refuge found in a memory (re-run number 3–it’s that good)

“The Lord manifests Himself to those who stop for some time in
peace and humility of heart.
If you look in murky and turbulent waters,
you cannot see the reflection of your face.
If you want to see the face of Christ,
stop and collect your thoughts in silence,
and close the door of your soul to the noise of external things.”

St. Anthony of Padua


(a statue to St.Anthony in the small chapel of St. Blasiuskirche,
Salzburg, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

When I first read the quote that I’ve opted to use today,
I was immediately transported to a different time and place…
and to a previous post.

It was 2012 and I had recently retired from 31 years of teaching—
I was also preparing
to embark on an arduous journey with my elderly father…
how arduous, I had no idea,
but I knew life was changing and I knew it was not going to
be for the better.

My aunt, another friend, and I had all embarked on a bit of an adventure
during that fall of 2012.
It was a wonderful trip which holds some very precious and
treasured memories…especially since my aunt is no longer with us.

Yet during that trip, there were a couple of very special moments
that have stayed near to my heart…
and one thing I’ve learned over the years,
adventures offer lessons.

And so I looked back at that original post and found
that the serenity that I had experienced
during that adventure, and later in the writing of the post,
I realized that I greatly needed to relive, as well as share, again,
that peaceful gratitude I found one quiet fall afternoon.

And so here is that post from October 2013 about a warm fall
afternoon in 2012 in Salzburg, Austria:

The deep groaning and creaking sound of the huge ancient
wooden door being pulled open echoes loudly throughout the small
yet cavernous chapel.
It must be the vaulted ceiling helping to carry the sound deep
into the hallowed room.
The burning votives cast an otherworldly glow.
There is a lingering scent of incense mixed with the musty dampness.

There is a lone figure, an older woman, kneeling at one of the front pews…
her rosary woven through her fingers, moving ever so slightly,
bead per bead as she silently makes her petitions before
the small statue.

I once heard it put that religion was just something for
old women and children.
Pity that…as that must mean that older women and children are the only ones
who “get it”…everyone else must be too vain, too prideful,
and too arrogant to truly understand.

My eyes begin to adjust to the lack of lighting as the cool air
is a welcomed feeling against the late afternoon Autumn warmth outside.
I walk slowly, quietly, reverently down the small aisle,
my hand resting on the smooth wooden end cap of each pew,
as I make my way to my seat of choice.
I kneel slightly, the genuflection of reverence,
before slipping into the pew.

I’m not Catholic but raised Anglican–yet I oddly welcome
and greatly appreciate the nuances
of ancient worship–-more than would be expected from my raising.
There is a deep mystery that I believe many in our mainstream churches miss.
This Christianity of ours is an ancient faith but that is too
sadly forgotten in this age of the technologically savvy megachurch.
The ancient components of worship seem lost on those now sitting
in stadium type seating waiting, as if ready for the latest blockbuster to begin,
to be wowed not by participation but by passive viewing.

Despite my pained attempts to muffle my movements,
each step, each rustle of my jacket, causes deep reverberations
through this ancient room,
I feel very conspicuous even though just one other person is present.
She never wavers from her intense focus to her prayerful conversation.
She is oblivious to my presence.

I take in my surroundings before dropping to my knees.
The chapel is hundreds of years old as worship here dates back to the 1200s.
Dark wood paneling with cream-colored walls.
Arched vaults line the ceiling with stone columns systematically placed,
acting as supports, creating the aisles throughout the room.
This is not one of the beautifully bright and light
Rococoesque churches of Austria that the tourists clammer to enter in order
to view famous paintings,
statues and frescos with ornate altars boasting a multitude of plaster cherubs
heralding glad tidings.
This chapel is small, dark, ancient, and humble.
Perhaps that is why I was drawn inside.

I slip down to my knees as I make the sign of the cross.
I begin my “conversation”—-it is one of thanksgiving and gratitude
as a tremendous sense
of warmth and contentment engulfs me.
I then begin my petitions—-not for myself,
but for those I love who are not with me on this particular journey.
After some time, I open my eyes.
How long had I been praying?
I rest in the moment as a tremendous sense of safety and peace washes over me–-
it is almost palpable.

Am I a tourist or a pilgrim? I like to think that when I travel,
I am a pilgrim.
I want to not merely observe, but rather, I want to partake…
I want to be a part of each moment in time.
I am not here to watch an old Austrian woman in prayer,
watching from the shadows of an ancient chapel as some sort of
voyeuristic individual
or as someone viewing animals in an enclosure,
but rather I want to pray beside her to the same God who hears
each of our prayers.
I am in communion with her even though she never glances my way.
I want to appreciate this chapel that is a part of her daily life,
wishing I too had such a special and reverent place of retreat.

The history here is so old as countless individuals previously
have gathered here to worship, to seek, to lament, to rejoice.
I slowly rise from my knees slipping out of the pew.
I make my way to the small alter to pick up a fresh votive.
I gently touch the fresh wick to one of the existing burning flames–
my hand slightly shakes.
I feel the warm heat against my cheeks rising from the candles.
I place my lit votive in an empty slot silently thanking Saint Anthony
and God for this time of communion with not only them but with
this woman who never seems to notice my presence.

I am grateful.
I slip a few coins into the small metal locked box by the door.
I make my way back outside, into the light.
It almost hurts my eyes as it is now so sunny and bright.
The sounds of the throngs of people on the streets are almost painful to my ears.
This is Oktoberfest, the streets and alleyways are teeming with a sea of people.

For a brief moment, I had a glimpse of the Divine.
I feel different for the encounter.
Changed.
Better.
Not in an arrogant sort of way but more in the way that I have been fortunate
to be privy to something so rich and so special.
I look out at all of the throngs of people reveling in this historic and exciting
city during this raucous time. I slightly smile inward thinking that I hold a special
secret that no one else knows…no one other than that older woman back in the chapel
and myself.

Past and Future (tweaked repeat 2015)

“…It’s got me hoping for the future
And worrying about the past
‘Cause I’ve seen some hot hot blazes
Come down to smoke and ash…”

a few lines from Joni Mitchell – Help Me


(Thistles at the The Cliffs of Moher/ Co. Clare, Ireland/ Julie Cook/ 2015)

Has the past left you worrying about the future?
Will the future find you wistful for the past?
Does the present find you hopeful about much of anything?

Have you turned on the television, read the paper, seen the stories?

Terror attacks on a beach.
Heads chopped off like weeds.
Migrants flooding across both land and sea.
Legislation turns topsy turvy.
Killings where we worship.
Good guys now set bad guys free.
Sharks lurk hungry in the surf,
While flags flap in the wind.

A culture sees what was and decides it’s now time to
strike it all from sight, from history, from acknowledgment—
Seek and destroy quickly lest anyone notice.

And so hysteria cries foul as the masses must now acquiesce.

Wipe it clean with the sweep of a pen and that’ll make it right.
But do it quick and don’t dare pause to consider the bigger picture.
Just erase it from view and that’ll be the end of it…for now.

Rewrite what was and that’ll keep them happy, quiet, confused…
or out of sight and out of mind as we lose our minds.

Is straddling that fence getting uncomfortable?
Is the grey any more clear?
Upside down for one is now right side up for many.
Thought you knew which way to go? Think again.

Masked and muzzled.
Vaccinated with a passport.
When rainbows once came after the storms and
Hope grew out of the past…

History once directed our future…
and we thought everything simply made more sense…

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal
that has come on you to test you,
as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ,
so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ,
you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any
other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
However, if you suffer as a Christian,
do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household;
and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who
do not obey the gospel of God?
And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will sh
ould commit themselves
to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4: 12-19

Memento mori

“Begin now to be what you will be hereafter.”
St Jerome

Memento mori (Latin for ‘remember that you [have to] die’)
wikipedia


(painting of St. Jerome by Caravaggio (1605-6))

Yesterday I caught a great little write up regarding St. Jerome.
September 30th, yesterday, in the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches,
was the Feast Day of St. Jerome—
or more succinctly, the day The Church recognizes the life and legacy
of one of the great early fathers of the Christian Church.

In a quick nutshell:

Jerome, also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Latin priest, confessor,
theologian, and historian; he is commonly known as Saint Jerome.

Jerome was born (c. 342–347) at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border
of Dalmatia and Pannonia.
He is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin
(the translation that became known as the Vulgate)
and his commentaries on the whole Bible.
Jerome attempted to create a translation of the Old Testament
based on a Hebrew version, rather than the Septuagint,
as Latin Bible translations used to be performed before him.
His list of writings is extensive, and beside his Biblical works,
he wrote polemical and historical essays, always from a theologian’s perspective.

Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life,
especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome.
In many cases, he focused his attention on the lives of women
and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life.
This focus stemmed from his close patron relationships with several prominent
female ascetics who were members of affluent senatorial families.

Thanks to Jerome’s contribution to Christianity,
he is recognised as a saint and Doctor of the Church by the Catholic Church,
the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion.
His feast day is 30 September.

(Wikipedia)

Well, from his biography, we can see that Jerome was probably one of the
first pro-women fellows for his time.
Imagine that….
And happily Jerome is the one who gave us the Latin Bible…

So whereas we can understand why Jerome is always painted or drawn as
sitting at some sort of desk…for he was a translator and scholar…

But also within those images Jerome is always depicted with a skull
either on his desk or in his hands.

And this is where the write up comes into play.

The write up comes from a Catholic Company’s Get Fed segment.
This fed segment was in honor of St. Jerome and focused in on the reason as
to why there is always a skull sitting in close proximity to the
studious saint while he labors writing.

Now we come to the skull. Not something we would normally put on our desks.

In portrayals of St. Jerome and other saints, the skull symbolizes our mortality.
Memento mori —the memory of death—is something we as Christians should
always have in our minds, though not for the sake of meaningless morbidity.

Instead, the recollection of death reminds us to stay
detached from worldly things and to be always prepared to die,
since we will die eventually, and sometimes unexpectedly.
When our own death does come, may the Lord find us ready!

For Jerome and other ascetics, the skull is particularly suitable.
They deliberately separated themselves from the world and embraced
a life of prayer and penance in order to better attach themselves
to spiritual things and to prepare themselves for the next world.

The skull could also indicate St. Jerome’s spirit of penance
for the sins of his youth.
While studying in Rome as a young man, he fell into the immorality
common among his confrères.
Spurred by a guilty conscience and frequent visits to the Roman catacombs,
he converted and was baptized in the 360s.

Memento mori, detachment, penance—a skull in your study seems a little
more reasonable now, doesn’t it?’

And it was the notion that “the memory of death—is something we as Christians should
always have in our minds, though not for the sake of meaningless morbidity.”

Instead, the recollection of death reminds us to stay
detached from worldly things and to be always prepared to die,
since we will die eventually, and sometimes unexpectedly.
When our own death does come, may the Lord find us ready!

And it is this single thought, that of detachment, that is sadly the furtherest
notion from the minds of oh so many.

Detachment from the world.

How can any of us be detached when our world is more alluring than ever…
A sparkly shiny temptation vying for our very souls.

Our governments vie for our total dependance.
Big tech vies for our total allegiance.
Big merchandizing vies for any and all income.

It will only be in detachment that we can truly find our our salvation.

May the Lord find us ready indeed…
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you
free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.
By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,
he condemned sin in the flesh,
in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit

Romans 8:1-5

the various degrees of a world…safer or less safe…

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.
The world owes you nothing.
It was here first.”

Mark Twain


(historyhit.com

You see this picture of Winston Churchill?

You can clearly see the Prime Mister, along with several commanding officers,
surveying some of the British troops.

Off to the far right of the photograph walks Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery,
the senior serving officer to the British army during WWII.
General Montgomery was crucial to the success of Allied forces
defeating Hitler and his mindless Nazi murder machine.

And here we see another picture…


(AP photo 1959)

It’s an actual photograph the was used by the AP Press and taken
the year I was born, 1959.

I’m fortunate to have several actual photographs of Churchill that were used
in both magazines and newspapers throughout his life.

I think they call these first edition or simply original photographs with documentation.

The picture I have was taken 19 years following the initial
photograph from 1940.

In the first photo, we see two leaders, along with their troops,
as they were all preparing to embark on a world war that would
determine the course of Western Civilization’s democracy.

An embarkation for the betterment of the free world.

The second picture shows two older, yet no less formidable,
men greeting one another before attending a meeting of Parliament regarding
the Suez Debate.

19 years had passed and they and their input were still considered viable
and even necessary.

Both of these men were from what we consider a first world country.
81 years ago they were preparing to do battle against men also from
first world countries. As well as second and even third world countries.

Today we hear a great deal about a first world and her “problems”—
spoiled problems really.

Problems that consist more of want rather than need.

Problems about such things as to where we might wish to go out to eat?
“What do you mean the movie I wanted to see is sold out?”
“Why can’t I get my new appliances in when promised?…
You know the current ones I have are outdated!”
“Why can’t the dentist get me in this afternoon vs tomorrow?”

On the flip side, third would problems are based primarily on a basic need
of survival—
it is not so much based upon wants and whims but rather upon survival needs.

“We need to find clean drinking water.”
“The drought has destroyed our family’s only source of food.”
“We must walk 25 miles in order to find a doctor in the neighboring
town to help the baby get well.”

On my end, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about first world problems.

“A mother laments that her daughter can’t find a dress in her correct size
for the homecoming dance—
there seems to be a production and material shortage.”

“This house we’re building is taking much longer than we anticipated
because our builder can’t get the lumber.”

“I really wanted that new couch for the den but it would blow the budget.”

These are problems more of want and convenience rather than that
of need and survival.

So I got to thinking…

We know there are first world problems, if you can call them problems–
and we know there are third world problems—problems about basic needs…
shelter, protection, medicine, food, water…

But…wait…what of second world problems??
Is there even such a thing as a second world?

After a little investigating, I discovered that there is indeed a
category of a 2nd world…but we never really hear about it do we?

According to Investopedia.com

What is Second World?
The outdated term “second world” included countries that were
once controlled by the Soviet Union.
Second world countries were centrally planned economies and one-party states.
Notably, the use of the term “second world”
to refer to Soviet countries largely fell out of use in the early 1990s,
shortly after the end of the Cold War.

But the term second world has also been used to cover countries
that are more stable and more developed than offensive term
“third-world” countries but less-stable and less-developed
than first world countries.
Examples of second-world countries by this definition
include almost all of Latin and South America, Turkey, Thailand, South Africa,
and many others.
Investors sometimes refer to second world countries that appear to be
headed toward first world status as “emerging markets” instead.

By the first definition, some examples of second world countries
include: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania,
Russia, and China, among others.

With regard to the second definition, according to geo-strategist
and London School of Economics doctorate Parag Khanna,
approximately 100 countries exist that are neither first world (OECD)
nor third world (least-developed, or LDC) countries.
Khanna emphasizes that within the same country there can be a
coexistence of first and second; second and third;
or first and third world characteristics.[1]
A country’s major metropolitan areas may exhibit first world characteristics,
for example, while its rural areas exhibit third-world characteristics.
China displays extraordinary wealth in Beijing and Shanghai,
yet many of its non-urban regions are still deemed developing.

So I find it interesting that nations such as China and Russia, our
long hard fraught archnemeses, our adversaries, can be first,
second and even third worlds all within one…
whereas here in the US, Canada and much of Europe,
we consider ourselves first world.

Perhaps we should consider the land mass of each of these countries.
In Russia there are 11 different time zones compared to our 6..
yet oddly France claims 13 given their country proper along
with their sovereign lands.

It is an odd conundrum.
Land mass equating to first, second and third worlds.

So whereas there were once men who were determined to defend and protect
the freedoms of not only their first worlds but that of all worlds…
A globe where the chance for freedom for all worlds, no matter their “status”,
could be attainable.

Yet sadly we find very few who are now willing to defend and protect
those very freedoms…freedoms for all of our worlds…
freedoms that men, only 80 years ago and less, were readily willing to die for.

It appears that the agenda of both democracy and the freedom has gravely shifted.

So—let’s ask some of our older citizens or those now citizens who have immigrated
from the 2nd and 3rd world nations…
Are we more free, safer and secure under our current leadership than we were
80 yers ago?

I think I know the answer…

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13

THE LION OF MÜNSTER…we need more lions

Woe then to our poor German people. Disorder and revolutionary
convulsions will not come to an end until the batter of everyone
against everyone has spent all its power.”

Bishop von Galen


((c) Redmich/Thinkstock)

Since I’ve started reading a new book, I’ve decided we need
some lions…heck I’ll be happy to have just one lion!

What you say???!!!….I hear you smugly inquiring…

Yep, a lion.

This book is a historical book…
it’s a story about a man born in 1878,
born into a well to-do German family.

The boy would eventually grow up to become a priest…
eventually a bishop, an archbishop and later, a cardinal…
but more importantly…he became a lion….

He became a voracious and loud roaring nemesis of Adolf Hitler.

His name was Archbishop Clemens August Graf von Galen.

I won’t waste our time today with the biographical background and growth
of this man, although it does lay out who this would-be lion, a lion
who would never back down, was to grow to become…

Heck, I’m only to page 37 and WWI has just ended.
And already, with only 37 pages in, there is oh so much to share!

So today, I’ll just offer enough to give us pause to ponder.

So picture yourself looking into a mirror of the past, but
you still can see your own reflection. That’s what this book
is—a mirror.
A mirror of what was and fretfully would will most likely be.

The words I’m choosing to share today are actually words that
this lion wrote following the devastating war that was to end all wars…
that being WWI.
Later similar words would come prior to WWII…

Following WWI, Germany had been defeated and her citizens decimated—
a situation that the world perceived as fitting since
the Germans had been the obvious aggressors and instigators of this
catastrophic World War.

But this book actually examines a devout Christian’s nonobjective view
of his homeland and of the troubles his nation was preparing to
fall victim to.

Following the Treaty of Versailles…Germany was hurled
into the black hole of impotence.
It was enough of a black hole that could generate the
cataclysmic energy that would allow a man like Adolf Hitler
to rise to…an evil dominating world foe of democracies and freedom.

Before the first world war, Germany was known for being one of the most
highly educated and cultured societies that existed.

And so it is to this very day, 76 years following the end of WWII,
that I still have to study and re-study the dynamics that allow me
to wrap my head around the idea that a nation of knowledge
and refinement can grow into a mindless nation bent on
destruction, death and world dominance.

Jumping forward a bit in the book, we read that it was shortly
after Adolf Hitler seized power and the Nazi Party turned
Germany into a totalitarian state in 1933,
Blessed Cardinal Clemens August von Galen began openly speaking
out against the dictatorial regime as the new bishop of Münster.

“The book’s author notes that
the Nazis killed people for distributing von Galen’s sermons,”

“Throughout World War II, Bishop von Galen became one of Germany’s
most outspoken bishops, authoring letters and sermons that challenged
the Nazi regime’s racial ideologies.
In 1937, von Galen assisted Pope Pius XI in the writing
of his 1937 anti-Nazi encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge”
(“With Burning Anxiety”), and in 1941,
he delivered three sermons denouncing the euthanasia program,
confiscating of church property and the injustice of the Gestapo,
appropriately earning him the nickname “The Lion of Münster.”

But this wise man understood back in 1917 what would eventually
lead to the opening of door for the likes of Hitler.

He spoke of the great importance of leaders and leadership…
in particular those those in position of governmental leadership,
to know who it was they served and to always remember what it meant to be
a servant.

A servant.

“What, Galen asked, makes for a good community—
one in which people of different classes, professions, and social positions
really consider themselves to be united and to which they can give their hearts,
their loyalty, and their service?
“Why”, he continued, “did Germany not have such a community?”
For although it had the externals of a community–indeed,
a self-governing community, since all power has been given
to the people–in fact the people of different classes, professional standing,
political parties and religions felt themselves at odds with each other.

The fault, he argued, was egoism, disordered self-love,
by which everyone seeks his own interests with concern
for the good and rights of his neighbor.

Years later, Galen wrote:
“if the right of the state, today the might of the majority,
really makes right, then why only this might?
Why not also the might of the stronger fist,
why not the might of money, why not the might of craftiness
and clever business dealings?
The destruction that is introduced into the community by the
working out of this fundamental principle should open people’s
eyes to the destructiveness of this principle itself.”…

“If the state is the creator of all rights and the
all-powerful lord of all rights, the, many concluded,
their rights and freedoms would be secure only if they themselves
were the holders of state power.”

“We will not come to an inner people’s community,”
he concluded, “as long as State absolutism is the fundamental principle
of our political life.”
Such absolutism leads inevitably to centralization and attacks
on any persons or groupings that are independent of the state.
That was the reason for the Kulturkampf (culture struggle),
for the Prussian state saw the Catholic Church as the bulwark
of freedom and the rights of individuals and small communities
against arbitrary state power.

And so I will leave us today to ruminate over the notion that our
dear Western Civilization is currently looking in a mirror of decades past….
Yet what we are seeing looking back at us is the makings of a monster with nary
a lion to quell the rampage…

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll
written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able
to open the scroll or to look into it,
and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open
the scroll or to look into it.
And one of the elders said to me,
“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the
scroll and its seven seals.”

Revelation 5:1-5

what has “he” done now?????

“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have
allowed themselves to become.
And they pay for it very simply;
by the lives they lead.”

James Baldwin


(a card dating from 1918)

I was in the kitchen, starting supper er when I heard a wail of what one could only
be classified of that of a dying animal…”WHAT HAS HE DONE NOW???!!!”

Bewilderment mixed with frustration mixed with resignation.

The “he” in this wail would be Joe Biden.
The reason for the high pitched yell was due to my husband seeing the latest
in the way of news….”France recalls ambassadors to the US and Australia in
response to AUKUS nuclear submarine pact”

Before he even heard the story, he knew that this present administration
merely added one more misstep to their continuous pattern of gaffe after gaffe–
week after week after week.

This little tale came on the heels of the day’s earlier news of a drone
attack in Kabul that killed citizens rather than a targeted Taliban leader.
And we wonder who is calling the shots…as in literally.

Tripping and falling down a never ending set of stairs.
Dragging the good folks of the US along for the bumpy ride.

So what if France gets her feelings hurt that the US opted to align
herself with Australia rather than France.
What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that you don’t treat your allies as expendables.
You keep them in the loop even if the loop is hard.
Friends don’t like to be blindsided and that is exactly what
happened…the US blindsided France just prior to publicly announcing the
Australian deal…it didn’t help that the UK was an involved accomplice.
And in turn, France felt let down, hurt and betrayed.
I think “stabbed in back” is how they worded it.

We call that burning bridges.
I learned early on in my career, you don’t burn your bridges as you never
know whose help you might need later down the road.

France was key to our own fight for independence.
Without France’s help…we might still be citizens of the Crown.

Wonder how Harry and Meghan would feel about that?

So we’re learning to limit our news input as it is not conducive to the nerves
or heart. And just can’t take one more presidential miscue at the expense of
we the taxpaying people and now at the expense of our once formidable allies.

Sigh.

Vive la France, Vive la liberté

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-58604677

I can feel it coming…

Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor Frankl

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord
And I’ve been waiting for this moment, for all my life, oh lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord, oh lord

Lyrics by Phil Collins


(a single leaf suspended between tree and earth / Julie Cook / 2021)

I can feel it.
The question however is, can you?

Can you feel it?
Can you sense it?
Or have you been too desensitized to that which is taking place
all around us?

Change– a great, mighty and yes, even grave change is in the air.

Many of us are already well aware that we cannot possibly know the time
nor the place…
But yet, this change is coming nonetheless.

A great many of us sense that the change is coming and coming soon.

It might be incremental at first.
Slow and innocuous.
Seeping in quietly yet deadly, like a colorless and odorless gas.

Maybe it’s merely what we’ve been witnessing taking place throughout our country
in these past few years…
think BLM, Antifa, the Proud Boys…

Was it born during a crusade?
Was it born in the dark ages of the plague?
Was it born in a Spanish Inquisition?
Was it born in France during the Reign of Terror?
Was it born in the birth of a young nation following its own revolution?
Was it born on the fields of Antietam, Gettysburg, Bull Run, Vicksburg,
Appomattox…or the scorched earth tactic ravaged on Georgia?
Or was it born in the corded nooses dangling from trees?

It might have been born in the mustard gas wafting through
the trenches of WWI ….
It might have been born in the death chambers and ovens of Poland
and Germany.
Maybe it was born in Stalin’s iron fisted USSR gulags.

Maybe it was born in a fast paced and currently overreaching technology.
Maybe it was born on the heaviness of 9/11
Maybe it’s born on our southern borders?
Or was it born in Benghazi or Afghanistan?

Or was it simply born in the disobedience found in a now hidden garden?

Has it simply been unfolding, ever so slowly, for eons?

Division.
Anger.
Resentment.
Fear.
Paranoia.
Bullying.
Lying.

The latest pandemic has only helped to embolden this ensuing change.

Mandates.
Masks.
Ultimatums.
Us vs them.
Passports.
The clean vs the unclean.
Freedom vs dictation.

Virus and illness vs death or life…

Elitism.
Wokeness.
Liberalism.
Cancel Culture.

Christianity, morality, conservatives all now equated to pariah.

Persecution?
Yes.

And with these overwhelming thoughts of change—
in that change is indeed a’coming–
I was actually amazed at the coming together of some giant collective
thinking taking place on a single afternoon.

First there was IB offering a telling vid clip based
on a post found on http://www.aier.org

And I think it’s that ‘in your face’ flaunting by a maskless Squad debutant
that has been truly the taunting on the cake.
An exorbitantly decadent who’s who Met affair featuring
the likes of a young woman feeling her oats, daring
to wear her statement of taxing the rich, stretched across her derrière
as she tips her bareless shoulder, rubbing it with her ever so rich fellow guests.
It was enough hypocrisy to last a lifetime.

The Best Defense Against Violence


https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2021/09/15/the-moral-vacuum-kate-wand/

Then our dear wise sage Oneta offered up her own take on
this air of change with the following post:

MANDATES AND WEARY CHRISTIANS

Posted on September 16, 2021 by oneta hayes

“I’m just not watching anymore TV,” stated my friend.
We had just attended a meeting in which someone said the mess
in our country was our fault, speaking of senior-aged Christians,
laying the blame on our lethargy in letting “stuff” happen without speaking up.
I agree completely.

We have been taught “Live in peace with all men”
and “let there be no divisions between you.”
Letters to editors of papers and magazines—almost unheard of;
attendance at local political rallies—almost unheard of;
protests on the streets—almost unheard of;
spitting fire on tweeter—unheard of.
That’s the way it has been!
It is the fault of sleeping Christians.
Too often Christians point out that we do not fight the way the world fights.
Our duty is to put on the armor of God and pray.
Yep.
But do you believe even five percent of people who
claim to be Christians do that?
Even if we do that, it does not absolve us of having
an obligation to be good citizens of the nation in which we live.

Meanwhile the evil has crept in tide by tide so it is
now a huge wave swamping the land.
Boy scouts have to take girls; “rainbow”
no longer represents a promise of God;
urinals removed from restrooms because it might offend
“persons with no male genitalia;” babies murdered by the millions.

So it goes. Evil has overtaken us. And Christians are weary.

My nephew, Teral, put the following scripture on FB this morning.
And he shall speak great words against the most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the most High,
and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given
into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Daniel 7:25 KJ

This is speaking of the anti-Christ.
I do not know whether or not the anti-Christ now lives.
But I do know there are things happening right now that
are preparing the way for him.
The current “mandate” orders are a significant sign.

Other translations of the above scripture say
“saints are worn down, oppressed, persecuted.”
I am witness to that truth.

Another interesting thing about this scripture is
“think to change times and laws.”
Isn’t that referring to breaking down of traditions and laws?
Looks like it to me. We are certainly having a change in laws,
moral laws, even in Constitutional laws.
And traditions?
Now it is no longer to talk of mothers and fathers!
A combination of anything can be family –
if indeed one demands a family at all.

And lastly there was the wisdom of Mel Wild of In My Father’s House.
His latest post (actually last two posts) explores the current ignorance found
in those claiming that Christianity is actually Socialism in sheep’s clothing.
His post Sorry, Jesus is NOT a Socialist lays out the truth
that our current culture cares not to acknowledge.

https://melwild.wordpress.com

So let’s round out this small treatise with the master of drums himself,
Phil Collins…who sadly today, due to injury can no longer play his
beloved drums…

Weird things happen

“That proves you are unusual,” returned the Scarecrow;
“and I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration
in this world are the unusual ones. For the common
folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.”

L. Frank Baum, The Land of Oz


(a fallen persimmon / Julie Cook / 2021)

Yesterday I thought I had an entire post dedicated to my trappings through the woods
while sharing my excitement over knowing fall was soon at hand because of all
the persimmons I found ripening on the trees….

I thought I had written that we all knew it’s getting to be fall when I was out
spotting persimmons.
I also thought I had written about how we just needed to forget about life’s madness
for just a bit while we simply enjoyed a brief respite out of doors,
albeit for just a minute or two.

I had a bunch of different pictures of persimmons that I’d uploaded to the post
that I wanted to share.

And so this morning, just like every morning, I grabbed my phone since
I use my WP app in order to publish my posts as I grab my coffee,
and so I thought after it showed “published” I was good to go.

It wasn’t until I finally sat down this afternoon
(yesterday if you’re reading this today) and pulled up the blog that I
saw the bulk of the post was MIA.

Huh?
The post looking at me was not the post I last saw last night…
Not the post that I had saved in order to publish the following day.
It was woefully incomplete…
Where’d what I’d written and uploaded go??

Well, who the heck knows.
So ode to the WP gremlins.

And so today, I had decided that I wanted to write a scathing post
about what our past great military brass—leaders such as Washington,
Grant, Nimitz, Bradley, Pershing, Patton, McArthur, Eisenhower,
Powell, and even ‘Stormen’ Norman…what would these men who were tried
in the fires of the horrors of war think?…
What would these men think about the likes of what we’re
stuck with today????—
Stuck with a set of currently woke, painfully politically correct,
inept, blind and deaf, treasonous military leaders???!!!!

Can anyone say following the correct chain of command?
Can anyone say court-martial???
Can anyone say treason???
Can anyone say sleeping with the enemy??

So instead of that needed post…we’ll just go back to persimmons.

Persimmons harken to a gentler life…
No treason found thankfully in a persimmon.

(***all images are various ripening persimmons/ Julie Cook / 2021)

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

Psalm 145:5

seeds of disconnect

Our efforts to disconnect ourselves from our own suffering
end up disconnecting our suffering from God’s suffering for us.
The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through.

Henri Nouwen


(seeds emerge from the head of a sunflower / Julie Cook / 2021)

So an odd thing happened last week here in my little corner of bogland…
I had written two posts tipping a hat towards the Texas abortion law.

So before we press on…here is a little personal disclosure.

I am adopted—in turn, I am not a fan of abortion.
Plain and simple.

For you see, I was a afforded life and not a death sentence.
I may not have been “planned on” nor wanted…
however I was offered a chance
with someone else who did want me.

Therefore I believe in life and not death.

So you can fuss and cuss with me all day long, I’m not budging.
Life begins at conception…the current prolife laws are stating
that life begins at the detection of a heartbeat…hence the title
of many of these laws—the heartbeat bill—if there’s a heartbeat,
there is in turn life..
If you abort that heartbeat, you are killing a life.

Pretty straight forward.

Oh yeah, I’m also a Christian…I believe God is the Creator of all life.

So there you go…now let’s get on with this tale.

So it was from my second post–the one regarding abortion,
Texas, liberties and ideologies— a post mind you,
that was really just an excerpt from a book
by professor, theologian and author, Peter Kreeft—
How To Destroy Western Civilization And Other Ideas From The Cultural Abyss
when the trouble began.

The title of my post was “The elephant named “sex” sitting in the living room”
Kreeft was writing about religious liberty being attacked in the
name of sexual liberty and since I totally concurred,
I opted to simply copy two pages of his book as my post.

So 47 comments were generated from that post.

Some of those were obviously my responses to those offering their 2 cents.
Some cents are good cents…some cents made no sense.

So there was this gal who is known as House of Hearts who commented
and commented—with much disdain I might add—
Here we go—

House of Hearts:
“What’s happened in Tx is a travesty, the Supreme Court has
failed in its responsibility.
It’s time to add additional judges to SCOTUS and stop the filibuster.
Placing a bounty ($10,000) on your neighbors heads is fascist and unconstitutional.
Women are not the only one’s who will suffer.

My response:
I respect your thoughts–I wonder however,
if SCOTUS had rendered a decision that was more inline with your
thoughts on this issue, I doubt you would be demanding to
“pack the bench” —and as for filibusters, they are indeed a bit
of an oddity within our legislative branch.

And so here it comes…

HoH:
It’s time to take action against the ruthless far right.
Are you one the “no mandates, my body my choice”
but when it’s someone else’s body it is also your choice?
Indeed we must stand up against the corruption of
Trumpism that has infiltrated the highest court of the land.

Me:
I’ve had both vaccines—plus Covid despite doing everything I was told—
I’m not going to demand that someone else get the shot if they don’t feel
it’s best for their life’s circumstance—
I am not an anti vaccine person as I and my child had every vaccine
one is to get —however that being said,
no one knows what the long term effects might be of these shots
as the issue of fertility for younger girls who get
the shot is an a huge question .
I think Trump did very good things for the economy and did put US interests first.
I think Biden is a very weak man and totally handled the
pulling out of Afghanistan terribly wrong—
his poor planning cost the lives of 13 servicemen and women
and he simply left 90 billion dollars of taxpayer
funded military equipment behind for all
US enemies to have at their disposal…
there are correct exists and wrong exits—
he opted for the wrong one—
And as a person who was adopted as well as a
Christian who knows that I am the created and not the Creator ,
abortion is not something I can ever support—
I do equate it to murder of the unborn.
I respect your opinions and that you disagree —
I hope you will respect mine.

HoH:
I don’t correspond with Trumpers.

Wait, when did I say I was a Trumper???
And what does Trump have to do with my post???

Me:
That is unfortunate as you may miss an opportunity to share ideas

HoH:
I can tell you are completely brainwashed and a hopeless case.

Me:
I think when I accepted Christ around the age of 10,
it’s been a roller coaster, but I’ve never been the same—
brainwashed, no— servant of Christ yes—
it does not mean I agree with everything about Trump in the least bit—
but I believe in Our Nation’s republic and our constitution—
a democratic freedom— that has come at a great cost to many
who have defended it for over 200 years— I call that patriotism

HoH:
Trump is not now nor ever has been a patriot.
He has nearly destroyed our country ,
has no respect for the Constitution nor does his constituents.
He is a criminal , he is using misguided people like you.
I have nothing more to say to you.

Me:
Again, I appreciate your opinion— at 62, college educated,
31 year veteran educator and life lived with the school of hard knocks—
I wouldn’t call that misguided, more like wizened knowledge

HoH:
Masters degree in nursing. Common sense and quick to detect
the brainwashed

Me:
Also I never said I was a Trumper but that he did a marvelous
with the economy and I like that he put US interests first

HoH:
He’s a fascist,a bully, a misogynist ,
a fool who think he can “grab ‘em by the …..”.
I don’t get how a “Christian” can stand the sight of him.

Me:
Can’t say I agree with the false name calling

HoH:
Haha! You are a Trumper. Come on now, spill it.

Spill what I’m thinking…??!!

Me:
I wonder how Trump got into my post regarding sex and abortion

HoH:
Before I tell you what’s going on with you and that you are not the
solution but the problem I’ll end this discussion now.

Me:
Thank you for being a nurse

HoH:
Speaking for medical personnel we are fed up with religious nuts,
deniers of science, listening to Fox and filling hospitals to overflowing.
Even compassion has its limits when heart attack victims are being
sent away for lack of ICU beds.

Me:
I can only imagine —
hence my having been vaccinated back in March

Then blessedly came the voice of reason from Citizen Tom
The calvary so to speak:

@House of Heart

The debate over abortion is neither simple nor straightforward. Is about a woman’s control over her body? No. Whatever an unborn child may be, that child’s body is its own, not it’s mother’s. The issue is whether an unborn child has rights and is entitled to the protection of the state.

Instead of addressing those issues,
you have engaged in hysterical name calling.
You shamed yourself with such behavior.

HoH:
Citizen Tom, watch your mouth.
You have shamed yourself.
If you think it’s ok for the state of Tx to put a bounty on a woman’s
head you should join the Taliban. The sorry thing is
The GOP’s concern for the unborn ends at its birth.
They are the first to withhold social programs for the needy,
medical care for mom and baby. Shame on you.
Your body your choice, woman’s body your choice.
You’ve sickened me.

Whoa, really??? “watch your mouth”, “you sicken me”
what kind of person tosses civil discourse out the window and immediately
jumps to the mud?????

Me:
Shame on you for your anger and disdain…
As well as for your tightly closed heart

Citizen Tom:
@House of Heart

More name calling. Instead of debating, you are trying to justify your irrational rage with lies. No one put a bounty on “a woman’s head” as you put it. Look at who can be sued and why.

It is calling abortion wrong you resent. You are in a rage that anyone would call abortion murder. So, you make up stuff to justify yourself.

HoH:
This blog is in spam now.

Huh…seem’s my little blog just fell in a rubbish pile, who knew?
Her words of “action” actually got me tickled.
I thought I heard the stomping of a defiant angry little foot..

Citizen Tom:
@House of Heart

You remind me a child who takes her ball and runs home because
her playmates won’t let her win.

Then our wise friend Oneta added:
You are sooo right.
The un-Godly always want to be sanctioned by the Godly.
Somehow that eases the conscience. Everybody is doing it.
God wouldn’t send Mother Teresa to hell so let’s force Mother Teresa
to validate us. Fine example: The issue of have a third restroom
for transgenders.
No.
That might cause them some offence.
Great post, Julie.

And then Oneta brought it home…

I see House of Heart responded to you six times after she said
she doesn’t correspond with Trumpers.
Funny!!
This is your blog; doesn’t she know it is a sign of being a good hostess
for you to respond to all comments.
People who accuse those of us who believe in adoption instead of
abortion should check some stats.
See who takes care of the living babies who are not wanted.
I know you are deeply troubled by her sending you to spam.

Now that you’ve weeded through a rambling conversation between several folks
all before one of them decided to take all their marbles home,
storming off in the midsts of a temper tantrum…
I wonder when did this younger generation, these lovely millennials and
the younger generations of whatever letter or moniker we’re currently on,
missed out of what it means to be able to have civil discourse with another
human being?

How and when did they miss out on the art of agreeing to disagree??

When did name calling become the go-to when faced with issues that produce
frustration or challenge?
Instead of working through the challenges, doing our homework and
due diligence when it comes to issues of debate, we’ve simply allowed
ourselves to become debased in our use of knowledge–we have
regressed to more animalistic reactionary antics then to
using our brains.

Plus, we have moved into a post Christian society.
God has been relegated to the annals of overinflated human hubris

History seems to suggest that humans have always looked for someone
to blame for the current ills du jour.
For much of history, those who were blamed were the Chosen of God, the Jews.
Now we throw in their Western Civilization kin, the members of Christendom.
The children of The Book…

The godless blame the Godly—and even worse, some who claim Godliness,
have turned on their own.

Today’s sacrificial lambs now abound in the realm of an ideological world war.
Socialism, wokeness, self inflation, atheism, cancel culture…
each vie for prominence while the Christians and the Jews,
those pillars of Western Civilization, are deemed expendable.

I don’t think I’m ready to quit the fight to right this
tipping ship.

Keep speaking up oh righteous ones of the One True God…

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.
On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring
and tossing of the sea.
People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world,
for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with
power and great glory.
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near.”

Luke 31:25-28
.

a clear blue sky…

And they were canopied by the blue sky,
So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.
Lord Byron, “The Dream,” 1816


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)

Despite the calendar refusing to turn from one season to another, there
was that ever so gentle hint of change.

The lack of humidity, coupled by a deep azure blue sky up above,
brought a slight smile to my face while I walked between the two
school wings.

I was well aware the bell was soon to ring as we readied to move from
2nd period to 3rd.
Over in an adjacent building, I had to pick up some copies for my next class,
so I joyously soaked in the quick respite of peace found outside
on this beautiful September morning.

As I walked back into my building, ready for the bell to ring, I took up
my usual position standing by my classroom door, ready to monitor
the hall during class change.

With the ringing of the bell, doors flung open as a throng of adolescents
chirpped and chatted their way out into the hall…a sea of bodies moving
much like fish, navigating both up, down as well as around the stream of a hallway.

Suddenly, a neighboring teacher and coach, came running up to me grabbing my arm.
“They’ve attacked us…they’ve hit New York and D.C…
“Turn on your television!!!” he yelled out over his shoulder as he continued
racing down the hall.

“What?”
“Attack?”
“Who?”

As my kids began to trickle into the room, I hurriedly went over to
turn on the classroom television.

And there is was…smoke streaming upwards from one of the the
World Trade Towers.

Some of my kids had already gotten wind of what was taking place while
others remained blessedly, albeit briefly, clueless.

There was now a heavy silence in the room as my kids walked in, dropping
their backpacks on the floor as they gathered in front of the T.V.
Some stood, some sat on the table tops, all staring silently at the images on
the television.

One girl broke the silence with a panicked plea…
“Mrs. Cook, my dad, my dad, he flew up this morning to New York for business.”
“Go use the phone in my office to call your mom…”

The remainder of the day was a heavy haze.
New York.
D.C.
Pennsylvania…

The teachable moments that day were unfolding before our eyes on every channel
on every television around the world.

There remained a heightened sense of what could possibly happen next.

Following the end of the day, I waited on my son, who was in the 6th grade,
to walk up from the Jr High so we could go home.
It was more than time to go home.

Like the other kids, he walked into my room overwhelmed.
I got my things together and we walked quietly to the car.

This particular night was to be our monthly school board meeting.
It was the night that the Teacher of the Year was to be announced.
I happened to be one of the three teachers nominated.
I was representing the high school.
The two others were from the elementary school and our junior high.

I had so hoped our superintendent would cancel the meeting
but he was of the mindset that we would not let “the terrorists” win…soooo
the meeting was to begin at 7.

I called my husband telling him that I didn’t want him to accompany me
to the meeting that evening but rather I wanted him to stay
home with our son.
At this point, we really didn’t know what else, if anything, would happen.
Plus the heaviness of what was playing out before our eyes was simply
overwhelming…I wanted to be lost in my thoughts.

Before getting ready to head to the BOE, I walked out onto our back deck.
At the time, we lived about an hour west of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson
Airport…we lived in one of the westerly flight paths…planes overhead
were always common.
On this particular late afternoon, the sky was eerily quiet because the
Government had grounded all US and international flights in and out…
all around the country.

At the BOE meeting, when it was time to begin the meeting, we all stood for
the Pledge of Allegiance—tears poured from all the gathered faces.
The Board Chairman asked for a moment of silence for all the
lives lost and for all those still missing and for those searching.

He then lead us in reciting The Lord’s Prayer.

The sobs were palpable….

And so now, all these 20 years later…
I wonder….
what have we gleaned, what have we learned?
As an educator, that is always the question…what has been learned?

Looking around…I think we’ve learned very little, if anything.
Despite our vow to remember, we’ve actually forgotten.
We’ve skewed the factual with the desirable.
We’ve softened as we’ve chosen to ignore or even twist reality.

When speaking of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill once mused
“What kind of people do they think we are?
Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease
to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson
which they and the world will never forget?”

His was a vow that those oppressors and usurpers of democratic freedoms
should never forget that those who have chosen the path of freedom
have vowed to fight the good fight to the bitter end.

I dare say our leadership today has long forgotten such a vow.

The vow to defend Western Civilization from the onslaught of
tyranny and oppression.
But rather our leadership and many of us have actually fostered a culture
of ill that strives to despise itself.
We have turned away and within… as we choose to devour ourselves
from the inside out.

Did approximately 3000 people die in vain September 11th 2001?

What of those individuals who when faced with the choice of burning to
death chose to jump to their death…were those heinous choices in vain?

Did thousands of first responders die in vain that day as they raced toward disaster
rather than retreating?

Have thousands more, who over the past 20 years have fallen victim to lasting
toxins, have they suffered and died in vain?

Have thousands of servicemen and women died in vain defending
the very freedoms that you and I simply take for granted?

Did 13 servicemen and women die last week, in vain, when hastily retreating
from an undignified exit to an unfinished mission all because of a sitting
president’s ill advised plan?

I really don’t know what to think on this 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Who is this America that now looks in the mirror?
I dare say that all those who gave and have given their lives
on and since that fateful September day would no longer recognize the
nation we have become.

Time lessens our sorrow but it also dulls our minds and hardens our hearts.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
Clarence Darrow