stand up now or soon, you won’t have the opportunity…blame it on the bats

Alleluia.
Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed.
Alleluia.

Book of Common Prayer


The Resurrection of Christ, from the right wing of the Isenheim Altarpiece, c.1512-16 oil / Matthias Grünewald)

Christ has Risen—
Christ has risen indeed!
Amen…

We are resoundingly reminded of this little fact each Easter…
we are delightfully reminded that our hope remains intact and steadfast.

Growing up—Easter always meant a new pretty dress and shiny black patented leather shoes.
Sunny and bright…radiating light all for the most Holy day in all of Christendom.
Easter Sunday was such a festive and beautiful day despite the early spring weather
being unpredictable.

There was the deep and resounding pipe organ accompanying the rising crescendo of voices
ringing out that Jesus Christ had (has) risen today…

Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

(Latin hymn, “Surrexit Christus hodie)

Holy, Holy Holy…

Sacred while full of joy.

Yet sadly, we took it for granted didn’t we?

We just assumed every Easter we’d dress up, go to Church, sing joyfully then
gather with family for a festive lunch and competitive Easter Egg hunts.

This joy came after the lead up of dying eggs, picking flowers, cooking foods we’d
fasted from for the previous 40 days…

We let it become systematic…routine.
We took it for granted.

We didn’t realize it then did we?
We didn’t realize it two years ago.

However, last year gave us a foreboding glimpse to what was to come
and I dare say, the majority of us didn’t see what would be coming.

Not here…not us.

We had a pandemic.

We shut down our world.

We shut down our lives…our jobs, our stores, our movies, our schools and
more importantly, our houses of worship.

But hey, we can do anything for the good of the whole for a few weeks right?

But it wasn’t a few weeks was it?

We are now over a year in…
and two Easters have since come and gone.

So what does any of this mean?

Well Christian participation, that of church worship attendance
in the US, is now for the first time ever, down below 50 percent.

Before I go much further, let me give my full disclosure here—
I do not regularly attend any particular church.
So before you start wagging fingers at me for assuming that I am
some sort of ‘do as I say but not as I do’ sort of individual…
My journey with my Anglican roots has been jolted to the core
over its frenzied and gleeful racing away from God’s word…
all the while it blindly races to embrace the world’s word…
a word that is a lie.

So I am waiting for His lead as to where I need to land.
But until that time, know that I cling to a deep Christian Spirituality.
The mysticism that is our faith.
The Mysticism embedded within a three time span.
A timeline that exists between betrayal, brutality, death, hell
and Resurrection.

So I caught a blog post about Christian persecution…modern day, 21st century
persecution.

It was shared by our friend Vincent over on Talmidimblogging

“More than 245 million Christians worldwide are enduring high levels of persecution
for their faith—from militant extremist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram
(an Islamic extremist group terrorizing West Africa),
to government law and the general culture that often sees converting
to Christianity as betrayal.

According to Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List—an in-depth investigative report focusing
on the global persecution of Christians—persecution is increasing at an alarming rate.
That 245 million number is up this year from last year’s total of 215 million.

https://theologyschool.org/2021/04/04/christians-whose-lives-dont-matter/

The post highlights the top 10 nations from around the world who are trying to
silence Christians and eliminate the faithful and their faith.
Brutality
Torture
Kidnapping
Rape
Imprisonment
Death

The article however got me thinking.

Thinking about what we in the West take for granted.
We take our faith, our ability to go to our places of worship, all for granted.

We witnessed such on this past Easter Sunday both here and in Europe
where various masses and services were interrupted by law enforcement—interrupted
by the police for breaking pandemic protocol.

Where pastors and priests were reprimanded and even arrested for holding services with
their parishioners during a pandemic…
all the while secular events begin to open back up.

Police descending upon our houses of worship all the while rioters and protestors
continue their unchecked mayhem in our major cities—while thousands of immigrants
flood across our borders—the pandemic is allowed to fester due to our oh so woke
liberal minded leadership in what they allow to cross our borders by turning their
blind eyes.
They hammer home for everyone to get vaccinated yet they can’t even say that with the vaccine
things will ever get back to what they once were—as in going back to normal.

Control is an interesting thing.

Eating bats is also interesting.

It appears to be problematic— not only for the said consumer, but
apparently for the entire world.

We first saw that little problem with the Ebola outbreak a few years back…
Bats were the culprit then…and supposedly they are the culprit now.

Bats leading to the demise of Christianity in the 21st century?

I suppose stranger things have happened….

But if you are a Believer and you are beginning to wonder how much longer
the powers that be think they can curtail your right to publicly worship
you might want to speak up now…while you still legally have a voice.

Or you can just blame it on the bats and keep quiet.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

an early Joyous Easter

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair.
We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła)


(empty tomb courtesy the web)

We have a jammed packed next couple of days…
Starting with a wedding in Atlanta on Friday…

One of my oldest and dearest friend’s daughter is getting married.
Getting married in the midst of a pandemic is problematic at best…
ask any bride from this time last year all the way ’til now…
Cancelations, plan B’s, C’s and even D’s to simply giving up and giving in
while opting for the notion of eloping.

I kind of happened to mention to my friend that…
“you do know, that in all of Christendom, there are no weddings on Good Friday…”
“And why is that?” she asked a bit annoyed…you should know my friend is Jewish
while the groom and his family are Catholic.

Oh something about Good Friday being the most solemn day on the Church’s calendar…this as my thoughts trail off…

I got a rather quick and snappy reply from a mother of a bride who has had
to jump every hurdle and hoop known to man due to a pandemic while trying
to pull off the wedding of a daughter’s dream….
“Well you know” she begins…”had some idiot in China opted not to eat a d@mn bat,
we’d be having the wedding on Saturday and they’d actually be going on their honeymoon
of choice but again, since some d@mn idiot in China decided to eat a bat… we are, in turn, living plans B, C, D, E and even F!!”

We mustn’t mess with the mothers or the brides of 2020 and now 2021…

And so immediately following the wedding, we’ve got to race back home because I’m signed up to get my second vaccine at 9 AM sharp at the Cancer and Blood Center in Athens.

I know…
I was vaccine shamed…plain and simple, so let’s not talk about it…

Rather let’s pray I don’t get as sick this round as I did following shot number 1 …because
everyone is coming to our house Sunday for Easter Lunch!!!!

So, since the next couple of day’s will be spent dashing here and there as well as cooking and cleaning …
I wanted to wish everyone a joyous day of Resurrection…
A keen reminder of redemption and hope!

“The soul that does not attach itself solely to the will of God will find neither
satisfaction nor sanctification in any other means,
however excellent by which it may attempt to gain them.
If that which God Himself chooses for you does not content you,
from whom do you expect to obtain what you desire?…
It is only just, therefore, that the soul that is dissatisfied with the divine action
for each present moment should be punished by being unable to find happiness in anything else.”

Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p. 14
An Excerpt from
Abandonment to Divine Providence

A bond…some things blessedly stay the same…for now

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize
that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”

Eckhart Tolle

“Man can no longer live for himself alone.
We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life.
From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”

Albert Schweitzer


(the Mayor and Peaches / Julie Cook / 2021)

Three years…
two cats…
one baby girl…
(and of course one baby boy…however the cats only gravitate to the Mayor…
the Sheriff is not known for his gentleness…something about being two fisted with
a ball bat and golf club all of which makes the cats very nervous)

The cats tend to avoid this one…

God has created me to do Him some definite service.
He has commited some work to me which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission.
I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.

St. John Henry Newman

a lamb lead to slaughter or just another dumb sheep?

I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.

Psalm 119:176


(Francisco de Zurbaran / Agnus Dei / 1639)

If you know me, you know I have always loved that whole sheep and shepherd thing.
In fact I’ve often waxed poetic about moving to Ireland, living somewhere near
Dingle, with about 5 sheep.

A plot of emerald green land that looks out over the Atlantic Ocean….
ahhhhh… (thanks Paul)

I suppose this affinity of mine actually goes back to having grown up in a traditional
Episcopalian church…more “high” church—more Anglican than what we know now.

Each Sunday morning, working our way through the morning’s daily office, we would recite the
Confession taken from the Book of Common Prayer.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent;
According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake;
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name.

Amen.
1928 Book of Common Prayer

I so often felt like that erring and straying sheep…especially as I aged.
I could err and stray with the best of um.

So I always keenly felt that whole “I am the Shepherd and the sheep know my name”
You know, that verse out of John??
I would yearn to hear that loving and forgiving voice of my Shepherd.

We sheep aren’t often the brightest and are easily lead astray.
And yet Jesus took on that role of sacrificial lamb.
Laying down His life for His own sheep…the Agnus Dei.

You know that wonderful piece found in Isaiah???–
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
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.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished

Isaiah 53:6-8

So much symbology…so many beautiful and yet tragic images.
Albeit tragic melding into triumph…

But today, I felt perhaps a little ‘less than’ triumphant.
I simply felt that I was being a good dumb sheep.

I was joining the herd.

Maybe they should use the term ‘flock’…
Flock immunity vs herd immunity.

I don’t know if you’ve had your “vaccine”.
I don’t know if you want to get “the” vaccine.

I thought I didn’t want to get my vaccine.

There are so many schools of thoughts—so many bickering camps out there–
each touting a different mantra regarding the vaccine.

“It’s a biologic not an anti virulent”
“It will alter your DNA”
“You’re doing your part for your fellow man”
“It’s made from aborted fetus cells.”
“You’ll be dead in a year”
“You won’t be able to travel if you don’t get the shot”
“It’s the culling of the human race”
“Do your part”
“It’s the mark of the beast”

That last one gets me a bit because this new zip code of ours ends in 666—
of course there are two other numbers in front of that little triple line up…but
none the less, I hate even having to give out our zip code.
And that is in part as to why my husband feels that we’ve had such a time with this
new old house of ours.
Never buy something you didn’t build is his mantra…
But that’s another story for another day.

I have a dear friend who I grew up with who is a doctor.
She’s been practicing for over 30 years—she is well established and well respected.
She was adamant…DO NOT GET THE VACCINE! DO NOT LET THEM VACCINE SHAME YOU!”

Really??

Then I have another friend who is a doctor…one who has also been practicing for over 30 years
and is also well established and respected—plus these two both grew up with me and they went to
med school together.
He was like…”don’t forget to get signed up for your shot, my wife and I have already had our two.”

So.
Hum.
A quandary.

Throw in reading various takes on all of this and the confusion between the
do’s and the don’ts is exponential..
It is a matter of ‘name your game’ sort of thinking.

We had COVID back in November and thankfully lived to tell about it.
I figure we have some immunity going on but for how long is anyone’s guess.

I confess…. we felt vaccine shame….
and since my husband is 71, I got him signed up through the country’s health department.
I took him yesterday.

My new doctor signed me up despite my being 61 as she proclaimed that I am my husband’s caregiver.
Oh if she only knew…

Anywhooo, she signed me up in her office this past week.
And so I had to be at the University Cancer and Blood Center yesterday morning at 9AM sharp.

Driving over, I really felt like some dumb sacrificial sheep.
Was it the right thing to do??
Was I signing my own death sentence or was I simply doing my part for all mankind???

Who knows.

But what I do know is that the most caring professional group gave me, along with 799 other
sheep, a first dose yesterday morning.

Plus they gave me a goodie bag…

I’m a sucker for a goodie bag.

Plying me with chocolate is probably a good idea–thus I don’t think too much
about this whole ordeal of leading me to the slaughter business…

But like our friend Kathy said over on atimetoshare, “I guess if I’m going to die from it,
it doesn’t really matter, because that means I’ll go to heaven sooner,
but God is in charge of all that too.”

Amen Kathy!!!

God is still in charge!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

when the crud is not the crud and other odd phenomenons

“There is no such thing as moral phenomena,
but only a moral interpretation of phenomena”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil


(Dr. Seuss’s Sneeches)

There was a time when we would catch a cold, or more accurately the crud, as those sorts of symptoms
are lovingly referred to a catch all crud…you know the symptoms…
that of a sore scratchy throat,
a runny or stuffy nose, a post nasal drip
with a hacking or phlegmy sort of cough…
at times, it’s even accompanied by aches and / or light chills.

A typical winter visitor.

Nowadays however…those sorts of symptoms have folks looking at you a bit sideways.
Leary and skeptical as they step an extra 6 feet away.

“Did you just cough???” an alarmed voice practically shrieks.
Fever, do you have a fever???
Can you smell??—

Well if your nose is all clogged up and your sinuses are giving you fits, breathing,
let alone smelling, are both difficult at best.

Suddenly you feel the need to tie a bell around your neck.
You feel you’re living in Nathanial Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter…
although your letter is not a giant red A but rather the mark of the Covid beast.

Colds, sinus infections, even the flu are now all considered Covid unless otherwise noted
by a medical professional— and then people are still skeptical.
You saying you’ve gotten a cold or suffering from allergies is no longer good enough.

Folks want to tie you down and slam a giant swap up your nose.

I’ve had Covid and I’ve had a bad cold.
I know the difference.
And right now, it’s a bad cold.

But try letting the general population know the difference and
‘them become fighting words.’

No one believes you anymore.
Your word is no good.

I ran into the grocery store the other day and almost had to laugh out loud.

Naturally we were all wearing our masks like good stewards,
but one young lady had also added a pair of ski goggles.

I looked for a biohazard suit but she just had on a major mask with some
serious goggles.

I thought to myself…”you know, I would hate to live with that much fear…”

So before you mark me as some capitol rioter or uber conspiracy theorist…
just know that I realize that we’ve been hit with half a million deaths in this country.
And yes I’ve known those who have succumbed and died from the virus.
And I have even known some who took the vaccine and died two weeks later.
So yes, I do know it is real, but I also know hysteria when I see it.

So while we’re talking about hysteria, let’s take a look at, for instance, Dr. Seuss.

That almost mystical and rhythmical child’s author of yore.

Seems that our dear Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is rapidly becoming persona non gratis.

A pariah of sorts.

The once beloved children’s author, who was the epitome of tolerance,
had he still been living, would have turned 117 yesterday.

Yesterday, as in “Read across America Day”, as in my grandkids went to daycare
in their Dr. Seuss pj’s all for Dr. Seuss PJ reading day…as in we all love Dr. Seuss…
or so I thought—we loved him last week.
This week, obviously, not so much.

As in my beloved The Grinch Who Stole Christmas book that I still have these 61 years later…
is now looked at sideways.


(1957)

Sadly it seems that our current Woke folks out there have decided that Sneeches and Whoos and
red fish, blue fish are currently out of step with our suddenly perfect society.

Isn’t it just grand knowing we live in a perfect society?
However, I fear that in that perfect society, it might just be filled with
imperfect residents.

Woe be unto us all.

For these days will pass by like a puff of wind.

And all those who are perfect among us will be caught up in the wind…

Grab the hand of a Sneech because we’re all about to be blown away.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy,
and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it,
because the time is near.

Revelation 1:3

our journey

“Who except God can give you peace?
Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?”

St. Gerard Majella


(two little cousins on their own little journey / Savannah, Ga, 2020)

“This is the difference between a journey on earth, and that which leads to Heaven.
For in the former, not only may we stop without fear of going backward,
but rest is necessary that we may sustain our strength to the journey’s end;
however, in the latter journey which leads to perfection,
our growth in strength is proportionate to our advance,
inasmuch as the inferior appetites which throw all possible obstacles in our path to Heaven,
grow gradually weaker while our good inclinations acquire new strength.
Thus as we advance in piety, our early difficulties fade into the background,
and a certain delight, with which God sweetens the bitterness of this life,
increases in our souls.
Going cheerfully on from virtue to virtue,
we finally reach the summit of the mountain.”

Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, pp. 117-18
An Excerpt From
The Spiritual Combat

troubling times…saved by wine? Hmmm

“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not
show itself in protection from suffering….
The love of God did not protect His own Son….
He will not necessarily protect us–
not from anything it takes to make us like His Son.
A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go
into the process.”

Elisabeth Elliot


(Mom and the Sheriff keeping guard / Julie Cook / 2021)

I think we’d all agree that we are indeed living in some of the most troubling
and trying times.
And no, I am not suggesting that we should drink our woes away…
so just stay with me a bit and I’ll explain.

Friday, when we’d traveled to Atlanta for the Mayor’s big day on Saturday, I needed
to help my daughter-n-law shuttle the kids to the pediatrician’s office.
The Mayor was to have her 3 year old check up.

Due to the Pandemic still being at full throttle, the pediatrician’s office is not allowing
siblings to come into the office together.
It’s only a one child at a time policy.

The procedure now is that one is to text the office once arriving at the building.
The receptionist will text when they are ready for you to come in,
as well as texting which examination room you are to go directly to when you enter the office—
no more sitting in a waiting room.

In my mind, the trouble comes when you have more than one child in tow or that you
need for all your kids to be seen…so someone has to hang back in the car.
You’ll need a helper…another person who can sit in the car with the other kid(s)
while the parent takes the specified child in at the designated time.

Now, enter another conundrum.
Safety.

Given our idiotic defund the police movements mirrored by the rise in violent
crimes in our major cities…
sitting in a parking deck, even in broad daylight, is simply not wise.

I grew up in this city.
As kids, my mom and aunt walked these very sidewalks near this particular doctors office.
Back in the 30’s and 40’s, while they were growing up,
my mom and aunt would walk to school, to the homes of friends and
especially to the movies…
exactly right where the Sheriff and I were now to wait in the car.

We were parked in a single floor covered parking deck of which was a bit obscure.

Since it was cold, my daughter-n-law wanted to leave the car running, while leaving
me the keys.
She suggested that I move over to the driver’s seat incase I needed “to gun it” in order
to get away.

HUH??

Was it really that bad here I asked.

“Yes!”, she replied as there have been carjackings, armed robberies and various
violent crimes all within blocks of where we were…and not just in the cover
of darkness but now in the light of a sunny day.

She and the Mayor headed inside the building as I locked our doors.

The Sheriff did not appreciate being left behind, even while sitting with “mom”
and in turn, began to cry.

Needing a diversion, I quickly sought out his favorite things—two paint brushes.

While I’m on my knees, turned around in my seat trying to get him happy,
I vigilantly scope out our surroundings—looking left, right and in front.

Next I start looking around in the car for anything I could use to bap any would be
intruder on the head. I was determined to get the drop on any criminal
before they could get to us…gun or no gun.

Nothing like a threatened grandmama bear protecting her little grand cubs

“Why does your mommy have a bottle of wine in the back seat?” I ask the Sheriff
thinking he’d readily answer in his sweet gibberish way.

I decide to hold onto the bottle just incase.

After about 20 minutes, the Mayor and her mom are exiting the building, making their
way to the car as I quickly unlock the doors.

Since she didn’t need any shots, the Mayor was none the worse for the wear.

I proceed to tell their mom that I was going to use her unopened bottle of wine
as a weapon if needed…and by the way, why was there a random bottle of wine
in the car?

“Oh, it was Catholic Teacher Appreciation week and that’s what they gave us.”

Working on a wing, a prayer and a bottle of wine—and it all worked on
this fine Friday afternoon in Atlanta.

Now….may we each pray for God’s healing Grace

no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 54:17

3

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone,
two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12


(The Mayor enthralled / Julie Cook / 2021)


(The Mayor feeling some love for her Sheriff / Julie Cook / 2021)


(Da shares his cupcake, one bite at a time / Julie Cook /2021)


(The Mayor dresses the part of Elsa for her birthday, complete with ice cream scooper /Julie Cook / 2021)


(Happy Birthday to you!!! / Julie Cook / 2021)

for those who do not know or have forgotten—living forever

“I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus
to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.”

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


(The Mayor’s big reveal / Brenton Cook / 2021)

“Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever,
and this must be either true or false.
Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about
if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about
very seriously if I am going to live for ever.”

C.S. Lewis, p. 74
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

****we’re off to the Mayor’s for her big party this weekend…you know how it is to turn 3??!!!

the best valentine’s day ever!

After nearly 37 years, I must admit that this has to have been our best Valentine’s day…
ever!!!

Here’s how it went…

Firstly— “mom” and “da” drove down to Atlanta to babysit so a young couple with little
children could actually go out to eat like real civilized adults…alone as a couple…
all without the typical pure chaos that usually occurs at their dinner table.

Next there was ball toss and catch…

Followed by some good napping…and eventually Sunday night bath time…

First for “Je” (aka James the Sheriff)

Then it was the Mayor’s turn to beautify…

Finally…once everyone had played, bathed, eaten and gotten their parents back…
“mom” and “da” journeyed homeward on the highways and the byways, all through the misty dark
only to have their own late but extra special romantic dinner…
who knew prosecco and hotdogs could totally compliment one another —-

Ode to the love of family and grandkids….

“…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15