the one difference between Heaven and Hell….only Love

“You have not chosen one another,
but I have chosen you for one another.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

“There is no safe investment.
To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact,
you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.
Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries;
avoid all entanglements;
lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change.
It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable,
irredeemable.
The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.
The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

all that remains is Silence (a timely repeat)

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

James Joyce

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

Mother Teresa


(Julie Cook / 2014)

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

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

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

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

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

The only thing which remains is the Silence,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Silence is no longer so silent.

the true test–examine

“Always be impartial and just in your deeds.
Put yourself into your neighbor’s place, and him in yours,
and then you will judge fairly..
Frequently, therefore, examine your heart,
whether it is so disposed towards your neighbor,
as you would have his disposed towards you, were you to change places;
for this is the true test.”

St. Francis de Sales, p. 226
An Excerpt From
Introduction to the Devout Life


(a wee hidden fungi in the woods / Julie Cook / 2021)

Ok, I think we can all admit we don’t like tests.
Be it the studying.
The nerves.
The wondering.
The sweating.
The fear of not measuring up…

The list is pretty endless.

And I suppose there is probably a slight percentage of folks out
there who don’t bat an eye at a test.
More power to you…all two of you! HA!

I was never a good test taker.
I never felt that the typical classroom test captured if I really knew
my material or not.
Math, well, that’s a whole different ball of wax…you either know it or you
don’t and I never did…

But we digress…

Today’s post was actually going to focus in on our disenfranchised police
departments and the woeful and shameful way in which they are being treated…
be it our Border Patrol, various State Patrol, city police or rural sheriffs…
their situations are all abysmal and we should be ashamed.

But I’m going to have to hold off on that thought today as several different
things came racing at me that I felt might need attention.
and if I think about it, it will also tie into how we are
treating our law enforcement as they are just another branch of the tree
of the trouble.

Today, especially today, I have kept reading, seeing and watching
something very troubling taking place between Americans…
and I bet we can all guess as to what that thing might just because
I know you’ve seen it too.

There is a growing and gapping hole in our hearts.

It is a widening gap in our lack of and ability to offer empathy.

Empathy, the dictionary tells us is:
‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.’

And what we are witnessing play out in real time right here and now
is how very little in the way of empathy we have—
especially in the way of offering any of it to our fellow human beings-

In particular to those who we do not see eye to eye.

Loathing enters in.
Despise and resentment each set a hard rock in the midst of the heart.

We no longer want to hear the side, thoughts or feelings of those
who we disagree with because we have already rendered them null and void.
They might as well just disappear into thin smoke,
banished away from our presence, our lives, our world…
all because we don’t like their color,
their politics,
their religion or lack thereof…
their views…
or their lack of vaccinations…

So instead we look at them sideways and glare…
we find ourselves wishing them ill or harm.
Some of us have even verbalized such to their faces.

“you need to die”
“you need to rot in hell”
“I hope you are raped”

It’s all actually quite anti-human, de-humanizing.

I see, with my own eyes, that there is a tremendous lack of care, patience
and or regard for our fellow man.

Be it the nurse or doctor who curses the patient who is deathly sick with
Covid, or something else, when they reveal that they had not been vaccinated.
Suddenly contempt and resentment quickly flows freely toward that sick,
and in many cases, dying individual.
Or that contempt is simply heaped upon the grieving surviving family.
Or upon anyone who has opted not to get vaccinated.
It is indeed the clean and unclean..
We are told to trust and follow the science but that science just
happens to be fluid because we are learning on the fly.

“they were foolish”
“they were selfish”
“they got what they deserved”
“they have caused great harm and wasted precious time and money”
“had they not been overweight, smoked, drank or…”
fill in the blank with any other poor habit that might have
contributed to them being sick and dying.

Then there are those who have lost loved ones and now publicly denounce all others
who are unvaccinated for, in their minds, they are the ones who caused
the death of this said loved one.

And maybe all that is true.

Maybe that pro-life person out there should be raped so they can
see first hand how decisions now must be made.

Maybe that person who choses not to be vaccinated should simply
get sick and die.

Maybe the young mother to 6 kids, all with different fathers
should be forced to live on the streets.

Maybe all white people want blacks to be slaves again–
so says Maxine Waters.

The list lengthens daily.

And so our society wrestles with its response.
We wrestle as individuals.

Overlook everything or we simply cherry pick the issues we find most egregious.

I know that I don’t agree with a lot of folks out there right now
about very much.

I can find many ills and reasons as to why I disagree or even get angry with
others and or their views.
Just as others do with me and my way of thinking or seeing.

Yet I still know that all of this is really all wrong, it’s flat out bad.

Maybe I can’t change your views or feelings and maybe you can’t change mine…
but I would not wish ill upon you or those you love.
I wasn’t wired that way and I don’t think you were either.

So that’s why I felt St. Francis de Sales quote, the one I offered at the
start of this post, was so moving and so on point.

We are to have empathy by walking in another’s shoes.
Yet, sadly, our culture is long past that notion.

I won’t walk in your shoes, let alone walk with you period…
that is our society’s current mindset.

Yet I know that empathy does not equate to buying in or giving into the sinful
or the evil—we are not to give such a free pass.
Accountability for our actions remains paramount.

Yet self examination must remain ever present.
Self examination…not hubris and pride, but real deep introspection…
It is most difficult to do because it begins to expose the cracks
in our own facade.
Yet it is what God requires of all men…
The being….to see, to look, to feel, to offer grace, to hold accountable…
but to do so by His rule of play and not our own.
He calls that Grace and He has given it freely…
I think we are to do so as well…

Would you pass the test?

I need to go study…

“I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that
I must hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man:
or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner….
I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction:
how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man?
But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom
I had been doing this all my life — namely myself.
However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed,
I went on loving myself.
There had never been the slightest difficulty about it.
In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man.
Just because I loved myself,
I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

zen to hell and maybe one day back

“I realize as never before that the Lord is gentle and merciful;
He did not send me this heavy cross until I could bear it.
If He had sent it before,
I am certain that it would have discouraged me…
I desire nothing at all now except to love until I die of love.
I am free, I am not afraid of anything,
not even of what I used to dread most of all…
a long illness which would make me a burden to the community.
I am perfectly content to go on suffering in body and soul for years,
if that would please God.
I am not in the least afraid of living for a long time;
I am ready to go on fighting.”

St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 122
An Excerpt From
The Story of a Soul


(a lovely look at The Highlands Botanical Garden’s trail at Lindenwood Lake /
Julie Cook / 2021)

Close your eyes.
Breathe out slowly.
Feel the weight lifting…
ahhh the zen of life….HA!

Today’s image is that of a zenful moment.

And yet, there is no such thing of zen and life–
the two are simply incompatible.

We stepped away from life for a few days, headed northward about 2 hours toward
the North Carolina mountains…taking a belated anniversary get-a-way.

38 years of wedded bliss (cough cough) needed to be celebrated.
And the particular inn that we wanted to visit only had a first available
room about 2 weeks after the fact, so we took what we could get…
and thus off we went.

This escape came at a time when our nation was / is at a such a juxtaposition.
And yes, there is just oh so much to say…
so much dismay, so much pain, so much sorrow, do much disappointment, so much anger…

I looked forward to tuning out for a couple of days.
But how do you tune out the pain you feel for 13 families who just
lost their children, spouses, siblings because of a president who
is nothing but inept?

If you can do so, you have no empathy in your heart.

I am absolutely seething under the surface.
Disgrace does not speak strongly enough.

How in the world could a president have no clue?

We, the average US citizen, all knew that an attack was imminent,
we all received the notice via our various news outlets.
Heck, I received a push notification.
If I got it— if I get it…how come the President didn’t and still doesn’t?

An attack was coming and yet he sat back and basically waited.

So it appears that the deaths of those remaining service members
closing out our stay in Afghanistan could have been readily and easily avoided.
Throw in the 90 billion dollars worth of American war equipment that has been abandoned–
all of which could have been readily evacuated…
had there been a cohesive plan….but there was no such plan.

A plan.

As a longtime educator, I totally get the concept of a cohesive plan.
I know all too well that how you finish is just as important as how you begin.
And yet sadly this administration does not comprehend such.

Stand down from a lengthy occupation…stand down from being in a place
much longer than we ever should have been…yes, by all means, stand down…
but to stand down without precision, order, or a well calculated plan…
well even we simpletons, call that pure negligence.

So off we went Saturday on our little trip all the while Afghanistan
swirled within both our thoughts… a sick heaviness lingered in the pit
of my stomach.
13 American service men and women were killed needlessly.
ABSOLUTLEY NEEDLESSLY!!

Add to this the hundreds of Americans, their Afghani partners, US babies,
and US military service dogs who are all now stuck behind enemy lines…
Yes– left stranded, Jen Psaki…as in stuck in harms way…no thanks to
our President.

Yep, we little people actually comprehend this notion…we call that stranded.
You can’t sugarcoat stranded.

And you can’t sugarcoat what will happen to those left behind.
Think torture, abuse and twisted delight in the demise of any
human or animal associated with the Americans…
but we don’t like to think about such…we don’t like the uncomfortable…
we don’t like that which makes us feel out of sorts.

Explain being out of sorts and uncomfortable to the families of those
Americans who are now hurting today over tremendous loss.

I will be the first to tell you that I agree with the fact that the
length of time we have spent in Afghanistan has been well past its prime.
Pulling out certainly needed to be, however, the manner in which we pulled out
should have been paramount.

Start strong, end strong.

Oh there’s just so much to chat about isn’t there?
However, today, time does not permit those lengthy sort of conversations.

We’ll look at masks, mandates and Covid dilemmas tomorrow.

And of course we’re coming up on 9-11…
so much to say, so little time.

Stand up my friends.
Time is not on our side.

always remember, end well

“See, my children, we must reflect that we have a soul to save,
and an eternity that awaits us.
The world, its riches, pleasures, and honors will pass away;
heaven and hell will never pass away.
Let us take care, then.
The saints did not all begin well; but they all ended well.
We have begun badly; let us end well,
and we shall go one day and meet them in heaven.”

St. John Vianney


(a lone iris / Julie Cook / 2021)

When a person sacrifices his life out of love for God,
by allowing God to send him on a given mission or by enduring martyrdom
or by allowing himself to be completely diverted from his own plans and intentions,
it is love that moves him to do so.
This love cannot be equated with the love that people have
for one another, which moves them to regular acts of love of neighbor.
Rather, this person is so gripped by the God who loves him
that his gift of self—however long or short God intends it to be—
bears in it the mark of eternity.

Adrienne von Speyr
from her book The Boundless God

Stand fast saints, a remnant remains!

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?
Or am I trying to please people?
If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10


(the lone thing remaining before the storm / Julie Cook / 2020)

Yesterday I offered a post about those who are not what they appear to be.
Think bin Laden, George Soros, and yes, even Bill Gates.
As in…looks and actions can be deceiving.

We must always be willing to question motives.

I had mentioned that I wanted to take a more Spiritual look at our current situation
in this ailing Nation of ours.

I want to do so by sharing something I read yesterday on a reblog that someone else had posted.

I confess, I love a good prophet—and mind you, we don’t hear nearly as much as we
should about modern-day prophets.

So imagine how excited I was when I read the following.

Oh, I might add that many would question or scoff such words of prophecy…
disputing such as fantasy or fairytale.
But when someone offers a prophecy and it is held accountable to God’s word…
well, I am all ears…

So please read and ponder…

The real Supreme Court.

Posted by appolus on September 20, 2020

So this is not to be construed as a political post and I will not indulge anyone
in a back and forth over one political party or another.
The death of RBG and the timing of it is high octane fuel on an already burning inferno.
This country was already being torn apart by division and
just when you think it cannot get worse, then it does.

A country under judgment looks something like this.
The cries of the innocents shout out from a blood-soaked land.
The fall out from this death will expose completely the fault lines and the hypocrisies
on both sides of the political divide.
Make no mistake, the supernatural forces of Moloch will rage.
Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.
The Lord gave me a word from Lamentations chapter four last May.
One of the most serious words He has ever given me, you can read it below.
The issue in Lamentations was the slaughter of the children by the mothers.
For years they had worshiped Moloch and when their backs were to the wall
and they were under siege, the cooked and ate their own children.

What low state must a people arrive at when they will rejoice at their
ability to murder their own children? The world is locked down in a pandemic,
fear stalks the streets, violence, and divisions of people are at the breaking point.
Saints, God is speaking. Everything that can be shaken is being shaken.
Draw close to your Lord and know that He is the Master of your soul
and no matter what you see unfold, He is in charge.

When the Hebrew children defied the powers that be and declared that no matter what,
they would never bow down to the gods of this world, all hell broke loose and in its fury
the fires of destruction were intensified seven times.
We are entering into that time, the fires of hell’s fury is just about to be intensified.
We must be willing to stand and make the same declaration as the Hebrew children.
Even if we die in the fires we shall never bow down to the gods of this world.
Stand fast saints.

The Lord gave me this word, a hard word to be sure.
My only charge is to deliver it.
In Lamentations chapter four we see a very different Jerusalem.
That once tremendous city, shining like gold above all other cities,
is now tarnished and under siege.
It is slowly starving and its once-proud stones that made up the temple now lay scattered
in the streets like common rubble.
Zion was about to fall.
Impregnable Zion, on the verge of utter ruin.
They were surrounded by the world outside in a siege that would only end in its utter ruin.
And in the greatest horror of all, the women would cook and eat their own children.
There is no lower state in all the world.
This was worse than Sodom for Sodom fell in one day,
there would be no such luxury for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
The symbols of their God lay ruined and they were about to be devoured by the world.
Matthew Henry asks this question of the women in Jerusalem who cooked and ate their own children.
This act, was it “the power of necessity, or the power of iniquity.
” Such a powerful question, ponder on it for a moment reader.
In a secular sense America was the shining light for the nations.
It shone like gold in comparison to old Europe that had grown tired and dim.
It took the world’s huddled masses. It gave hope to people from all around the world,
like a city set on a hill, it drew them to herself.
In two word wars she fought and in the second war she saved civilization itself
and the name of God was never far from the lips of her citizens.
Now look at America if you dare. Her institutions have been corrupted.
Over ninety percent of all the porn in the world spew forth from her bowels.
Her merchants and statesmen sold her out to the highest bidders and she became
the whore of the world whereby many became rich by her.
Yet her greatest iniquity lay with her mothers.
Now the question Matthew Henry raised about the mothers of Jerusalem.
Was their horrendous act born out of necessity or iniquity?
Can I argue that a righteous woman would never cook and eat her own child.
Only the hardest iniquitous hearts would ever contemplate such an act never-mind carry it out.
I asked a question recently, a rhetorical one.
What is more horrendous, to slaughter an infant in the gas chambers or in their mother’s womb?
What human being would allow their wombs to be so violated and their child to be so mutilated?
A woman, a generation, ripe for judgment.
Ripe to be surrounded by the world and put under siege.
Ripe to have the stones of their temples torn down and scattered in the streets
like rubble only fit to be buried.
Sixty-five million babies slaughtered and dedicated to the world.
A world that would consume them, darken them, and ultimately destroy them.
Zion was impregnable, yet it fell. America the proud, you will fall.
Not like Sodom, not like Gomoragh but you will slowly starve to death.
Most definitely spiritually, but perhaps even physically.
In the history of the world, no nation has sinned to this extent.
God has sent His warnings. The towers fell and the cry was not one of repentance,
but “we will rebuild.”
The whole world has come to a standstill and the cry is not one of repentance.
From their ministers, it is “soon it will be business as usual for we have not missed a beat.”
The real tragedy we are facing right now in Christendom is a blindness to the need for repentance.
The virus that causes this blindness is willful ignorance.
They choose not to see. Not only no repentance,
but a doubling down on wickedness, and most of the world cheers,
or peeks out from behind the curtain and says nothing.
Our silence is our guilt. The cheers from the world we should expect,
the silence from Christendom is a deafening roar.
We stay behind our curtains, our walls, as the world spirals downwards.
Our highest ambition is to get back to “normal.” God help us

So saints, if you abide in such a place, can you stay there?

It is time for the saints of God to step out of the boat, step into the storm,
lift your eyes and fix them on Jesus, our soon coming King.
Where will He find you when He comes?
Behind the walls?
Hanging onto the boat for dear life?
Shall you not walk upon the water?
It is there that you shall find Him,
we must go to where He is and leave behind where He is not.

Frank Mceleny

The real Supreme Court.

“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference.
And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits.
Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe

it isn’t easy, nor is it ever fair…

“The demand for equality has two sources; one of them is among the noblest,
the other is the basest, of human emotions. The noble source is the desire for fair play.
But the other source is the hatred of superiority.
At the present moment it would be very unrealistic to overlook the importance of the latter.”

C.S. Lewis


(a roped off area where a sea turtle has laid her eggs / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)

Life is hard and it is certainly not always ever fair…

And yet we humans seem to be trying oh so hard to keep things as equitable, even, fair,
as well as level, as far as our conscious demands…

That is until we are stymied…

Stymied not so much by our fellow man or menacing mob, but rather stymied by
the likes of someone much more powerful…that being Mother Nature.

We can scream at one another about fairness, justice, injustice, and unfairness all we want.
We can make other men kneel at our sword and cower to our words and demands.
We can threaten, harass, harangue, and even inflict harm all in the name of making
others bend to our will for a purported notion of justice or fairness.

Yet in the end, it really isn’t any of us who will have the final say.

We had made plans long ago to come down to the Gulf this week…
our plans were long before a string of storms began advancing.
But such is any planned trip to a beach during this time of year.

The Gulf’s latest intruder is named Sally.

Unfortunately, I left my transfer cable for my camera at home so all of my
pictures from my camera will have to wait to be uploaded onto my computer when I get home…
I did, however, manage to get a few pictures using my phone.

This is the time of year when the sea turtles come to shore in order to lay their eggs.

There are beach volunteers who will mark and rope off the areas where a turtle nest
is situated.
Sea turtles, their nests, eggs, as well as hatchlings, are all protected.

Walking the shoreline yesterday evening, only hours before the storm would advance
as it has today causing massive erosion, we saw several roped-off nesting sites.
Some of the sites were far enough away from the battering surf but there was one
directly in the surf.

Poor turtle, I thought, her hard efforts, her nest, her offspring,
will most likely be in vain.

Had the weather been calm, the nesting site would probably have faired well but
I knew given the storm, there would be no site remaining the following day.

This was what we found this morning—a single staub jutting out of the surf
where yesterday there were four well marked and roped staubs.

And as we walked later in the day, as the gulls and plovers roamed what sand
was not underwater, we found a lone egg.
Cracked and dented.

(a lone turtle egg / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so as I ponder Mother Nature…her fickled ways with both life and death–
my prayers are with our neighbors to the West…those who are living in the midst of
hell on earth as wildfires ravage Oregon, Washington, and California—
just as I think and pray for yet another Gulf area that will be hit by yet another hurricane.

We may think we can bend man, or woman, to make him or her do as we please…
but in the end, it will be Mother Nature,
her and her alone, who will always have the final decisive say.

And yet…in actuality,
it just might be what we do in the wake of her decisions that will make the more
lasting difference on humanity…be that for good or be that for bad.

She plays her hand and then we must respond.

Maybe she just wants to divert our attention from ourselves for just a brief respite.

By my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth, mankind,
and the animals that are on the face of the earth, and I give it to whomever I see fit.

Jeremiah 27:5

is it really a good idea…is it in the best interest of humanity??

“I love mankind, he said, “but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole,
the less I love man in particular.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

2020 is proving to be the year that we must never mention again.

You know…as in the name that must not be spoken…
This year needs to hurry up and get put in the books— as in done!

Wishing our lives away?
Probably.

So here’s a little scenario, followed with a question.

Have you or anyone you’ve ever loved or known ever passed through that tumultuous
phase of life known as menopause?

You know…that little time in a woman’s life when her body shifts gears, things shrivel up,
fertility goes out the window and hell comes rushing in.

I can readily recall the one day that my happy-go-lucky aunt suddenly broke
down in a massive fit of tears while standing in the middle of my den wailing over
her young granddaughter and our young son having gotten into
a minor fuss over the notion of sharing–as most little kids do.

I thought she’d lost her mind until it dawned on me…
her bizarre wealth of emotion came from one place and one place only…
the dreaded “change.”

So back about 26 years ago when I was 35, I had to have a complete hysterectomy…
due to some serious health issues.

At the time, our son was in the second grade.
I was a little bummed that he would be relegated to being an only child but I
also knew the surgery was imperative.

Following surgery, when I was still in recovery, the first hot flash hit.
That’s how fast things happen minus working parts.

So enters HRT—hormone replacement therapy.
HRT was implemented because the prewired, naturally produced, hormones
were removed and taken away…hence the need for a little extra help.

So at age 35, I began taking Premarin.
We played with the doses for a while, until the correct balance was achieved.

And thus began a near 26-year love-hate relationship.

There was, however, that one year when I decided enough was enough and I needed
to purge myself from all that which was non-natural—
and that year became known, by not only myself but by those around me,
as the year from hell…
but I digress.

So last week, given my most recent blood work, my doctor said NO MORE ESTROGEN, ASAP…
as in aka, no more hormones…period, end of sentence.

So is this really the wisest thing to do given the current state of affairs
in our world?

Pandemics.
National civil unrest
The demise of Democracy
A contentious year of an election.
and now…no hormones????

It seems that blood clots have become a factor…thus, it is time.

“Cut the current pills in half for two weeks, then go every other day…
then stop”…so she says.

So… after one day…
the hot flashes revved up, the sleepless nights are now rampant
and the ill mood…well…I think if I go to Portland, the President
will not need to send in the National Gaurd…
cause I’ve got this.

A near 61-year-old woman now without her hormones is truly a force to be reckoned with.

Watch out Antifa, I’m coming for you…

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

A prophetic voice… “despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness”

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging
everything on earth-—imperfect man, who is never free of pride,
self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects.
We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not
been noticed at the beginning of the journey.
On the way from the Renaissance to our days, we have enriched our
experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity
which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


(image courtesy the web)

In 1970 Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature.
At the time, the Soviet State viewed Solzhenitsyn and his writings as both controversial and
threatening to the Communist State.
Thus Solzhenitsyn was prohibited from leaving the country in order to receive his award.

It wasn’t until four years later in 1974, after he was expelled from the USSR for treason,
only to find a new life in the United States, that Solzhenitsyn finally officially received
his award in person.

At the time the Swedish Academy noted that it was due to ‘the “ethical force” with which
he pursued the traditions of the Russian people,

which helped to lead the jury to bestow such an honor upon the Russian writer.

Even today, more than 100 years following Solzhenitsyn’s birth, he remains rather
an enigmatic personality.
In fact, Solzhenitsyn continues to be a controversial figure in both modern-day Russia along
with her alter ego the former Soviet Republic, as well as in the democratic West—
as he was vocally critical of both governing ideologies.

Yet I’ve often written about the importance of Solzhenitsyn and his prophetic words which remain
brilliantly relevant for those of us traversing this precarious 21st century.

In 1978 Solzhenitsyn had been invited to deliver the commencement speech at Harvard.

According to the Solzhenitsyn Center, “Solzhenitsyn’s June 8, 1978,
commencement address at Harvard was the most controversial and commented-upon
public speech he delivered during his twenty-year exile in the West,
for he critiqued the spiritual crisis of both East and West.

Solzhenitsyn is not without controversy as he was critical of both East and West…
and perhaps more so of the West as he saw in the West wasted hope.

But far from being inspired by hostility to the West,
Solzhenitsyn refuses to break faith with a civilization still capable of
drawing intellectual and spiritual sustenance from
“the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their rich reserves of mercy
and sacrifice.

Dialetika.org adds that “in that speech,
he criticizes the two central contending systems during the Cold War:
Communism and Western Capitalism.
His argument centers on what he calls “despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.”
The problem, according to Solzhenitsyn, lies in the predominance of these forces
at the base of all modern societies.

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging everything on earth —
imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity,
and dozens of other defects.
We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed
at the beginning of the journey.
On the way from the Renaissance to our days, we have enriched our experience,
but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain
our passions and our irresponsibility.”

If anyone knows the evils of Socialism, Communism, regimes run by the oh-so
sacred ‘state’, and a life lived in a labor death camp for voicing free-thinking and thought,
it is Solzhenitsyn.

In his award-winning book The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn’s non-fictional
and auto-biographical investigation into the survival of life inside a gulag,
a Soviet forced labor camp,
Peruvian Nobel laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa noted that through this book,
Solzhenitsyn is “the man who described hell to us.”

Solzhenitsyn’s words remain as a polestar…acting as both a warning and a guide—
Words that continue to warn and remind us about what it means for mankind to lose
his/ her humanness. Words that warn about the loss of morality.
Words that warn about man becoming his own god while both forgoing and failing to yield
to a power greater than his own.

It would behoove this Nation of ours to recall the words of Solzhenitsyn.
His observations and warnings over our own arrogance and smugness especially
as we find ourselves moving into the final steps towards our November election.

With a swarth of Democratic contenders dangerously courting and even embracing
all things Socialism, Americans must never forget the suffering of those who
lived through the nightmares produced by previous nations who also
courted and embraced Socialism.

Should we even wonder why a senator and his wife would opt for a honeymoon in the
USSR? Not Russia but Communist Soviet Union long before its fall?

Should we wonder if a young congresswoman really understands the concept between
democracy vs socialism and how each system effectively or ineffectively governs when
she says things like…“When we talk about the word ‘socialism,’
I think what it really means is just democratic participation in our economic dignity
and our economic, social, and racial dignity.
It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over
their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day.

Should we be concerned when a US congresswoman questions that radical Isalm
is to blame for the attacks on 9/11 and simply thinks that “some people did
some things”?

Should we wonder when certain candidates promise to pay for everyone to go to college
while forgiving all existing student loans with money that simply doesn’t exist?

What when homelessness runs amuck? What of major US cities becoming dens for
crime and blatant drug abuse and where streets are considered unsafe both night and day?

What of free healthcare for all—who actually pays for free?

The list goes on and on…

So before you consider a dangerous dance with Green New Deals and the
new Socialistic state…you might want to recall the wisdom of those who actually
lived in, under and through such notions and saw them for what they really are
both dangerous and eventually destructive…

You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them.
But when you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power —
he’s free again.