing the “right” thing by people, demonstrating God’s love and compassion through their own actions, and by not backing away from the convictions of faith, regardless of personal harm and or safety, is a true demonstration of Divine Love–which is something all Christians are called to reflect in their own lives lived— it is that- a conviction of faith and doing the right things in the face of danger-that is what I took away regarding Fr Escriva’s life.

Mother Teresa echos the same sentiments of the life of an individual, how even though we may be just one person, one small individual, that it is possible for even the one small person to indeed bring about change and goodness. I have used this quote of hers before, a quote that speaks to the power of one: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

It is important for each of us to understand and to remember that just by living our ordinary lives and by going about our daily routines, we can make a difference, we can demonstrate God’s goodness. So often we think we must do something of great importance, we must leave our ordinary worlds and go to far away exotic places in order to create positive change.

I can remember my own frustration when having read one of the countless biographies on Mother Teresa, closing the book, just sitting in a silent sadness that I was just here in my rather simple and boring life–just getting up each day, going to work, tending to my family—nothing on a grand scale, no massive impact for a world in desperate need of help—when it dawned on my that I was simply to make an impact in my own world—what was it that I could do in my own world, which at the time consisted of a small southern high school, that could bring about positive change and showcase the love and mercy of my God.

I got together with a small group of teachers with like minded hearts and we developed a small initiative for our kids who we knew were going hungry on the weekends– by providing food for them and their families. The initiative became a school-wide campaign. I won’t showcase that story here as it has it’s own separate tale—but my point is that we all can begin at home, in our own lives, spreading love, forgiveness, care, compassion, hope– all being a reflection of the unconditional love shown to each of us by the Cross on Good Friday, that is the holiness and sanctification that we share with the world.

It does all begin with us, the individual—know that it is you who reflects God’s love and compassion on a world in desperate need. It is you who can begin the cycle of love rather than that of death, sadness, and sorrow. It is you who wipes away the tears of hopelessness. It is you who opens your arms in comfort. This is your calling. It is now, it is today.