Even when overwhelmed…. always try to make things less bad.

“You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds…
What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.”
St. Thomas More


(a gulf fritillary butterfly visits the Pentas / Julie Cook / 2019)

Whether it is doubt, despair, uncertainty, a burden, a heartache, a loss, an accident
a sorrow, even the saints have asked…”Where is Jesus”
It is in the depths of the misery and wondering and questioning that we must continue to make
things a little less bad…

We can never know what other people experience before the Blessed Sacrament.
Some people will say they feel ‘nothing’, and this is not wrong.
In Adoration, Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta once wrote on a piece of paper,
‘Father, please pray for me—-where is Jesus?’, and passed it to the priest at the front.
She, who had had direct inspirations from God in prayer, spent decades in a dark night
where she could not feel his presence.
Remember: he owns the veil.

Sally Read
Annunciation: A Call to Faith in a Broken World

God’s work

The spirit and the soul are two totally different organs:
one belongs to God, while the other belongs to man.
By whatever names one may call them,
they are completely distinct in substance.
The peril of the believer is to confuse the spirit for the soul and the soul
for the spirit,
and so be deceived into accepting the counterfeit of evil spirits
to the unsettling of God’s work.

Watchman Nee
March 8, 1933


(Gulf fritillary butterfly / Julie Cook / 2017)

God’s work…
that is what this is all about is it not?
That being this thing we call life….

Watchman Nee (1903-1972) was an ardent Chinese Christian Church leader.
He was also a profuse author.
I was first introduced to Watchman Nee and his books when I was in college
by a friend who was a bit older and had lived and weathered more of life than
I had up to that point.

Nee is not easy to read, for me at least,
In part because of the sheer depth of his faith.
as well as because much of his work spans the course of a century
that was full of great change.
It is as if one is reading the words of a mystic.
Deeply spiritual, deeply profound.

I have ebbed and flowed over the years with Nee.

Nee’s words have resurfaced recently in my life…
at a time when such words have not only been needed but most certainly
welcomed.

My road as of late has been difficult as I’ve watched my already small family
shrink even smaller. Losing the shoring piers to a heart that is being
battered and tested.

I remain consumed by what all it is taking to get dad’s life, post dad,
to a place of management.
The legal and financial aspect is simply daunting.

Add to the loss of dad, coupled by this organization and bureaucratic nightmare,
the untimely death of my aunt…a death seemingly so sudden.
Granted we knew she had been gravely ill,
despite the doctors saying “not to worry” give the meds time…”
As her body could simply no longer hang on.

My husband and I will be driving the 10 hour journey southward at the
end of the week in order to attend the memorial service.
We will remain for a few days sorting through what made Martha’s life her own.

On top of all the sorrow and frustration we are dealing with the early news of
becoming grandparents…as we worry over our son and daughter-n-law as they are
in the midst of job changes, long commutes and a bit of uncertainty.

So there is certainly a great deal of emotional overload…both up and down…
both good and bad.

That is why the words of those such a Nee are ever so important.

A wise friend of mine…
as I am fortunate in that I have many friends who are indeed wise,
recently shared with me his thoughts on my latest stand of sorrow and worry.
He told me that…
“Only when we realise that we can not do it all [alone]
(whatever the it might be in our lives)
we then cry out…
I believe God is so close to you at this time because you are crying out to him…”

I too believe that when we cry out, God draws ever closer despite our feelings
of isolation…
for it is in the isolation of loneliness…
when we are stripped bare of all distraction and false protection.

In 1949 when China became a Communist Nation, Nee was imprisoned—
He had refused to stop preaching, speaking, writing and sharing the Word of God.
A practice counter to all things communist.
An underlying theme in Communism is that it is important, if not essential,
to create false accusations in order to arrest, impression or even execute
those who speak Truth against the atheistic beliefs of the Communist state.

This was not an exception in the case of Nee.
He was falsely accused of crimes he never committed, arrested and sentenced to
spend what would be the last 20 years of his life in a forced hard labor camp.

His final words where found scribbled on a sheet of paper that had been tucked
beneath his prison cell pillow…

“Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and
resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe.
I die because of my belief in Christ.”

Watchman Nee

So what we must come to understand, as hard as it often is, that this life
that we claim as our own, is not for our benefit and glory but rather for
that of God’s…it is for His work, and His alone…
as we learn that we both live and die because of Christ Jesus….

“The greatest advantage in knowing the difference between spirit and soul is in
perceiving the latent power of the soul and in understanding its falsification
of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Just last night I was reading what F. B. Meyer once said in a meeting shortly before
his earthly departure. Here is a section of it:
‘This is an amazing fact that never has there been so much spiritualism outside
the church of Christ as is found today…
Is it not factual that in the lower part of our human nature the stimulation of
the soul is quite prevailing?
Nowadays the atmosphere is so charged with the commotion of all kinds of counterfeit that the Lord seems to be calling the church to come to a higher ground.’
Today’s situation is perilous.
May we ‘prove all things; hold fast that which is good’ (1 Thess. 5:.21)
Amen”

Watchman Nee
March 8, 1933
(forward from The Latent Power of the Soul)

separations

Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking
on the wall.
The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means
of communication.
It is the same with us and God.
Every separation is a link.

Simone Weil


(Gulf fritillary butterfly on the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2017)

For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel
who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart,
puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity,
and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself,
I the LORD will be brought to answer him in My own person.

Ezekiel 14:7

Peace filled Monday

All God wants of man is a peaceful heart.
Meister Eckhart

If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity,
they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.

Winston Churchill

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May you have a peace-filled Monday…

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(A mix of gulf fritillary and buckeyes dance along the sedum / Julie Cook / 2016)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

not for sissies

“Walking the streets of Charleston in the late afternoons of August
was like walking through gauze or inhaling damaged silk.”

Pat Conroy

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(yellow sulphur butterfly / Julie Cook / 2016)

Summer in the deep South is not for the faint of heart…

98 degree days coupled with 98% humidity…
Clothes cling to bodies like wet toilet paper dangling from a tree limb after a rain.
Hair doos are non-existent.
And sweat becomes an accessory rather than an unsightly bodily function

Then there are the…

98 degree days with low humidity which equals no rain, no moisture whatsoever…
for days and days and days and days…
Everything dries up…
the grass crunches,
green things all turn brown
and earthworms shrivel into brown sticks…

Yet there are a few among us who remain unfazed…
who actually seem to thrive, coming into their own.
The higher the temperature, the more excited they become….

And you just thought butterflies were for sissies….

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(clouded skipper on the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2016)

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(gulf fritillary butterfly / Julie Cook / 2016)

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10

Just take it all in….

Everyone will stand in awe and declare God’s deeds;
they will recognize his works…

Psalm 64:9

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(A gulf fritillary butterfly enjoys the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2016)

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(a pipeline swallowtail busy at work on the hollyhocks / Julie Cook / 2016)

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(A silver spotted skipper hanging out on the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2016)

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(a meadow fritillary stops in for a visit / Julie Cook / 2016)

Enjoy the long weekend…

Happiness to you on a Friday

Happiness is neither without us nor within us.
It is in God, both without us and within us

Blaise Pascal

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(Gulf Fritillary butterfly visiting an impatient / Julie Cook / 2014)

By the time Friday usually rolls around, aren’t we all just simply spent from the demands and activities of the previous days of the week?
Are we not found to be by Thursday weary, tired, beat, worn out, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, exhausted–mentally, physically, emotionally and even, for some, spiritually. So much so that by the time Friday morning rolls around, it’s difficult to peel ourselves out of the bed in order to get going.

Or maybe, just maybe, by Friday morning, we’re oh so ready for the weekend, we hop right up, ready to get Friday under out belts so we can “have” our weekend. But let’s not talk about the countless who have no weekend, as their schedules require work and demands just as on a Monday or a Tuesday, or, well, you get the point.

Adding to that weariness, for so very many across this country, school has started its new season–life, for both young and old alike, is kicking it up a notch to an ultra radical level of pace. There’s now the struggle to reset the rhythm and routine. Getting adjusted back to the rigors of a demanding and exhausting schedule for the long and arduous “school year.” Just thinking about it is exhausting.

According to the calendar, with the festivities of the weekend ready to get underway, Summer will come to its official end. That whole 3 day weekend thing just sweetened the pot of “living for the weekend” when there’s a holiday in the making. We can get through any drudgery of any week if a holiday gets tacked on at the end, right?

So if this Friday is finding you a tad tired, worn, bedraggled, shell-shocked, or a little too excited over forthcoming weekend festivities, I thought it might be helpful if I shared a little visual happiness. . .here’s to surviving the week and for hopefully surviving the weekend. . .all with a little added touch of visual happiness. . .behold the Passion Butterfly or as it is officially known, the Gulf Fritillary butterfly. . .

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