seeking and hiding

“In moments of exaltation one expressed sentiments that outstripped
one’s spiritual capabilities by a vast span; and she knew well that
unless God is sought for Himself alone, with a selflessness
of which she was at present incapable,
He is not to be found.”

― Elizabeth Goudge


(wild blackberries are ripening deep in the Georgia woods / Julie Cook / 2017)


(the ripening blueberries bushes out back in the yard / Julie Cook / 2017)

I go to great lengths when it comes to seeking out, and subsequently picking,
those glistening seasonal black and blue ripening gems…
those succulent orbs and globes of juicy blueberries and now
the incoming crop of wild blackberries.

I have been known to go to near daredevil feats in order to fill a basket, bowl or bag
with these precious little beauties.
I have braved chiggers, ticks, snakes…as well as bleeding to death due to digging deep
into the proverbial briar patch.

This obsessiveness over berry picking worries my husband.

He seems to believe that I do not possess the gift of lithe or grace when it comes to say,
walking…let alone standing on my head while reaching deep into a thicket of the unknown
in search of the elusive black or blue jewel.

I think it comes down to the fact that he’s going to hold that broken ankle business
against me for the rest of my non broken life.
It wasn’t my fault I fell in a drain hole while putting out the pine straw that spring…
a hole he’d dug out just days prior and failed to fill back in before I stepped in it.

So when I must balance on a narrow brick wall,
while leaning over as far as I can with one foot planted on the ledge while
the other leg is sticking straight out behind me in some sort of yoga like pose…
all the while as I’m reaching as far as I can
without face planting into a mass jumble of branches,
fruit and leaves…
well, I don’t know what the fuss and worry is all about.

I mean, I watch for the snakes, bees and ants.
I try my best not to fall, really I do.
I can’t help that I’ll be covered with red whelps the following day that will itch like
nobody’s business…
I can’t help that I scream the word “STOP!!” when we’re happily and quietly driving down
a road in the middle of nowhere when I suddenly spot a lovely ripening bramble bush
along the side of said deserted road… beckoning to be picked.
He likes the pies and cobblers…so what’s all the the big worry???

So naturally while I was reaching and digging deep buried up to my elbows in stickers,
all during the throws of my berry seeking session yesterday,
oh so busy about the task of finding and picking…
I was stuck by a startlingly similarity between my hyper focused quest in seeking
the elusive hiding fruits—the object of an almost obsessive determination, and
the lengths to which I know God goes when He wants, nay yearns, to seek out and
eventually find….us….

As we have the tendency to hide, always painstakingly out of arms reach…and
yet a loving God painstakingly seeks his own…
for He will go to even much greater and even more daring lengths in His quest for us
than dare say I do over a mere berry….

And boy how grateful I am that He does!

I will seek that which was lost,
and bring again that which was driven away,
and will bind up that which was broken,
and will strengthen that which was sick:
but I will destroy the fat and the strong;
I will feed them with judgment.

Ezekiel 34:16

Elusive or certain

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.
Mahatma Gandhi

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(sign seen somewhere along a road in County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

Isaiah 45:3

Elusiveness

Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to live with as it is elating. We must march toward these two goals, painfully but resolutely, certain in advance of our failings on so long a road.
Albert Camus

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(my elusive blue jay / Julie Cook / 2015)

Out of all the birds who frequent my yard, my blue jays are the most standoffish, persnickety, skittish—it’s as if they know I’m trying to snap their picture. The minute they see me, hear me, sense me. . .off they soar.

The jays seem to prefer hunting and pecking as compared to all my birds who relish in the abundance of seed and suet offered in the plethora of feeders I make available for both local and transient bird alike. Perhaps jays are a more independent lot. They are larger birds who are louder and more garish then their more demure counterparts. Maybe they prefer their independence to dependence on my offerings.

Spying a jay lighting on the ground in the backyard from out the kitchen window–I dash to grab my camera, making my way out to the deck–as quietly as possible, gently positioning myself, focusing the camera. . .when poof, they’re gone.

They are beautiful birds—very few creatures in the animal world are blue. How special is that?!
And maybe they have a sense of that “specialness” with no need for the likes of me and my birdseed–preferring to keep their distance doing what they do without human interference or intervention.

I often wonder if God must not think I’m a lot like that jay.
I may not be blue. . .however I am still one of a kind despite being just one in the massive sea known as humanity.
I am more often than not, fiercely independent— stubbornly preferring to always do things my way despite the gifts of abundance God has bestowed at my feet. I often go about my everyday mundane tasks without ever acknowledging His presence.

I remain standoffish, often eluding His best attempts to be near me.
Yet, very much like my own attempts to seek out the jay, despite all the other birds who make themselves happily and easily available to me for close encounters, God remains steadfast and determined to seek me out despite my often elusive behavior. He continues tirelessly working His way to me, trying to get closer to me every day, despite the fact that there are so many others who have made themselves freely available to Him.
He waits for me and me alone.
Patiently, He continues waiting, watching, hoping, offering. . .

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Mountains, mole hills and this elusive Spring

It is the essence of truth that it is never excessive. Why should it exaggerate? There is that which should be destroyed and that which should be simply illuminated and studied. How great is the force of benevolent and searching examination! We must not resort to the flame where only light is required.
Victor Hugo

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.”

― W.B. Yeats

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(a spring rain drips down the soon to be budding maple tree / Julie Cook /2015)

Quick!
Did you see it?
Ohhh darn, you missed it.
It was right there in plain site. . .I promise!
Just as you turned your head, poof, it just disappeared.
What a shame. . . .

And so it is, ode to the ongoing elusive dance between Winter and Spring.
Warm, temperate and dry has been few and far between.
Frustratingly wet and chilly are proving to be more the norm.

Yet slowly and doggedly surely. . .
Little by little
a wee bit of color here
and a wee bit of life there,
each easing onto the scene.

And as with any time of transition,
there are to always be those herky jerky periods of stops and starts–
those glorious moments of wonder and those awkward spells of turmoil

Life certainly mirrors our seasons does it not?
At times there are the magical moments of marvelous ecstasies,
the slow dormant quiets of loss,
with each being traded for the tumultuous trials of transition.

Springtime, this spectacular time of passage, is certainly a time of clashing forces.
Warm air masses begin colliding with cold air masses.
Angry storms abound as a reluctant Winter battles to hold on to power.
Each season, each time passage, vies for control.

This time of yearly transition affords the random observer to be privy
to the passing of one realm to the next.
The proverbial passing of the torch from one reluctant monarch to the next.
Death and decay giving way to the expectancy of birth and renewal.

And as with any birth, as magical as it is,
birth exacts a certain amount of pain.
Marvelous, precious and delicious does not come without labor, toil and work.

And so it is with human nature.
We often see that the well intended can either deal with things honestly and straightforward,
tackling one thing at a time, or we can witness the misguided going off willy nilly,
making mountains out of molehills.

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(an image of beginning renovations and renewal of a worn torn yard / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(two different victims of some sort of foul play / Julie Cook / 2015)

As far back as the 16th century it seems people have been making mountains out of molehills.
The expression was actually recorded in 1660 in an English lexicon of idioms. A similar expression was recorded even earlier, in 1549, using a different visual reference but still with the same meaning.
Therefore marking our history with an age old conundrum. . .that mountains and molehills appear to be an ongoing human condition.

There is no doubt that you know the expression. . .
the whole taking of something seemingly small and insignificant and in turn blowing it up until it is almost an unsurmountable trouble.

Sadly it seems with some folks that such an undertaking is simply how they choose to operate on an ongoing basis. The taking of a simple task, situation or issue. . . turning it and everything around them into a disproportionate crises. Hopelessly preferring to stir up everyone and anyone in their wake. Leaving the likeminded and team-players mystified, frustrated and dazed.

It is during such times of battling, clashing and climbing that we must remember that good things can and do come from bad. That the obstacles placed before us, either by happenstance or by the misguided and malcontents, can either be approached and dealt with, depending on how we decide to proceed, or can fall victim to the perceived mountains produced by the lowly molehills.

I for one prefer to step, perhaps even stomp on the molehills, avoiding the ensuing mountains and make for the pretty flowers of Spring. . .that we could all be so like minded. . .

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(blooming tulip flower / Julie Cook / 2015)

Perfect Love

“As people who have hearts that long for perfect love, we have to forgive one another for not being able to give or receive that perfect love in our everyday lives.
Henri J. M. Nouwen

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

1 John 4:16

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(White shelf fungus / Troup Co, GA / Julie Cook / 2015)

We spend a lifetime in search of it. . .
We expect it from parents
We demand it from siblings
We seek it from friends
We look for it in a spouse
We hope for it from various organizations
We yearn for it in our jobs
We assume it’ll be in our
churches
pastors
priests
We want it in our
physicians
healthcare providers
teachers
students
Our pets seem to come the closest. . .

We rationalize that we certainly give this “perfect love”. . .
so therefore. . .
Why don’t others give it back to us?

The end result of this lifetime spent digging, demanding, expecting and searching, all for this elusive prize, is. . .
frustration
resentment
heartbreak
anger
bitterness
and emptiness. . .

and yet. . .
It waits, quietly and patiently—waiting to fill our hearts with an unquenchable, yet satiating, one and only true Perfect Love. . .

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:16-18

To sleep, but to dream; to wake but to yearn

“I dreamt — marvellous error! — that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures.”
― Antonio Machado

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
William Shakespeare

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(the beads of tiny rain drops appear as pearls upon a spider’s web / Julie Cook / 2015)

Routed out of slumber’s silent realm
waking in the harsh dark reality of that what was,
for was, was but a dream. . .

Again the dream, each time is different
Yet the meaning and emotion quite the same
To be. . .
Embraced
Enveloped
Loved completely

It may not be you
but it is some form of you
Sadly having never seen you
nor achingly never having known you

But you are there
kind and nurturing. . .
Missing you,
longing to know you
to see you
to feel you
to see your face,
seeing mine

In sleep you are elusive
Seemingly present, yet not.
In waking, you have never existed
Emptiness fills the heart

Fleeting and just out of reach,
Your smile fills the void
To be loved as in the dream,
In the reality of waking,
leaves the heart spent.

Tears fall as the pearls of a broken strand
worn beautifully around your neck
But that I could gather them up
giving them back to you,
pouring them gently into your warm hands
For in the dream, you are warm. . .

Your eyes tenderly enveloping the now grown child
You see nothing negative, just joy
in what stands before you—
How different would it all have been
knowing you?

You remain hidden
In the shadows of a sleeping mist
You are longed for in wakefulness
A haunting specter longed for in
a dream

Waning and Waxing

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the Creator.
Mahatma Gandhi

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(the waxing crescent moon of the end of August / Julie Cook / 2014)

A waning summer is soon to be written down in the annuals of time as just another volume known simply as the memories of a summer come and gone. . .

First it was June who offered her sheer joy of freedom and the simple recklessness of abandon which was to be found lurking in the heart of both young and old. Freedom whispered as Summer offered her enticing and welcoming warmth, coaxing all winter weary souls back into the light of day. The Days grew long and luscious as bare feet relished the cool tall grass. Soft laughter was heard across the evening skies as we gave ourselves permission to sit out just a little bit longer and a little bit later while savoring the perfume of gardenia and jasmine on a summer’s night breeze as we watched the fireflies dance with the stars.

Next came July, marching forth wearing her Red, White and Blue. Her night skies lit bright with the colorful displays of triumph and freedom. Reminding us of who we are and why we are and why any of that really matters. Children squealed with delight as the juice of watermelons and ice cold popsicles trickled down cheeks and chins. We packed our baskets full of fried chicken and potato salad. We gathered by lakes and ponds, casting our lines and pulling our skis–donning lotions and potions keeping sun and insect both at bay. Happiness and joy mingled sweetly together with the myriad of pitchers of lemonade, the bottomless bowls of homemade ice-cream while the smoke of a thousand grills and cookouts wafted heavenward.

Finally August arrived on a long hot summer wind. The sun bore down as a brilliant flame ready to bake a silent earth. The grass withered, the creeks dried as air quality alerts were sounding the alarm. Triple digits danced across the meters as we darted and dashed from house to car, from car to work in the maddening avoidance of the furnace blast of an unforgiving month. Our clothes clung to sweat soaked bodies as each breath labored under the thick stagnant humid air. Energies were drained as the heat of the day took its toll. Joy and pleasure took a nap along with the brilliant colors of flowers and blooms which gave way to dried crunchy browns. The cicadas sang their endless song under the blanket of a hazy heavy night.

And here we are again, preparing one last time, ready to offer up one more final “Hooray”–one last chance to capture the elusive siren known as Summer. One more opportunity to grab with gusto a little summertime enjoyment before the page turns, waxing toward a hopeful new season and time. A refreshing Fall is waiting in the wings, ready to offer her brilliance of color, intoxicating warm woody scents, and rich full heady flavors—but until that time comes, we must give Summer her due and pay her homage one last hot and humid time. . .