Somebody needs to eat them….

“Nature alone is antique,
and the oldest art a mushroom.”

Thomas Carlyle

Toadstools and mushrooms…the prevalent fungus among us…
With all those fungi surely someone out there has to be a beneficiary…
as this squirrel is doing his best to make the most of a free meal…

One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak,
eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt
the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does,
for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?
To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand,
for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Romans 14:2-4

the sustenance of existence …

“The last degree of love is when He gave Himself to us to be our Food;
because He gave Himself to be united with us in every way.”

St. Bernardine of Siena


(lemons to be / Julie Cook / 2018)

Sometimes I get busy.

I get distracted.

Some might even say that my distraction is more than that of “normal” people…

I simply call it brain multi-tasking…
Others may call it scattered or ADD or unfocused…

Whatever…

Yet it is in those moments, those days, those weeks, those chapters of life that
I seem to allow myself to become consumed.

I become consumed by the demands of a world that may or may not be good.

And as I am consumed…thinking that I am focused, going through the motions,
doing that stuff that needs doing…
I then become tired, irritable, out of sorts, short, curt, ill-tempered, mean,
hateful, mean-spirited, disrespectful, ungrateful, arrogant, self-serving…

You can see where this is going right?

It’s a journey going down into a dark hole.

Yet I continue to rationalize my busyness, my preoccupations, my activities, my doings
my demeanor, my unappealing self…

“Who has time for anything other than______???!!!” (fill in the blank)
as I hear my inner-self rationalizing an ever-increasing darkening journey…

Yet Saint Bernardine of Siena’s words have stopped me in my tracks this morning…
As I am pulled immediately and abruptly back into my own reality…

The one piece of the maddening puzzle that is missing…

That of loving nourishment…

Jesus gave himself as my food.

Food as in…
“This is my body…take and eat…

My sustenance,
my nourishment,
and the sustaining of my actual existence…

The host that feeds both my body and soul…

His very self which is to be consumed by me who is starving and yet who is totally
unaware of how malnourished I’ve allowed myself to actually become.

A food bound by a tie of immense and all-encompassing Love

Another dynamic saint once said,
“…I will not be a burden, for I want not what is yours, but you…
I will most gladly spend and be utterly spent for your sakes” (2 Corinthians 12:14).
There is danger that we see only the whirlwind of activity in the Bernardines of
faith—taking care of the sick, preaching, studying,
administering, always driving—and forget the source of their energy.
We should not say that Bernardine could have been a great contemplative if
he had had the chance.
He had the chance, every day, and he took it.

Franciscan Media

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

John 4:32-34

nutritional needs

“Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us.
Both are good when both are possible.
Otherwise, prayer is better than reading.”

St. Isidore of Seville


(the bottle arsenal / Julie Cook / 2017)

We are living in a hyper-focused time of food and nutrition.
Superfoods, trendy foods, diet foods…each abound.
What’s in, what’s out, what’s hot, what’s not…
Protein, fats, carbs, sugars…fried, sauteed, raw, whole, vegetarian, vegan, carnivore…
soy, soba, matcha, chia, ancient grains, wheat, gluten…

On and on goes the list.

Thin is dangerously in while obesity quietly plagues the West.

As an educator, I knew first hand the importance of our students receiving proper nutrition.
Not all of our kids received three square meals a day…meals that were portioned,
nutritional conscious, or filling.

An unfed body houses an unfed brain…
And an unfed brain equates to delayed growth potential and lower performance standards both
physically, mentally and eventually educationally.

We know that in order for a child’s brain to properly develop and to develop well—children
need good brain food–good nutrition.

So why should nutrition be any different for a believer of Christ?

As a Believer, we need to nourish our minds, hearts, bodies and souls…

We need to read and digest holy Scriture
We need to fill our beings with prayer..
as we season our lives with the words of those saints and martyrs who
have each set the standard of faithful living

“This God of all goodness has made those things easy which are common and necessary
in the order of nature, such as breathing, eating, and sleeping.
No less necessary in the supernatural order are love and fidelity,
therefore it must needs be that the difficulty of acquiring them is by no means
so great as is generally represented.
Review your life.
Is it not composed of innumerable actions of very little importance?
Well, God is quite satisfied with these.
They are the share that the soul must take in the work of its perfection.”

Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p.7
An Excerpt From
Abandonment to Divine Providence

gee, haw…

“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence.
And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your
heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away
every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

St. Francis de Sales


(a pair of Belgium working horses on Mackinac Island / Julie Cook / 2017)

My husband and I hopped in the car the other evening, as we were getting ready to
head over to Atlanta to see our son and daughter-n-law…
and I don’t know what brought it up, but we got off on a small technology tangent.

Most likely what got us started was my wanting to turn on the seat warmers.
Temps had not reached above the freezing point all day, and now the sun was quickly
setting sending temperatures plummeting.
Needless to say, I’ve been mostly cold for the last two months.

My husband said, for no one in particular, “technology left me years ago…
it left me back with gee and haw…”

“GEE, HAW???!!!!” I practically shout before bursting out into full laughter.

For those of you unfamiliar with such words, Gee and Haw are the two words used with
working animals such as mules, draft horses, and even sled dogs.
Gee means for the mule, horse or dog to turn right
Shout ‘Haw,’ and the animal turns left.

My husband can remember as a little boy visiting his grandparents up in north
Georgia with his grandfather using mules to plow the fields.
He’d shout “Gee” then “Haw,” and those mules knew exactly which way to turn.
That was probably in the early 1950’s as rural Georgia was just that, still very rural.

We had actually heard the same terms used recently, this past summer when visiting
Mackinac Island as there are no vehicles on the island—only draft horses doing
everything from acting as the taxis to delivering UPS.
Gee.
Haw

Low tech.
And I must say, I for one, found it somewhat comforting.
It was actually really refreshing.

I know it, being technology, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but instead will only be advancing…
And sadly so…
for technology has, if it hasn’t already, gotten entirely out of hand as well as a disaster
just waiting to happen…

This insatiable need of ours to see, to know, to hear, to tell everything instantaneously is a very dangerous false need.

It has created a very dangerous sense of profound falsehoods that most of us don’t even
realize.
For we are a people who are greatly dependent upon our technology—for even life
and death issues…

But let’s look at a couple non-life-threatening examples of when technology goes
awry…or perhaps just more of an irksome trouble.

During the busy Christmas shopping mayhem season, my husband’s internet randomly went out at his store. His is a busy retail
business, so when there’s a technology issue and his register goes out, or his credit card machine goes out, he loses money as people will walk out the door.

We spent hours on the phone with AT&T trying to find a person who was actually
“stateside” as we continued narrowing help down to Georgia, then down to our individual town.
That took hours of waiting and frustration. All the while the store is full of people
who want to be waited on and checked out.
We were told it would be days before they could get someone out to check out our problem.
Days was not an option.

In the meantime, we had to pull out the old-timey credit card swiper….remember
those low tech little machines?

A customer would lay their card down on top of a triple carbon copy slip
while the clerk swiped the little lever over the card and carbon paper. The
customer’s card info would be swiped and imprinted onto the carbon ticket.
The customer would then sign the swiped carbon slip as the clerk would then pull off
the customer copy while keeping the store copy…
then off went the happy customer with their purchase.

The old-timey swiping machine worked perfectly fine as we waited for the AT&T technician
to eventually make the trip to the store.
Turns out the internet was out for unknown reasons randomly in the shopping center…
the next time it went out, a week later, the technician sent us out get a new cable…

sigh…

Last evening we went to neighboring town for supper at a Craker Barrel.
I often crave Cracker Barrel’s simple homey fare offering of
good ol’ southern prepared food.
Chicken and dumplings, fried okra, spicy collard greens, southern style green beans…
or even their offering of breakfast for supper.
Plus they had a roaring fire going and we were fortunate to snag
a table by the fire.

When we’d finished our meal we took the bill out to the register to pay.
The line snaked all the way back into the dining area.
We figured they were low of help at the registers…
but that was not the issue.
Their card machines weren’t working probably and weren’t reading folks
debit or credit cards correctly.

Finally, as we made our way to a cashier, we told the manager we were going
to pay with something very novel…real money.

The manager was grateful and said he wished he had one of the old-timey
credit card swiper machines but since he was the oldest one on staff, he was the only
one who even knew what such a machine was…

Low tech.

Those are just a couple examples of small technological issues
of when things don’t work or go wrong.

Now let’s consider a bit larger trouble.

Saturday, a statewide alert went out in Hawaii, alerting the public that a ballistic missile was on its way to the Islands.
It was one of those Amber style alerts that went out on everyone’s phones.
It was not a drill and everyone needed to seek immediate shelter.
For those in Hawaii, it was the end of life as they had known it.

With North Korea’s 24/7 threats, threatening to send a nuclear warhead
in the direction of Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, or Alaska…well its all had everyone
a tad bit nervous…so Saturday, it seemed that the unthinkable was actually happening.

However…

The issued warning alert was in actuality incorrect.
It had been issued by mistake.
There was no missile, no need to duck and cover.
No need for immediate Last Rites.

I wonder how busy the ER’s were following the correction with those feigning a
possible heart attack?

So it should come as no surprise that we’ve gotten really good these days at lamenting,
“technology, it’s great when it works…not so much when it doesn’t…”

And yet I rather miss our low tech dealings during these waning days of ours…

Gee
Haw

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
Psalm 146:3

Meat and potatoes

One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in
the same pattern, but in different colors.

Robert Graves


(the red snapper at Bud and Alley’s Seaside Beach, Fl / Julie Cook)

Ok, I admit….this is a picture of a fish with potatoes and not a steak.
as in “meat and potatoes”

I did have a lovely picture of a prime rib roast which I had cooked a while back,
but the fish seemed a bit less red and well, meaty…as I know there are those
out there who just really are opposed to “red” meat….despite my knowing there are
those who will grouse over the whole well, whole fish…meaning head and eyes….
but we digress….

I’ve stated before, I’ve always been a meat and potatoes sort of girl.
Be that meat…fowl, pig, lamb, fish or cow…..

Yet today’s post is not about food…meat or starch…
but is a post that we might just call more of a hearty dose of the
Word of God….being sustenance for the soul verses the food for the stomach.
As in getting down to the heart of the matter….

And now that the dust has somewhat settled…as the snows are now melting…
life is settling back into its normal madness of Christmas….
sans any of the distracting, as well as debilitating, white stuff.

Power is now restored.
Limbs are now cut up and stacked.
Cars have been moved to where they belong….
As schools resume to normal schedules today.

So in the madness since late last week, when the snows did begin to fall,
I was literally pulled away from much of my reading and study as my duties
were needed immediately elsewhere—
And I was particularly pulled away from my reading and focusing on the teachings
of those 3 favorite clerics of mine…

And what a delightful hodge podge of spirituality they are—

A renegade Anglican priest, a reformed Presbyterian minister and a Catholic monk…

And may it be known that whereas each one of these men may seem,
from all outward appearances to be vastly different,
when all the pretense of what the world perceives of them is
peeled away, they along with their messages, are but one in the same.

And I for one delight in that.

In my distraction with the snow and writing about such…there has been so much
that has actually taken place that needs not only my attention but yours as well….

Jerusalem is being recognized by the US, at long last, as the capital of Israel…
much to the chagrin of most of the world as well as by many actually in the US
itself.

The Pope, much like our US President, has boldly and perhaps blindly, ventured
to where he may not should have trod, by declaring that the Lords’ Prayer
needs an overhaul….see the perspiration beads forming at my brow….

Sexual harassment continues to prevail in our headlines as it appears to have crept
into the fold….

And my friend who I made mention of the other day…
the one whose family business my family had frequented for the past 25 years or so,
lost her earthly battle early Friday morning.
During the last time we had a chance to chat, which was just a couple of weeks ago,
I noticed that my friend was rather sad and weepy.
I asked what was troubling her….and this 78 year old friend looks me in the eye
and tells me “I miss my momma”—- as I look back at her,
telling her how I understand because I miss mine as well—of which she knew….
So I am uplifted in knowing that both her son and daughter were by her side
when she gave up the earthly ghost and headed on home to be with her mom…

All of this, along with all the other tit for tat that has been happening in what seems
to be my snow encrusted writing absence, will each be addressed in due time…..

But first I wanted to return our focus to Advent.

Because isn’t that what our focus should currently be about?
Advent.
As in The Coming….

I spent some time this morning listening to the 2nd Sunday in Advent’s homily
offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden…I was a day late and a dollar short,
but none the less, blessed.
12 delightful minutes of good meat and potatoes for the soul.

The good bishop reminds us that Advent is a time for making space in our hearts,
more space for Jesus.

He tells us that this is the time that we are to be about repentance…
in order to make sacred space available.

Bishop Ashenden focused on the reading of the day which was taken from the Gospel of
St Mark (Mark 1:1-8) in which there is a good description of John the Baptizer…
a man wearing simple garments and who is sustained by eating wild honey and locust.

The good Bishop admits to having always been a bit perplexed as the why
the locust eating would be so important as to be included in the text….
but a Greek friend noted that the true translation in Greek, as only Greeks would understand it to be, was not that of an insect but rather actually a type of flower—
of which seemed to make much more sense.

So we get the complete picture of John…that he was a simple man,
living off and being sustained by the land.
Not the crazy loner off in the desert howling by the moon at night as he
has often been portrayed—perhaps more mad than wise.

And so as we note–John was very simple—
in turn bound by no worldly trappings what so ever ….

John both proclaimed as well as accused those of his day of having
lives way too full—
and that the time had come to make the choice…

The choice being between holding on to that which gets in the way of God or
to choose to move out and get rid of that which gets in the way…
getting rid of that which is separating ourselves from God and God alone.

Very much what we see society and our culture forcing upon us today—
Especially and particularly this time of year!

Our lives, particularly during Christmas, are so chocked full that we are
practically to our breaking point.

We are so full and overwhelmed with all that must be done to
make the “holidays” just so special, magical and wonderful…
on top of already busy lives with school and work….
that we are actually crowding out Jesus.

Crowding Him out from the very time He is to actually be at the center of
our focus.

Bishop Ashenden notes that John’s message of Metanoia, or that of our total change
and or transformation, is so important because it calls us to a new way of examining
things….

Yet at the same time the good Bishop admonishes us that…dare we say,
there is a spirit of evil actually at work, at this very moment, particularly now…
during this time of year that we are being called…called by God.
It is all so totally opposite of the call of the Holy Spirit.

For there is a force working to counter that call…
countering with the distractions and demands we actually throw upon ourselves
particularly at this time of year.

Shopping, church pageants, visits to Santa, picture taking, card writing and sending,
choir practice, school plays, sporting events, making costumes, wrapping gifts,
sorting, cooking, parties, cleaning, traveling…
all of this on top of the already endless demands of both work and school—
All of this becomes the priority while the true essence of Christ is pushed further
aside.

We fight to pretend and convince ourselves otherwise—
we rationalize that we are doing what we are doing because IT IS Christmas…
yet none of it has one single thing to do truly with Christmas—
or Christ Mass…

None of this is to be about lifestyle and clutter but about having the presence
of God at our forefront…as Bishop Ashenden pointedly asks…
“how much time then do you allot for prayer, the reading of scripture,
and loving the Lord?”…especially now during this chaotic time?

I found that I had to really look at what he was saying…
I had to look closely at what gets pushed aside…looking at what is then
actually pushing its way into being the priority….a false priortiy.
The priorities that society makes of us during this season…

Our culture clamors that we are to be all inclusive…and non discriminatory—
but should we not be exclusive and discriminatory over that which is demanding
to be the forefront of our focus—-all of which is not the true essence of Christ
nor of Christ Himself….

exhausted

Sometimes, exhausted
with toil and endeavour,
I wish I could sleep
for ever and ever;
but then this reflection
my longing allays:
I shall be doing it
one of these days.”

― Piet Hein


(the cake was divine—Cakes by Darcy — Julie Cook / 2017)

Well I must say all the planning and hard work paid off—our little shower shindig on Sunday was wonderful—as a good time was had by all—
good food, good friends and loving family with 60 plus folks
gathered to celebrate mom, dad and baby to be….
aka my son and his most pregnant wife.

The most special moment of the day, for me at least, was when we got all the festive revelers quiet long enough and gathered together in one area, those both young and old,
those both new and old friends, in order that the minister who had actually
married Brenton and Abby, could bless the house.

I first told everyone gathered, through my tears, that it was in 1962 when my small
family moved into the house—Dad, mom and me…
and that the house, over the years, had seen a lot of sadness, anger, dysfunction,
sorrow, sickness, as well as death—
and so now that a new life, a new chapter was about to appear and about to be opened,
it was only fitting that we ask for God’s blessing.

Lance prayed the most heartfelt and most earnest prayer.
He prayed for healing, for restoration and for the grace to bring a child into
our current tumultuous world…that those gathered would each lend a hand in seeing
that this granddaughter of ours would be cared for, cherished, supported and loved.

He proceeded to anoint the nursery as well as the crib.

So now that we have finally gotten back home and it is late in the evening and I am exhausted—tomorrow, we’ll get back to more pressing matters here in blogville….
but for now, I”ll get ready to head to bed for tomorrow it’ll be time to pick up,
clean up and sort as I have a car load of platters, plates and “stuff” that needs to be emptied and put away…

And the tile man will be back bright and early…sigh….

But for now, I will relish the thoughts of this special day and of the special time
we have to look forward to….

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

Ecclesiastes 11:5

Hungry?

There is a spiritual hunger in the world today –
and it cannot be satisfied by better cars on longer credit terms.

Adlai E. Stevenson

DSCN0731
(a disgusted jackdaw surveys a tossed aside apple core / Blarney Woolen Mills / Co Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2016)

God will fill the hungry because He Himself has stirred up the hunger.
As in the case of prayer, when God prepares the heart to pray,
He prepares His ear to hear (Ps. 10:17).
So in the case of spiritual hunger,
when God prepares the heart to hunger,
He will prepare His hand to fill.

Thomas Watson

If you saw someone who was hungry,
would you in turn offer them a piece of rubbish or rotting trash?
Would you hand them something discarded and already eaten upon?
Would you toss them a mere rind or core?
Some sort of afterthought, something less than…?

Chances are that you would not.

You wouldn’t feed a hungry person with trash or previously eaten and picked over food.
Rather you would most likely offer them something fresh, preferably warm and cooked.
Something that you yourself would wish to be offered…something you yourself would enjoy.

So we can safely assume that if someone stood before you physically hungry,
you would most certainly feed them or help provide a means for them to be fed…right?

So now, if someone was standing before you spiritually hungry, lost, angry with their life’s lot,
searching for that elusive satisfaction and happiness…
Why then would you not share the word of God?…
offering them the bread of life, the endless waters of salvation,
the body and blood of the only One who can satiate the real and true hunger of man?

For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:9