Beautiful hope is found in the weeds

“You are like a chestnut burr, prickly outside,
but silky-soft within, and a sweet kernel,
if one can only get at it. Love will make you show your heart some day,
and then the rough burr will fall off.”

Louisa May Alcott


(a thistle prepares to bloom / Julie Cook / 2020)

Thistles, to me, are most alluring.

To Eeyore, they are a tasty ‘smakeral’ or so Pooh would observe.

They begin, in the early spring, as a spikey mass or clump, of uninviting serrated leaves
emerging oddly from the ground.

Trust me, don’t use bare hands in an attempt to pull them up in order to rid your space
of this most unwanted visitor.

They will eventually send forth one, or even several, shoots sporting a purplish fringed bulb.
As this odd bulb unfurls its full glory, the bloom is almost regal in a crown-like
explosion of texture.


(a thistle crown / Julie Cook / 2020)

And like all earthly glories, these odd blooming weeds eventually fade, turning themselves
back to seed.


(a field of thistles gone to seed /Julie Cook / 2020)

And yet the fact that these plants are considered useless and invasive and even noxious
weeds, there is a beauty found in their blooming and a bit of
respect found in their tenacity.

Saturday I was reading Kathy’s post over on atimetoshare.me —
Kathy was offering some waxing thoughts regarding our world’s current pandemic situation.

I found one passage most enlightening…

Our current younger generation are those who will not experience the pageantry of
a real graduation – those who will not go to their Senior prom –
those who have been through the good, the bad and now the ugly –
those who will be running our country in the next few years.

These unique young people will become a generation of problem solvers,
creative thinkers, money managers, inventive and innovative thinkers all because
their world was turned upside down by a little germ.
They will be the second greatest generation, because they have experienced plenty or at least enough.
They have been on the cutting edge of technology.
They have seen their nation at its worst and at its best.

SATURDAY SOUND OFF

Kathy noted that this current class of seniors, be it high school or college, are presently
experiencing a great many firsts in the way of loss.

Losses of certain rights of passage.

No Spring sports.
No state championships.
No Spring breaks.
No year-end award ceremonies.
No trophies.
No classes
No proms.
No senior days.
No graduations.
No graduation trips.

Only a seemingly unending sense of loss, isolation with more questions than answers.

And yet Kathy notes that this will be the group to become our next class of problem solvers.
They will be our newest innovators and creative thinkers…in part because
such a role and responsibility has been thrust upon them.

They have been handed a mantle of burden and responsibility despite not necessarily seeing
such coming their way.
And it is perhaps not truly a burden they have wanted…but they have been handed such nonetheless.

And so in this time of surreal losses and misses, there is a generation
that will have to rise to the occasion of problem-solving.

They have the tools at their fingertips as a pandemic has now spurred them on–
be it out of frustration, resentment, or simple curiosity…
hope now rests in the beauty of a blooming generation…

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

God consciousness

Paul believed that in the whole field of Christian experience the first
step is with, and remains with God.
Thought, feeling and endeavor must find their basis and inspiration in,
the sovereign mercy of God.

Duncan Campbell


(image of Rodel Chruch, Lewis and Harris courtesy the web)

A couple of weeks back, my friend David, over on Ebbs and Flow, offered a couple of posts
regarding a bit of obscure history in his recounting of the tale of the
‘Revival in the Hebrides.’

This “revival” actually took place on the island of Lewis-and-Harris
during a time period running from 1940-1953.

I was not familiar with this “revival” but my curiosity was piqued–so I ordered the two books
David had recommended regarding this spiritual phenomenon.

The impetus…two elderly octogenarians, one blind, literally laid on the floor prostrate
before God immersed in a state of deep and earnest prayer…seeking a promise.
They did this for three nights each week until their prayers were fulfilled.

David offers a bit of background…
These ladies carried a burden so great that they prayed on their faces in front of the
peat fire in their crofter’s cottage three nights a week.
Three nights a week for months on end these two ladies persistently cried out to God in Gaelic
claiming a promise from Scripture:
I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon dry ground (Isaiah 44:3).
Their burden was for the folk of their parish, especially the young.
They had no idea of when God might answer their prayer,
or of how God might answer their prayer.

https://nwelford.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/clean-hands/
https://nwelford.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/a-distant-generation/

With my small corner of the world being currently consumed by all things new baby, I’ve
not had the time nor opportunity to delve further into the story of the Revival nor of the
Scottish minister, Duncan Campbell, who played a key instrumental part in the Revival.
Not until last evening when I finally managed to crack open the small blue book,
The Price and Power of Revival by Duncan Campbell, taking in a couple of pages before
closing my eyes from the weight of a month plus of pure exhaustion.

When I first read David’s initial post regarding this revival and of these two
elderly women who came before God entreating Him to fulfill a promise…
the promise of pouring water and floods upon a dry thirsty ground,
I was actually moved to tears.

Whereas their prayers were for their entire community, their focus was primarily
on the youth of their community.

These two humble elderly women believed God…without doubt…
and they believed in His promises…
so it was only natural that they went about imploring God to fulfill His promises.

The faith of a mustard seed…
a tiny smallness in which greatness is found.

Oh so simple and yet oh so profound.

They believed.
They prayed.
Their earnestness and honest heartfelt prayers, in turn, answered in miraculous fashion.

Duncan Campbell offers the following…

The Divine in the human:
In God’s creative plan, man holds a unique place,
distinct in this respect that he alone of God’s creation is capable of God-consciousness.
“This consciousness, or feeling,
is as much a verity as any other fact of human consciousness:

The notion of ‘God-consciousness’ is something that I think lies buried within the heart each
and every human being…be it dormant or not.

And it is the moving of the Spirit which awakens this sleeping giant.

I’ve recounted this little story before but it came flooding back when I
had read David’s post…

Years ago when I was a teenager, still in high school, I was running errands with
my “godmother” who was the wife of the dean of our Chruch. Ours was an Episcopal
Cathedral so the lead priest of an Episcopal Chruch is known as a dean.

They were a deeply spiritual couple who were actually actively involved in the current
spiritual revival taking place within the Catholic and Episcopal denominations known
as the Charismatic Movement.

This was during the mid 70’s…it was a time of cultural settling yet spiritual growth
following the contentious 60’s.

I don’t recall how our conversation got on the subject but my godmother commented
on the obvious curiosity behind my apparent draw to a deeper spirituality…
this given the fact that I was an angst-filled teenager whose family was not exactly
the most religious–
So how in the world I had stumbled upon my current path of a Spiritual journey,
all of which seemed more than a bit odd, was beyond her soul…

But she had a clue…

From first glance, I was not exactly one who others would imagine to be a deeply seeking person…
seeking deeply what Catherine Marshal called “Something More” —
which was the title of one of her numerous books and one that I just happened to be reading.

Knowing my history…that I had been adopted, my godmother turned to look me in the
face and proceeded to tell me that she believed someone who had known of me and of
my existence had prayed…
that someone had prayed for me for all these years…
as those prayers had been directing my path all these years…

And so yes, we pray earnestly because we have been told to pray without ceasing…
God has made us a promise and He will not turn a deaf ear to that promise…

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

biopsies and updates

If I could give you information of my life,
it would be to show how a woman of very ordinary ability has been led by God
in strange and unaccustomed paths to do In His service what He has done in her.
And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing.

Florence Nightingale

dscn1477
(berries of the Chinese Mountain Ash along the grounds of Klyemore Abbey / Connemara, County Galway, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Update on Aunt “Mothaaa”, aka Martha, and the liver biopsy.

Well, the doctor called her in yesterday afternoon and the news was not encouraging…
but it was what had pretty much been expected.

In her words… “it’s not good”

“Unusual” is what the doctor had to say as he would not have guessed this
to have happened this far out from the original surgery and kidney removal
of three years ago…
but it is what it is.

The next step is a visit, the first of the week, to the oncologist to hear the game plan.

So now it is prayer time for a strategic game plan!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Sailors delight eh….

“He replied,
“When evening comes, you say,
‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning,
‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’
You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky,
but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

Matthew 16:2-3

DSCN4194
(a view from the driveway on a sultry August Georgia evening / Julie Cook / 2016)

Red sky at night,
sailors delight….

Getting out of the car, at sunset, after a very, very long day
ferrying dad between this doctor and that doctor,
this lab facility and that medical center….
then spending almost 3 hours in traffic fighting to get home….
I look back, over my shoulder, toward the western sky.

The air is thick and heavy with the humidity of August.
Exactly how I’m feeling…weighted down and heavy ladened.

I sigh…

The evening is quiet.
A far cry from where I had just come.

Our son and daughter-n-law will be moving soon..
moving to the city I never seem to miss when I leave it.
But I can’t think about helping with packing and moving…
not yet…

I often think it not wise to write when life is so heavy
or…maybe that’s exactly when one should…write…
pouring out thoughts and feelings…
searching to match the right words with the right feelings…
sorting and making sense of the senseless…

A body that is tired and hurting
joining thoughts with feelings that now are swirling…
I look toward the red western sky…
as if seeking some sort of reassurance…

Surgery on Friday for dad…
the tumor too large to remove…
but trying to shore things up while buying some time…
Time…
another heavy thought…open-ended
full of uncertainty…

A red sky.

Signals a sailor’s delight…

In other words,
smooth sailing…

Hummm….

Again, a sigh…before heading inside…

Signs of the time…

As I am reminded, while looking at the sky…
in the midst of all the madness and heaviness,
That the Master of the sky…
and of the clouds,
and of the stars,
and of the land
and of the sea…
remains….

forever…

DSCN4193

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope
Jeremiah 29:11

Red sky at night, sailors delight.
When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow.

Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.
A red sunrise can mean that a high pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east. A morning sky that is a deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain could be on its way.

(courtesy the Library of Congress, Fun Science Facts)

compliance

“All I want is compliance with my wishes, after reasonable discussion.”
Winston S. Churchill

IMG_1931
(the dammit doll is ready for action / Julie Cook / 2016)

I’ve been in my car, driving back and forth to Atlanta a lot lately.

I’ve spent a great deal of time as of late in, out and around the ER.

The most recent being over the course of the weekend.
And no I’m not talking about working at the Emergency Room or being there on my own behalf.
I’m actually talking about my stepmother.
During the course of the past three months there have been:
4 emergency trips to the ER
2 via ambulance at 1300 bucks a pop
1 four day hospital stay
2 black eyes
5 staples in the crown of the head
stitches in one arm
a bruised shoulder….
Just think Yul Brynner in The King and I, when as the King of Siam, he would extol the goings on of things with a rousing round of
Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera……
Add in countless x-rays, CT scans, colonoscopies, EEGs, EKGs,
and any other scan, test or emergency procedure one can imagine….
And the thing is…. each and every last visit, test, stitch, staple, black and blue bruise…
were all entirely preventable.

A single word stands between her, good health and the well being of all concerned…

Compliance

For you see we have set in place a care system for her wellbeing that if followed would result in health, happiness and longevity for not only her, but all of included in and around her as well.

Now mind you that this time last year, she actually asked for everything that is now in place….
With Dad having been the initially reluctant one of this twosome…
yet having seen the logic to the madness, is now happily on board.

Not so for my stepmother.

Rather than being compliant, cooperative, pro-active, she has opted to be contrary and defiant to each and every service, help and assistance offered.

She refuses to use the walker…end of sentence…
Preferring to weave and wobble, fall and bleed.
She refuses to allow the caregivers to assist her with any and all physical needs.
She refuses to take what meds have been prescribed.
She refuses to eat foods prepared.
She refuses to go out and about with each opportunity offered…preferring her self imposed imprisonment.
There have been proposals, insistence, pleading and demanding…yet she remains contrary as well as living with self-imposed misery.

Resulting in exploding medical bills due to accident after accident after accident…
As each new accident grows in damage and ferocity.
Yesterday’s trauma could have and near did kill her.
The collective summarizing is that the next one could be THE one…

We will meet Tuesday to put heads together one more time to formulate some sort of action plan…
before it’s all too late.

If she would just cooperate…. it wouldn’t have to be so hard on her and on everyone near and dear…
Nor would it be so scary or so miserable…

if only she would….

and that’s when it hits me….
the similarities with my stepmother’s defiance mirroring our own defiance with God as Father.

All of our own refusals along with our stubborn dug in heels as we ignore or refuse to adhere the protocols and procedures that He has put in place…
All for our well being and hoped for happiness of living…
If only we would cooperate following his plan… we just might not have so much suffering, trials and misery.

If only we could understand that being compliant with the commands, the directives for living, that God has put into place and just get with the program…life could be so much easier…for us all….

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Keep looking upward

“I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.”
Charlotte Bronte

DSCN2780
(the hope of a bright blue Georgia morning sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

Despite this being the beginning of a new calendar year, we are actually in mid stride of a season which consists of long shadows, short days, frigid air, and barren lands.

Winter.

Christmas and Chanukah have each, with their magic and light, come and gone.

The joy and thrill of that first snow is all but a forgotten titillating memory. . .as I think the entire Country is now, not only over the idea of snow, but bordering on vengeful, wrathful, loathsome.

Our upbeat steps now slow and deliberate bordering on a dutiful trudge.

Our shoulders slump under the weary weight of the added wool, polly-fiber-fill and down loft, of sweaters, jackets, coats, scarves, gloves and mittens.

The relentless snow, cold, wind, rain, sleet, fog has all but sucked the life out of the now nearly broken victims otherwise known as those of us of the Northern Hemisphere.

Yet just when we think we can’t face one more bleak, dreary, grey, dangerously frozen day, something amazing transpires.

The sun shines. A bird sings a song of a Spring to be. A lone honey bee is quickly spotted darting past a lone flowering weed. A tree frog is heard humming in a thawing glen.

Change is in the air.

Suddenly the clouds part as we find ourselves glancing heavenward wondering what is the now odd color staring down at us from the typical grey sky.
It is blue.
The beautifully bright crisp clear blue of all that is fresh and new.

Take courage, you weary cold sojourners of this endless drudge known as Winter. . .for over the next several weeks, as this seemingly longer than usual Winter begins to thankfully wane, be encouraged by looking upward, resting in the knowledge that behind the endless grey cold clouds lies a beautiful deep blue sky ready to offer hope to a frozen world in search of a warming thaw.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord– plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).