hidden danger in the rotting apple

All badness is spoiled goodness.
A bad apple is a good apple that became rotten.
Because evil has no capital of its own,
it is a parasite that feeds on goodness.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
from Through the Year with Fulton Sheen

“Do not suppose that after advancing the soul to such a state God abandons it so easily that
it is light work for the devil to regain it.
When His Majesty sees it leaving Him, He feels the loss so keenly that He gives it in many
a way a thousand secret warnings which reveal to it the hidden danger.
In conclusion, let us strive to make constant progress:
we ought to feel great alarm if we do not find ourselves advancing,
for without doubt the evil one must be planning to injure us in some way;
it is impossible for a soul that has come to this state not to go still farther,
for love is never idle.
Therefore it is a very bad sign when one comes to a standstill in virtue.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.99
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

P.S.
I came home for the weekend for a bit of R&R and now I’m off again…back to Atlanta to help tend to
the children…
Here is to The Mayor and her Sheriff!!!

the light, courage and one’s will

“When you pray, you only have to ask for two things:
You should ask for the light to see the will of God,
and you have to ask for the courage to be able to do the will of God.”

Venerable Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz


(my own peter cottontail / Julie Cook / 2018)

This is the question that arises over and over again,
particularly in our hour of a new paganism and also of a new longing for God:
Is the light of God, the light of Jesus Christ, hidden under the bushel of our habits,
our indifference, under the flood of our words,
so that beneath them the word can no longer shine forth?
Or can it emerge and once again become light for all who live in God’s house,
in his creation?

Joseph Ratzinger
from Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today

the common sense of the obvious

“A moderately bad man knows he is not very good:
a thoroughly bad man thinks he is alright.
This is common sense really.
You understand sleep when you are awake, not well you are sleeping.”

C.S. Lewis


(Percy assumes the throne is his…it is not / Julie Cook / 2018)

No, Percy’s name is not Autumn and no that is not Percy’s chair,
it is Autumn’s chair.

Yet Percy thinks that what is Autumn’s is actually and naturally his…
because he was the first baby here in this house and therefore anything that is
for a baby is his by proxy.

In Percy’s brain, that all makes sense.

So the stroller is his…

That’s him underneath.
He prefers to be up top but at the time it was unfortunately occupied.

Autumn’s finnbin is his.
(That Scandinavian baby box I ordered so Autumn can snooze comfortably after her
workout on her play mat…of which is also Percy’s…as in his playmat.

When I’m busy folding clothes on the bed and Autumn is busy snoozing, Percy snoozes too.

So I really don’t understand why Gregory got so upset the other day when one of his very
expensive hearing aids disappeared and he naturally assumed Percy took it.

Years ago, poor Gregory was involved in a hunting accident and is now totally deaf in one
ear with considerable hearing loss in the other ear.

He gave into hearing aids about 8 years ago and has fussed and cussed them ever since.

They don’t work, despite costing a small fortune.

He’s lost one in the ocean.
He’s lost one someplace else that we can’t remember, otherwise it might not be lost.

Replacing them is a pain and another small fortune.

And so obviously, if Percy sees them say sitting on, say the counter, or by Gregory’s chair or
on the shelf by the shower when Gregory forgot that they were still in his ear when he got
in the shower and had to quickly get them to a dry spot…
Percy just assumes that Gregory has laid them out for him to happily take.

If you are not familiar with hearing aids…they are these tiny, yet expensive little
contraptions you shove into your ears.
They have tiny little batteries and tiny volume controls and they work by amplifying sound.

Unfortunately, Gregory claims they amplify the wrong sounds.

If you’re in a crowded restaurant, they amplify the noisy background chatter rather
than the true target, that being the person sitting across from or next to you…
as in me with whom he’s trying to communicate.

The waiter asks “Sir, how would you like your steak cooked?”

“I’ll have blue cheese thank you.”

With me then having to interject
“he’d like it medium and the blue cheese goes on the salad…”
this as he looks at me as though something happened but he’s just not sure what.

And whereas it can be quite comical and funny…
In actuality, it is very frustrating and equally maddening.

And can, more times than not, make his life just darn miserable.

Anyone who wears hearing aids will certainly testify to such frustration.

As can anyone living with said folks who suffer from hearing loss…
There is simply an awful lot of repeating, yelling, screaming, exasperation
and hands simply being thrown up in the air.

“WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME???”

BECAUSE I SAID IT THREE TIMES AND YOU STILL DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT I SAID”

“WELL I’M SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR, REMEMBER!”

“AND DON’T SCREAM AT ME CAUSE YOU’RE HURTING MY EARS!”

It’s a vicious cycle

So I think the real reason as to why Gregory gets so upset when the hearing aids go missing
is not so much because they work, but rather because they cost a small fortune.

And here is where our real story continues…

The other evening Gregory went to take a shower and took out the hearing aids,
placing them on the counter in the bathroom.

One of them mysteriously disappeared.

I say mysteriously because two were there, and then two were not.

It wasn’t until after his shower that he’d come back to the den to watch TV that
he remembered he needed to go back to get his hearing aids.

If he doesn’t put them in while watching TV, the television is turned up so loudly,
I have to leave the room.

Suddenly I heard my name being called in a not so pleasant manner.

I race to the back making certain everything was okay.

“Julie, I can’t find but one of the hearing aids.”
“Percy got it.”

“How do you know Percy got it?”

“Who else would have gotten it?”

“Maybe you didn’t have both of them with you when you took a shower and the other
one is by your chair or still in your pant’s pocket.”

“I already checked the pants and I remember plain as day putting them here on the counter…
plus I remember seeing “him” in here.”

I did not like the way he had said “him” and I wasn’t too keen on how this was going.

I will admit that there have been a few occasions that Percy may have actually taken one
of the hearing aids, thinking of it as some small squeaking creature. And he may have
actually played with it as he would, say, a small creature…
Batting it wildly across the floor and tossing it up in the air as if it was a poor living
creature to be toyed with before a slow torturous death.

I know this because I must confess, I’ve caught him doing such.
My fear being he’d somehow get the battery out and swallow it.

So imagine my then having to fuss when Gregory obviously and carelessly forgets to
securely put away the hearing aids when he takes them out. This in turn potentially allows
for Percy to potentially get a hold of the hearing aids which potentially lead to his swallowing
a battery and potentially having to have some sort of emergency surgery.

Talk about a small fortune.

Plus as his mother, I have to defend this baby.

And so I spent about an hour that night scouring the house looking for said hearing aid.
All the while Gregory kept looking angerly at Percy,
demanding Percy tell him what he had done with the hearing aid.
All the while poor Percy was simply looking innocent as a lamb.

I crawled on the floor, looking eye level across the rugs, peering underneath the couch,
the chairs, the tables.

I didn’t remember the house looking, so, well, dusty and dirty…hummmmmm.

Finally, I gave up for the night because I knew tomorrow was another day.

So…for four long hours the following morning, I looked high and low.

I vacuumed the entire house, I dusted, I swiffered and I carefully looked, while on all fours,
investigating every inch of the house.

I opened closet doors.
I looked under cushions.
I flipped over every pair of shoes.
I debated calling the vets telling them I needed to x-ray Percy’s stomach…
and I even considered the unthinkable…sifting through the litter box.

I called Gregory who was at work, only halfway hearing.

“Gregory, I can’t find it anywhere…”

There were a few choice words I can’t repeat.

So I did what I always do in a crisis.
I prayed.

I prayed earnestly to God…explaining that I knew He knew how expensive the stupid
little things were and that I really needed to find it.

I decided to check under the couch in the living room one more time,
despite having already looked, dusted and vacuumed there twice this
particular day and once the night before.

With flashlight in hand, I got back down on my hands and knees, bent way down
almost on my head, lifted up the kick pleat and shined the flashlight into the far recesses
when low and behold…there it was.
Despite my having already looked three times total under that couch.

Ecstatic, I called Gregory and explained my answered prayer.

His reply was “Good, and when I get home, Percy will be tried in a court of law, my court.
He will be tried to the full extent of the law, my law.
He will be tried and found naturally guilty and punished…better yet, banished.”

Donning my best defense attorney hat, I proceeded to explain that since no one had actually
seen Percy take the hearing aid…let alone seen him take it to his favorite hiding spot
under the couch…the same hiding spot he goes to when, say a “stranger” comes in the house,
and he is afraid…or the same hiding place that his favorite toys often rest.
There is simply no clear-cut obvious explanation…only mere conjecture.

It is therefore only presumption that he is guilty as there was really just no way
to prove that Percy took it as there were no witnesses.
Peaches, the other cat…did not count.

I even threw in the fact that had
Gregory taken better care, putting the hearing aids in their case, it never would have
disappeared in the first place.

I was beginning to walk on thin ice.

But in the end, it’s all really pretty darn obvious is it not?

Who else would have, could have, taken it??
Especially given Percy’s proclivity and track record demonstrating his lack of restraint with
hearing aids, there is a pattern to his madness.

Yet I was simply running with it…to the far reaches of the absurd.

And thus my far out over-reaching is no more absurd then what you and I are hit with on a
daily basis flowing from our progressively insane society.
A society that is happily playing fast and loose with all things truth, common sense and
downright obvious.

I was running with it just like our own politicians, our legal eagle justice system
and even now our entertainers are running off with the obvious as they thrive to live to
shuffle and distort, to rile and defile.

They twist and turn the obvious and the truth around in such a way that they first convince
themselves while wielding their charms to twist the obvious into the oblivious for
everyone else.

And should you or I dare to question or think otherwise…questioning their form of the
“truth” …then you will be punished or even better yet, exiled…
much like Gregory decided to do with Percy…banished.

And I for one have grown weary of it all.

So this little tale about a cat and his hearing aid fetish serves not merely to
entertain us but rather to remind us…reminding us of the absurdity of that which
is currently circulating around us.

It reminds us of the lack of common sense and the twisting of the blatantly obvious
as the culture gods have taken the ultimate Truth and created the absurd.

Because remember, there’s no better way to ellude the average citizen than to
confuse him or her…so that way, no one really cares as to what is really what.

Now how did that stuffed mouse get in my shoe…?

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them;
the sins of others trail behind them.
In the same way, good deeds are obvious,
and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5:24-24

fed up with measured responses

A ‘measured’ response?
I’m fed up of ‘measured’ responses to major sins.

David Roberston


(Farm Security Administration / United States Office of War Information / Migant mother
by Dorothea Lange / 1936)

Fed up.
This one well-recognized photograph by Dorothea Lange became the face, the poster child
if you will, of the plight of most Americans during the height of the Great Depression
and The Dust Bowl.

It is an image of a tired woman who is past fed up…who is now devoid and resigned to the
measured response offered by a Government who, in her small corner of the world,
has let her and her children down.

Ms. Lange later explained after the photograph was published:
“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet.
I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her,
but I do remember she asked me no questions.
I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction.
I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two.
She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields,
and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food.
There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her,
and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me.
There was a sort of equality about it.

(Wikipedia)

This particular photograph was obviously taken at a time when color film was the
exception and not the norm.
I strongly believe that the black and white photograph speaks more profoundly to the
desperate depths and hopelessness of this particular time of America’s situation
during the dark and heavy days of the 1930’s than that of a photograph that could have
been taken in color.

All of the sensory overloads, the eye-popping, eye-catching pizzaz is pared down to
the obvious harsh reality of black and white.

Nothing in between.
Nothing hidden.
Nothing left to cover up the ugly.
There are no ifs or ands…
Just what is…

Plain.
Simple.
Hard.
Desperate.
Resigned.
Hopeless.

That same sense of importance of the simple, of the bold black and white versus the
distracting and color, came barrelling to mind when reading David Roberston’s response to the
Chruch of Scotland’s take on Transgenderism, homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

His is the observation of one church denomination’s take on the culture wars and the church’s
own politically correct “Christian” response cloaked in naivete and falsehoods.

The Chruch of Scotland is no different from most of our current Christian body
denominations and their seemingly awkward desire to “play nice” with a culture that
blatantly flaunts its disdain for Christianity and the very Word of God.

David Roberston is fed up…
I too am fed up.

Fed up by measured responses to blatant sin.

Why aren’t more Christians fed up?

Sin is sin…the acceptance of such by a culture desperately trying to rewrite the narrative
is unacceptable…

So why then are so many members of the Christian body, our Churches, accepting the
measured responses to sin.

A ‘measured’ response?
I’m fed up of ‘measured’ responses to major sins.
Thank God that Elijah didn’t offer a ‘measured response’ to the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel;
or that Paul avoided a ‘measured response’ to the foolish Galatians;
and that Jesus wasn’t ‘measured’ and ‘Christlike’ when he told the Pharisees in public that
they were like whitewashed tombs, twice dead!

Note our Lord’s lack of measure when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip!
Or his rudeness when he said that the lukewarmness of the Laodiceans made him sick.
One can only suspect that CFS (Covenant Fellowship Scotland) would have been appalled at Paul’s lack of measure in suggesting to Timothy that the Judaising circumcisers should go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

David Roberston

Apostasy?
Is that not too strong a word?
I’m currently reading John Owens Nature and Causes of Apostasy from the Gospel
(in volume 7 of his works).
It is a stunning and apposite work for my own denomination and for the Church of Scotland.
I think there is a danger of apostasy in the Free Church,
as there is in any other church – but I thought the following was particularly appropriate –

“Men are apt to please themselves,
to approve of their own state and condition,
wherein they have framed unto themselves rest and satisfaction.
Churches content themselves with their outward order and administrations,
especially when accompanied with secular advantages,
and contend fiercely that all is well, and the gospel sufficiently complied withal,
whilst their outward constitution is preserved and their laws of order kept inviolate.”
(John Owen – Works vol.7 p.53).

Covenant Fellowship Scotland also intends to provide leadership.
Many orthodox people in the Church of Scotland are shocked and dismayed
by the trajectory which the Church has been on for several years.
Many are losing heart, looking for leadership and feel powerless.
We have frequently been asked, ‘Is no-one doing anything?’
It is imperative that Covenant Fellowship Scotland offers people a rallying point
for dissent now, as well as leadership for the future.”

The Lion has Whimpered

I’ve heard a great deal recently from folks who just think total acceptance is the
the path of least resistance.
The turning of the blind eye to any and all while burying heads in the sands of
ignorance and compliance.

The give and take that is more give…taken… and soon to be gone.

“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

Isaiah 58:1

Sun, moon and the love of a grandfather

“There are fathers who do not love their children;
there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson.”

Victor Hugo


(an older moon shot I’ve used before / Julie Cook / 2016)

I know that yesterday I had given us, or perhaps actually issued is a better word,
a laundry list of “issues” that we were going to need to play catch up with….
all sorts of pressing issues that had come down the pike while I was busy
with all things snow….

And yes, we shall indeed visit those issues…however, I was called into active duty, unbeknownst to my best laid plans, with active duty in my case being
the emergency holiday help at my husband’s store…

So now that I’m finally home, it’s late and I’m trying to prepare some sort of
hot meal of sustenance and get a post ready for tomorrow (which is now today if
you’re reading this), so I think we’ll hold up
on those more pressing topics until I have the proper time to do them justice….

And as life would have it, something interesting arrived in yesterday’s mail
that is now taking precedence.

You may recall that the I have a friend at Plough Publishing House who actually
happened upon my blog about a year ago or so.

That’s how we met.

She has been sending me sample copies of books that she thinks that I will enjoy…
and in turn will perhaps share with others….of which I have as time has allowed.

The small package that arrived in yesterday’s mail was one of those books.

A book that probably has made a bigger impact on my heart than my publisher friend
would have imagined.

Those of you who know me or have been reading this blog since this time last year…
know that I was knee deep in caring for my dad and stepmother.

Dad had an aggressive form of bladder cancer…he was diagnosed in late August and died
in March. Both he and my stepmother had also been diagnosed with varying degrees of
dementia quite sometime before that…
so needless to say we were just all in the middle of a downward spiral is putting it
mildly.

It was a hard road for us all…with dad being an amazing example
quiet acceptance, perseverance and fortitude.

This time last year we already had 24 hour care as well as Hospice care…
plus I was driving over each and every day.

The last time dad had actually gotten out of the bed was on Christmas day when we
wheeled him to the table to enjoy Christmas dinner.
Naturally he didn’t have much of an appetite but he was most keen for the dessert.
So dessert it was.

Dad and my son had a very special bond.
My son was my dad’s only grandchild and Dad was more kid than dad…
so needless to say, they stayed in cahoots most of my son’s growing up.


(Christmas day 2016, Brenton and Dad)

My dad was always graciously generous to his grandson and to say that my son
was dad’s partner in crime was to have been putting it mildly.

I won’t go on as it seems I’ve written about all of this before and if I do go on,
I’ll simply loose focus over my original intent of this post and
cry more than I already am.

The book my friend sent me is actually a children’s book.
And I imagine it came my way because I will become a grandmother soon.
Yet the tale of the book resonated so much with me, not so much because I am
a soon to be grandparent,
but rather because it is a tale about a grandson and his grandfather.

It is a book written by a German author, Andreas Steinhofel and illustrated by a
German artist Nele Palmtag—and yet the tale is quite universal.

Max’s grandfather is in a nursing home because he has what is surmised to be
Alzheimers or some other form of dementia….’forgetting’ being the key word.
And nine year old Max, who adores his grandfather and misses their life together
before the nursing home, formulates a plan to “spring” his grandfather from the
nursing home…
in essence a plan to kidnap his grandfather.

And in so doing another member of the nursing home escapes by accident.
A long and spindly woman who is in search of the sun…as she dances
behind Max and his grandfather on their misadventure.

The tale is not a long read—-
I read it in less than an hour’s time.
Yet it is a deep read by adult standards.
It is funny, it is cute, it is painful, and it is very very real.

I think my 29 year old son would appreciate the story much more than his 9
year old self would have—as he now has the hindsight of understanding
Max’s deep longing.

I know that if my son could have kidnapped his “Pops” from that hospice bed he
would have….and off on one more adventure they would have gone.

But in this tale of last adventures, Max’s grandfather reassures Max, who is now desperately afraid that his grandfather, in his forgetfulness, will forget
he loves Max…explains to Max that he will always be there, loving Max,
even if it appears he has “forgotten.”

He explains to Max that when we look up into the sky we know the moon is there
because we can see it. Yet during those nights that the sky appears to be moonless,
which is only because of how the sun is shining on the opposite side of the moon—
the moon is indeed still there—just as his love will always be there for Max,
even if Max won’t be able to directly see it….

After finishing the story last night, I could not recount the tale to my husband
without crying…finding myself just having to stop talking as I allowed the tears
to wash down my face.

The story as read for a child would be fun, poignant as well as mischievous…
As for any adult touched by the stealing effects of memory loss or just the loss of
a loved one in general, will find the tale heartwarming and very poignant.

Just as I now fondly recall a life that once was…

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8

traipsing in the woods amongst the fungi

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Traipse:
intransitive verb
transitive verb
traipsed, traips′ing
to walk, wander, tramp, or gad

When out in the woods my husband, more often then not, walks with a sense
of focused purpose and direction..

Me on the other hand, well I tend to lag behind…
traipsing about, camera in tow….

(all pics taken in the mid west Georgia woods last Sunday–Julie Cook / 2017)

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens,
and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

God Comes

“Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited.”

Thomas Merton

michelangelo_caravaggio_77_nativity_with_st_francis_and_st_lawrence
(Caravaggio’s Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence / 1609 / Palermo, Italy)

“God Comes”

Pope Benedict XVI in his homily celebration of First Vespers
of the First Sunday of Advent
(Saturday, 2 December 2006)

“At the beginning of a new yearly cycle, the liturgy invites the Church to renew her
proclamation to all the peoples and sums it up in two words
‘God comes.’
These words, so concise, contain an ever new evocative power.

Let us pause a moment to reflect:
it is not used in the past tense—God has come,
nor in the future—God will come,
but in the present—‘God comes.’

At a closer look, this is a continuous present, that is, an ever-continuous action:
it happened, it is happening now and it will happen again.
In whichever moment, ‘God comes.’

The verb ‘to come’ appears here as a theological verb, indeed theological,
since it says something about God’s very nature.
Proclaiming that ‘God comes’ is equivalent, therefore, to simply announcing God himself,
through one of his essential and qualifying features: his being the God-who-comes.

Advent calls believers to become aware of this truth and to act accordingly.
It rings out as a salutary appeal in the days, weeks and months that repeat:
Awaken!
Remember that God comes!
Not yesterday,
not tomorrow,
but today,
now!

The one true God, ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,’
is not a God who is there in Heaven, unconcerned with us and our history,
but he is the-God-who-comes.
He is a Father who never stops thinking of us and, in the extreme respect of our freedom,
desires to meet us and visit us;
he wants to come, to dwell among us, to stay with us.
His ‘coming’ is motivated by the desire to free us from evil and death,
from all that prevents our true happiness.
God comes to save us.

The Fathers of the Church observe that the ‘coming’ of God—continuous and, as it were,
co-natural with his very being—is centered in the two principal comings of Christ:
his Incarnation
and
his glorious return at the end of time…
(cf. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis 15,1: PG 33, 870).

The Advent Season lives the whole of this polarity.

In the first days, the accent falls on the expectation of the Lord’s Final Coming,
as the texts of this evening’s celebration demonstrate.
With Christmas approaching, the dominant note instead is on
the commemoration of the event at Bethlehem,
so that we may recognize it as the ‘fullness of time.’

Between these two ‘manifested’ comings…
it is possible to identify a third,
which St. Bernard calls ‘intermediate’ and ‘hidden,’
and which occurs in the souls of believers and,
as it were,
builds a ‘bridge’ between the first and the last coming.”