awake at night

“When you awake in the night,
transport yourself quickly in spirit before the Tabernacle, saying:
‘Behold, my God, I come to adore You, to praise, thank, and love you,
and to keep you company with all the Angels.'”

St. John Vianney


(sunset over the the gulf /Julie Cook / 2018)

The past several nights I have woken up around 2:30 AM—wide awake.
Hot.
Sweaty.
Uncomfortable.
Despite the AC running and my husband gently snoring, sleep for me is over.

My back aching with the slightest move–and now an aching neck and shoulder.

It hurts to turn, to roll, to twist.

Dreams, when they come, have been vivid, leaving me wondering and pondering.
Pondering much too much for such an unwelcoming hour.

Time passes with no relief as the numbers of the clock tick on and on.
No calm nor slumber.

Sleep, for me, is often elusive but more so as of late.

When the morning light comes, it is almost rude and unkind as
I find it harder and harder to get up since sleep now tries to
arrive right when it’s time to get up.

Exhausted and ill, I grouse at the day.

Last night, my brain turned on, my eyes popped open and it was only 2:30— my mind racing.
I ruminated on and on like a cow chewing cud over my latest odd dream.
Unresolved ancient issues or just the aching of a herniated disc?

I examine the past.
“NO”, I shout to my hyper-focused mind…” this is not the time!”

So my brain now toys with me, as the unending partial lyrics to a song
begin playing over and over as the earworm bores deeper into my brain.

“STOP”, I silently plead to my restless brain….”just let me rest”, I implore.

And so…I pray.
Focusing on that which is greater than the madness, greater than my weariness.
I offer myself over to You as a sacrifice…
Hear my prayers oh Lord…

“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner”

Over and over I repeat the soothing words until I sense my mind and body quieting in unison.

“My Lord, I offer you myself in turn as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
You have died for me, and I in turn make myself over to you.
I am not my own.
You have bought me; I will by my own act and deed complete the purchase.
My wish is to be separated from everything of this world;
to cleanse myself simply from sin; to put away from me even what is innocent,
if used for its own sake, and not for yours. I put away reputation and honor,
and influence, and power, for my praise and strength shall be in you.
Enable me to carry out what I profess.”

Bl. John Henry Newman, p. 135
An Excerpt From
Everyday Meditations

After the storm

“Let the Word of God come; let it enter the church;
let it become a consuming fire, that it may burn the hay and stubble,
and consume whatever is worldly; there is heavy lead of iniquity in many;
let it be molten by divine fire; let the gold and silver vessels be made better,
in order that understanding and speech, refined by the heat of suffering,
may begin to be more precious.”

St. Ambrose


(the break following a very stormy day / Julie Cook / 2018)

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says,
‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you,
and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’
I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.
I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you,
the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.
And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices,
all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into
a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature:
either into a creature that is in harmony with God,
and with other creatures, and with itself,
or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures,
and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven:
that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power.
To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence,
and eternal loneliness. Each of us at this moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 92
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

Saving the best for last

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched- they must be felt with the heart.”
― Helen Keller

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(the setting of the sun in a December Georgia evening sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

Does He give us His very best at the start of each day?
The time when our senses are the most fresh and keen?

Does He give us His very best at the noonday hour?
The time when we begin to lose our steam, seeking a needed jolt to make it through the day?

Or does He save His very best for the end of each passing day?
When our eyes are weary and our senses dulled, when our strength is gone
and our hearts are low?

Twilight

Twilight drops her curtain down, and pins it with a star.
Lucy Maud Montgomery

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(a lone evening star caught in a southern sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

Stillness magically, thankfully, blessedly now covers the land.
Gone is the endless din of noise from the day’s chaos known simply as Life
With November’s chill slowly wrapping her arms around everything she sees, our pace gently slows.
Shadows have grown long as day’s light is now limited.
The time of reflection is at hand.

Timid and oh so slowly, one by one, the tiny late season jewels of the evening sky make their debut.
At first it is but a single star in the deep azure and magenta swarth of sky, which silently commands rather than begs the curious to gaze skyward.
Guiding, luring, beckoning as if by some primordial drive, we are drawn to this single brilliant light.

2000 years ago, God put His finger to the sky, and in so doing, He pierced the night with a tiny ray of light. A pinpoint of celestial brilliance shone down upon humanity’s darkness. A single directional beam called humankind to its side.

The season of expectation is at hand, as our thoughts return skyward.
We continue to cast our gaze heavenly.
We continue looking, waiting and watching.
Will Hope call for us again?
Will we recognize it for what it is?
Will we feel its pull, its draw, its offer of redemption?

Twilight, when silence descends and Hope appears
When the light of a single star dares to shine
and humankind is once again made whole

What? You talking to me?

We live in deeds not years In thoughts not breaths In feelings not figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives who thinks most, feels noblest, acts the best.”
― Philip James Bailey

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(wary eyed pigeon, Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

When my son was a little boy, he and I spent a great deal of time together. And not that it’s odd for a mother to spend a great deal of time with her child, my child happened to be only child with our living in a separate community from the one in which I taught, way back in the middle of 20 acres of woods. I was pretty much his only playmate, up until it was time to start school. His dad worked long hours so it was often just the two of us.

A favorite pastime would often find us curled up on the couch watching his favorite shows, with cartoons being a big part of our viewing. My dad had spent time with me watching cartoons so it just seemed natural for me to do the same with my child. And I must admit that those are some of the best memories I have of those simple easy days spent contently together–nothing special, no big deal–just he and I simply enjoying being together and laughing as we watched a silly cartoon

One of the cartoons we both enjoyed watching was the Goodfeathers.

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Goodfeathers was the cartoon’s world take on the movie the Goodfellas. I’d never seen the Goodfellas movie but I knew enough about the movie to know that it was a story about the Mob. The cartoon was so tongue and cheek and such a funny take on the stereotypical life of Italian Americans and Mob life that I think I probably enjoyed it as much, if not more, than my son–and if the truth be told, most likely on a vastly different level. That subtle little nuances that only I could pick up on.

The Goodfeathers even had their own version of Marlon Brando’s role from the Godfather–a role portrayed by the Godpigeon.

good feathers

And so it was, on an idle evening stroll, along a beautifully old victorian era street lined with the brownstones of days gone by, that I spied a lone pigeon lounging along the rim of a bird bath. My proximity to him seemed to make no never mind, so I stopped long enough to take his picture.

Later, when I was actually going through the myriad of pictures I’d taken throughout the day, I noted the wary eye this pigeon shot my way–with the immediate thought and words of a young Robert de Nero—“What, You talking to me?”
Which in turn immediately sent my thoughts tumbling back in time, many years prior to a delightful time of joy and innocence when a mom and her young son lived a simpler time of contentment. . .

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(cookie and little cookie, on his wedding day / June 7, 2014 –and it should be noted, he’s little cookie 😉 )

Evening sky

In the evening of life we shall be judged on love, and not one of us is going to come off very well, and were it not for my absolute faith in the loving forgiveness of my Lord I could not call on him to come.
Madeleine L’Engle

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(a mid June evening sky in Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sweetly calm gentle evening sky;
A hush falls over the land.

Oppressive heat thankfully dissipates
as now soothing evening air eases weary minds

Gone for today is life’s hustle and bustle,
serenely replaced by an unseen artist’s muted tones

A heavy head leans against the window’s glass
while inquisitive eyes watch Peace lazily pass by

The road seemingly stretches endlessly onward
carrying way-ward travelers safely home

Rest now found in an evening sky
as serenity covers the earth