trying my soul

Leaves without flowers:
these are they which have words without works.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


(a soon to be blooming vine / Julie Cook / 2021)

Is it a coincidence that this week of all weeks, Holy Week, a week of the trying souls,
that WP is once again trying to make the new block editor the the only option for posting??
That the classic editor is becoming more and more elusive?
Perhaps my beloved classic editor is to be eliminated all together?
Is it not just a small microcosm, a random example of our current times?

The canceling, the exclusion, the elimination of the what was…
all for that ‘something’ that the powers that be deem to be so much other than
as well as better than…
something deemed to be more inclusive, and in turn, better?

But is all of that truly better?

Elusive and difficult, at best, is not better.

Does it matter that a portion of the population prefers what was???
Preferring that ‘what was’ is something that works best and better for others??
Or is it that ‘they’ and ‘it’ are both simply obsolete?

My husband and I ran to Home Depot today…a trip we make almost three times a week,
while we head to Lowes the other days of the week—
either way, we are in search of things needed for this new old home we’ve “inherited”
via purchase.
But let’s not go there today.

So I opted to sit in the car while my husband ran into the store.

While I sat in the car I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a notice that
The Chosen was offering their new trailer for the soon to be released Season 2.

The Chosen–that marvelous crowd funded show about the life of Jesus…via the
backstories of those who came in contact with the son of a carpenter…

I clicked on the trailer.

Isn’t it funny how God often desires to “speak” to us, His children, in places and in ways
we’d never imagine?
It matters not when nor where God opts to speak out loud to us–He will speak no matter
what or when!

He spoke to me today in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Athens, Ga.

I heard a resounding word—“your world is small, MY world is all encompassing.”

I looked at all the cars, all the folks pushing carts all around me…
Everyone was busy.
Life was on the move…and yet…
I had a resounding sense that all that I was seeing and experiencing was oh so small
and insignificant.

There was a true sense of peace in all of that.

All the news, all the mayhem, all the politics, all the legalities, all the pandemic..
all the madness taking place..none of it mattered…I felt a sudden sense of being
small and insignificant.

And in that insignificance, in that smallness…there was a release.
A peace found in the small…
No news
No storms
No politics
No laws
No division
No defunding police
No lawmakers
No masks
No vaccines
No trials
No hate
No death…

All bits and pieces of insignificance.

Our God…your God, my God..
Greater than anything of this world…
Greater than our own thoughts and imagination…
Thank goodness!!!

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son.
Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will,
because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—
that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—
you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why
I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

when feeling insignificantly small

“If you once realize that to-morrow,
if not to-day, you will die and nothing will be left of you,
everything becomes insignificant!”

Leo Tolstoy


(a lone little sanderling eyes both sea and beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

The morning reading began with a portion of Psalm 119.

Incline my heart to your decrees and not to unjust gain.
Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless, give me life in your ways…

Psalm 119:37

The reading was actually verses 33-40 but it was verse 37 that actually reached
out and grabbed me by both shoulders.
It shook me so hard and fast that it caused me to reread what I had just read twice!

I grabbed a pen.

I underlined.

I digested.

And then I felt a sense of a galactic knowingness…an invisible nod from a great
and distant Source that approvingly found satisfaction in the
“by jove, I believe she’s got it” moment of knowing.

I think it was the part about “turning my eyes from watching what is worthless….
give me [rather] life in YOUR ways….”
(with accent and brackets being mine…).

Turn…me…from…worthless…to…You….

in a nutshell!

Maybe it’s because that’s what I’ve been doing all these many months.
I’ve been watching this whole global and national situation as if being some sort
of innocent bystander.
Someone who is watching madness unfold yet is either being held hostage or is
helpless to do anything of any real significance to stop the madness.
As both society and culture…careen out of control.

And then there came the readings closing prayer….

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly;
and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away,
to hold fast to those that shall endure;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Collect for the Sunday closest to Sept 23rd, Book of Common Prayer

As in let me not be anxious, fretful, depressed, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated
about earthly things…BUT [rather] love things heavenly…hold fast to that which will endure—that being Jesus Christ who lives and reigns along with the Holy Spirt
and the One True God…for ever and ever…

And whereas I have at time felt very much like a small insignificant David standing in the shadow of an overwhelming Goliath….as the world and her ills have appeared more than challenging, more than daunting, more than overwhelming…
as I add to that my own more seemingly insignificant yet equally comsumming
issues of life, God has spoken…
He has not forgotten as He remains consistent and steadfast…
Nothing is too great or too overwhelming for a great and Awesome God…

And the people were heard to say AMEN!

Small blessings

“When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” C.S. Lewis

“Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish, know not what is the real happiness of life, just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the blessings of fair weather.”
Alexandre Dumas

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(the tiniest of bees, with swollen pollen pouches on each leg, graces a coneflower / Julie Cook / 2015)

Should any received blessing be perceived as being “less than” based upon its size or stature?

In order to qualify as a blessing,
must something be so large, so grand, so luxurious. . .
that we fall into it as if we were falling onto the softest,
most plush, most decant goose down bedding?

Or

Can something so tiny, so small, so demure,
such that it can be missed by the single blink of an eye,
be considered any less bountiful a blessing because it is just that. . .
small, tiny and perhaps considered minuscule?

Are we conditioned for the great and grand?
Are we perhaps too expectant that our expectations should soar upward to lofty heights,
so much so that we are prone to brush off the small as meaningless and insignificant?
Missing what may be the greatest moment of our day. . .

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Dots. . .

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.”
― Thomas Merton

When a poor person dies of hunger it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.
― Mother Teresa

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(Dragonfly / Julie Cook / 2015

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Have you ever looked at the world population clock?
A vast string of numbers that is constantly turning, adding, updating.
An overwhelming and incomprehensible number that ticks off at an alarming speed. . .
adding individual numbers to the bigger number, constantly.
You can’t stop it.

So now you’ve got to ask yourself . . .
What am I living for. . .
Who am I living for. . .
and maybe even. . .
Why am I even living. . .

Some of us are too busy to be bothered with such nonsense.
We race here there and yon. . .
Gotta work in order to pay those bills you know. . .
No time for philosophical or esoteric sorts of silly questions that have no answers.
No time to look at a spinning counter of numbers that is really irrelevant to my life.
Busy, busy, busy. . .

The world is a big place.
Is it big enough?
And anyway, I’m just a dot in a sea of billions of faces. . .

7 billion and counting dots. . .or numbers or faces. . .

As each one of those billions of dots is an individual who lives, breathes, hurts, cries, laughs
and does so with a wider circle of dots.

Some of the dots are good, some of the dots are bad.
Some of the dots are happy, some of the dots are sad.
Some of the dots are babies, some of the dots are dying.

The questions begs, do you make a difference to any one of those 7 billion and counting dots?

There is not a single dot. . .
Nor a single face. . .
Nor a single individual. . .
Which exists without purpose or merit.

Every life matters.
No life is greater than another.
No life is less than another.
Not the rich, the beautiful, the popular, the famous, the brilliant. .
Not the handicapped, the crippled, the dysfunctional, the diseased, the alienated. . .
Each and every one matters. . . attributes, merits, failings, or sins . . .each matters.

What is it that you do to make your small corner of the 7 billion and counting dots better?

God knows those 7 billion and counting dots, faces, individuals.
He sees each one
He hears each one
He’s always right beside. . .each individual dot, number, face. . .

Can’t comprehend such?
Well you’re not always suppose to.

Don’t think you can make a difference?
That’s an awful lot of numbers, dots, faces, individuals. . .
Yet if you touch one dot, one individual, one life. . .
ripples begin to reverberate outward from the center,
Spreading wider and further than you will ever be able to see in your life time.
And when each dot begins touching other dots. . .all those dots, those lives, those individuals,
each touched by the loving, caring, hoping and praying of other dots, lives, individuals. . .
Well, the ripple effects become infinite.

The questions remains, what will be your ripple?
Will it be a part of God’s Word, Grace, Peace, Love, working to make each dot, face, individual better, happier, safer, healthier, fed, clothed, secure. . .
or are you too busy just being a dot?

Prayer of the insignificant

There is nothing insignificant in the world.
It all depends on the point of view.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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(mum / Julie Cook / 2015)

Who am I oh Lord that you should consider my worth. . .
That you, the God of all that was. . .
Of all that is. . .
And all that will be. . .
Whose hands sweep across time. . .
Who has masterfully scattered the stars across the heavens
And whose own breath is captured in the rhythmic roll of each and every crashing wave. .
Would look upon me, a tiny speck in the vast churning sea of life and humanity. . .
And call me your own

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(mum / Julie Cook / 2015)

A thousand tiny petals. . .
Each lovingly placed by your hand and your hand alone.
Counted, numbered and perfectly aligned
Tightly woven
Spiraling outward
Unfurling simultaneously
An insignificant happening transpiring daily and unnoticed by millions
Yet You are keenly aware of it all as nothing, absolutely nothing,
Takes place on this planet without your desire and knowledge

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(stamens full of pollen / Julie Cook / 2015)

Each tiny microscopic dot of pollen exists because You have deemed it so.
Every single unassuming spore, necessary to set a miraculous chain of events into motion,
Exists only because of You.
Pollination, a miracle unto itself, yet countlessly taken for granted,
Plays out every day, over an endless expanse of time, as yet another flower blooms.

My mind is woefully limited, unable to grasp the vastness of all that is You
I cannot understand how or why You,
The all encompassing You,
Stops because of the small and insignificant me.
Yet stop You do,
You stop to
Listen
See
Touch
Care
Love

Long before my birth, You claimed me as yours
With both the rising and setting of the sun
The Psalmists tells me that each hair on my aging head is accounted for
And that nothing which transpires in my life escapes your knowledge.
As I often. . .
Question
Wonder
Argue
Curse
And rail against the seemingly random and mindless fates of life that appear unfair and unjust

Yet each life is inextricably linked together
Each breath, each tear, each sound of joy, pain or sorrow
is woven tightly together, as the Master of the Universe
Jehovah-Jireh has declared it so . . .
As You, the Master weaver, Jehovah-Rapha has knit my heart to your own.

May the Glory of the Heavens declare your Majesty, Oh Lord. . .
May the earth and all that is in it sing your praise
And may my seemingly insignificance,
which is held tightly in your hand,
as I am never from your sight,
be a testament to your enduring Love
Forever and always
Amen

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(hope in a flower / Julie Cook / 2015)

Insignificant

Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.
Mahatma Gandhi

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(ornament / Julie Cook / 2014)

Weighted down and burdened,
buried underneath the debris of our lives
Dreams, hopes and ideas fall to the wayside
Where went the passion, the drive, the fight?
When did we lose our voice?

There was a time when optimism ruled the day.
Confidence had its swagger.
Purpose and direction lead the way.
Nothing seemed impossible.

Then one morning we woke up and were at a loss for words.
We’d given up on our thoughts, our input, our gumption.
It didn’t seem to matter much anymore?

Insignificant, unimportant?
Tiny and so very small, no longer willing to fight

Done.

Beloved, be not discouraged.
Be not sorrowful nor faint of heart.

For I knew you before time began.
I saw your hopes and dreams long before they were felt or thought.
I knew the ending long before you even took your first step

The way was never promised to be smooth nor easy.
There were always going to be obstacles, hills and valleys.
For the bond between you and I had been severed long ago and you had been lost to me, forever.
Yet I loved you too much to ever lose you.

I fought a battle to bring you home that sadly was not without cost
For you alone I had to give away a part of myself
Yet I gave it freely
Your days may be difficult, your voice seemingly small
Yet I promised I would never leave you and with me, you will always be strong.