splitting hairs, missing the knots

For while we say time marches forward,
all things in time move backward toward the middle and eventually to
the beginnings of history.
We are too vain; we think we are the summit of history.

Morris Bishop


(antique fishing balls encased in rope netting, Julie Cook / 2017)

I think we’d all agree that there’s a great deal happening in this world of ours.
Just as there’s a great deal happening in this country of ours.
And I’m pretty certain we’d each agree that we are all now standing at some sort
of a crossroads, a fork in the road, a diverging path.

Eney, meeny, miny, moe…
which is the path we now should go…?

Choices. Decisions. Options.
Yet are those choices, decisions and options really ours to make?

We’ve been inundated by protests, demands, demonstrations, violence,
disagreements, special interest groups, fake news, real news, marches,
angst, politics, policies, black lives matters, antifas, alt rights,
progressives, liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans,terrorists,
radicals, extremists, anarchists, LBGTs, atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims and
anything else in between…

I recently read an article by The Rev. Gavin Ashenden.
Rev. Ashenden is that rather rebellious Anglican prelate I’ve referenced
previously in a past post or two.
My kind of priest actually.

Another clerical voice in the ever shrinking pool of the global faithful
who is opting to do something quite novel…that being sticking to his guns,
his vows, his belief in the face of those who cry foul. His beliefs that God’s
word is just that, God’s word…not man’s, not some theologian’s, not some
special interest group’s, but God’s and God’s alone.

Rev. Ashenden’s article,
“The Trans Dilemma–Human Dysphoria & the Life of Brian”
is a response to the very public growing battle and preoccupation with changing,
what now appears to be on a whim, one’s sexual orientation.

No longer do our legislatures want those seeking, or the parents who are seeking,
the option of changing ones sex to have to wait for some sort of legal process.
Rather it should be something that one should be able to do by the checking
of a box or the proclamation of a particular day.

Rev. Ashenden notes that it seems that “we have shifted as a society to
a place where we treasure and respect feelings more than most other factors.
It’s part of a growing self-preoccupation.

He continues,
“If I feel something, it must be true or real.”
It’s the under-side of an “I want” consumerist society where a whole range of
very sophisticated agencies play on our feelings of how we would like to look or
like to feel, or like to be seen.”

The Trans Dilemma – Human Dysphoria & the Life of Brian.

This issue is just one more in a litany of growing issues that are bombarding us
on a daily basis.

It is a never ending sea of society telling us all to accept,
get on board or be damned.
Forget choice, decision or option because it is all one-sided really.

Yet are these issues really just a lost population’s attempt at grasping
straws…just as a drowning man grasps at anything afloat to save him?
Or is there something much deeper and much more grave taking place?

Are we as a society merely preoccupied with the business of splitting hairs
when in actuality we’re really missing the giant tangled knots glaring us
in the face….

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.”
For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire
and enticed.
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;
and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Don’t be deceived…
(James 1:13-16)

the waiting found in unction

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’…
I am grateful that Jesus cried out those words, because it means that I need never fear to
cry them out myself.
I need never fear, nor feel any sense of guilt, during the inevitable moments of forsakenness.
They come to us all.
They are part of the soul’s growth.”

Madeleine L’Engle

dscn1087
((Killarney National Park / County Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

Sometimes it’s difficult seeing that which waits ahead…
or that which is just beyond our focus…

For the roadblocks, pitfalls, snarls and snares that seem to be directly blocking our path…
loom ever so large impeding our field of vision…
they are so demanding and are so draining that we lose sight of what will be
further down the road, beyond where we are now….

They vie for our full attention making us temporarily blind to everything and anything else.
Life is lived as if in a dark tunnel with only a tiny snippet of light which seems
so terribly far away.

Maybe it’s the heavy baggage from the past…
that which seems to frustratingly and relentlessly hold us prisoner….
Tied as a dead weight… hanging stubbornly from our necks.

Or maybe it’s something else….

It was a long weekend…which is now giving way to what will most likely be a long week,
for and with Dad….for me…for us all….

I go daily because he asks me to come.
Yet on the rare day that I stay behind in order to pick up my own life’s pieces,
my thoughts, worries, concerns are there…with him.

I stay later and later because he asks me why must I go so soon….
as if my sitting for hours on end by his bed should be so soon….

His wife no longer knows that she is his wife…
as dementia now erases that later part of her life.

Decisions, hard decisions, will soon be made.

I battle a long and often harrowing drive to and from…
Sitting and waiting…watching… Dad…
as all he can do is to lay there and wait.

Weakly and barely audible, I hear an odd question…
“Do people think I’m nice?”
Where did that come from I wonder….
“Of course people think you’re nice Dad, why wouldn’t they?”
“I don’t know”…as his words trail off as the heavy lids fight to stay open…

Yep, it’s going to be long…as it continues being hard…as it only seems to grow harder and more difficult with each passing day…

The priest came Sunday to anoint Dad and to pray the prayer of extreme unction…

And so now,
in the mystery of that prayer of transition,
we find ourselves now resting and waiting….
As Dad and God work things out….

“As you are outwardly anointed with this holy oil,
so may our heavenly Father grant you the inward anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Of his great mercy, may he forgive you your sins, release you from suffering,
and restore you to wholeness and strength.
May he deliver you from all evil, preserve you in all goodness,
and bring you to everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

decisions of life and death, as witnessed by the squirrel

“I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Douglas Adams

dscn2433
(gray squirrel / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

If you’ve ever driven down a road, suddenly spotting a grey mass sitting in the middle of the road…
as you approach said mass, at a nice clip of speed…you quickly, and a bit sickeningly,
realize that the gray mass quickly coming into focus…is a frantic squirrel…
who now sits directly in your immediate field of vision and in the direct path
of your 50 mph plus some odd ton vehicle…
closing in for an immediate and deadly impact.

The squirrel seems stuck in time, shifting left then shifting right…
with this surreal dance of death going on a million times,
within what seems to be an eternity but in actuality is…
a mere few seconds…

If life is good–the squirrel makes the right 11th hour decision by darting
miraculously out of your path by the very hair of his tail.

If life is not good–it is a bad day for the squirrel as you feel badly for that slight bump you feel under your wheels….

I am that squirrel.

The car barreling down on me is dad with cancer…
add to that my on-going searing back and hip pain coupled by the myriad of tests
I’m squeezing in in-between trips to Dads.

The Radiologist oncologist told us today that radiation would be every day for 7 consecutive weeks—everyday I’d commute to and from Atlanta as dad would be zapped.

Not to cure him mind you…just to hopefully keep the tumor at bay….
but for how long, no one can say.

His primary care doctor says he is simply too weak and frail to endure such.
The side effects of radiation in the elderly is weakness, diarrhea and burning…
that is in the best of cases…

He’s already weak, already battles colitis and is not very well overall mentally or physically…
yet that did not seem to deter the doctor today who seemed
more concerned with his ever ringing phone…
as he would step out of the room for 20 minutes here and 10 more minutes there…

He told Dad that if he did nothing it wouldn’t be pretty with pain and misery…
which scared dad into wanting to begin zapping right then and there.
I explained to the doctor that we, as a family, would need to talk about all of this
and discuss this with Dad’s primary care doctor—
at which he seemed a bit incensed that I too didn’t agree to begin immediately.

To be honest, I felt overtly pressured.
He didn’t seem to consider that dad is weak and frail or that he is struggling with his cognizant abilities…
It was more like checking off a list…then wham bam you’re good to go, lets sign you up now…

I called a dear friend who had been one of dad’s nurses over the past year for her input.
I called back to dad’s primary care doctor for his opinion.
I called my husband
I called my cousin.
I called my aunt…
and I cried the entire rush hour traffic ride home…

Everyone who knows dad knows treatment is not the correct route.
But dad is scared.
And dad is very much like a little child.
And the cancer doctors are chomping at the bit…

So this squirrel is at a loss.

I may dip in and out of blogland here and there.
The first time in 3 years.
But I’m feeling my energy, creativity, my very life, ebbing away….
Depression is closing in fast…
it’s wicked hot breath has been on the back of my neck now for months.

Decisions have to be made…
and sickeningly, like the squashed squirrel, the buck stops here.
For I am now the parent of the parent who can no longer make those calls himself.
What is the right decision???
What is the right call???
Quality of life…
length of life…
yet at what state??
How much longer either way?
Aggressive cancer…
Fast growing…

I danced this dance with Mother 30 years ago…
I never would have envisioned walking down this road again…

I pray for a revelation or a Divine intervention—
One that directs our path without regrets, without second guessing…
That the road we go, is to be the right road…the only road…

I’ll be in and out as my strength and mindset allows…

dscn2434

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.
I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord,
“and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:11-14

Beware the gators

“Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion”
Egyptian Proverb

Z-nmg4ohtaPTJzNtpVn_ABo5G7GItu8y
(image borrowed from web of a gator crossing an interstate near Naples, FL)

Maybe you’ve heard about them…
or
maybe you haven’t…

Interstate alligators…

And no, I’m not talking about actual alligators crossing the road as in the image above…
Rather I’m talking about something that is equally as dangerous and equally as deadly…
The only caveat is that it’s just not a living creature.

So now that your interest is piqued and you understand that we are not discussing reptiles…
I will explain what exactly an interstate alligator is all about.

An interstate alligator is the dubious moniker for the remnants of the shredded tires from tractor trailer trucks.

shredded_tire_roadside

More times than not, those big rigs, which are driving on very worn tires, will lose the most worn tires off their rigs to the rigors of constant wear and tear…all while driving on car infested roadways.
As they race up and down the highways, freeways and interstates across this grand country of ours, these worn steel belted tires will basically begin to disintegrate and shred while the truck is clocking 70 to 80 mph.

semi-tire-blowout
(image courtesy Real Truck Driver Blog)

Add to that the heat of summer, as the pavement reaches deadly hot temperatures…
With worn tires riding along an inferno of cement and asphalt, we’ve all got troubles!

Imagine huge chunks of tire being slung off a spinning rim, most often unbeknownst to the driver, as the driver isn’t about to be slowing down or moving over to the far right lane in order to exit or move to the emergency lane in order to stop…

Next imagine being the cars behind and beside these big truck as the tire is shredding.

Needless to say there have been many a damaged vehicle as there have been many a fatality as a result of these shredding tires.

The alligator part comes into play when the remnants of these tires are left where they fly then fall—that being the middle of lanes, along the shoulder of the road…just anywhere they finally lose the momentum of flight—as they now lay in wait, lurking and waiting for those poor unsuspecting drivers who are on top of them before being able to slow down or swerve safely out of the way while attempting not to ram into a fellow driver…

Today’s journey to Atlanta, on its infamous perimeter, was like navigating a backwater bayou at full speed while trying to dodge and miss a plethora of both big and small gators all before it being too late before an impending collision.

Cars were slamming on their brakes, erratically changing lanes, hoping the cars beside and behind could get stopped in time.

Holding on for dear life as I made my way through the cement minefield,
I smelled it before I saw it as the air was rife with the acrid smell of burning rubber.
Dodging debris big and small, I soon road past the culprit. A big rig’s second to the back tire was disintegrating faster than he could move over and slow down.
Tire was slinging left and right as cars did their darnedest to dodge the deadly shrapnel.

As I miraculously made my way past the truck and the sea of tire parts without being hit, without running over anything and without being hit by my fellow dodging drivers, I was struck (not literally thank God) by the sheer magnitude of how things can change in one’s life from good to disastrous in literally the blink of an eye.
A ‘now you don’t see it, yet now you suddenly do’ sort of life’s scenario..

Yet we don’t much like thinking of life in that regard.

We don’t like to dwell on the possible and potential negatives of life…
those ‘could be’s’ or those ‘what if’s’ in life…
but what of the sudden and sheer catastrophic…??

We don’t want to live life constantly fretting and worrying.

Yet we do need to always be ready…
Ready for those very instantaneous what if’s.

As in…what if I’m taken out by this interstate monster right here, right now—am I ready for that?
Am I ready if my life is snuffed out just like that?

There’s no time to think,
No time to suddenly and quickly introduce yourself to a God you’ve just kind of always kept in the back of your head…
Kind of like a Santa Claus—
calling on Him in a pinch or when you really need or want something….

This isn’t like the “oh please God don’t let me get caught by that red light again” sort of thing…
Rather this is…there’s a big black chunk of rubber and steal, that’s just come up out of nowhere, hurdling through both time and space with lightning speed right for your windshield and face sort of thing, leaving you nowhere to turn, nowhere to run, leaving you nowhere to duck and cover….

Your relationship with God cannot wait.
It’s that dire, that urgent.

Not because you need to be saved from flying projectiles or hungry debris alligators who are lurking and waiting for when you lest expect it…but because time will not always afford you the luxury of waiting, pondering and deciding, if you want your soul to be lost or to be found…

There is true comfort in knowing that no matter what happens in this life…no matter the dangerous and deadly perils that await us…the catastrophes, the accidents, the random horrible things …
that in and through it all…God is yours and you are His…forever and ever…Amen!!

May you travel in safety my friends…

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9