Salutations Madame

“And then, just as Wilbur was settling down for his morning nap, he heard again the thin voice that had addressed him the night before.
“Salutations!” said the voice.
Wilbur jumped to his feet. “Salu-what?” he cried.
“Salutations!” repeated the voice.
“What are they, and where are you?” screamed Wilbur. “Please, please, tell me where you are. And what are salutations?”
“Salutations are greetings,” said the voice. “When I say ‘salutations,’ it’s just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning.”

― E.B. White

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(images of a praying mantis resting on a sweet bay / Julie Cook / 2014)

How gracious and kind most creatures seem to be upon first meeting.
It all begins with the startling moment of the initial encounter.
There is an equal and somewhat awkward moment of contemplation.
Not so much a confrontation, but more of a cautious observation.
Both parties wary yet curious.

A wide berth is usually offered by both opposing parties.
Plenty of space with the avoidance of claimed territory.
Eyes remain intently locked on one another’s every move.
No one wants any trouble, as the curiosity remains.
A healthy respect provides a safe barrier.

Heads pivot as glances are exchanged
Each partner vies for the best viewing advantage
One scampers under as the other moves in a bit closer
A minuet of odd dance partners befitting an eloquent choreography.
Slow step in, slow step out, turn, up and under all in 3/4 time.

And just when each entity grows more relaxed, more comfortable,
the exchange is suddenly over,
as each individual returns to the world of other.
Appreciation, respect, wonderment and awe,
it all begins with a simple greeting

In April, even the birds are happy

While the cock with lively din, Scatters the rear of darkness thin; And to the stack, or the barn door, Stoutly struts his dames before; Oft list’ning how the hounds and horn, Cheerly rouse the slumb’ring morn”
John Milton

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(two different images of turkeys, strutting toms / Troup County, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014
and contrary to popular belief, yes, this is the time for turkey activity, not November during Thanksgiving as on would believe)
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A fragrant sweetness wafts lightly in the air from newly formed blossoms beaming bright in April’s first light.
Overhead, the endless blue ski beckons the aimless wanderer to come linger in its vastness,
All as the delirious breeze gently invites all to come lay down and drink in the heady scents and sounds of Spring.

Creation rejoices as both animal and insect ready themselves for the annual rituals of courtship. Neon colors, puffy shimmery feathers, shrill accented chirps, all various signs and displays of Nature’s love notes.
After the dormant silence of winter’s long slumber, the cycle of life begs to begin again.

Vibrancy and life mingle sweetly together offering tender notes of renewal and hope,
while a garish and overt Spring preens and prances before cold weary eyes.
Come dance and play is the rally cry of this season
Rise up you sleepy souls, whispers the wind, time is of the essence, Nature’s beguiling charms summons all to waste not.
Come quickly my friends, for it is now time to dance.

Cast forth a great light

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.

Psalm 112:4 NIV

“So don’t be frightened, dear friend, if a sadness confronts you larger than any you have ever known, casting its shadow over all you do. You must think that something is happening within you, and remember that life has not forgotten you; it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall. Why would you want to exclude from your life any uneasiness, any pain, any depression, since you don’t know what work they are accomplishing within you?”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

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(door of the granary of the Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo / San Antonio, Texas / Julie Cook / 2014)

I spend my life swirling in and out of the shadows of Death.
A precarious dance with darkness.
As the cold languid hand offers itself to entice me, to lure me, to lull me.

A spell is cast and the die is tossed.

A gossamer veil of deceit falls across the window.
No one can see, no one need know, I may do as I please.
The choices all mine as the caliginous night covers the secrets of sin.
A sinister glee echoes off the walls.

Truth is known, yet purposely ignored.

He twists his lies into the false truths I call my own.
The lies swirl around my feet as I sashay around the floor.
The lights are dimmed, blurring truth into the sweat which mingle and fall away.

Suddenly a door is thrust open
A blinding light floods the murky pitch,
quickly diffusing the darkness.
The shadows, which clung to the night,
drip eerily down the walls.

Standing for the first time, awkwardly alone, vulnerable and striped bare of the vibrant scarves of falsehood,
knees now buckle.
The sordid images of my deeds, flash against the brilliant sky.
The burden of guilt hangs heavily around my neck.
No longer are there shadows to hide within,
as the toxic dance concludes.
Hope has overtaken the darkness.

The radiant Light burns away the layers of filth which were once worn with pride.
The lies, the falsehoods, the deceit. . . drifting forever away–diffused in the rays of the powerful brilliance which now claims the room.
The mantle of guilt is gently taken from my weak frame.
The heaviness and fatigue giving way to grateful relief.

Light engulfs my nakedness, clothing me in an all encompassing and warming radiance.
There is a necessary healing in the Light.
Shame is expunged
Guilt is vanquished
Freedom now offered
Love now the Victor

Gone forever is the long night.
Death, now bound in chains, is quickly forgotten.
The shadows all dispersed, the murky fog lifted.
The sins all finally exposed.
Truth now sweetly claims my hand.

Because of my foolishness, the lamb’s blood had to be shed
My selfish follies rendered a price.
Love beaten, nearly broken, was laid bare
Keeping me from the shadows of Death, the sacrifice was freely made.

Assurances fill my being, flowing inward with the cascading knowledge that He’d do it all again–
— simply to have this last dance.
All of this as He lovingly reaches to raise my chin, lifting my face to His–
With a single glance, what was broken is now made whole.