my whole world could shatter


(Autumn / Julie Cook / 2018)

I had another post written for today but there was a nagging urge to put it on hold.
I kept trying to push through the writing, trying hard to ignore the unseen force
moving me in a different direction, but I couldn’t push it down,
keeping it from consuming my thoughts.
So somewhat reluctantly, I put the post on hold and started writing what seemed to be
pouring from my heart and thoughts.

Groovy Kind Of Love
It was a song that I first remembered hearing back in 1988…
although it had first been a hit in 1965.

The lyrics were written by Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sager, both teens at the time.
It was first recorded by Diane and Annita then later by The Mindbenders.
Eventually, it was covered by The Turtles and finally Phil Collins

And it was Phil Collins’ rendition that left the most lasting impression on my heart.

My mom had died in 1986 at the ripe ol age of 53.
It was lung cancer…
and whether it was just odd or rather just an odd blessing, the entire ordeal only lasted
from July 25th until September 6th.
However, I suspect Mother had been sick much longer than any of us had realized.

In hindsight, I was very much crushed and even broken.
I was 26.
I had been teaching for 3 years plus I had been married for 3 years.
And if the truth be told, it was not the smoothest sailing marriage.
And now I suddenly found myself having to care for my distraught and very inept father
who lived in another city over an hour away.

My plate was now overtly full while my heart was undeniably broken.
And I was very much alone.

When I first heard Phil Collins sing the song in 1988–with that near hypnotic rhythmic
tempatic resonance, I would always catch myself singing softly along.
And every time I got to the line, “my whole world could shatter…”
the words would catch in my throat like a choking rock…
for despite it now having been two years since my mom had died,
my world was still shattered…yet no one knew it but me…
and even I didn’t actually realize how broken I truly was.

The song reminded me of my loss.

My world was shattered…

But…
I knew that I still loved my mom and she, despite being gone, still loved me.
Although it was now in a different dimension with a love that transcended time.
A thing I suppose I now felt was, as the song said, a groovy kind of love.

And so all these many years later…that song has come flooding once again to mind.
Not because I’ve recently heard it playing but rather because the Spirit brings
it to my mind.

So now as I look down upon this tiny granddaughter… I am reminded that
yes, a world could shatter, just as a rock still catches in my throat…
but there will always be that groovy kind of love that transcends time…

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When you’re close to me, I can feel your heart beat
I can hear you breathing near my ear
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love

Anytime you want to you can turn me onto
Anything you want to, anytime at all
When I kiss your lips, ooh I start to shiver
Can’t control the quivering inside
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love, oh

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When I’m in your arms, nothing seems to matter
My whole world could shatter, I don’t care
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love, oh
We got a groovy kind of love

degree of separation

“We cannot live only for ourselves.
A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men;
and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes,
and they come back to us as effects.”

Herman Melville


(the fist pickings from the 3 container tomato plants / Julie Cook / 2017)

It has been said that the citizens of planet earth are separated, one from another,
by a mere 6 degrees…
or what some researches refer to as “the small world phenomenon”

“If you just take a look at the numbers,
the six degrees of separation idea seems pretty plausible.
Assuming everyone knows at least 44 people,
and that each of those people knows an entirely new 44 people, and so on,
the maths shows that in just six steps everyone could be connected
to 44^6, or 7.26 billion people—more than are alive on Earth today.”

(excerpt from an article by Fiona McDonald for Science Alert / sciencealert.com)

full article link here:
http://www.sciencealert.com/are-we-all-really-connected-by-just-six-degrees-of-separation

We’ve seen the notion of this “phenomena”,
and it’s original test of theory dating back to the 1960’s…
as it has morphed over the years into a movie, a college drinking game and even to a
broadway play…as it appears that the notion that we are all so closely connected,
seems to hold a deep fascination with the citizens of the globe.

And yet we wonder as to the responsibility that might come with such a
close connection of kinship…..

The idea that we actually know one another by some interwoven intertwined web of
acquaintances apparently holds us captivated.
The notion that we are each one connected soul, connected to other souls,
souls of which we hold on to tightly in our own little circle of souls,
is seen as eerily soothing.
Just one big happy globally dysfunctional family.

And yet the irony found in our desire for unity is that we also clammer for separation.
We want everything about our lives compartmentalized…separated….
while at the same time we painstakingly seek a global connectivity while also
demanding equality for all and a toleration of every
imaginable choice out there…
except for those who choose the Omnipotent.

So our connectivity and toleration and inclusiveness is actually limited despite
the lies we continue telling ourselves to the contrary.

We vie to find our connectedness…one to another…
while at the same time we vehemently fight to sever our, and everyone else’s,
ties to the Creator…

We fight tooth and nail to separate Him from every aspect of our very
independent secular lives..
While at the same time patting ourselves on our backs for an overt
pride found in the general connectivity and the false unity we think we’ve created…
For we claim inclusiveness in our broad reaching connectivity while at the same time
demanding that any notion of a connection to God be erased from thought.

This fickleness of ours will indeed be our undoing….
for we cannot be connected to everything and everyone while pretending
to disconnect our being, our soul, our own, our all from the very One
who knitted us in our mother’s womb….

For we cannot run nor hide from His knowledge and omnipotent presence,
no matter how far we go or how hard we try….
and until we are able to see and understand and acknowledge that He is a part
of even the very air we breathe,
then we will simply continue this petty exertion of our energies while
puffing up and inflating our trite egos of self,
in this endless ongoing emptiness we find so very fascinating and captivating….

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For thou didst form my inward parts,
thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:7-13

For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Spiritual man

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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(a small framed image of Jesus that my dad has had his entire life sitting on his
dresser from the time he was a young boy until now)

Sitting with my dad who is just shy of 89 and is indeed dying…
who despite my small attempts of diversion when he hangs his head low in despair
and utters a forlorn…
“I’m on my death bed…with this terminal cancer.
I just don’t have much longer….”

As I find myself countering with a rather matter of fact “well Dad,
I suppose we could say that all of us are terminal to some degree or another…”

And it is not my intent to be callous or flippant in my reply but rather to stave off
the black places Dad has always gravitated to.
For you see that not only has Dad been a glass is half empty kind of guy…
his glass has always been nonexistent…
He is A.A. Milne’s character Eeyore come to life

He continues…
“Reckon man just made all this business up about heaven?
How do we really know we go to be with God?
How do we know there really is a God…”

as his warbly voice trails off as his heavy lids flutter over the now glassy tired eyes…

Despite being raised a Southern Baptist, who years ago jumped ship for the
Episcopal Church, and despite serving on the vestry and serving for years as
an usher at church…
Dad has always played the role of doubter…often bordering on the ludicrous.

And always oddly seeming to enjoy drawing my ire when, after watching countless
shows about extra terrestrial life and sweeping galactic space shows,
muses about aliens coming and going verses the foundations of our faith….

He even got caught up in more lunacy after watching a show about the missing
years of Jesus’ growing up…
the what ifs of what happened in those years following a youthful Jesus of 12 being lost
from the family during the pilgrimage for the Passover,
while finally being found in the Temple,
to the next part of the story, years later, as he meets John at the River Jordan….

Dad’s mind wandering to what Jesus did in those 21 yeas in between.
He watched a show that claimed the young boy Jesus took it upon himself to travel to
India to be enlightened during those missing 21 years…
Dad buying hook, line and sinker into the nonsense….

I would get so frustrated wanting to know why in the world he would watch such crazy
farfetched shows…
and for heaven’s sakes…
why on earth would he buy into the foolishness…

And just as easily as I share my disgruntlement over Dad’s willingness to dip deep
into the well of snake oil and falasies,
there are those who are currently reading this post, who in turn are thinking…
“Julie’s dad has a point.”
How do we know?
How does anyone know?

And that’s when I looked at Dad, who is now swiveled and shrinking and racked with pain
in his little hospital bed which has long replaced his regular bed,
as I tell him, “we simply call it faith Dad…”
“Yeah, that’s what John Bruster use to tell me”
John Bruster being Dad’s former parish priest.

“We’ll Dad, it is the foundation of Christianity…
the underpinning as it were…
faith…

Which brings us all back around full circle to the quote by Father Teilhard de Chardin…
that man is indeed a spiritual being.
And he, man, yearns, nay aches, to be connected to that which he seeks.

Many people spend a lifetime seeking to quell the ache.
It is sought so falsely…in so many dark corners of our lives.
Empty and fleeting.
Always grasping for the tangible proof, we run a lifetime into the empty ground of
conjecture while being placated by magic…
wanting, seeking…yet always coming up empty.

It is found in the faith of the God who offered a piece of Himself to be born
into our misery,
Who chose to bear our burdens,
the darkest and most foul reassess of our diseased and blackened minds…
who took upon himself the sickness and brokeness and shortcomings of our bodies…
who faced depravity, deception and falsehoods…
who suffered…
who died and was buried…
Who vanquished hell…
And who rose again…
and is now seated at the right hand of His Father
And who will indeed truly come again…
Who will judge both the living and the dead
And who will welcome us home…

It is that which we claim although our eyes do not see…
For it is in that which we rest our hope in…
our Faith….

“Compel yourselves;
say the prayer;
stop idle talk;
close your mouths to criticism;
place doors and locks against unnecessary words.
Time passes and does not come back,
and woe to us if time goes by without spiritual profit.”

Elder Ephraim of Arizona

Need and want

“The art of our necessities is strange
That can make vile things precious.”

― William Shakespeare

“What people need and what they want may be very different.”
Elbert Hubbard

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(a hungry squirrel, Colonial Cemetery, Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2016)

I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me
I’m begging you to beg me
I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me

Lyrics by Cheap Trick

Need verses want
Want verses need

Once upon a time mankind knew that what was needed
was far more pressing than what was wanted…

However…as time passed and lines blurred, the hype was on…
Needs took a back seat to wants…

But there always seemed as if something was there…
something we just couldn’t put our finger on…
There was a gnawing, a burning, a hunger of sorts…
but yet it wasn’t necessarily for food…

And it only grew, and kept growing to an almost insatiable level.

We weren’t hungry because we had all the tasty and trendy food we could want.
We weren’t cold because we had all the coats, gear and warmth we could want.
We weren’t exposed to the elements because we had all the nicest shelters we could want.
We weren’t sick because we had all the best medicines we could want.

We were simply without…
Without something we couldn’t understand.

And so we felt…
empty…
lacking…
pained…
disjointed…
incomplete…

We had everything we thought we needed and everything we thought we wanted…
But…
But we were wrong….

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“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.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

Psalm 55

Practicing the presence of God

“I must first have the sense of God’s possession of me
before I can have the sense of His presence with me.”

Watchman Nee

DSCN0335
(remains of St Kevin’s Monastery, Glendalough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

A.W. Tozer tells us that to the convinced Christian, “the practice of the presence of God” consists not of projecting an imaginary object from within his own mind and then seeking to realize its presence; it is rather to recognize the real presence of the One whom all sound theology declare to be already there, an objective entity, existing apart from any apprehension of Him on the part of His creatures.
The resultant experience is not visionary but real.

The world would have us all believe otherwise…

It is however our faith, our belief, our experience, our relationship that teaches us, tells us, assures us that His presence is indeed real…without doubt….
yet…we are left with a nagging…
what then…?

The question begs….
What then are we do with and in this realness that is a distinct part of our God?
What of the intimacy of the relationship?
The going deeper?
The nurturing?
The growth?
The sharing?

Is merely accepting, believing and moving forward enough?
Is that all there is or all there should be…
to believe in, pray to, to worship…
the Great I AM, Elohim, YHVH, Jehovah, Yahweh..
The name that truly, we the created, are not worthy, not equal to, not “friends” with…to utter.

To approach with reverence and awe
To be silent and still
To empty ourselves of everything…
of the distractions
the preoccupations
the materialism
the worry
the fear
the fretting
the lamenting
the sorrowfulness

To become wholly empty…
making a space within a space that is open and vast
Hungry and yearning
Desiring, wanting, needing…
Needing so desperately that it hurts…
Just as a wound would cause pain…then ache…so does the empty heart…

Oh to be filled with the only thing that can soothe, refresh, renew and heal
The One who yearns to fill that space
Yet will not reveal Himself, unless we come before Him, in total submisson.
No bravado, no ego, no toughness, no holier than thou, no anger, no resentment,
no bitterness, no pride, no self….
Only humble emptiness…longing to be filled by the One who longs for communion
with the created….


And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

Fading beauty? I think not!

Smiling always with a never fading serenity of countenance,
and flourishing in an immortal youth.

Isaac Barrow

DSCN7896
(decaying stump topped by shelf fungus / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2014)

I made mention the other day that I will soon be turning 55.
Whereas I don’t put a lot of stock in numbers but rather in just a good ol dose of “get up and go,” I suppose advancing age does give one pause for reflection.
However I promise not to heavily reflect today. . .not about myself anyway.

I have also made mention in previous posts, pontificating my aversion of our culture’s refusal in allowing any of us to age. I’ve also added my 2¢ in various posts concerning the millions of dollars needlessly spent on lotions, potions, chemical this and thats, surgical augmentations—all for the perpetual quest our society seems to have for the elusive fountain of youth.

It troubles me watching what people do, particularly woman, in the name of acquiring ageless beauty.
I suppose it doesn’t help when woman are inundated by advertising, television and Hollywood as to what is considered “good looking,” drop dead gorgeous and sheer beauty. You’re considered a washed up prune if you don’t color your hair, don’t botox your wrinkles, don’t lift your lids, your breasts or your butt and survive off of kale and green smoothies.

Let’s not talk about our culture’s current obsession with weight. I’m all for health—healthy eating habits, healthy exercise, healthy weight. I’m NOT all for the current chronic obsession for pencil thin, 0 fat BMIs, and what the Marketing world deems to be the “perfect” body.

Whatever happened with striking a balance? A happy medium?

And I best not get started on dress and appearance and the obsession grown, dare I say, older woman have with dressing more like their daughters or as woman in their early 20’s. Trying to put a 40, 50, 60, 70 year old body into something a 25 year old would be wearing is just not appealing, no matter what you may think. It’s great if you can still fit into and rock that look, but there comes a time when it’s really not “cool” doing so, as one comes off looking more silly, even, dare I say pathetic, verses classic, timeless, stylish and chic.

So what if one’s body is not meant to be a size 2?
So what if one’s hair turns gray?
So what if one has wrinkles?
So what if one doesn’t want to live at the gym?
So what if one enjoys something other than a constant combination of soy, tofu, qunioa, kale or spelt?

I’m not saying that I don’t “fix” myself up or care about my appearance. I do care. And I have to work at my weight and health. I fret over my hair as it’s thinning terribly due to a bum thyroid. I like to dress up wearing nice clothes—however, I don’t color my hair, my wrinkles are all present and accounted for, all sorts of things are giving way to gravity, and when I look in the mirror I wonder where my eyebrows have gone and if I ever had eyelids. But what I see is simply me, life and time and how those three things mix together making me, me.

I am however deeply troubled over the message all of this obsession over appearance, weight, youthfulness and anti-aging sends to our youth.

Boys are taught to build up and bulk up as we see countless young men and boys gobbling up protein powders, muscle milk, creatine powders and daring to gamble in the murky and dark world of performance enhancement drugs and steroids. For to be deemed the fastest and strongest, with a better “built” body, is the bottom line of athletic prowess and success, not to mention the envy of others.

Girls are taught at an early age that thin is in and that Victoria Secret’s models are the body’s to ascertain to, as they are “perfect”—-REALLY?
Woe to the young girl who is not slim, trim and svelte and does not possess the long legs of a gazelle.

The news is riddled daily with stories of some sort of cosmetic surgery gone awry, where clients / patients have actually died or been maimed by merely attempting to turn back the hands of time. Hollywood is full of aging actors and actresses who have had so much “work” done to their faces that they are no longer recognizable.

Oh it is all simply so sad.
So empty.
So shallow.
So fleeting.

I am not one to watch much television. I don’t keep up with the rag tag tabloids of who’s who. I don’t read People, I don’t watch talk shows, I don’t watch shows such as the Grammys or the Oscar award shows and I really don’t care about people walking up and down red carpets.
None of that is “real” to me.
It speaks of falsehoods.

I don’t hear or see much about the important matters of life—those things that God would wish for us to be in the business about—those things such as caring for the sick and the poor, ministering to shut-ins and the infirmed, feeding the hungry—none of that in the world of glitz and glamour. . Imagine if all that energy and money spent on fighting aging and chasing youthfulness was turned towards feeding the hungry, clothing the needy and housing the homeless. . .

So imagine my surprise when I caught a brief clip today of an interview which addressed this obsession of ours with ageless beauty by an actress who has refused to give in to the propaganda and hype. I was going in to check my email when the title of the interview caught my eye. Not one to watch folks like Oprah or Katie Couric as their idea of news is more or less gossip or trending fads, I actually stopped long enough to watch the clip and I admit, I was impressed.

Katie Couric was interviewing Frances McDormand concerning the actresses refusal to “augment” her aging process and what that means in the world of acting and Hollywood. She is certainly in the minority but is quite content with her looks, as is her husband of 33 years, as she notes the various lines and wrinkles on her face tell her life’s stories, she even laughed explaining how several “wrinkles” belong to her 20 something son–why would she want to do away with those story telling lines, as those are the lines from the life events which define who she is and what has made her life just that, her life.

The title of the interview is ‘I’m happy with the way I look and how I age’
and here is a link to the Yahoo news interview:

http://news.yahoo.com/katie-couric-interviews-frances-mcdormand-210921583.html

I applaud this woman, who at 57, is happy with her face, her body, her choice, her life—despite her profession’s culture of brainwashing everyone into thinking what should be the perfect body, face, life. . .

Here’s to aging and here’s to real beauty which is so much deeper than surface appearance!

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Awaiting the harvest

Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain.
James 5:7

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(wild pears / Julie Cook / 2014)

Some years the lone wild pear tree, perched deep in the woods, bears a bountiful crop. For what and for whom is uncertain as these are not the succulent pears of Anjou or Sekel. These are small hard bitter pears that neither deer nor raccoon will eat.

Other years this lone little tree yields but a single pear, perhaps two, maybe even three.
No matter whether there are baskets, or not, overflowing with fruit nor that the fruit is edible—the tree bears in both times that are lean and times that are plentiful.

The love of the masterful Creator, the omnipotent Father, equally bears a bountiful crop. At times it is a wonder as to what and for whom that bountiful love should be made available. Yet the crop is never exclusive nor sparse. The basket is open to any and all who may wish to reach in.

In times both lean and plentiful, the basket remains full. The harvest is always plentiful, yet those who choose to partake may often be few. The availability is never lacking. The basket overflows with a greater abundance than imaginable. The fruit is never bitter, always sweet.

However the time will come when the harvest and the season will draw to an end.
The abundance will wane.
The tree will be bare.
The basket will quickly empty.
Who will be left wanting
and
Who will remain full?