until you assist, you will not know

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable,
to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


(image as seen on a blog)

Last week I wrote a post regarding Bill 481, Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/beating-still-the-heartbeat-bill-or-the-day-the-sky-was-falling-in-georgia/

Since writing that post, I have read a myriad of other blogs and articles regarding the bill
as well as a promo for the movie Unplanned—a coincidental overlapping of happenings.

But we already know that I don’t believe in coincidence but rather in the workings of the Holy Spirit.

I have not seen the movie Unplanned, but I certainly hope to.
That is if my heart is strong enough.

I found it ironic that on the opening weekend, the Hollywood powerhouse movies
paled in the opening numbers versus the unorthodox Unplanned.

It is a movie based on Abby Johnson, a young director of Planned Parenthood who found herself
having to assist in an abortion—
It was the very option Abby, as well as her organization, had ardently been promoting and providing
for women–and yet it was during that very option of a women’s right that rocked Abby’s world forever.

It was during her assistance in a procedure, a procedure that Abby had ardently supported for
women as a woman’s right to choose…that changed her life forever.

Abby Johnson had been a Planned Parenthood director but had never seen images of
the baby during an abortion.
Today, she was pitching in to help the surgeon perform the procedure by manning the ultrasound.

What she saw made her cry.
The baby wriggled and tried to escape the vacuum.

“They always do,” the doctor deadpanned.
(from the movie Unplanned)

The day prior to reading the promo for the movie, I saw the image I’ve posted above.

A political cartoon of sorts…considered impractical by many …
yet not so far fetched as the hardened heart would imagine.

The doctor’s remark to Abby during the abortion procedure was correct—
a baby who is being aborted, fights for life.
They do not simply succumb to a suction, a burning painful saline solution or
a shredding scalpel.

The baby will fight to “get away”.

The baby wants to remain and wants to live.

It is not a logical thought process but more of a natural reactionary process.
When threatened with termination, a fetus will squirm, wiggle and move away from the ‘threat’
in order to survive.

And so it is with this in mind that I find myself more and more incensed by the likes
of an Alyssa Milano—the very vocal actress who is leading the charge for Hollywood to
boycott Georgia for allowing such a bill to become a law.

I read an article which reported how Milano had presented a petition to Georgia’s lawmakers
with 40 signatures threatening to boycott Georgia should Bill 481 become law.

Well, since the bill has passed both sides of Georgia’s governing body and has been
sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature, signing it into law,
Milano quickly made her way to the State Capital
where she presented a lawmaker with her concern.

The lawmaker calmly asked her in which district was she living and casting her votes.
Milano replied that she does not live in Georgia but was merely in the state to shoot scenes
for her latest television series…
the lawmaker turned and walked away.

The fact that an actress who calls California home comes to Georgia, insisting that Georgia
amends its laws to suit her political agenda, is in a word, assinine.

I have a great deal to say soon about abortion, adoption, life, and death…but the time
is not right as I am still walking a journey that is not yet complete but I do have
one thing to say to those women who clamor that abortion is a woman’s right.
That abortion is not to be an issue determined by male lawmakers as they are not women…

Milano and her ilk clamor that it is not “right” for male lawmakers to make
decisions for women and their bodies.

Last I checked female lawmakers were voting as well—

I don’t give a damn about a male lawmaker voting for, passing and signing a bill into law
that is insidiously cloaked as some sort of sacred women’s issue when in actuality
it is an issue of a man and women making a baby, a baby that is a by-product,
more often than not, of lust and sex….
plain and simple.

An innocent by-product, mind you, of poor decisions and selfish decisions…

And no we’re not talking about the smaller percentage of rape and other issues but
the majority of abortions as by-products of poor decision making and mere mistakes.

Who may I ask is standing up and voting for the vulnerable by-products?

It is not a matter of rights or timing or practicality or convenience.

To abort a baby is an act of murder.

And what I have to say to Alyssa Milano and her small army of militant feminists…
Go work in the “procedure” room—watch the ultrasounds, listen to the heartbeat.
You, Ms. Milao, have two children if I’m not mistaken…
would you happily give them over to death today?
I don’t think so.
So would you have given them over to death before they were born?

Until you perform an abortion, sit in that room, look at what is removed…
until you have that blood on your hands, you then tell me that you wholeheartedly
support murder.

Being adopted has always been a keen reason as to my intense aversion to abortion…
but I think having become a grandmother has only heightened that aversion.

This past year, I have marveled over, first, watching this tiny life emerge, then grow,
and change while learning…learning to smile, roll, hold, sit, stand, hurt, cry, laugh,
…I hold her and I wonder how anyone could have merely cast a death sentence over her.

Until you personally kill, then you let me know how you wish to tell
others how to vote.

“Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.
Leviticus 24:17

death, an expensive business…

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.
But that is not for them to decide.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

“I do not fear death.
I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born,
and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

― Mark Twain

the-knight-death-and-the-devil(Albrecht Durer / Knight, Death and the Devil 1513)

Back around 1973, when I was more of a youngster than what I am now…
I remember finding a paperback book in a bookstore that I just had to have.

I think it was the cover that drew me in.
Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal sitting perched on a cutout of a crescent moon.

The book, Paper Moon, was actually the movie title based on the book
Addie Pray by Joe David Brown…it was simply renamed in 1973,
which is when Peter Bogdanovich directed the film.

The story, set in Depression era Alabama, is about an orphan named Addie
and a man named Moze who is a drifter and scam artist.
Moze who meets Addie following the burial of her mother, agrees for a fee,
to take Addie to relatives in Missouri.
With much of the underlining thought being that the drifter / conman
is actually the young girl’s biological father.
The story is about not only their actual journey to Missouri and the
myriad of scams they pull trying to make a fast buck,
but it is also a tale of the journey of self discovery.

I never did go see the movie but I imagine it was probably pretty funny as well as moving
as the storyline is one of humor as well as sorrow.

What I remember from the start of the book is that Moze had a particular scam
that would take him from town to town reading a local paper’s obituaries.
He would then make note of the names of those who were recently widowed, names
sounding as if they had money.
He’d next call upon the recently bereaved widows explaining that their recently
deceased husband had paid for a very expensive engraved bible but that the
deceased husband had only paid down a deposit on the bible and was
in turn to actually pay the balance when the bible was delivered.
Moze would then claim that he had come to deliver the bible as the widow
was now expected to pay the outstanding balance.

I think that was my first exposure to not only conmen,
but to the notion that death could
in turn equate to big business… as in a means of profit.

And I can now attest to the fact that, with both sound and knowledgable authority,
that there is not only big business running throughout all of life,
but that there is indeed big business to be found in death as well.

The Spector of death has certainly been hovering about my life as of late.
I think he hovers around all of us, that Spirit and Shadow of death,
but it’s just that we are more aware of his presence at certain times during our lives
more so than others.

If you had told me last Thursday that dad and I would have been chatting today
about Clemson’s big win over Alabama Monday night, I’d have told you that you were crazy.

From Tuesday, when Dad was sitting up eating chocolate covered doughnuts to Thursday,
when he was incoherent,
more out of it than not as his breathing was shallow and erratic at best…
I just knew our time had grown greatly limited.

(This is where I would insert a picture, but the picture is too sad to share)

The Hospice nurse had even come out to tell me those things they tell people
when Death is closer then we care for.

The idea of goodbyes was looming as it was a long hard day…
that is until late that evening when Dad seemed to come back to the present…
wanting a bowl of soup as he also wanted to know the times of Saturday’s NFL playoff games….

Go figure.

So my cousin, who is more brother than anything else, told me after our Thursday’s scare
that it would probably be a good idea if he and I made plans to met with those folks
whose jobs it is to deal with all things death.
Such as the funeral home, the cemetery, etc…..

Of which we did today.

Dying, death and burial is just as costly as living…if not even more so it seems.
And maybe that is because it comes in one huge lump at one single time as life and living is
spread out over time.
As in death, time becomes a bit of a moot point.

Yet during all of our planning and arranging…during all of the heavy decisions that we were wading through and deciding on…those sorts of things that one normally muses over briefly from time to time
preferring rather to linger only momentarily and casually…
I was struck by something other than the sheer costs behind funerals and burials…

Whereas we can prearrange, arrange and rearrange all we want here on this earth…
what with our lives and our dying…
It all pales in comparison when it comes to what is actually going on
once we take our last breath.

Maybe it’s because I have had Death’s presence so close to me these past several
months…such that I have found that the here and now is not nearly as important
as to what comes next.

There are so many folks who are concerned with living and living well,
that they run like hell,
far away from any thoughts of what comes after when the good living is all but over.

Maybe it’s because of a shallow and empty belief system,
maybe it’s due to fear of the unknown…
but no matter what the reason, as I am now all too aware,
the importance if found not in how we live…
but rather the importance is actually found in how we die.

That is not to say that our deaths are to be melodramatic or rehearsed…
as that is nearly impossible because for most, death is instantaneous…
both without time nor thought.

And it is for that very reason that the thought of death and dying must come long
before it is really all too late.

Because I know that when one takes one’s last breath…
something else entirely different begins.
And it is only up to each of us to decide what exactly that beginning is to be all about…

And if you think thoughts about God and Jesus,
Heaven and Hell,
life and living,
sin and death…
are all fodder for the superstitious or simply the mumbo jumbo of the sick and elderly…
you need to reconsider you thoughts….

Because there is something which is much more expensive waiting on you other than the cost
you will be leaving behind….for those who remain for when you die….

For it is truly a question of Life eternal
or
Death eternal

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness,
it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44

exacting

We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures…
If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.

John O’Keefe

“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world.
And no places that are safer than other places.
The center of His will is our only safety –
let us pray that we may always know it!”

― Corrie ten Boom

DSCN3656 (1)
(heat lightening in a hot Georgia July night sky / Julie Cook / 2015)

For some it comes gradually…painstakingly and agonizingly slow…

For others it comes in the fury of immediate energy found in the flash of lightning…
precise…
pinpoint…
and near deadly…

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of the word Exacting is: requiring much time, attention
or effort from someone : very difficult or demanding

And it is to that exacting end, of the often difficult and demanding road,
that Christians are dutifully bound….

For ours is an exacting God and a demanding fatih.

He is a God who requires much from us, His created.

For the life of a believer is not a passive experience.

It is not a life of basking in the wonderment of being created,
the rhythmic marvel of breathing…
or the mystery found in forgiveness.

It is not a life of prestige, or comfort, or even ease.

Rather it is a life that runs against the grain.
It is rough as raw cut wood
and yet it is as smooth and as slick as polished stone.

It is faith both trying and challenging and not for the faint of heart.
For the cross we carry is not light nor ever manageable but rather cumbersome and weighty.

This faith of ours is not for those who choose to tarry, often taking their sweet time…
For it is that very thing called time that is of the true essence…

This living faith is not for those who believe in immunity, free from pain, or hurt or sorrow.
As believers, we often face the tempest storm, alone…for the world will turn its back.

We live in a time of reality’s denial.
And a time of mandatory tolerance…yet the tolerance is not ours to know.

He asks His own to stay while the world chooses to go.
He calls upon His own to go when the world decides to stay.

He asks, He commands, He requires…

For it is ultimately a choice between life and death…

And it is for that very Life that we each have so chosen to die…

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Romans 6:6

Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts.
Jeremiah 7:23-24

Not alone

God is not in heaven: he is hanging on the cross.
Love is not an otherworldly, intruding, self-asserting power—
and to meditate on the cross can mean to take leave of that dream

Dorothee Sölle
On This Gallows

RSCN2923
(blooming wild shrubs / Julie Cook / 2016)

There is a sobering reaccounting of a tale by Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz turned author and activist, taken from his book Night.

The tale is found within Dorothee Sölle’s reflection On This Gallows and is here, paraphrased…

Mr. Wiesel recounts one of many tragic episodes…of how several SS guards rounded up the camp’s prisoners and hung three of their members in front of them…for no apparent reason but that they could.
Two of the victims were grown men and the third was but a boy.

Mr Wiesel notes how quickly the two men died but not so for the young boy.
He struggled and suffered for nearly thirty minutes before succumbing to the slow torturous strangulation.
As Mr Wiesel stood, witnessing this numbing atrocity in a long line of atrocities, he hears a voice from behind him coming from the assembled crowd…
“Where is God? Where is he?”
As the boy struggles, he hears again…
“Where is God now!”

Mr Wiesel and the other prisoners were gathered to witness another round of senseless deaths.
But this time it all seems so much more barbaric, completely incomprehensible.
A boy slowly and horrifically dies…
A single vocalized lamentation, representing the silent question screaming in the hearts of all those gathered…how, why, where…. is offered up to the empty void of hopelessness…
As the single answer is heard echoing within Mr Wiesel’s head…

“Here he is—He is hanging here on this gallows…”

And so He is…
He is here now…just as He was then…

God is indeed in the midst of each and every horror and atrocity.

He is present in each and every lonely pain filled moment of agony and emptiness.
He is every bit a part of our struggles as we are ourselves…

He is not watching coldly from some remote vantage point as so many imagine.
Not as some maniacal puppeteer who finds sick and twisted pleasure watching the suffering of those so far removed.
He is not far removed…

Quite the contrary…

He is in the unimaginable
the unspeakable
the horrific
the sorrow
the agony…

He was given up…
to suffer
to share alongside us in our suffering
to hang on a cross
to die along side each one of us…

As we in turn, are now allowed to rise with Him…
In His final vanquishing of death…

I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

Psalm 118:17