Unlock and open your heart

“God does not fit in an occupied heart.”
St. John of the Cross


(a keyhole in Florence, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

The essential thing is for us to hear God’s word and discover from it how to respond to him.
His word is the truth, opened up to us…
God’s word is his invitation to us to be with him in the truth.

Fr. Hans Urs Von Balthasar
from Prayer

Bowing, kneeling…humility, reverence

“Every man’s measurement is determined by his responses
when he is on his knees before God.”

J. Otis Yoder, When You Pray


(a woman worships in silence alone, in a small Florentine chapel in Florence, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

I grew up in a Christian denomination that included a great deal of kneeling throughout its services—
I became quite comfortable early on, being on my knees when I came before God…
be there a cushioned kneeler or a bare floor.

I was also accustomed to solemnly bowing if I ever crossed in front of the altar.
Bowing was a sign of respect and reverence as the church’s cross was center-point above the altar.
I would also genuflect, a slight kneel, before and after entering or exiting my pew.

Reverence and humility offered to and for God—both deeply ingrained in my being long ago.

I carry that same sense of respect and reverence with me to this day.

I humble myself before God.

I do so because I am reminded of Moses coming before the Great I AM, and being told to remove his
sandals because he was standing on Holy ground. (Exodus 3:5)

Each of our houses of worship, consecrated to the Lord, becomes Holy ground.

It is why I will offer myself as a humble servant when entering a House of Christian Worship.
It is why I will kneel in the quiet of solitude when I pray alone, be it at home or
someplace else, whenever I come before the Lord my maker.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand…

Psalm 95:6-7

Yet oddly kneeling and bowing seem to have become quite the hot item as of late.

And it has nothing to do with the worship of God but rather the worship of man.

Last month the in vogue thing was the wearing of masks…
that is now replaced with a demanding that one should kneel or bow…
as a sign of servitude to another human being.

Bowing and or kneeling are now required by the ‘madness mob’ as an act of contrition.
It is demanded by those who deem that you and I are either the wrong skin color
or that we are on the wrong side of their movement—think Seattle and their
new 6 city block zone that is now proclaimed as a “new” independent country
within a country.

I don’t bow or kneel to man.
I bow and kneel to God—plain and simple.

We must respect our fellow man as we strive to serve mankind with our actions and heart…
but our kneeling and bowing…our worship is reserved but for One and for One alone.

During my marriage ceremony, the priest asked that my soon to be husband and myself
would step up to the altar and kneel–this as he proceeded to bless us.

We were kneeling at the altar, before the cross, as a sign
of our respect to God…we knelt, inviting God to please come and be a part of this new journey
that we were about to embark upon….we knelt asking for His blessing of our union–
two becoming one.

I am now deeply perplexed as I watch human beings demanding that other human beings kneel
and bow down before them—and if one does not comply…the result, with the least being ridicule
and the common being bodily harm.

What have we become to one another?

There was a wonderful story this past week about a Georgia State Patrol officer who had
gone to work a protest.
He, as have officers all over our country been told to do, was asked by the crowd to kneel
before them in order to show his contrition and respect.

He stated that he has respect, otherwise he would not have given up vacation time in order to
come oversee a protest in hopes of keeping everyone safe…but that he will only kneel…
to God.

https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/georgia-state-trooper-tells-protesters-in-viral-video-i-only-kneel-for-god

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven,
and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11

freedom…hummmm…

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin


(image courtesy a business site)

If the truth be told, I’ve had one particular thought crossing my mind over and over
throughout this most surreal time in our lives.
That thought is simply one of freedom.

I’ve even addressed it here in blogland, when the time has allowed, during this past nearly
three months of living life in the Twilight Zone.

There has been a roller coaster of emotions for all of us…
emotions of sorrow, fear, confusion—-

And there has been a stone wall of both frustration and anger.

I have noted before that I live in a “free” state.

A classification that I find extremely bizarre.
When would an American find themselves differentiating between a free
and non-free state other than say, during the Civil War?!

But for our 21st-century way of thinking,
a free state is a state that is lifting its pandemic bans.
Non-free states remain closed.
As in non-functioning.

I have recently enjoyed the opportunity of actually going out to eat.

Actually sitting down at one of my favorite restaurants and actually enjoying a dining experience
albeit with masked servers and socially distanced table set-ups.

People in our state can go get a haircut—something I’ve yet to do as the process
is a tad tedious and makes for very limited appointments so I’ll stick to my
ballcap for now.

The liquor store is still curbside.
Which I kind of enjoy but miss looking at the pretty bottles.

Our farmer’s markets are open.

I’m going to get my car serviced tomorrow—at a dealership 45 minutes away, in another town…
meaning I am free to travel about without restriction.

In Italy, they had to have official paperwork allowing them to venture
out of their homes in order to go to the grocery store or Pharmacia.

Whereas our parks are beginning to reopen, our lakes and marinas have never closed.

And we should note that our grocery store chains, Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes
and Home Depot have never closed–
nor did they even ration the number of patrons entering the stores–masks or no masks.

And for the record, I do not wear a mask.

If I am told I had to do so if it meant visiting a certain business, I would oblige–
but if not mandated, I don’t.
I am not sick.
I have not been exposed.
Plus I try not to let fear dictate my life.

Good hygiene practices and common sense rather than fear seem to both win out for me.
But I digress…

One thing I have found perplexing is the tit for tat that governors in
“non-free” states are having with their fellow governors in free states–
along with that of their /our President.
They are trying to remain locked down come hell or high water—
and if they aren’t careful…it just might be both.

People are not being allowed to work.
They are being furloughed, let go, or permanently closed down.
And small businesses, the backbone of this nation, are not being allowed to operate.

As this all makes good economic sense to whom???

Another odd happening throughout the country during all of this mess
is that one has been free to go get an abortion if one so chooses as abortion clinics
had been categorized as “essential” yet church doors remain sealed.

So that means that one’s spiritual wellness is not essential but murder and death are…
go figure.

See Citizen Tom’s posting on the Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance in Virginia for
more of the story of the idiocy reigning supreme in the Commonwealth of Virginia regarding the
rights of the unborn–or maybe that should read…no rights for the unborn.

THE ABORTION MASQUERADE

And if I hear another pastor or priest dictate that they are keeping the doors
shut to their particular houses of worship because they are following
“science” —–well, just knock me in the head!

Men and women of the cloth are to follow the Word of God—
and I’m pretty certain God’s doors are open as He will certainly approve of the various
and the necessary health precautions for his precariously fragile creations.

Wear masks if you must, wear gloves if you must, receive communion, the Host, in open hands and use a
throw away cup for the wine verses a chalice—
Sit in pews 6 feet apart or on every other pew…don’t sing if you think it too
precarious and contagious (as in healthwise and not song-wise) but for Heaven’s sake
and for our sake, let the people pray and worship in God’s house!!!!

Did we close the churches and synagogues during the Great Depression or WWII???
Or what of the summers when polio was plaguing our children?
Or when TB was running rampant?

When people most needed comfort and hope, the various houses of worship opened
wide their doors.
They may have donated church goods to be melted for the war effort, they may have
had fewer attending due to polio or TB concerns, but the doors were open none the less,
allowing the spiritually hungry to come inside and find sustenance.

And so I caught another great post over on the Smoke of Satan and the Open Windows of Vatican II
musing over our plight in the Twilight Zone

“How did a temporary plan to preserve hospital capacity turn into two-to-three months
of near-universal house arrest that ended up causing worker furloughs at 256 hospitals,
a stoppage of international travel, a 40% job loss among people earning less than $40K per year,
devastation of every economic sector, mass confusion and demoralization,
a complete ignoring of all fundamental rights and liberties,
not to mention the mass confiscation of private property with forced closures of millions of businesses?

Whatever the answer, it’s got to be a bizarre tale…”

https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/05/25/the-2006-origins-of-the-lockdown-idea/

And now, we come back full circle to the notion of Freedom.

A notion, along with the fact that I am writing this post on Memorial Day,
is a most poignant thought.

It is the day we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our very freedoms.

But the question remains…what of those freedoms?

Who now dictates those freedoms?

I will close today’s rambling with a look at the opening quote by Benjamin Franklin…

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

What are you willing to give up for a bit of temporary safety?
Everything?
I hope not.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
But if you bite and devour one another,
watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:1 and 5:13-15

why do important people scare me…

“What comes into our minds when we think about God
is the most important thing about us.”

A.W. Tozer

No one should really scare me, right?
If I am God’s and He is mine, then no one should scare me, right?

Well, I will confess that maybe psychopaths scare me.
They scare me because they don’t care what type of evil acts they unleash…
Think chainsaw killers…killing, torturing, maiming all for fun.

Yeah, scary.

But like I say…if I am God’s and He is mine, think
“do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” sort of thinking…

But what about important people?
What about the people out there who wield power because of their money,
their positions, their roles within society…?

And so I have now decided that important people, or people who think they are important,
kind of scare me…as well as the nuts with chainsaws.

They scare me because they believe they have the world’s best interest at heart
and in turn, they like playing puppeteer.

They think they know what is best for both you and me and will flex their mindset
regardless of us little people.

I’ve always heard tell of that little conspiracy that there are just a handful of powerful folks
in the world who actually control pretty much all of the world–
the rest of us are just the victims of their whims, thoughts, and often selfish intentions.

I think of those secretive, elitist and highly protected meetings—
Think Davos in Switzerland.
The World Economic Forum

This year’s meeting was held in early February prior to the world pandemic outbreak.

The focus was to be “The World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting in Davos will focus on
how stakeholder capitalism can solve the world’s urgent challenges.”

It is a yearly meeting of the world’s rich and powerful…the leaders, movers, and shakers.

Invited attendees range from presidents, EU leaders to the likes of rich folks
like Oprah and Bill Gates—folks who like to use their wealth and positions to “influence”
the masses.
Even the more controversial figures such as George Soros and
the teen environmentalist activist Greta Thunberg are those invited to Davos.

We average folks usually don’t care much about such meetings.
We don’t much care because that’s just what world leaders and rich folks do…
they go to meetings and talk about the state of the world…
or more like the economic health of the world–
while we, the small folks of the world, do the true work of the world…
the making, buying, selling, and trading for the world.

So yesterday I caught another interesting post over on
Smoke of Satan and the Open Windows of Vatican II.

Well, it wasn’t so much a post as it was an offering of two links.

The second of the two links was to an article found on the blog ‘Barnhardt’,
regarding a member of the Italian parliament addressing her fellow MPs regarding Bill Gates.

Yep, Bill Gates.
The brain behind of all things PC and Microsoft now turned global activist, Bill Gates.
Gates’ ears should have been burning this past week thanks to the Italian Parliament.

May 16,2020
Bomb dropped in Italian Parliament: Gates should be arrested for crimes against humanity

A speech offered in the Italian Parliament by Italian MP Sara Cunial:

We all know it, now.
Bill Gates, already in 2018, predicted a pandemic, simulated in October 2019 at the “Event 201”,
together with Davos (Switzerland).
For decades, Gates has been working on Depopulation policy and dictatorial control plans
on global politics,
aiming to obtain the primacy on agriculture, technology and energy.

Gates said, I quote exactly from his speech:

“If we do a good job on vaccines, health and reproduction,
we can reduce the world population by 10-15%.
Only a genocide can save the world”.

With his vaccines, Gates managed to sterilize millions of women in Africa.
Gates caused a polio epidemic that paralyzed 500,000 children in India and still today with DTP,
Gates causes more deaths than the disease itself.
And he does the same with GMOs designed by Monsanto and “generously donated” to needy populations.
All this while he is already thinking about distributing the quantum tattoo for vaccination recognition
and mRNA vaccines as tools for reprogramming our immune system.
In addition, Gates also does business with several multinationals that own 5G facilities in the USA.

see the full article on the following link

Interesting Links: 1) 1968-69 Hong Kong Flu 2) speech from Italian MP that impugns Bill Gates

Bomb dropped in Italian Parliament: Gates should be arrested for crimes against humanity

So yes, the rich and powerful scare me especially when they have ideas of controlling
world populations by global sterilizations.

I will admit that I have not followed up on the speech by Gates.
But I have heard him in various interviews address third-world concerns…
perhaps that concern is depopulation.

The second link is to an article by the NYP of all things newsy.

It is an article about another pandemic during a different time.
A pandemic that, as far as the US was concerned, was trumped by the ‘summer of love’—
all despite the fact that the Hong Kong flu was raging worldwide.

Funny how three days of communal music, love and living surpass a global pandemic.

Maybe we need another Woodstock, a part deux…or on second thought, maybe not…

Here’s that link:

Why American life went on as normal during the killer pandemic of 1969
https://nypost.com/2020/05/16/why-life-went-on-as-normal-during-the-killer-pandemic-of-1969/

https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/05/17/interesting-links-1-1968-69-hong-kong-flu-2-speech-from-italian-mp-that-impugns-bill-gates/

Contrasts

Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.
Edgar Allan Poe


(Getty image)

For whatever reason, I get daily Travel and Leisure as well as Conde Nash travel emails.
I suppose it’s because once upon a time, I most likely subscribed to something.

Yet during this time of quarantine, I have not much cared to be a virtual traveler.
I might be an armchair quarterback when watching my beloved college football
but I definitely prefer to be a real-life traveler.

And so I’ve pretty much trashed all the travel notices I’ve received these oh so many weeks,
as I’ve wondered if travel will ever be what it was.

While scrolling through emails yesterday, something interesting actually piqued my curiosity.

It was an article with 21 pictures of what a locked-down Italy looked like.

If you’ve ever been to Italy then you know it seems as if the country is comprised of
more tourists than local residents.

Tourism has gotten so overwhelming that the Italian government was having to issue hefty
fines to bring a bit of calm amongst the throngs of madness.
It is said that there are very few real Venetians or even Florentines who still remain
in their collective overrun cities.

And so I was curious as to what a mostly deserted Itlay might look like.

The images were eerily serene.
However, knowing of the death toll that Itlay has experienced and the hardship this tiny country
has endured, viewing the images was not necessarily for a cursory glance on a rainy
Sunday afternoon.

There was a poignancy found in the images.
An emptiness.
A sadness.

There was the image of a single figure, a pope, clad in white and sitting alone in a darkened and
empty St Peter’s square observing the solemnity of the Easter Vigil…

To the ruins of the Coliseum surreally quiet and alone for the first time in centuries.

The empty gondolas bobbing up and down in eerily empty canals…

Yet I think it was the image (seen above) of the small church in Venice with photographs of
its parishioners taped to the pews that touched me the most as to how this pandemic has effected our
collective human family.

The small parish priest had asked his parishioners to please mail or email him
their pictures so he could, in turn, tape them to the pews in order that they could “be in attendance”
with him…there in the quiet and still little church, as he conducted Easter mass…alone.

Since all church services were canceled this Easter,
one pastor in Venice asked his parishioners for their photographs,
then placed them in the sanctuary and performed Mass for them on Easter Sunday.

https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/photos-of-italy-on-lockdown-from-a-vacant-colosseum-to-empty-churches-on-easter?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=cnt&utm_mailing=CNT_Daily_PM_041920&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email

I next read a heartbreaking story of a woman who was unable to visit her dying father in the
the hospital due to the quarantine.
The hospital was only five miles from her home, but her dad had contracted the virus
after having to go to the hospital following a fall at home.

He had been in good health up to his fall and was expected to be fine.
But while in the hospital, he developed a cough and fever…with the hospital realizing its greatest fear…
their patients were contracting the virus within the hospital itself.

The story is difficult to read as it is helplessly sad.

One of his four grown children relays how she and her siblings
stayed on the phone with their father for his final 36 hours of life
simply listening to his labored breathing before finally, there was no more sound.

‘We hear you, Dad’: A daughter stays on the phone for hours and hours as
her father dies alone from coronavirus

https://www.yahoo.com/news/hear-dad-daughter-stays-phone-120345094.html

And yet the enormity of all of this heartbreak, sorrow, isolation and emptiness is contrasted
by petty partisan politics.

Following the first two articles, I read two very different types of articles.
Articles by Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Gingrich is indeed a very smart and astute man.
He is currently on lockdown in Itlay as his wife is US Ambassador to the Vatican.
A position the late journalist Cokie Robert’s mother once held.

The former Speaker of the House was expressing his frustration with the current speaker,
Speaker Pelosi, and the squabbles she is currently having with the President over passing
a bill intended to bring financial aid to small businesses.

If anyone is hurting right now, it is our small businesses.
They have had to either shutter their doors or operate
very sparingly.
They have had to let go of employees.
Many cannot contiue paying their bills with no business to be had.

Yet the Speaker continues to refuse to work with the President.

The impeachment fiasco was bad enough…but we now have real people,
not celebrities, not high-end athletes, not entertainers, not politicians, but real people…t
he you and me kind of people..who need help— and they need it now!

And yet…we have people like Madame Speaker who continues to want to play cat and mouse.

Madame Speaker was being interviewed from her home by a late-night talk show host.
It seems she was standing in her kitchen in front of her two rather fancy Wolf sub-zero
refrigerators while babbling on about having to spend 58 dollars for 5 pints of ice cream as she
desperately needed to restock what she and her husband had already eaten.

58 bucks on high end ice cream while there are folks who can’t pay their bills
because they’ve lost their livelihood or worse, their health.

Something is wrong in all of this.

When we need help–many of the very people we elected to help us, choose to eat
expensive ice cream instead.
No wonder Speaker Gingrich sees the correlation between Marie Antoinette telling
a starving French population to simply eat cake while our Speaker of the house
eats her posh ice cream—as a President is trying desperately to bring aid
to those in desperate need.

Newt Gingrich: Coronavirus crisis makes some leaders believe they have god-like decision-making capacity

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-coronavirus-crisis-makes-some-leaders-believe-they-have-god-like-decision-making-capacity

Newt Gingrich: Like Marie Antoinette, Princess Pelosi enjoys luxuries but ignores needs of desperate people

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-the-job-killing-democrats

Bitterness

Between the uprightness of my conscience and the hardness of my lot,
I know not how either to show respect to my feelings or to the times.
The bitterness of my mind urges me at all hazards to speak what I think,
whereas the necessity of the times prompts me, however unbecomingly,
to keep silence.
Good God!
Which way shall I turn myself?

Thomas Becket


(5 o’clock somewhere / Julie Cook / 2020)

Way back in the early ’80s, I was but a young naive, early twenty-something art teacher.

As an art educator, I thought it was my duty, meaning I had the bright idea,
that I should create a European adventure in order to take my students upon—
one that would focus on the great art capitals of Europe.

Ahhhhh…

Note to self…when you are mid-twenties…don’t take teens on a trip…
especially out of the country.

And don’t do it when terrorism was actually becoming a thing
and there was no such things as cell phones.

That will be another story for another day.

However, for now, I want to share one little story.

At that time, as a young art teacher, who had recently been a young student myself,
I had a deep love and fascination with all things Italian.

I had minored in Art History with a focus on the Italian Renaissance.
Italy was, to me, the mecca of the art world.
And to truly appreciate such, I had immersed myself in all things Italian.

As a kid, I always loved Italian food, albeit 1960’s Americana Italian.
As an adopted kid, I just knew my true roots were Italian.

Was I not the secret love child of Sophia Loren???

Yet sadly that all actually proved to be a Scotch / Irish and English background,
but I digress.

So when our little adventure finally brought us to Italian soil, I had the
bright idea that I would, by gosh, treat myself to a quintessential Italian drink…
Campari.

That glistening brilliant red Italian liqueur.
I had seen all the famous advertisement posters… Campari was THE
Italian drink…

I remember marching up to a bar at a disco we had taken to kids to enjoy
and boldly telling the bartender I would like a Campari on the rocks.

Oh I felt so Sophia Lorenesque—-waiting on Dean Martin to come croon me a sweet Italian
love song.

I was so excited, so full of expectation…that was all until I brought that glass to my
expectant lips and took a big swallow.

There are no words for the nano-moments following.

It was a swallow followed by a quick spitting out what remained in my mouth.

Oh my great heavens above, I had just ingested kerosene!!!

A fire was now coursing down my throat as the bitter taste of poison cloyingly
coated my mouth.

If not some sublime red delightful liquid, what in the heck was Campari!!!?????

Oh, what my naivete and immature taste did not understand of aperitifs and digestifs
and more importantly bitters.

A story I now recall fondly as I’ve actually acquired quite the taste for Campari–
albeit mixed with a bit of lime and prosecco.
In more of a spritz verses that of a hardcore sipper.

And all this talk of bitters brings me full circle to our lives today.

For we are living during some bitter days.

A shadowy Spector seems to be waiting on each of us with some sort of sadistic
bated breath.

We are finding ourselves isolated, dislocated and as if living in some strange foreign land.

Our world has been literally turned upside down.

And how ironic that we should find ourselves in the midst of one of the holiest times
in all of Christendom—the week leading to Good Friday…and eventually Easter.

A time of jubilation followed by humility, betrayal, torture, and eventually death…

It is a bitter time.
A time of gall and bile.
A time of blood and vomit.

Not a pretty picture.
Not a picture of sweet little bunnies and precious little lambs.

This is a time of reality.

A time of life, lies, deceit, and death.

And how odd that our world now is actually walking the same sacred
walk we Christians have walked now for nearly 2000 years…
the Via Dolorosa…

A painful and difficult journey.

Yet what we followers of Christ already know…
the ending is not nearly as tragic as the world would have us believe.

Victory, in the end, is truly ours.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Captain’s log—has it been almost a week????

“The Divine Heart is an ocean full of all good things,
wherein poor souls can cast all their needs;
it is an ocean full of joy to drown all our sadness,
an ocean of humility to drown our folly,
an ocean of mercy to those in distress,
an ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty.”

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

I went back to the grocery store yesterday…
The sign reads, ‘meat custom cut the way you like”
I ask, what meat???

We’re all hunkered in and down in the house…all together.

And right now, we’re all having to make sacrifices…

Consider changing the Sheriff’s big messy diapers…
they have now become a massive joint effort…

I actually took my chances today and in a moment of desperation, I went to Target.
I walked in carrying my own Lysol wipes.
I bought the Mayor a dart shark board.

Plus some sidewalk chalk…but it’s now supposed to rain for the next three days…
of course it is…

Luckily we can play darts sharks and fish
in the house.
Or fill an empty water bottle full of dried rice, screw the cap on tight and shake it
till our heart’s content, or I’m crazy.

And in the middle of all of this new craziness that we’re each finding ourselves
living in, I really don’t know what should be considered new, normal or merely insane.

I have a dear friend in Florence, Italy…I’ve tried getting in touch with her now
for over a week…not a word.

Each day there is a new tally of loss.
Italy has not experienced losses like this since WWII

And what about Spain?
Iran?
France?
The US?
My state of Georgia.
My county?
My city?

I walked outside this afternoon and I heard the birds.
This is such a wonderful time of year to hear the melodic symphony of singing.

I can actually see Spring rounding the corner and I think life is oh so normal.
Oh so rhythmic.

But yet I know it is anything but normal and our ‘oh so taken for granted’
rhythm has been broken.

We only think that we are living with inconveniences.

We grumble.
We grouse.

But what we are seeing, experiencing goes far beyond inconvenience.
This goes beyond our grumbling and complaining.

And I think it is slowly dawning of those who had thrown caution to the wind and went on
living life as if nothing was different…I think maybe, just maybe, they might finally
be getting the memo…life is now very different.

I had read a friend’s post today and she said in all of this craziness she had actually forgotten
it was Lent—and it dawned on me that I too had forgotten Lent as well.

But then I considered the thought that I hadn’t actually forgotten Lent…but rather
I am living Lent.
We are all living Lent.

In this desert wasteland that we now find ourselves wandering,
I am assured that both good news and Hope remain.

Victory is waiting for us on the other side of this desert.
We just need to keep making our way through the barren wasteland because when we do,
we will find Christ waiting with open arms…in part because he walked this desert long
before we ever took the first step.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Captain’s log: Do more!

“There is no indication that God explained to Joseph what He was doing
through those many years of heartache or how the pieces would
eventually fit together.
He had no ways of knowing that he would eventually enjoy a
triumphal reunion with his family.
He was expected, as you and I are, to live out his life one day at a time
in something less than complete understanding.
What pleased God was Joseph’s faithfulness when nothing made sense.”

James C. Dobson


(1942 patriotic poster from WWII)

Captian’s Log, Day 3 of the mandated social distancing…aka stay at home!

There once was a time when each member of this country was asked to do their part.

The world was at war and we had joined in.

Many had enlisted in the various branches of service in order to go fight.

There were those who stayed home to tend to the importance of running a nation.

We had women, wives, mothers, young and old, all working in factories since
most of the men had left to fight.

We had ration books to use when going to the store.

We had to limit what we could buy and when we could buy it…
most fresh foods were going overseas to support the hungry troops.

People planted victory gardens–growing their own produce.

We were asked to donate metals, silver, gold, brass…
metal that could be melted into ammunition or the making of necessary equipment.

We were asked to buy war bonds.

People were encouraged to be supportive.

People had to use blackout curtains at night lest the enemy should see
their way to bomb us at home.

People were asked to monitor shortwave radios.

Gasoline was in short supply so travel was limited.

Sacrifice was a given.

We were each asked to help in our own small or big way.
It was a nation of folks ready to roll up their sleeves to lend a hand and do their part.
The goal was the same.

Victory in unity.

It was not easy.
It was lonely.
It was scary.
It was sad.
It was hard.
It was difficult.

But everyone knew it had to be done…the alternative of not doing would be disastrous.

And so as my family now does what it has been asked to do…
of staying at home as much as we can.
Working from home if at all possible.
Limiting our exposure to those outside of our home.
Washing our hands.
And not hoarding grocery items…

I am disheartened when I see, read and hear of those who throw caution to the wind.
I am troubled by the stories of those who say that they will keep doing as they wish.
My own community remains very much busy and on the go.

People such as the American ex-pat cookbook author who calls Paris home, David Lebovitz to
Megan McCain, to my own family and friends…there has been a great deal of concern that
the mandates of limiting our social contacts are simply falling on deaf ears…
as it is all going largely unheeded.

David Lebovitz, in his food blog, has offered some great “stuck in the house” recipes
we might like to try.
David lives in Paris and is the author of several cookbooks, French travel books as well as
a great food blog.

In David’s blog post yesterday he shared his frustration, given the French government’s
mandate, much like Itlay’s, to stay indoors and to limit all social gatherings—
his frustration came from seeing so many of the younger French congregating in the streets,

We are on day #1 of a fifteen-day confinement.
Bars, cafés and restaurants were closed Saturday at midnight
(which were packed in my neighborhood, as usual, with twenty- and thirty-somethings),
and people were told to keep a distance between them and avoid public places.
But the revelry continued on the streets around here through the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Later in the morning, people waited in line, shoulder-to-shoulder, shopping at the Bastille market,
and Sunday afternoon, people filled parks in Paris, or sat by the canal to have a beer with friends.
To be honest, it was disheartening, and a little frightening,
to watch the news and hear people being interviewed, talking about how they didn’t care,
that they were going to do whatever they wanted.
So here we are, with talk of the military coming in to make sure people stay indoors.

https://www.davidlebovitz.com/stay-at-home-recipes-confined-confinement/

And so now the French government now considers marshal law…hmmm

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/macron-invokes-war-europe-goes-213419878.html

Even Megan McCain, daughter of the late Senator Joh McCain and conservative commentator, has
joined the bandwagon by echoing a similar concern…

https://www.foxnews.com/media/mccain-de-blasio-millennials-coronavirus

And then there is the following link of a story about a message gone viral from an Italian
who utters a dire warning to the US. A message that we must heed the warnings given to us
before things spiral into the disastrous mess Itlay has found herself in as the virus
cases multiple faster than one’s head can spin and the death rate becomes staggering.

https://currently.att.yahoo.com/lifestyle/creators-behind-viral-video-of-quarantined-italians-share-coronavirus-warning-161158583.html

So, while I’m beginning to feel as if we are the only Americans hunkering down…
I pray that my fellow Americans will take heed, doing their part by joining the fight…
the fight against an unseen but very real enemy.

Yes, I think more people have died from the typical flu but this sinister bug is effecting
us on a multitude of levels that I have never seen in my lifetime.
Why that is, I am not certain…but the effect is real and it alone is proving
just as deadly and catastrophic..

Our shops and stores are closing.
All of our sporting events are being canceled.
Graduations are being canceled.
Weddings are being canceled.
Our travel industry is a ghost industry.
Churches and Synagogues are closing their doors.
People are losing jobs.
The stock market is falling.
And people only thought Russia would be our undoing.

It might just be that we will be our own undoing if we don’t join together to put an end
to the madness.
And the faster we work together, the faster this all can be put behind us!

So please, do your part!

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when
he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together,
they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone,
two will withstand him—-a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

keep calm?

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows,
it empties today of its strength.

Corrie ten Boom


(my extent of “prepping” for our latest cirises/ Julie Cook/ 2020)

The market has crashed.
Our savings have suddenly taken a nosedive.
Our life’s savings have shrunk drastically, if not totally having disappeared.
All in the course of a few hours on a Monday morning.

Thanks to Russia and Saudi Arabia…

Italy is closed for business.
Forget the impending Holy Season of Good Friday and Easter.
Forget your favorite olive oil, pasta or historical wonders.
News flash, the Pope has a cold.

China…

Well, China is a bad word…in more ways than one.

South Korea and North Korea…typhoid Marys…

Delta is canceling flights left and right.
Grocery store shelves are reminiscent of an impending snowstorm,
let alone the ending of the world as we now know it…

But remember, you just lost your life savings in the crashing market…
therefore you can’t afford the grocery store’s price gouging on things you really don’t
normally need.

And whatever you do…
DO NOT TURN ON THE NEWS!!!!!!

Do you remember the days following 9/11?

We were told to prepare.

We were told to put together a “survival” kit.

We needed to fill a plastic tub with:

Duct tape.
Duct tape should be used to seal all windows and doors in case there was a dirty bomb.
Duct tape, as a saving grace from nuclear annihilation, who knew?!

Water.
Because our water systems would be targeted.

Freeze-dried foods.
If there was a run on grocery stores, supply would not meet demand —
Should a catastrophe ensue, our food sources would be targeted.

Cash.
Because there would be a run on the banks and the Government would
shutter the bank’s doors in order to protect the markets…in turn,
you’d not be able to get any of your money.
But remember, you don’t have any money because the markets crashed.

Flashlights and batteries as power grids would be targets.

Old fashion radios because communication would be limited due to destroyed
power grids.

Batteries– to power our now old school technology.

First aid supplies since we wouldn’t be able to leave the house should we need care.

A bottle of bourbon.

That was my addition—

So fast forward to today…
Each morning I’m blessed to wake up, I’m hearing more and more about doomsday reporting.

I’m hearing that hand sanitizer is now a rare commodity and so the DYI folks are
offering hacks to make our own.
Think alcohol and aloe vera gel.

So this morning was my typical morning to head to the grocery store for my
weekly shopping.

If I listened to the people, be they the news folks or just friends or neighbors,
I would need to go out and prepare for this latest plague and end of times crisis…

I would need to stock up on bleach, hand sanitizer, canned foods, bottled water,
iodine tablets, surgical masks, nitrile gloves, zinc tablets…

I would also need to grab my mail out of the box while wearing gloves.
All deliveries would need to be put down at the door while I retrieved them while
wearing gloves and a face mask.
And better yet, I should not order anything because chances are everything has
been touched by ‘the infected’.

And so that image up above, well it’s the extent of my gathering.

I saw the sanitizer wipes on an end cap on sale…what the heck, I’ll pick up a canister.
I use them when cleaning up around the cat box.

The bleach… well, spring and pollen are coming and I’ll need to be cleaning down the deck
following the onslaught of yellow powder that will settle upon our world.
Plus we’ve had so much rain, the deck is a giant piece of mildew.

The Oreos you ask??!!

Well, my husband will need something sweet to nibble on should he be stuck
inside a duct tapped domicile due to the impending apocalypse.
No better way to go then while munching on a few Oreos.

And whereas we should always take precautions, as we normally do when viruses or
bacteria such as the flu, West Nile virus, Ebola, Ecoli…
each run amuck, we also shouldn’t ready ourselves to climb out on
the latest window ledge to jump before we are taken out by the latest plague.

Be smart with your health but NOT a henny penny panicker who is listening to the
doomsday news naysayers…folks who actually want our nation to fail and fall apart…

Because yes, there are those who want our Nation to fail…
We need to stay calm while staying smart…

Oh, and by the way…I caught wind that toilet paper is becoming scarce.
Who knew???
Why in the heck there’s a run on toilet paper I have no idea, but supposedly some
shoppers in Australia got into a smackdown over the last package on the shelf.

When I visited my local grocery store today…I’m happy to report that the
shelves were full and there wasn’t the slightest sign of scarcity…
I did, however, pick up a package of toilet paper…
just to be on the safe side…

Because like Kathy over on atimetoshare noted, the Sears catalog has since long come and gone…

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

honey and locust… or would that be grasshoppers?

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth;
and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word,
to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God,
men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”

Pope St. John Paul II


(a locust passing by / Julie Cook / 2015)

Sometimes I just think it would be best if I found some hollowed-out tree, ditched
all the trappings of this life and opted to survive off of honey and locust.

Think John the Baptist.

The voice of the one crying out in the wilderness.
The man who lived in the desert eating only honey and locust while preaching about the
repentance of man…

So in my case, maybe we should make those grasshoppers because grasshoppers are more prevalent
in my neck of the woods.
But if the truth be told, I could easily do honey all day long, grasshoppers, however,
are things that I’m just not so certain about.

But this little reflection is not about eating bugs or living in
a hollowed-out tree—
but rather this post is about ridding oneself of all the trappings of a distracting world.

Giving to God all that I am and all that I have…which is simply me and me alone.

Because isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?
What we’re supposed to be about?

So maybe this IS a post about living in a hollowed-out tree, or in a cave or in a hut
or in the desert…

It’s about giving all and crying out.

It’s much like having a St. Francis moment.

Stripping down naked in the town square, tossing off all the fine clothing given
by one’s well to do parent and opting instead to offer the only thing one truly has that
is his or her own…that being one’s unclad naked self.


(St. Francis’ renunciation of worldly things / Giotto /1295 /Bascillica of San Francesco Assisi, Italy)

Yet Life gets complicated.

Our culture and society have both grown caustically complicated.

We can get so caught up in the minutia of living.
We tend to worry about things that are totally trivial in the grand scope of what is
truly worthy of concern…

We fret over silly little things like matching appliances, buying name brand purses, shoes, and cars.
We want a house in that oh so special neighborhood while putting our kids in the best of the best schools…
We live on our phones, on Facebook, on twitter on Instagram…
We have become the masters of making nothingness into life-altering concerns and thoughts.

The proverbial mountain verses the molehill.

Throw in the daily constant fixation with our toxic political sludge…
and well, we are all living a life of perpetual distraction— and if the truth be told,
it is a life of heaviness and negativity.

What then do we have left to give God?
What remains?

Maybe having a St. Francis moment is in order for us all.
Throwing off the trappings of this world and giving to God what it is at the heart of the matter—
that being ourselves and ourselves alone…
ourselves with nothing covering us or allowing us to hide behind…no distractions.

Just us.

Just us making Him our focus..the focus of what truly only matters.
Because in the end…nothing else in this world does matter…
Everything and everyone will eventually die and or pass away.

So only Him and us…

Creator and created…

“We live in a fallen world.
We must, therefore, work out our destiny under the conditions created by sin.
Did we but realize this truth, we would accept each of life’s trying changes in the same spirit
in which we accept the penance from the confessor.
Were we truly convinced that our hope of pardon, and consequently our salvation,
depends upon repentance, we would willingly undergo all the sufferings of life’s warfare.”

John A. Kane, p. 81
An Excerpt From
How to Make a Good Confession