time marches forward or does it?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.
But that is not for them to decide.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


(time’s toll on a sunflower / Julie Cook / 2021)

Not much time to chat due to grandparent duties but I did want
to squeeze in a thought that has been percolating in my brain…

That being the thought of history and time.

Pretty deep and vast subject matter I know, but
perhaps the point of this percolating is more subtle and succinct
then the topics themselves.

I have to admit that, years back, when I got my first Apple computer along
with an eventual iPhone, I began to utilize the e-calendars on those devices.

Traditionally I had kept a wall calendar at home as well as in my classroom.
Never one to use one of those notebook planner / organizers that
Stephen Covey made so popular in the 1980’s, I stored most dates in my head.

I tried planners but I was not dutiful when it came to working in them
as one was expected. I was usually on the move, so much so, that storing
things in my head just worked for me.

And that head system of mine worked pretty well throughout my tenure
as a teacher until I began to notice that I would miss a hair appointment here
or a meeting there…getting days and weeks a bit skewed.

We call that age.

So wall calendars were big with me…

Once technology began to trickle into both my professional and personal life,
the electronic calendars were quite handy as I especially liked the alert
systems allowing my device to alert me as to an upcoming appointment.

However I was a little peeved when I realized Apple had pre-inserted various
“holidays” onto the calendars.

Some “holidays” I knew, some I did not.

Now I understood having the biggie National holidays marked
as most business, banks and post offices are to be closed.

And it was good to see where days, say like, Thanksgiving or July 4th,
were going to fall during a week when it came to planning time off,
trips or family gatherings.

And I suppose having Ground Hog day pre-marked is a good thing
if you like using a giant rodent as a weatherman…
yet in our family, having that date marked was good because it also happened
to be Aunt Martha’s birthday.

However I have to admit that there were a few “holidays” that I would
have preferred having the option to delete as they were
not pertinent to me and my world.

When I first saw Juneteenth, marked on June 19th, I had no idea as to
what that was all about.
It seemed so random.
Was it some sort of millennial thing that I was not privy to…?

Well naturally, I needed to investigate.

As a one time history major…
how did some things ever seem to elude my studies?

Or was it merely presented as a different name as the notion of a Juneteenth was indeed more new to me than old?

Juneteenth it seems, marked a day for the emancipation of enslaved
African Americans.

Ahh—well….
So why not just call it Emancipation Day?
And so through my investigating, I discovered that it was indeed referred to
as Emancipation Day in Texas as well as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day or
Liberation day…

I think I like Jubilee Day the best as that is indeed something to
have been jubilant over!

So now I get it.

But what I don’t get, is why there are now groups of folks out there
who are saying that July 4th should no longer be relevant…??!!

There are sectors now claiming that America’s day of Independence should
not be recognized.
As in July 4th is not a day of liberation from tyranny…
They are saying that it is not a day of independence
for black, brown, red or yellow Americans…

Now I’ve written long and hard about the importance of a
young Nation’s fight for independence.
That that initial fight for freedom was but the beginning of
many freedom fights to come.
One begetting but another.

I’ve written about how Betsy Ross and her flag were not and are
not symbols of racism—as she was both a pacifist as well
as an abolitionist.

Here’s a link to that previous post:
https://wordpress.com/post/cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/28222

And I noted in that previous post..
“Slavery was not a new problem to a new Nation.
Nor was it a problem created by the new Nation.

It had been a form of “free labor” used by other Nations long before
there were 13 colonies and even before there had been a new land.

And the Quakers (of which Betsy Ross belonged) were actually
one of the first religious groups to denounce the ownership of slaves
and vocally oppose the practice of slavery.

Betsy Ross, the Continental Congress, and the new flag had nothing to do with racism
or slavery…end of sentence.”

So when I read or hear of certain groups out there clamoring that
July 4th is not representative to all Americans or that it is
not a day that all Americans should recognize as a day of this Nation’s
independence…well I get a bit rankled.

Like I say…that fight for freedom set in motion more freedom fights
to come.

And so when I hear such talk, I feel it’s important to remind
folks of a few facts…
Facts like Betsy Ross, along with the flag she created to be carried
by the Revolutionary soldiers, had nothing to do with the new
hot button word, racism.

Or the little fact that men, both black and white, actually had the
right to vote long before any color of women.

So after a hard fought emancipation, came a suffrage movement…
where eventually all Americans were afforded the privilege to vote in
free and open elections.

But hearing so much talk these days about separating black from white…
I just don’t understand.

Wasn’t the quest for emancipation to have all people in this country
living free and on equal footing with one another?
Having the same sorts of opportunities—not hand outs but
opportunities??

And in turn, didn’t generations before today’s new angry and woke generation,
fight hard to bring about that same equal footing???—was it not their desire
for the divisiveness and strife to end??

And yet today, are we not seeing a backwards trend?

Rather than the hopes and toil of all those Americans, of all colors,
in previous generations who labored just so you and I could work side by side
in a Nation that is both by the people and for the people…we now
have a new generation who wants to go back to separations and division…
back to hate and immense anger…

The unity so many fought for and even died for…is now unraveling before
our very eyes…
May it not be so.

As we ready for another year’s Day of Independence may we remember
to honor all those men and women of all backgrounds, both past and present,
who made, and continue to make, the ultimate sacrifice for our ability
to be free…
and sadly that freedom seems to now be a matter of fussing and cussing with
one another…

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of
chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
give me liberty or give me death!

Patrick Henry

Justice for what???

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death.
And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?
Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.
For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

J.R.R. Tolkien


(a buckeye butterfly rests on a noodle / Julie Cook / 2020)

Enjoying a bit of quiet reading and reflecting with some of my favorite folks out in
blogland this afternoon, I stopped by to see what gems of wisdom our friend IB had
to allow this fine Friday in June.

It is fine, isn’t it?

I don’t know…maybe it’s not.

It’s Juneteenth, so says my phone’s calendar and now, so says thousands
gathering in the streets of Atlanta, as well as across this nation, peacefully
marching and celebrating.

It seems we’ve all received a quick tutorial on the significance of Juneteenth.

And so we hope all things remain peaceful.
But we really must wait until the sun sets and then we shall see
if the peacefulness carries itself through the night.

Their voices now rise in a crescendo chant of “justice.

But what is this justice for which they cry?

Our friend IB mused over the very same notion.
What is this justice for which these crowds so long?

Perhaps it is what I too long for—.

IB was actually writing a post about having seen a movie that was a bit of a
soothing balm when this idea of ‘what is justice’ popped in.

I’ve not seen the movie, so I can’t say…but it moved IB and thus a post
sprang forth.

I honestly don’t know what makes me cry more, happy things or sad things?
There are lots of both in this movie and it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.
I mean, it’s not good for your heart to be shattered, broken, for you to be wounded, right?
Except, if that’s how the love pours in, through all those cracks,
if that’s how the Lord moves into your life and brings healing,
well then, thank God for broken hearts.

Thank God when we are wounded, willing to feel the pain, rather than hardened.

It was a really validating movie too,
because I’m looking around at a world that often doesn’t make any sense and trying to talk
to people who are totally tone deaf.

I feel a bit like a broken record sometimes, always talking about meth, fentanyl,
and heroin addictions, in an area that is so pro-drugs, so pro-addiction!
People are out on the streets right now crying out for justice, but justice from what??
And what does this “justice” they crave even look like?

I spend half my life trying to forgive addicts whose behavior does nothing but steal,
kill, and destroy all that is good, and the other half of my time trying to forgive
those in leadership who have enabled and condoned the whole situation either through
their incompetence or their corruption. It’s really painful, it’s really frustrating,
but it’s not a bad thing at all, because it is all about learning to love others as
Jesus loves us

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Both Matthew and Mark take note of the fact that this is the gospel,
that this truth, the reflective nature of grace, is so vitally important that,
“Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world,
what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

“Healing River” did a really good job of capturing the essence of that truth.
When we have been forgiven much, we love much.

We have been forgiven much.

https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2020/06/19/healing-river/

And so I too think about this odd innate need for justice—
this thing we always seem to cry out for—

And this justice of ours seems to be whatever perceived notion we might be feeling at the time,
It springs from deep within our being—and there is indeed a longing.

A longing in each one of us.
We often can’t put our finger on it.
We think with our heads, trying to figure out our heart…
but we most often misread those inward groanings.

I decided to go explore the Healing River’s official site.
It is a faith-based film that sounds extremely powerful.

One reviewer noted that “the message of redemption, forgiveness and mercy
coming from and through our Lord Jesus Christ in this movie is one of great importance,
especially in our troubled world hungry for a message of hope and courage.
Well done!”
Fr. Patrick McMullen, St. Therese Catholic Parish, Cincinnati, OH

And so I now think I know what this cry is.
What it is we always seem to turn to when life seems overwhelmingly
unfair, unjust, and simply undone…
It is not so much for justice that we cry as it is for mercy.
It is not so much for justice as it is for forgiveness.

Sadly there is not a whole lot of forgiveness or mercy running about these days…
days which are so full of protests, anger and violent riots.

Yet those two elements are the key to quelling the painfilled groans within our beings.

Anger and rage are exhausting.
They steal one’s light, peace, joy, hope…

Mercy and forgiveness allow us to finally exhale and finally rest from the fight.

he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear** him;
Psalm 103:10-13

**remember the word fear often translates to respect

melted pats of butter…

“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts.
Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched,
if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.
That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


(clipart image of a melting pat of butter)

I’ve been heard, as of late, to lament that I feel as if I am a melting pat of butter.

Meaning….
I am tired.

Simply melting away.

But really, who isn’t tired these days?

Nurses.
Doctors.
EMS.
Police.
Firefighters.
First Responders.
Teachers.
Educational Admins.
Parents.
Grandparents.
Work from home folks.
Students.
Kids.

We are all so, so tired.

Physically.
Emotionally.
Mentally.
Spiritually.

Remember, you can go to Walmart or the liquor store…but you can’t go to Chruch.

We are tired of mixed messages.
We are tired of lockdowns.
We are tired of politicians.
We are tired of not being able to work.
We are tired of not being able to move.
We are tired of not being able to pay our bills.
We are tired.

We are tired of being told what to do.
We are tired of being told what not to do.

We don’t know who to believe.

Our leaders are a mixed bag of nuts.
As in many are truly nuts.

And we are tired of nuts.

And so I cling to the One constant…

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Sunday was Easter right? Why does this still feel like Lent? Hope found in an egg

“A box without hinges, key, or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid.”

J.R.R. Tolkien


(pretties found during the lockdown / Julie Cook/ 2020

Today’s other title choices…wait for it…WHEN WILL THIS BE OVER?!

And then there was the alternative, Crisis within a Crisis…

I don’t know, maybe you are like me and prefer not to admit it…

You should know, there was this subconscious thought, deep down somewhere in my being,
a subconscious thought that pondered that once Easter got here, and what with a couple of weeks
of this lockdown business under our belts, this madness would joyfully all be over.

But the somber and sober reality was that once Easter actually arrived here in the South,
we were met with a deadly and storm ridden day.

Grey, windy, humid and eerie.

Eerie for all sorts of reasons.

We were under a tornado watch throughout both day and night with the storms
making their presence known here in Georgia around at 2AM

They had already left their deadly mark in Lousiana and Mississippi.

There were tornados in the neighboring counties and states all around us, but
we were thankfully spared the brunt of mother nature’s deadly fury.

Lives were lost, homes and properties destroyed.

I was reminded of the Easter Sunday years ago when a storm rolled through a tiny town
in neighboring Alabama, making a direct hit on a rural Methodist Chruch.
The pastor, a wife, and mother, was killed and the church destroyed.

Mother Nature does not discriminate.

Nor do crises or viruses.

Just before all this madness ramped up, I had to have a molar’s crown replaced.
I was fitted with a temporary and was to come back in two week’s time for the
permanent crown to be put in place.

Well the pandemic reared its ugly head and my appointment was canceled as all businesses were
shuttered.
No worries, I thought, this temporary molar is great.

That was until yesterday morning, Easter morning when the Mayor offered me one of
her jellybeans–out popped the tooth.

Well, knowing it was, A. Sunday and B. Pandemic, I knew I was a ship load out of luck.
So what does a former girl scout/educator do in a small crisis?
She finds the super glue to poke the tooth back in.

The only problem was that it was in the back, in between two other teeth, I was having
a hard time seeing in the mirror, holding the flashlight while trying to figure out what
was the correct line-up for the tooth.

Have you ever gotten super glue on your tongue?

Take it from me, DON’T!!!
Then do not use fingernail polish remover to get rid of super glue on your tongue.

I got the tooth back in but not lined up for the bite.
So now, it hurts and doesn’t align when my teeth touch and I can’t “pop” it back out
because it’s glued in like nobody’s business.

I called the dentist Monday morning and the recording told me all I needed to know…
PANDEMIC. CLOSED!

But I did, however, leave a message.
And a gal did call back.

I explained what happened but she said that for now, they needed to remain closed
but if it popped back out, do not use superglue…well duh…
and to call back as they’d see if they could get me in.

I hung up wondering why I couldn’t get in now but I suppose we’ll wait until
infection sets in and my head begins to throb.

Oh, and did I mention Percy?

Last week, I had let the Mayor and Sheriff’s big black lab out onto the deck for water.
I went to fill up the water bowl when I saw a good bit of bright red blood on the bowl.

I asked my daughter-in-law to check the dog’s mouth to make certain she had
not lost a tooth.

Nope—all was well.

And that’s when I saw it.

Percy looked up at me and his entire mouth was swollen with his bottom jaw almost
swollen beyond recognition.

I immediately called the vet asking how they were seeing emergency cases.

Of course, they know Percy most intimately.

They told me to bring him to the parking lot and call once I got there.
They would send out a masked and gloved tech to get the carrier while I
waited in the car.

Several of the techs who had endured those agonizing months with me as
Percy was a daily patient dealing with his bone infection, all came to the door
to wave.

I think that’s what I miss most throughout this madness—our daily
mundane, yet comforting, interactions.

After about 30 minutes, the vet came out and told me Percy had bitten into his bottom lip.
Remember, Percy has some very messed up teeth, those of which have not been pulled or
lost to his abuse as a kitten, before coming to us.

Two shots, antibiotics, steroids, and a million dollars later, we were headed back home.

They even brought me back my bank card back out wrapped in Lysol wipes.

Only Percy would have a crisis during a global pandemic!

And so I went back to the grocery store today.

Again, the emotionless masked shoppers were out in droves.

The chicken and meats were back up to speed but limited to two packs per person.

All the chicken broth was out as was all flour and sugar.

The aisles were now marked with an arrow or an x—directional markers as to how to travel.

I had to weave up and down.
If I forgot something, there was no backing up or u-turning.

Cheese was only two per person as was most everything else.
There were actually 5 packs of toilet paper on the shelves.
Yet no Lysol or disinfectant wipes to be found.

Eggs were also a bit sparse.
But of course, it had just been Easter.

In the background there was some late 90’s song playing on the intercom
that pricked at my senses.
I felt tears welling up in my eyes.

I had a moment of sheer visceral sadness.

Normal.
I just wanted normal.
Not some kind of science fiction, brave new world NEW normal.
I just wanted plain ol normal.

Afraid that the enormity of all of this twilight zone life was just about to
push me over the edge…I blessedly saw them.

Eggs.

And not just any eggs…it was a package of a lovely multi-colored palette
of perfectly shaped beautiful ovals

And just like that, I was jolted back to the bigger picture…
that of new life and new birth.

Something so much greater than this current madness.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

the royal Mayor is in residence

“A King will have his way in his own hall, be it folly or wisdom.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

(the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

I suppose we should raise the royal standard announcing to all the local constituents
that their Mayor, her royal highness, is now in residence in the
satellite office of Woobooville…

However, since the constituents consist of her grandfather, her grandmother and the two cats…
one of whom is not happy at all to see her, I think the standard shall remain unfurled.

The Mayor, however, did set about business immediately by meeting with a disgruntled neighbor.
It seems this “neighbor” is very opposed to one of the cats sitting on the front porch and
made a very vocal opposition of such—all the while the Mayor listened to the complaints
very intently and naturally full of curiosity and compassion…


(the mockingbird mere feet from the Mayor complaining about the proxiemity of the 13 year old car/
Julie Cook / 2019)


(the Mayor listening to the mockingbird’s complaints / Julie Cook / 2019)

And then there was the important task of watering—of which the Mayor takes very seriously…
that was until a wasp was unpleased and let the Mayor know in a most painful manner.

The Mayor’s first bee sting.

A slight hiccup to duty, but after about a 10-minute meltdown, and some chief aide’s offering of TLC,
it was business as usual.


(the Mayor before the wasp found her / Julie Cook / 2019)

Now the Mayor is in the midst of a transition—that would be a transition of hairstyles.

As her hair is now growing out and covering her eyes,
there is the matter of how to best remove it from said vision.

For the time being she is opting for a throw-back of the 60’s headband…hoping to bring back
an old stylish trend.

Stay tuned for the latest headlines from this field reporter regarding the Mayor’s official
visit to the satellite office of Woobooville…

The garden

“We all long for Eden, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most human, is still soaked with the sense of exile.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“When Adam ate the irrevocable apple, Thou
Saw’st beyond death the resurrection of the dead”

C.S. Lewis

DSCN2511
(Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

There once was a garden that was perfect in every sense.
There were no need for boundaries nor signs, not even a single fence.

Its beauty was undeniable as its splendor was amazing.
There were animals of every shape and size contently roaming and grazing.

The trees grew tall and the pastures lush, as the bushes grew full and wide…
While all manner of flower and fruit blossomed with unapologetic pride.

God sweetly handed man the keys proclaiming that he should now enjoy,
Creation could but only hope for a happy ending to this perfect story…

But happiness and peace were not to be this story’s blissful end…
For there was far more trauma and tragedy that this writer should have penned…

There were whispered lies and falsehoods uttered, as selfishness stepped on stage.
With the die being cast and death now laughing, it is only sorrow for this new age..

The gates to this most beautiful place were sealed and tightly locked.
As both seraphim and cherubim stood to the side confused and terribly shocked…

Forever banished now is Adam, with Eve right by his side…
Along with every hope and dream, which has each now quickly died…

Death this tragic day was given dominion over this now broken world…
As chaos and madness mixed together and evil loomed and swirled…

Our generation is no different from the rest with each now having come and gone…
We wonder if today’s the day as we look beyond this morning’s dawn.

Will Christ come riding triumphantly upon the clouds so white…
And will this once beautiful garden ever be returned to earth’s most anxious sight?

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
Revelation 22:1-3

What do the wise among us see

“Saruman rose to his feet, and stared at Frodo. There was a strange look in his eyes of mingled wonder and respect and hatred. ‘You have grown, Halfling,’ he said. ‘Yes, you have grown very much. You are wise, and cruel. you have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

DSCN0539
(a curious jackdaw watches from the crumbling walls at The Rock of Cahsel, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

What of those wise men…
those sages of days long past…
those perceptive foreign kings who would travel from far far away in search of the sacred, the mysterious, the Divine?

What of those enlightened seers who once possessed a depth of wisdom not afforded to the masses of their time…
Of those scholarly patricians, scientists and astronomers of yore, those who studied both the heavens and the stars hoping to see, to foretell, and to discern those dire or joyful events which were to befall mankind…

I wonder what their thoughts, predictions, and discernments would be for our day and of our time…would they travel day and night all those many miles wandering only hoping to pay homage or rather would they hasten to warn those willing few brave enough to heed their divinations?

Would their concern be of the escalating global warming as they measured various viscous liquids watching the rise and fall of floating objects within a myriad of glass vessels?
Would they gather dirt and seed while measuring the falling rains?
Would the increasing number of tumultuous storms, floods, fires and earthquakes give way to a heightened need of understanding fueling their global quest?
Would their concern be of the climate shift and of the rising ocean temperatures?
What of the mysterious “die offs” of massive numbers of fish, antelopes, star fish, birds…
What would these learned men who sought to understand the balance between health and living make of these new pandemics, epidemics, plagues and unexplained global sicknesses?
What of the melting icecaps, would they even be aware of opposing earthly poles encased in ice and snow?

Would they unroll their brittle parchments and calfskin scrolls plotting and planning while measuring the charted maps of both known land, sea and heavens?
Would their vision be cast upward during a nighttime sky as they pondered the oddity of 4 successive large reddish moons which each oddly took place during a holy day or festival of the Hebrew people?

DSCN1049
(the half moon in the Killarney night sky / Sept 2015 / Julie Cook )

Would they read the words of ancient prophets and prophesies wondering if there were connections and correlations or would they simply pass it all away as coincidence.
Would they yield to the ancient scriptural warnings of things long foretold or would they consider the ancient tomes written by those delusional and crazed?

What of the star, that lone bright and brilliant star which had beckoned them years prior to that tiny Jewish village on the periphery of the expansive Roman Empire…
What of the ancient texts and the cross references of the both sacred and secular…were they but mere conjecture?

What other celestial and earthly signposts and events must appear before the wise and the average both understand?

DSCN1048
(moonlight over Killarney, Ireland / Sept 2015 / Julie Cook

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:6-14

Looking for something

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go,
take Christ, because He Himself is the way.

Thomas Aquinas

I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.
Geronimo

DSCN0126
(black bear / Ketchikan, Alaska / Gregory Cook / 2015)

As relentless as this heat continues to be. . .
As hot as the southwesterly winds continue to blow, drying out an overtly parched landscape. . .
As that which was once lush now turns yellow, leggy, dry and spent. . .
Our eyes, our thoughts our desires turn toward a blank horizon, scanning the open vista as if looking for the arrival of a long lost love returning after a lengthy absence. . .

It is that certain time of year, of a waning summer, that a lone black bear wanders,
with intense purpose, his territorial domain in search of food. . .
seeking life sustaining fats in order to build protection from the coming winter’s hibernation.

The calendar reminds us that it is only August, the tail-end of a fleeting summer. . .
yet the bear knows that his time is drawing nigh.
Despite the heat, the bugs, the drying and dying of food, the bear must push ever forward as there is an increasing escalation of persistence.
Looking, seeking, searching. . .all with great intensity.
There is a stealthy determination.
Satisfy the need now and the guarantee of survival rests in his favor.
He seeks with purpose.
Each day has a goal. . .that of survival and life.

Do we seek with the same sense of purpose as the bear?
As though our life depended upon it?
Have we ever sought with that same sense of urgency?

We scan the horizon looking for something or someone,
yet we just can’t seem to put our finger on the what or the who of what that might be. . .
Life verses death. . .
Time being of the essence. . .
Yet we just don’t seem to understand. . .

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20

No time for chickens. . .

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
― Mother Teresa

DSC00909
(portion of a 19th century oil painting by H.A. Bossir which was my grandmothers)

Have you ever heard the expression “if it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”??
Well oddly enough, for almost the past 32 years, that little expression has pretty much been the mantra of my little family. I say 32 years because that’s almost how long I’ve been married and it was just around that time that this bad luck / good luck ying and yang thing started. I’m rather confident my husband would own up to being the lightening rod but we won’t hold that against him.

And of course there’s that whole “best laid plans” thing which also rears its ugly head in my neck of this world. . .

So I don’t know what possessed me to even begin to think that my happy little bucolic dream of having my beautiful chicken coop complete with a bevy of beautiful layers, hunting and pecking to their hearts content, foraging in the beautiful vegetable garden next to the coop while I, Mrs Farmer Brown, tended to my small piece of idyllic country living would actually come to fruition.
What was I thinking?

What came over me envisioning Country Living wanting to come do a photo shoot of my city girl meets farmer girl world? Why did I picture myself naming the girls. . . Marigold, Clementine, Petunia, Coq au vin, and Lady Poulet? What possessed my husband when he had a coop custom made for me last Christmas?? A coop that now just sits forlornly in the backyard, empty and alone.

And what of the large vegetable garden we have each year? What of my squash, my zucchini, my myriad of heirloom tomato plants, my wax beans, my bush beans, my eggplants, my okra, my 4 varieties of corn, of my peppers. You remember, the garden that was decimated last year by the herd of ravenous deer that nearly ate me out of house and home?? And of my Irish Spring deterrent??
What of that???

Sadly, none of that is to be this year.

Time has come calling and has put the kibosh on all my hopes and dreams. . .
well. . .maybe not all my hopes and dreams, but those of the immediate moment such as chickens and gardens and a peaceful summer.
There just simply isn’t time in the day to be bucolic while spending the majority of the week on the road driving to and from Atlanta to Dads. . .

Sigh. . .

And speaking of Dad. . .

I had not even gotten in the shower this morning when the care service we’ve enlisted, in the daily care of the blind leading the blind, calls.
“Hello”

“Hi Julie, just thought I’d let you know your dad called us this morning canceling tomorrow’s service”

“WHAT?”

“Yes, their regular caregiver has a doctor’s appt. tomorrow–we were going to send a replacement for the day in but they decided they didn’t need anybody.”

“Really. . .”

“Let me call Dad and I’ll call you right back”

ring, ring, as a warbled voice answers. . .

“hello”

“Dad, the care service just called me, they tell me you’ve canceled service for tomorrow–what’s up?”

“Well our regular girl says she won’t be here so we decided we just don’t need anyone.
And anyway do you have any idea how expensive this service is?
(his voice raising to a crescendo of stricken shock and panic)
This is going to break me! I don’t see why we need any of this care business anyway.
Why do we need all day service for seven days a week. . .”

“Well Dad, you know you both do like to eat and since you all aren’t up to really cooking, it’s nice having someone who can prepare your meals,plus someone reminding you, you know, to eat. Someone there helping with the chores, making certain you take your pills, making certain ya’ll don’t fall as walking isn’t what it use to be. . .yada, yada, yada. . .”

(with an odd sense of clarity)
“Well since you’re coming tomorrow (I am??), you can be here and we’ll be fine.
(Great)
But you don’t need to stay long because you’ve got to get on the road before the traffic hits. . .”
(ugh)

“We’ll talk more about this tomorrow Dad while we see how you two do without your “helper” for a day.

Oh and did I mention the CPA called miraculously out of the blue this afternoon asking about dad’s taxes?
You know, the taxes dad seems to think will magically take care of themselves.
The ones he’s suppose to have been taking care of for the past two years but hasn’t.
The ones I’ve threatened him within an inch of his life to take care of ASAP, as in ASAP two years ago.
The ones that are still sitting in a pile on the floor in the office, aka my old bedroom.
(albeit a neat pile since I hit that room hard 5 weeks ago)
The ones I’ve pleaded with him to let me tend to. . .only to have him defiantly dig in his heels fighting me tooth and nail over.
“Ok Dad”, I’d tell him, “they’re going to haul you off to jail.”
He’d hang his head, setting that jaw telling me, “fine, they can just take me to jail”
Great. . .
All because he has refused to let go and give it up. . .

And it dawned on me one low day last week that the reality of him actually having to let go, giving it all up is what so much of this entire ordeal and fight has been all about–the difficulty of relinquishing a role he’s played for my 55 years of life.
He knows he’s not been doing a good job for years now but something deep inside of him won’t let it go. How does the dad, the one whose charged with the care and well being of his family, turn lose of that role. . .
He’s 87
He acts like a kid, a child. . .at times.
He forgets.
He’s confused.
He likes quiet, his cat, his simple little routine.
Yet he’s still my dad.
It’s his house.
He’s been in that house for 53 years.
He lost my mom while living there.
He lost my brother while living there.
He had a grandchild enter his life in that house.
Who are these people now invading his house, his world?
And when did this daughter, this kid who couldn’t balance a check book. . .
Who had champagne taste on a beer budget, who just had to have cotton candy pink shag carpet,
who was defiant, who preferred GI Joes to Barbies,
who went to Georgia to his beloved Georgia Tech. . .
When did she become the person who is now charged with
his care,
his finances,
his life and well being,
who now dares to tell him he cannot go down the basement stairs in his own house. . .

So it is now official. . .
The inmates are running the asylum and I’m charged with picking up the pieces.

shadowlands

“At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door and say,—’Come out unto us.’ But keep thy state; come not into their confusion. The power men possess to annoy me I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“They themselves do not see the world of light as we do, but our shapes cast shadows in their minds, which only the noon sun destroys.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

DSC00463
(carolina chickadee / Julie Cook / 2015)

In a maddening life and even more maddening world,
the monochromatic greys and browns have cast a sickly pall and a deepening shadow upon the soul.

Racing five steps forward, while falling 8 steps back, a heavy laden spirit
sinks further into despair.

What of. . .
kindness
thoughtfulness
cooperation
genuineness?

Where is your humanness?
That which marks you as
compassionate
emphatic
concerned
selfless

A worn specter is seen dragging itself through the shadowlands, alone and stooped.
As the world remains in darkness and full of gloom, the figure casts no shadow of its own.
Tears begin falling like overly ripened fruit from a tree, thick and heavy, each landing with a sickening thud.
While weighted feet drag slowly through the muck, one behind the next.

Heavy
Weighted
Slumped
Dragging
Beaten
Dirty
Lonely
Isolated
Dark

In a life and world stripped of any and all light
Greys collide, melding with black and white.
Tonal nothingness wraps itself like a dirty wet heavy towel across the shadowlands.
The ground trembles.

A random clap of thunder suddenly lifts sunken eyes skyward
Three limp figures, atop the hill, reflect the single flash of light.
Within the static electricity, a host of figures emerge.
It is as if a million tiny stars now flicker and dance across the darkened sky.

Light begins reflecting light, as if the sky itself is now on fire.
A thousand crystals shatter into ten thousand shards of perfect light.
Colors crash madly into one another, cascading from the Heavens.
A chromatic sea washes across the dry grey land, monotones scatter.
A spectrum of energy consumes the lifeless.

As light returns, bodies straighten, faces lift.
Light rays playfully now join with shadows, creating an unknown depth and richness
No longer present are the three limp figures atop the single lone hill
Darkness, Death and Despair have been replaced with a dazzling Light. . .
As the single brilliant Light gives way to an endless new Life. . .

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Isaiah 9:2