Greater love

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(flowers from a street vendor Grafton St. Dublin Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I bought you some flowers, well sort of, for Valentine’s day.
I wanted to say thank you.
I want to thank you for taking time out of your day and and of your life in order to stop by here….this little corner of the world I call my own..here on cookiecrumbs.
Your visits, your reading, your commenting, your support, your friendship are each deeply appreciated.
All of which has been your special gift to me…and means so very much.

The inception of the recognition of Valentine’s day being based on the martyred death of a 3rd century Christian, should never be lost in the hoopla and the hype of the overtly commercialized “holiday” we know today.

That this modern day recognition of Valentine’s Day, a day to honor, recognize and profess our undying love to those we hold dear or better yet, hope to dearly hold…
This day designated for spending, buying and bestowing…a day of all things red, beating hearts, flowers, chocolate, devotion and professing…
A day which should never overshadow that Valentine’s day, a day named for a saint of the same name and of which is certainly a day of love, is based on the selfless love of giving one’s life for another…with the greatest example being that of the blood shed by one who hung upon a cross…for you and for me…
for there has never been any greater love….

St Valentine was a bishop, and is thought to have been a physician.
He was arrested for giving aid to Christian prisoners awaiting martyrdom, and
while imprisoned he converted the jailer by restoring sight to the jailer’s daughter.
St. Valentine refused to deny Christ before the Emperor Claudius in the year 280 and won the
jeweled crown of martyrdom by his faithful witness.
The feast of St Valentine was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I

(as seen on a Catholic prayer card)

Rejoice

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

(words taken from Mary’ prayer
Luke 1:46-56)

We wait, we wait….
Destiny waits in the hand of God, shaping the still unshapen.
Destiny waits in the hand of God, not in the hands of statesmen.
Come, happy December, who shall observe you, who shall preserve you?
Shall the Son of Man be born again in the litter of scorn?
For us, the poor, there is no action,
But only to wait and to witness.

T. S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral

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(a stand of ash trees / Gleandlough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

What better visual expression and example could exist in which the earth proclaims the majesty of the Creator, as they, the trees, teach us all what it means to rejoice, to delight, to be jubilant and exuberant…

The trees lift our eyes and hearts upward, as we also yearn to reach ever heavenward…drawing our sights, our minds, our senses upward while raising our spirits as we lift our voices in unison singing HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…as we wait expectantly for the birth of the Savior of all mankind….

The 3rd week of Advent is known as Gaudete –latin for the word Rejoice
Hear the words of the ancient hymn:

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!

Rejoice, Rejoice O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel!

As this 3rd Adventen week begins, which will actually begin on Thursday December 17th, with the admonition by Paul– “The Lord is near”

Did you hear that?
The Lord is near…..whoa…
As in His presence is in close proximity to our own, your own..
He is close and getting closer by the day, by the hour, by the minute…
Not a mere fable or sweet little story of something that happened long ago..
but rather the approaching of someone real who is soon to be in your presence just as you will be in His…

Does that not make you want to turn around…
to look both left and right as the presence of the Almighty is near and drawing ever closer than you could ever imagine?

Your heart quickens as you feel the reverberations of something monumental.
Your palms are wet, your knees are weak and your mouth is dry.
Something bigger, greater and more grand than you have ever known is soon to take place…. as you my friend can barely wait…

Get ready…
Be ready…
Be watching…
The time draws nigh…
He’s almost here…
are you ready?

Prepare our hearts
and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling
the joy and hope
which his presence
will bestow.

(taken from the Catholic prayers for Advent)

Nous pleurons avec vous France

All for one and one for all,
united we stand divided we fall.”

― Alexandre Dumas

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(Winged Victory, The Louvre / Julie Cook / 2011)

Dear France:
We weep freely for, as well as with, you–our dear friends
Our hearts are breaking
Our minds are reeling
Yet we stand together with you in our determination to live united in Liberté

God bless France
Vive la France

Very soon

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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(faded, frozen and spent crepe myrtle and loropetalum buds and blooms / Julie Cook / 2015

Somewhere ’round a corner, in the secret garden of my mind
I thought I caught of glimpse of things that now are hard to find.

What stands before me now is simply lifeless browns and greys
Yet soon this empty landscape will bask in sunny rays.

Lifelessness and emptiness will soon be long departed
As hopefulness and happiness are finally getting started. . .

Here’s to the secret garden within all our winter weary hearts and minds. . .

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(hyacinth and tiny garden buds / Julie Cook / 2015)

Snoopy , a gift of thirteen years in a young girl’s heart

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Anatole France

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(yours truly at the ripe ol age of 7, cica 1966, with Snoopy on Christmas morning)

Have you ever loved something so much, so very much, that you thought a part of you would disappear completely and forever when it was gone? Even wondering if you could ever carry on without it?

Have you ever held something warm and soft close, so close, that you could bury your face deep into its fur whispering your deepest secrets and sorrows– only to find soothing comfort and solace in the rhythmic cadence of a tender heart beat, the soft vibrations of a contented purr and of its gentle breathing?

Have you ever been afraid of the dark, alone at night, as a storm rages out the window, when suddenly there is the presence of another, now close and comforting? One that climbs up and under the covers, laying its head on the pillow next to your own. A presence providing strength. A gentle sound of breathing from another, offering the courage of two verses you as one?

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(the two inseparable friends one 12, the other 5)

Were you ever a young child who was fortunate enough to have a best friend?
One who loved you unconditionally?
One who was always around whether you were ready to play or not?
One who ventured forth with you into the adventures of misadventure only to be forced to retreat to the confines of the prison of ones room during the dreaded period of punishment?

Did you ever have a broken heart?
Only to pour that brokeness out to the small mass you held in your arms knowing somehow, someway it new exactly what was wrong and was there to help fix it?
As it listened to you, watching you intently, allowing itself to be held tight, almost too tightly without moving or wiggling free— all of this while the warm tears, your tears, fell on its back—just being there, soft, silent, brave and strong–simply there?

Did you ever find that after the two of you had grown up together, you were now the one who had to go away for long stretches at a time—only to return to a now slower older friend who still managed to summon the excited strength to be near you upon your return?
Did you notice how frail and grey it had become.
The all familiar and comforting breathing now labored, slower? What did the Vet say, cancer?
Yet the eyes, those eyes, that had watched you grow from 7 to 21, still focused on you, only on you as if you were the only thing that mattered?
Those eyes still deep and wanting nothing more than only you and your touch, your time?

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(a much younger Dad with a contented friend in a regular perch)

Did you ever get the call from a parent, while away at college, with the news, the very very hard sad news that this best friend, the one who had been sickly as of late, the one who had fought a long hard fight, had heroically slipped away that morning to a different dimension that was suddenly different from the one in which you were standing?

Did you find that upon your return home, to the place that now seemed hauntingly empty and silent, that is was harder and more difficult than ever imagined? Shadows of what once was, now playing with your imagination. Was that movement out of the corner of your eye?
Was that him?
There is an oddly familiar rustling sound over by the closet, what was that?
You lay down, now alone, on the bed that was once shared?
Such a heavy loneliness.

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(cookie at 21 and Snoopy at 13–1980)

Can a young heart ever heal when that best friend, that constant presence is no more? Can an older heart heal when the best friend of a different time slips away?
Swearing never to have any other.
Never another.
There can never be another.
I can’t.
It is too hard, too painful, too taxing.
The nothingness, that is now something which no one else can fill, it hurts terribly.
The empty void.
An aching heart.
It is simply too much.
The color of life now oddly black and white.
There is no comfort, for comfort itself is now gone.

Yet the heart is deep, deeper than logic can explain.
Love is as amazing as it is vast.
Love transcends time as well as the depths of sorrow.
Healing begins, slowly.
The love which transcends the sorrow now settles in as a gentle feeling of timeless comfort.
The love that was soft and warm, constant and pure, moves deeper. It may no longer be at the ready touch, but it is there, for all of your life yet to be.
It is now, he is now– he is forever and for always.
The tangible him is no more, but the transcended him is now forever–
forever in the recesses of a vast and deep heart–your heart, the same place he’s always been.
Still loving, always you.

Dare to find the right key

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(photograph: Julie Cook/ Savannah, GA 2013)
“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

A small gate sits in the middle of a large stone wall…who knew that a beautiful secret garden was hiding behind the stone wall? The gate is locked but all who pass by may peer in, if they stop long enough, they may catch a glimpse of the beautiful private garden. Are they too busy or too preoccupied to stop and glance? Do others know this garden exists or am I the only lucky one? The only one who stopped to look beyond the locked gate?

If beauty can hide behind a massive stone wall, can that same beauty not hide within a closed off human heart? Surly it can. It’s just a matter of finding the right key and getting inside. If you see the locked gate to a human heart, dare to be the finder of the right key— open wide the hearts around you to the potential beauty waiting inside. Dare to find the beauty that lies within the stone walls and locked gates to the hearts of the people you meet along your life’s journey. Who knows what joy you may discover……