finding home

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs
and returns home to find it.”

George Augustus Moore

“Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave,
but not our hearts.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Maybe it’s just this time year…
You know the time…
The time of year when the shadows grow long as the sun dips below
the trees…
long before you’re ready for this uninvited guest known as darkness to come
calling.

All the while that sweet summer warmth is all but forgotten as the coming
winds have replaced such with an unforgiving chill.
A chill which finds its way through every tiny crevasse,
traveling fast and straight like an arrow piercing into bone.
Bones that now ache for any sort of comfort or relief from this
most unwelcomed guest.

Hot embers glow as spent ashes swirl while the movies
of a past, which now seems so long ago, play out like a silent film
rambling through one’s mind…
as everything now seems to simply take us back to when we were
who we use to be.

Time is all but replaced by an odd perspective…
a perspective that emerges rather surreally out the most melancholy of seasons.
That which was and that which has been, now comes to us like an old friend—
poignant, soothing, warming, embracing and oh so healing.

And thus we sit, watching the shadows lengthen as the sun fades–
afraid to face fears and battle past demons.
The universe seems to have silently collided into both past and present
sending us spiraling out of control.
All the while a most weary soul yearns and now aches…but what is that ache?
What is that—that which this soul so yearns for and most painfully seeks?

It is the yearning for home—

Home—the very place that no one ever told me you’d actually still be..
be there waiting…all these many many years.
Waiting for me.
Patiently waiting…waiting for me to come back…all in order that I
finally find my most restful rightful place…
Falling exhausted into arms that have longed to hold me…
falling back in that very space of love and peace and all that
this long awaited homecoming entails.

Thank you for welcoming me home…

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

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

submission of the soul, “when God requires action, sanctity is to be found in activity”

The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation,
as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul
with the glory of God.

St. John Damascene


(Gulf fritillary/ Julie Cook / 2021)


Gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2021)


(Gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2021)

Submission of the soul.

For many of us, the notion of submission comes with great difficulty.
Submission is equated with the notion of weakness.
A giving up and giving in.

And yet we cling viciously to the visage of ego…that false image we hold high
and large against the humility of heart…a tenuous balance is struck.

We let that false visage block oh so many possibilities.
Hitting wall after wall, we wonder how much longer will we struggle.
So much heartache ensues because of that false visage of hubris.

Self inflicted wounds.

God is not one to be quiet when He knows what is required.

It may take years before we finally let go and submit…but when we do,
blessings will flow like a burst dam of water.

May those healing waters flow…

“The will of God gives to all things a supernatural and divine value
for the soul submitting to it.
The duties it imposes, and those it contains,
with all the matters over which it is diffused,
become holy and perfect, because, being unlimited in power,
everything it touches shares its divine character. …
The entire virtue of all that is called holy is in its approximation
to this order established by God; therefore nothing should be rejected,
nothing sought after, but everything accepted that is ordained
and nothing attempted contrary to the will of God. …
When God requires action, sanctity is to be found in activity.”

Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p. 15
An excerpt from
Abandonment to Divine Providence

Stir up the waters

Matthew: I have a question though.
Jesus: Yes Matthew…
Matthew: Waiting 30 more minutes would not have mattered to that man,
why did you do that [heal him] on Shabbat?

Jesus: Sometimes you have to stir up the waters.”

The Chosen Season 2 Episode 4


(Jesus speaking to the man at the pool of Bethesda—“Do you want to be healed?”)

Have you seen it yet?
It’s finally out!!!
Season 2 of The Chosen is slowly beginning to air.
There are 4 episodes already waiting to be viewed.

I know that time is not always on my side when I want to
sit down to watch an episode—
yet when I can, I do so on my phone as I watch it on the app.
I imagine a larger screen might allow for a more powerful impact
but no matter, large or small, the emotional impact is pretty palpable.

Sometimes I’ll start an episode then have to stop part way through,
resuming at a later date as time allows.

It can be a bit choppy and disconnecting to the emotions
but this series seems to be able to coerce every ounce of emotion
out of one’s psyche no matter the viewing format or time allowed.
A small taste only whets a hearty appetite.

With each episode, I am miraculously transported to a different
time and space.
It is as though I am there, one of the players perched on the
periphery of something greater than that which is held down
by gravity…

In episode 4 of season 2 Jesus asks a man whose legs have been paralyzed
for nearly 38 years, nearly his entire life,
if he wants to be healed.

He has spent the majority of his life laying by a pool
that purportedly had healing powers.
A pool that was considered to be pagan.
Meaning, not a place an observant Jew would seek out.
Yet what we know as humans, desperate times require desperate needs.

Now I imagine that most all folks who suffer from a traumatic bodily injury or
impediment want to be healed.
They want to be made whole.
To walk, talk, see, hear, feel, breathe, live…
Just like those who suffer from internal impediments.

Think addiction, think obsession, think anger, think jealousy,
think envy, think ego, think pride, think weight, think resentment,
think anything that stands between you and the Savior of Peace.

There are visible traumas and there are internal traumas.
And yet it seems that those internal illnesses are the more
sinister.

The hidden tends to eat at us more so than the obvious.

And so Jesus asks us…He asks you and He asks me,
do we want to be healed?

Well the obvious answer would be yes.
However we human beings tend to be more complicated than that.

We tend to cling to our hinderances.
We tend to embrace the impediments as they become
a calling card and a label—they become our identity…we allow them to define us.
It, whatever the ailment is, is woven into who we are.

We say that we want to be healed.
We claim that we want to be free of the chains
of our paralyzing traumas— yet we are actually reluctant
to let them go.
We make excuses.
We stammer.
We are more or less codependent upon our own ills.

And we should note that this is not always some sort of conscious dependency– it’s just that the letting go is often much harder than we could ever imagine.

So the question remains, do you want to be healed???

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool,
in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.
In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there
a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
The sick man answered him,
“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water
is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath.
So the Jews
said to the man who had been healed,
“It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”
But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me,
‘Take up your bed, and walk.’”  They asked him,
“Who is the man who said to you,
‘Take up your bed and walk’?”
Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him,
“See, you are well!
Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus
who had healed him.
And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because
he was doing these things on the Sabbath.
But Jesus answered them,
“My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

Yard sale…but more importantly, prayers

We’ve spent weeks purging and sorting.
And thus the BIG sale is today!

But…

What is most important today is that we need to think of and offer
our prayers for The Frist Family as they now battle COVID 19.

I am both incensed and angry that there are many Americans who are wishing ill
of the President and his wife…that there are people who are actually gleefully
hoping for a fellow human being to not only succumb to illness but to actually die.

When does the hope of death become the rallying cry of any advanced society?

We have become an abysmal lot when we have lost our humanness.

I would normally note that we are an abysmal society, but to use the
word society would be too gracious.
A society does not wish for the death of others but rather it bans together
working toward the betterment of the whole.

So I offer my prayers for healing and restored health for our President
and the First Lady.

I pray for our Nation…I pray that it can learn, or perhaps re-learn, what it means
to be a cohesive body that is concerned for each member of her whole.

I pray that she may regain her love for each neighbor.

I pray for physical healing as well as collective healing.

May God have mercy on the United States.
And may the United States remember what mercy is all about.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

to be saved, we must first lose

But there must be a real giv­ing up of the self.
You must throw it away ​“blind­ly” so to speak.
Christ will indeed give you a real per­son­al­i­ty:
but you must not go to Him for the sake of that.
As long as your own per­son­al­i­ty is what you are both­er­ing about you are not going to Him at all.

C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity


(scene from The Chosen when Jesus heals Mary)

To be saved, we must first lose.

The concept of losing doesn’t make much sense to the mind of a 21st-century individual.
Especially to a 21st century American…losing is not something Americans are accustomed to.
Nor is it a concept on the minds of many Americans who are busy with protesting
rioting and looting…losing is not on their radar.

Burdened by so much that is taking place around this pain-racked Nation of ours,
I turned to a new devotional written by the writers of The Chosen.

The following was the entry for Day 3:

To save our lives, we must lose them.

That’s a mind-bender, for sure, but clearly vital to understand.
Jesus said it to the disciples after they’d already dropped everything to
follow Him from town to town.
They sacrificed their careers, homes, and relationships for the man
they believed was the Messiah.
Life as they knew it had turned upside down,
but more would be required of them, and Jesus was doubling down.
He knew what lay ahead. He knew He was leaving.
And He knew they would become pillars of the early church,
in charge of spreading the truth about salvation to the world,
disciplining the masses, and claiming Christ in the face of imprisonment, torture, and death.
They would lose their lives on earth—figuratively and literally–
for the sake of all they would gain in heaven.

And they did it well because their testimonies,
their personal stories of what Jesus had said and done,
were potent demonstrations of His transformative love and power in their lives.
They shared the gospel with an unstoppable, contagious, relentless passion that—
to be honest–seems kind of rare these days.

How come?
Well for starters, they weren’t in love with themselves or their own stories.
They weren’t branding their Christian narratives for maximum personal benefit,
approval, or sump[athy…or for clicks or likes.
They weren’t assigning themselves the hero role or belaboring their “before Christ”
dysfunction with all its juicy, sensationalistic tidbits.
When you look at biblical examples it’s amazing how few words are given to their broken pasts–
the almost exclusive focus is on Jesus.

Take Mary Magdalene.
The fact that she was delivered from seven demons is a crucial aspect of her
testimony because it showcases Jesus’authority and why she responded to Him
the way sed did.
And then that’s it.
That’s all the detail we need to know.
In other words, her autobiography wouldn’t have been titled
The Dark Years with three hundred pages dedicated to describing the monsters within.
Fascinating?
Sure.
But powerful and effective and glorifying to the one who rescued her?
Not so much.
There’s a reason we meet Mary subsequent to her healing—because that’s where the real story is.

There are a few other things we know about her:
(1) she followed Jesus and financially supported His ministry until His crucifixion,
which means she gave everything she had to follow Him;
(2)she endured the crucifixion and stayed close to Jesus while He suffered and died;
and
(3) as mentioned in “Delivered”, she was the first person He appeared to after
He rose from the dead, and she was the one He sent to tell the disciples
the universe-altering news.
All because the old was gone and dead.
Jesus had given her new life.

Which means that even if you’ve been a believer for all of ten minutes,
those minutes are entirely more relevant than the twenty, forty,
or eighty years of darkness prior to your conversion.
Reason being, we’re called to represent Jesus and to die to the lives
He saved us from. When we do that, and when He stays the hero of the story,
our words and lives become real-time, potent demonstrations of
His transformative love and power.

The Chosen
40 Days With Jesus

blasted groundhog day!!!!!!

Phil:”Do you ever have deja vu, Mrs. Lancaster?”
Mrs. Lancaster: “I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.”

(lines from the Groundhog Day)

If it wasn’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck whatsoever…

However, as a Christian household, we don’t believe in luck…
and yet…

See this little guy below…


(The Sherrif)

That’s the Sherrif earlier this summer.

Yesterday, the daycare called his parents.

The Sherrif was running a fever.

Dada (aka our son) had to go pick up the Sherrif and head to the pediatrician’s office.

Remember last week?

The Mayor, Sherrif, and their mom had to stay with us while our son waited on
a COVID test to return…
he had strep throat but had to be tested none the less.

It appears that it is now standard if you are sick with anything, to be tested.

Hence why the kids and their mom came to us as we all waited.

After 3 days, late Friday evening, he finally got the all-clear.
Life was normal again as it was merely strep throat! When strep throat is considered normal, we’ve got problems!

And so yesterday was the first day back to work for their mom, a teacher, who by the way,
had to miss the first three days with students being back while we all waited on the
COVID test to come back.

That whole quarantine business.

And so once again , since the Sherrif was running a fever,
the pediatrician had to do a COVID test.

Pre-pandemic days, this would have been simply labeled a viral infection.
Give him Tylenol or Motrin and keep him hydrated.
However today, we as a society, are now all about some gloom and doom and falling skies!

GRRRRRRRR.

So Da (aka my husband) and I raced over to Atlanta late Monday afternoon to fetch
The Mayor, who by the way, will now be staying with us until we get word on this
latest test… she appears to be on the up and up from her daycare crud which seems to have been the impetus to all this mess in the first place!

And so once gain, possible COVID exposure around a 60 and 71-year-old may seem stupid
but again, we do what we have to do for our family.

Last week I had to cancel our anniversary dinner, of which I re-made again
for this coming Thursday…of which I’ve in turn canceled– again.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here??!!

So for now, I bid adieu.

I humbly ask for your prayers for our wee Sherrif…
You never want your child or grandchild to be sick…but now
a childhood viral infection sure would beat a possible COVID diagnosis.

He needs your prayers.

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing,
and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.

Jeremiah 33:6

visiting the well alone is the only way

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin


(the original well used by Jacob, the famous Samaritan Well, currently located in the West Bank)

Every now and then, when it is most needed, God reminds us, well let’s make that He reminds me,
He is indeed still there and still in charge.

I don’t know about you but I have just felt so beat down as of late.

Wear a mask…
Don’t tell me to wear a mask…
Things are bad…
Things aren’t so bad…
Have school…
Don’t have school…
We hate Trump…
We love Trump.
Black lives matter…
No lives can matter…
Riots, looting, kneeling, anthems, flags…

Abortions, yes.
Abortions, no.

Hashtag (#) LGBTQ, transgender, asexual, bisexual, anything sexual…

Kill the Christians…
Hate the Jews…
Love everyone…but just don’t love those or those…

Watch the news.
Don’t watch the news.

Leave the house…
don’t leave the house…

It is simply overwhelming.

It is depressing, maddening, frustrating, and confusing.

I’ve told you before how great the series The Chosen is.
That crowd-funded production about the life of Christ.

It has brought the Gospels to life…to such a personal level…a real level.

The first season of episodes is out and now they are waiting to have
season two funded.

I cannot wait.

It is not a movie or a television show—it comes from an App or on the computer.

The final episode of season 1 is the tale of the Samaritan woman at the well.

First of all, I did not realize the significance of the well itself.
The well in the Book of John is the purported well of Jacob.
A seemingly dry site that Jacob knew would bear water…
God had led him to the sight.
God lead him here 730 years before the birth of Christ.
And it’s been bearing water ever since…
despite now being enshrined within an Orthodox Chruch.

I’ve read the Bible.
I’ve heard the stories.
I’ve seen various Biblical films and film productions about the life of Jesus—
none of which has moved me on such a deep and visceral level as this
story has as in The Chosen.

This Jesus…he is the one who I yearn to meet.
He is so real, so approachable…so unlike all previous depictions.

It also makes the various Biblical stories seem more relatable, more emotional,
more real.

Here is the Biblical story according to the NIV version from the Book of John:

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more
disciples than John— although in fact, it was not Jesus who baptized,
but his disciples.
So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria.
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob
had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey,
sat down by the well.
It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,
“Will you give me a drink?”
(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?”
(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink,
you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.
Where can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us the well and drank from it himself,
as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.
What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain,
but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father
in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming.
When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman.
But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.
Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

John 4:1-30

If I could figure out how to share this particular episode from The Chosen here
on this blog, I would— but instead, I found on Youtube the added bonus feature from the episode
with the director and a Rabbi recounting the importance of this encounter between
a Jew and a Samaritan.
A man and a woman.
A Messiah and a broken soul.

The Chosen offers backstories to its characters.
They are an educated guess into what might have been…
based on what is known.
This is what makes these individuals so relatable…so much more so than the
stories from the Gospels.

The woman was scorned by her community for her lifestyle.
She was not welcome to visit the well in the cool morning hours with the other women of the
village…she had to go alone in the heat of the day.

She was a Samaritan…Jews considered this particular Jewish sect, a subgroup that was
less than…traitors of sorts.

Within her own community, she was an outcast living a depressing, empty
and sinful existence.

The deck was stacked against her when running into this Jewish man at the well.

Had she been with the other women, there would have never been the encounter.
She had to be alone.

Thus I realize that Jesus must come to us not when we are in the company of our friends
or surrounded by a crowd…he must come to us when we are alone, vulnerable,
and not distracted.
He needs our full attention.

It is to be a one on one encounter.

If you haven’t seen the episodes of The Chosen—I implore you to find them.
If you don’t know Jesus…if you find him sterile and benign, if you
mock him or simply disbelieve…watch just one episode…
I know you will view this Jesus of Nazareth much differently than ever before.

Justice for what???

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death.
And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?
Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.
For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

J.R.R. Tolkien


(a buckeye butterfly rests on a noodle / Julie Cook / 2020)

Enjoying a bit of quiet reading and reflecting with some of my favorite folks out in
blogland this afternoon, I stopped by to see what gems of wisdom our friend IB had
to allow this fine Friday in June.

It is fine, isn’t it?

I don’t know…maybe it’s not.

It’s Juneteenth, so says my phone’s calendar and now, so says thousands
gathering in the streets of Atlanta, as well as across this nation, peacefully
marching and celebrating.

It seems we’ve all received a quick tutorial on the significance of Juneteenth.

And so we hope all things remain peaceful.
But we really must wait until the sun sets and then we shall see
if the peacefulness carries itself through the night.

Their voices now rise in a crescendo chant of “justice.

But what is this justice for which they cry?

Our friend IB mused over the very same notion.
What is this justice for which these crowds so long?

Perhaps it is what I too long for—.

IB was actually writing a post about having seen a movie that was a bit of a
soothing balm when this idea of ‘what is justice’ popped in.

I’ve not seen the movie, so I can’t say…but it moved IB and thus a post
sprang forth.

I honestly don’t know what makes me cry more, happy things or sad things?
There are lots of both in this movie and it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.
I mean, it’s not good for your heart to be shattered, broken, for you to be wounded, right?
Except, if that’s how the love pours in, through all those cracks,
if that’s how the Lord moves into your life and brings healing,
well then, thank God for broken hearts.

Thank God when we are wounded, willing to feel the pain, rather than hardened.

It was a really validating movie too,
because I’m looking around at a world that often doesn’t make any sense and trying to talk
to people who are totally tone deaf.

I feel a bit like a broken record sometimes, always talking about meth, fentanyl,
and heroin addictions, in an area that is so pro-drugs, so pro-addiction!
People are out on the streets right now crying out for justice, but justice from what??
And what does this “justice” they crave even look like?

I spend half my life trying to forgive addicts whose behavior does nothing but steal,
kill, and destroy all that is good, and the other half of my time trying to forgive
those in leadership who have enabled and condoned the whole situation either through
their incompetence or their corruption. It’s really painful, it’s really frustrating,
but it’s not a bad thing at all, because it is all about learning to love others as
Jesus loves us

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Both Matthew and Mark take note of the fact that this is the gospel,
that this truth, the reflective nature of grace, is so vitally important that,
“Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world,
what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

“Healing River” did a really good job of capturing the essence of that truth.
When we have been forgiven much, we love much.

We have been forgiven much.

https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2020/06/19/healing-river/

And so I too think about this odd innate need for justice—
this thing we always seem to cry out for—

And this justice of ours seems to be whatever perceived notion we might be feeling at the time,
It springs from deep within our being—and there is indeed a longing.

A longing in each one of us.
We often can’t put our finger on it.
We think with our heads, trying to figure out our heart…
but we most often misread those inward groanings.

I decided to go explore the Healing River’s official site.
It is a faith-based film that sounds extremely powerful.

One reviewer noted that “the message of redemption, forgiveness and mercy
coming from and through our Lord Jesus Christ in this movie is one of great importance,
especially in our troubled world hungry for a message of hope and courage.
Well done!”
Fr. Patrick McMullen, St. Therese Catholic Parish, Cincinnati, OH

And so I now think I know what this cry is.
What it is we always seem to turn to when life seems overwhelmingly
unfair, unjust, and simply undone…
It is not so much for justice that we cry as it is for mercy.
It is not so much for justice as it is for forgiveness.

Sadly there is not a whole lot of forgiveness or mercy running about these days…
days which are so full of protests, anger and violent riots.

Yet those two elements are the key to quelling the painfilled groans within our beings.

Anger and rage are exhausting.
They steal one’s light, peace, joy, hope…

Mercy and forgiveness allow us to finally exhale and finally rest from the fight.

he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear** him;
Psalm 103:10-13

**remember the word fear often translates to respect