Hope is Springing

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest.
The soul, uneasy, and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

Alexander Pope


(cue the Lenten Rose / Julie Cook / 2018)

We still have so much to talk about…
So many pressing issues of the soul and the salvation of man.

That being our salvation.

There is so much history that we need to recall, lest we be doomed to repeat it all.

Discussing those things of true importance while discarding those unimportant things
vying for control.

There has been such a wearisome heaviness pressing down on us…
The cold.
The snow.
The political circus of both country and globe.
The helter-skelter stock market.
The flu.
The sheer burdens of our individual lives…
The uncertainty of the uncertainness.

The list seems endless.

I have felt as if I have not been outside, really outside, taking stock
of a winter barren waste-laid landscape in a string of seemingly nonending months of time.

Its just been too cold, too wet, too grey…
just too, too…

Until Tuesday.

I actually went outside and filled up the birdfeeders.
The sun was shining and it wasn’t freezing.
In fact, I could feel the sun’s warmth.
An unfamiliar yet most welcomed sensation.

I cleaned out the bird boxes, ridding them of the old nests…
making ready for new residents who will soon be out house hunting.

I trimmed away a few dead and broken branches from plants, bushes, and trees—
all who had suffered under the weight of the snow and ice—
trimming wich I had simply not felt called yet to tackle.

To be honest, I think I’ve just not felt like doing much of any of it, period.
I’ve not felt motivated or excited to do so…
both of which are not me.

I chalk such lack of motivation, lack of get-up-and-go, to life’s wicked blows,
to the winter blues and to just the never-ending chill which
has delighted in reaching down to my very bones.

The good news is that I do not have the full blown hemochromatosis I spoke of
about a week or so ago.
I am however a carrier…only half mutant.
Yet it’s off for the nuclear stress test come Monday…
all to figure out the reason for a sedentary blood pressure for a non-sedentary individual…
of which probably points to another mutant gene…

My son made me watch the X-Men cartoons with him when he was a little boy—
I always did have a soft spot in my heart for Beast—
I mean, who doesn’t love a soft-spoken, Shakespearian reading
manly man who happens to be blue?

Yet I suspect some might simply call my winter languidness, age.

However my little outdoor excursion Tuesday offered up a marvelous surprise.

Tucked away in what is usually a dark tiny tree ladened little nook,
an unsuspecting patch of pine straw nestled between two small boxwoods…
rests 4 nearly hidden reminders that there is indeed life lurking, waiting and
really ready to get busy.

And as if right on cue, just in time for the beginning of this week’s coming Lenten season…
a time which happens to be bringing both Valentine’s day and a certain grandbaby’s
due date…
a reflective time of death, Ressurection, and life…
the Lenten Roses are in full blooming regalia.

Hope does Spring eternal does it not?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,” declares the Lord,

Jeremiah 29:11-14

I can’t see St Franics!!!

“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
― Francis of Assisi


(the unruly bushes covering poor St Francis / Julie Cook / 2017)

I am the keeper of the shrubbery.

Add to that, I’m really too old for shrubbery.

Meaning I plant it…I prune it, I sheer it, I chop it…
and somedays, I’d just like to burn it to the ground.
Think 5 acres that need tending to….as I’m knocking on the door of 60.

Usually I do a complete maintenance overhaul of the yard each spring…
But this past spring saw me serving vigil with Dad…
Then following his death it was a matter of sorrow and picking up the pieces.
There wasn’t much energy for bushes.

I’m still picking up the pieces, still dealing with his dealings…and some days,
I just can’t do much but still just be sad…
Throw in losing Aunt Maaaathaa in July and well…the yard…
well it went to the wayside….to the way way way side….
kind of like my get up and go.

Too much sadness has a way of stealing that get up and go.

I usually trim the shrubbery twice a year…first in the spring—
then I like to tidy up things come fall, readying everything for the winter.
Think Martha Stewart sans all the helpers….

In order to put out some fresh pinestraw, the bushes need to be trimmed.
Did I mention those two pesky blown out discs from last year…
well, they’re still blown and they make getting up and going none too easy.

And oh, and did I mention another hurricane is coming?

The fresh pinestraw is to be delivered mid week, the hurricane is coming Sunday and Monday… a two day event of winds and rain, rain and rain…of which the rain
is most needed this time of year.

All of which meant today was the day in which the trimming and cutting
had to get done…
otherwise the bushes would take over the house and no amount of fresh pinestraw
could hide that little fact.

You know it’s bad when St Francis has been consumed by the bushes.

Throw in one electric hedger….

and St Francis is now free…..

Which reminds me, the feast day of St Francis was Wednesday, Oct 4th.

Most folks, those of the faith as well as those not, think kindly of Francis.
He loved the animals don’t you know.
And who doesn’t like someone who loves the animals?

Yet there was much more to Francis than a love of animals.

I’ve written about Francis before.

And since I’m now past exhausted and very sore from my pruning and freeing Francis
from the bushes, I’ll keep this short and sweet….

Francis wasn’t always about loving animals.

No, Francis wasn’t always the peaceful loving monk with the funky haircut
(tonsure) that we know and love today…

Rather Francis was all about loving the world.

He was a spoiled rich kid who loved to party.
He was what we might call a bit of a ’rounder’…
meaning a wild young man given to a wanton life of drinking too much,
chasing women too much and working way too little.

Sounds very familiar…much like a modern day millennial….

Yet Francis found this sort of life of his…lacking.
As in empty.

Despite being very popular, a hearty partier and a well dressed dandy,
Francis felt less than.

There was a heaviness to his being…one he just couldn’t understand.
An emptiness that no amount of parties, or money or friends could fill.

And then God literally called his name….

Isn’t that great…???!!!

That God can see into the wantoness of the worldly something actually redeeming…???!!
Something more than and something He wants!!!

Meaning…there is truly hope for us all!!!

“I have been all things unholy.
If God can work through me,
He can work through anyone.”

Francis of Assisi

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.”

Isaiah 44:22

everything will fade but the Truth

Beauty is a fading flower,
Truth is but a wizard’s tower,
Where a solemn death-bell tolls,
And a forest round it rolls.

Alfred Noyes


(the spent flowers of a fading season / Julie Cook / 2017)

Truth is not a thought, not a word, not a relationship between things, not a law.
Truth is a Person.
It is a Being which exceeds all beings and gives life to all.
If you seek truth with love and for the sake of love,
she will reveal the light of His face to you inasmuch as you are able
to bear it without being burned.

St. Nicholas of Serbia

“Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.”

Psalm 25:5

sandcastles

“Without the hope of posterity, for our race if not for ourselves,
without the assurance that we being dead yet live, all pleasures of the mind
and senses sometimes seem to me no more than pathetic and crumbling defences
shored up against our ruin.”

P.D. James


(the remains of a day’s sandcastle /Julie Cook / 2017)

This nation of ours has ignorantly busied itself building sandcastles in the path
of a rising and raging tide.
Oh so certain that the ramparts will hold and the walls will never be breeched…
holding strong while staving off the ill perceived intrusion of lies.

Statues are removed, protests are mounted, while the glamorous raise their glasses in
triumph…
all the while ignorance is breeding contempt while violence is begetting violence…

Yet in the morning the castles will all be gone.
The tide of Truth will have leveled the pretense of man’s folly.

So we do not lose heart.
Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are
unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

9/11 remembered and the garden on a hill

“What separates us from the animals,
what separates us from the chaos,
is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”

David Levithan


(the sign outside of the Remembrance Garden in Kinsale, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

16 years have passed…
and yet our hearts still mourn.

In 2015 when on a trip to Ireland, I had the privilege of visiting the small
picturesque fishing village of Kinsale.

Tucked away off the beaten path, perched high on a hill overlooking the harbor,
is a humble and unassuming memorial garden park.

This however is not any sort of average garden nor an average memorial….
certainly not what one would expect to find in an Irish fishing village.

It is a living memorial to the American tragedy of 9/11.

The following link is to post I wrote, almost two years ago to the day,
after returning home regarding our visit to the garden….

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/out-of-the-darkness-has-come-a-great-light/

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4

“ya gotta know it folks”

“We are our choices.”
Jean-Paul Sartre


(buckeye enjoying the sedum / Julie Cook / 2017)

I had the privilege of spending a large part of my career working alongside
quite a remarkable woman.
I won’t spend time reiterating that relationship or that of her tremendous impact
on not only me, our fellow colleagues or of the hundreds of students who came and
went from the desks of her classroom better upon leaving than when entering…
for I did that three years ago with a post dedicated to her life and legacy…

Please click the link for that original tribute:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/to-rome-and-jackie-with-love/

Yet during the past several months there has been one phrase my friend would
utter almost daily that continues to resonate within in my head…

“ya gotta know it folks,
“you just gotta know it”

This was a phrase my friend constantly reiterated to her students.
Over and over.
It was a mandate.

She taught geometry and would drill and drill the importance of simply having to
know the basics because without them, there was no going forward.
For there was no moving forward if you didn’t commit to memory
the various properties, postulates and theorems.

So with so much of the world now precariously perched atop an explosive powder keg…
I can’t help but hear those same words proclaimed by my friend as they are now
ringing within my head…
“ya gotta know it folks”
You’ve got to know that so much of what is happening to us and to those around us
is based on choices….
yours, mine, ours.

It is imperative to remember, nay we need to just know, that our choices,
be they good or be they poor,
effect more than ourselves at any particular given moment or time.

Our very lives today are the direct by-products of the result of choices
made by those who have gone before us…
as their,
those souls who forged through this life before us,
their choices continue effecting us to this day.

For we are living in a continuum of choice.

So the question posed to us this day…

Why do we wail and lament over the current circumstances of our times?

Why do we stand as if a deer in headlights over the repercussions from our
choices of violence that have only begotten further violence…

from the repercussions of our anger which has begotten further anger…

from our egos which have only begotten further arrogance…

from our selfish and self centered decisions which have only begotten
harm and pain for innocent bystanders…

from the thoughtless and rash proclamations which have only begotten
loss of life and mayhem for those we don’t even know…

Why do we blame everyone and everything other than ourselves for
we are all living in the throws of poor choices on a massive scale…

Choices…. ya gotta know it,
You’ve got to know that the choices you are making
are affecting not only you, but everyone else around you…
Ya just gotta know it….


Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you
to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ,
so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed,
for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind
of criminal, or even as a meddler.
However, if you suffer as a Christian,
do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household;
and if it begins with us,
what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves
to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

1 Peter 4:12-19

astrological phenomenon?

The artist, like the God of the creation,
remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork,
invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent,
paring his fingernails.

James Joyce


(shadows of the river birch trees, dappling onto the driveway, during the eclipse /
Julie Cook / 2017)

Did you get to “see” yesterday’s eclipse?
If so, did you simply dismiss the eclipse as just an astrological phenomenon?
Something kind of cool but just one of those moon, sun, star, planet
kind of events?

It was definitely more than….
indeed much more than.

It was not my intention to write a post about the eclipse as I had other
things to “discuss”….but the experience of the moment was something
I felt called to share….

First, there was truly an odd look to the whole of outside when all of this began…
It was a subtle but noticeable softening of intenstiy.
It was as if the glaring August sun was calming herself down…
for just a moment’s reprieve…and I liked it.

The day began like any other August dog day in the deep South….
The sky was a brilliant blue, speckled with only an occasional puff ball of a cloud.
The neighbor’s bulls across the street were in the midst of a rather loud and
raucous serenade of who could bellow the loudest…
And it was hot.
Near 90 degrees while an overhead sun was blazing down in all her glory.
No rain and only sun and heat.
The type of day one prefers to stay indoors verses out,
especially during the heat of the day.

Shortly after 1 PM the yard…the trees, grass, plants…all began to take on
an odd coloring or better yet, tone.
Almost as if twilight was approaching, yet the sun was still
fully overhead, as there were no clouds crossing her path.
Surreal and dreamlike all rolled into one, it was as if you were standing somewhere familiar yet foreign at the same exact moment.

The sky was still brilliantly blue with a sun still glaring above…
and had I not had the pair of solar glasses that my cousin had overnighted to me
when she discovered the ones I originally had were in fact imposters, I would have
found the strange tint to the whole outdoors disconcertingly odd.
Knowing something was happening but wouldn’t have been able to understand what–
or realizing that something was now terribly wrong with my vision or presence of mind.

By looking through the glasses I could see the moon’s shadow making it’s unyielding
journey across the path of an undaunted sun.

By 2:30, just shy of the 94% fullness that we were going to be privy to, the shadows
cast on the driveway were greatly softened and arced, creating what appeared to
be not the shadow of leaves cast upon the cement, but rather that of a gauzy sheer oriental pastel painting spread out ever so lovingly at my feet.
Plus I noticed I was no longer sweating profusely…
As there was a soothing stillness in the air while even the bulls became silent.

Had I not had the glasses I still would have marveled over the welcomed
embrace of stillness,
the temporary dip in temperature and the oddly shaped shadows cast filtering through
the leaves.

Being awake in the midst of a dream is the best description I can think of–
Strange and odd while being peculiarly soothing.
I’m sure that part of my experience is because I happened to be home alone
during this event and not standing in the midst of a crowd…so I can’t
write about what it was like with the masses but rather just me by myself.

There was, for the briefest of moments, a marvelous emptiness,
as well as an all encompassing fullness…
taking place at exactly the very same moment…
no planes were flying over head, no cars whizzing up or down the road,
the bulls were quiet and all bees and buzzing critters had momentarily disappeared.
It was the silence within what seemed to be a different dimension.

Allowing me to marvel in the mastery of our Awesome Creator…

Astrological phenomenon?
Nahhhhhh…….


(images taken with my camera as I put a pair of the solar glasses over the lens)

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Psalm 19:1