Yes and No

Just as Eve brought death into the world through her fall,
and through her succumbing to Satan,
so too Mary becomes the new Eve who brings life into the world through her ‘yes’ to God.
This imagery of Mary as the new Eve goes all the way back to the Old Testament.
She is the new woman, who will overcome the serpent through her ‘yes’ to God and through
the coming of her Son, the Messiah.

Dr. Michael Barber
from What Every Catholic Needs to Know About Mary


(image of Mary from The Passion of the Christ looking upon the foot of her dead son)

My aim today is not to debate the importance or lack of importance of Mary in our
collective faiths.
Be that in the Catholic Faith or be that that within the Protestant faiths…

Bless Mary…for she has become such a pivotal, and dare I say, a contentious image within the
collective Christian Chruch.

I for one find that to be a truly sad factor for us all of the collective Christian faith
as we have allowed Mary’s significance or insignificance to become divisive.

Yet that topic is not my focus today.

Not being Catholic, I was not raised with a strong sense of a Marian devotion.
Yet I do not hold that against my Catholic kinsmen.
Mary is important to our Catholic kin, just as she is important to all of us of the Fatih
for she bore willingly a most heavy burden…a burden she bore willingly for all of us.

She does not surpass the importance of her Son.
Yet that is often lost in the accusations and fussing.
No Catholic puts the mother above her Son
but her role as a universal mother does not go ignored.

Yet all of that is neither here nor there today.

Yesterday morning I read the quote I’ve added above by Dr. Barber regarding both Mary and Eve.
Two very pivotal women within the Christian Fatih.

Eve is blamed for all of our current state of affairs while Mary is the quintessential image
of willingness, sacrifice, and selflessness.

Darkness and shame versus selfless light.

After reading the quote and knowing I wanted to use it in a post, I actually noticed that
several folks had viewed a previous post that I had offered on Christmas Eve…
it was a post based on a homily offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden.

And as I don’t believe in coincidence but rather the prompting of the Spirit, I will
again offer that same post here…as it seems to be calling out…

The post is titled “Eve’s no verses Mary’s yes…”

“i imagine that yes is the only living thing.”
E.E. Cummings


(Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden / Masaccio / 1425 / Florence )


(Bicci di Lorenzo / 1433-1434 / The Annunciation panels / private collection)

Please enjoy the Christmas Eve Homily offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden.
Bishop Ashenden raises an interesting observation…

That in Eve’s having said “no” to God—in her refusal to His obedience,
man in turn then fell victim to the addiction to sin and disobedience.

Mary then counters that sinfulness no by offering her simple “yes”….

And in Mary’s yes…she brings us all to God’s saving Grace.
Of which brings to all of humankind, through the birth of her son Yeshua,
the freedom from this never-ending cycle of disobedient addiction…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/eves-no-verses-marys-yes/

don’t talk to me about Global Warming

The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.
E.E. Cummings

No, the above image is not of me, but it is how I’m feeling right about now.

From the caption, you can read that this was a selfie taken by a young lady who lives
in what is considered to be one of the coldest cities in the world and just so happens
to be located in Siberia, Russia…

Instead, this is my picture…

We foolishly put up things like this in the South thinking the Weather or Mother Nature
will never take us seriously.
Well….. it/she has…
and it/she did
and crazily it has once again snowed and iced…

Twice in one Winter here in the deep South is unheard of!!!
And technically the first snow was at the tail end of Fall with this latest mess being the first “official” Winter snow.
A foot of snow in the late Fall is so unnatural and so unheard of way down here in
the land of all things cotton and peaches, only to have another snow event taking place just
a month later, well, we’ve actually begun to make certain that the animals aren’t pairing off
in numbers of two!

School, Businesses, and Governmental agencies all being, or will be, shut down yesterday,  today and some even tomorrow.

Adding insult to injury we woke to 11 degrees Farenheight, with a well into to the
negatives, windchill— making venturing forth into the snow and ice an even more
dangerous and now most unpleasant experience.

So my little sign, when I feel up to dashing outside, is coming down as I think I’ll put up
a “Welcome Spring” sign and we’ll just see if Miss Mother Nature is actually paying attention
or just delightfully messing with us instead!
My money is on she’s messing with us!!

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55: 9-11

Eve’s “No” verses Mary’s “Yes”

“i imagine that yes is the only living thing.”
E.E. Cummings


(Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden / Masaccio / 1425 / Florence )



(Bicci di Lorenzo / 1433-1434 / The Annunciation panels / private collection)

Please enjoy the Christmas Eve Homily offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden.
Bishop Ashenden raises an interesting observation…

That in Eve’s having said “no” to God—in her refusal to His obedience,
man then fell victim to the addiction to sin and disobedience.

Mary in turn counters that sinfulness no by offering her simple “yes”….

And in Mary’s yes…she brings us all to God’s saving Grace.
Of which brings to all of humankind, through the birth of her son Yeshua,
the freedom from this never-ending cycle of disobedient addiction…

the mystery of Spirit

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

“The indwelling Spirit shall teach him what is of God and what is not.
This is why sometimes we can conjure up no logical reason for opposing
a certain teaching, yet in the very depth of our being arises a resistance.”

Watchman Nee


(the “beaver” moon in the wee hours of a foggy dawn sky / Julie Cook / 2017)

“The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.”

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Authentic representation

To be nobody but myself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me somebody else-means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting.
e.e. cummings

No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

DSCN1839
(a charming little sheep sculpture made by artist Marina Hamilton– County Donegal / Julie Cook/ 2015)

I had fallen in love.
For 15 days, I had fallen in love.
I had traversed the countryside, climbed upward and downward to what seemed to be each hill and dale, skirted the coastline, stood upon pinnacle after pinnacle gazing out over land and sea all the while as I tasted, saw, heard, felt and sensed what it was, what it is, that made/makes this island nation so enticing… as I had simply fallen in love with the sheer wondrous beauty which was lovingly laid out by a masterful Creator before my very eyes…

Yet I had fallen in love with something else as well…as in head over heels in love…for I was taken with and smitten by the endless sea of sheep.

DSCN0845
(a soon to be sheared sheep / County Cork / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSCN1712
(a sheep sits enjoying the day, somewhere near Slieve Liag, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSCN0853
(a freshly sheared sheep, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

White faced, long haired, short haired, with horns, without horns, black faced, black sheep, brown sheep, all white sheep, spotted sheep–every kind of sheep imaginable…I had loved each and every one I encountered.

Why?

I’m not sure…I’ve just always had a deep affinity for sheep, as I have always fancied myself one day being a bit of a sheepherder.

Most likely it’s because I identify with the spiritual analogy of sheep–of our being like lost sheep with Jesus being the shepherd who goes out in search of that one lost sheep–aka, me…
He didn’t let it go, cutting his losses, but actually left the flock to go searching for the not so bright one who wandered off….

Or maybe its the whole sacrificial lamb analogy…the deeply mournful words spoken by the ancient prophets…he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

Whatever the reason the love has always been there…but the recent adventure, which brought me face to face, pretty much cemented the deal of true love.

Never mind that they are dirty…bearing poop stained butts. Never mind they don’t make for the most loyal of pets–if you can call them pets. Sheep are skittish, flighty, loud, and are certainly not the brightest animals on the food chain— hence why they are more or less dinner for many an opportunist predator…yet there is just something about them…

And maybe it’s just seeing them sitting, standing, grazing in a most pastoral idyllic picture perfect, kodak moment, locale of sheer sheep beauty that just seals the deal–peace on earth kind of wonderful.

How does one capture, taking home that whole feeling of the moment… of that love at first sight sort of instantaneous feeling—tasting it, savoring it, holding on to it for later when both you and it are parted and far removed from the very moment of being delightfully caught together in time?

There are a million touristy, kitschy, chotskies of the made in China variety of the cutesy Disneyesque sheep any tourist can snap up at any numerous shop throughout the country. Yet I wanted something real, something tangible, something as close to the real deal and unique as I could find.

As our time together was drawing to a close, I felt myself slipping a bit into the heaviness of melancholy as I was actually mourning–it was hard to still be happy, enjoying the moment as I knew I was mere days away from departing—and for who knows how long—a year, a few years, a lifetime?
Would I be back?
I could not say.

Wandering into a little shop of locally made crafts, in the middle of County Donegal, I immediately spotted my keepsake.

He was a little sculpted ceramic sheep made by a local artist. There were actually two perched on a display pedestal. I looked them both over–picking them up, feeling the unglazed heft of clay in my hands, the weight of something solid and substantial…all the while as I looked into those black glassy eyes. I made my choice and gingerly carried my “skelybegs” (a butchering amalgamation of the gaelic surroundings) to the counter. As he, yes it was a he I had decided, was a piece of art, he did not come cheap, but to me, he was worth the cost and then some as he spoke volumes of my Irish adventure.

Once home, I excitedly and carefully unwrapped my prized possession. I had painstakingly carried him by hand the final leg of the journey, even on the long plane ride home, so having unwrapped him and seeing he was in one piece, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
I then lovingly placed my little sheep on the counter in the kitchen right next to one of my favorite Russian Icons of Jesus…as it only seemed fitting to have the sheep by the Shepherd.

I greatly enjoy seeing that sheep each and everyday as I lovingly labor about in the kitchen as it helps me to hold onto a very special place and time.
Yet my little clay sheep is but a mere representational reminder of something that, although I deeply love, is far removed from me and my daily life.

The clay sheep is a token of remembrance, a reminder and a representative…
yet he is a far cry from the authentic real deal sheep.
He merely captures the spirit of an enduring love and intrinsic connection to something deeply important.
Which got me thinking…

Jesus–that icon or image of the mystical shepherd sitting next to my little sheep…
Obviously not the real deal either…yet it is rather a visual representative of someone who was… and in my heart and mind, of someone who still is…

Obviously I understand that, feel that and acknowledge that…but what about others…?
What about the countless numbers of non-belivers or other faith believers or even those Christian believers who do not have that knowledge of that tangible Being…how are they to ever understand the depth of the love offered by the one true Shepherd…certainly not from a mere picture, icon or image…it certainly has to be more….

What of those countless numbers of folks currently around the globe, during these terribly trying times, who are more wary than ever before of what being a follower of Christ truly entails.

And then it hit me….

It’s not a matter of those of us who “get it” or truly understand being simply rote, mindless, empty, lip-syncing followers who merely show up to “worship” on Easter, pull out those dusty nativity scenes at Christmas or slap some sort of fish on the back of our car window or flippantly check off on a form that we are of the Christian persuasion but rather it is imperative in these ever growing darkening days that an authentic representative understands that he or she is to step up to the plate…one who understands what it means to be a true imitator of Christ….picking up and taking up the Cross and in turn understanding that that means dying unto self…as an authentic representative understands, grasps and lives the idea that a true imitator of Christ is called to do just that…imitate how Jesus lived and that living often exacts a tremendous price…a price often paid with ones very life, a price we must all be willing to pay….

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5:1-2

Thank you for the blue

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
e. e. cummings

DSC00630
(the first blue sky we’ve seen in ages / Julie Cook / 2015)

Months of empty cold grey nothingness. . .
My heart is lain heavy within me

Rain after rain after rain. . .
I’ve almost forgotten how to look up

Ice, sleet, freezing rain. . .
Bundled up hurrying, racing from out to in

Snow showers this morning. . .
Which have given way to a long forgotten and
Glorious blue sky. . .

In all of my woefulness and sorrow
In all of my frustration and worry
In all of my busyness and hurriedness
A small reminder appears. . .the sky, a bird. . .
“I am here my love”, now tenderly whispered
Reminding me that You are truly, ever-present
As it seems I have forgotten how to give thanks. . .

DSC00625

DSC00626

DSC00627
(the joy of seeing a bluebird / Julie Cook /2015)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1-3

Will it or won’t it?

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
T.E. Lawrence

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
—Albert Camus

DSCN7329
(tiny emerging Hydrangea bloom / Julie Cook / 2014)

If I were a betting woman, which if the truth be told. . .I have been known to place a few friendly wagers over the years, particularly where my beloved DAWGS are concerned, I would bet that this Hydrangea bloom will indeed make it to its very showy, garish, over the top, full blue bloom before the first frost.

The first frost is a good two months away right?
How long does it take a hydrangea bloom to come to maturation?
Hummmmm. . . .
Sounds a bit reminiscent of some sort of mathematical word problem. . .if two hydrangeas left a train station at the same time, one traveling by train running 80 mph and the other by bus traveling 60 mph. . . yada, yada, yada—I hated math and I hated word problems even more–but I digress. . .

This is the same hydrangea bush, plant, mass that I shared with you back in the Spring—the same hydrangea that had suffered grievously back in the Spring when Winter was refusing to let go. A very late hard freeze had all but killed it. . . or so I thought.

In late May and early June, my heart leapt for joy when I noted some tiny leaf buds trying desperately to take hold on the barren woody brittle steams. Much to my wonderment, I realized that this little plant was not dead after all but was actually very tenacious and thankfully very stubborn. I had, however, resigned myself to the fact that this summer would not be privy to the pom pom like blooms which are so indicative of Summer in the deep South due to its late start at simply putting back its leaves.

That is, until today.

Just when I thought I knew what would happen as far as a little (actually massive) plant was concerned–late freeze obviously equalling no summer blooms–Life, Mother Nature, you name it, decided to show me a thing or two.

And so it goes. . .
Once again. . .
Life lessons learned in the yard, in the garden, via Mother Nature. . .

Never say never!!!
I have learned that little life lesson the hard way many times over and over throughout this life of mine. As soon as the word leaves my lips, something or someone comes along, almost immediately, to prove to any and all of those around that never is never going to happen!

Never give up!!!
You don’t have to be a Pollyanna with your head stuck in the unrealistic clouds, but you must never quit, never give up, never give in, or never throw in the towel. . .not unless it is spelled out in big bold black and white letters written in plain and simple language.

Never, for one minute, think you know it all.
Just as soon as you make a “set in stone” statement, something or someone comes along to turn upside down everything you’ve just stated as concrete fact.

Be prepared for anything!!
Just when you thought you had things figured out and were “good to go”, something is going to turn your world upside down. Be watchful and be ready. . .it will happen, trust me.

Always remain hopeful!!
If you don’t have any hope that things can turn around, get better, improve. . .then there is really no point to life now is there? As long as there is breath in our bodies, there must always be hope. Nothing is going to last forever–all things eventually change—it may not be within the set time frame of our desires, yet eventually, everything changes.

Make the most of the “now”!!
Don’t wait.
Don’t put of.
Don’t be Scarlet and deal with it all on the proverbial ‘morrow.
One’s house should always be in order–and by house I’m not meaning your literal house, but then again an orderly home is nice as well. . .
I’m talking about the business of life. We only have the now, the today–there are no promises of the tomorrows. . .so if not now, when?
Enjoy today.
Do what it is you’ve been putting off— do it, start it, tackle it— today.
Instead of repeating the mantra of “later”, “tomorrow”, “not now”—-go ahead and do it!!

Give everyone and everything a second chance.
We all deserve second chances.
Don’t be too quick to rush in with judgement, conclusions or endings.
No one is perfect.
No situation is a guarantee.
Those of us whose belief system is steeped in the Gospel know of the admonishment that we must forgive 7 times 70. 490 times seems rather excessive when it’s put to such a number that I should be forgiving someone that many times right? Well, it was once explained to me that in ancient times the circumference of a circle was thought to be 490ᵒ not what we know today as 360ᵒ, so the whole 7 times 70 was once again one of this analogies I have a heard time picking up on–meaning forgiveness should be a constant unending thing. . .

So just when you thought you had it all figured out, knew everything there was to know about something, closed the book on it all, written it off as over and done, given up, decided to call it quits. . . something as simple as a hydrangea, wanting to bloom at the proverbial 11th hour, comes along to remind you that everything and anything is always possible. . .

Happy day!