when a great aunt comes calling…

“There is peace even in the storm”
Vincent van Gogh


(from left to right:
Aunt Blanche, Aunt Alma, my great grandmother Wiliford, and shy Mimi (Mary)
hiding behind their mom / circa 1917)

When I was a little girl, I had two great aunts who were still living.
Aunt Blanche and Aunt Alma.

Both women rattled my nerves…
or maybe it was more like they simply scared me to death.

They were the sisters to my grandmother, my mother’s two aunts.

Blanche had never married.
For as long as I could remember, she had lived with my grandmother,
having her own separate area of the house.
She always seemed old to me.

The story went that she had had a young beau who had asked for her hand in marriage…but…he was California dreaming and bound, hoping to make his fortune
in a bustling new area of the country.

This was a time of one century turning to another.
The thought of leaving home and family in Georgia,
setting off to a still newly settled West Coast, with a young man who had nothing
more than a dream… was simply more than she could bear.
She turned down his proposal and remained single until she passed away in her
late 80’s.

The other great aunt, Great Aunt Alma lived in Clearwater, Florida.
She and her husband had no children of their own and in my mind,
they lived to simply play golf with the other old people.

This pistol of a woman was as wide as she was tall.
At 4’11” she was truly short and truly round.
Her perfume filled the room with a sickeningly sweet scent that lingered in
one’s nostrils long after she was gone.
When first arriving she would always make a bee line for little cheeks…
grabbing both cheeks with her thumb and index fingers, giving them a hard tweak and squeeze before leaving brightly red lipstick mark imprinted on both now sore cheeks.

Whenever we were told of an impending visit by Aunt Alma, a deep sense of dread
descended over both me and my younger brother.
Yet as I aged and grew up, my great aunt who by now was widowed, seemed to
be more gruff and impatient…far from embracing or loving.
She no longer grabbed to pinch cheeks or smear ones face with lipstick
but was rather matter of fact and brusque with her greeting.
Plus she would cuss like a sailor in her impatience.

I kept both of these women at arm’s length as their personalities and lives were not
overtly open to young people. They were nice and always gave nice gifts yet there was
no mistaking the fact that they preferred limited interaction with their
young great niece and nephew.

And so now it seems as if we have a new great aunt arriving on the scene…
one who has announced the coming of a most wicked visit.

Her name is Irma.

Somehow I imagine that she too is rather brusque and very matter of fact.
As she is also very round and and exceedingly wide.
We’ve been told that she will roar into town making her presence known in a
most deadly fashion.

Just as I had a sense of dread as a child over the forthcoming visit of great Aunt
Alma, I now have that same sense of foreboding with Irma’s impending visit.

But the difference between Alma and Irma—Alma did love us in her own odd way as
she did enjoy giving us gifts… Irma I fear however cares only for herself…
Taking no prisoners and making no apologies before abruptly departing just as
rudely as she arrived…

Prayers for Florida as well as neighboring Georgia…..
as our prayers continue for Texas and Louisiana…

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.

Psalm 107:29-30

Be not dismayed

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!
Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated),
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

DSCN3370
(jellyfish on the beach / Santa Rosa, Fla / Julie Cook / 2016)

We are currently living in a boiling tempestuous sea.
A time of grave moral unrest.
A troubling time…

Some merely observe that it’s been bad before and it’ll be bad again…
Others note that it’s just a part of life…
an ebbing and flowing…
a swinging of the proverbial pendulum…

And it is true…
In my lifetime I have seen, as well as experienced first hand,
the upheaval of perilous unrest in this brave Nation of ours…

I have seen the continued growth and birthing pains of an ever evolving democracy.
I have seen the colliding of old verses new.
Young verses the elderly

I have lived under the dread and worry of nuclear annihilation for all my life…
beginning with the tuck and cover drills of elementary school…

I have sadly seen…
flags being burned
draft cards being burned
bras being burned
and politicians burned in effigy

I have seen protests…
sit ins
die ins
marches
hunger strikes
picket lines

I have seen clashes of ideologies, religions and beliefs…

Yet I cannot recall such a dangerously contemptuous time in my near 60 years.

We are perched on the precipice of what seems to be the death of life as we once knew it.
As a delusional group of “politicians” vie for control and power…of my life and of your life,
and of the life which we have known.

This Nation, united under the benevolent eye of the very God our pilgrim settlers and founding fathers each paid homage to,
is transforming and morphing under the cloak of a sinister shape shifting blanket,
that is barley detectable to the naked eye…

Some believe this is all for the good…
While other believe this is all for the bad.

Throwing the baby out with the bath water is never a good idea…
and yet that is what is slowing taking place.

Those of us of a certain age watch, as a deer in headlights, the daily news feeds…
wondering if there is anything left that is recognizable…
While others simply ignore the melee as they reach for another cocktail or numbing agent of choice.

The moral Judaeo/ Christian sector of this Nation has idly watched a slow yet deadly erosion…
an erosion of such catastrophic proportions, that shoring things up…is now nearly impossible…
As the very traditional family nucleus, the core center which has served as the lynchpin and underpinning of the history of humankind, is now ominously ready to cascade into a dark abyss.

So is it any wonder that so many of those who cleave to the belief in an Omnipotent God,
stand jumbled up and cast off to the side, in udder bewilderment and dismay….
as they are left wondering and shuddering at the strangeness now taking hold to all that they have known….

‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not rejected you
[even though you are exiled].

‘Do not fear [anything],
for I am with you;
Do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you;
I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand
[a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’
Isaiah 41:9-10

Mother’s day

Thou hast made us for Thyself,
and we cannot find rest until we find it in thee.

St Augustine

RSCN3042
(new, albeit late, peach blossoms / Julie Cook / 2016)

Whether you approach this day for Moms and Mothers everywhere with….

Appreciation, gratitude, a spirit filled with joy…

or

You find yourself feeling a sense of melancholy, sorrow or even dread…

No matter….may you simply find peace in your heart….

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:5

There are expectations

There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:18

RSCN2907
(apple blossom budding / Julie Cook / 2016)

Worry and Dread are countered by Hope and Expectation.
Uncertainty and Anxiety are courted by Encouragement and Assurance.

It is a time of deep and grave concern for those who know…
For those who know the implications and the possibilities.

History tells us of similar times and similar fates…
While some ignored and some did listen…

Comfort is not found in the company of misery.
There is no comfort in carrying a cross.

Yet carry we must.
As it grows more cumbersome by the hour.

Yet the carrying is not of the mindless lemming,
following the masses to the sea…

The masses rush off chasing elusiveness,
While those who know and those who carry,
travel in a different direction…

They trudge, heavy laden, up the hill of Promise
As both Hope and Expectation lend a helping hand…

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 23:21-23