if you don’t like it…

Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress.
Napoleon Bonaparte


(a mud dusty turtle/ Julie Cook / 2019)

In the news recently, I’ve read where our President has responded to the
Speaker of House’s fab four darling freshmen members…

It seems that they have been not shy about spouting their disdain for the handling
of the illegal immigration issue, the border crisis, the impending ICE raids,
and even a disdain for the office of Homeland Security…

Their disdain is coming via twitter.

In a counter tweet, the President responded with something along the lines of
“if you don’t like it, go back from where you came form”
Of which for a couple of them means they’d just be going back here to the US,
but not so for a couple of the others as he later added
“if you don’t like it, you can just leave”

Now, first of all, let me clarify— I hate all things twitter.

I liken it to a grown-up version of name-calling as well as good old fashioned
‘he said, she said’ sort of childish nonsense.

So no, I don’t like Twitter.

Maybe if we really try to figure it out, maybe it’s because everyone wants to have
some sort of public platform in order to express their ill content while hoping that
those out there reading will join on whatever the current bandwagon may be.

A cheap, easy and often anonymous sort of platform.

It seems to embolden people who have a more or less private avenue in which
to babble outward…
They are emboldened as they can readily spout off something via
the twitter waves while others rally to their words.

But I digress…it’s lunacy run amuck but there I go again digressing.

I will, however, be the first to say that yes, we, as in this country of ours,
have quite a mess on our hands.

My friend Kathy over on a Time to Share (atimetoshare.wordpress.com) actually wrote about this
issue yesterday, our mess that is, in a post entitled Illegal, what don’t we understand?

Here’s the link
ILLEGAL – WHAT DON’T WE UNDERSTAND?

And I agree with her.

I commented as much while she, in turn, responded that she was having some pushback
from the millennial crowd… of which I am not surprised.

Of course, the whole illegal notion and humanitarian crisis issue runs contrary to what
many of the democratic hopeful presidential candidates would want anyone to
truly understand because it helps their numbers to simply say “crisis, what crisis?!”

When you have hundreds of thousands of folks pushing their way into a sovereign
Nation by climbing fences, swimming across rivers, digging tunnels,
hiring “coyotes” to sneak them in, hiding in the backs of big rig trucks,
hidden in the trunks of cars, etc…
with the keyword here being “sneaking’, then someone in all of this has to know
that this is not the “legal” way in or the legal way
to go about seeking citizenship.

But according to many liberal democrats…” legal citizenship” is an oxymoron.

Sneaking is ok in the minds of most of the progressive left.
Yet a synonym for sneaking is shady.
And who doesn’t understand that sneaking and shady are not words for being exactly
on the up and up?

Oh but there I go digressing.

In order to house the hundreds of those attempting to cross the border
on a daily basis, we have had to put up detention centers.

Some of the Fab 4 reps are complaining about the detention centers and have reported
that detainees are being treated like animals and are told to drink toilet water—
of which others who have actually volunteered to help at the centers
vehemently deny.
And so perhaps AOC and Omar are not speaking the truth but are rather promoting their
typical heightened sense of the melodramatic because melodramatic garners
likes and followers.

We certainly have been hearing a lot of complaining, haven’t we?
Fussing and cussing as to how bad America has become.
And the complaining spill over on to any supporter of the President
as they are equated to that of a deplorable, an ignorant dimwit, or simply
a redneck.
On and on goes the gripes…and for the lack of a better word, bitching.

I once worked for a principal who was former military.
I liked him and he was a good man to work for but there was one thing about him…
he couldn’t stand to have teachers, students or parents come to him fussing,
cussing or complaining about this or that.

He would quickly stop said complainer in mid complaint and ask rather what
was their solution.

And the solution, mind you, had better be well thought out, affordable and feasible.

So don’t simply grouse about something but rather find a viable solution to
counter your complaint.

And so here is the thing…we have record numbers of people literally
knocking down the fences to get into our country.
Pushing, shoving, running, jumping, sneaking and being all shady in their pursuit
of what this country has to offer.

While our headlines are rife with the images of people who have tragically
died doing so.
They have put not only themselves at risk, but they have readily put their children
at risk as well.

Is the potential death of a child equal to the risk of illegally invading
another country?

Many a progressive liberal would argue that yes, yes it is…
but I would be hard-pressed to see them do the same with their own lives
and their own children.

Knowing that the risk to life is very high.
And that bad things most likely will happen..
is it worth putting a young child through such?
Is their life that expendable?

Firstly there has to be some level of responsibility on the parts of these parents.

And so the Fab 4 reps and their followers are clamoring to just drop all walls,
the fences, any and all checkpoints and roll out the red carpet while saying
‘just come running on in…’

So where do the hundreds of thousands go?
Who feeds them?
Who houses them?
Who clothes them?
Who employes them?
Who educates them?
Who tends to their medical needs?

All of that costs money.
A level of money that this country does not have to give.

And that’s the thing…how do we pay for all the hundreds of thousands who come?

We currently have a homeless epidemic in this country…
Look at Portland, Seattle, Chicago, LA….any large city across this nation has
a vast number of homeless.
Many who suffer from mental illness or drug addiction.

Yet we can’t seem to figure out how to help our own so how are we expected
to welcome the throngs of individuals who are wanting to cross the borders–?

And so we have a group of naive, melodramatic, representatives who
are being very verbal about their disdain for our Nation, our
government, our leadership.

Are they offering any viable solutions or are they simply rabble rousing the masses
with inflammatory words such as impeach, occupyer,
Russian accomplice, racist, Nazi,hater

If there are no viable solutions to be offered, perhaps leaving the place
they seem to enjoy running in the ground might be the best choice
for all concerned…

At least their departure would open up a few more spots to those sneaking in…

Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged;
behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

James 5:9

born to run?

The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody’s out on the run tonight
But there’s no place left to hide…
Come on with me, tramps like us
Baby we were born to run…

Bruce Springsteen, lyrics Born to Run


(image of a high speed chase that ends in Houston)

We seem to be a people born to run.
Not physically mind you…as in the quickening of walking then breaking out into a full sprint…

Not running as in a physical form of fitness or sport… but rather the notion of
running AWAY from…as in avoiding.

Yeasterday, my husband and I got on Interstate 85, about 30 miles south of downtown Atlanta….
we were heading south a short ways, due to his wanting to go scope out some
recreational property..aka deer land.

We were driving in the right lane, only having to be on the interstate for a couple of exits when
my husband, looking in his rear-view mirror, nervously announces that
“I think a high speed chase it coming up behind us….”

Huh???

Sure enough, I turned around only to see a sea of blue lights as a small older, beat-up silver
Camary type of car comes flying past us on our left, in a blur… clocking in well over 100 MPH
as both GA State Patrol and local sheriff vehicles followed in a hot pursuit.

The interstate was crowded, but luckily the crowdedness was somewhat spaced out enough
for Mr.”Camary” to weave in and out while his pursuers were equally weaving.

Our exit was next and luckily we got off the interstate in one piece.
But I fretted…what of those further down the road…
did everyone avoid this selfish person who was putting all at grave risk
while running from the law for whatever reason???

This little incident got me thinking…
thinking about us…
us as in humankind…

and that of our running…
running away and running from…
as in…running to avoid, running to hide…

I was reminded of this from Genesis…

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden,
and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?
Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:9-13

We run and we hide…We run while hiding from others while we run from the law,
we run from ourselves and more importantly, we run from the ultimate…we run from God…

We run from everyone around us while selfishly putting everyone else at risk
with our running…

Yet what are we running from?
Why are we running?
Do we not realize that no matter time nor space, we will eventually be found,
caught, discovered?

Why do we feel compelled to run…running from not only everyone,
but most importantly from our God while hiding from His presence?

Is it shame?
Defiance?
Arrogance?

Because is not this ultimate running, running from not just
those who are immediately around us, but rather running from our Creator…
while desperately trying to hide from Him…is that not our true impetus for running?

This thought as we enter Lent.

Running to or running from..that will be the question over the next 40 days…

“The cross is not the suffering tied to natural existence,
but the suffering tied to being Christians.
The cross is never simply a matter of suffering,
but a matter of suffering and rejection for the sake of Jesus Christ,
not for the sake of some other arbitrary behavior or confession.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

Joel 2:12-13

seeking and hiding

“In moments of exaltation one expressed sentiments that outstripped
one’s spiritual capabilities by a vast span; and she knew well that
unless God is sought for Himself alone, with a selflessness
of which she was at present incapable,
He is not to be found.”

― Elizabeth Goudge


(wild blackberries are ripening deep in the Georgia woods / Julie Cook / 2017)


(the ripening blueberries bushes out back in the yard / Julie Cook / 2017)

I go to great lengths when it comes to seeking out, and subsequently picking,
those glistening seasonal black and blue ripening gems…
those succulent orbs and globes of juicy blueberries and now
the incoming crop of wild blackberries.

I have been known to go to near daredevil feats in order to fill a basket, bowl or bag
with these precious little beauties.
I have braved chiggers, ticks, snakes…as well as bleeding to death due to digging deep
into the proverbial briar patch.

This obsessiveness over berry picking worries my husband.

He seems to believe that I do not possess the gift of lithe or grace when it comes to say,
walking…let alone standing on my head while reaching deep into a thicket of the unknown
in search of the elusive black or blue jewel.

I think it comes down to the fact that he’s going to hold that broken ankle business
against me for the rest of my non broken life.
It wasn’t my fault I fell in a drain hole while putting out the pine straw that spring…
a hole he’d dug out just days prior and failed to fill back in before I stepped in it.

So when I must balance on a narrow brick wall,
while leaning over as far as I can with one foot planted on the ledge while
the other leg is sticking straight out behind me in some sort of yoga like pose…
all the while as I’m reaching as far as I can
without face planting into a mass jumble of branches,
fruit and leaves…
well, I don’t know what the fuss and worry is all about.

I mean, I watch for the snakes, bees and ants.
I try my best not to fall, really I do.
I can’t help that I’ll be covered with red whelps the following day that will itch like
nobody’s business…
I can’t help that I scream the word “STOP!!” when we’re happily and quietly driving down
a road in the middle of nowhere when I suddenly spot a lovely ripening bramble bush
along the side of said deserted road… beckoning to be picked.
He likes the pies and cobblers…so what’s all the the big worry???

So naturally while I was reaching and digging deep buried up to my elbows in stickers,
all during the throws of my berry seeking session yesterday,
oh so busy about the task of finding and picking…
I was stuck by a startlingly similarity between my hyper focused quest in seeking
the elusive hiding fruits—the object of an almost obsessive determination, and
the lengths to which I know God goes when He wants, nay yearns, to seek out and
eventually find….us….

As we have the tendency to hide, always painstakingly out of arms reach…and
yet a loving God painstakingly seeks his own…
for He will go to even much greater and even more daring lengths in His quest for us
than dare say I do over a mere berry….

And boy how grateful I am that He does!

I will seek that which was lost,
and bring again that which was driven away,
and will bind up that which was broken,
and will strengthen that which was sick:
but I will destroy the fat and the strong;
I will feed them with judgment.

Ezekiel 34:16

in the shadows

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

To think of shadows is a serious thing.
Victor Hugo

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(a jackdaw at the Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

As the winter wanes and spring advances, the evening shadows slowly retreat from whence they came.
Or so it seems to the causal observer…
those innocents who observe the rhythm of the seasons.

Yet the shadows that secretly veil this earth…
grow ever far reaching …
while hidden from plain site…they slink around undetected

There are those who know the dangers because they can actually see..
the shape shifting shadows that dart in and out…
hidden far from reality’s plain sight
Chasing and dogging those who seek the One True Light….

Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and remember that the strain is the same for all your fellow-Christians in other parts of the world. And after you have borne these sufferings a very little while, God himself (from whom we receive all grace and who has called you to share his eternal splendour through Christ) will make you whole and secure and strong. All power is his for ever and ever, amen!
1Peter 5:8 (Phillips)

Tall grass

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
Saint Basil The Great

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do, If bees are few.
Emily Dickinson

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(red clover blooms in a field of tall grass / Julie Cook / 2015)

I lose myself in the tall grass
Hidden from preying eyes
Inhibitions that lay chains upon the backs of the innocent
are lost in the tall grass
Running unhindered, unencumbered. . .finally free
The tiny and small feel brave and bold in the tall grass

I am safe in the tall grass
Resting from demanding voices
Fears that lay hold falsely around the necks of the virtuous
are banished in the tall grass
Basking uninhibited, joyously. . .finally at rest
The weak and the weary are at peace in the tall grass

I joyfully sing in the tall grass
Free to be who I wish to be
Songs soar on the wings of the grasshopper reaching happily
above the tall grass
Resting, musing, dreaming. . .finally happy
The innocent and pure feel happiness and joy in the tall grass

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Hidden treasure

The diversity of the phenomena of nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.
Johannes Kepler

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(hidden little green shield bug nestled among the baby meyer lemons / Julie Cook / 2014)

Go forth with eyes wide open.
With a mind clear and wanting,
Seeking always,
Expecting nothing less than fascinating.
With a heart deep and cavernous,
Anticipate the extraordinary.
Touch gently
Feel softly
Step lightly, yet determined
Breathe in deeply
Smell joyously
Examine meticulously
hidden treasures are waiting. . .

Where is your happiness?

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.”
― Walt Whitman

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(shells of the coquinas mollusk, otherwise known as butterfly shells, Henderson State Park, Destin, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

Where pray tell is your happiness?
Is it hiding today?
Lost and not yet found?
Perhaps you have misplaced it, putting it down in some most obvious spot.
Is that it there?
No no silly, up there?
Oh that must be it, down there, buried underneath all that rubbish?

By all means, please stop whatever it is you’re doing and take a quick look around.
What do you see?
Well?
Anything?
Anything which resembles that missing happiness of yours?
Anything at all?
Do you spy anything of the slightest and smallest which may vaguely resemble that happiness?

Vainly searching far and wide or high and low is simply not the solution.
The missing is never really missing you know.
It’s there in plain sight, right under your very nose.
It’s right where it’s been all along, waiting on you all this very long long time
Oh pity, you still don’t see it do you?

Well, you mustn’t give up, you simply mustn’t
You must carry on the search.
Leave no stone unturned.
For it is there, oh I promise it is there
It is there still waiting, just right where you put it, so very long ago,
and waiting it shall be. . . until you can finally stop all of your mad and endless goose chases
Oh it’s all in plain sight, I really do promise, simply waiting. . . waiting on you.