keep going…by all means, keep going…

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Winston Churchill


(my Penley of Winston Chruchill /Julie Cook/ 2020)

My best-laid plans…

I started this post about 4 days ago…
such is my life right now…

Such is most of our lives right now…

So maybe I need a little pep talk.

Maybe you need a little pep talk.

I think that I might rather prefer a slight swift kick in the pants…

Swift kicks seem to leave a more lasting impression.
Plus they make for immediate forward motion.

I know we are all sick and tired of living in these “uncertain” times.
All you have to do is watch any commercial…be it for cars to credit cards…
every last one now speaks of ” these uncertain times.”

Some of them may use the word uncertain while others use challenging
and some opt for difficult or trying
but no matter what, it is all most precarious.

But if you ask me, ever since that little apple-eating incident, we’ve long been in
“uncertain times”…but I digress.

If you don’t already know this about me, I live in Georgia.
And our governor announced earlier in the week a plan to begin “re-opening” our state
starting this Friday.

Now there is a tremendous amount of brouhaha ensuing following this executive decision.
All the way from the national level to a local level—
Georgia is now being scrutinized.

Are we crazy?
Have we lost our minds?

I, myself, am a bit torn about it all…yet I am all for jumpstarting our economy.

I’m torn mainly because a stagnant economy makes for a stagnant people,
and a stagnant people makes for a stagnant nation…and a stagnant nation makes
for a sitting duck.

And the flip to jumpstarting an economy is that of our health and wellbeing.

Start or wait then start?
Too soon?
Too late?

The apocalypse, of which was forecast in all of this, did not materialize.

No trumpets.
No horsemen.
No booming voices from on high.

However we do know that people have gotten sick, people have suffered and people have died.

So I’ll admit that we do need to go about all of this mess aggressively but also very smartly…
However, we as a people and as a nation, don’t want to knee jerk ourselves into a fetal position
of Henny Penny, the sky is falling and the end is near.

That’s not who we are.
We are home of the brave remember.

We know those who have suffered…those who have lost jobs…
those who have lost loved ones and those who have simply lost their sense of security—
all from a virus…
And thus for some, there seems to be no solace…
and that, my friend, is one key reason as to why we need to propel ourselves forward…

Yet—we are afraid.

We are fearful.
And frighteningly enough, there are those of us who are even afraid to breathe…
as in literally breathing… as we are fearful of what is in the air.

But at some point, we will have to breathe, otherwise, we will all die.

So I wonder… where will we find the correct balance?

Do we press forward or do we continue to wait?

I’d like to think we need to press forward…
but at what cost, what time?

And so that is when I recall those immortal words…
‘when you find yourself in hell, [you mustn’t stop but instead]
you must keep going!’

Those of you who know me, know that Winston Churchill is a bit of a hero of mine.

So when life, be it my own or the larger collective thing we call Life,
proves to be difficult, daunting, trying, or even challenging, I often recall the
wisdom, tenacity, and even the panache of dear old’ Winston.

I will find myself imagining what Winston might do given the same circumstance…

So while I currently find myself so very tired, worried, bewildered, confused
and even mad about the current circumstance for which we are now finding ourselves,
I imagine Winston would bellow gruffly that we must trudge forward…
because forward is the ONLY way to go.

So while I was perusing several articles about dear old Winne,
I found an interesting piece written 8 years ago by Geoff Loftus for Forbes Magazine.
The gist of the article was written basically for business management and overcoming
various obstacles but I found it most applicable to our current world…
I’ve offered a portion of the article but the link to the full
article is listed below…

May 9, 2012

Seventy-two years ago tomorrow, a chubby, stoop-shouldered,
funny faced man with a speech impediment took a new job.
The man was 65-years old and until a year earlier was generally considered
to be a crackpot and a political has-been.
His taking the new job was one of the most momentous events of the entire 20th Century.

The man was Winston Churchill, and the job was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
On May 10, 1940, the British looked to be finished.
They stood alone against the vicious and victorious Nazis.

Two weeks after Churchill came into power, France was knocked out of the war,
and 340,000 British troops had to scramble to escape over the beaches at Dunkirk.
The Germans had absolute control of all of Europe.
It seemed impossible that Britain could survive.

In other words, his plan for success: Complete and total defiance.

“We shall never surrender.”
When you have nothing left but defiance, commit to it with everything you have.
Like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s Henry V,
Churchill used language to rouse the fighting spirit he believed was
still alive in the British people, saying, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
And the line that summed up his personal career and the spirit that led
the British people to victory:
“Never, never, never give up.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffloftus/2012/05/09/if-youre-going-through-hell-keep-going-winston-churchill/#5ed52e2d5490


(one of my several chalk filled figurenes and collectables of Winston)

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit,
interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:13

the purse never lies


(cheatsheet.com)

I’m old enough to remember that as a little girl, I had my very own pair of little
white gloves that I was to wear each Sunday when we attended Church, because
that is what was done back then.

It was a time when men dressed nicely in their finest suits and women wore nice dresses
hose and heels.

A more refined and truly polite time that was not as casual and crass as we are today.

Some may say how stuffy and fussy it all was but at the time,
it was all I knew and now with hindsight, I rather like it.

As a child, I was also expected to wear my gloves to other nice events that we, as a family,
might be attending…be it dinner out to a nice restaurant or even when in the 6th grade,
we all took ballroom dancing lessons…
White gloves were a must for any young lady no matter your social class.

Yet no matter the occasion, gloves were always to be worn when attending anything
with my grandmother Nany.

Nany was my dad’s mother and she minced no words when it came to presenting oneself
out in public.
I think that’s why it is to this day I won’t leave the house without makeup
and or looking somewhat put together…
I might have on jeans and a ball cap, but my face will “be made up” by gosh!

I also think that’s why dad was more slouchy, especially as he got older…
never one to care much about his appearance, I would often have to get him
to change clothes before we went out.
His brother, my uncle, never owned a pair of jeans and rarely do I remember
him without a tie, but my dad, on the other hand, was happy in jeans,
a wrinkled dress shirt, an ancient cardigan with or without moth holes,
and always white socks.

Nany taught me to always put my ‘best face forward’…meaning—being presentable
no matter the situation…
I find that there is a great deal of wisdom in that.

So when it came time for me to enter the workforce, I spent my entire teaching career,
despite being a high school art teacher, ‘dressed for success.’
And I use to instill that same mindset within my students—dress the part,
and the part will be yours…

I also remember Nany always having a purse hooked to her arm…
never ever a shoulder bag or tote, but a purse only…
one to be worn in the crook of the arm.

Much like we see the Queen do.

I’ve never thought anything of the Queen and her constant companion…her purse,
because the Queen is of a certain era much like my grandmother despite the fact that the
queen is more the age of my only remaining living aunt–well into her 90’s

Many folks have often wondered as to why the Queen needs to even carry a purse
otherwise known as a handbag.

I’ve heard tell that the Queen actually carries what most women of a
certain time period carries…
lipstick, a small mirror, a few throat lozenges, a pen, a note pad, her reading glasses…
But I’ve also heard tell that the purse doubles as a bit of a secret messenger.
As in a sly little spy.

From House Beautiful

Lucky for Queen Elizabeth II, she has no need for house keys.
And we bet you would never catch her running around her house (um, palace)
looking for her misplaced cellphone. Which begs the question:
What does she keep in those famous Launer purses she carries around every day anyway?
Well, royal biographer, Sally Bedell Smith, got the scoop.

Back in 2012, Smith revealed that the Queen always keeps a mirror, lipstick,
a pen, some mint lozenges and reading glasses on hand.
And on Sundays she brings a few small bills “precisely folded” to give as a church donation.

But apparently her purse is more often used as a way to send signals
to her staff than anything else.

“It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag
move from one hand to the other,” royal historian Hugo Vickers told PEOPLE.
You see, this is a signal the Queen uses to indicate to her staff that
she’s ready to wrap up her current conversation.

However, you might not even know it’s happening – they’re that discreet.
“It would be done very nicely,” Vickers says.
“Someone would come along and say,
‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you.'”

Other cues Queen Elizabeth uses?
According to the Telegraph, if she puts her handbag on the table at dinner,
it means she wants the event to end in the next five minutes.
And if she puts her bag on the floor, it shows she’s not enjoying the conversation
and wants to be rescued by her lady-in-waiting.

But Vickers says the most dramatic gesture of all is spinning her ring,
which tells her staff she needs to be rescued immediately.
Fingers crossed this never happens to us!


(Euronews)

So when I look at this picture taken over the weekend of Her Majesty sitting amongst
the NATO World leaders, of whom she had hosted at a reception for at Buckingham Palace,
I am imagining that under those black gloves, the Queen is spinning her
wedding ring off her finger…as in will someone please rescue me from
these people…NOW!!!!

It seems that during the reception, several world leaders, the prime ministers of Canada,
Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, along with Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter,
all didn’t realize that there just happened to be a live mic near them recording their conversations.

They were enjoying drinks and jokes.

Why am I reminded of a fraternity party?

Their conversation was that of jocularity, jokes and laughing…
laughing at the expense of another world leader not present in the group
nor who was privy to the group’s jokes…
that member being the President of the United States, Donald Trump.


(US New and World Report)


(International Business Times)

Once the footage was made public and began making the viral rounds on all things social media,
The President, the brunt of the jokes, was understandably both hurt and mad.

Some will say he had it coming.
Some will say it simply shows his low esteem amongst his leadership peers.
Some will say what’s the big deal…

So what does an angry President Trump do—he packs up his things
and leaves the meetings for home ASAP.

For what it’s worth, I have two feelings about this.

My initial reaction would have been much like the President’s—
as in I would have been taking all my marbles, going home both hurt and mad.
I would be feeling like that kid everyone always talks and laughs about behind their back
but suddenly all go quiet when the kid walks up asking what everyone is laughing
about.

However, on the other hand, I would really have liked for the President to have stayed.
To have been the bigger man amongst this group of smug sophomoric immature leaders…
knowing what they had said, he would have stayed—making them the uncomfortable ones,
Standing his ground and in the end, most likely, having the last laugh.
Because if the truth be told, he actually had the last laugh as he got what
he went to get for the US from NATO.

So what might be the one take away from all of this is that there is but one leader
who has it probably more right than all the rest…
that being The Queen.

We never hear of her ever engaging in locker room humor.
She does not get chummy with others, preferring to keep a professional relationship.
She keeps her political opinions to herself.
She is gracious and engaging and is always respectful of her guests,
whether or not she agrees with their views.
And she will never ever do a sit-down interview for all those wagging tongues
(Her children and grandchildren, however, are another story)

And whereas she is not setting national policy nor is she an elected official
voted on by the people for the people, she is a leader none the less…
She sets a standard of how to carry oneself in a public fishbowl

So what might be the real secret to the Queen’s long success in the public eye…?
I think we all know…
it’s the purse.
Because the purse does not lie.


(yahoo.com)

We are a coveting people, yearning for Royalty

“When I realize that God makes his gifts fit each person,
there’s no way I can covet what you got because it just wouldn’t fit me.”

William P. Smith

We are always striving for things forbidden, and coveting those denied us.
Ovid


(Royal Standard of Great Britan)

I’m not exactly certain as to why it is…
but what I do know is that it is indeed a real thing.

What am I talking about you ask?

Well, a couple of things really…but first I need to set the stage for our day’s
dialogue with a peek into an odd little obsession of ours.

It seems that we Americans have a bit of an obsession with anything and everything “Royal.”

Maybe it goes back to our being the somewhat red-headed stepchild or the kissing cousin or
simply the former colonist…I’m not exactly certain as to the reason but what I do know is
this—-
That the wee tidbits and morsels of all things Royal…be it from the news (aka gossip rags)
all the way to the paparazzi pictures tossed our way like a bone to a starving dog,
everything Royal seems to leave us only salivating for more.

We might think this goes back to a public’s love affair, from both sides of the proverbial pond,
with a young girl who grew from a shy and awkward girl into a glamorous beautiful princess all before
our wanting and wondering eyes…

It was a possessive sort of obsession with a girl who had married an older cad of a prince—
a man who had perhaps stopped his selfish playboy ways in order to settle down with
the Cinderella of his dreams.

Our favorite happy neverending fairytale.

Yet it was a tale that was neither happy nor neverending.

We loved how she doted over her two adoring sons and we felt protective when she became a
much-maligned princess from the Royal’s perspective.

And eventually, we painfully mourned when her beautiful life was tragically cut short…

Her demise was due in part to our obsession and to those who wanted to feed
that obsession.

We took her into our hearts as the tragic romantic heroine who seemed to need us as much
as we needed her…

Or maybe this fascination of ours goes back even further.

Maybe it goes back to the King who abdicated his short-lived reign in order to marry the
“woman whom he loved”—
A very public curiosity over the matter of duty versus that of love.

It was an abdication for a woman who was both an American and twice-divorced—all of which
precluded a British monarch the right to marry such.

The desire for forbidden fruit.
The desire of our wanting what we cannot or should not have…
or at least in this case, our wanting it for another.

And so being the hapless romantics that we truly are, we must have thought it oh so noble
to turn one’s back on both one’s solemn birthright of duty and responsibility while racing
blindly into the arms of love for love’s sake…
or was that lust for lust’s sake?

Never mind they both became Nazi sympathizers.

Or maybe it goes back even further…back to the life of a young Queen and mother who lost
her beloved prince consort prematurely to a brief illness,
as she spent the next 40 years of her very public life living a very public life of mourning.

A woman we associated with wearing nothing but black while ruling a realm,
of which the sun never set, with an iron thumb.

Or maybe it goes back even further…all the way back to our history books…
back to a king who was married 6 times…
Marrying, executing, losing and leaving women left and right for all the wrong reasons…

We became fixated on such a notion…that being of marriage for the sake of an heir—
The proverbial carrier of both name and nation…

Throw in the tawdry sex and it was a made for a Hollywood script nearly 500 years
before Hollywood was ever imagined.

Never mind that his illegitimate, bastard and passed-over daughter carried his legacy
on longer than any other man or woman…
that is until our present day’s monarch.

So no matter when this fascination of ours started, we are hopelessly continuing on
with such as we wait, watch and speculate what will be the latest saga
between two brothers…Wills and Harry…
as we fixate on their wives, their children, and their seemingly tragically
beautiful lives.

Lives that truly have no bearing on our own.

However, this post is not so much about our love affair with being Roayl,
being Roayl watchers or hoped for fairytales coming true as it is about our
wanting what others seem to have.

And no, I’m not suggesting that we want Royalty over our Presidency…
despite perhaps many
bemoaning such a possibility…
For we have our own royalty as we have turned our Presidents into our personal
little Royalty…
think JFK and Jackie, Ronnie and Nancy…
Just as we do with our entertainers and sports figures.
We have mastered the art of making people into things they really aren’t.

Yet this post is not even about that…turning people into things they are not…
nor is it about duty vs selfish wants…

Or maybe, just maybe, it is…
Maybe it is about our selfish wants.

For this is a post about our yearning to have that which is not our own…
wanting what others have and we have not.

We call it the simple act of coveting.

And coveting just happens to be on that oh so controversial list of “do nots”
as in the list of the Ten Commandments.

I think our subject actually comes in at number 10

Thou shalt not covet.

Or as we read in Exodus 20 verse 17 and according to the New International Standard,
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant,
his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Yet we have seen this notion of wanting what another has since the dawn of man.

Adam and Eve wanting the knowledge God had.
Cain wanting the recognition from God that was afforded to Abel.
David seeking another man’s wife…

We have been wanting what is not ours to have been since that initial apple incident…
as our wants have only become even more alluring.

Coveting is indeed our insidious obsession.
And our society has honed it into a fine art form…a very profitable art form.

One we call marketing.

They have it, we want it.
So let’s make it work.
Plain and simple.

We’ll market it, make everyone think life’s happiness depends on it and then we’ll sell it…
We’ll make gobs of money in the meantime…allowing for more wanting and having.

I think social media has had a deadly hand in all of this.
Social media has become a very slick tool in the marketing of wanting and having.

Not only are we inundated by cutting-edge advertisements and sales gimmicks working on a
psychological level convincing us that our happiness and well-being depends on getting and having–
we now have social media making us yearn for what we see others enjoying, doing and having.

The beautiful life plays out in front of our very eyes making us feel less-than because
we don’t seem to be having as much fun, traveling to such exotic destinations,
attending such fun events or accumulating as cool a-stuff as those whose lives
spill out before us on Instagram and Facebook.

I had a friend once tell me that she was going to stop looking at facebook because, as she
confided, it actually made her feel bad about both herself and her life.

She found herself becoming jealous and in turn depressed over her friends who were traveling,
having fun, buying new cars, new homes, new everything and anything they thought to post…
images of that which she wasn’t doing or of that which she didn’t have.
All she was doing was getting up each day and going to work.
How fun, how glamorous or how mundane or how boring was such a life?

Just the other week I found myself lamenting that my cousin was heading out on a trip
to Bermuda while several other friends were off to Europe for a couple of weeks…all the
while I was off to babysit.

I wanted what they had… the fun, the freedom, and the adventures.

Yet what was wrong with what I had?

Absolutely nothing.

For what I had was more lasting and not fleeting… it was not something that would only grow dim or
forgotten in a short time but rather it was something that was enduring and edifying.

Yet only a few of us are brave enough or honest enough to admit that we find ourself
feeling less-than when we see or hear of what others are doing or where they are going
or what it is they are buying…

We are coveting…

We want what others have…
while leaving behind what is our own realtime lives.

We compare what we have, or rather what we don’t have, to all that is around us and in turn determine our
level of self-worth and self-esteem—and if the truth be told, we usually come out
on the short end of the stick.

How many of us snap pictures of this or that wonderment we’re currently experiencing and find
it almost too hard to resist the urge to race to our social media outlets in order to quickly
upload, post, and share?
Living not in the moment but rather living in the moment ahead.

Our brag sheets to the world…while we calculate just how many ‘likes’ we will then accrue.

The fleeting fickleness of having and not having.

We have become the masters of voyeurism.
Living a life of watching the lives of others as we yearn for that which is not ours.

We are living in a world, in a culture, that glamorizes that which we have been commanded to
avoid—to avoid at all costs for our own eternal salvation.

We’re being sold a bag of ill goods..a bag of lies while we greedily digest the tawdry,
the egregious and the wanton with a sick level of zeal.

Being happy with what we have.
Being grateful for what we have.
Being satisfied with where we are…with who we are.
Being content.
Being at peace.
Enjoying.
Rejoicing…

Things which are quickly forgotten…
just as is the cost for such forgetting…
along with the cost of coveting.
All of which are becoming dangerously inbreed deep into our psyche.

So perhaps the lesson to be found in this roundabout tale is the fact that we most certainly do
yearn for Royalty.

We yearn to be the princes and princesses of a king…
the sons and daughters of a great King of a great Kingdom…
afforded the glory found in such a king and kingdom.

And the thing is, we need not dream of such…
for we are the heirs of the one Great King…

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

people of distraction

Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible.
It wears us out by multiplying distractions and beats us down by destroying our solitude,
where otherwise we might drink and renew our strength before going out to face the world again.

Aiden Wilson Tozer


(one of my local bunnies, not distracted by my presence / Julie Cook / 2018)

We are a people of distraction.

“Oh no we’re not” you counter.
“People of distraction have ADD or some other affliction that keeps them
from focusing.”

And whereas that is partially true, I’m here to remind all of us that yes,
we are indeed a people of distraction.

This revelation began to dawn on me last evening when I caught the tail end of the evening news–
although I’ve actually been aware of it for many years it’s just taken the latest idiocy
racing around the country to actually bring this little problem of ours into full focus.

It seems there was some sort of sudden national obsession over the sounding of a word…
‘Was it Laurel or was it Yanny?’

Huh?

I don’t “do” FaceBook, thank the Lord, so I happily don’t catch a lot of this trending
buzzy mess bombarding the masses out there.
This is where I joyfully exclaim, much like Viva La France, yet rather
more accurately “ignorance is bliss!!”

But right there, on the closing segment of the national evening news was some sort of
nonsense about the ‘heard pronunciation’ of a word…or more accurately a name.
It was such a to-do that it even became fodder on Capitol Hill.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan actually closed-out the day’s session on the same note as
that of national news by telling all present what word he had actually heard.

Really??
You guys don’t have more pressing issues to contend with than the latest viral buzz
out there???

The following morning I went to get my hair cut.
I sat in the chair as the gal who cuts my hair got to work, yet there was a buzz in the room.
And the buzz was not the noisy din of hairdryers—it was more of that same nonsense
I heard the evening before…

“Do you hear Laurel or Yanny??

This as each person in the salon had an opinion.

I just sat there listening and looking back and forth.

Next, they quickly moved on to that craze a few years back over the color of a dress
that had also made the viral rounds—” was it blue, black, gold…??”
“and oh, what about those sneakers…pink, grey or white…??”

I couldn’t believe my ears.

All around me grown men and women were chattering about the colors of images of
dresses and shoes as well as the sounds of names all racing around the internet.

I was somewhat dumbfounded as the conversations all truly bordered on, dare I say it,
the dumb.

Hawaii is about to blow.
Half of the country hates the president and the other half that likes him.
North Korea is threatening everyone all over again.
Russia keeps buzzing our jets.
The American Embassy is finally in Jeruselum after a 23-year stall.
Great Britain and every news outlet is going bonkers over an impending wedding
(another copious wasted amount of time).
And everyone else is abuzz over sounds and colors on the internet????

Why am I reminded of the Israelites when Moses went up the mountain??
Throw in a golden calf and suddenly the Great I Am is all but a faded memory…

Our lives on this earth are short in comparison to most of Creation…our length
of time is not guaranteed.
And yet we fill this precious time and these precious days with mindless and idol frivolity.

When all is said and done, I don’t think a dress, a shoe or even a name will
truly matter.
And it might just behoove us to remember who loves the fact that we are
so easily distracted…

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.
What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes

James 4:14

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

Caritas

“Intelligence and love are not in separate compartments:
love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth: Caritas in Veritate


(a modern day icon depicting Saints Benedict and his sister Scholastica)

Ok so if the truth be told, I have about 6 or so posts in the making just sitting in
the draft pile waiting for expansion and or completion.
Much like the pile of books that I keep accumulating…
the must-reads that must be prioritized…
add a heavy and liberal dose of life…
and thus so many good things are simply left hanging and or waiting…

But as I am a strong believer in the power of the Holy Spirit,
there will always be a good nudging or even a shove into the direction I need to go.

So since today (yesterday for those reading this as intended on Sunday)
February 10th is the feast day of St Scholastica.

“Who??” you’re probably asking…
We’ll get to her in a minute.

Sometimes I am so tired or weary when putting the finishing touches on a post
that in my strained eyed state, I’ll push publish rather than preview well before it’s time…
In turn, sending myself into a fit of near hysteria as I try to undo what I have
erroneously done lest anyone pop onto a half-finished and more ill edited post
than they should.

Add to my posting troubles that my favorite clerics,
all who oddly are each located on the Isle of Great Britain…
those being that delightfully rouge Anglican Bishop, that no-fuss,
no holds barred free Presbyterian Pastor and that rather conservative Orthodox Australian
Catholic monk stuck in the middle of the UK…
each has been serving up more than the ample plate of refreshing and deeply
heartening truths—all of which is making me run around like some sort of chicken
with my head cut off as I’m finding myself hard pressed just trying to keep up—
Trying to discern and pick what I must in turn digest and later share…

Father, or rather Dom, Hugh offers a most intriguing Latin-based themed post entitled
Contemplatio, Consideratio & Caritas—
or for us laymen, contemplation, consideration, and love, or charity,
whichever word you’d like to use.

Fr Hugh focuses in on St Benedict of Nursia and Benedict’s sister St Scholastica,
along with the power of prayer and what is the true nature of our actions and prayers.

St Benedict is considered to be the father of Western Monasticism and is the patron
Saint of Europe. A saint whose current job,
I would suspect, is quite busy given the growing secularism sweeping
across Europe but that’s a post for another day…
like I say, waiting in the queue.

This saintly brother-sister duo was born and raised in Itlay,
in what is modern-day Norcia, sometime
in the 5th century. Some historians believe the two had been twins,
others merely note them being merely brother and sister.

Benedict is probably best known for his Rule of Benedict.
A playbook of how to live…in a monastery….
but whereas it is most a relevant and practical book for those living a cloistered life,
it is also a book most relevant for those of us outside of the monastery.

This little book is still in huge demand and is widely read today.
In fact, many businesses have adopted Benedict’s Rule as part of a guiding
and directional tool for their employees.

The good Father relays the teaching found in the homily offered on the feast day
of St Scholastica during their morning mass.
Where the notion of Contemplatio, Consideratio & Caritas was put before the gathered monks.

The abbot offering the homily tries to explain the balance between body and soul,
prayer and our often misguided practicalities…

“Put another way, it is to apply the primacy of love to any situation;
not the schmaltzy love favoured in muzak, but the love of God and of our neighbour
as ourselves, seen in one harmonious whole.
A good example would be Our Lord’s healing on the Sabbath:
he did not devalue the sabbath but put it in a proper sense of proportion,
as being made for man not man for it.

The abbot shared a story about Benedict’s sister the nun coming for a visit to
her brother the monk.
Her brother met her at the gate. Benedict and a few of the brothers left the
walls of the monastery in order to visit and share a meal with Scholastica.

Scholastica was keen to spend the day with Benedict and his brothers,
sharing stories about God’s power and grace.

As evening fell, Benedict told his sister that he and his fellow brothers
needed to be getting back to their abbey as she must hers.
She implored him to stay that they still had much to share.
But he insisted that he must leave her.
At this point, Scholastica took her brother’s hands within her own and began to
earnestly beseech God to impress upon her brother the importance that he should stay,
even throughout the night, in order that they may share in God’s good word.

And so a storm suddenly ensued.
Benedict reprimands his sister “What have you done?”.
Scholastica replied, “I asked you and you would not listen;
so I asked my God and he did listen.
So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.”
The storm was beating down too hard for Benedict or his companions to return to
his monastery, and they spent the night in discussion.”

(solemncharge.com)

The storm had made it impossible for Benedict to take his leave back to the
abbey and in turn, he had to spend the remainder of the evening in his sister’s
company discussing God’s glory and wonderment.

Benedict felt that the rules of his order, that he and the others were bound to follow,
that their return to the abbey was far more important
then talking about God all night long with his sister.

Finally, as daylight arrived and the storm had abated, Scholastica bid her brother farewell
as they each retreated and made their individual ways back to their respective abbeys.

Three days later Scholastica died, and Benedict had a vision of Scholastica’s soul
ascending to heaven in the form of a dove.
He sent his fellow monks to retrieve her body to his monastery and they laid it
in his own tomb.
She died about the year 543.
Her feast day is February 10th.

(solemncharge.com)

Benedict later reflected that because his sister “loved” more in her prayer of pure
earnestness, her will prevailed over his idealism of practicality.
Think Martha and Mary.
For her prayer that night was one of the pureness of charity and of a deep abiding love
as she most likely realized that her time death was imminent—
and that to spend what time was remaining together was most important.

Dom Hugh notes that “if we truly have charity for even those who disagree with us,
who peddle a line that reeks of error,
then we will achieve far more by persuasion than intimidation.
The achievement might come in God’s good time rather than our own,
a salutary reminder that instant gratification is not of the Gospel.
A sense of proportion, a healthy discretion, will keep us to this way.
It is all there in the Tradition.

It is interesting to note that when dealing with sinners Jesus was mildness itself.
His more strident tone was reserved for those who should have known better
or thought they knew better.

Caritas indeed.

Contemplatio, consideratio & caritas

If necessary for years, if necessary alone

“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo,
and it’s worth fighting for.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

“I indicated a fortnight ago as clearly as I could to the House that the worst possibilities were open,
and I made it perfectly clear then that whatever happened in France would make no difference to the resolve of Britain and the British Empire to fight on,
if necessary for years, if necessary alone.”

Prime Minster Winston Churchill addressing the House of Commons / June 4, 1940


(Winston Spencer Churchill)

Sometimes the most unlikely individuals step into the crosshairs of history…
and when they do— we and the world are never the same.

Winston Spencer Churchill was just such an individual.

He was an unlikely candidate to ever be immortalized by anyone–
be it on the stage of his home nation or the stage of greater world at large.

And large he was—large in personality, determination, resolve and grit.

The type of leadership one seeks when finding oneself in the clutches of
a menacing death grip.

Yet he was actually greatly despised by many—by his fellow MPs as well as by a
few world leaders….both Hitler and Stalin to name but a few.

He was often brusk—often lacking the more refined social filters.
He suffered from a life long speech impediment.
He had performed poorly in school, often disappointing his famous father.
He was considered arrogant.
He was half American…a black eye in British aristocracy.
He came across as pompous, a braggart and a loud mouth.
He both drank and smoked entirely too much for most of the more genteel of company.
He loved to talk…most often in excess…and most often about self….
He was thoughtless with his finances, teetering constantly on ruin.
He was often selfish and self-centered and a poor keeper of time,
his as well as others.

And yet he was brilliant.
He was tenacious.
He had humor and he had heart.
He was a visionary who both clearly saw and deeply understood…

And he was a man accused of war mongering by those who I suspect would not
have minded living under the dictatorships of tyranny.

He was a wordsmith….
Gifted with both the written and spoken word….an orator for the ages, Churchill
used both to his keen advantage to rouse a frightened, sagging and crestfallen
nation.

He was shrewd and calculating,
despite being considered often half cocked and ridiculously unreasonable.

And he was the the single undetered force that stood between democracy and death
when no one else was left standing or when those who were still standing, stood quiet.

I saw a trailer for a movie—
a movie for which I’ve not seen any advertisement over….
No commercials, no billboards, no star studded endorsements…..
No hype nor hoopla of which is afforded to those other movies boasting of
fantasy, fiction or filth….

It is a movie that is actually already out in theaters as I also suspect having long
left others.

It is a true story.
A real story.
A story of courage in the face of what appeared to be unavoidable demise.

It is a movie about a man who many know by name only…as that is all they know.

This current generation, so lulled by the complacency of materialism and of the
falsely perceived angst over matters of little to no consequence, have no idea
the gratitude they actually owe this enigma of a man.

Yet this man, who this movie portrays during a particular dark period in time,
is the very man who sacrificed everything within his power just so that you and I
today could enjoy the comforts of our lives….

Theses are a few links to previous posts I’ve offered on behalf of
this legend of a man…..

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/written-words-from-a-father/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/what-he-knew-and-others-chose-to-ignore-deja-vu-or-simply-a-continuum/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/authority-vs-power/

Graciousness appears to have died

“Win without boasting.
Lose without excuse.”

Albert Payson Terhune

“A man who called everyone a damn fool is like a man who damns the weather.
He only shows that he is not adapted to his environment,
not that the environment is wrong.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

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(ghost crab who’s given up the ghost / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

We’re not a people accustomed to losing.
We don’t like to lose…
Who does?!
Nobody, that’s who!

We’re a people of winners.
We like winners.
Who doesn’t like a winner…
Nobody, that’s who!

Maybe we’re a little too accustomed to winning.
Maybe we’ve grown to expect it.
Maybe…just maybe…we’ve forgotten how to lose.
We’ve forgotten that in losing there must be graciousness…

Let’s look at a few things…

We love our sports teams.
We want them to win.
Some of us bet on them to win…
as in… betting money…
as in… betting big money.

Losers don’t make us money.
Some of us have been known to do bad things to make our teams win.
We have cheated, lied, twisted reality, conspired with others to do bad things.
We’ve been known to “fix” a game in order to win
We like to win at all costs…

Others of us get into fights when our teams lose.
We decide to fight those whose team beats our team.
We decide to beat the crap out of the opposing winning team’s fans.
We don’t lose well….

Look at our elections…

We like our candidates of choice to win.
We work for our candidates.
We campaign for our candidates.
We yell at other people who don’t support our candidate.
We call those who don’t support our candidates ugly names.
We get into fights with people who don’t support our candidate.
We vote for our candidates.
We get mad when they lose.
We decide not to accept the winner because our candidate should have won.
We contest the voting count.
We demand a re-count.
We demand a re-vote
We make up stories about the winning candidate to make him / her look bad.
We paint a really ugly picture to sway the results.
We lie, pay bad people money…
We want to win at all costs

Look at our primary elections…
There are a lot of people who don’t like a man like Donald Trump
He’s loud, obnoxious, brash, arrogant and troubling to most…
Maybe he’s not “president” material…
Yet he’s been voted into the top position.
He’s the presumptive nominee.
He earned the spot.
But those who don’t want him are mad.
As those who didn’t vote for him are doing and saying all sorts of things to stop him.
They want to ignore the majority of the other people who voted for him.
They want to say that everyone who voted for him is ignorant and racist and just wrong.
When did voting for a person of one’s choice become ignorant, racist and wrong?
We don’t like the voting to not go our way…

Look at the recent vote in Great Britain.
People voted.
The vote was to exit.
But those who lost the vote are mad.
They’ve decided that those who voted to exit are racist, ignorant, wrong.
It was put to a vote…
stay or go…
Go was chosen…
but now…
All those people who voted their choice to go, are now labeled as ignorant, racist and wrong.
We want a re-count.
We want to block the decision.
We don’t want to concede to the majority’s vote.
We want to do everything possible in order to turn the vote around to our vote, our choice.
We no longer believe in choice, or two sides
We will fight and call those who voted against our wishes ugly names.
We won’t accept anyone else’s opinion or right of choice because it is different from our own.

We forget that there are always two sides—
Winning and losing.
And sometimes we just have to live with losing….

Graciousness appears to have died….

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness,
and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

2 Corinthians 8:7

should we go or should we stay….

“And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too.”
Elizabeth I

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(leftovers from the great wedding of two years ago / Julie Cook / 2014)

The votes have been cast and the people have spoken–much to the disbelief of many other people on this planet of ours…

BREXIT has become reality.

And why pray tell, is this yank daring to wade into the fray across the pond, in the land of over there, you may wonder…

Well, as I’ve stated to a few of my British comrades in arms…. that whereas it would appear that as an American I have no dog in the Brexit fight…it is for that very reason, that I am an American and my closet allies are those of the United Kingdom, that on the contrary, I think we all have a dog in the fight—
as do the other EU countries who are now set for divorce.

It is, however, not for me to ever state how I think those in GB should vote, just as I don’t enjoy being told who I should for for president. But as an outside observer, who is keen on this particular observation, as GB’s decisions do have an effect on this land of their first cousins….I have watched, read, waited and now marvel over the outcome.

The world powers-that-be have each waded deeply into the fray’s waters by telling the people of Great Britain how to vote.
With our President sadly leading the pack.
I apologize on his behalf…that an American president should tell the people of the United Kingdom how to vote on a very in-house sort of referendum…it’s not a very proper thing to do to be sure.

When I was a young new teacher, we had a long standing and powerful superintendent who was considered to be an entrenched member of the good ol boy system within our state’s educational, as well as political, systems.
He and I were not on the same sides of a political fence and I greatly resented each time an election would roll around and he’d make the rounds to each school, calling for a faculty meeting, just in order to tell “his” teachers how to vote…and that was to always cast a vote for his “friend.”

Now I could understand if there had been some sound educational reasons as to why we should be voting for his person of choice…
But for this superintendent, it was strictly a party vote of friends voting for friends—and I for one am not keen to vote for someone just because they are in cahoots with the boss…
especially when I don’t think them worthy of my vote…

I think I was also leery of voting for the entrenched politicians who had made a career out of their office.
For we know what they say…”complacency or familiarity breeds contempt”….
maybe that should read “breeds lethargy and corruption…”

Of recent weeks, I’ve read a great deal concerning the global financial powers-that-be bemoaning or gloating, depending on which side of the fence they line their pockets, what a Brexit would do to the global economy. The likes of George Soros, a man who has profited, or make that made a killing, on the downward slopes of markets before (mainly the Bank of England), is set to cash in once again.
And cash in big—but yet no one really knows how big he cashes in as he doesn’t disclose much…
This man parlays deeply and dangerously into American politics as he gives and gives graciously to the Clintons and their campaigns…He plays his hand in global economies and seems to try to muscle the outcomes of elections as well as markets worldwide—all to his benefit—

The rich and powerful trouble me.
Rich and powerful politicians trouble me.
Even our self-centered, anything and everything goes, millennials trouble me.

I have grown tired, vexed and weary of our political leaders telling us what’s good for us when they haven’t brought about any good themselves…
I am tired of those of the younger generations who whine and complain about those who vote for things such as leaving the EU or vote for politicians that don’t cater to the whims of youth, those young ones whose rallying cry is that “they” have stolen, or are in the process of stealing, our future…”
Yet they are either too preoccupied to be bothered with voting or don’t educate themselves on the bigger picture…

And granted the markets have gone tumbling today…
but it’s that analogy I keep hearing—that the markets are so volatile and actually so unstable that if someone sneezes in one section of the world, every other global market quickly reaches for a tissue lest the sneezing becomes a catastrophic epidemic —sending everyone scrambling for cover…
all of which we are seeing today.
That simply just doesn’t seem very secure in the first place…

So votes like Brexit, which send shock waves into the seemingly untouchable circles of the rich and powerful, the young and the unversed,
as well as for those of us of more average stature,
actually offer a bit of fresh air—
that the people–the average people, still matter.
For good or bad, they still can make a difference.
Their voice, for good or bad, can still be heard…
and that the vote of the everyday person does indeed still matter…

I think Brexit is just one more example of the average, dare I say middle aged and older person, being tired of how this world is being run…

So here’s to adjusting our sails…

The pessimist complains about the wind;
the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward

what was…

“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.”

―Søren Kierkegaard

“Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.”

― Mother Teresa

DSCN1261
(a hodge lodge of broken bits and pieces of stain glass, Bunratty Castel / Co Clare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

We are not like the generations of the past, you and I.
Those generations before us were often forced to sacrifice, often having to go without.
They were brave yet they would not consider themselves such.
They were merely living the best way they knew how.
Yet we look back to the past and those prior generations…
and what we find is not often to our liking.

So we think that maybe erasing and then rewriting what we don’t like..
Thinking that will make things better…making us better.
We decide to use the lenses of the 21st century to rewrite perceived wrongs of the past.
But what we don’t understand, don’t get, is that those wrongs of the past,
weren’t exactly wrong….back there in the past…or at least they were not perceived as such.
It’s what seemed right for that generation of then…not necessarily for us here in the now.

For good or bad, that’s where it is…or rather where it was.
In the past.
Rewriting it, altering it, hoping to hide it, won’t change it.
Our overt political correctness and our joining of hands in kumbaya over all things tolerance
cannot change what was…no matter how hard we try a re-do.

Flags once flown,
Anthems and songs once sung
Stories once told
Monuments once erected
Wars once fought
all the fodder of the hopes and the dreams of a people now gone.

Do we serve them well by replacing them with us?
In someways and in some laws…perhaps…
Yet we must remember that they are not us, nor are we them…

Their’s was a different time.
Perceptions were different.
People were different
Lands and maps were different.
Hopes and dreams were different…

We can’t erase them, their lives, their moments…
simply because we no longer agree, see eye to eye, or possess the same filters of sight.

Yet we are allowing the loud voices of today to force our compliance in a desecration of a people that simply once were.

History is that….history… as in the past.
We learn from it, we can correct it’s mistakes in our today’s world but we can’t correct what was then in their world…
No matter how we try.

We learn over time…
We learn from experiences and mistakes…
We hope to learn not to repeat the same mistakes of the history of those who went before us.

Germany
Russia
Japan
Great Britain
The US…

We all have dark histories that we are now none to proud to bear.
But part of our responsibility to both those of the past, as to all of us now as to those who are yet to be, is not in hiding what was, whitewashing it into a nonexistent netherworld…
but rather to see it for what it was, good or bad, learn from it and then not to repeat it.

If we whitewash over everything,
pretending it never existed or offer a shoddy job of trying to rewrite it, trying to fix it to meet today’s standards, then we risk a far greater calamity in hiding or changing the truths of the past by exchanging them for the hopes of the future.

It is a dangerous job to pretend things were different when they were not.
It is dangerous to erase what was while changing it in to what is…
because what was can never be what is…
but it can be repeated…with a greater degree of ferocity…

He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.

Daniel 2:21

Good for the goose

“A wild goose never reared a tame gosling.”
Irish Proverb quotes

The early Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit ‘the wild goose.’ And the reason why is they knew that you cannot tame him.
John Eldredge

DSCN1662
(a goose in search of his breakfast Harvey’s Point Lodge, Louge Eske , County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook)

An Geadh-Glas, otherwise known to English speakers as the wild goose, is most likely the furtherest thought in one’s mind when thinking about Christianity, Christian symbolism or especially when pondering the most mysterious component of the Triune Godhead, the Holy Spirit.

Yet the early Celtic Church, that amazing amalgamation of deeply mystical Christianity and equally mystical yet enigmatic Celtic culture, saw not a docile gentle cooing dove as the supreme representative of God’s Spirit but rather the often loud, raucous, stubborn and determined goose as a more true emblematic example of God’s most untamed and fiercely determined nature–a nature much like their own.

The Celts were a fierce warrior nation comprised of the bloodlines of Vikings, Danes, Druids, Picts and members of the northern regions of ancient Albion (northern Great Britain)
The Roman Empire never occupied Ireland, nor did the Anglo Saxons who later filled the void in the Birtish Isles following the fall of Rome.

These very supertisious people were fiercely independent, steeped in their haunting pagan rituals and customs–much of which remain as a continuing mystery to modern historians and archeologists.

DSCN0833
(Drombeg stone circle, known as the Druid’s altar, County Cork, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

DSCN0832
(Drombeg stone circle, known as the Druid’s altar, County Cork, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

It was in this land of lush misty covered greens, haunting shifting shadows and talk of the wee folk…where land, sea and sky join as one, that both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolken roamed, finding abundant inspiration for each of their most famous literary works.

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(Killarney National Park within the Ring of Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSCN1108
(Killarney National Park within the Ring of Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit, translated simply as St Patrick, is probably the best known and most famous Irishman who in actuality was Scottish by birth. Patrick had been spirited away to Ireland as a young child by marauding pirates yet eventually became the revered patron saint of the entire Irish nation. It is Patrick who is credited for not only having introduced Christianity to the Emerald Isle, but for being the “designer” behind what we know as the celtic cross.
That most familiar image of a latin cross wrapped with a circle.

DSCN1628
(celtic cross in the graveyard at Dumcliff Church / County Sligo, Ireland / 2015 / Julie Cook)

It is said that the pagan Celts considered the sun to be an integral part of their worship. Circles have been found etched and carved on many excavated Celtic ruins. I think it’s rather easy to understand the importance behind worshiping the sun for the Celts— if you’ve ever spent much time in Ireland, you know how wet and grey it can be. There are parts of Ireland which receive up to 225 days of wet rainy weather each year, in turn making any and all sunny days a rare and treasured commodity.

Patrick had to be inovative if he wanted to get the Celts attention and gain their trust as the ultimate goal was total conversion and allegiance to the one true God. So Patrick set about with a brilliant plan combining both a component most important to the Celtic nation, that being the sun–a revered circle, bridging the abyss to the most important image to Christians, the Latin cross, with the addition of a circle ringing around the cross–a combination representing both sun and Son as the circle is also a Christian symbol representing God’s endlessness.

DSCN1909
(covering of one of the many purported wells used by Patrick to baptized the new converts to Christ, found buried near the site of present day St Patrick’s Cathedral /Dublin, Ireland / 2015 / Julie Cook)

Patrick is also considered as the one person who established the shamrock as one of Ireland’s most endearing symbols. The Celts were an agrarian nation as Ireland is a rich fertile island due in part to being on the receiving end of the warming and wet energies of the Atlantic gulf stream. As an island people they were deeply connected, attuned as well as dependent on the land. So Patrick utilized those things that were common and entrenched in the common man’s life. A most humble yet prolific example being the clover. The clover was a perfect teaching tool as it so beautifully manifests the image of the Holy Trinity.

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(early clover images on an ancient carving on a crypt in St Patrick’s Cathedral / Dublin, Ireland / 2015)

In the early days of the young Christian Church, many a humble yet determined monk of the fledgling Christian Church came and went from this mystical isle in hopes of further spreading the Gospel.
Some traveled freely while others sadly disappeared…lost in time…victims of pirates, invaders, and local hostilities.

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(plaque commemorating the lives of the Teelin monks who set sail for Iceland in the 5th century / Teelin , Slieve League, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Yet for all the anguished years of famine and immigrations, for all of her tumultuous history of waring invaders and defiant fought battles, Ireland has held fiercely fast and tight to her Christian roots. We are all aware of the growing insidious cloud of secularism that is sweeping across Europe and Western society…we are also all painfully aware of Ireland’s past “troubles”—the deep and often bloody mistrust and resentment between north and south, Catholic and Protestant, British Crown and Independent…yet despite all the years of bloodshed, turmoil, both internal and external, Ireland has laid claim and held on undeterred to her faith…a faith of deep respect for the God of all Salvation as well as the Great Creator of both land and sea, heaven and sky.

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(both cat and goose wait for feeding / Harvey’s Point Lodge, County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

Christ be with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit
Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man
who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of every man
who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me
Salvation is of the Lord.</em
>