everything is NOT ok…

How do you wake up from a nightmare
when you’re not asleep?

Unknown

“Lives that Matter Are Made with Positive Purpose.”
(OK Cafe sign during Atlanta’s unrest)


(The OK Cafe, an Atlanta instituion)

On Saturday, I received an interesting email.
At first, I wasn’t certain what it was about.
I wasn’t certain what Liberty House Restaurant Corp. was until I read a bit into the email.
I realized that it’s actually the name of the group that owns two of Atlanta’s
iconic restaurants.

The OK Cafe and Blue Ridge Grill.


(Blue Ridge Grill interior)

Both of these restaurants are two that my family has enjoyed visiting during the past
30 years or so…
despite the fact that they’ve been going strong for a good 41 years.

I can remember when our son was little, driving over to Atlanta on Sunday mornings
just to take him to the OK Cafe for breakfast—some of the best pancakes.

The Mayor and Sheriff now enjoy that same simple pleasure.

We’ve also celebrated many memorable events at the Blue Ridge Grill.
With the last being last year’s Father’s Day lunch.

And so when I read the following email, I was incensed.

We all know that many restaurants across this country have suffered grievously during
this pandemic.
Some have been unable to rally back following the shutdowns.

People have suffered the loss of work, the loss of income, the loss of camaraderie
and for many, the loss of a lifetime of work, hopes, and dreams.

And so just when folks were trying to kickstart their businesses and livelihoods,
here come the rioters, looters, vandals, antagonists, anarchists and racial extremists
who have decided our lives need to all go in another sort of direction.

A direction of violence, fear, and intimidation rather than emergence, renewed health
and hope.

These two restaurants did not ask to be in the crosshairs of the current
wave of civil unrest.
When the protesters commandeered the main street and parking lot to these restaurants,
both restaurants offered the protestors free tea and lemonade…
that’s the Southern way of hospitality.

They did have a couple of banners up hoping to showcase their support to
“all” people as well as keeping the peace during a peace-filled protest…
they also expressed their simple love of America,.

And it was that very notion of hospitality and peace that went terribly
wrong for this group of would-be do-gooders.

So now Homeland Security is monitoring their restaurants.
They have received death threats and a barrage of hate-filled
social media threats and attacks.

All because of a sense of hospitality, a hope for peace and the notion that
all lives do matter and in turn, can be a cause for the positive…

May those of us who believe in the same sense of kindness, caring, hospitality
and hope support those businesses who are simply trying to make
a living by serving us and making us happy.

Maynard Jackson (1938-2003) was the first black mayor of Atlanta.
He was the same Mayor who worked to bring the Summer Olympics to Atlanta in 1996.

He famously proclaimed that “Atlanta is the city too busy to hate”
I always believed that…until now.

Dear Liberty House Restaurant Friends,

It seems that we have found our company in an unusual – and perhaps dangerous – situation.
Richard & I have been under police protection and OK Café is being monitored by Homeland Security.

Wow! How did it get to this?

For those who know us, you’ll know that we are not here just to make money.
For 41 years we’ve served up Southern hospitality and helped showcase and identify our Southern culture.
Our aim was – and is – to make Atlanta a world-class city.
Liberty House is part of the fabric of Atlanta.

Since we’ve never been attacked before, I’d like to make our position clear:

On June 7th, a few days after the destructive riots in our city center and
throughout Buckhead, some people felt it right to organize a march down
West Paces Ferry Road to “bring the people of Buckhead out from behind their screens”
(the Marcher’s cry).

By June 7th, OK Café and Blue Ridge Grill had only reopened 4 days before and
like all others in the shopping center,
we weighed the dangers of looting or harm to our staff and customers, so we closed again.
The marchers took over our parking lot anyways, so no customers could have parked.
The marchers were mostly peaceful – that day.

For our part, we put up two signs at OK Café and served tea.
As is our 1st amendment right to do.
The banner read:
“Lives that Matter Are Made with Positive Purpose.”

Blue Ridge Grill had a tent and served lemonade.
Their sign read:
“Law & Order = Peace”

And Marvin Gaye’s lyrics;
“Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
What’s going on.”

And lastly a red, white, and blue sign draped the front of OK Café on Northside Parkway.
Loud and proud it read:
“OK Café LOVES America.”

Since then we have received hundreds of negative reviews online.
We have been told, kneel or go out of business.

If loving America is wrong – I don’t wanna be right.
And our great and mighty team stands with us on this point.

Susan DeRose
President
Liberty House Restaurant Corp.

Strive for peace with everyone,
and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

(I’ll be on a bit of a hiatus for the remainder of the week)

Justice for what???

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death.
And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?
Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.
For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

J.R.R. Tolkien


(a buckeye butterfly rests on a noodle / Julie Cook / 2020)

Enjoying a bit of quiet reading and reflecting with some of my favorite folks out in
blogland this afternoon, I stopped by to see what gems of wisdom our friend IB had
to allow this fine Friday in June.

It is fine, isn’t it?

I don’t know…maybe it’s not.

It’s Juneteenth, so says my phone’s calendar and now, so says thousands
gathering in the streets of Atlanta, as well as across this nation, peacefully
marching and celebrating.

It seems we’ve all received a quick tutorial on the significance of Juneteenth.

And so we hope all things remain peaceful.
But we really must wait until the sun sets and then we shall see
if the peacefulness carries itself through the night.

Their voices now rise in a crescendo chant of “justice.

But what is this justice for which they cry?

Our friend IB mused over the very same notion.
What is this justice for which these crowds so long?

Perhaps it is what I too long for—.

IB was actually writing a post about having seen a movie that was a bit of a
soothing balm when this idea of ‘what is justice’ popped in.

I’ve not seen the movie, so I can’t say…but it moved IB and thus a post
sprang forth.

I honestly don’t know what makes me cry more, happy things or sad things?
There are lots of both in this movie and it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.
I mean, it’s not good for your heart to be shattered, broken, for you to be wounded, right?
Except, if that’s how the love pours in, through all those cracks,
if that’s how the Lord moves into your life and brings healing,
well then, thank God for broken hearts.

Thank God when we are wounded, willing to feel the pain, rather than hardened.

It was a really validating movie too,
because I’m looking around at a world that often doesn’t make any sense and trying to talk
to people who are totally tone deaf.

I feel a bit like a broken record sometimes, always talking about meth, fentanyl,
and heroin addictions, in an area that is so pro-drugs, so pro-addiction!
People are out on the streets right now crying out for justice, but justice from what??
And what does this “justice” they crave even look like?

I spend half my life trying to forgive addicts whose behavior does nothing but steal,
kill, and destroy all that is good, and the other half of my time trying to forgive
those in leadership who have enabled and condoned the whole situation either through
their incompetence or their corruption. It’s really painful, it’s really frustrating,
but it’s not a bad thing at all, because it is all about learning to love others as
Jesus loves us

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Both Matthew and Mark take note of the fact that this is the gospel,
that this truth, the reflective nature of grace, is so vitally important that,
“Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world,
what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

“Healing River” did a really good job of capturing the essence of that truth.
When we have been forgiven much, we love much.

We have been forgiven much.

https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2020/06/19/healing-river/

And so I too think about this odd innate need for justice—
this thing we always seem to cry out for—

And this justice of ours seems to be whatever perceived notion we might be feeling at the time,
It springs from deep within our being—and there is indeed a longing.

A longing in each one of us.
We often can’t put our finger on it.
We think with our heads, trying to figure out our heart…
but we most often misread those inward groanings.

I decided to go explore the Healing River’s official site.
It is a faith-based film that sounds extremely powerful.

One reviewer noted that “the message of redemption, forgiveness and mercy
coming from and through our Lord Jesus Christ in this movie is one of great importance,
especially in our troubled world hungry for a message of hope and courage.
Well done!”
Fr. Patrick McMullen, St. Therese Catholic Parish, Cincinnati, OH

And so I now think I know what this cry is.
What it is we always seem to turn to when life seems overwhelmingly
unfair, unjust, and simply undone…
It is not so much for justice that we cry as it is for mercy.
It is not so much for justice as it is for forgiveness.

Sadly there is not a whole lot of forgiveness or mercy running about these days…
days which are so full of protests, anger and violent riots.

Yet those two elements are the key to quelling the painfilled groans within our beings.

Anger and rage are exhausting.
They steal one’s light, peace, joy, hope…

Mercy and forgiveness allow us to finally exhale and finally rest from the fight.

he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear** him;
Psalm 103:10-13

**remember the word fear often translates to respect

freedom…hummmm…

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin


(image courtesy a business site)

If the truth be told, I’ve had one particular thought crossing my mind over and over
throughout this most surreal time in our lives.
That thought is simply one of freedom.

I’ve even addressed it here in blogland, when the time has allowed, during this past nearly
three months of living life in the Twilight Zone.

There has been a roller coaster of emotions for all of us…
emotions of sorrow, fear, confusion—-

And there has been a stone wall of both frustration and anger.

I have noted before that I live in a “free” state.

A classification that I find extremely bizarre.
When would an American find themselves differentiating between a free
and non-free state other than say, during the Civil War?!

But for our 21st-century way of thinking,
a free state is a state that is lifting its pandemic bans.
Non-free states remain closed.
As in non-functioning.

I have recently enjoyed the opportunity of actually going out to eat.

Actually sitting down at one of my favorite restaurants and actually enjoying a dining experience
albeit with masked servers and socially distanced table set-ups.

People in our state can go get a haircut—something I’ve yet to do as the process
is a tad tedious and makes for very limited appointments so I’ll stick to my
ballcap for now.

The liquor store is still curbside.
Which I kind of enjoy but miss looking at the pretty bottles.

Our farmer’s markets are open.

I’m going to get my car serviced tomorrow—at a dealership 45 minutes away, in another town…
meaning I am free to travel about without restriction.

In Italy, they had to have official paperwork allowing them to venture
out of their homes in order to go to the grocery store or Pharmacia.

Whereas our parks are beginning to reopen, our lakes and marinas have never closed.

And we should note that our grocery store chains, Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes
and Home Depot have never closed–
nor did they even ration the number of patrons entering the stores–masks or no masks.

And for the record, I do not wear a mask.

If I am told I had to do so if it meant visiting a certain business, I would oblige–
but if not mandated, I don’t.
I am not sick.
I have not been exposed.
Plus I try not to let fear dictate my life.

Good hygiene practices and common sense rather than fear seem to both win out for me.
But I digress…

One thing I have found perplexing is the tit for tat that governors in
“non-free” states are having with their fellow governors in free states–
along with that of their /our President.
They are trying to remain locked down come hell or high water—
and if they aren’t careful…it just might be both.

People are not being allowed to work.
They are being furloughed, let go, or permanently closed down.
And small businesses, the backbone of this nation, are not being allowed to operate.

As this all makes good economic sense to whom???

Another odd happening throughout the country during all of this mess
is that one has been free to go get an abortion if one so chooses as abortion clinics
had been categorized as “essential” yet church doors remain sealed.

So that means that one’s spiritual wellness is not essential but murder and death are…
go figure.

See Citizen Tom’s posting on the Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance in Virginia for
more of the story of the idiocy reigning supreme in the Commonwealth of Virginia regarding the
rights of the unborn–or maybe that should read…no rights for the unborn.

THE ABORTION MASQUERADE

And if I hear another pastor or priest dictate that they are keeping the doors
shut to their particular houses of worship because they are following
“science” —–well, just knock me in the head!

Men and women of the cloth are to follow the Word of God—
and I’m pretty certain God’s doors are open as He will certainly approve of the various
and the necessary health precautions for his precariously fragile creations.

Wear masks if you must, wear gloves if you must, receive communion, the Host, in open hands and use a
throw away cup for the wine verses a chalice—
Sit in pews 6 feet apart or on every other pew…don’t sing if you think it too
precarious and contagious (as in healthwise and not song-wise) but for Heaven’s sake
and for our sake, let the people pray and worship in God’s house!!!!

Did we close the churches and synagogues during the Great Depression or WWII???
Or what of the summers when polio was plaguing our children?
Or when TB was running rampant?

When people most needed comfort and hope, the various houses of worship opened
wide their doors.
They may have donated church goods to be melted for the war effort, they may have
had fewer attending due to polio or TB concerns, but the doors were open none the less,
allowing the spiritually hungry to come inside and find sustenance.

And so I caught another great post over on the Smoke of Satan and the Open Windows of Vatican II
musing over our plight in the Twilight Zone

“How did a temporary plan to preserve hospital capacity turn into two-to-three months
of near-universal house arrest that ended up causing worker furloughs at 256 hospitals,
a stoppage of international travel, a 40% job loss among people earning less than $40K per year,
devastation of every economic sector, mass confusion and demoralization,
a complete ignoring of all fundamental rights and liberties,
not to mention the mass confiscation of private property with forced closures of millions of businesses?

Whatever the answer, it’s got to be a bizarre tale…”

https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/05/25/the-2006-origins-of-the-lockdown-idea/

And now, we come back full circle to the notion of Freedom.

A notion, along with the fact that I am writing this post on Memorial Day,
is a most poignant thought.

It is the day we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our very freedoms.

But the question remains…what of those freedoms?

Who now dictates those freedoms?

I will close today’s rambling with a look at the opening quote by Benjamin Franklin…

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

What are you willing to give up for a bit of temporary safety?
Everything?
I hope not.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
But if you bite and devour one another,
watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:1 and 5:13-15

choose life over fear

“Nothing in life is to be feared,
it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

Marie Curie


(Two grandparents overun / Brenton Cook / 2020)

After nearly three months of going nowhere but to the grocery store,
the curbside pickup liquor store, occasionally to Target and most recently to a
Chick-fil-A drive-through…

After three months of being cooped up…caring for wee ones while others work from home…
Living life shrouded daily within a veil of trepidation, questions
and fear…today we opted for living life a bit more boldly and actually ventured
forth on Mother’s Day.

We took our small show on the road.

We drove southeast to a small quaint town, about 45 minutes away, in order to enjoy
a lovely alfresco Mother’s Day lunch.

Actually sitting outside, basking in the lovely May sunshine along with a
slight cool breeze, we couldn’t have been happier.
.
When we arrived, we were greeted by several gracious masked waitresses and waiters,
along with hand sanitizer at the ready…a familiar staff despite the covered faces.
Their twinkling eyes said it all…”Welcome back!”

It was finally a real sit-down meal away from our own kitchen of chaos.
A truly treasured moment.

Eating out has always been a treat and a diversion from the rut of the every day…
but today…today was different!
Everything seemed brighter, lighter.

This little restaurant is one we have enjoyed visiting over the years.
One we don’t mind driving to.

The husband and wife team who own the restaurant, where she is the chef,
have made the most of a farm to table restaurant with a relaxed french flair.

The host and husband of the duo, who I know, asked me, before we left if we had enjoyed ourselves…
my response was one of a long exhaled sigh of relief.

I told him that after almost 3 months of going nowhere…today was absolutely grand!
I could tell he smiled in satisfaction despite having a mask cover his face.
His eyes said it all.

They have provided curbside pick-up throughout the state’s lockdown but
today was their trial run for a “soft opening.”

After a delightful afternoon, when we were headed back home, satiated and content with
having enjoyed both a peace-filled afternoon and good food,
a small sign outside of a little country church caught my eye…
Choose life over fear.

Today on this Mother’s Day 2020…we chose to live life just a little bit freer
pushing aside the nagging fear of the past three months…

Here was to a Mother’s Day not to be forgotten but absolutely cherished
for all sorts of reasons…


(“mom” and The Mayor / Gregory Cook / 2020)


(Dada with his brood/ Abby Cook / 2020)


(mama with The Sheriff /Gregory Cook / 2020)


(Da with “Je” / Julie Cook / 2020)

“Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine.”

Isaiah 43:1

piece of cake

“Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.”

St. Brendan


(the wildflowers are now blooming / Julie Cook / 2020)

Oh, how the words of St. Brendan have touched my heart today–
(today, for me, being Monday and yesterday for you).

Walking into the unknown.
Journeying beyond the familiar.
Needing faith, as well as hope, while we leave the old ways, the old life, far behind.

Now left feeling helpless while trying to navigate uncharted waters…
Murky waters leading into something vastly different and to
something surreally new.

This is not to be a temporary change—not a momentary glitch to a set pattern or routine.
Such hiccups in life are not always pleasant but are made manageable in that we know they are
not meant to last…as in, not forever.

But this is not that.
This is not a slight bump or pothole in the road.

I think in all of this that what it boils down to is my simply yearning for what was…

And if the truth is really told, I think it is the feeling of freedom that I long for,
as well as pine over, the most.

To come and go as I once did…without worry or fear.

To hug an old friend who I’ve run into in a store.

To take a spontaneous road trip.

To save for, to plot and then plan a special vacation.

To actually linger in a garden shop…feasting on the colors and breathing in
the heavenly scents of beauty…free of masks or strips of tape that
keep me at a certain distance.

To simply being able to finally go back to the dentist for the new crown for my broken tooth.

Yet all those things are deemed “non-essential”, unnecessary to the basic day to day living.

So instead, I am left to precariously gather weekly supplies while spraying myself
with the sole sacred can of Lysol.
I tend to wee grandchildren as their parents now work and teach from home.
We cook, we eat, we clean, we wash, we huddle together and we wonder what tomorrow
will bring.

And so yes, I pray that God will give me the faith to leave what was known and trusted
behind as we all now embark on a journey into the new…of that which is
untrodden fresh ground.

If I walk hand in hand with my Father…that which is unknown, will be a piece of cake.

You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you,
that you may live, and that it may go well with you,
and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

Deuteronomy 5:33

keep going…by all means, keep going…

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Winston Churchill


(my Penley of Winston Chruchill /Julie Cook/ 2020)

My best-laid plans…

I started this post about 4 days ago…
such is my life right now…

Such is most of our lives right now…

So maybe I need a little pep talk.

Maybe you need a little pep talk.

I think that I might rather prefer a slight swift kick in the pants…

Swift kicks seem to leave a more lasting impression.
Plus they make for immediate forward motion.

I know we are all sick and tired of living in these “uncertain” times.
All you have to do is watch any commercial…be it for cars to credit cards…
every last one now speaks of ” these uncertain times.”

Some of them may use the word uncertain while others use challenging
and some opt for difficult or trying
but no matter what, it is all most precarious.

But if you ask me, ever since that little apple-eating incident, we’ve long been in
“uncertain times”…but I digress.

If you don’t already know this about me, I live in Georgia.
And our governor announced earlier in the week a plan to begin “re-opening” our state
starting this Friday.

Now there is a tremendous amount of brouhaha ensuing following this executive decision.
All the way from the national level to a local level—
Georgia is now being scrutinized.

Are we crazy?
Have we lost our minds?

I, myself, am a bit torn about it all…yet I am all for jumpstarting our economy.

I’m torn mainly because a stagnant economy makes for a stagnant people,
and a stagnant people makes for a stagnant nation…and a stagnant nation makes
for a sitting duck.

And the flip to jumpstarting an economy is that of our health and wellbeing.

Start or wait then start?
Too soon?
Too late?

The apocalypse, of which was forecast in all of this, did not materialize.

No trumpets.
No horsemen.
No booming voices from on high.

However we do know that people have gotten sick, people have suffered and people have died.

So I’ll admit that we do need to go about all of this mess aggressively but also very smartly…
However, we as a people and as a nation, don’t want to knee jerk ourselves into a fetal position
of Henny Penny, the sky is falling and the end is near.

That’s not who we are.
We are home of the brave remember.

We know those who have suffered…those who have lost jobs…
those who have lost loved ones and those who have simply lost their sense of security—
all from a virus…
And thus for some, there seems to be no solace…
and that, my friend, is one key reason as to why we need to propel ourselves forward…

Yet—we are afraid.

We are fearful.
And frighteningly enough, there are those of us who are even afraid to breathe…
as in literally breathing… as we are fearful of what is in the air.

But at some point, we will have to breathe, otherwise, we will all die.

So I wonder… where will we find the correct balance?

Do we press forward or do we continue to wait?

I’d like to think we need to press forward…
but at what cost, what time?

And so that is when I recall those immortal words…
‘when you find yourself in hell, [you mustn’t stop but instead]
you must keep going!’

Those of you who know me, know that Winston Churchill is a bit of a hero of mine.

So when life, be it my own or the larger collective thing we call Life,
proves to be difficult, daunting, trying, or even challenging, I often recall the
wisdom, tenacity, and even the panache of dear old’ Winston.

I will find myself imagining what Winston might do given the same circumstance…

So while I currently find myself so very tired, worried, bewildered, confused
and even mad about the current circumstance for which we are now finding ourselves,
I imagine Winston would bellow gruffly that we must trudge forward…
because forward is the ONLY way to go.

So while I was perusing several articles about dear old Winne,
I found an interesting piece written 8 years ago by Geoff Loftus for Forbes Magazine.
The gist of the article was written basically for business management and overcoming
various obstacles but I found it most applicable to our current world…
I’ve offered a portion of the article but the link to the full
article is listed below…

May 9, 2012

Seventy-two years ago tomorrow, a chubby, stoop-shouldered,
funny faced man with a speech impediment took a new job.
The man was 65-years old and until a year earlier was generally considered
to be a crackpot and a political has-been.
His taking the new job was one of the most momentous events of the entire 20th Century.

The man was Winston Churchill, and the job was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
On May 10, 1940, the British looked to be finished.
They stood alone against the vicious and victorious Nazis.

Two weeks after Churchill came into power, France was knocked out of the war,
and 340,000 British troops had to scramble to escape over the beaches at Dunkirk.
The Germans had absolute control of all of Europe.
It seemed impossible that Britain could survive.

In other words, his plan for success: Complete and total defiance.

“We shall never surrender.”
When you have nothing left but defiance, commit to it with everything you have.
Like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s Henry V,
Churchill used language to rouse the fighting spirit he believed was
still alive in the British people, saying, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
And the line that summed up his personal career and the spirit that led
the British people to victory:
“Never, never, never give up.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffloftus/2012/05/09/if-youre-going-through-hell-keep-going-winston-churchill/#5ed52e2d5490


(one of my several chalk filled figurenes and collectables of Winston)

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit,
interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:13

“Shadow of the Almighty rather than the shadow of death”

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
Psalm 91:1


(image courtesy decidingvoteblog)

As the fluid situation of all of our lives continues to swirl, the post I had hoped to
write today…a post about looking back at how we Americans have overcome past crises
is now on hold.

We’ve been called into a bit of action—for we are off to fetch the Mayor today
with the Sherrif following in a few more days.

With the schools now shuttering in Georgia, our daughter-in-law the teacher
will find herself at home. She will be home with two little ones, along with
a husband (our son) who is already working from home.
And as a teacher, she will be responsible for conducting virtual learning classes
so in turn, they will need help with the kids….so…
the kids will be coming to us.

For how long is yet to be determined.
Therefore, any blogging will be sporadic.

The Mayor tends to demand a great deal of her staff’s time and energies.
And as a governing official, she has her hands full…as we all do.

But before I leave you, I wanted to offer you some lovely words of hope.

The following message…a message of hope in the face of global adversity,
is from our dear friend The Wee Flea, David Robertson.

Living now in Australia but with family still in Scotland as well as England,
David understands first hand the fretfulness we are all feeling during these
times of uncertainty as well as times of fear…

How do we as Christians respond?

My wish is that you will find comfort in the following words…
the link to the full post is found at the end…

Be blessed, stay well and be safe…

One of my greatest concerns is that the Church far more often reflects the society
than it does lead or love it.
This pandemic is a real test for the reality of our faith and the relevance of our doctrines.
And there is no doubt that our world is being taught some real lessons –
lessons the Christian should, if we believe the Bible, already know.

Humility

We are being taught humility.
Fintan O ‘Toole had a marvelous article in The Irish Times pointing out that we are not
kings of the world and we are not masters of our own fate.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. And one that humanity, in our hubris,
has to keep being taught.

History

We have a lot to learn from history –
not least because we keep forgetting it.
Plague and disease are not new to humanity.
When we look at how the Church in the past has dealt with plague –
whether in ancient Rome, medieval Europe, 19th century London or numerous other examples
we can get a better perspective.
My predecessor in St Peter’s Dundee, Robert Murray McCheyne died aged 29 after he visited
the sick and dying in an epidemic among the poor in the city.
The Church today seems to be more concerned about not getting sick, rather than visiting the sick.

Hebel

I love this Hebrew word.
I don’t really know an exact English equivalent.
It’s what Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes when he describes everything as ‘meaningless’ or ‘vanity’.
It carries the idea of trivial froth.
The coronavirus is exposing our societies’ Hebel.
Sport, wealth, leisure, entertainment –
how light and frothy they appear to be in the light of such a foe!

I was in a barber’s in Sydney yesterday where my fellow clientele would normally have been
outraged at the cancelling of the major sporting events which play such
a large part in our lives, but there was general agreement that it didn’t really matter.
(I loved the sign above the door – “if you’re sick you need a doctor, not a barber!”).

Hope

That is the great missing thing.
Real hope has to be more than the wish that this would soon be over and that we could carry on
with life as normal. This virus has exposed the shallowness of that approach to life.
Where do we find hope?
As always I find it in the word of God.
Let me share with you three readings from this morning.

Proverbs 1:20-33 warns us of what happens when we neglect the wisdom that is calling aloud
“in the public square”.
There will be calamity and “disaster that sweeps over you like a whirlwind”.
The waywardness of the simple and the complacency of fools destroys them but
“whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm”.

Then there are the great words of Psalm 91 –
a Psalm that sustained me when I lay on my bed in the ICU unit in Ninewells hospital,
helpless and fearful.
We can rest in the ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ (rather than the shadow of death).
We are covered by his feathers, and his faithfulness is our shield and rampart.
“You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday” (v.5-6).

Finally, my song for this morning was Psalm 139 where,
amongst other things, we are assured that all the days ordained for us were written in the
Lord’s book before they came to be. These verses surely speak to our situation.
Are we listening?
Or are we listening to the voices of doom both within our fearful selves
and our frightened society?

Listening to what God says is not burying our head in the sand;
it is allowing the light to expose our darkness and to point us to a greater and better truth –
to The Rock that is higher than us.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
my anxious thoughts survey.
Show me what gives offence to you,
And lead me in your way”

(Psalm 139:23-24 – Sing Psalms – The Free Church of Scotland)

Three Bible passages to Replace Fear of Coronavirus with Hope in God

What does the face of panic look like? It isn’t pretty…but…

“[Pope] Clement waved his hands in irritation as if to dismiss the very idea.
“The world is crumbling into ruin. Armies are marching.
Men and women are dying everywhere, in huge numbers.
Fields are abandoned and towns deserted.
The wrath of the Lord is upon us and He may be intending to destroy the whole of creation.
People are without leaders and direction.
They want to be given a reason for this, so they can be reassured,
so they will return to their prayers and their obediences.
All this is going on, and you are concerned about the safety of two Jews?”

Iain Pears, The Dream of Scipio


(a photo of empty shelves at a Publix in Fla. courtesy Twitter)

The photo up above is not my own, but it very much could have been because the same image greeted
me at my own Publix this morning—barren emptiness.

I had gone to the grocery store on Monday…I had even posted a little tongue in cheek post
regarding the extent of my “survival” supplies consisting of Oreo cookies and a bottle of Clorox.

My grocery store’s shelves were fully stocked and there was the average number of folks
milling about doing their regular Monday morning grocery shopping.
No big deal.

That all changed over the course of three days.

Thursday night, my daughter-in-law called in a bit of a panic.

They live in Atlanta and their store’s shelves were now all barren.
She wanted to know if I could find any disinfectant wipes, some Lysol spray and some of the
Halo/ cuties for the Mayor as their stores had none.

No problem I proclaimed.
I was on it.
I’d head out in the morning.

“Oh and by the way”, she said, “I looked on Amazon for some Lysol spray…
one can was going for $114 but was currently out of stock.”

Hummmm, I inwardly mused as I felt my brow furrow just a bit.

I flipped on the 10 o’clock news.
On and on went the stories about viruses, pandemics, events being canceled…
all the while my phone kept beeping with the latest alerts and breaking news warnings,
I felt my nerves increasing with each word and alert.

Later, as I readied for bed, I considered actually going on the grocery store
but it was past closing time at my regular store and I really didn’t see any need to
head out to 24-hour stores such as Kroger or Walmart.
I’d just wait until morning before making my run…

Yet I still felt an odd sense of unease.
I knew the schools were going to closed and that meant more
folks heading to the stores.

I spent a fitful night of waking and dreaming.
Restless while dreaming crazy dreams.

By morning, I blamed it all on an underlying sense of heaviness.
Heaviness in part due to the new’s Henny penny nature along
with the real truths playing out before us.

When I got up, I grabbed my phone.
I had to reach over in the night, putting it on silence
when the alerts kept coming in practically non-stop.
I dressed and headed out the door.

When I finally made my way to the major intersection leading into the shopping center, I could already see
that the parking lot was reminiscent of something like an impending storm or
perhaps Christmas.
Cars were everywhere.

I grabbed a cart left out near where I parked–I actually had some sanitizer wipes
in my purse so I wiped that puppy down as there were no carts in the store.
Plus they were smack dab out of their wipes for the carts.

The store was bustling with folks dashing around as if they were on some
grocery dash game show.
A few folks, mostly the men shoppers, looked like deer in headlights.
Some shoppers scoured over lists, others simply grabbed.

Gone were those idyllic days of studying which was the freshest piece of fruit
or vegetable. It was now a matter of grabbing before there was nothing left to grab.

Some women pushed bulging carts as some of their things actually spilled
out over the top onto the floor.

There were no baking potatoes nor bags of red or white potatoes.

There were very few fresh bread loaves remaining.

There were several folks deep at the chicken counter while others hovered
nearby waiting to reach in and grab one of the few remaining packs.
The pork chops and cutlets were almost all gone.
Gone was the frozen cod and salmon from Alaska.
Yet no one stood waiting at the fresh seafood counter.

As I made my way further into the depths of the store, while attempting
to navigate my away around those folks who were more like salmon swimming
upstream, I was met with more and more shelves with less than rather than more.

The water aisle was cleaned out.
The eggs and milk shelves were sparse and growing more and more empty
with each passing cart.

Forget Lysol spray.
But I did find some antibacterial hand soap and canisters of Lysol wipes.

I asked one of the managers,
who was taking stock of what remained on the shelves,
about whether or not they’d be getting in any cans of Lysol spray
as I told him about the $114 can on Amazon.

He said he wasn’t certain as they were having to redistribute some
items to their larger stores in other cities around the state.

I did manage however to grab the Mayor’s clementine oranges.
I grabbed some more Oreos of course, as well as some more cans of cat food.
The cat litter shelves were oddly sparse, so I got one of the remaining boxes.

At this point, I cut down the ice cream aisle in order to reach the butter section and
it dawned on me that there was not a single person or cart on this aisle.
Plus the ice cream shelves were all stocked to the hilt.

Granted winter is not the most robust time of year for the purchase of ice cream or
frozen treats…
and in turn, it would now appear that during times of crisis…
ice cream is not high on the list of the more robust selling items…
items like potatoes and toilet paper.

So let’s think sustainability in the face of necessity vs treats and goodies.

Finally, with now a bulging cart of my own, I maneuvered over to the checkout lines…
as each lane was brimming with 6 or 7 carts deep of folks just waiting to check out.

An older lady came up behind me with only a handheld basket of a few items.
The express lanes were no longer for 10 or fewer items as they were now fully busting buggy lanes.
I told the woman to please go ahead of me.
She told me, no, but I insisted, telling her I was hunkered down for the long haul
as we both laughed.

She told me that it was just her and her husband and that they didn’t need much.
I explained that I was getting some things to carry to our son’s family in Atlanta
as their stores were practically empty.

We each marveled at the surrealness of all of this.

I’ve since seen the clips, both on-line and from the news,
of folks around the country getting into all-out, knockdown drag outs
in various stores over things such as water and toilet paper.
There are stories of one person’s cart accidentally bumping into another’s cart,
of which caused already raw nerves to spew into a full-blown fury.

So it seems that both panic, along with the unseen and unknown, each tend to bring out some
of the uglier aspects of human beings.

We hoard.
We mistrust.
We obsess.
We become selfish and self-centered.
All the while we move into survival mode.

But history teaches us that such times can also bring out our goodness.

We’ll take a look back tomorrow at one of the darkest days of our Nation…
A time when the Nation’s economy had all but collapsed.
A time when the Nation’s workforce was suddenly without work as factories closed from coast to coast
A time when the Nation’s heartland was decimated by soil erosion and a devastating Dust Bowl.

No economy, little to no fresh or readily available foods, a workforce with little to no work,
all the while, the drumbeat of war was growing closer…
and then the unthinkable…an unmitigated and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor.

Those were frightening dark days.
There was paranoia.
There was fear.
There was hunger.
There was rationing.

And yet, there was hope, there was unity and there was neighbor helping neighbor.
And there remained a deep and abiding faith in something far greater than one’s self.

The past has a great deal to teach us about our future.
It teaches how we can best respond to a crisis…
and how we respond will be key to how we recover…or not—
and in the end, that will be our choice.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

ask

“When one has nothing more to lose, the heart is inaccessible to fear.”
St. Théodore Guérin


(an odd place for a road sign / Julie Cook / 20202)

We were out walking a property line over the weekend, in the middle of the woods
in the middle of nowhere.

We found an old logging road so we headed down the clearing rather than creeping
our way through the thick bramble and new growth woods.

The logging road bordered an old-growth forest and a clear cut on the opposite side.
We walked down the road a bit further before being stopped abruptly by a deep flowing creek.
There was no bridge but we could see that the old road continued on the other side.

However, it was obvious there was no way to cross.
Not unless we opted to slip down a wet muddy slope while attempting to ford a deep flowing creek
then pull ourselves up on the other slippery slope—
needless to say, we opted to turn around…

And that’s when I saw it.

There in the middle of these woods, in the middle of nowhere, was a sign.
To be fair, there was a posted sign tacked to a tree,
but it was the road sign that had me most intrigued.

It was a beat-up old road sign propped up against a tree.
A curve in the road sign.
A skewed curve sign, but a curve sign none the less.
A warning to drivers that a curve was up ahead.

Yet here, deep in the woods, where there was no road per se, no curve, there was indeed a sign.

Obviously, for good or bad, there had been others here long before we showed up.

“In the spiritual life there are two great principles which should never be forgotten:
Without grace we can do nothing; with it we can do all things.
Sometimes it anticipates our desires; ordinarily, God waits till we ask for it.
This is a general law thus expressed by Our Lord: ‘Ask, and it shall be given to you.’
Prayer is, therefore, not only a precept, it is a necessity.
God places the treasure of His graces at our disposal, and its key is prayer.
You desire more faith, more hope, more love; ‘ask, and it shall be given to you.’
Your good resolutions remain sterile, resulting always in the same failures:
‘ask, and it shall be given to you’.
Precepts are numerous, virtue painful, temptation seductive, the enemy ruthless,
the will weak: ‘ask, and it shall be given to you.'”

Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey p. xv
An Excerpt From
The Ways of Mental Prayer

a history tale–remembering and forgetting..or is that ignoring


(Roger Viollet / Getty Images)

Every once in a while, the BBC offers a story from the past.
Long forgotten stories from the past.
But not a too distant past.

Stories about the War and the tales of individuals that have been long forgotten.
Private, yet many daring, tales of heroism, of being brave, of humanitarianism,
of kindness—tales of what it means to be human.

In war, what it means to be human is most often forgotten…very quickly.
A first casualty so to speak.

Some of these long-forgotten tales have happy endings, some do not.

However, either way even today lessons remain in all these stories that are still relevant
for both you and me–despite their having taken place nearly 80 years ago.

The other day, I read a post offered by our friend Citizen Tom about the state
of our National Fabric—he offered it on his personal blog as well as
the Prince William and Manassas Family Alliance blog for which he also writes
posts.

(https://citizentom.com/2019/12/31/the-state-of-our-nations-social-fabric-in-2019-part-3/

https://familyallianceonline.org/2019/12/31/the-state-of-our-nations-social-fabric-in-2019-part-3/)

It seems that there is an analytical study out there about how
society and human nature are basically a mostly cyclical affair.

It’s known as Strauss–Howe generational theory (en.wikipedia.org) and according to Tom and his reading
Strauss and Howe believed that we begin a new cycle of human history about every four generations.
Since a generation lasts about 20 years, we begin a new cycle about every 80 – 90 years.

What characterizes the beginning and end of a cycle?
A time of crisis. Society slowly unravels until there is a crisis.
Then the people fight among themselves to resolve the crisis until some group
becomes dominant and “wins”. Then, a recovery of some sort begins

Tom muses aloud as to whether this Strauss-Howe theory is truly accurate or not
as he eventually concludes that there is most likely some validity to it all.

And so I concur…as I too believe we are indeed a cyclical people.

And I find it interesting that there are these long-forgotten, mostly
obscure, even hidden, stories dating back nearly 80 years that are just now
being unearthed, coming back as if to remind us and even warn us.
They are being uncovered just when we need to remember.

This particular story offered by the BBC, written by Rosie Whitehouse,
takes place in 1943, in a remote ski resort village high in the French Alps.
The story involves a local doctor and two Jewish girls on the run…
one of whom had a severely broken leg.

It is a tale of risk, fear, faith, hope and eventually a tale forgotten.
And now it appears that perhaps it is a tale that is reluctant to be recalled.

The doctor was Frédéric Pétri and the girls, Huguette (15) and Marion (23) Müller,
two sisters originally from Berlin.
When the Nazis had come to power in 1933, the Müller family had fled from their
native Germany to France.

The girl’s mother had labored to obtain false papers for Huguette, the youngest—
going so far as to changing her name and having her baptized–
all in hopes of trying to hide any Jewish lineage.

Eventually, their parents were discovered, arrested and sent to Auschwitz but the
girls managed to flee.

Fleeing to a small Alpine ski village.


(PÉTRI Family archives)


(Marion, her young son Tim and Hugeutte following the war)

It was in the tiny mountain village of Val d’Isere, in 1943 that three lives would collide together.
And yet it wouldn’t be until 2020 until that the collision of lives would be shared
with a larger audience.

Marion passed away in 2010 and now, at age 92, Huguette has decided she wants their story told.

Please click the link below to read the fascinating story of survival and the odd
response from today’s villagers.

Val d’Isere: The doctor who hid a Jewish girl – and the resort that wants to forget

https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-50828696