communicating

“Wisdom cannot be imparted.
Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else …
Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Hermann Hesse

“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold.
It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.”

Edward R. Murrow

I think the great WWII correspondent, Edward R. Murrow had no idea as to how
prophetic his words would one day be…
that being the speed of communication having a direct correlation to the distribution
of information that is…untrue.

I think we currently call that Fake News.
Be it intentional or unintentional, the bottom line is that it is untrue none the less.

And yet we all know that we are born to communicate.

We come out at birth communicating…most often with wailing displeasure…
but a needed sound none the less. Because that displeased wail allows all to know that
we are indeed alive and well.

So in one capacity or another…we are born to share one with another…
communicating with our words, our thoughts, our feelings.

It’s what makes us,`us.

We touch, we see, we feel, we taste, we hear….all feeding our brains with various messages.

You see that little “ten commandments” sheet in the picture up above?
That is a little commandment sheet for a spouse of a person who suffers from hearing loss.

It is a lesson for a hearing spouse of a not so good hearing spouse…

In part because the nonhearing spouse either does not hear the hearing spouse
right off the bat or misinterprets the hearing spouse’s words…

“Who died???” my husband implores as I ask if wants me to make iced tea for supper.

“I don’t want any ice cream” my husband snaps when I ask if he needs a towel when he’s heading
to the shower.

“Turn there” or “Exit here” I instruct as we are driving someplace as he sails
right past the turn or exit all the while asking “What??”

Whereas the conversations are often humorous…they can also be irritating on
both sides…frustrating and even serious if I’m telling him to watch out as something
comes hurdling his way.

For my husband, his troubles began when he nearly had his head blown off years ago in a hunting accident.
His tale is one that speaks to the importance of really knowing who it is you go off hunting with…
really know them…their character, their background, their expertise, their years of hunting
and their knowledge of firearms.

Go with the wrong person…and bad things can happen.

In my husband’s case, it was his hearing and thankfully not his head.

He has had to wear hearing aids ever since.

If you’ve ever worn hearing aids then you know that we can put a man on the moon but,
despite costing thousands of dollars, we cannot make a decent hearing aid.

I’ve seen my husband’s hearing aids go flying across a room when they fail to help
make things clear, as they tend to make things worse.

There is deep frustration in not being able to hear…or to hear correctly…as well as
efficiently being able to communicate within a given conversation to another person.

He had thought hearing aids would ease and help all his woes but alas, that has not been the case.

The cat once ‘took’ one of the hearing aids…thinking it was some poor high pitched
squeaking creature.
The cat saw it on the counter while my husband was showering and made off with it,
throwing it up in the air and battering it all around…all over the house until
upon my investigation, I realized this mesmerizing “toy” was actually
a $3000 hearing aid.

One was once lost to the sea after a giant wave knocked ‘someone’ over who forgot he was wearing them.

And one just oddly vanished.
Never to be seen or heard from again.
He’s still blaming the cat…but this time the cat is off the hook.

He’s on his third pair.
A new brand and a new doctor.
Yet still not the wonder instrument one would hope.

At his last hearing visit, he explained the frustration with hearing me,
or make that not hearing me.

She hands him “the commandments.”
He, in turn, walked in the house and immediately handed me the commandments…

Hmmmmmm…

And so I say all of this about the importance of communicating, hearing, listening
as I labor to set aside the necessary time to digest the wonderful thoughts and input regarding
our collective blogging family’s prayer.

Prayer is our key means of communication with our Creator….be it audible
or silent…be it groanings or cries.

Yesterday morning, Fran reminded me about the notion of hymns…
which in turn made me think about the Psalms—
the early sung prayers of those who yearned, long before ourselves, to
communicate with their God, our God…
be they Psalms of praise, thanksgiving, petitions or lamentations.

This evening I listened to more “news” regarding this new form of abortion.
That being the surviving product of an abortion gone wrong…a now fully born child.
A baby needing immediate attention…yet the adults in the room fumble
all over themselves…let it die, let it live???

I am sickened, horrified, and utterly saddened.

What have we become?

However, it’s nothing new under the sun you remind me.
Atrocities have been committed since the original murder of a brother killing a brother.
It is our lot as a fallen creature…

And yet this does not assuage my heart.

And so as I labor to bring us around to a collective form of a unified prayer–
a means of a common communication to our Father in Heaven, I am continually
drawn back to those who have no free voice of their own…

I’ll ruminate a bit longer… while in the meantime I learn to turn off the kitchen sink and walk
myself into the den in order to stand in front of my husband who’s resting in his recliner,
when I need to tell him that he’s once again accidentally hit the alarm on his key
fob as his truck’s alarm is now blaring in the garage for all of creation to hear…
all of creation but him…

to be continued…

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

something sinister

People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest.
Hermann Hesse


(birdhouse / Julie Cook / 2018)

So do you remember the other day when I posted a few pictures of one of my bluebird houses
with a wad of straw appearing to be pushed out of the hole?
I made mention of how I clean out all the boxes in February as birds like to basically start fresh
each season.
Much like we do—when buying a house and moving, we usually like to buy a cleaned up house in
which to move in to.

The image got me thinking about spring cleaning…
of how we not only literally seem to find renewing projects each new spring season that
we must be about—such as the cleaning out of the old while making way for the new…
but that Springtime is also a good reminder for the need to be about our spiritual cleaning
and renewal needs as well.

So imagine my dismay when I walked past the birdhouse yesterday and noticed, oddly, that
the straw was no longer poking out of the hole but was now rather pushed back inside.

Yet upon further inspection, I noted a single blue feather stuck to the box.
Hmmmmmmm…

It began to dawn on me that I’d really not seen the bluebirds as of late scooting in an out of the
box like I normally do.
They are typically really quite busy this time of year as I often hear the chattering chirps of
a young brood emanating from deep within the box.

I’ve not heard that.

Upon further inspection, I spotted something most alarming…

I also notice that one of the bird feeders is hanging precariously on two of the three chains as if something had unchained the feeder—the feeder which is oddly completely empty…

My suspect…

So yes, I have raccoons that frequent our yard.
I’ve caught them many a time at night rummaging around the feeders as well as grabbing up the
stale bread that I’d tossed out earlier for the birds.

I knew raccoons would steal eggs from the nest of birds, but would they actually take a bird?
And a quick little search revealed that yes, raccoons will take a bird from a nest…

Whereas it does sound cruel and even sinister, I suppose I have to view this nature
doing what nature does.
Yet it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Unsuspecting, living life, taking care of a brood, then disaster and devastation strikes
in the dark of night…

This sad reminder of wildlife doing what wildlife does brings to mind another who
prefers to come in the dark shadows of night..taking that which is truly not his…

his is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of
light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

John 3:19-21

musings of a retired educator…

“The words are not good for the secret meaning, everything always becomes a bit different,
as soon as it is put into words, gets distorted a bit, a bit silly—yes,
and this is also very good, and I like it a lot, I also very much agree with this,
that this what is one man’s treasure and wisdom always sounds like
foolishness to another person.”

Hermann Hesse


(a bunch of wilted and rotting swiss chard in the trash / Julie Cook / 2018)

Or so that was the impetus behind my wanting to start a blog 5…ish years ago..
I was a retired teacher who still had things to “teach”…
or so I figured.

But then ‘it’ happened.

It happened not all at once but rather it came upon gradually…slowly and almost undetected.

It was life and we all know life brings with it…change.

Life changed.
I changed.

It happens.

But that didn’t mean that I didn’t have musings or things I still felt compelled
I needed to “teach”…
I did and I do.

Take for example the above image of the spent swiss chard.

I like swiss chard.
I grew it myself once when I use to have a garden.

I had a garden when I first started blogging.
I blogged about my garden…
then ‘it’ happened.

Life happened and things changed and now I don’t have a garden to blog about.

So now I buy swiss chard at the grocery store.
I like to chop it and sautee it with bacon, onions, a little chicken broth and salt and pepper.

The swiss chard you’re looking at is in the trash.
As has been the last five or so bunches of swiss chard I’ve brought in oh so many weeks.
They’ve all been sent to the rubbish bin…because ‘it’ happened.
Life happened and my swiss chard wilted and got past its prime and I had to throw it out.

Life can be that way…wasteful as well as expensive.

Life can also grow and expand or it can shrink and shrivel.


(two cousins enjoying the human’s couch / Julie Cook / 2018)

I had two cats when I started my blog.

I still have the two cats, but I also have a granddog that has come to stay with us since her new
human baby sister arrived.

They’re all staying with us.

Because ‘it’ happened.

Life brought new life and old life had to go back to work so now older life is caring for the
new life and the two cats and the dog.

And since all these lives are currently living under our roof,
I find that I visit places like the grocery store and Target a lot more often then I use to.
And sadly waste more and more and more swiss chard as life keeps getting in the way.

Take for example yesterday when I had to go to Target for a few things for the new life currently
living under our roof.

Look what I saw for sale…

Politically Correct band-aids.
For when life gives us boo boos.

They are marketed as diverse band-aids.
Skintone correct.

Yeah, right.

Kind of like a Crayola crayon box—talk about diversity in a box.

Because even band-aids have now decided to be all about diversity and the politically correct.

“Genius” some would muse.
“Why didn’t I think of that” others would lament.

All the while I look at traditional band-aids while shaking my head as I know they match
my skin tone about as much as a strip of duct tape does.

Simply put, they don’t.
So let’s not pretend that cream colored band-aids are just for creamed colored folks…
Next, we’ll be changing the color of gauze or surgical tape…

I think the clear band-aids were more along the lines of correctness.

These stips of sticky color are just one more example of members of the bandwagon
jumping on that proverbial train ride while touting that diversity brings everyone together…
yet failing to understand that diversity is really all about splintering.

And then there were these desk signs…

I’m a girl.
I have a granddaughter.
I’m all for equal pay for equal work no matter who’s doing the work…
But if the furture is all about being female…where does that leave our male population?
And where will that leave the making of more males and yes, more females…???

Sigh…

Another example of all things marketing taking life to the same level of
the militant movements of activism…
Hurray for more militant activism…

Sigh…

But happily, I am pulled back to thinking about that new life currently,
yet temporarily, living under our roof.

She got very sick this past week.
Life threw us a tremendous curveball.
A frightening, scary, grab you by the collar, curveball.

When we got home from the second hospital, after a very frightening couple of days
of touch and go, her grandfather presented her with her first bouquet of flowers.

See…this is what life and new life can do to older life.

It can make older life think and do things it normally would not have thought about
or done before…
Like walk up the sidewalk to a store selling flowers in order to bring the sickly little
new life a pot of pretty purple flowers.

Which brings us to a hard part of new life.

Sleeping.

Some new life is all about, well, life…sleep is not an important factor…
because sleep precludes one from , well, taking it all in.
It gets in the way of eating, being held, having diapers changed and missing out
on the older lives scattered about.

And so we now introduce the Finnbin

A couple of years back, before I had this new life in my life, I read an article about
babies in Nordic countries who sleep outside—even in the dead of winter.
Parents make no never mind about meeting up at a cafe for a coffee while their babies hang out,
outside in the sub-zero temps, bundled up, yet happy as little snuggly clams.
They claim babies sleep better out in the fresh air versus inside…
makes sense as I have been known to go a bit stir crazy when I can’t get outside.

I thought the concept intriguing at the time and that perhaps our Nordic friends
were on to something.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21537988

And so when this new life came into my life and had a nice new crib, a functional pack and play
and two Mama Roos yet still found sleep elusive,
I recalled the story of our Nordic friends and the other stories I’d seen about
Finnish babies sleeping in boxes…
yep boxes.

A box seemed a bit safer then shoving the new life outside to fin for herself in a stroller.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22751415

And so, in desperation…I found the Finnbins.

Boxes for baby sleeping—albeit made in America, The Finnbin is a Finnish style sleeping
baby box.

The concept tips its hat to the Finnish Government providing all new parents-to-be with
a baby sleeping box full of all kinds of goodies for new parents to be.
Finnbins make great gifts for expectant parents.
We’re hoping it will provide a happy and much cheaper alternative spot to this new life’s
other more expensive sleeping devices.

Or maybe the stroller will just have to do….

Maybe I’ll go to the store tomorrow and pick up a new bunch of swiss chard…

My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

the bittersweet

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy
are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but
to mature and transfigure us.”

― Hermann Hesse

“Our sweetest songs are those of saddest thought.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley


(image of the bittersweet herb Rue as seen on an herbal supplement site)

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint,
rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God.
You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

Luke 14:42

Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, there are numerous references to
both plants and herbs.
With each, along with salt, having been seen as taxable commodities.

Since these were items that were sold, traded and bartered,
and whereas people were making money from the sales of such items,
officials naturally wanted to impose a tax.

And with such an early example of something so simple being taxed,
is it any wonder that something like tea, which would lead to a
rebellious bunch of colonists tossing crates of such leaves into a harbor, be of
any surprise…

And since both plants and herbs were playing such a pivotal role in early commerce
we began to divide them into categories…
with both sweet and bitter being the frontrunners in the categories of taste, use,
perception and enjoyment.

Enter the Passover seder with it’s mix of bitter herbs
And they shall eat flesh in that night, roast with fire,
and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Exodus 12:8

Or the admonishment of self restraint and to approach things with moderation….
A sated man loathes honey,
But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.

Proverbs 27:7

So all of this talk of herbs and bitter and sweet came flooding in yesterday…
not because of Seders, or cooking, or bartering, or taxes or planting or even quiet reflective Biblical readings..
It actually came about as I busied myself getting ready for of all things…
to take a baby shower on the road.

For you see this is the first big family event that is taking place
without well, family.

We’re having a big baby shower in Atlanta for my son and daughter-n-law this weekend
and I’m the one putting this little shindig together.
There will be about 60 friends and family, old and young, near and far who will
come help them, as well as the grandparents to be, celebrate…

It will be there at what was Dad’s house…with what was once my childhood room now becoming a nursery.

Usually when I do these sorts of events, my trusted helper is and always has been,
right by my side—that being Aunt Maaaatha (aka Martha).

She would have flown up earlier this week, coming with her sleeves rolled up,
ready to jump in with both feet as we’d cook, prepare, buy, shlep,
and haul things here, there and yon.

And whereas I’ve been busy making plans, making orders, purchasing,
cooking and packing everything up… getting ready to transport
things to the big city, I can’t help but feel that tinge of bittersweetness.

What has always been a team effort is now a solo event…
Each time I stop long enough to take a breath, I am a bit haunted by what’s missing.

My dad’s only remaining cousin, who at 92 is the oldest and last living member
of that clan, will be making the trip.
My aunt, my dad’s sister-n-law, who is also 92, will join us as well.
As the top tier of the family now prepare to welcome the newest forthcoming member.

Yet knowing who won’t be with us physically at this party has left me a bit wistful.
But whereas I know there will be those who will not be with us physically,
I do know they will there in spirit.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

what is Grace

“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


(even the weeds provide sustenance to the bees / Julie Cook / 2017)

I do believe in a personal God, because I too have had revelations,
answers to my questions, to my prayers, and if the answer fails to come,
which is usually the case because God wants us to work out our own salvation,
I have that assurance God gave Saint Paul and he passed on to us,
“My Grace is sufficient for you.”

And what is grace?
Participation in the divine life.

Dorothy Day

the folly of our wisdom

Knowledge without justice ought to be called cunning rather than wisdom.
Plato

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
― Socrates

“Any fool can know.
The point is to understand.”

― Albert Einstein

DSCN0140
(a curtained window in The Great Hall, Trinity College Library / Dublin, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

What saith the wise man of his knowledge?
Is he, pray tell, the master or keeper of his own immediate world…

What of the land and sea…
Do depths and heights belong to the wise and knowledgable amongst us?

What of the stars, the moon, the sun and the very planets?
Are these entities, such as ripened fruit ready for the plucking, merely waiting for the wise among us first to imagine then to eventually claim as their own?

DSCN0136
( The Great Hall, Trinity College Library / Dublin, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

And what of the very universe itself, might it therefore belong to the wise and knowledgable as it simply sits waiting as it seems, at the yearning fingertips of the sages, in need of their dissections and explorations.

Then perhaps it it be the explorers among us who are the wise and knowledgable.

DSCN0139

Has knowledge and wisdom become man’s end unto himself?
Has it become his golden calf?
Or has man simply become god himself?
All knowing and all powerful.
As the Great Oz hidden behind his smoke and mirrors.

DSCN0133
( The Great Hall, Trinity College Library / Dublin, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

And what of this wise man…?
Does his knowledge beget wisdom, or does his wisdom beget knowledge?

DSCN0134
( The Great Hall, Trinity College Library / Dublin, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

And who do we say are the wise among us?

The mighty or the diminutive?
The powerful or the weak?
The wealthy or the poor?
The healthy or the sick?
The kind or the evil?
The educated or the illiterate?
The ruthless or the polite?

There rests a palpable silence hanging heavy throughout the great halls and houses of learning which grace the major cities of this planet.
Their ancient voices continue whispering across the pages of time..
Those wise and knowledgable men among us who are still studied, quoted, read, savored, reimagined and realigned.

DSCN0131
(Bust of Socrates stands among the many busts of those learned individuals lining the walls of the Great Hall, Trinity College Library / Dublin, Ireland / 2015)

DSCN0132
(Bust of Plato stands among the many busts of those learned individuals lining the walls in the Great Hall, Trinity College Library / Dublin, Ireland / 2015)

The very books, the lectures, the theories, the postulates, the queries, the discoveries, the equations, the abilities, the mastery of it all, pales in comparison to the Master Creator of all that was, all that is and all that will be…who by His very decree has given man the ability to think, to learn, to dream, to create and to dare to seek more than himself…

The perhaps it is indeed the wise man, the learned man, the knowledgeable man who realizes, who actually knows and absorbs this very simple truth.

DSCN0137
( The Great Hall, Trinity College Library / Dublin, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
― Hermann Hesse

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
― Meister Eckhart

Let no man deceive himself If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.
1 Corinthians 3:18

The Shadows of our Illusions

If time is not real, then the dividing line between this world and eternity, between suffering and bliss, between good and evil, is also an illusion.
Herman Hesse

Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing.
George Orwell

DSC02241
(a western setting sun reflected from one of the many skyscrapers on the Nashville skyline / Nashville, TN / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC02245
(Nashville skyline at dusk / Nashville, TN / Julie Cook / 2015)

Man creates, builds and constructs.
Why?
Because he can.
Always bigger, always taller, always grander. . .
Why?
Because he wants to be bigger, taller and grander than the next guy. . .
Endlessly seeking that which is exquisite, beautiful and spectacular. . .
Why?
Because he looks to fulfill a longing. . .
For what is it that man so longs. . .?
Man longs to fill a void. . .
An emptiness of that which is greater than man himself. . .
A void of that which is Divine
Why is that?
Could it because man longs for that part within his being that is open, unfulfilled and yearning for something which he simply cannot recognize as greater than himself. . .
and so he makes, he creates, he builds, he looks, he longs. . .

The Great Disturbance of Our Illusion
The idea that there is something eternal and infinite makes our souls anxious in their mortality.
They want to reach beyond themselves to immortality;
they themselves want to be immortal but know not where to begin. . .
Out of this disquiet of the soul have come the mighty works of philosophy and art:
The systems of Plato and Hegel, the Adam of Michelangelo,
the quartets and symphonies of Beethoven, the Gothic cathedrals,
the paintings of Rembrandt, and the Faust and Prometheus of Goethe.
They were all overpowered by the idea of something eternal and immortal. . .
At the same time, the most grandiose and delicate of all human
attempts to strive for the eternal out of the heart’s anxiety and restlessness is religion. . .
Human beings have found the way to light, to joy, to eternity.
The human race could proudly point to the flourishing of its spirit,
were it not for one thing namely, that God is God and grace is grace (Romans 11:6).
Here comes the great disturbance of our illusions and our blessed culture, the disturbance that God himself causes and that is made graphic in the old myth of the tower of Babel. Our way to the eternal was interrupted, and with our philosophy and art, our morality and religion, we fall into the depths from which we came. For another way had penned up, the way of God to humanity.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Barcelona, Berlin, Amerika 1928-1931
I Want to Live These Days with You