longing…

“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive.
There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.”

George Eliot

“They say when you are missing someone that they are probably feeling the same,
but I don’t think it’s possible for you to miss me as much as I’m missing you right now”

Edna St. Vincent Millay


(The Andy Griffith Show / circa 1960)

Today just seems like a day when I dread turning on the television, dread the landline’s incessant ringing,
dread the cell phone’s constant alerts….

Today is a day to turn it off—- turn it all totally off!

Protests
Riots
Double standards
Elections
Division
Civil unrest

Is it any wonder I would opt to watch something simple.
Something that came from a seemingly more innocent time?

Did you know that on this latest runoff election in Georgia that, between all four candidates,
almost $1 billion dollars was spent on the collective campaigns?

Let that sink in…

The local Atlanta news outlets reported that the candidates spent well over $800 million between their campaigns
…closing in one 1 billion dollars.

Oh pray tell…. what could 1 billion dollars do for those in need in
this aching Nation of ours??

And the looming question that will never be answered, where might that near 1 billion
dollars have come from???
I wonder….

And so the landlines have rung constantly, the billboards have lit up the night sky,
people have knocked on doors, flyers have arrived daily in the mail,
alerts have popped up on phones, commercials have run at an olympic clip…

Waste, waste, waste…

And thus in this small microcosm of Georgia, it appears that we are swirling down the toilet.

And now fast forward to yesterday’s protest in Washington…
And thus my obersvations have been confirmed.

Conservative Trumpers protest and it’s declared a calamity.
Protests and riots continue, unending, in both Portland and Seattle.
George Floyd and Breanna Taylor protests were violent, riotous, destructive..
yet they are declared as attempts at expression.

I am sick and tired of the double standards.

I am sick and tired of all this mess.
But that won’t matter to the masses of the selfish.

I long for that which is not of this world.

And I somehow think I’m probably not alone in that longing…

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you;
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
and I will give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

her name was Eunice Dunn

I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger

Lyrics by
Ron Lane / Ronald David Wood
Sung by Rod Stewart


(Eunice and mom / June 16th, 1953)

Throughout my entire life, I only knew her by her first name…Eunice.

Eunice passed from this life shortly after I arrived into this world–
into this family…

I was born in 1959 and eventually adopted in early 1960— Eunice,
on the other hand, had already long since “retired” from the years she spent
with my grandmother, mother, and aunt.

I imagine that our family’s circle was somewhat complete when Eunice finally
met me when mom and dad had brought me home from the adoption agency in 1960.
They were so proud to show off their new baby to this very special part of my
mom’s story.

I had always heard about Eunice but really knew very little about her.
As long as they had lived, both my mom and aunt spoke of Eunice with
only adoration and abiding love.

For you see, Eunice was more the mother to these two girls rather than their
own mother.

Eunice was a black woman, only a year older than my grandmother.
A black woman who raised two white little girls.

I found her listed on the Atlanta 1940 census records.
She was listed as a part of the household of my grandfather…listed as a servant.
And it was in that census record that I first learned of Eunice’s last name…Dunn.
And that she was but a year older than my grandmother…
My grandmother was 36, Eunice was 37.

This, however, is not a tale about the well-to-do verses something akin to “The Help.”

This is a story about a young working widow and the other woman who helped her
raise her daughters.

Two women working to make ends meet during a precarious time in our Nation’s history.

The part of the story that I always knew was that my grandmother was widowed in 1940,
at the ripe young age of 36.
She had two young daughters–one who was 6 and the youngest who was 1.
My grandmother’s husband, my grandfather, died of alcohol-induced TB while
spending his final days in a TB sanatorium–dying at the age of 40.

My grandfather had squandered their entire life’s savings during the great depression.
My grandmother, as long as I had known her, had a deep wariness of men and
never trusted a man who drank…despite her affinity for Vodka later in life.
Over the years, she liked my dad yet despised my uncle, my aunt’s husband.
Probably with good reason but that’s a story for another day.

Growing up, I can never ever recall my grandmother ever speaking of her husband…
my grandfather.
A man who died nearly 20 years before I was born.

This man–his name, his memory was deemed persona non gratis within this small family.
No pictures.
No stories.
No recognition.

But Eunice…Eunice, she was special.

My grandmother, at 36 years old, while during a depression and world war,
had two little girls who she needed to provide for.

Eunice at 37 also had a family she needed to provide for.

My grandmother went to work and even took in borders during the War.

Yet despite these precarious times, I always knew that my mom,
aunt and grandmother had Eunice.

Eunice was a black woman who worked as a housekeeper for my grandmother.
Later, in order to make ends meet, my grandmother actually took in her older unmarried sister.
The two opened a beauty salon for the upper crust women of Atlanta.

While they spent their days cutting, perming, and dying the hair of Atlanta’s upper crust,
Eunice tended to my mother and aunt.
She cooked, cleaned, and fed the family.
She bought groceries, got my mom and aunt ready for school each morning
and met them each afternoon following school.
She always had supper ready and waiting for my grandmother and her sister after they’d
take the bus home late each evening.

Eunice would arrive each Monday morning and would stay until Saturday morning.
She had her own room and basically kept the house running.
She would go home to her own family on Saturday afternoon, only to return to my grandmother
every Monday morning.
This routine ran for 20 plus years.

Years later my aunt and I would both lament about the sacrifices Eunice had made
for both her own family and my grandmother’s family.
It was a difficult time as the world suffered through both the Great Depression and a world war.
This was a generation that was more familiar with the idea of sacrifice over protests
and demonstrations.

I remember my aunt telling me about how, as a little girl, she would have to ride
in the back of the bus with Eunice.
This being life in the South during segregation.

However to my mother, aunt, and grandmother…there were never any color barriers…
no segregation…all they knew was what made a family, family…
and Eunice was very much a part of that family.

The only pictures I’ve ever seen of Eunice were found in a musty old envelope of photos
that had been stored away in our attic…in a box of things that had been dads following
mother’s death in 1986.

I’ve looked and looked over the internet for any little nugget I could find regarding
Eunice—but the only thing I found was the 1940 census record which listed her
as a part of the Watson’s family.

I wanted to write something that would provide Eunice with the place of honor
that she so rightly deserved and held in the hearts of both my mom and aunt…
but with so little to go on, that has proved difficult.
With the loss of my grandmother in 1989, mother in 1986, and Martha in 2017—
those who knew best are now long gone.

I wanted people to know that despite what our current culture screams about racism,
there has been love that remained colorblind long before the radicalism
of movements such as the Black Panthers or today’s Black Lives Matter.

So I want to say thank you to a woman who I never really knew but who had met me
a very long time ago.

I want to thank her for making both my mom and aunt into the women they become,
in turn, making me the woman who I have become.

Love and family are strong bonds.
Bonds that have each helped to make me the person I am today.

Thank you, Eunice.


(Mother and Eunice, 1953)


(Mother on her big day / 1953)


(Mother with her mother, Mimi / 1953)


(mother with her father in law, my beloved Pop / 1953)


(Mother and dad off to a honeymoon / 1953)

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

I love nurses–they exemplify everything God would like to see in us, His children.

Augustus was the son of a god and he asked the whole human race to swear loyalty
to him as “Father”.
It’s at this moment that God the Father sent the real Son of God into the world…
God works His providence even in the midst of human foibles.

Dr. Edmund Mazza
from Rediscovering Christmas


(Vampire day, again / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well you may remember my tale from about a month ago…
my tale about having to go siphon off an entire pound of blood due to being a
Hemochromatosis carrier.

A hemo what you ask…??

Well, it seems that my body hordes iron.

And who knew that the body only uses what it needs—if there is excess,
well, the body simply stores it up in the organs…where it sits.
Think of a balloon simply filling up with more and more air…
eventually, something has got to give!

The high end of a normal iron level in the blood is 150.
I was sitting at 330…therefore, I have to be milked like a cow in order to
bring my levels down.
Sadly, I do not do well with giving blood.
I never have.
My blood pressure tends to bottom out and I basically get quite sick just before I pass out.

So yesterday was once again vampire day.
I had to go give blood.

I go to the hospital’s infusion center.
Folks are here for their chemotherapy, needed antibiotics, phlebotomies,
needed fluids, steroids…you name it.

Many are cancer patients.
They walked slowly and were pale.
They were minus all hair and bundled up due to the cold.

Many were on walkers or canes.
They were both young and old.

Four of us are divvied up into a quad with hospital chairs in each corner of the quad.
Some curtains were drawn some were not.

The nurses greeted each patient by name.
Many knew the regulars…mainly those who were the chemo patients.
“Hey darling” you’d hear a warbly voice call out to a familiar nurse.

The rapport was enough to make you feel that you were missing out
on some glorious secret friendship.
I felt almost envious as there were many
“I love yous” and “I love you too”—each sincerely and genuinely shared.
An intimate special moment shared between caregiver and patient…
human being to human being.

“Honey, you want me to get you something to drink?”
“How bout a ginger ale?”
“How bout a diet ginger-ale…it’s all we have.”
“That would be perfect!”

Some patients had recently undergone amputations due to infections or diabetes.
They were there to receive high-powered antibiotics.

“Mr. Gentry, we’ll see you back here on Christmas day, ok?”
“Christmas Day, really?!”
“Yes sir, we’ll be here…and so will you, you hear me?!”
“Well only if you wear your hair down…”
It seems that elderly Mr. Gentry, getting about on his walker, is a bit of a rounder
with these ladies—and they all seemed to love it.

He had part of his foot amputated this past week after having cut his foot this past summer
at the lake while playing with his grandkids.
These nurses were all well aware of his hijinks and played right into his devious intentions.
Mr. Gentry needs high-powered intravenous antibiotics every day for a couple of weeks.

I was enjoying soaking in these conversations all the while as I was slowly losing a part
of myself into a plastic bag dangling on the floor.

I really do ok up until the very end of my time being hooked up like a gas pump.
Right before I’m finished filling up the bag, that’s when things go downhill.

And true to form, today my BP fell to 63 over 34.
And true to their form, the nurses who saw all color fade from my body, came racing over
in order to flip my chair up so I was practically on my head,
they next threw a cold washcloth on my head.
They handed me a green puke bag…which thankfully I did not have to use.
My curtain wasn’t drawn and I would have hated being the show of my quad.

All of this was taking place while the nurses changed out the lines and immediately
began administering a bag of fluids.

It is amazing what these fluids can do.

I go from passing out and near-death to right back to the life of the living.

Slowly my BP climbed, but then oddly it dipped again.

This time it didn’t rebound like it did last time.
I didn’t rebound like I did last time.

The nurse had to walk me out to my car this time as I was still a bit woozy headed.

“Go straight home.”
“But I need to go to the grocery store.”
“Do that later!”

But before the nurses pulled my head up off the floor, one nurse came by each chair in our quad
and handed each patient a simple candy cane.
She made certain that each patient saw the story printed on the wrapper…
the story of the candy cane.

You can say what you want to say about Christianity and spirituality within such a setting…
You can throw in your sarcasm about faith in fairytales…but I will tell you one thing…
the folks in those chairs each appreciated their candy cane, mattered not their faith or creed–
they appreciated its story and the fact that one human being was offering hope to those whose
hope was starting to run on empty.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
1 Peter 4:10

May it be over!!! The supposed will of the people…my a@$!

“I wonder if He anticipates the day when He can make us understand
what was occurring in our time of trial.
I wonder if He broods over our sorrows.”

James C. Dobson, Life on the Edge:
The Next Generation’s Guide to a Meaningful Future


(today’s early voting sticker/ Julie Cook / 2020)

So today was the first day of early voting for Georgia’s pivotal runoff, the runoff slated for January 5th.
The runoff that the entire country seems to have a bullseyes on…

Since today is December 14th, we are doomed to those unending commercials
for the next 23 days.
Sigh.

My husband and I obviously, given the photo of the sticker, participated
in the early voting process.

I asked the gal who was charged with registering me how this first day had been…
she told me that early on, it was “cray-cray”—meaning folks had lined up way early in
the cold morning rain on a December Monday…
but after that, for the remainder of the day, it had been steady.

I heard it was a good two-hour wait in Atlanta.

This being day one of early voting.

I still don’t understand how Trump lost the election…but what do I know???
I simply show up for early voting, wait my time, and cast my vote.

And so we will now wait, as the nation appears to be descending upon poor
little ol Georgia en masse.

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents,
more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.
On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire
at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

H.L. Mencken, On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe

Once upon a book…

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero


(one of many piles of accumulated cookbooks / Julie Cook / 2020)

Once upon a time, long ago and far away…long before there was a thing
known as the internet…
a time when landlines were all that we knew for communication and payphones
were the only way we could touch base with others when away from home…
it was a time when the printed word was all we had—newspapers,
magazines and books…it was a time when the printed word connected us
to what was and what could be.
Our world was intertwined and deeply entrenched with all things typeset.

And so I am finding that during this trying time of packing up my world…
I’m finding that I am slightly overwhelmed by the number of books I have
accumulated over the years.

As an art teacher with a proclivity for the Renaissance, as an
armchair historian who devours all things World War II,
as a huge fan of Winston Chruchill, as a person deeply interested in Christian symbology
and mysticism…I have amassed a small personal library.
Heck, it’s more like a decent sized library.

Books, books everywhere a book!

So during yesterday’s sorting, the task was to puruse, purge and pack cookbooks.

A love of cooking has run deep in my veins.

I had grown up watching Julia Child’s cooking shows with my mom.
Later it was Atlanta’s own Natalie Dupree.
Any and all cookig shows on PBS.

Throw in all of Mother’s Southern Living cookbooks and I learned early on
the importance of food—
an importance that reaches far beyond mere sustenance.

Food is communion.
It is a tie that binds.

My mom was not the greatest cook but she could make wonderful,
made from scratch, biscuits.
Whereas I did not inherit my mother’s biscuit magic,
I did develop however a love for the magic that rests in the
creativity of any kitchen.

Yet I can vividly remember the day I felt defeat when my mother discovered the thrill
of the cooking bag and hamburger helper.
I, on the other hand, was growing more and more fascinated by all things French,
Itlaian, fricased and sauteed.

So as I was knee deep in the cull taking place in the kitchen,
seeing so many of the older books–
my mind suddenly went racing back to a different time.

This is from a post I wrote back in 2013–it was a reflection about my life in 1986…
the year mom got sick.

“Many years ago when my mom was in ICU battling cancer, and I was a
newly married young woman, I would go each day to the ICU Waiting Room
carrying an armload of cookbooks–upwards of 8 at a time.
As I would sit for hours waiting for the three 15 minute times of visitation allowed
in a 24 hour period, I would read page per page, cover to cover of every type
of recipe and cookbook imaginable.
It was my therapy and my catharsis.
Maybe I needed to know that in the dark shadows of death,
where I had found myself in a vigil for my mom, Creativity,
which I equate with life and living, was still very much present and attainable.”

I should add that I was driving about an hour and a half each day over to Atlanta just
to sit in that ICU, only to drive that hour and a half back home each evening.
A sorrowful ritual that I kept up for 9 weeks.
It was a lonely and very difficult time…but I found an necessary diversion
as well as solace in my cookbooks.

They were cookbooks that my aunt had bought on her various trips and books I had found
while rumaging through the cooking section of every book store I could find.

So as I made the difficult decision yesterday of what books I would keep and what books
I would “release”–I found myself feeling a heavy sense of sadness—
sadness not so much over losing some long loved books, but rather sadness over the fact that
we live in a time when books are becoming obsolete.

Despite my cullig and purging, I fear our movers will be none too pleased when they
find the number of boxes full of books that I have packed up.
Boxes I can’t even begin to pick up…as in they are heavy as lead.

But some things will just have to make this journey with me.
Solace that will be there for me as I unpack in a new world come January.

The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest,
and the books, especially the parchments.

2 Timothy 4:13

Stuff happens

“I put myself in the way of things happening, and they happened.”
Theodore Roosevelt


(my current view within my home / Julie Cook / 2020)

We are a people of stuff…
We are a stuffy people…
and yes, stuff, our stuff, happens.

I have so much I want to say about stuff.
There is so much to say.
So much to say about the stuff of…
Mandates.
Vaccines.
Masks.
Santas that make kids cry simply because they asked if he could bring them a nerf gun.
Elections.
Election fraud.
Bought elections.
Being tired of the ongoing drama over elections in Georgia.
Being weary from all the Europeans, Australians, and South Africans lecturing us US bloggers
about US politics and policies.
Being tired of folks complaining about those who show their Christmas spirit.
Being tired of the shutdowns of restaurants, bars, and small businesses while Hollywood marches on.
Being sick about any and all things China.
Being sick about all things Russian.
Fake news.
Wokeness.
Riots.
Leftist propaganda.
Antifa.
Black Lives Matters.
Democrats.
Weak Republicans.
Wokeness.
Harry and Megan.
Pandemics.
Lockdowns.
Canceling Christmas.
Abortions.
Did I mention wokeness?
Political commercials.
Robo political calls.
Manipulation.

But I’m afraid that if I start trying to sort out all of this stuff,
I won’t be able to stop…

So instead, allow me to share both an interesting as well as beautiful reflection…
a comment I received yesterday regarding the post I had written about the nuttiness
over the attempts being made by the powers that be
to “cancel” out Christmas—with the argument being if we cancel out Christmas,
we will help with the never-ending flattening of the never-ending pandemic.

This from LightWriters:

Shows us just how closely this all seems to tie into the
anti-Christian communist agenda—virus came from there,
many of the masks we are forced to wear are made there—
Yet, our God laughs at the wicked as we read in the Psalms.
He is greater and many will have an opportunity in this ‘crisis’
to think about the true meaning of snd reason for the season.
Shalom and Blessed Christmas

https://5wise.wordpress.com

So instead of trying to begin sorting out all of this insufferable stuff,
allow us rather, during this Advent season, to head toward a deeper space.
A space deep within each of our beings where the ancient piece of the Divine resides.
Where the tender mark of the Creator rests upon the created.
The indelible fingerprint of the master potter permanently engrained
upon the vessel of his creation.

“…And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that
we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us
that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is
really good and light because it comes from God.
Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty,
light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us;
whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed
as love and rules the world and our lives.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

Thankful (a repeat)

As seen on a rural church sign:
It’s not happy people who are thankful…
It’s thankful people who are happy


(painting by Henry A. Bacon 1877 of Mary Chilton stepping onto “Plymouth Rock” /
Mary Chilton is my long ago relative)

(as I stated earlier in the week, ’tis a busy and or crazy time for so many…
So I thought this post from last year’s Thanksgiving was worth enjoying again…
of course it is, it was life before 2020…)

Back in the early 1950s my grandmother, my dad’s mother, did extensive genealogy work.
She had her reasons and I confess that I am so grateful she did

It is because of her exhausting work that both my family, my cousins and I,
have a valuable gift of our lineage.

Lineage, that being the line from whence we come.
Even the Bible offers us the extensive lineage of Jesus—
We are also all a part of that same extensive lineage, yet that story is for another day.
Today’s tale is about a single family’s lineage and the gratitude for that lineage.

Now if you’ve read my posts regarding my adoption,
you know I actually have two family trees.

I have a biological tree that I know very little about.
And I also have an adopted tree, a tree and a people that have each embraced me
as their own.
It is a most extensive tree.

What my grandmother started almost 70 ago was no easy task.

She had to do a lot of leg work on her own as well as seek the help of many others.
She had to write a myriad of letters and make many personal phone calls to various state
record departments as well as to state historians in order to enlist their help in
researching her family’s past.

This was long before there were computers, databases, DNA Genealogy companies—
as archaic landlines were the standard norm.
Most calls were considered long distance…meaning you paid extra for long-distance calls.
But my grandmother was determined.

What she didn’t realize then, in her seemingly very personal quest, was
that she was giving her lineage, her grandchildren
one of the greatest gifts she could give.

That of a collective uniting history.

In those days there were no immediate connections, so her quest took time.

She had to request birth, death and marriage certificates.
She had to scour family bibles and records.
She had to have documents notarized and verified.
She traveled to courthouses.
She had to get the assistance of others in other states to visit distant courthouses
and churches and cemeteries in order to do a large portion of the digging.

For you see, my grandmother knew she had come from a line of people who
were important to the founding of this now great nation and she needed the proper
validation to be able to be granted the acknowledgment by such organizations as
The Daughters of The American Revolution, The Daughters of the Mayflower, The Pilgrims Society,
The Colonist Society, The Huguenot Society, etc.

This woman, who was born in 1896 in a small country town in the middle of the state
of Georgia, had actually come to be there by way England.

But from England, it was first to Plymouth…and from Plymouth, Massachusettes it was
to various towns in the colony of Massachusetts then to the city of Bristol in the colony
of Rhode Island, next, it was to the city of Savannah in the colony of Georgia
and finally to the tiny town of Molena in the state of Georgia…
but the final resting place was to be Atlanta, Georgia.

Her 10th great grandmother was Pricilla Mullins of London, England.
Pricilla Mullins was married to John Alden of Essex, England.
John was a cooper aka, a barrell maker.
John had a dream and Pricilla shared her husband’s dream.

They were on that fateful ship that we tend to remember each Thanksgiving,
just as we remember that first colony of Plymouth and of that first
celebration of not only survival but the beginning of thriving in a new land.

The Alden’s first daughter born on this new mysterious land was named Elizabeth–
the purported first white European girl born to the Plymouth Colony.

So yes, Thanksgiving is important to me on a family’s historical level…
but it is more important to me as a grateful American.

For it matters not how we came…be it those who were first here on the continent,
or if we came via Plymouth, a slave ship, Ellis Island or came with a visa in our
hand seeking citizenship…we have come…
We also have come in various shades of color.
Red, White, Brown, Black, Yellow…

We fought and died creating a new nation just as we’ve fought and died keeping her free.

It troubles me terribly that our society has developed a tendency to gloss over Thanksgiving…
basically jumping from Halloween to Christmas in one fell swoop…
But we can blame that on our obsession with materialism…
which is in actuality a loss of thankfulness.

Yet what is most troubling is that we now have many voices crying out that we rename this
day of thanks.
Some smugly stated that this is only a day of overindulgence and eating.
They claim Thanksgiving is not a day this Nation should recall let alone recognize.

One of our fellow bloggers, Citizen Tom, offered the following post regarding
our Nation’s Thanksgiving observation and celebration.

I highly recommend taking the time to read his post as it is a beautiful reminder
as to why Thanksgiving matters.

AN AMERICAN FIRST THANKSGIVING

This from President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789:

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next
to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being,
who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is,
or that will be–
That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–
for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming
a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions
of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–
for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty,
which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner,
in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government
for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–
for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed;
and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;
and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath
been pleased to confer upon us

Each man is good in His sight

I am a red man.
If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have
made me so in the first place.
He put in your heart certain wishes and plans,
in my heart he put other and different desires.
Each man is good in his sight.
It is not necessary for Eagles to be Crows.

Sitting Bull


(A crow perches in a tree in Cades Cove, Great Smokey Mts National Park / Julie Cook / 2020)

Native American Indians always believed that spirits resided in the beings of
the creatures of the earth…all the way from the mighty bison and bear
to the majestic eagle, the stealthy wolf all the way down to the lowly turtle and snake.

Each animal and creature was aforded various human-like traits.
They protected or watched over the one who claimed them as a ‘spirit guide’
Imparting power to the one they protected or looked over.

One such spirit was that of the crow or raven.
The bird was known as a trickster or prankster,
the mischievous one.

Years ago we took our son, who was about 9 at the time, on a vacation that had us
heading west.
West to places like New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and then up towards
Montana and South Dakota.

Places that a Georgia born native son needed to see and experience.

We stopped at places like the Painted desert, the Badlands, Yellowstone,
the Grand Canyon—we went to cities and towns such as Taos, Sante Fe, Cody,
Salt Lake City, Logan, Cheyenne, Jackson Hole…
while visiting various Pueblos, Reservations, monuments, churches, museums
and national parks…

And yet in all that mighty and grand greatness, there was one small thing that caught
both our eyes.

It was something vastly different from the beautiful landscapes found around this
great nation of ours.

We were each drawn to something that was small yet skillful.
Tiny yet intriguing.

As the art teacher, I was drawn like a magnet to the inticracy…
As a young boy, my son was drawn, as most young boys would be, to all
things of imagination and of cowboys and indians.

The draw you ask…???
They were small tiny stone carvings by Zuni indians known as a fetish.

Tiny carvings of animals created in stone, fossils and shells.
Each held in the palm of one’s hand.

According to the Black Arrow Gallery:
Fetishes, charms, amulets, or simply good luck pieces, call them whatever you would like,
but virtually every culture has them. Fetishes are small carvings made from various materials
by many different Native American Tribes.
These carvings serve a ceremonial purpose for their creators and depict animals and icons
integral to their culture.
As a form of contemporary Native American Art they are sold with non-religious
intentions to collectors worldwide.

Origianal fetishes are no longer available for purchase as they are considered
museum worthy.
Yet there are some very well known tribal artists who continue to create these tiny
artistic treasures to sell.
And the better known artists and their art carvings fetch high prices.

During our trip, as a rememberance from this particular vacation,
my son and I each bought a few affordable carvings.
We were told that the fetish would choose the buyer.
Each fetish supposedly possessed certain characteristics and traits
which would draw the buyer.

Well, I was drawn to several.
A bear, a beaver and yes, a crow.

Crows and Ravens are birds of a feather…with ravens being of the larger feather.
So my crow was most likely a raven…but it was still a small marble black bird
with two turquoise eyes.

Again, according to the Black Arrow Gallery:
The raven is not a traditional fetish but he is carved often, and beautifully,
by a number of artists.
Some artisans will put a stone in the raven’s mouth.
He is generally carved of jet or black marble though he can appear in virtually
any stone of the artist’s choosing.
While considered somewhat of a prankster, he doesn’t have the negative characteristics
associated with the coyote.
The raven can help us work through failure and short-comings by reminding
us that anything we have the courage to face, we have the power to transform.

I imagine that the reason crows / ravens were afforded a place at the tribal table was
in part due the fact that these birds are actually very intelligent.

Those who study crows and ravens know that these birds have a language of calls all their own.
They can actually communicate with one another.
They also have keen memories and have been known to bring “gifts’– various sparkly
found objects to humans who interact with them.

I have had a long love-hate relationship with crows.

I find them irritating when they gang attack a hawk who flies
into their territory.
I’m not a fan of gang activity.
However, I imagine that there is some sort of perceived threat
when a bird of prey intercepts one’s private airspace…I digress.

And yet I love throwing out stale bread for the crows to come gather.
They will often wake me at dawn with their loud raucous caws as
they swoop into a tree outside our bedroom window where the
bread still sits from the prior evening.

So reading the wisdom of Sitting Bull in today’s quote, I am reminded of
that song sung in many a child’s church chapel…Jesus Loves the Little Children

Written by C. Herbert Woolston and George F. Root.

According to hymntime.com
Words: C. Her­bert Wool­ston (1856–1927).
Wool­ston was one of George Root’s fa­vo­rite lyr­i­cists.
Child­ren oft­en sing just the re­frain, which is a song all to itself!

Music: George F. Root, 1864, Root orig­in­al­ly wrote this tune for the Am­er­i­can ci­vil
war song Tramp, Tramp, Tramp.

Jesus calls the children dear,
Come to Me and never fear,
For I love the little children of the world;
I will take you by the hand,
Lead you to the better land,
For I love the little children of the world.

Refrain

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,

All lives matter…both living and yet born.
All lives matter… each man, woman and child…no matter their color or race.
For all are not only good, but rather are most
precious to our God, our Father and Great Creator.

It just takes a crow to remind us of such.


(a camera friendly crow / Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2020)

bring an empty heart

“It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect through trial and suffering.
Only by carrying the Cross can one reach the Resurrection.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(fall leaves doing what they do, fall / Julie Cook / 2020)

Reading the late great archbishop’s words…I would imagine that some readers don’t
much care for the notion of man’s enduring trials and suffering while on this earth…
that of carrying the Cross…with each as a means of reaching the final end goal—
that of our being Resurrected with Christ.

We don’t like to think that we are meant to carry a cross, that we are meant
to suffer or endure…a loving God should want us happy and content right??
A loving God shouldn’t allow those He created and supposedly loves to suffer
or to encounter pain, violence, or be handed a heavy cross to bear…

yet…

What we need to remember is that we live in a fallen world.
Sin shadows our every move.
In our lifetime we will each experience various trials.
Avoiding them as best we try, trials will still come regardless of our vain attempts
to keep them at bay.

However, our best recourse is to rid ourselves of ourselves…
To sever our ties to the trappings of this earth.
To completely empty our hearts.

For it is in that emptying, as St Liguori reminds us, that we are allowed
be open ourselves for the filling of the Holy Spirit.

We must detach ourselves from ourselves and from the world in order to save ourselves.

And it is only through following Christ, first to Golgatha then to that empty
tomb, that we will find our true peace and joy and everlasting life.

“The heart cannot exist without love; it will love either God or creatures.
If it does not love creatures, it certainly will love God.
In order to become holy, we must therefore banish from our heart all that is not for God.
When anyone came to the Fathers of the desert and desired to be received by them he was asked:
‘Do you bring an empty heart that it may be filled by the Holy Ghost?’
And they were right, for a heart that is filled with the things of earth has no room
for the love of God.
He who brings a vessel filled with earth to the spring will never be able to fill it
with water until he empties it of the earth with which it is filled.
How does it happen that so many pray and go frequently to Holy Communion and still make
no considerable progress in the love of God?
The reason is doubtless because the heart is full of self-esteem, of vanity, of self-will,
and of attachment to creatures.
He, therefore, who wishes to arrive at the perfect love of God must practice poverty in spirit.
He must be detached from worldly possessions, from temporal honors,
from his fellow creatures, and from himself.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 114-5
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

***off for a few days in order to find a few more falling leaves with the Mayor and the Sheriff

confession of sins and prayer

“O my God, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve to be served,
to give without counting the cost, to fight without fear of being wounded,
to work without seeking rest, and to spend myself without expecting any reward,
but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.
Amen.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)

“Whoever confesses his sins…is already working with God.
God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God.
Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear ‘man’ –
this is what God has made; when you hear ‘sinner’ –
this is what man himself has made.
Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made…
When you begin to abhor what you have made,
it is then that your good works are beginning,
since you are accusing yourself of your evil works.
The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works.
You do the truth and come to the light.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1458
An Excerpt From
Catechism of the Catholic Church