Do you prefer taking the easy way or the hard way…

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(An iron cross sits in the cemetery of Saint Cóemgen’s better known as St Kevin’s Monastery, Glendalough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Given the current mess throughout this world of ours…
the fighting, the dying, the martyrdom,
the lack of choice, the excess of choice, the lack of tolerance the overt tolerance,
the whole “she said, he said” tit for tat bickering and feuding over beliefs…who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s in, who’s out, who’s with, who’s against, is it a yes or is it a no…or is it or else…

Is it then any wonder that so many folks around this globe claim to be either atheist or agnostic or something else entirely… sans any sort of deity or set belief system…?! As if believing in nothing or, say a tree, would be easier than believing in a deity that requires a great deal of follower…or seems to be the very reason for all the current ruckus in the world…?!

Anyone looking closely enough would be hard pressed not to understand why, given the sad plight of so very many people globally who are displaced, living under cruel regimes, suffering from disease, hunger, homelessness, isolation, torture, loss, fear… with nary a ray of hope in sight….that there is such a deep mistrust and skepticism when none of those folks who profess to be followers of the All knowing and All caring come to offer aid, succor, comfort, help, assistance, support or relief yet rather choose to squabble, bicker, fuss, cuss, fight, kill and destroy one another….

Is it any wonder that folks find it difficult believing in as well as following Something or Someone they’ve never seen, spoken to face to face, touched, hugged, shaken hands with, shared a meal with or simply hung out with…

Yet that’s exactly what those who believe in a monotheistic “god” do…they believe in the unbelievable while they, those very believers, are to be the living embodiment of that monotheistic Deity by giving others a glimpse as to whom and what that monotheistic “God” is all about….compassion, caring, trust, integrity, honesty…

We, the body of believers, must ask ourselves…are we doing a good job at such?
And if we answer no… then we must ask ourselves—why not?

Yet those of us who do believe, who have chosen to follow the Son of that very Deity… the One True God, have chosen what seems to be the most difficult task in a world of ever growing disbelief, mistrust, skepticism, resentment and down rate hatred… to believe and follow when a world turns in the opposite direction.

Staring down the barrel of a loaded gun or on your knees with hands tied behind your back as a sword is raised at your head or as you’re being hoisted up a tree with a rope around your neck or as you lay on the ground with a cold knife pressing into your neck as you’re asked one simple question—a question between life and death…”are you a Christian??”
with the easy answer being “NO!”

Yet those who have chosen the harder path, the path less traveled by the world resoundingly respond…
“YES!”

Do you prefer easy or hard?

Need

“As the genuine religious impulse becomes dominant, adoration more and more takes charge. ‘I come to seek God because I need Him’, may be an adequate formula for prayer. ‘I come to adore His splendour, and fling myself and all that I have at His feet’, is the only possible formula for worship.”
― Evelyn Underhill

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(the view from a window on a misty morning / Julie Cook / 2014)

Controlling
Quelling
Crushing
Tremendous energies spent daily silencing the uncomfortable and palpable gnawing within the soul.

Running from rather than running to
Ignoring verses acknowledging
Fighting without yielding

Falling prostrate, keenly aware of all shortcomings
Drowning in a sea of sorrow
A call for mercy echoes along the walls

Hear me in my distress
Take me to your stillness
Quiet my racing thoughts

The heart of the soul is a consuming thirst which cannot be quenched,
a fire that cannot be extinguished,
a hunger that cannot be filled.

I am in need
You and you alone are the need
Hear my plea

Butter to my bread

“You are the butter to my bread, and the breath to my life”
― Julia Child
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(Photograph: fresh artisan loaves of bread from Rose Cottage Bakery / Pine Mt. Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013

When I retired last year from my life at school, I fretted about where I would turn my newly freed attentions. My dad was the given, as was helping out my husband with his business, but my son really didn’t need me anymore as he is basically a fine grown man… So what to do as far my passions and my energies were concerned was what had me worried.

Teaching is a fast paced, non stop sort of stress producing vocation that runs as a day in and day out event. Rarely does or can a teacher “turn it off”….Multiply all of that by 31, which in turn meant I was basically a top wound as tight as one could get. I had to constantly be on the ready for whatever came down the pike– being ready to always hit the ground running each and every day for 31 years.

Such is the life of a high school teacher—add the other duties acquired over 31 years…coaching, working with after school needs based kids, Department Chair, various committee chairs, team leader, mentoring, trainings, more schooling, summer trainings—throw in being wife, mom, daughter…and you are one overwhelmed individual.

The question begged where was I going to pour some of that energy. Where was I going to dump so much of that “constantness” until I could learn to decompress somewhat. I had lived life as a Pavlov dog, as anyone who has ever worked in education will testify…bells and clocks controlled my life. And seeing that I’ve been in a school setting since I was 5 years old, we are looking at almost 50 years in school—–that is entirely too long!!

So suddenly the idea of time standing somewhat still was exciting but yet also very frightening. I knew all about the importance of “transition” as that is a current educational buzz word. I knew I needed a seamless transition—or at least the best transition I could manage. “I know!!”– I exclaimed while attempting to convince myself that I had a really good idea, “I’ll bake bread”–I’m talking fresh from scratch artisan breads.

I’ve written a post on this before so I won’t rehash all of it again but just know that I bought all of the latest books, the special pans, the proofing bowls, the drying cloths, the special flours…I was going to do this and do it 110% to the best of my ability like any good teacher worth her salts, oh and I bought the good special salts too….

The start of school this past August marked my first complete year of retirement and
I have made all of two loaves of bread and one batch of decadent cinnamon rolls. What is wrong with this picture you ask….

They were wonderfully good–heavenly in fact–loaves, or actually rounds, of delicious bread and yeasty delicious cinnamon buns…..but they were laborious and time consuming. There’s that whole making, rising, punching, kneading, rising, kneading..on and on…. Flour was everywhere and not being as confident in baking as I am in cooking, I always fretted the loaves would never rise and I would have worked like a dog for flat hard hockey pucks…..

Plus I probably would be weighing as much as a freight train right about now if I churned out loaves as I had intended. We all know that there is nothing better than hot bread with cow cream fresh real deal butter—-yummmmmmmm!! I’ve got a post about that too—as there is, to me, nothing better than the real deal butter…..

I visited a bakery today whose job is to churn out the wonderful breads that I thought I should be making. It is their job, their life, their passion, their mission to make really good bread. And they do so very successfully as they take their breads from the sleepy little west Georgia town of Pine Mountain up to the big city of Atlanta to sell their breads at the various city markets to ravenous crowds.

My job and passion, and I suppose my bread and butter, for 31 years was kids….other people’s kids. My job and passion now is a different type of bread and butter, it is simply the components that make my life truly that, my life. I’m good knowing that I finished the one job, the job of school. Now I’m tending to the job of family and home which is equally deserving and needing of my time—I’ve learned that I don’t have to nervously find something, anything to “fill the gap” —Dad’s doing a pretty good job of that all by himself….which is all good—

So whereas it was initially my misguided angst filled need to think I needed to make real bread, it is now my joyous epiphany, what Julia so eloquently waxes poetically, that my life is now here for my dad, my stepmom, my husband, my son, my godparents, my dear friends, and even for you my blogging friend ….and that is indeed the butter to my bread……….