speaking wisdom

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world;
there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.
He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.
We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel,
that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart,
and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal
the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words,
‘Wait and Hope.”

Alexandre Dumas


(late afternoon in Northwest Georgia / Julie Cook / 2017)

Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.

I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?

No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.

For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.

Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.

Psalm 49:1-14

Sacred

Love is a sacred reserve of energy;
it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


(generations of sacred texts / Julie Cook / 2017)

What makes something sacred?

Something that is to be held in reverence,
passed from one generation to another?
What is it that makes something so dear, so esteemed, so important,
albeit within the confines of a family,
that it becomes a treasure and a life line linking one individual to another?

Deep and heavy thoughts as I slowly begin to purge, pack, relocate
sort, discard, save and add to my own niche of life those things that
were once others as I labors to merge them now as mine.

A frayed small ribbon peeks out from atop a long ago repaired cloth bound,
oh so frail, little black book.
The homemade cover tenderly stitched in order to preserve and protect someone’s
sacred treasure

A hymnal whose first page is now page 7.

As to whose hymnal, which denomination, how old…
Who knows…
But in the family, on someone’s side, it has obviously weathered.

Hymn 527 sounds very much like my beloved 345
A hymn that is as soothing as a beloved’s rhythmic cadence of breath.

“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” has been described as perhaps the most beautiful
of all the countless versions of the 23rd Psalm.

The Tune St. Columba is named for the Irish saint who
“carried the torch of Irish Christianity to Scotland”
(and who has the dubious distinction of being the first to report a sighting of
the Loch Ness monster, in 546).
The tune is one of the Irish melodies collected by George Petrie (1789-1866)
and given in Charles Villers Stanford’s
“Complete Collection of Irish Music as noted by George Petrie,” in 1902.
There it is said to have been sung at the dedication of a chapel in the county
of Londonderry.
The association of the tune with this text,
and also its harmonization, are from “The English Hymnal,” 1906.

Excerpt: “Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worhip”

In a time of grave uncertainties..
both personally and globally…
A time of unprecedented growing rage and division.
May we each rest in the knowledge that we remain bound always to the Sacred….

Please enjoy this beautiful video…

Peter Pan

“We have created a nation filled with too many perpetual children—
Peter and Patty Pans—who were brought up getting trophies for participating in sports,
instead of winning, protected from the supposed horrors of being ranked
by grades and scores and sold corrosive message by the likes of Barack Obama
and Hilary Clinton that everyone deserves every kind of support,
regardless of the level of education they have or the work they put forward.”

Dr Keith Ablow

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough.
You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”

― J.M. Barrie

peter-pan

After yesterday’s post regarding the whole concept of disrespect effecting a
large swarth of our younger generations,
a story I had read last year came flooding back to mind.
It was a story written by a psychiatrist about the troubling phenomenon that we are
currently witnessing within our more youthful generations.

It is known as the Peter Pan effect…
as in, a generation preferring never having to grow up.

As in why should they….
life is pretty darn cozy remaining irresponsible,
being taken care of,
forever youthful,
beautiful,
always being reminded you are special…
ad infinitum….

But we mustn’t blame merely these young people who we’ve recently watched on
various college campuses protesting, marching, demonstrating,
refusing to attend class, walking out of class,
throwing benches through plate glass windows of campus buildings
as an all out temper tantrum has taken hold across this nation….

No, it is not really their fault.

The truth be told, those of us of the older generations shouldn’t be staring at our
television sets…those sets carrying the news stories of the troubling images
of the young gone amuck…
all with our eyes popping out of our heads as we are alarmingly heard to shout
“What in the heck is wrong with these kids??????….

For the truth be told it seems to be the fault of none other but us older generations—
Those parents and grandparents out there who bought into the notion,
hook, line and sinker
that molly coddling was kinder than tough love.
That “yes” was better for the self esteem than “no”
That television,
gaming stations,
video games,
video which became DVDs,
to iPods,
to iPhones,
to computers,
to tablets…
were all better than our personal undivided, undistracted and undistorted attention…

Just throw another trophy or award at them and let everyone win,
and it’s all good we thought.

While we were busy being “us” and finding ourselves,
spreading our own wings and doing our own things…
our kids, who were being raised at arms length by a group of people who decided
to become hovering helicopters in order to make up for our absences during
the more crucial moments…
well we just may have had a hand in these current shenanigans…

Maybe when we decided God wasn’t real, traditional families were passé,
patriotism was old fashioned and morality no longer current…
maybe, just maybe that was the beginning of our troubles…..

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/05/26/nation-peter-pans-have-created-country-filled-with-perpetual-children.html?intcmp=hpff

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of,
because you know those from whom you learned it,
and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures,
which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

fretful, wearisome, fearful…and the challenge to love and believe

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity
but a spirit of power and love.

2 Timothy 1:6-7

dscn1351
(the cliffs of Moher / County Clare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There is much around us that is awesome and awful.
We know too well the divisions and suffering that plague our world.
We have seen that the authorities today use tactics similar to those employed 2,000
years ago, and many people scheme to play to our fear,
destroy our hope, and seal off our joy.

But we have the confidence of our faith.
We have seen the risen Lord!

Joyce Hollyday

Growing up in the United States I have always felt safe and protected.
I have always felt safely blanketed under our laws and judicial process.
The founding fathers, those paternal creators and now guardians of all that
I had known growing up and held dear, had painstakingly paved the way for
future generations of Americans, of which I was one,
to live and to prosper in a harmonious cohesive nation embarked now on her steady course…

Yet unbeknownst to me or to those men who gave birth to this Nation,
that steady course of which was set in 1779 with the swearing in of our first president,
would begin to unravel…with the unraveling beginning around 1970 or so….
(yet I am certain that there are those who, no doubt, would say the unraveling
had actually started much earlier than the 20th century….

What with Roe v Wade, the Woman’s right movement, the demand for birth control, and the seemingly
never ending war in Vietnam….
according to Bod Dylan’s singing proclamation of 1964,
“the times, they are a-changing”…
for they were indeed changing…
just as they were to be changing even more…

According to Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen in their newly
released book, You Will Be Made To Care
a book based on “the war of faith, family and your freedom to believe”…
a wildfire is raging out of control…
with the faithful being caught smack dab in the middle.

Every once in a while, a society succumbs to a cultural wildfire—
and loses its mind.
It does things that future generations look back on and wonder,
‘How could they have possibly throught that was a good idea?’

To most Christians and conservatives, it seems that society has lost its mind,
attempting to play God by redefining gender and abolishing marriage…

Many people of faith have been trying to ignore the signs of smoke from this wildfire
in the hopes that it will just go away.
Others have been trying to avoid the heat by being nice,
hoping that a little compromise would keep the flames at bay.
Still others have thought all that would be required to extinguish the flames
was a kinder, gentler, more winsome voice.
But the accommodation of evil never achieves the desired end;
it only increases the inevitable cost of victory

(page 28)

Reading the latest never ending stories of modern day Christian persecution,
and I am not referring to those ever increasing attacks at the hands of Islamic extremists,
but rather attacks by our own courts, legal system and journalists who now claim
that Christianity and Christians in the United States equate to being enemies to the human race,
I am left both saddened and dazed.

It is more than hard to wrap my head around such language and thoughts
as I never thought I would live to hear fellow Americans espouse that
Christianity and Christians are now the enemy of the state.

It is both wearisome and worrisome to hear such,
as it leaves me terribly fretful and even fearful as to what may yet to be…
For that once protective blanket has now been sufficiently ripped away.

If I did not know the stories behind such language were coming from today’s
news, headlines and court cases involving Christian business and individuals
who are being forced to either pay exorbitant court fees and settlements,
close their businesses or acquiesce and succumb to business practices that run counter
to their religious morals and beliefs,
I would simply think I was hearing and reading tales out of Nazi Germany…

To say that professing to be a Christian in the 21st century of the United States
is now not only looked upon as a negative but in many instances is actually
considered to be downright counter to American values…
that is something my grandparents would never have believed.

Yet in the course of 50 years since my grandfather’s death when he was but 70 years old,
that is exactly what has happened.
And I am left like a deer in headlight, stunned.

And yet we are reminded that for all the angst, the worry, the fretting and even the fear,
we, the faithful are reminded…
to be strong and to let our hearts take courage…for our courage is in the Lord
(Psalm 31:24)

As we join the psalmist’s plea…
O Lord, watch over us and save us from this generation for ever
(Psalm 12:7)

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:3

the tontine

If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time.
And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.

Mahatma Gandhi

DSCN0529
(The Rock of Cashel cemetery, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

A tontine…
A french word used during the 17th century to denote an investment created by several individuals…With the premise being that each member of the group agrees to initially pay a set sum…
The money is never touched, rather it is allowed to grow over time.
As the years pass and the members of the group eventually, one by one, die off, the remaining shares grow…with the last surviving member of the group amassing the lump of the sum plus all accrued interest.

The idea of a tontine played out on one of the episodes of the hit show M.A.S.H.

In this particular episode Colonel Potter, the patriarch of the cast, received a secretive and oddly strange package of which suddenly cast a grave pall over his entire demeanor. Naturally those closest to the beloved leader, Hawkeye, BJ, Margaret and Charles each grew terribly concerned seeing that the Colonel had grown almost inconsolably depressed after having received this most odd package.

The entire episode evolved around what was in the package, what was wrong with Colonel Potter and what could this rag tag group of friends do to help.

Finally Colonel explained…
The package was a bottle of fine French Brandy.

The story behind the bottle was that during World War I, when Colonel Potter was a young soldier, his regiment had found themselves dangerously deep behind enemy lines in German occupied France. His small group of comrades had come upon the bottle of brandy as they hunkered down in an abandoned shell of what was once an elegant home. Right then and there this little group of beleaguered soldiers made a pact, or more appropriately a tontine. Should they survive the war, they would save the bottle of brandy by placing it in a safety deposit box. The bottle would then remain under lock and key until there was but one lone survivor of the group–upon which time the bottle was to be delivered to the “last man standing” who would in turn drink a toast to what had been.

Colonel Potter, who now bitterly found himself still fighting, what seemed to be a lifetime of wars all these many years later, was the last living soul remaining from his once youthful regiment, as his own mortality now mockingly taunted him as it stared him in the face… all the while a lonely bottle of brandy begged to be consumed.

Life is indeed bittersweet.

If we are fortunate, we live a long life supported and surrounded by family and friends.
We journey together through both joy and sorrow, trepidation and gallantry.
We ride the waves of triumph both high and mighty then hold fast and tight during the calamity of storms.
We experience shared moments, good and bad, which become the mortar between the building blocks of our lives.

Then one strange day we suddenly realize, that while we weren’t paying attention or taking much notice, ever so slowly and one by one…our numbers mysteriously have decreased…

We find ourselves on the opposite side of happily ever after, looking back wondering where the time has gone. One by one we are left more and more isolated and alone, until finally we are the last man / woman standing out of a once large troupe of beloved comrades, family and life long companions.

Gone are those who were in our lives to protect, to cheer on, to share with, and to relish with….those who were the life-lines, the wise ones, the sages of our lives…
Leaving us in the unfamiliar position of now being those very things for a much younger lot than ourselves…
A lonely feeling.
A bittersweet feeling.
A very sad feeling.

And that was the very overwhelming realization for dear ol Colonel Potter…

The friends that had transitioned with him from boyhood to manhood, under cloak of war, we’re all now gone. Those who had lived through and understood a lifetime now long past had all but vanished, leaving him as the only remaining one who could recall and understand a time that was as he found himself now surrounded by a much younger group who had not been there nor done that…he was now the odd man out.

Yet through the heavy sense of loss with the weight of age suddenly bearing down and crushing his shoulders, our dear Colonel Potter understood that as he may be the last of his particular group to survive, he was still surrounded by companions, loved ones and friends… albeit of a different generation.
Life was still to be lived, relished and enjoyed.
Occasionally he could look back and recall all that was, but life was indeed for the living and it was time to say good-bye to the past while looking toward the future.

And so as he opened the bottle of bandy that had delightfully mellowed with time, offering a toast to those who once were and to a life that was well lived…he also offered a toast to those standing by his side and to the life that was yet to be…
toasting the memories of friends now gone and toasting the lives of those friends now standing by his side.

May those of us who now find ourselves standing closer to the end of our own life’s tontine remember, that as our numbers maybe decreasing, our importance in the lives of those who come behind us is greatly increasing.
Our experiences, our history, our life’s knowledge is all necessary in order to help light the path for those generations behind us as we continue moving toward an unknown future of the possibilities of what will be.
We stand as the mile markers and guideposts for future generations…may we, with God’s grace, direct them well…

And the world and its desires are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
1John 2:17

Technology, Bah Humbug!!

“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”
― Pablo Picasso

“The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.”
― Karl Marx

DSCN3429

Oh dear Lord, what is happening to me when I find myself thinking a quote by Karl Marx makes sense?!
Or even one from Pablo Picasso?
I know what you’re thinking. You figured all art teachers would like Picasso.
Well I’m not a fan of the bigger than life ego which Picasso could lay claim to. Nor am I a huge fan of cubism but I’d be digressing if I went off on that tangent.

How many times today have I bemoaned that “I hate technology”?
Was it the time I hung up my cell phone and put it away while it inadvertently “face timed” my son for about the 5th time?
Who by the way thinks face time is the greatest thing.
Who thinks that?!
It’s bad enough that I try looking presentable when I’m out in public, this whole face time business does not cast one in the best of light. You should have seen my hair on that screen!!

Or was it when I made the trip to Staples to find a new set of cordless phones for the house?
I really didn’t think the batch we had was all that old but for some reason there has been some crazy message on the phone claiming we had a “New Voice Message” complete with a blinking amber light that won’t go away.

I have an answering machine.
Why in the heck would my phone keep telling me that there’s some sort of new voice mail out there somewhere?
I tried pushing the buttons.
It promoted me to enter the access code.
Access code?!
What access code?
I push more buttons.
Some sort of busy sound comes up but the light is still blinking and the message is still listed.

I find the manual.
“Hold down the # button”
Okay, holding it down.
“Beep”
Oh thank God—no blinking light, no message.
The phone rings.
After hanging up, the message mysteriously appears again plus the phone is blinking again.
WHAT?!

My husband also notices the blinking light.
You know it’s big if a husband notices something blinking.
He tells me we must need new phones because a yellow light keeps blinking.
Really? I ask rather incredulously, “ya think?!”
But then he tells me, “no, don’t get new phones, I think the blinking light keeps the cat off the bed at night”
“What?!”
“Yeah, I think when she comes in the bedroom at night to jump on the bed, which always wakes me up, the light blinking by the bed, scares her off. . .”
I just shake my head at him as I walk out of the room.

So off I go to Staples in order to buy a new set of cordless phones.
And that’s another issue.
So many people today no longer have “land lines”
Land lines.
What is up with that?
Yes I have a cell phone, but if you want to have a decent conversation with someone that does not break up, cut off or sound as if you’re in a can. . .then a “real” phone is the only solution.
Hence my desire to keep a “real” phone in the house.
And I’m sorry but there’s just something odd about telling a person via this texting business that WYWH
I think saying “wish you were here” sounds so much nicer coming from a voice rather than a bunch of letters popping up on a screen don’t you?
How personal, how touching, how emotional can a letter be versers the tenderness of a voice?!
But then I would need to digress onto the tangent about this generation’s lack of the ability to communicate face to face—God forbid!
I mean really!

As I stand alone on the phone aisle at Staples, perusing the batch of cordless phones available, I pick out a Panasonic set— thinking the existing batch at home, which blink, must be a different brand. Sadly once home I see I’ve bought the same brand.
Hummm.
Surely these won’t blink.
Do you know how irritating it is to roll over in the middle of the night only to wake to a strobe light going off in the dark?. . .blink, blink, blink.
I am the type of person who prefers darkness when it comes to sleeping, not blinking lights.

Finally, once home, I unpack the box with all the new little cordless phones. I open the backs, putting in the batteries. I next go unplug all the current blinking phones–yes all 4 cordless phones blink.
I plug up all the new phones.
I proceed to conduct the initial test.
I call the house from my cell phone.
Nothing.
What?!
I pick up the new phone. Despite not being fully charged it claims that it’s working.
Hummm.
I look at the box.
“Make certain you hear a click when plugging in the phone line cord into both the phone as well as the phone jack”
I check the connections.
Ahhhh, the wall outlet end wasn’t pushed in all the way.
Whew!

Oh, I need to record a message.
I hate hearing my voice.
Who knew I sounded like a high pitched squeaky rat?
A high pitched squeaky Southern rat at that.
Ok, test number 2

It rings, sounding a bit odd, almost like a ring a cling—not a ring a ring.
Oh well, new phone—new sound. I can live with that.
Suddenly—again. . .WHAT?
Message: New Voice Mail
AGGGGHHHHHH.
I grab the manual. . .again.
It explains that one’s service provider must supply an access code.
Are you freaking kidding me?! I’ve got to call AT&T?
Trust me, the thought of being on hold for hours, only to speak with someone in India, is not how I wish to spend my afternoon.

A lady answers.
She can’t help me as it appears as if we are actually hooked up through UVerse.
What the heck? When did they become two separate entities? Gees!!
She transfers me to India.
I explain to the young lady, with the very heavy accent named Lisa, what my problem is and she reassures me that she understands and will be happy to help me.

She tells me I need an access code.
Ya think?
I explain that I don’t have an access code.
She then tells me that she’ll set me up with one.
I explain that I have an answering machine already asking why I need AT&T or UVerse, or whomever, providing me with a voice mail system when my phone has an answering machine.
She puts me on hold.
After a couple of minutes she comes back.
“Julie do you still see the message?”
Well it’s a bit difficult to see the message as I’m on the phone”
“uh”
“How ’bout I hang up the cordless phone picking up the wall mount phone?”
“Oh good idea, Julie”

I do what I can.

Sure enough—I pick up the wall mount receiver, putting down the cordless.
Message: New Voice Message.
“May I put you on hold again Julie?”
What am I going to say, No?
I wait again for Lisa to work whatever magic she does behind the scenes.
“Is it still there Julie?”
“Yes, but I have an idea. How about we hang up, so that when the phones’ not in use, I can check the screen?”
“Oh very good idea Julie, I will call you back in 2 minutes”

Low n behold. No message!!!
Hallelujah!!!!
The phone rings.
“hello Lisa”
“Hello Julie, I must tell you that this call may be recorded”
“Yes, Lisa, I know”
“Good news, there is no message”
“Oh Julie, I am so glad. Is there anything else that I can do for you?
“No Lisa, but I greatly appreciate your help.”

And so went my entire afternoon but at least I now have 4 new phones that do not blink nor post erroneous messages that simply never go away.

I’m certain that those of you who are reading this, who are of a certain youthful age, are flippantly thinking how old fashioned I am. You marvel over technology as it is all you have ever known. My son, the mid twenty somethings, are the last group who were not “babysat” by things like iPads. His world’s gadget was the Gameboy. My world’s gadget was the Barbie. Hummm

The technology gods can’t wait for my generation to die off.
Those of us who spend 10 minutes texting our children a mere “I love you” verses the clicky little ILY spit out in a nano second.
We enjoy hearing connected voices without the worry of data plans and over usage fees.
We enjoy voices verses letters.
We enjoy face to face conversations while being in the same room with other people verses being in a room full of people whose heads are cast downward, fingers and thumbs working feverishly while nary a sound is uttered.
We prefer real tangible books. The feel of paper, the weight and heft of a real volume.
We still enjoy the art of writing. Pen to paper. Not the click click of a key pad.
There are several boxes of classic vinyl LPs and 48s in the basement. . .
I miss them.

There’s just something about being “old school” and believe you me, I’m proud of it and still going strong. Now if I could just figure out how to use the remote to this new “smart” TV—what in the heck is a smart TV and why did we need one?!

“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation…tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.”
― Jean Arp