something sinister

People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest.
Hermann Hesse


(birdhouse / Julie Cook / 2018)

So do you remember the other day when I posted a few pictures of one of my bluebird houses
with a wad of straw appearing to be pushed out of the hole?
I made mention of how I clean out all the boxes in February as birds like to basically start fresh
each season.
Much like we do—when buying a house and moving, we usually like to buy a cleaned up house in
which to move in to.

The image got me thinking about spring cleaning…
of how we not only literally seem to find renewing projects each new spring season that
we must be about—such as the cleaning out of the old while making way for the new…
but that Springtime is also a good reminder for the need to be about our spiritual cleaning
and renewal needs as well.

So imagine my dismay when I walked past the birdhouse yesterday and noticed, oddly, that
the straw was no longer poking out of the hole but was now rather pushed back inside.

Yet upon further inspection, I noted a single blue feather stuck to the box.
Hmmmmmmm…

It began to dawn on me that I’d really not seen the bluebirds as of late scooting in an out of the
box like I normally do.
They are typically really quite busy this time of year as I often hear the chattering chirps of
a young brood emanating from deep within the box.

I’ve not heard that.

Upon further inspection, I spotted something most alarming…

I also notice that one of the bird feeders is hanging precariously on two of the three chains as if something had unchained the feeder—the feeder which is oddly completely empty…

My suspect…

So yes, I have raccoons that frequent our yard.
I’ve caught them many a time at night rummaging around the feeders as well as grabbing up the
stale bread that I’d tossed out earlier for the birds.

I knew raccoons would steal eggs from the nest of birds, but would they actually take a bird?
And a quick little search revealed that yes, raccoons will take a bird from a nest…

Whereas it does sound cruel and even sinister, I suppose I have to view this nature
doing what nature does.
Yet it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Unsuspecting, living life, taking care of a brood, then disaster and devastation strikes
in the dark of night…

This sad reminder of wildlife doing what wildlife does brings to mind another who
prefers to come in the dark shadows of night..taking that which is truly not his…

his is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of
light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

John 3:19-21

groanings

“A revival may be expected when Christians have a spirit of prayer for a revival.
That is, when they pray as if their hearts were set upon it.
When Christians have the spirit of prayer for a revival.
When they go about groaning ouheart’sr hearts desire.
When they have real travail of soul.”

Charles Grandison Finney


(no visitors to the flowers / Julie Cook / 2018)

The other day a fellow blogger, Colorstorm over on The Lion’s Den, offered a post musing
about Genesis and the stories of God’s Cheribum.
Cheribum are found in various pieces of scripture throughout both Old and New Testament.

However, CS digressed somewhat to a different thought…that being the latest news on
Hawaii’s volcanic eruptions with the following observation:
“What fool would not enjoy the mercy of God?
We currently see the fiery lava flows in Hawaii, and should beg God to spare us,
but we do not, and act as if this freak of nature is common as the underappreciated rain
from heaven. (but I digress)”

(full post here:
https://thenakedtruth2.wordpress.com/2018/05/11/not-particularly-now/#comment-18179)

And so it was his digression that got me thinking.

My mind went to the mention in Scripture about the groanings of the earth.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth
right up to the present time.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship,
the redemption of our bodies.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all.
Who hopes for what they already have?

Romans 8:22-24

Which brought my mind around to my own more up close and personal observations.

This Spring has been a bit quiet.
Quiet in an odd and unsettling sort of way.

The usual and almost taken for granted flurry of activity in the yard between the birds,
bees, butterflies, etc.,
has not been what is typically seen for this time of year.

Truthfully, I consciously first took notice of this back in February when I had not seen a
single robin bobbing about the yard in search of stirring grubs and worms.
Usually, by February my yard is awash in robins—yet nary a one had been seen until just the
other week. And then it was merely two birds.

My hummingbirds, my typical clan of three, showed briefly in April, disappeared for several
weeks while just yesterday I noticed a single male dashing about.

Usually when the blueberry bushes are blooming, of which takes place in late March into early April,
the bushes are a buzzing melee of bees of every shape and description along with a myriad
of butterflies.
But do you know that I can count on one hand how many butterflies I’ve actually seen visiting the
yard this Spring?
A tiger swallowtail, a little coastal skipper, and a small white butterfly.
This coming from a yard that could typically pass as a butterfly house.

All of which is so very very out of sync for my small neck of the woods.

Now biologists, who have already raised the alarm over the slow yet noticeable disappearance
of frogs and that of their kin, would chalk my observations up to climate change or perhaps
even just a fluke of a year….or maybe some overuse of pesticides in the area…

But that I don’t buy.

Vulcanologists are most likely chalking up Hawaii’s volcanic activity to the natural
occurrences taking place deep down within the earth…
As those Pacific islands were formed by volcanos, it should come as no surprise
that there’s still volcanic activity on islands where there are active volcanoes.

However the haphazard and precarious in all of this is that people happen to live
near the volcano.

Houses have been destroyed and thousands of folks are now dispersed, evacuated and devastated
while tourism is a bit on hold as this area of the world just happens to be what the US
consider’s her own personal piece of paradise…
and paradise just happens to be currently teetering on a molten and burning inferno.

Yet my thoughts rest not readily nor so easily on the dismissive reasons found within the
pages of the textbooks of the geothermal world or that of climate change.
Not that I don’t believe man and his quest for bigger, better and more has not had a
progressively negative impact on our environment…we have and we are currently doing
a nice job of destruction…
however…

The earth is groaning.

The smallest indicators of this world are bothered…

Yet the earth has groaned since that fateful day when the gates to Paradise were forever
shut to man…yet shut with a promise that those groanings would only increase with time…
for the time is approaching when a Holy foot will touch the mountain that will split
under the power of something greater than this world has yet to ever see or experience.

The tiniest amongst us know.
The earth groans—for she knows.
And all of mankind will soon tremble…

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant.
And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder,
an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.

Revelation 11:19

peace stands firm

” While the world changes,
the cross stands firm.”

St. Bruno


(peony / Julie Cook / 2018)

“You must first have peace in your own soul before you can make peace between other people.
Peaceable people accomplish more good than learned people do.
Those who are passionate often can turn good into evil and readily believe the worst.
But those who are honest and peaceful turn all things to good and are suspicious of no one…
It is no test of virtue to be on good terms with easy-going people,
for they are always well liked.
And, of course, all of us want to live in peace and prefer those who agree with us.
But the real test of virtue and deserving of praise is to live at peace with the perverse,
or the aggressive and those who contradict us, for this needs a great grace…
in this mortal life, our peace consists in the humble bearing of suffering and contradictions,
not in being free of them, for we cannot live in this world without adversity.
Those who can best suffer will enjoy the most peace,
for such persons are masters of themselves, lords of the world,
with Christ for their friend, and heaven as their reward.

Thomas á Kempis, p.72-73
An Except From
Imitation of Christ

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

musings of a retired educator…

“The words are not good for the secret meaning, everything always becomes a bit different,
as soon as it is put into words, gets distorted a bit, a bit silly—yes,
and this is also very good, and I like it a lot, I also very much agree with this,
that this what is one man’s treasure and wisdom always sounds like
foolishness to another person.”

Hermann Hesse


(a bunch of wilted and rotting swiss chard in the trash / Julie Cook / 2018)

Or so that was the impetus behind my wanting to start a blog 5…ish years ago..
I was a retired teacher who still had things to “teach”…
or so I figured.

But then ‘it’ happened.

It happened not all at once but rather it came upon gradually…slowly and almost undetected.

It was life and we all know life brings with it…change.

Life changed.
I changed.

It happens.

But that didn’t mean that I didn’t have musings or things I still felt compelled
I needed to “teach”…
I did and I do.

Take for example the above image of the spent swiss chard.

I like swiss chard.
I grew it myself once when I use to have a garden.

I had a garden when I first started blogging.
I blogged about my garden…
then ‘it’ happened.

Life happened and things changed and now I don’t have a garden to blog about.

So now I buy swiss chard at the grocery store.
I like to chop it and sautee it with bacon, onions, a little chicken broth and salt and pepper.

The swiss chard you’re looking at is in the trash.
As has been the last five or so bunches of swiss chard I’ve brought in oh so many weeks.
They’ve all been sent to the rubbish bin…because ‘it’ happened.
Life happened and my swiss chard wilted and got past its prime and I had to throw it out.

Life can be that way…wasteful as well as expensive.

Life can also grow and expand or it can shrink and shrivel.


(two cousins enjoying the human’s couch / Julie Cook / 2018)

I had two cats when I started my blog.

I still have the two cats, but I also have a granddog that has come to stay with us since her new
human baby sister arrived.

They’re all staying with us.

Because ‘it’ happened.

Life brought new life and old life had to go back to work so now older life is caring for the
new life and the two cats and the dog.

And since all these lives are currently living under our roof,
I find that I visit places like the grocery store and Target a lot more often then I use to.
And sadly waste more and more and more swiss chard as life keeps getting in the way.

Take for example yesterday when I had to go to Target for a few things for the new life currently
living under our roof.

Look what I saw for sale…

Politically Correct band-aids.
For when life gives us boo boos.

They are marketed as diverse band-aids.
Skintone correct.

Yeah, right.

Kind of like a Crayola crayon box—talk about diversity in a box.

Because even band-aids have now decided to be all about diversity and the politically correct.

“Genius” some would muse.
“Why didn’t I think of that” others would lament.

All the while I look at traditional band-aids while shaking my head as I know they match
my skin tone about as much as a strip of duct tape does.

Simply put, they don’t.
So let’s not pretend that cream colored band-aids are just for creamed colored folks…
Next, we’ll be changing the color of gauze or surgical tape…

I think the clear band-aids were more along the lines of correctness.

These stips of sticky color are just one more example of members of the bandwagon
jumping on that proverbial train ride while touting that diversity brings everyone together…
yet failing to understand that diversity is really all about splintering.

And then there were these desk signs…

I’m a girl.
I have a granddaughter.
I’m all for equal pay for equal work no matter who’s doing the work…
But if the furture is all about being female…where does that leave our male population?
And where will that leave the making of more males and yes, more females…???

Sigh…

Another example of all things marketing taking life to the same level of
the militant movements of activism…
Hurray for more militant activism…

Sigh…

But happily, I am pulled back to thinking about that new life currently,
yet temporarily, living under our roof.

She got very sick this past week.
Life threw us a tremendous curveball.
A frightening, scary, grab you by the collar, curveball.

When we got home from the second hospital, after a very frightening couple of days
of touch and go, her grandfather presented her with her first bouquet of flowers.

See…this is what life and new life can do to older life.

It can make older life think and do things it normally would not have thought about
or done before…
Like walk up the sidewalk to a store selling flowers in order to bring the sickly little
new life a pot of pretty purple flowers.

Which brings us to a hard part of new life.

Sleeping.

Some new life is all about, well, life…sleep is not an important factor…
because sleep precludes one from , well, taking it all in.
It gets in the way of eating, being held, having diapers changed and missing out
on the older lives scattered about.

And so we now introduce the Finnbin

A couple of years back, before I had this new life in my life, I read an article about
babies in Nordic countries who sleep outside—even in the dead of winter.
Parents make no never mind about meeting up at a cafe for a coffee while their babies hang out,
outside in the sub-zero temps, bundled up, yet happy as little snuggly clams.
They claim babies sleep better out in the fresh air versus inside…
makes sense as I have been known to go a bit stir crazy when I can’t get outside.

I thought the concept intriguing at the time and that perhaps our Nordic friends
were on to something.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21537988

And so when this new life came into my life and had a nice new crib, a functional pack and play
and two Mama Roos yet still found sleep elusive,
I recalled the story of our Nordic friends and the other stories I’d seen about
Finnish babies sleeping in boxes…
yep boxes.

A box seemed a bit safer then shoving the new life outside to fin for herself in a stroller.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22751415

And so, in desperation…I found the Finnbins.

Boxes for baby sleeping—albeit made in America, The Finnbin is a Finnish style sleeping
baby box.

The concept tips its hat to the Finnish Government providing all new parents-to-be with
a baby sleeping box full of all kinds of goodies for new parents to be.
Finnbins make great gifts for expectant parents.
We’re hoping it will provide a happy and much cheaper alternative spot to this new life’s
other more expensive sleeping devices.

Or maybe the stroller will just have to do….

Maybe I’ll go to the store tomorrow and pick up a new bunch of swiss chard…

My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

the offering and the required of a simple rule

“Here is a rule for everyday life:
Do not do anything which you cannot offer to God.”

St. Jean Marie Vianney


(tiny blooms / Julie Cook / 2018)

“There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of
some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed.

All that takes place within us, around us, or through us,
contains and conceals His divine action.

It is really and truly there present, but invisibly present,
so that we are always surprised and do not recognise His operation until it has ceased.

If we could lift the veil, and if we were attentive and watchful God would
continually reveal Himself to us, and we should see His divine action in everything
that happened to us, and rejoice in it.

At each successive occurrence we should exclaim:
‘It is the Lord’,
and we should accept every fresh circumstance as a gift of God.

We should look upon creatures as feeble tools in the hands of an able workman,
and should discover easily that nothing was wanting to us,
and that the constant providence of God disposed Him to bestow upon us at
every moment whatever we required.”

Jean-Pierre de Caussade
An Excerpt from
Abandonment of Divine Providence

let us give thanks

Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece,
make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books –
especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day,
give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.

John Wooden


(peony / Julie Cook / 2018)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17