faith, truth and loving God

“God writes his name on the soul of every man.”
Venerable Fulton Sheen


(Cades Cove / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises
to the contemplation of truth;
and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word,
to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God,
men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”

Pope St. John Paul II

an adopted path to Grace

“All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by
laws analogous to those of physical gravity.
Grace is the only exception. Grace fills empty spaces,
but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it,
and it is grace itself which makes this void.
The imagination is continually at work filling up all
the fissures through which grace might pass.”

Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace


(Rosemary Beach during Hurricane Sally / Julie Cook / 2020)

Tossed within the surf of a sea churning with tumultuous emotions…
joy, sorrow and even regret now vie for prominence within my heart.

An engulfing crescendo of deep abiding love is gently offered…
yet is is overshadowed by the inward naysaying whispers of a past
that speaks of unworthiness.

Grace and Graciousness, along with open forgiveness,
have each been tenderly extended…
freely extended by the hands of unconditional love.

The very word unconditional has always made these eyes fill with tears.

Humbled by such a love leaves this heart feeling only more unworthy
and even trembling.

Ode to a child of adoption…the child who finds the unconditional
a foreign gift.

Condition most often becomes the wiring of the adopted one.
And thus the thought of such worthiness is oh so far away from anything
the adopted individual finds possible…
for the single sense unworthiness clings for dominance.

If you’ve ever visited this little corner of the blogosphere of mine very often,
then you know I’ve written at length about such feelings and that of
my own adoption over these many years.

The highs and lows, the battles and the healings.

With adoption, the notion of healing and that of worthiness each become
a lifelong quest.

For the one who was given up and given away…to be able to ever feel worthy
of accepting such a precious offering of true and abiding love…a gift given from one
freely to another, feels as a near impossibility.

And so a battle ensues…

The adult who has lived life and attained hindsight now fights with the
ever present child who was born of rejection.

Logic wrestles with raw emotion.

Yet what we know, is that in the end, love does indeed win.

Because we know that anyone who calls
themself a Christian, is adopted by Grace.

I am a child of Grace and I am a person who is so ever grateful
to that of the unconditional…

to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!”
So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Galatians 4:5-7

What is Grace—I just keep having to ask

I have had to experience so much stupidity,
so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow,
just in order to become a child again and begin anew.
I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths,
to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”

Hermann Hesse

“Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of
extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.”

Matthew Henry


(a tiny bloom of a strawberry to be / Julie Cook /2015)

****Even though this is actually a post that I wrote 6 years ago,
the notion of Grace has never been far from my thoughts.
For you see, I am very much a product of Grace.

Over and over, or so it seems.

Merriam Webster defines grace as:
a:unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b: a virtue coming from God
c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

And so here’s the thing about this “unmerited Divine assistance”-
it is a gift that is freely given.

It is neither earned nor bought.
And it pricks the most tender part of one’s soul.

It pricks the hard steely, yet false, façade and bravado we call self.

It breaks down the walls and the hardened heart while it fills
a sea of endless wounds.

A flood washes over us and we find ourselves terrified of letting
go and letting Grace transform us.

So why is it so hard to receive something so welcoming and healing?
The answer is beyond my soul—it is not something I can logically comprehend…
and maybe that’s the thing.

Grace is not logical.

Grace brings us to our knees…because we know we have not earned this
gift called Grace.
Quite the contrary.
We have done everything in our power to shun it and even repel it.
We bristle at such tender warmth while being too cold,
too hard, too lost to see the simple Truth.

For me it’s seems to have come in phases–
throughout this thing I call life.

Maybe it’s just a matter of me needing to be reminded…
reminded that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t as accepting
of the initial gift as I needed to be….
For I still have kept a deep part of my wounds hidden.

Too ashamed, too hardened, too wounded to think
Grace would or could ever make me truly whole.

I’ve recently been reminded of this most tenderest of gifts.
It’s broken my heart…broken my façade..
and that’s just what Grace does…
it breaks us and then it heals us and then it makes us whole.

And thus we are each the better for Grace…

And so I want to thank my dearest of friends who recently offered me Grace…
Grace coupled by her own graciousness.
A gracious heart…reaching to a wounded heart.
It is a gift she has freely given me—
a freely given gift that was not nor ever has been deserved nor earned,
yet one that was freely and lovingly given…no strings, no penalties.
And it is within this most generous gift that I have been poignantly reminded me
that God is not yet finished with me and that He continues to want
me make me whole.
Love can and does heal a multiple of sin…

and now the post from 2015–

Do you know Grace?
Have you seen it out and about?
During your comings and your goings?
Have you ever been properly or formerly introduced?

I truly much doubt so…
As Grace is often quiet and demure.
It prefers to go rather unnoticed until it is called upon…
More shy than bold.
It is neither garish or loud.
Nor is it boisterous or showy.

What exactly is Grace you ask…

Grace is the second chance when all other chances have been used up.
Grace is the peace in the midst of the fierce raging storm.
Grace is acceptance when the world screams rejection.
Grace is forgiveness when the act has been intolerable.
Grace is hope when none had been previously offered.
Grace is mercy when judgement should be called for…
Grace is life when one actually deserves death…

It should be noted that Grace is not cheap.
For it cannot be bought nor sold.
It can not be bartered over or traded.
It cannot be taken or stolen…
For it is actually free—free to both you and me.

Yet this free Grace was once actually rather costly.
For that which is free today to both you and me, once cost God a great deal.

Think of this question…
Would you ever hand over your child…
Your only child, to be brutally tortured and murdered before your very eyes…
Just to be able to offer someone else their freedom?
I would think not.
Yet that is exactly what happened.

A price paid for the healing power of Grace.
A tremendous price that cost God so very much–
Yet it was a price He willingly paid out of a tremendous love for both you and me. . .
and it is because of that very Grace that I am here, writing you today…

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares.
The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin,
and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices.
Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury,
from which she showers blessings with generous hands,
without asking questions or fixing limits.
Grace without price; grace without cost!
The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid
in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing.
Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending
it are infinite.
What would grace be if it were not cheap?…

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance,
baptism without church discipline,
Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship,
grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ,
living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field;
for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has.
It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods.
It is the kingly rule of Christ,
for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble;
it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves
his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again,
the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow,
and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.
It is costly because it costs a man his life,
and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.
It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.
Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son:
“ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.
Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear
a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.
Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

consequences of our choices (2014)

The Wrong we have Done, Thought, or Intended, will wreak its Vengeance on
Our SOULS.”

C.G Jung

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest.
That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are
of such infinite importance.
The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which,
a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you
never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger
today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which
the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

C.S. Lewis,

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
Nelson Mandela


(one of my peaches / Julie Cook / 2014)

The third law of physics, as stated by Sir Isaac Newton,
proclaims that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
I would say that this “law” is not only true for the physical actions in our lives,
but is equally true when it comes to our “mental actions”
better known as the choices we make in our lives—
For every choice made, there is a resulting consequence–be it good or bad.

Some of our choices not only bring ill effects to ourselves
but may have sweeping negative ramifications for others.
Therefore one may, in turn, conclude that our choices are accompanied
by grave responsibility.
Yet who really ponders the decision to change a lane while driving
as having potential grave consequence?
Who really ponders the decision of taking a flight for a business trip
as having possible lasting effects for our loved ones…
as our plane is blown from the sky?

I would imagine President Harry Truman understood the concept of
choices and consequences as he kept a small plaque on his desk
“The Buck Stops Here.”
Meaning the ultimate end of all decisions and choices regarding
the best interest of all the American people and that of those in
the free world, rested with him. It was ultimately President Truman’s
decision to go with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A choice to bomb or not to bomb—either way would have had consequences—
consequences effecting millions which would (and still) continue
reverberating far into our future.

Let’s look at this concept of choices and consequences within
the frame of a little scenario—

A man walks into a convenient store with a loaded gun pointed at the head
of the cashier, demanding all the money in the register.
Suddenly, for whatever reason, the robber chooses to pull the trigger.

Lives are immediately changed forever.

For the sake of our little story let’s say the cashier is killed.
The robber, now turned murderous gunman, runs.

In that single selfish instant, the cashier’s family is changed forever.
The gunman, let’s say, is eventually apprehended.

His family is forever changed.

There is lengthy legal haggling.
In and out before a judge and the Courts.

Suddenly a bunch of other people are now consumed with the
gunman’s selfish choice.
Years pass before there is a trial.
Now all of us as taxpayers are responsible for the
gunman’s upkeep.
More lives are effected.
Eventually the gunman is found guilty and is sentenced to death.

There are appeals.

Years continue to pass as he lives in prison on Death Row,
paid by taxpayers.
As other lives continue to be consumed with his own.
At some point, he turns to God.
He asks for forgiveness.
He is indeed forgiven.

God says to our gunman, “I forgive you and I love you,
but your actions have consequence in the life of your world as well
as in My World.
As I have forgiven you, you will now be welcomed Home,
but you must answer for your poor choices there in your world and
undergo the punishment given.
You must know that you will be with Me in and for Eternity
but you will have to first undergo the consequences of your actions.”

Depending on the courts, the state of the crime, and the lengthy appeals,
there will either be a sentence of death or life in prison.
Either way, the gunman clings to God’s Grace—
he accepts his earthly fate as a result of his initial choice of
walking in the convenient store, all those many years prior with
a gun in his hand, yet now instead of hate, greed, malice,
there is a Peace in his being as He knows he is now forever God’s child come home.
And there is a resolved acceptance to the punishment of his crime
as our gunman now knows that his punishment will not be a permanent ending.

Let’s say for the sake of our little scenario that our gunman
does not find God and does not seek forgiveness.
He chooses to live bitterly stewing over the one hiccup in his plan,
that he was caught.
If he had to do it over again, he’d make certain he was never caught.
There is no remorse—
just a seething internal hate and disdain for all creation.

Depending on your belief system, be that in a Heaven or Hell,
in a God of Grace and Justice or if you prefer to believe
in nothing at all–
either way, our gunman’s lack of remorse and choice of a selfish act
now sends him either to eternal damnation or into oblivion.
End of story.
And isn’t that all quite empty and sad?

It is obviously not always for us to see justice.
Which can be terribly frustrating as well as painfully maddening.
Imagine the hearts of the parents of children who’s young lives have
been savagely taken from their parents arms by malice or illness…
which must lead us all eventually to the Cross for some semblance
of direction—but that is for another post.
However, the one thing we must take from this little story of ours
is that we are to be mindful of our own choices.

For the one thing we can and do have some manner of control over
is indeed our choices.

And granted not all of our choices are going to be as drastic or extreme
as an armed gunman’s…as that is but a mere example.
But it is an example which sums up the ripple effect of poor and
selfish choices.
The tentacles stretch outward casting a wide net that often stretches out
through the ages.
One’s negative choices can effect children, grandchildren–
oftentimes altering the entire dynamics of a family for generations.

Many of us today continue to pick up the pieces of our parent’s
or grandparent’s poor choices which have impacted our own lives
in ways that leave us bitter and resentful.

May we then be the cycle breakers.
May we be blessed with the vision to see the unhealthy and negative web
which may be consuming our lives.
May we rest in the knowledge that the cycle can be broken,
which is after all, a mere matter of a choice.

You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its remotest parts And said to you,
‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.

Isaiah 41:9

Past and Future (tweaked repeat 2015)

“…It’s got me hoping for the future
And worrying about the past
‘Cause I’ve seen some hot hot blazes
Come down to smoke and ash…”

a few lines from Joni Mitchell – Help Me


(Thistles at the The Cliffs of Moher/ Co. Clare, Ireland/ Julie Cook/ 2015)

Has the past left you worrying about the future?
Will the future find you wistful for the past?
Does the present find you hopeful about much of anything?

Have you turned on the television, read the paper, seen the stories?

Terror attacks on a beach.
Heads chopped off like weeds.
Migrants flooding across both land and sea.
Legislation turns topsy turvy.
Killings where we worship.
Good guys now set bad guys free.
Sharks lurk hungry in the surf,
While flags flap in the wind.

A culture sees what was and decides it’s now time to
strike it all from sight, from history, from acknowledgment—
Seek and destroy quickly lest anyone notice.

And so hysteria cries foul as the masses must now acquiesce.

Wipe it clean with the sweep of a pen and that’ll make it right.
But do it quick and don’t dare pause to consider the bigger picture.
Just erase it from view and that’ll be the end of it…for now.

Rewrite what was and that’ll keep them happy, quiet, confused…
or out of sight and out of mind as we lose our minds.

Is straddling that fence getting uncomfortable?
Is the grey any more clear?
Upside down for one is now right side up for many.
Thought you knew which way to go? Think again.

Masked and muzzled.
Vaccinated with a passport.
When rainbows once came after the storms and
Hope grew out of the past…

History once directed our future…
and we thought everything simply made more sense…

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?
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 sh
ould commit themselves
to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4: 12-19

Prayer of the insignificant (repeat 2015)

There is nothing insignificant in the world.
It all depends on the point of view.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


(mum / Julie Cook / 2015)

Who am I oh Lord that you should consider my worth…
That you, the God of all that was…
Of all that is…
And all that will be…
Whose hands sweep across time…
Who has masterfully scattered the stars across the heavens…
And whose own breath is captured in the rhythmic roll of each and
every crashing wave…would look upon me,
a tiny speck in the vast churning sea of life and humanity…
And call me your own


(mum /Julie Cook / 2015)

A thousand tiny petals…
Each lovingly placed by your hand and your hand alone.
Counted, numbered and perfectly aligned.
Tightly woven.
Spiraling outward.
Unfurling simultaneously.
An insignificant happening transpiring daily and unnoticed by millions…
Yet You are keenly aware of it all as nothing, absolutely nothing,
takes place on this planet without your desire and knowledge


(stamens full of pollen / Julie Cook / 2015)

Each tiny microscopic dot of pollen exists because You have deemed it so.
Every single unassuming spore, necessary to set a miraculous chain
of events into motion,
Exists only because of You.
Pollination, a miracle unto itself, yet countlessly taken for granted,
Plays out every day, over an endless expanse of time,
as yet another flower blooms.

My mind is woefully limited, unable to grasp the vastness of all that is You.
I cannot understand how or why You, the all encompassing You,
stops because of the small and insignificant me.
Yet stop You do.

You stop to
Listen
See
Touch
Care
Love

Long before my birth, You claimed me as yours–
with both the rising and setting of the sun.

The Psalmists tells me that each hair on my aging head is accounted for
And that nothing which transpires in my life escapes your knowledge.
As I often…
Question…
Wonder…
Argue…
Curse…and rail against the seemingly random and mindless fates
of life that appear unfair and unjust.

Yet each life is inextricably linked together
Each breath, each tear, each sound of joy, pain or sorrow
is woven tightly together, as the Master of the Universe
Jehovah-Jireh has declared it so . . .
As You, the Master weaver, Jehovah-Rapha has knit my heart to your own.

May the Glory of the Heavens declare your Majesty, Oh Lord. . .
May the earth, and all that is in it, sing your praise.

And may my seemingly insignificance, which is held tightly in your hand,
as I am never from your sight, be a testament to your enduring Love
Forever and always…
Amen


(Hope in a flower / Julie Cook / 2015

At Peace (repeat from 2015)

“There is no way in which a man can earn a star or deserve a sunset.”
G.K. Chesterton


(Henderson Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2015

We deserve not, nor have we earned the gift of
the glorious,
the beautiful,
the majestic
the splendid
or
even the sublime. . .
Yet we are privy each dawn and dusk to utter wonderment.

A weary sun sinks low, resting heavy on the melting horizon. . .
As a calming hush is pulled gently across the shoulders of the
sleepy landscape. . .

Do you have any regrets?

Are you sorry, feeling poorly or badly for how events may have unfolded
throughout your day?

Do you stare forlornly out toward the darkening curtain that is slowly
being drawn across the closing day’s stage?

Could things have been better, different, more hopeful, more positive?

Are you now feeling burdened, defeated, regretful, resentful. . .?

Or. . .

Are you at peace. . .
resolved,
resolute
and calmly determined. . .
Finding yourself in a place of no regrets, no remorse,
nor restless spirit. . .
Exhaling a blissful release of self as you feel your body giving way
to the beautiful display that is offered to you in the evening’s gracious sky
by the only One who is truly in control and has offered you a piece of Himself. . .

They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
Psalm 65:8

all that remains is Silence (a timely repeat)

Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts:
secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.”

James Joyce

In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa


(Julie Cook / 2014)

****Yesterday, while I was searching through some older posts,
I came across a post that I wrote back in April of 2014.
I am assuming it was written as a lenten /Good Friday post.
While rereading it, there was something in it that I couldn’t quite
put my finger on, yet I knew something, very strongly, was speaking
to something deep inside of me.
It speaks these seven years later as I find myself in a different
space and time.

It’s that transcendence notion again.
That of going beyond to that which is calling us home.

And so perhaps it is Nicodemus who I can relate to at this particular
moment in time.
Perhaps I too feel the weight of a deafening, defining yet empty Silence…

Yet blessedly, what I do know, despite coming these many centuries after Nicodemus,
is that the Silence will not remain silent for long.

It has only been a few hours.
There is. . .
no rush of wind,
no gossip or chatter,
no signing birds
no barking dogs
no children at play
no rumble of thunder
no toil of labor.
Nothing.

The only thing which remains is the Silence,

And yet there is a sound to Silence.
It is the sound of a heartbeat pulsing through tired worn out ears.
The heaviness of a labored sigh expelling through a dry open mouth.
The sound of hunger wrestling through an empty gut.
The popping of tired old joints.

He had asked them to bring the body here.
To the cold Silence of a bought grave.
Emptiness fills the Silence.
A lingering sweet scent of myrrh and aloe now fills the cold empty space.
With the women all gone, as well as for all the others, he silently holds a solitary vigil.
Two laborers wait nervously by the trees ready to seal the tomb.

He stands alone staring, for what seems to be an eternity,
at the now lifeless shrouded mass.
A surreal moment for a tired old man who has seen far too much of
a life that he cares not to recall.
What was it his old friend had told him of the conversation he
had had with the Teacher that night which now seemed so long ago…
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven:
the Son of Man.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes
will in Him have eternal life. . .

What does any of that now mean at this particular moment in time?
Does the Son of Man now die as any other man?
Everything he thought he knew is now turned upside down.
He silently wrangles with these thoughts of life and death,
when suddenly he is reminded of how very tired he feels.
He had raised his hand, without thought, resting it against the
cold massive stone in order to steady himself.
It has been a terribly long and pain filled day.
He is no longer a young man.
He is old and tired, but the events of today have aged him further.

There are no more tears, for they have long since fallen.
He shutters slightly, pulling the tallit, the prayer shawl,
closer over his aged body, as an empty coldness now envelopes the dark tomb.
Silently the sun begins a slow descent below the horizon,
as he notices an odd coloring to the sky.
It is now time he takes his leave for the Sabbath is soon to begin.

Sabbath.
How odd that suddenly seems.
He slowly turns towards the two men waiting in the shadows.
No words are spoken.
He offers a silent nod as he walks away.
The workmen wait until he is gone before bracing the long pole under
the massive stone.
It is done.

And now Silence fills the World.
Not even a whisper remains.

Yet oddly, vibrations faintly rumble underfoot.
An expectancy fills the air.
A small flock of birds chaotically flutter in the night sky.
Something in the dark has sent them into motion.
The animals sense it first.
They always sense change before any human.
Mankind doesn’t yet take notice.

Within the Silence, the Earth begins to tremble.
Birth pangs fight viciously against Death’s motionless hold.
Transcendence is at hand,
as blinding light seeps up through cracks in the ground.
Tremors roll over a planet as waves crash against distant shores.
The Earth now shifts ever so slightly on its axis, as cosmic explosions mysteriously shimmer in the night sky.
All in Hell begin to quake.

The Silence is no longer so silent.

transcendence

Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence:
it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense
“destined” to go beyond himself,
and he is called to this in a mysterious way.

APOSTOLIC LETTER
SALVIFICI DOLORIS
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II 1984


(Cades Cove / TN/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Maybe it’s the grey skies.
Maybe it’s the deluge of rain.
Maybe it’s age.
Maybe it’s not feeling 100%
Maybe it’s life’s circumstances.
Maybe it’s just our current times..

It seems as if I’ve had a weighted heaviness sitting on my spirit
for quite sometime now…and this “heaviness” seems
much like a festering splinter that is attempting
to work its way to the surface…

What I know about such a type of splinter is that it is
being worked to the surface by a body wanting to rid itself
of an infecting foreign entity.

So maybe this heaviness will be worked up and out as well.
Maybe, just maybe, the heaviness is only a symptom.
But a symptom of what is not exactly clear.

Recently I’ve found myself ruminating on idea of the
transcendence of time.

Vocabulary.com tells us that
transcendence comes from the Latin prefix trans-,
meaning “beyond,” and the word scandare, meaning “to climb.”
When you achieve transcendence, you have gone beyond ordinary limitations.
The word is often used to describe a spiritual or religious state,
or a condition of moving beyond physical needs and realities.
One way to achieve transcendence spiritually might be to fast
for a long time.
If you have trouble letting go of material needs,
then you will have a difficult time achieving transcendence.

As a Christian, I believe, that on this earth, we live in a
constant state of transcendence or perhaps that is transcending…
meaning we are constantly trying to climb beyond.

Gravity and time each keeps us bound to this earth, yet our spirits long
to go to a place beyond and unknown.
There is a longing in our beings for that which we cannot see
but yet we feel is calling us.

Over the years I’ve often written about my “godpoppa”–
He was an Episcopal priest.
Adopted like me.
And he bore the bulk of my teenage angst and
later my often tumultuous choices of life, both good and bad.

He died in December of 2016 only a few months prior to my dad’s death
and even that of my aunt’s.
Loss, let alone back to back losses, is/ are never easy.

And yet this one man’s influence on my life remains just as it
always has–both strong and robust.

It matters not that he is not here physically, because in my reality
he continues on in my soul–day in and day out.
His influence and teachings continue to positively impact all
that I do.

I was fortunate to have had such a person come into my life
when he did, but I do not believe it was by fate, chance or some
random encounter.
I know without a doubt God places folks within our life’s journeys
at just the right time and place.

I do think, however, we’d all agree that it is the physical that
we miss the most when we lose someone we love.
Not so much their words, not at first anyway.

We want to be able to see them, hear them, feel them.
Just as a child who has fallen and skinned a knee, we want to be held
and comforted in our sorrow.
And despite our knowledge of what the separation means when speaking
of death, we still want this now ‘lost’ person to hold us.

And yet their love, the love we shared, transcends both space and time.

What I gratefully remember is the man whose eyes smiled at me…
and yet those same smiling eyes could and would always penetrate past all
my thick protective walls.

He taught me that walls must be broken if true healing is to take place.
He taught me that I had to risk all things earthly in order to find my true
peace and well being.
He taught me that I had to be broken before I could be built back up.

And so I suppose that journey of brokenness to transcendence continues
as I write.
Hence the oft felt heaviness.

God continues to push, or maybe that should be pulls, us along…
as we put one hand over the other, rung after rung…climbing
ever upward and ever forward to that which we cannot see yet knows
waits for us just beyond…

And do you know what makes this journey all that more mystical and
otherworldly??

It is the single fact that along this journey, we might be fortunate
enough to find someone who we thought we’d previously lost forever.

And that’s when it suddenly dawns on us…this most beloved person had
never been lost at all…they were simply waiting for us…
despite neither of us realizing it at the time…
and it is in that single moment of reconnection that we
find our greatest blessing…

So here’s to transcendence, time, space and to the one constant that
always binds—that being love.
(thank you Patti)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant 5 or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never ends.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues,
they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

our dark night of the soul

“May God be pleased to give me His light,
that I may speak profitably of this;
for I have great need of it while treating of a night so dark
and speaking of a subject so difficult.5”

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul


(2017 / Julie Cook)

Our days are shrouded by a shadowy veil…
as darkness yearns to cover what small light remains.

I feel the palpable trepidation…I know you do too.

Straddling a great divide, which widens day by day, we are
stretched nearly to a breaking point.

How much longer is our collective lament.
Yet I fear this is just the beginning.

“The reason why the soul not only travels securely when it thus travels
in the dark, but makes even greater progress, is this:
In general the soul makes greater progress when it least thinks so,
yea, most frequently when it imagines that it is losing.
Having never before experienced the present novelty which dazzles it,
and disturbs its former habits, it considers itself as losing,
rather than as gaining ground,
when it sees itself lost in a place it once knew,
and in which it delighted, traveling by a road it knows not,
and in which it has no pleasure.
As a traveler into strange countries goes by ways strange and untried,
relying on information derived from others, and not upon any knowledge
of his own—it is clear that he will never reach a new country but
by new ways which he knows not,
and by abandoning those he knew—so in the same way the soul makes
the greater progress when it travels in the dark, not knowing the way.
But inasmuch as God Himself is here the guide of the soul in its blindness,
the soul may well exult and say,
“In darkness and in safety,” now that it has come to a knowledge of its state.”

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul