what love looks like

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like.”

St. Augustine


(statue on the grounds of Christ Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Not to try to live in interior silence is equivalent to giving up the effort
to lead a truly Christian life.
The Christian life is a life of faith,
lived in the invisible for what is invisible.
Anyone who is not in constant contact with the invisible world runs
the risk of remaining always on the threshold of a true Christian life…
Solitude is the stronghold of the strong.
Strength is an active virtue, and our power of keeping silence marks
the level of our capacity for action.
‘Without this interior cell, we would be incapable of doing great things,
either for ourselves or for others.’”

Raoul Plus, S.J., p. 40-1

Warriors and gaurdians

So I walk up on high and I step to the edge
To see my world below
And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know, it’s the world I know

Lyrics Collective Soul


(St Kevin’s Monastery, Glendalough / Co. Wicklow, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

Some years are harder than others.
Some months are harder than others.
Some weeks are harder than others.
Some days are harder than others.
Some nights are harder than others
Some hours are harder than others.

We often feel as if we are traversing life alone.

Within as well as outward, we hear and see a myriad of attacks
hurled in our direction…

Voices whispering…
naysaying, lying, undermining…

We dip, dodge and stumble as we attempt to miss being blindsided.

These attacks come from the external world yet even more precariously
and dare we day dangerously,
these attacks come from our own individual internal worlds.

And so we spend our days tiptoeing through a minefield,
fearful that the next step might just be the last.

As that is exactly what our ancient nemesis would have us believe.

The lies, the emptiness, the loneliness, the deception…

Until a guardian, a warrior arrives by our side…

“Christians long ago concluded that each individual human being
has his or her own particular guardian angel.
Though the Church has never defined the teaching about
individual guardian angels, the Catechism of the Catholic Church
sums up the matter this way,
quoting St. Basil:
‘From infancy to death human life is surrounded by [the angels’]
watchful care and intercession.
Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd
leading him to life’.
In this light, we can turn to our guardian angels for help in spiritual warfare,
especially to resist the temptations of the Enemy.
Yet angels are more than guardians; they are also warriors.”

Paul Thigpen, p. 30
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare, p30

Homesick

“I felt a pang — a strange and inexplicable pang that
I had never felt before.
It was homesickness.
Now, even more than I had earlier when I’d first glimpsed it,
I longed to be transported into that quiet little landscape,
to walk up the path, to take a key from my pocket and open the cottage door, to sit down by the fireplace, to wrap my arms around myself, and to stay there forever and ever.”

Alan Bradley

“Give me the waters of Lethe that numb the heart,
if they exist,
I will still not have the power to forget you.”

Ovid

God is at home,
it’s we who have gone out for a walk.

Meister Eckhart


(sheep on a teaching farm / County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

(given my lack of sleep as of late, I found this previous post from 2016 worth repeating)

A fitful night…
dreams seemingly more real than not…
To wake…
On and off, over and over…
as the dream simply picks up where it left off.
A continuous movie playing out inside my head, all night long…

Trying desperately hard to find you, to call you…
Yet I can’t reach you.
I am there, not here…
but I am lost…
I need for you to come find me…
for it is only you who can help me….

Yet why is that?
Why do I seek you and your help?
Are there not others…?
Others even more capable…
Those who are more near and not so far away…?

Waking….
Perplexed, exhausted, wondering…
What ever does it mean…
or not mean…?
As the thought,
the memory,
the utter physical uneasiness…
hangs heavy over the day.

Homesick, yet here at home.
Missing and longing…
Aching for something else…
someplace else…
something more…
Yet what could it be…and why…?

You are there and I am here.
A melancholy heaviness clouds my thoughts.
It was all but a mere brief crossing of paths.
Yet with a lasting effect.
There was a change.
Deep and profound…
And I am the better for it…
Yet there remains a yearning, a hunger, an aching…
for more…

So very much more.
For hearing,
for seeing,
for feeling,
for learning.

Yet frustration is found in the simple being…
of being so very far away…

My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.

Isaiah 26:9

fear vs awe

“We are a generation that has been stripped of our awe”.
Lisa Bevere

“The fullness of wisdom is fear of the Lord,
she is present with the faithful in the womb (Sirach 1:14).
Fear of the Lord does not mean to be afraid of God.
It means to stand in awe and wonder before the greatness of the Lord.
When we recognize that God is God and we are creatures,
we develop a healthy sense of humility.
We acknowledge our need for wisdom and grace, which are both
gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Rev. Jude Winkler, p. 9


(Dingle Peninsula / Co Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

Fear, the dictionary tells us, is defined as:
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something
is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

The dictionary also tells us that the definition of Awe is:
an emotion variously combining dread, veneration,
and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime

And so for those who have read both the Old and or New Testaments,
the word fear is often found throughout the various texts within both
halves that make up the Christian Bible as well in the Jewish Torah.
Even the Quran instructs those of the Muslim faith to fear Allah.

So we believers of the one Omnipotent God,
those of us who make up the three pillars of this monotheist faith of ours,
are often told, or so it seems, that we are to fear the Lord our God.

And yet within that same command, we are also told that we are not to be afraid–
that we are not to be fearful…
Rather we are told to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and soul.

For our’s is a great and powerful God…Master Creator.
He breathed life into our nostrils as he formed us in secret within the womb.
He has known us before we were even formed.
And he has loved us before time.

But we also know that He is a God of judgement.
A God who has cast out evil and will continue doing so until His
time has come.

A God who has instructed us how to live…and within those instructions
if they are not followed, there are indeed repercussions for not doing so.
But there is also great compassion and great forgiveness.

So it seems, that as the created, we have a fine line, once again in our lives.
It is a line that consists of both love and fear.

Yet fear is not exactly the right word to use when we speak of our God
and of the love He holds for us, His created.

The translations, over time have taken what was to be one and turning it into
another word completely.
And with the transitions has come a wealth of human emotion both
good and bad.

Yet the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries explains
The Hebrew word translated into ‘awe’ in the Bible is yirah
(יראה, pronounced yir-ah).
It often directly translates into fear, but it can also mean respect,
reverence, and worship.
But, make no mistake about it, yirah is strongly connected to ‘trembling’.
firmsrael,org

And so I think that as we enter this season of expectation…
this season of Advent…we must remember that whereas we
are indeed watching and waiting with great expectation,
we should also find ourselves in pure wonderment as to what is
to come upon us.
Not so much fearful but rather one of amazement.

We are to be in awe—not so much fear as we know word,
but rather that of trembling both outwardly physically as well as internally.

For in that awe, that which we cannot readily comprehend, as we find ourselves
standing before a crib holding a small newborn child,
we must remember that this newborn child holds in His heart
the future of our own hearts.

And in that thought lies our amazement, wonder and awe.
Because it is there, in that newborn, where the epitome love resides.

There is much around us that is awesome and awful.
We know too well the divisions and suffering that plague our world.
We have seen that the authorities today use tactics similar to those employed 2,000
years ago, and many people scheme to play to our fear,
destroy our hope, and seal off our joy.

But we have the confidence of our faith.
We have seen the risen Lord!

Joyce Hollyday

A few lovely thoughts

“We find rest in those we love, and we provide a
resting place for those who love us.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux


(Glendalough / Co. Wicklow / Julie Cook 2015)

“And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck,
but everything by God’s wise providence …
for matters that have been in God’s foreseeing wisdom,
since before time began, befall us suddenly,
all unawares; and so in our blindness and ignorance we say
that this is accident or luck,
but to our Lord God it is not so.”

St. Julian of Norwich

Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.

Henry Van Dyke

Faith makes all things possible…
love makes all things easy.

Dwight L. Moody

“Love,” said Meister Eckhart, “is the will to, the intention.”
By that definition,
it is possible to obey the divine command to love our neighbor.
We may not in a thousand years be able to feel a surge of emotion
toward certain “neighbors,”
but we can go before God and solemnly will to love them,
and the love will come.
By prayer and an application of the inworking power of God,
we may set our faces to will the good of our neighbor and
not his evil all the days of our lives, and that is love.
The emotion may follow,
or there may be no appreciable change in our feelings toward him,
but the intention is what matters.
We will his peace and prosperity and put ourselves at his disposal
to help him in every way possible, even to the laying down of
our lives for his sake. Love, then,
is a principle of good will and is to a large extent under our control.
That it can be fanned into a blazing fire is not denied here.
Certainly God’s love for us has a mighty charge of feeling in it,
but beneath it all is a set principle that wills our peace.
Probably the love of God for mankind was never more beautifully
stated than by the angel at the birth of Christ:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to man on
whom his favor rests.”

A. W. Tozer
Agape

Rest for the weary

The scorched land will become a pool
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the haunt of jackals, its resting place,
Grass becomes reeds and rushes.

Isaiah 35:7


(Dried thistle along the banks of the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

(***since the Mayor and Sheriff are here for the Trick or treat weekend…
I opted to seek out a post from 2015—from the wisdom found on the road in Ireland–
thank you always Paul!!)

I was weary…
dry and brittle of body, heart and soul…
Yet you Oh Lord have heard me in my distress.
You have seen to my weariness…
to the dryness and brittle spirit which as clung to me like an ashen paste.
You have refreshed and soothed a parched and thirsty heart


(the wild Atlantic somewhere along the Dingle Peninsula / County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

You have attended to a wounded soul…
My offering to you is a simple thankfulness that reaches to the depths of the sea,
and the width of an endless sky…


(somewhere along the road in County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”

Isaiah 58:11

Hurdles

The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up
his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles,
but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats.

Theodore Roosevelt


(St Kevin’s Tower / St Kevin’s Monastery, Gleandalough, Co Wicklow, Ireland/ Julie Cook / 2015)

****(I’m off to fetch the Mayor and Sheriff for the weekend…
and thus any posting will be few and far between–
but I wanted to offer something I found while digging in past posts.
It is a timely post for my current race in this thing we call life—-
so here is a look back to 2016—through the lens of Ireland and track)

At some point or other during the course of living,
difficulties and trying times will engulf each one of us.

No one is exempt from the various hurdles Life places in our paths.
We will be faced with two options…

Either we just keep running and jumping or
we stop.

We can stop before each hurdle,
pondering the height and possibility of clearing each safely,
opting to drop out of the race all together…or
we can decide to simply keep going.

Some days the prospect of continuing the race,
with all of the hurdles needing to be cleared, seems more than we can bear.
We may actually even trip over the hurdles, temporally losing our balance…
stumbling wildly while trying to recover…Or
We may actually fall, crashing down onto the track scraping up knees,
elbows and even damaging muscles and bones.

Then the choice will be…

Do we just lay there bleeding while grimacing in pain,
bemoaning that the hurdles are simply too high and have just beaten us…or
do we pick ourselves up, bruised and bleeding,
and continue on with the race?

As I ccurretnly find myself laying on the track grimacing in the pain and bleeding,
having stumbled over Life’s most recent hurdle…
I received some very wise counsel…

“God always hears [sees] you.
You are just seeing things from the perspective of this moment,
while He is looking from the perspective of resolution of all these issues.
He is busy getting you to that point, too.”

So as my perspective, while having tripped over life’s latest hurdle
with me now being down for the count on a track that has just torn me to pieces,
is limited.
I’m holding onto bruised, bleeding and broken limbs while staring upward at
something that seems nearly impossible to clear…
through clenched teeth I pray…albeit it frustratingly.

Yet what I can’t see from my perspective on the ground,
is that God is already seeing the finish line…
He knows the outcome…
I just need to get back up to finish the race….

With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.

Psalm 18:29

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

lost sheep seeking the Good Shepherd

Sinners have a spiritual vision that Pharisees do not have.
They look at Christ, and their humility allows them to perceive
in him their only hope of salvation.
The Pharisee sees merely the man, whereas the lost sheep sees the Good Shepherd!

Fr. Sean Davidson
From his book Saint Mary Magdalene:
Prophetess of Eucharistic Love


(My most favorite sheep, ever / Co Donegal, Ireland / Gleann Cholm Cille /
Julie Cook / 2015)

Growing up a city girl, I always assumed that there was but one type of sheep;
White and fluffy.

And for reasons that escape me, I have always had a deep affinity for sheep.

I’ve shared this notion before but I think this affinity was born from a prayer.
It is derived from the prayer of the penitent…a prayer I grew up praying
since childhood– found in The Book of Common Prayer.

The prayer begins…Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep…”

A prayer that speaks straight to the root of my heart…erring and straying.
I think I’ve always identified with both that whole straying and lost
sheep business.

So bah bah I go…

I have been known to vow that one day I would escape to someplace obscure,
becoming a shepherd…
or if should I need to be more PC, that would that be shepherdess…
but I’ll just stick with shepherd since I don’t care for the interchangeability
of pronouns and monikers.

A shepherd of sheep.
The shepherd calls and sheep know his name….

Over the years, my various moves from city to rural life, along
with various travels, taught me otherwise…sheep come in many sizes,
shapes and colors…but it wasn’t until a trip to Ireland that the whole sheep
variety thing played out in real life.


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)

And so knowing human beings as I do…I know that we seek that often
elusive shepherd…
We seek the voice of the one who will guide us and care for us…
We seek it in our relationships.
We seek it in our jobs.
We seek it in our leaders—
for we are innately seeking one who will care and lead.

The trouble is that we most often seek the wrong voices, the wrong
lights, the wrong directions, the wrong glitz…
We seek temporary satisfaction in our shepherds.
We seek more of the immediate gratification and quick easy fit.

Yet sadly, those that we seek are limited, short-lived,
or most often then not, fleeting.

There is only One who is consistent and constant…never changing.
He knows each of his sheep…both lost and found.
He will leave the found 99 in order to go find, rescue and fetch that 1
who is lost.

How fortunate we are those who have erred and strayed!


(one of a kind / Julie Cook /2015)

“There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely
in this obscurity; it has suffered:
for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable,
than that of rejoicing and of action.
In suffering God gives strength,
but in action and in joy the soul does but show its own weakness
and imperfections.
And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue,
and becomes pure, wiser, and more cautious.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 149
An Excerpt From
Dark Night of the Soul

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