Nefarious and sinister

“No sign, so far, of anything sinister—but I live in hope.”
Agatha Christie

Firstly, you must remember that I am from the generation that was before this
over-zealous addiction with technology was a thing…
From a time before cell phones, before DVD’s, before standard air conditioning,
before videos before virtual reality….

Television, with only the standard 3 major networks, broadcast in black and white,
was not a 24/7 happening thing.
Who doesn’t remember the good ol buzzing of the test pattern waiting for the time
in which the day was to crank back up?

I was well into my teaching career when schools began introducing computers
to their teachers.
A hulking behemoth of a thing that had no such thing as a connection to a
world wide web or wifi capability…but rather ran a single electronic grade book system….of which was only as good as the teachers trying input the
averages and grades…

So when it came time for our son to actually need his first computer,
in say maybe his 9th or 10th grade year in high school,
he was sold on needing an Apple.

My dad was always the techie guru of the family…
of which probably had something to do with Dad having been an engineer all his life.
For he was always cutting edge with technology.

When I was young we were the first on our street to get a color television,
the first to move from HiFi to stereo and the first to get a cell phone.
Granted it was basically a plug-in phone in a bag that looked more like a
traditional phone stuck in a black pocketbook…
but it was cutting edge none the less.

When he bought mother her first microwave, a giant monstrosity that took up an
entire kitchen counter, he made us all leave the room when it was on lest we be
radiated…yet it was ok to eat the radiated food…hummm.

So when it came time for folks to get home computers, dad was right there
in the mix…and this must have been where our son got his proclivity for
technology.

Of course it was now the 21st century…
Apple had come a long way from the early
days of the Macintosh…
Apple now presented a clean futuristic take on technology.
They were slick and if you were slick, Apple was what the slick were craving.

So naturally our son eventually sold me on needing an Apple as well…
despite my school still using traditional PCs in the classroom.
“Apples are easier to use and they don’t get viruses mother” he would
frustratingly remind me whenever something went awry at school…
“Plus they’re for the more creative” this being a push to his
art teacher mother.

And so it is…
I’ve been through one large Apple desktop and two iMac lap tops…not to mention
and array of iPhones and one iPad…

And then it happened.

There I was last night having to update my adobe acrobat.
My phone happened to be ringing at the same time.

Answering the phone while trying to update…
as in multitasking has always been an area in which I have always excelled…
Yet suddenly something crazy and terribly wrong had come up on my screen as there
was now a voice coming from my computer with some dude talking to me about virus
detection while my computer had downloaded not adobe acrobat but something else
entirely, something called Safe Finder—
with this actually becoming my new home page.
Safe it was not….

WHAT????? I hear a panicked voice wailing,
realizing the voice was mine.

So I quickly hung up the phone and tried doing everything a limited minded
57 year old knows to do.
I cut my computer off and on.

When some semblance of clarity finally returned to my distraught brain,
I tried uninstalling the blasted thing but it wouldn’t uninstall.

Shades of Equifax now ran through my brain as I heard the Discover Card commercial
Russian sales associate “Peggy” mocking me from somewhere deep in Siberia…
I now believed everything I held dear or what was of importance to my existence as
a humanbeing had just been dumped on that nefarious Dark Web.

I actually looked up “what is the dark web”
And just when you thought the internet was not dark enough,
it gets even darker.

The links that came up were frighting at best.
With the lead link claiming to be able to step by step anyone into the dark web
within 15 minutes allowing you to remain anonymous.
I felt as if it was assuring me that it could happily step by step me
smack dab into the middle of Hell all within 15 minutes…
somehow I don’t think one remains anonymous in Hell.

Naturally I didn’t click on any links because I just wanted to see if it was
really real.
And no I do not need to see if Hell is real…
I’ve already figured that one out.

So I now had a sick feeling in my stomach…a kind of scared to death feeling of
instant doom.

I worked my way into reaching Apple in order to make an appointment at one the
Atlanta stores for the following day but discovered there were no appointments
until Saturday at 5:15.
“Are you freaking kidding me?????”
Again the panicked voice, which was mine, was heard wailing.

By now my husband was home.
I rapidly fired off the retelling of my troubles as he was wondering why
supper was only half way cooked.
“Maybe you should just go buy another one?”
“No” I practically snapped, “this one is only two years old and a new one
would cost an arm and a leg.”
All the while images of viruses being sent out to everyone I knew, or worse,
my identity was now multiplying in places like North Korea, Russia, China….
all dark shadows playing out in my now overstimulated imagination.

After supper I called Apple and left my number for a “miracle worker”
to call me back.
An almost immediately my phone rang with said Apple miracle worker.

I explained my tale of woe.
We ‘share screened’…
(which is scary in itself as we where both in my computer at the same time)
while he walked me through the malware issue.
He found the culprit embedded on my hard drive…hidden well deep within
the labyrinth of the the computer.

We got it, got rid of it and added a Malware program to my computer to
detect and deal with any further issues.

So naturally with all this virus verses no virus business…
along with the hackers, identity theft, and the sinister Dark Web plaguing
my life, I got to thinking….

We live in a world of utterly false protection.
If you think otherwise, it won’t be long until this world makes a believer out of
you as well.

We have been lulled into believing that everything from our identity,
to our credit history to our medical records, to our very safety as an American
are all perfectly safe…
Yet with the big credit companies like Equifax recently being attacked…
While millions of medical records were hacked at Anthem in 2015, with even
the Pentagon being hacked, no one should feel safe.

While credit information is easily stollen at gas stations, restaurants and
even while innocently and mindlessly shopping…
with it all being sold to the highest bidder.

Life is no longer simple nor is it safe.

So while we now work diligently to be ever vigilant protecting what is ours
while living in a world of growing cyber darkness…
we must be equally, if not more so, mindful that our very souls are
just as vulnerable as our credit or our medical records or even our identity ….
for there is indeed a darkness that longs for such…

And should you disagree—there are steps available for taking you just as dark as
you dare go…I think they call that hell…..

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent,
who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—
he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the
authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers
has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word
of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you,
O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath,
because he knows that his time is short!”

Revelation 12:9-12

thinking good

“Help Other People By Thinking Good About Them”
Elder Thaddeus

Thinking good.
Sounds easy enough.
Yet is it?

Elder Thaddeus reminds us how much the world can effect those efforts of trying to
think “good”….turning those best efforts upside down as the world works
to cloud all thoughts of goodness, kindness, benevolence and graciousness.

Just turn on the news as any and all thoughts of anything good quickly dissipate.

“A person who is entrapped in the vicious cycle of chaotic thoughts,
in the atmosphere of hades, or has only so much as touched it, feels the torments of hell.
For example, we read the newspapers or take a walk in the streets,
and afterwards we suddenly feel that something is not quite right in our souls;
we feel an atmosphere; we feel sadness.
That is because by reading all sorts of things, our mind becomes distracted and the
atmosphere of hades has free access to our minds.”

Thaddeus (born Tomislav Štrbulović) of Vitovnica, was both a Serbian and Orthodox monk.
Born in 1914 to humble working class parents, Tomislav was a sickly child who was not
expected to live much past the age of 15.
It was shortly after doctors made their grim prognosis of his supposed short earthly life,
that Tomislav entered an Orthodox monastery.
In 1935 Tomislav made his final vows and became known as Fr Thaddeus.

Thaddeus served dutifully the spiritual needs of the Serbian faithful as heirmonk,
or what is known as both priest and monk during the 1930’s and 40’s.
As a priest Thaddeus would conduct services, administer communion, hear confessions, etc.
As a monk, he would be more prone to the life of a hermit, a life of solitude and prayer
within a monastery.

During WWII the Serbs suffered grievously at the hands of both the Nazi regime as well as
the Ustaše, otherwise known as the Croatian Revolutionary Regime—
a fascist National Terrorist organization which became a puppet state of Nazi Germany
during WWII.

The Ustaše was responsible for the heinous barbaric treatment and the mass murders of
hundreds of thousands of Jews, ethnic Serbs, Romas and all those living in Yugoslavia
who were not considered “ethically pure.”

It is estimated that upwards of 500,000 Serbs and Croats living within the borders of
Yugoslavia, those in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, were systematically murdered in what
became known as the Serbian Genocide.
With the infamous Jasenovac Concentration Camp being known as the Auschwitz of the Balkans.

Fr Thaddeus was arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo for refusing to stop
practicing his faith and for refusing to cease administering his office of priest.

Following the war and his eventual release,
Fr Thaddeus became the hegumen, or acting abbot, of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Belgrade.
He served at the church and several monasteries in and around Belgrade until his death in 2003.

He is both revered and respected by Serbs, Croats and Bosnians alike and many
Muslims who converted to Christianity hold Elder Thaddeus in special high esteem.

Elder Thaddeus is “credited for proposing the idea that our thoughts determine the
outcome of our lives.”

(Wikipedia)

I am always amazed by the wisdom of those who have suffered so grievously at the
hands of monsters…
those who have witnessed unspeakable horrors and yet have found the resolve and
eventually the peace to not only forgive and pardon those offenders,
but who actually go forward, teaching and reminding the rest of us what it is
that we must do in order to save not only ourselves but our sick and ailing world….

Elder Thaddeus is one such individual…

“We can keep guard over the whole world by keeping guard over the
atmosphere of heaven within us,
for if we lose the Kingdom of Heaven, we will save neither ourselves nor others.
He who has the Kingdom of God in himself will imperceptibly pass it on to others.
People will be attracted by the peace and warmth in us;
they will want to be near us, and the atmosphere of heaven will gradually pass on to them.
It is not even necessary to speak to people about this.
The atmosphere of heaven will radiate from us even when we keep silence or talk about
ordinary things.
It will radiate from us even though we may not be aware of it.”

Elder Thaddeus

swimming elephants

“In the divine Scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps;
shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim.”

― John Owen

baby-elephant-swimming-05-632x397

Okay, so I love elephants…
and we already know I love sheep…so what a great picture…
and what an even better quote, right?

For there are indeed shallows and there are deeps..

And currently I’m in the deeps…

This commuting business 7 days a week now, is well, taking it’s toll,
just as is the vigil of watching someone you love…slowly die…

So I’m going to keep this short and sweet as it is now late and I am very tired…

Twice this week, throughout my travels, I have seen the same words in two very different places.
And I’ve lived long enough to know that if you see something repeatedly,
there just may be a reason.

“Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal”

What a blessed reminder…that there is nothing here that cannot be overcome…
nothing here that can be suffered or endured that Heaven cannot outwit, outrun or
overcome….

Thank God!!!

“and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades
will not overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be
bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:18-19

revolving

“A man who overindulges lives in a dream. He becomes conceited.
He thinks the whole world revolves around him; and it usually does.”

W. C. Fields

“There are ultimately only two possible adjustments to life;
one is to suit our lives to principles; the other is to suit principles to our lives.
If we do not live as we think, we soon begin to think as we live.
The method of adjusting moral principles to the way men live is
just a perversion of the order of things.”

Fulton J. Sheen

sun_planets
(image courtesy the web)

The gravitational pull is strong.
Yet science purports that it is not actually a force…

“Gravity is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity
(proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915) which describes gravity not as a force,
but as a consequence of the curvature of spacetime caused by
the uneven distribution of mass/energy.
The most extreme example of this curvature of spacetime is a black hole,
from which nothing can escape once past its event horizon, not even light.[1]

Wikipedia

Yet it is by this most assumed force, or consequence,
that we are grounded and anchored to our planet.
For without such a force, or consequence as it were,
there would be nothing to keep us in place….
As we and everything else would be floating around willy nilly,
with nothing solid underneath our feet.

And even our very planet, which holds us each in place,
is locked in its own gravitational orbit…
continually circling around and around a central orb.
Held in the same track and pattern day in and day out, year in and year out…
for nary the slightest deviation would spell complete and utter devastation.

And thus within this solar continuum, man finds himself orbiting…
yet not as a part of the obvious, as atop his own planet…
but orbiting rather, on his very own.
Orbiting and revolving around not so much a sun,
but rather his own sense of self.

Yet what man, in his endless self revolving orbit, has failed to grasp
is that the unevenness of self absorption will lead to an extreme curvature
of awareness,
a deeply flawed and skewed awareness,
thus leading to the formation of a gaping black hole…
A relentless and all consuming blackness resulting in the unequal distribution of
man’s self orbit filled by both ego and pride.
A black hole that will consume man, obliterating his very life’s orbit,
A black hole that will eventually not even permit man’s light of hope to escape…
because by that time, it will be all too late…

the resulting hell of the egocentric…

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable,
slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless,
swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Avoid such people

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Shroud

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”
― Og Mandino

DSC00102
(A lone crow perches upon the pine in the heavy fog / Julie Cook / 2015)

A shrouded veil of monotone mist envelopes the Earth’s weary frame
As a grey wet cold penetrates down to fragile old bones.
Gone is the vision once so bright and clear
as tired old eyes now strain to see through opaque clouds.

Lifelessness, anointed and wrapped in flaxen linen,
is placed in the blackened emptiness of nothingness
While silence crushes down upon the living
A vacuum sucks away the very breath of Life
as the Earth spirals out of control.

A lone crow acts as sentinel
to the drama between Heaven and Hell
When the battle ensues for humanity’s soul,
Rain begins to fall.

As the fog rolls in, heavy and thick,
Figures eerily shift in the limited light
Specters of those who once were now drift across the land
The ground shakes and the rock splits
As a single ancient sheet is seen billowing in the wind.

It’s hell getting old

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

DSCN7532 2
(Watercolor Beach, Florida, The Gulf of Mexico on a fine September morning / Julie Cook / 2014)

This is not a tale about the proverbial wisdom which comes with age.
This is not a tale about aging parents (or maybe it is).
This is not a tale about the endurance of a family’s legacy with the addition of adorable grandchildren.
This is not a tale about the new 30 being 50 (which is so stupid right?)
This is a tale about you and me and simply put, about the triumphs and agonizing defeats
of aging. . .

Once upon a time, somewhere around the age of 50, life suddenly became less clear. No, I’m not talking metaphysically, I’m talking literally, as in things are literally out of focus.
A trip to the eye doctor is scheduled.

The good news is that you haven’t contracted some terrible disease nor or you going blind. . .
well not exactly going blind. You’ve simply gotten older and your vision is well, not what it use to be.

Thousands of dollars later you walk out with new glasses or contacts, which are suddenly making you feel as though you now live on a boat which has just set sail on a storm ridden sea. Up and down and all around you swivel your head like a bobble head, desperately searching for that tiny little speak of clarity and focus. . . Yet you must constantly remind yourself that the new glasses are “fly” and you are looking designer chic, albeit nauseated and still blind and of course thousands of dollars in the poor house.

Also at this magic age of 50, your doctor informs you that it is time for a colonoscopy.
I really don’t want to go into what all that entails as this venue is family friendly but if you must know, I am still having nightmares from the one I had 3 years ago–swearing I’d never do that again. . .of which I’ve now done twice. The only good thing to come from such an experience, other than being told you’re not dying nor that there’s anything detected, by observation, to be wrong with the workings of the plumbing, was that I lost 6 pounds while enduring the dreaded “prep”

Let’s move on.

By the age of 50, if you’re a female, you will most likely find yourself popping pills on a daily basis.
Not exactly mommy’s little helpers but more like the pills derived from the urine of a horse.
Great.
The dreaded yet welcomed hormone replacement therapy pills.
Pills to keep you calm.
Pills to keep you cool.
Pills to keep you collected.

It is usually obvious, to the casual observer, as to the women who are not popping said pills but certainly need to be popping said pills. They are the women who break out in a sweat in the dead of winter, shedding all forms of clothing, screaming at any and all as if everyone is an idiot for having the heat on, as it is only 25 degrees outside–this as they cut on the AC, turning it down to that of a meat locker all the while screaming at any and all for merely making the comment that no one is hot.

They are the women who you find crying hysterically because they just looked at a picture of their now grown children when they were but sweet tiny babes. . . but who, in the blink of an eye, are now screaming incessantly at said now grown children who made the ill fated decision to pop in for an unannounced visit. . .that they should have called first because the house is a mess.
Go figure.

Also sadly around the age of 50 one’s mind is not as sharp as it once was.
You find yourself forgetting that you’re in the process of cooking supper.
You seem to have forgotten that you had put the skillet on the stove and that you are suppose to be waiting for it to heat up.
You seem to have forgotten that you had added the olive oil ready to sauté, let’s say, a nice piece of fish.
Your phone rings.
You answer.
You chat.
You suddenly smell something burning.
You now remember the skillet and the olive oil.
There is a small fire.
No one is seriously injured and the kitchen can be repainted.
Enough said.

Also around the age of 50, there is the issue of your ears and of your hearing.
That once taken for granted clarity of the sweet whispered secrets and the singing of birds–both of which are sadly no longer special simply because you no longer hear them.
In fact you find yourself wondering why the birds no longer sing.
You decide it must be due to global warming.

This is when you decide its time to make the appointment with an audiologist.

You have that little hearing test.
“Raise your hand when you hear the beep.”
You never raise your hand.
You now leave the office with thousands of dollars worth of two little things you’re to poke in your ears to help you now hear.
The birds actually still sing.
Good.

Let’s create a little scenario to highlight a few of these aging problems shall we, in order to help put all of this observation business into perspective.

Let’s say that it’s your anniversary.
And since you are old, it’s an anniversary of significant number because at this stage of the game, they are all of significant number.
Your spouse offers to take you to the beach for a long weekend.
Ooooooo.
This is a gracious offer because your spouse hates the beach but knows you love the beach.
However, he does really likes to eat.
The beach has really good food.
Really, really good food.
It’s a win win.

As your spouse begins to feel badly that you are sitting alone down on the beach under a little umbrella surrounded by couples and families who are all sitting under their own little umbrellas, as he’s inside in the nice air-conditioning watching football. He decides it would be a nice gesture to brave the 97 degree heat and the irritating sand to come sit with you for, say, 30 minutes or until he feels he’s catching a sunburn. How this is, when he is wearing a tee shirt, shorts, shoes, a hat, sunglasses and has wrapped a towel around his legs lest the sun hits them, is beyond your soul—yet you’re just happy for the company.

The ocean looks inviting.
It’s 97 degrees.
Sweat begins to form on the brow.
The waves look big and fun.
Something about the ocean and waves brings out the inner child in said spouse.
Your spouse begins to take off his hat, his shoes, his glasses.
He empties his pockets of keys, wallet, etc.
You ask what he’s doing as you have decided he has been struck by heat stroke.
“I’m going to get in the water with you for just a minute”
“Really?!” you hear yourself squeal with excitement.
You both venture into the water.
Boy the current is really strong.
The waves are really big. . . this as they crash over your head, knocking you off your feet.
You nervously look around for sharks.
Your spouse dives under the water.
He seems to be having fun.
Really, really lots of fun.
He never seems to have fun.
This makes you a little nervous.
Suddenly you see a little gray thingie falling from his left ear.
“YOUR HEARING AID. . .” you hear the words coming from somewhere far away as if the world has suddenly gone into slow motion.
BAM
Another towering wave crashes over you both.
You now hear cursing.
Very bad words being echoed out over the sound of a frenzied ocean.
He remembers to take off his glasses but can’t remember the most expensive thing on him?!
Frantically you search the maddening swell for the lost hearing aid as your spouse narrowly catches the other hearing aid falling from his opposite ear.
You swim around desperately searching for a small grey hearing aid in a vast swirling churning sea.
Your spouse is now back up under the umbrella, throwing things.
The woman sitting under the neighboring umbrella looks nervous.
You scamper out of the water and begin frantically walking down the beach, at water’s edge, praying to see the hearing aid washing up on shore.
You ask the nice ladies sitting in the surf to be on the look out for a hearing aid.
The proverbial needle in the haystack is now your reality.
You sadly relinquish the search and head back to the umbrella.
Visions of a ruined anniversary trip swirl through your head.
Tears now are stinging your eyes.
Literally thousands of dollars are now floating out to sea in a tiny grey hearing aid.
You pack your things back into your beach tote in order to go back inside.
Your spouse, now calmer, tries to reassure you he’s not upset.
You feel terrible and guilty because you know differently.
Remember you have been married a significantly long number of years, you know him better than that.
He gathers the remaining towels and follows you up the stairs.
You fight holding back a flood of tears as you knew that moment of the happiness and fun was too much to hope for. . .he works really hard and has very little precious time away from work and the business has not been good as of late. . .who can afford thousands of dollars floating out to sea?
Luckily you have on sunglasses so no one is the wiser that you are about to lose it on the sand.
“It’s alright” he reassures, they’re insured.
“What?!”
“Really?!”
“I just remembered. That’s why they cost so damn much, I paid for the insurance”
A smile crosses his face.
You begin to feel a little better.
You want a margarita.

The moral of this little tale. . .?
Well, if you’re under 50, you probably won’t understand.
If you’re over 50, you already know. . .you get it.
Not only is growing older expensive. . .
It is painful,
It is limiting,
It is aggravating,
It is life altering,
and. . .wait. . . let’s see. . .What we were talking about?!
Hummm. . .
Oh well, let’s just go have a drink shall we. . .

consequences of our choices

The Wrong we have Done, Thought, or Intended, will wreak its Vengeance on
Our SOULS.”

― C.G. Jung

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”
― C.S. Lewis,

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
― Nelson Mandela

DSCN6476
(a Georgia peach / Julie Cook / 2014)

The third law of physics, as stated by Sir Isaac Newton, proclaims that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
I would say that this “law” is not only true for the physical actions in our lives, but is equally true when it comes to our “mental actions” better known as the choices we make in our lives—
For every choice made, there is a resulting consequence–be it good or bad.

Some of our choices not only bring ill effects to ourselves but may have sweeping negative ramifications for others. Therefore one may, in turn, conclude that our choices are accompanied by grave responsibility. Yet who really ponders the decision to change a lane while driving as having potential grave consequence? Who really ponders the decision of taking a flight for a business trip as having possible lasting effects for our loved ones. . .as our plane is blown from the sky?

I would imagine President Harry Truman understood the concept of choices and consequences as he kept a small plaque on his desk “The Buck Stops Here.” Meaning the ultimate end of all decisions and choices regarding the best interest of all the American people and that of those in the free world, rested with him. It was ultimately President Truman’s decision to go with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A choice to bomb or not to bomb—either way would have had consequences—consequences effecting millions which would (and still) continue reverberating far into our future.

Let’s look at this concept of choices and consequences within the frame of a little scenario—

A man walks into a convenient store with a loaded gun pointed at the head of the cashier, demanding all the money in the register. Suddenly, for whatever reason, the robber choses to pull the trigger.
Lives are immediately changed forever.
For the sake of our little story let’s say the cashier is killed.
The robber, now turned murderous gunman, runs.
In that single selfish instant, the cashier’s family is changed forever .
The gunman, let’s say, is eventually apprehended.
His family is forever changed.
There is lengthy legal haggling.
In and out before a judge and the Courts.
Suddenly a bunch of other people are now consumed with the gunman’s selfish choice.
Years pass before there is a trial.
Now all of us as taxpayers are responsible for the gunman’s’ upkeep.
More lives are effected.
Eventually the gunman is found guilty and is sentenced to death.
There are appeals.
Years continue to pass as he lives in prison on Death Row, paid by taxpayers.
As other lives continue to be consumed with his own.
At some point, he turns to God.
He asks for forgiveness.
He is indeed forgiven.

God says to our gunman, “I forgive you and I love you, but your actions have consequence in the life of your world as well as in My World. As I have forgiven you, you will now be welcomed Home, but you must answer for your poor choices there in your world and undergo the punishment given. You must know that you will be with Me in and for Eternity but you will have to first undergo the consequences of your actions.”

Depending on the courts, the state of the crime, and the lengthy appeals, there will either be a sentence of death or life in prison. Either way, the gunman clings to God’s Grace—he accepts his earthly fate as a result of his initial choice of walking in the convenient store, all those many years prior with a gun in his hand, yet now instead of hate, greed, malice, there is a Peace in his being as He knows he is now forever God’s child come home. And there is a resolved acceptance to the punishment of his crime as our gunman now knows that his punishment will not be a permanent ending.

Let’s say for the sake of our little scenario that our gunman does not find God and does not seek forgiveness. He chooses to live bitterly stewing over the one hiccup in his plan, that he was caught.
If he had to do it over again, he’d make certain he was never caught.
There is no remorse—just a seething internal hate and disdain for all creation.

Depending on your belief system, be that in a Heaven or Hell, in a God of Grace and Justice or if you prefer to believe in nothing at all–either way, our gunman’s lack of remorse and choice of a selfish act now sends him either to eternal damnation or into oblivion.
End of story.
And isn’t that all quite empty and sad?

It is obviously not always for us to see justice.
Which can be terribly frustrating as well as painfully maddening. Imagine the hearts of the parents of children who’s young lives have been savagely taken from their parents arms by malice or illness. . . which must lead us all eventually to the Cross for some semblance of direction—but that is for another post.
However, the one thing we must take from this little story of ours is that we are to be mindful of our own choices.

For the one thing we can and do have some manner of control over is indeed our choices.

And granted not all of our choices are going to be as drastic or extreme as an armed gunman’s. . . as that is but a mere example. But it is an example which sums up the ripple effect of poor and selfish choices. The tentacles stretch outward casting a wide net that often stretches out through the ages. One’s negative choices can effect children, grandchildren–oftentimes altering the entire dynamics of a family for generations.

Many of us today continue to pick up the pieces of our parent’s or grandparent’s poor choices which have impacted our own lives in ways that leave us bitter and resentful.

May we then be the cycle breakers. May we be blessed with the vision to see the unhealthy and negative web which may be consuming our lives. May we rest in the knowledge that the cycle can be broken, which is after all, a mere matter of a choice.

You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.
Isaiah 41:9