bring an empty heart

“It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect through trial and suffering.
Only by carrying the Cross can one reach the Resurrection.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(fall leaves doing what they do, fall / Julie Cook / 2020)

Reading the late great archbishop’s words…I would imagine that some readers don’t
much care for the notion of man’s enduring trials and suffering while on this earth…
that of carrying the Cross…with each as a means of reaching the final end goal—
that of our being Resurrected with Christ.

We don’t like to think that we are meant to carry a cross, that we are meant
to suffer or endure…a loving God should want us happy and content right??
A loving God shouldn’t allow those He created and supposedly loves to suffer
or to encounter pain, violence, or be handed a heavy cross to bear…

yet…

What we need to remember is that we live in a fallen world.
Sin shadows our every move.
In our lifetime we will each experience various trials.
Avoiding them as best we try, trials will still come regardless of our vain attempts
to keep them at bay.

However, our best recourse is to rid ourselves of ourselves…
To sever our ties to the trappings of this earth.
To completely empty our hearts.

For it is in that emptying, as St Liguori reminds us, that we are allowed
be open ourselves for the filling of the Holy Spirit.

We must detach ourselves from ourselves and from the world in order to save ourselves.

And it is only through following Christ, first to Golgatha then to that empty
tomb, that we will find our true peace and joy and everlasting life.

“The heart cannot exist without love; it will love either God or creatures.
If it does not love creatures, it certainly will love God.
In order to become holy, we must therefore banish from our heart all that is not for God.
When anyone came to the Fathers of the desert and desired to be received by them he was asked:
‘Do you bring an empty heart that it may be filled by the Holy Ghost?’
And they were right, for a heart that is filled with the things of earth has no room
for the love of God.
He who brings a vessel filled with earth to the spring will never be able to fill it
with water until he empties it of the earth with which it is filled.
How does it happen that so many pray and go frequently to Holy Communion and still make
no considerable progress in the love of God?
The reason is doubtless because the heart is full of self-esteem, of vanity, of self-will,
and of attachment to creatures.
He, therefore, who wishes to arrive at the perfect love of God must practice poverty in spirit.
He must be detached from worldly possessions, from temporal honors,
from his fellow creatures, and from himself.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 114-5
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

***off for a few days in order to find a few more falling leaves with the Mayor and the Sheriff

the distortion of discernment—I think we call it fear

“. . . we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil,
death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”.
We find ourselves not only faced with but necessarily in the
midst of this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it,
with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally
pro-life.”

(Evangelium Vitae)
Pope John Paul II


(detail of a painting I did 11 years ago/ Julie Cook)

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of distortion is:
the act of twisting or altering something out of its true, natural,
or original state

The definition of discernment is:
the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure

After reading Oneta’s post yesterday over on Sweet Aroma, I was moved
in wanting to echo her thoughts regarding her topic Roe v Wade and the
near cataclysmic and apocalyptic affect the notion of a new Supreme Court justice,
who happens to be a practicing Catholic and mother to seven, is having on the
Democratic party and those who are ardent Pro-Choice supporters.

Here is the link to Oneta’s post
REVIEW NOT WANTED

The entire fiasco taking place in this very public and radically vicious and divisive
confirmation hearing over the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is not based
on the merit of her time spent in court nor of the legal training or arduous education
she labored over in order to become a lawyer and judge, but rather,
it is over one simple thing…that thing, being fear.

It is the fear that a legal precedent determined in a court case in 1973 will be
automatically reversed.
As in POOF…should she be appointed to the bench, the henny penny folks
are thinking that suddenly a ruling from 1973 becomes null and void.

It doesn’t work that way folks.

Yet it is fear that is driving this train.
Fear for and over both life and death.

I thought I’d google quotes for the phrase “the sanctity of life”

One would think that Goodreads or even brainyquote, two of the top sites when one
is searching for a quote, would have tons of good quotes…but oddly
both had a mere handful—mostly obscure, a smattering of the well known, and
several of those in favor of population control.

I did not see the quotes by those who I knew in the past had spoken out very strongly
on that very thought.
And if memory serves me well, I had found those quotes among those very sites in past years.

My number one thought being Pope John Paul II…Mother Teresa coming in second.
I had to go back and google quotes by JPII just to find his words
on the subject…and find them I did.

I am still baffled by those who call themselves Catholic in faith and yet defend and even
promote the very idea of abortion…
How can you call yourself a Catholic and voice support for things that
are totally opposed to the tenents of your faith?

Or how can you call yourself a Christian and support the things that are
totally opposed to the command of God?

Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are two that come to mind.
Catholic in name only—and if I recall, such a person is usually not
allowed to receive Holy Communion—for to oppose the doctrine of the Church
is to cut one’s self from the Chruch.

The following are a few of Pope John Paul’s thoughts regarding the
sactity of life—both for the unborn as well as for the dying.

“A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members;
and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying.”

(Address to the New Ambassador of New Zealand to the Holy See May 25, 2000)

“As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.”
(Homily, Perth, Australia, Nov. 30, 1986)

“No country on earth, no political system can think of its own future otherwise
than through the image of these new generations that will receive from their parents
the manifold heritage of values, duties and aspirations of the nation to which they
belong and of the whole human family. Concern for the child, even before birth,
from the first moment of conception and then throughout the years of infancy and youth,
is the primary and fundamental test of the relationship of one human being to another.”

(Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations Oct. 2, 1979)

“Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God Who was
made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church.
Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the
Church’s very heart;
it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the Redemptive Incarnation
of the Son of God, and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life
in all the world and to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15).”

(Evangelium Vitae)

“Not only is the fact of the destruction of so many human lives still to
be born or in their final stage extremely grave and disturbing,
but no less grave and disturbing is the fact that conscience itself,
darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning,
is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in
what concerns the basic value of human life.”

(Evangelium Vitae)

“Objective evidence is irrelevant”

Christians are now being punished for what others think
David Roberston

Yesterday I shared a post by our friend Gavin Ashenden–his post was about mob rule
and the cancel culture.
It was a post which highlighted the cancel culture attacking J.K. Rowling and her
defense of biological sex.

Despite Rowling being an ardent feminist, the mob has cared not…
all because in the mind of the mob,
biological sex does not exist and don’t you or anyone else dare to say otherwise.

Dr. Ashenden noted that in today’s topsy turvy society, truth is considered to be anathema,
an abomination…and because truth is perceived as hurtful and in turn hateful,
it is something that must now be canceled because the mob will not tolerate it.

So let that sink in…this current culture of ours will not tolerate truth—
because truth runs contrary to the mob’s own beliefs.

Truth has become the foremost casualty in this insidious culture war of ours.

And so I found it more than coincidental that yesterday, a day following Dr, Ashenden’s post,
our now down-under friend David Roberston wrote a column for Christianity Today based
on this very notion of the mob, truth, personal thought, and the lack of tollerance

The story focused on the firing of a young, UK Christian teacher, Kristie Higgs
for something, she had posted on her personal Facebook page.

She wrote the post using her maiden name and did not mention anything about being a teacher
herself, nor anything about the school where she worked but rather she wrote a post as a mother
who was concerned about what her young son was being taught in his school.

According to David’s article, “She was concerned about her nine-year-old son being taught
that gender is just a social construct and you can change your gender if you wish.
She objected to the mandatory Religious and Sex Education,
which the government had determined was to be taught to children as young as four.
She argued, correctly, that it was brainwashing.”

“She was concerned about the impact of transgender ideology being taught to young children –
a concern which is more than justified by the evidence becoming available which describes
the harm that is being caused to children.

But an anonymous complainant went to the headteacher and described her posts as
“homophobic and prejudiced to the LGBT community”.
The headteacher is then reported to have asked the complainant to find more offensive posts.
Kristie was subsequently investigated, suspended and fired.
The panel which investigated her, said her views were “pro-Nazi”
and she was told to “keep your religion out of it” when she tried to defend herself.

According to the tribunal, her dismissal
“was the result of a genuine belief on the part of the school that she had committed
gross misconduct”.
Kristie was not dismissed for her beliefs but rather because of the beliefs of the school.
I have a genuine belief that the tribunal was being irrational, discriminatory and prejudiced
by the criteria the tribunal uses,
so that means they should find themselves guilty! Unless my belief is irrelevant,
that is, and only some beliefs count.

It gets worse. The tribunal states that Mrs Higgs was found guilty of posting items
on Facebook that “might reasonably lead people who read her posts to conclude that she
was homophobic and transphobic”.
Yet that same tribunal admitted that Mrs Higgs was not transphobic or homophobic,
nor did they state that the posts themselves were transphobic or homophobic –
just that some people might think they were, and thus they would cause upset.

That is why this ruling is so important. If this judgement is allowed to stand,
it will mean two things. Firstly, the whole standard of law will now be changed.
Guilt is now determined not upon evidence but simply upon the faith and feelings
of the prosecuting party! Based on an anonymous complaint, a tribunal decided that
a private post (which was not available to the public) was sufficient grounds
for an employee to be fired. This means that anyone who finds what someone says
to be potentially upsetting or offensive, now has the ability to get them fired.
Objective evidence is irrelevant. (my bold text)

Except it does not mean that.
It does not mean that ANYONE who finds something offensive can get someone else fired.
It just means that only certain approved and protected groups have the ability to use
the law to enforce their views.
I suspect that the school would not have fired a teacher who posted a message
that I would find offensive about Christianity. If this judgement stands,
we will have lost the principle of ‘all are equal before the law’.

In the Brave New Britain, some are now more equal than others and a society
is emerging where pluralism is disappearing and along with it, freedom of religion,
freedom of speech and freedom of thought. State approved indoctrination within the schools
is now going to be backed up by the law, which in effect bans all other points of view.

It is ironic that Mrs Higgs was accused of holding Nazi-like beliefs by a school
which is using Nazi-like authoritarian methods (kangaroo courts, anonymous complainants,
transgression of state ideology) to impose its own exclusive ideology.

David rounds out his piece with a similar lament which we read yesterday by Dr. Ashenden…
the real help in this mad mad world of ours is going to have to come from the Chruch.

But what of this Chruch of ours—this global community of believers?

“The church needs to be united on this and I realise how difficult that
is when so many churches have sold out to progressive ideology.
It speaks volumes that Steve Chalke, in light of this case,
not only warned that churches who do not accept this ideology face prosecution,
but also suggested that even expressing pastoral concern or praying for people with
gender confusion or unwanted same-sex attraction was “psychologically abusive”.
In these times of moral confusion,
those of us who love the Lord and want to stand on his word need to stick together.

Christians Are Now Being Punished For What Others Think – CT

Yard sale…but more importantly, prayers

We’ve spent weeks purging and sorting.
And thus the BIG sale is today!

But…

What is most important today is that we need to think of and offer
our prayers for The Frist Family as they now battle COVID 19.

I am both incensed and angry that there are many Americans who are wishing ill
of the President and his wife…that there are people who are actually gleefully
hoping for a fellow human being to not only succumb to illness but to actually die.

When does the hope of death become the rallying cry of any advanced society?

We have become an abysmal lot when we have lost our humanness.

I would normally note that we are an abysmal society, but to use the
word society would be too gracious.
A society does not wish for the death of others but rather it bans together
working toward the betterment of the whole.

So I offer my prayers for healing and restored health for our President
and the First Lady.

I pray for our Nation…I pray that it can learn, or perhaps re-learn, what it means
to be a cohesive body that is concerned for each member of her whole.

I pray that she may regain her love for each neighbor.

I pray for physical healing as well as collective healing.

May God have mercy on the United States.
And may the United States remember what mercy is all about.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Let us pray…

“Keep to the ancient way and custom of the Church,
established and confirmed by so many Saints under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And live a new life.
Pray, and get others to pray, that God not abandon His Church,
but reform it as He pleases, and as He sees best for us, and more to His honour and glory.”

St. Angela Merici


(St Peter / St. Peters, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

“Once, while I was wondering why Our Lord so dearly loves the virtue of humility,
the thought suddenly struck me, without previous reflection,
that it is because God is the supreme Truth and humility is the truth,
for it is the most true that we have nothing good of ourselves but only misery and nothingness:
whoever ignores this, lives a life of falsehood.
They that realize this fact most deeply are the most pleasing to God,
the supreme Truth, for they walk in the truth.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p. 175-6
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

Can’t you see? Not exactly.

Can’t you see (I’m gonna take a freight train) can’t you see
(I’m down at the station lord) what that woman (ain’t never gonna go back) been doin’ to me
Can’t you see oh can’t you see (gonna ride me the southbound)
(All the way to Georgia) what that woman (till the train run out of track) been doin’ to me

Marshal Tucker Band 1973


(from N-lightenment.com)

Ok, I’m diverging today entirely from any topic we’ve been riding lately.
Driving basically off the cliff and jumping the tracks of all subject matter.
No politics.
No debate observations.
No current civil unrest rants.
No religious tit for tat…
Something entirely off track.

That Marshal Tucker Band song up above, that I’ve allowed to open this post,
is from my youthful days of high school and it came racing to my mind
yesterday morning.
It came after I’d woken from the longest and oddest dream I think I can ever
remember having.

Now, remember I’ve been fighting the withdrawals from my HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
for almost 3 months.
There has been NO, I repeat, NO sleep worth mentioning in all that time—
only insomnia and rolling hot flashes on and on all night long.

I begged my doctor to do something.
Yes begged and pleaded actually…that’s how bad me not sleeping becomes.
Reluctantly she put me back on the HRT but it is a dose fit for a mere ant.
And an ant’s dose isn’t doing me any good.

So yes, me without any real consequential sleep is not pretty.
Just ask my long-suffering husband.
He now gets very little sleep as well because all I do is toss and turn and
kick off covers all night long.

So the night before last, I doubled the CBD oil dose (yes the doctor said she
hears it helps with hot flashes but I take it for IBS and no it is not
helping with the hot flashes) plus doubled my IBS meds.

And so I actually slept without fighting my hormonal self.
Maybe I had drugged myself…but I digress.

But in that sleep came that bizarre dream.

They say that dreams are actually quite brief but I swear this particular dream went
on all night.
Even when I’d groggily come to some sort of consciousness,
I’d quickly tell the dream part of my brain to let it keep playing out because
I wanted to see how it all ended.

I believe that dreams are a mixed bag.

I believe God can speak to us in our dreams.
I believe that the devil can speak to us in our dreams…which are more like nightmares
but again, I digress.
And I believe we can speak to ourselves in our dreams.

So this dream had a younger me and an old childhood friend galivanting about.
I’ve not seen this friend of mine in years so that was the first odd thing.
Plus we were more like our younger teenage selves.

Next, we ran into a former President and first lady.
Now that is really odd because I’ve not thought much of this presidential duo
in several years. A bit of a past president but not too long ago.
Think W and Laura…
And I usually don’t think that much about presidents, let alone first ladies.

There was a woman who I think was actually that first lady.
She was kind and soft-spoken.
In the dream, something bad had happened to her,
a terrible betrayal and I had known about it.
And I felt terrible for her.
Yet there was nothing I could have done to stop it as I realized the trauma when she had–
that being after the fact.
Yet I ached for her anyway.

I can remember looking at her and she looking at me—so I impulsively took her in my arms to
hug her and offer comfort.
Not that I’m a big hugger in real life, but I do hug those who I feel are in need.
People who hurt do need hugs, but overall I’m not touchy-feely.

However, it was the look on her face, the love in her eyes towards me,
and her embrace of me that was what got to me.
Now granted her face is not the face of the real first lady in question.
Dreams work that way…you think it’s a real person but the faces are
never quite what we actually know them to be.

I woke almost with tears in my eyes.
And then started ruminating.
And then the Marshal Tucker Band song just revved up, playing in my head.
And no, the CBD oil does not contain any THC!
This craziness is all me and me alone.

Now we all know that I’m adopted.
We all know how that crazy story played out as I’ve written at length about
being adopted and having learned the identity (sort of) of my birth parents
all these many years later— written just last year.

I know who my biological father was—and from everything I’ve heard, he was a
good and kind man.

My birth mother on the other hand, who is, yes, still living, has not been as kind.
She let her lawyer inform a social worker that I was in the past and that
was where I was to stay.

And I was like, ‘Ok, you’re what…84? and I’m almost 61??…so yeah,
I’ll just stay in that past.’
Paaaallleeeezzzze.

Anyway, I did come to a peace about all of that a while back…something I’d also written
about…so it’s good to have all this material to write about I suppose.

But what I knew from this dream was that something deep inside of me yearns for that
sort of love that I saw in that woman’s eye for me and felt in her embrace.
Something I’ve never seen or felt before.
Nope never.
A deep abiding, unconditional love of a mother to her child.
And all I know is that I wanted it…or shall we say, want it.

Yep, you read it— a 61-year-old sleep-deprived woman is pining for a mother’s love.
Go figure!?!

And yes, I’ve written about this before as well…my adopted mom and I,
before her premature death to cancer at 53, had had a fractious relationship while
I was growing up—especially when I was a teenager.
But I don’t know too many moms and daughters who delight in one another
during said teenage years…
We were much closer when she suddenly got sick and died prematurely.

As that angst-driven teen, I was headstrong, stubborn, and detached from both my mom and my family.
Our family was a dysfunctional hot mess and I resented every minute of it.

I’ve written about that too…
all about my brother’s mental illness and his inability to cope
with his having been adopted…and thankfully we were not biologically related.
So you would think I’d quit having these random, out of the blue, type dreams…
but nooooooo.

And no I don’t need therapy.
I have been prayed over long ago for healing and healing came.

But to still want that sort of love is not to simply be dismissed
or even purged.
There’s something there and it keeps knocking
at a deep door in my being.

It’s a good thing to want love and to be loved.
I don’t think there’s a whole lot of that running around this country of ours these days.

So maybe that’s it.
God is bringing the idea of unconditional love to the forefront of my thoughts
because we are all living knee-deep in divisive hate.
And no, that is NOT the fault of the sitting president…it is
the fault of every human being who is ranting and raving these days.

So yes, I still yearn for that embrace.
Just as I still yearn to see that look of love in some unknown mother’s eye.

And I suspect, one day…I will both see and feel that look and that embrace…

So here’s to love.
Ture abiding love…

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16

Love one another

“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart;
it is a simple look turned toward heaven,
it is a cry of recognition and of love,
embracing both trial and joy.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(spent magnolia / Rosemary Beach/ Julie Cook / 2020)

“Prayer is greatly aided by fasting and watching and every kind of bodily chastisement.
In this regard each of you must do what you can.
Thus, the weaker will not hold back the stronger, and the stronger will not press the weaker.
You owe your conscience to God. But to no one else do you owe anything more
except that you love one another.”

St. Augustine, p. 143
An Excerpt From
Augustine Day by Day

when did respect die???

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself.
The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he
cannot distinguish the truth within him,
or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.
And having no respect he ceases to love.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world,
to explain and despise it.
But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it,
not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves
and all beings with love, admiration and respect.”

Hermann Hesse

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!”

Edwin Markham

This quote by Edwin Markham…it was one of my favorite quotes… or better yet,
it actually became a sort of life rule that I kept close to my heart when I was in high school…
way back in the mid 70’s when I first found it.

It is a quote by Edwin Markham (April 23, 1852 – March 7, 1940)
He was a poet, as well as an American poet laureate, hailing from Oregan.
He was a prolific writer with most of his work coming from the years between 1923-1931.

This quote came racing back to my thoughts yesterday after a little incident I witnessed
at my local grocery store.

Let’s think of where I live.

I live in what is considered to be a small town.
We are about an hour west of Atlanta, give or take the traffic.
Yet we are a college town.
And we are what some might consider to be a sleeper community of Atlanta.
Meaning, folks drive back and forth to the big city in order to work.

We have big businesses but we still have a cattle sale barn that operates every Monday.
It’s where the local farmers bring their animals each week to show and sell…
So yes, we have pastures, cows, goats, sheep, bulls and yet we also have
global industry, a major hospital, a Division II college, and two nationally
recognized school systems…

Our town is a good town.
A small town with rural charm along with a comfortable modern feel.

So yesterday afternoon, I ran to the grocery store, our local Publix.
As I made my way to the door, pulling my mask over my face, I saw an older woman,
in her 80’s pushing her cart out of the store.
She was sporting a Trump 2020 t-shirt along with a black Trump 2020 face mask…
smartly accenting her jean skirt and sneakers.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye an elderly gentleman approaching us pushing another
grocery cart…he was bent over with age and I surmised he was her husband.

She told me she wanted to tell me something.

As she was an older woman and I have a deep respect for older folks,
I knew I needed to pay attention to what she wanted to tell me.

I don’t care what race, creed, or religion an older person might be,
they will always have my respect.
That’s how I was raised.

I might be almost 61 myself but I will always respect those who are older than I am.

No matter who they may be or where they may come from…be they humble
beings or more well do to…our elderly population are our treasures.
They have lived through so much, be it good or bad, and they have so much to
teach each one of us.

So when one of that generation tells me they have something to tell me,
I’m all ears.

This very southern gentile woman begins to tell me that a young man…
she told me his race, but to be honest I couldn’t make out exactly what she said
given the muffled voice coming from under her mask,
I could have easily assumed she was referring to a black male, but I’m just sticking with
young male…

This young male saw her shirt and mask and told her to her face that she was a
“fucking racist.”

Suddenly I felt a sick feeling hitting my stomach like a brick.

That could have once been my grandmother.
For some punk to call my own grandmother a “fucking” anything would have
sent me reeling.
For all I know, my grandmother probably never had heard of such a word!
She was that much a southern lady…much like this woman

By this time, her hunched-over husband chimed in telling me that had he heard
this young man say that to his wife, he would have hit him but he was
not nearby as he was just trying to get a cart to help him walk.

Here was a feeble elderly man feeling that his wife has been terribly insulted
and he wasn’t there to defend her—and that tore my heart to pieces.

I apologized to this couple that such should have happened to them on this humid September
Thursday afternoon at their local grocery store in small-town USA.

I felt so hurt.
So much so that tears came to my eyes.

I could have just as easily seen an elderly black man or woman wearing a BLM shirt
at the store and I would never have ever considered saying a word.
I might have disagreed, but I would respect their choice, their right,
to wear such because that is indeed their, our, right as Americans.
I don’t have to agree, but I do have to have respect.

Why?

Because that is how I was raised.

And so that one little word, that one little issue, is, in a nutshell,
the answer to all of this idiocy taking place across this Nation of ours…
respect has died.

May she rest in peace.
And may God have mercy.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

the sharing season is here…

“Wisdom cannot be imparted.
Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else…
Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
One can find it, live it, do wonders through it,
but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


(black swallowtail caterpillar / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well, I knew it was just a matter of time.

The caterpillars have found the parsley.

There must be at least 15 caterpillars now making the most of my nice pot of parsley.

And so you should know that this lowly creature will…

Become this lovely creature:

And this one…

And this one…

And this one…

Will all become one of these…


(Black swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

These guys, well, I moved one of their caterpillars out from the garage yesterday,
so there are no before images…only the after shots


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so now, I share…my parsley.

Yet I must confess that sometimes I’m not too keen to share certain things.
I think we all have a bit of the selfish child that remains buried within.

As adults, we know that sharing is a good thing.
And so we can bend our will in order to do what is kind, considerate and decent.
We strive to teach children to do the same.

We must teach them to share as they/we seem to come into this world
hardwired with a distinct “mine” mentality.

When I first started to keep a garden…I would get so mad at the rabbits, the crows,
the other birds, the squirrels, the deer, and yes the caterpillars, who would
all invade, dig up or purge my labors by eating seeds, the tender new shoots
or the actual fruits of said labor, my fruits and vegetables.

And then I figured out that if I planted a little extra or a few distractors, things
that would appease my thieves, I could then strike a delicate balance between
what I knew would be stolen versus what I wanted to be harvested.

And sometimes, despite my best-laid plans, it just came down to who was the fastest
on the scene.

Now granted this was not always the perfect relationship as the deer would seem to
poke their feet in the melons simply to be spiteful…or the birds would jab
each blueberry, leaving the berry on the bush, full of holes.
But if I was going to be successful with a garden…there had to be give,
take and yes, share.

And so speaking of sharing, last week when I had to go to Atlanta to keep the Mayor,
who had contracted the Sheriff’s viral infection from the previous week, the
very notion of sharing took place in the form of “rain.”

And no, I do not refer to the sort of rain that falls from the sky.

If you’ve ever been around a young child who coughs or sneezes or
God forbid, suddenly needs to throw up…well, you know that kids
don’t cover their mouths, turn away, cough into the crook of an arm, or
race to the bathroom when an emergency calls.

To a child, if it comes, whatever it might be, it comes for good or bad…
matters not who might be in its path.

So there was a puny Mayor, who was sitting on my lap last week while we were watching cartoons.
Suddenly she started sneezing…and a spray of mist subsequently blanketed my lap and legs.
Gleeful the Mayor happily announces “RAIN”!!!!

“Yes”, I sardonically noted, “it has rained…”
…as I grabbed a sacred Clorox wipe in order to wipe down my legs and arms.

So should I be surprised that I now have felt like crap for the past two days and find
myself unable to breathe due to such a cloggy nose?

No.
No, I am not surprised.

For a sick child shared her “rain” with me.

And well, despite the shelves being long bare of Clorox wipes…
the sacred canister we had on hand was simply no match for the Mayor.

And so why do we seem so mystified when folks continue getting that
Wuhan flu??? That COVID mess?
Why do we ponder as to how it keeps making the rounds?

Sharing just seems to happen…even when we try being selfish.
No matter the best precautions, the best-laid plans…sharing is going to happen
whether we want it to or not.

Oh and for the record…that poison ivy…well, it keeps sharing too.

Everything seems to want to share…all the wrong sort of things!!!

So regarding the following verse, just know that God did not mean that we should share
our germs…but other more treasured items and deeds….
the germ part is just part and parcel of being alive.

The good and bad.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16

more than a watchful protector

He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.
So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero.
He’s a silent guardian.
A watchful protector.

Commissioner Gorden from The Dark Night


(steamcommunity.com)

My son is 31 years old and has been an avid Batman fan since a very very early age.
It may have been his 3rd or 4th Christmas that Santa brought him a battery operated
Batmobile that he could ride.

He was so blown away by what his young eyes beheld, that he ran to his room in order to
put on his Halloween costume..the one that still hung in his closet always at the ready…
Yes, it was a batman costume…one he would don whenever he believed Batman was
needed to save the day.

That Christmas morning, without uttering a word, our son, in full Batman regalia, proceeded to
stoically climb into that car in order to heed the call of help.

The problem came when he realized the car would not fly….the wee driver was to simply step
on a peddle propelling the car at a snail’s pace across the pavement.

Just as silent and just as stoic, he climbed out of the car and simply went inside.

Ode to a child’s imagination, thinking and yearning.

Needless to say, the prized and coveted Christmas gift was not so prized.

Our young son saw a batmobile and by gosh that thing was supposed to do what
Michael Keaton’s could do…race and fly.

Michael Keaton starred in the first real Batman movie our son ever saw…
Since that movie came out in 1989 and our son was born in 1988,
he saw the movie via a VHS tape shown at home.

The first actual movie that he saw in theaters, of which we regretted taking him to,
was Batman Returns with Danny DiVito playing the Penguin.
McDonald’s had really played up the movie for kids at all of their franchises and on television
because everything Happy Meal was all things Bat.

The movie, however, was, in our opinion, too dark and definitely not intended for young audiences.

But to this day, he says that is one of his favorites of the long-running series.

This little trip down memory lane came rushing forward while I was in Atlanta the past
several days taking care of a sickly Mayor.

We’d settled in one evening after supper and of course,
both the Mayor and Sheriff wanted to watch a cartoon…Frozen is the theme of the day.
Over and over we watch the Frozen movies…I can sing it all in my sleep…just let it go
for crying out loud…

But my son attempted putting on one of the older Batman movies—that is until I told him
his two young fans were just that, too young.

But before he turned it off, the opening scene of this particular movie showed a gathering of
city officials at some sort of banquet, where the speaker addressing those gathered spoke of the
demise of the city of Gotham.
He spoke of how the city was crime-ridden, dishonest, suffering…

And that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks.
We are living in Gotham.

Our major cities are now rife with disease.
Not so much from a pandemic disease but rather from the disease of human ill.
Not simply drugs, or from the typical crimes found in big cities, but ill with
the hate-filled rioting, looting, violence, agitation, and lawlessness found in hopelessness.
That which is found rotting in anarchy.
These are places where the bad guys now rule both the day and night.

And we are finding that we so desperately want to shine that floodlight into the night sky
with the insignia of “the bat.”
A signal that visibly states our dire need for help as well as a need for hope and
dare we say it, a savior from our current misery.

But here’s the thing…
we have no superheroes.
We have no long-suffering brooding vigilantes who feel the need to defend the defenseless.

They simply don’t exist.

We have police.
We have a military.
But both are currently loathed.

And so we feel lost.
We feel helpless.
We feel hopeless.

But there are those among us who do know…
we know that there is one who is more than just a watchful protecor…
one who has offered us both help and hope…

His name is Jesus Christ and all we have to do is to call out His name.

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11