do all roads lead home


(just a little road off our walk one morning…it’s a dead end–as in it dead ends
into the ocean / Julie Cook / 2018)

It was said that at one point in the history of time that all roads lead to Rome.
More accurately that should have stated that all roads radiated out and away from Rome.
Such being that if one found themselves heading back to the city,
one could have said that any road would get them there.

Rome was the epicenter of “modern” civilization and the zenith of all that was
during the height of its day.
It only made sense that an empire as mighty as Rome would build a network of roads
leading out of the city–in turn, connecting Rome to and with other various places of
necessity and importance.

The picture I’ve thrown in today was taken during a recent morning walk while in Florida.
It’s a shot of a small side road that apparently is a dead end…
Just looking at the road one might not be able to see that the little road is indeed
a dead end but the sign on the right of the road is the first clue.

The sign indicating that there is no way for a car to circle out or around or on
to someplace else.
The road simply stops.

The road stops at a small walkover bridge. Thus that being the second clue…
the pavement ends.
That’s a pretty good clue as to a dead end—no more pavement, no more road.
The pavement ran out directly at a small wooden bridge.
There was a little patch of “wetlands” and a dune that the bridge skirted over…
leading those on foot over the small pond area and the dune–out and over to the beach
and eventually to the ocean.
So, in essence, the road basically stops at the sea…or actually at the beach in front
of the ocean.

No going to Rome via this little road…and no going anywhere really but to a few houses
scattered about.

And speaking of home, I am back…at home that is.
As my aunt would often say, it was a “quick and dirty” sort of trip.

Not that I exactly ever really ‘got’ what she would mean by that little euphemism of hers
but I assume it was just her odd way saying quick and easy…, and we’ll leave it at that.

After taking a myriad of roads down and a multitude of paths back to get home.
As there is no easy direct route— instead of there is a weaving in and out from
significant to minor roads…
all in hopes of finding the quickest, easiest and least congestive route home.
A direct route is not to be had, and if it were, it would be so busy,
we’d be in search again for some other direction.
Because that’s what we do as humans—
We look for the easiest and quickest routes to our destinations.

I use to pour over maps.
You may remember those now long antiquated folding road maps you could never
fold back to their original folds…

I’d spread out a map and with a trusty highlighter in hand, highlighting the passage of
least resistance…or even a passage of the most scenery and quietude…
just all depended on the urgency of the travel.

Nowadays, I try to input a point of destination, and in turn,
I depend on the car’s GPS or that of the phone’s to weave me in and out of the
current life’s journeys.
Yet I’ve gotten where I don’t exactly trust either the car or the phone with directions
anywhere anymore as we, meaning me, my car and my phone, are not always on the same page.

Their idea, as in the car’s and the phone’s, for quick and trouble-free, is not always
or exactly a guarantee of quick and trouble-free.

So whereas maps, GPS, coordinates, addresses are all great and grand, I find that a
good dose of intuition is still a vital component when traveling.
Knowing how to use a compass and knowing the position of the sun is also still
extremely important…or so says my husband the boy scout.

So if we worry, bother and fret about getting from point A to point B in a relatively quick,
easy and safe fashion–
why don’t we put in the same amount of effort or concern when it comes to living our lives.

Are we not concerned about where this thing called life is taking us?
And as to how we will get to that final point of destination…?

If we happen to be Believers, then we pretty much keep our eyes focused on being Heaven bound.
Right?
And in turn, we pretty much know the steps to getting there.
Right?

But what of the countless others out there who don’t consider themselves Believers or believe
in Heaven…what then…what in the heck then do you think this whole life’s journey
has been all about???
All for naught??

So no, not all roads will lead you Home.
Some are simply dead ends.

First, you’ll need to figure out what exactly is Home and as to where it just might
happen to be…
Next, you’ll have to figure out how you’re going to be getting there.
Waze?
GPS?
Mapquest?

There is only one roadmap and it was written about 2000 years ago…
It’s pretty precise, specific and never needs recalculating.

It still likes to be opened, spread out on a table and highlighted…just saying

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

the direction of bricks and mortar

Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good,
and melt at other’s woe.

Homer

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(Julie Cook / 2015)

Currently feeling most grieved over the latest madness sweeping across this
great nation of ours…
what with the divisiveness and hateful discourse bombarding our daily lives…
Of the recent marches and demonstrations…
with now high school kids adding to the mix…

My thoughts shift to relationships…
meaningful and significant relationships…
To those components of mortar and to the building blocks…
to all that builds and creates a base
a community…

to those footings…
to the foundations…
and to the resulting communions we build…

Thoughts shift to those who have crossed my own life…
to those who imprinted and imparted upon me…
a betterment,
a lastingness,
an endurance..

where would I be without such…

Today I ran across a post I’d written 2 years ago…
oddly it was just sitting out there on the internet…
under a particular search word…

It seemed rather timely so I decided to borrow a portion it for today’s post…
because it recounts the importance of a life that helped to form my own life.

For I now see that our youth currently need individuals in their lives who are strong…
those who don’t mind taking time…
those who aren’t afraid of taking a risk …
Those who want to help…
to mould,
to shape,
and to guide.

For our kids need to hear the words “don’t” and “no”…
as well as “good” and “job well done”
they need to be loved and nurtured…
not ignored or simply turned out…
they need to be disciplined and held accountable
not left unbridled or excused…
they need to be given directions…
but not carried…

Because they will seek out those individuals…
that communion and community..

the concern will be to whom and to what….

excerpt–original date Jan 12, 2015…

Being able to express myself was always important.
I most often found that freedom in the process of simply writing.
First, as a young girl, in the form of a journal / diary,
then as I grew older,
it came through the writing of letters.

It was in the writing of letters where I allowed myself to fully express my thoughts.
It was the one place my often frustrated brain could and would be allowed to soar.

In the days before computers, emails and word documents…
I loved buying and sending cards.
I would spend hours writing letters–
especially the letters I’d write that bordered more along the lines of epistles,
those lengthy and meaty tome like lettes to my godfather–a long retired Episcopal priest.
He passed away late December at the age 94.
I have often referenced him and his influence in my life in many a previous post.

The letters were often written with a myriad of misspelled words,
despite the large dictionary by my side.
There were gaping gaps in the written thought… as I would think much faster than I wrote.
The letters were laced with outrageous sentence structure,
which in turn would make any english teacher cringe,…
yet they were letters written with passion, honesty and humility.
And despite the holes, the poor sentence structure or the youthful angst,
my godfather would receive each letter expectantly, happily, and lovingly…
all without a judgement of content or the editing of grammatical structure–
this from a man who made a living writing and speaking.

Our correspondence began when I was around the age of 15.
My early letters were laced with the pangs of innocence and adolescence.
Yet as I aged and matured those letters became more complex,
even troubling, as I fought my way, often with fraught emotion,
through the often tangled jungle of life.
I wrestled with my faith and beliefs.
Life was not always easy nor kind.
There were obstacles, illnesses, deaths, disappointments, poor choices, grave mistakes,
coupled with a few triumphs, glimpses of joy and moments of contentment.

Always with love and often, no doubt, with great frustration,
he would offer words of either encouragement or warning,
lessons or simply the “if I were you”…
yet his words were always laced with love.
It was here, within the correspondence of a young girl, now grown woman,
where I learned about unconditional love.

I never filtered my words or emotions yet perhaps today, looking back,
I see that it would have behooved me to have used a bit more restraint—
yet he never faltered or expressed disappointment.
My Godpoppa, the busy world at large Anglican leader,
would never specifically tell me what to do,
despite my often desperate queries.

He would never say “yes” or “no” but rather he’d offer wisdom woven with advice all of
which he hoped would allow me to eventually find my own way.
He was a signpost of guidance,
of the miles thus traveled and of miles yet to be traveled.

And so as I currently find myself surveying a sea of rising national angst..
My thoughts now wander to those meaningful and significant relationships that we form…
those unique and timely bonds offered by the mentors and the role models amongst us…

To what direction are they now pointing…
To what sort of guidance do they long to impart…
To what sort of mortar and foundation do they wish to use…
and does anybody really still care…

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for human masters…

Colossians 3:23

(The Very Reverend David Browning Collins 1922-2016)

unseasonable

“Preserve me from unseasonable and immoderate sleep”
Samuel Johnson

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(Helleborus / Lenten Rose / Julie Cook / 2017)

Unseasonable warmth gives way to
an unrelenting chain of events…

There is…

emerging,
birth,
growth…

A fullness of life…

there is preparing,
and a signaling of readiness,
and the ushering in of the new…

there is hopefulness…

Yet it is all so dangerously premature.
It is ill prepared,
unsuspecting,
and unsustainable…

It is out of step with time…

It is not strong enough to ward off that which will certainly be coming…

It is the living of a falsehood.

Living without regard for the Word,
while there is disregard for the Sovereign…
with contempt for the Promise…
Ignoring or discrediting all that has been proclaimed and foretold.

It is like the premature bloom…

Blooming,
growing,
living…
out of step and out of time…

Ignoring the rhythmic nature of what is to be,
only ushers in an inevitable destruction…
brought about by the reality of rebellion and ignorance.

What makes you think you are any different from the premature
blooms lulled into the pretense of Spring by an unrealistic and untimely change?
You who simply ignore the Truth because you find yourself basking in a
a false and unseasonable warmth…

All the while as you know, in the back of that mind of yours…
you who are fully aware that none of this of the superficial and self indulgent will last…

As you find yourself now unprepared to ward off that which is surely coming…

You will be defenseless and ill prepared.
You who have been basking and relishing in the allure of something other than the Truth.

Be not fooled by your own folly of bliss over the distortion of reality.
The Lion roars as winter is coming…
The premature thaw and warming winds will not last…
Take heed,
for you have been warned and now told…

Only those hearts humbled and now knowledgable will be ready…
for they have not given way to these foolish and heady times…

For out of the North,
and then the West,
while up from the South,
and finally the East…
the premature blooms will be trampled under the hooves
of the stampede…
those who run seeking a safe haven…
who will find none.

Yet the faithful will not dismayed…
you who have been prepared and ready…
Your time draws near…

As Hope is ushered in on the returning winds of change…
As His way has been prepared and now made ready,
as you who have been waiting,
now find yourself more than ready to pay homage to
the returning of the King.

Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of
the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Matthew 24:20-21

A direction in learning

Painful as it may be,
a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction
that serves us and those around us more effectively.
Look for the learning.

Louisa May Alcott

dscn2446
(This handwrought weathervane came from the 12th century Church of Cranham, Essex, England, where James Oglethorpe is buried / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2016)

Sometimes, learning comes easy.
It comes from the obvious,
the expected,
the familiar.

At other times, it seems to happen out of the blue.
It is unexpected,
questionable,
even painful…

The delivery matters not,
it is what is taken away from the experience which matters most.

Remembering such, is just as important as the lesson to be learned…

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God;
whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

2 John 9:11

directions

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.
We all have twenty-four hour days.”

Zig Ziglar

DSCN0412
(path up the mountain side, Glendalough National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

I’m not the best with directions.
I tend to get turned around and a bit confused as to
the lefts and rights, the norths and souths….

Now I do actually love a good map…
yet sadly maps are going the way of the 8 track tape cassette…
And anyway…the truth is that I’m not really that great at using maps.
I get turned around as to whether I’m heading east or west, up or down, or side to side…

However I have always found old antique maps to be beautiful pieces of art—
Especially really old ones that were once done by hand,
with cartographers doubling as artists.

It’s as if maps are the tangible pictures of our city’s, country’s, world’s inner workings…
almost like a scan image of a skeletal system is for the human body,
a map is the picture for our collective spacial lives.

And whereas I am thankful for the modern convenience of GPS…
What with the plugging in of an address, place or coordinates only to then be directed
to wherever it is that we wish to be headed…
turn by turn, step by step…

However I can be as equally ungrateful when said turn by turn step by step is incorrect,
outdated or simply wrong.

Ever thought you were headed to where it was you wanted to go,
with the nice GPS lady finally and triumphantly stating that you have “reached your destination”
as you find yourself in the middle of some desolate road in the middle of nowhere?!

So with all this map talk, I read a most marvelous little story today on the BBC about
a letter being mailed from Reykjavik, Iceland.

It seems that the sender was mailing a letter to a farm
where she had visited but was uncertain of the address—
so she did the only intelligent thing she knew to do…
that when all else fails sort of approach…

she drew a picture, actually a mini map, as to where the letter should be headed…
all the while adding a few little written directions on the envelope to accompany the tiny map…
Just a few small helpful cues to the postal person who would be delivering the letter.

The small remote town’s name was listed,
the fact that the letter was going to a couple with three children…
The fact that the intended recipient worked at a supermarket there in the small town
plus the fact that they lived on a horse farm with lots and lots of sheep…
it was all nicely included with a wonderful plotted picture of a route…

( you can read the story here by clicking on the link:
http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-37233913 )

The letter was actually delivered to the correct place.

Such a story does my heart good.

So…
Whereas the postal system here in the US is, in a nutshell, not often stellar.
Mail seems to get lost, delivered to the wrong address, or damaged so badly in the system
that it is “returned to sender” …
that is, if the return address is still legible.
Or there have even been times when things mailed may have taken weeks,
months or even years before randomly appearing…

Now that’s not to say that it’s all bad or always a lost cause in this
maddening bureaucratic system of US Postal Service…
but sadly it seems there are more horror stories than good these days…

So the fact that a map was drawn out by hand, then someone actually took the time to “study” it,
then correctly followed it…
in this ever technological world of ours…
is indeed a joyous event.

Add to that maddening bureaucracy that we are now all finding ourselves living in this
ever uber modern world of all things technological of ours…
what with our smart devices, our GPS, our self braking, self parking,
and soon to be, self driving cars…
so it seems as if we won’t have much use for our ol noggins
when we’re trying to make our way in this life…as it will actually be already done for us…
Yet the concern should be…will it be in the right direction that we are lead…?

And that’s the thing…
We all need to make our way in this life…
with that way being…
the right way,
the spiritual way,
the way of Life and not the way of death…
to which so many signs sadly point to these days…
We still so desperately need a play by play list of directions.

Yet, I think if I remember correctly, we already have a directional manual…
One that is thousands of years old….having stood the test of time…
One that has recorded the verbal commands of the only One who truly knew
and still knows…
the way…
the truth
and the life…

We just need to remember to always reach for that directional map,
actually taking the time to read it and actually follow it…
for it will never mislead or misdirect us…

Happy travels….

Jesus answered,
“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

upside down

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Lewis Carrol

DSCN2531
(Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

Some told lies while others told truth…
And sorting out the difference was pretty cut and dry

Yet that was long ago…and all of that was then…

Everything now has been turned wrong-side up and upside down…

With right becoming wrong and wrong becoming right
All that once mattered has turned woefully out of step.

“It’s ok” they say and “its now all alright”
“Everything goes” so there’s no turning back.

For God was sovereign, this much we knew
But the lies began raging, replacing Him with you

While buying-in has now become the thing to do….

If you’ve lost your voice and your tongue seems stuck,
hurry quick and speak on up…to this world turned upside down…

For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Romans 16:18

Need a change in direction?

“Fortunately Jesus didn’t leave [the disciples]-or any of us-without hope or direction. Where we fail, Jesus succeeded. The only One who as able to recognize and follow His purpose from the beginning was Jesus. He alone was able to obey consistently and please God completely. And His divine mission was to make a way for each of us to do the same.”
Charles R. Swindoll

DSCN0450
( a female mallard slides across the mirror-like pond / Adare Manor, Adare, County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Feeling out of sorts, irritable, unsatisfied and unfulfilled, we wander about, head down, hands shoved deep into the murky abyss of pockets, as the permanent scowl begins to feel more like a widow’s netting hanging down over our once bright eyes.

Musing and muttering, self within self, we shrug as if to a companion…yet the only companion is an unhappy self.

We don’t much care for the big picture…
All that worldly mess…the global mess that seems so out of control and so beyond our grasp…it has left us drained, depleted and depressed.
We don’t really care for much of anything we see…that of the world, our country, our city, our town, or dare we voice it?.. even our own home and family…

Ours is but a single small voice…no change there coming from the insignificant…this as we grouse, once again, as if to a companion.
What’s so bad about a life lived by the status quo, no boat rocking that’s for sure
thoughts trailing off as eyes begin to burn from invisible mounting tears.

This solitary conversation of self with self has taken on the volley of table tennis–back and forth with the whys and the why nots…the hows and the how comes…the whens and the not whens…

Feeling crushed under the ever growing blackening clouds of despair and empty acceptance
a few ducks, gliding effortlessly across the pond, draw our attention…creating a thankful diversion, just enough to pull us away from the woeful self within self discourse.

The small flock of ducks are all drifting peacefully along in the same direction, across the mirror-like water, except for one lone duck. This single mallard duck has taken his course in the opposite direction.

Humm, what does this duck know that the others don’t…?…you muse silently to yourself.

And that’s when it hits you…

It’s about time you changed directions….

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(a mallard serenely swims by / Adare Manor, Adare, County Limerick, Irleand / Julie Cook / 2015)

“We insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image. The flesh whimpers against the rigor of God’s inexorable sentence and begs like Agag for a little mercy, a little indulgence of its carnal ways. It is no use. We can get a right start only by accepting God as He is and learning to love Him for what He is…

…The moment we make up our minds that we are going on with this determination to exalt God over all we step out of the world’s parade.”

(excerpt by A. W. Tozer from The Pursuit of God)

(***and speaking of directional change…I’m on to a slight diversion—I’ll be back here hopefully Tuesday—until then…God’s grace to you…)