“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly
until He has hurt him deeply.”
(self portrait found in the river rocks/ Las Vegas, New Mexico / Julie Cook / 2011)
The celebration, the worldly hype and even sadly the joy all seem
to be quickly fading…
As the notion of transition now races madly from anticipation to resolution.
It is the Spiritual versus the worldly.
For we have moved from a season of hope into a season of self reflection.
The heavy question grabs us by the neck as if a drowning man might grab
the neck of a potential hope of rescue…
can joy reside within the depths of self reflection?
and eventually….if we are fortunate…
Good or bad.
Isn’t that what we are supposed to do at the closing of one year as we
anticipate the beginning of another?
Reflect and then commit?
Yet what do we commit to?
What might it be…
or rather what could it be…?
or even better yet…
what should it be?
“Rules for Self Discovery:
1. What we want most;
2. What we think about most;
3. How we use our money;
4. What we do with our leisure time;
5. The company we enjoy;
6. Who and what we admire;
7. What we laugh at.”
A. W. Tozer
“Once plague had shut the gates of the town, they had settled down to a life of separation,
debarred from the living warmth that gives forgetfulness of all.”
“If there is one thing one can always yearn for and sometimes attain, it is human love.”
Albert Camus, The Plague
No you’re not having a case of deja vu…I just had a thought that piggybacks
off of a recent post.
Plus I still love that little meme…
‘looks like plague’s back on the menu boys…”
Cracks me up it does…and I think I need some cracking up—
in fact I think a good many of us could benefit with a good crack up,
chucke, chortle, laugh, or at least a smile.
And so do you remember a couple of weeks back when I did a bit of a history lesson on the
plague doctors of the Medieval and Renaissance ages…those physicians tasked
with dealing with those suffering from the plague, otherwise known as The Black Death?
Remember they were the ones who donned those elaborate bird-like masks and cosutmes
that were intended to protect them from the deadly vapors thought to be carried on
the winds, especially the night air.
(Paul Fürst, engraving, c. 1721, of a plague doctor of Marseilles
(introduced as ‘Dr Beaky of Rome’).
His nose-case is filled with herbal material to keep off the plague.)
I mused that maybe I should get such a mask and use it when I was venturing out into
contagionville, aka our everyday world.
(Venetian Plague doctor mask worn at Carnival / pintrest)
And pondering over this mask business, I had a new idea.
I really hate that we are now having to constantly wear masks.
I miss the smiles.
We are in isolation even when we venture out…
a sad reality.
I was on an elevator Friday with a family with a little girl…
she looked up at me and I told her how much I liked her cherry decorated mask.
She thanked me but I couldn’t discern a smile.
I follow the rules.
I do it.
I wear them.
Mine are not fashionable, just practical.
Doing as I am told and instructed…
I’ll admit that in the very beginning, before mandates, I confess to defiance…
but not now, as I’m not willing to die on this particular mountain,
as there will be other mountains soon that will require my allegiance…
I will adhere to the “mandate.”
So we know that I’m not being like those defiant ones who still venture into stores
where signs are all over the doors clealy stating that all who enter must wear a mask.
There are even those freindly little voices over the loudspeakers reminding all customers to wear
their masks and to follow the arrows as how to traverse the aisles…
‘follow the green arrows, don’t cross the red X’
And yet there are those who just can’t seem to follow directions.
I taught a lot of those kind of folks.
Directions, to some, just don’t come naturally–we simply say “bless their hearts.”
I have noticed that those who do wear their masks have issues with darting their eyes.
Quickly diverting their glance should another set of eyes make contact.
All other worldly really.
It makes shopping no longer very enjoyable.
The ‘mask fog’ on glasses makes seeing darn near impossible and yet maybe one plus is that
you can now tell you should do a better job brushing your teeth or yes, you do need mints.
Perhaps a blessing to those who use to be near you as you spoke.
And how about talking muffled?
Repeating over and over what you’re attempting to ask for until the
poor clerk finally can discern your words.
It seems that we all benefited from looking at faces for clues and discenment
I miss that.
So after looking over some old pictures, it dawned on me.
We’re about the start seeing those halloween festivities in stores.
What will costumes be like this year, what will trick or treating be this year?
So I found this picture when the Mayor was just a baby and we were strolling through
Target and I put on this halloween mask to give the baby Mayor a giggle.
And so now I have it.
Let us don the masks of the season to illict some most welcomed giggles and laughs!
Lord knows we need them.
By the way…the Mayor has been most puny. It seems she now has the Sherrif’s viral infection…
a high lingering fever.
Not Covid thank goodness…just a good ol childhood virus…so I’m off to go give care.
Be back soon.
A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
You remember Barney right?
From back in the early 1960s?
The hapless deputy helping to protect the imaginary town of Mayberry, NC?
Thank goodness for his even-keeled, laid back boss, Sheriff Andy Taylor.
When Barney wanted to make a point of how certain things needed to go, in what direction
his long-suffering boss should proceed…all the while emphasizing the need for
no further discussion on his part, he was famous for using the quip,
“Nip it…Nip it in the bud.”
“Ya got to nip it, Andy, nip it in the bud now!”
According to the dictionary, the expression means: suppress or destroy something at an early stage
Meaning cut it off at the source before it, whatever it might be, spreads and thus
creates a deeper tangled mess.
Such an expression could be used, say, toward gossip…stopping idol hearsay before
it becomes so distorted that folks get unnecessarily hurt or unfairly maligned.
And so now we have it…we know our troubles…
Our trouble is that we are currently living in a sea of irony…
a sea of nipping things in the bud.
I hate to say it but we are living in a culture lead by those who are nipping anything
everything, anyone, and everyone in the bud.
As in, get rid of it, get rid of them… now!
In other words, cancel it out.
I’ve never really been a big fan of comedians, I think I’ve mentioned that before.
I’ve never been one to enjoy amusement derived at the expense of others.
Now I can be self-deprecating as the day is long…but I just find
many of today’s comedians and their schticks to be either laced with foul words
and or imagery and simply tasteless, offensive and irreverent dribble.
Of course, those like Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Sammy Davis Jr.
Dean Martin and even Flip Wilson were of a different generation of comedians.
They could make me laugh.
They often laughed at themselves or laughed at things we could all relate to…
But I must say, that whereas he’s never been high on my list, I am finding
that I can actually readily appreciate the British comedian Ricky Gervais.
He has not shied away from going after those whose circles he has run in
or at least run around.
Recently, he let loose on the Hollywood elites when he hosted the last Golden
Globe awards. Yes he can be foul and irreverent, which is why
I don’t much care to watch him, but he has, however, been candidly truthful.
And it is his truthfulness that I can certainly appreciate.
I caught a news story yesterday about Gervais speaking out
against today’s cancel culture.
I found his observation to be most telling…
“Everyone’s got a different definition of cancel culture,” the 59-year-old explained.
“If it is choosing not to watch a comedian because you don’t like them, that’s everyone’s right.
But when people are trying to get someone fired because they don’t like their opinion
about something that’s nothing to do with their job,
that’s what I call cancel culture and that’s not cool.”
He added: “You turning off your own TV isn’t censorship.
You trying to get other people to turn off their TV because you don’t like something
they’re watching, that’s different.”
“I did a tweet a month ago about freedom of speech, quoting Winston Churchill.
Someone came back with, ‘You know he was a white supremacist?’
And I wrote back, ‘Not in that tweet he isn’t.’
It’s like if someone did something once that’s wrong, everything they did was wrong,” he said.
“You are allowed to have things in common with bad people as long it’s not the bad things.
I’m a vegetarian and I love dogs, like Hitler.
But the only thing I have in common with Hitler are the good bits!”
“Will you come with me to the mountains?
It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened.
Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.
But will you come?”
(the blooming quince / Julie Cook / 2020)
I can’t say how this will all play out…how it will all end.
I think, however, I can speak for all of us in saying that we beg that it end.
We laugh at those online videos, those memes shared…
because we know that misery loves company.
We try so desperately to make light while trying so hard to laugh in our
seemingly unified endless misery.
Yet throughout all of this we must remember…
there are those who have suffered.
Those who have…
Suffered the loss of income.
Suffered the loss of livelihood.
Suffered the loss of stability.
Suffered the loss of wellbeing.
Suffered the loss of health.
Suffered the loss of life.
Let us keep in our prayers and hearts those who have lost…
Now when Jesus saw the crowds,
he went up on a mountainside and sat down.
His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
If I had my life to live over again,
I would elect to be a trader of goods rather than a student of science.
I think barter is a noble thing.
Ok, so I don’t have any Lysol wipes let alone packs of toilet paper.
And I’m hanging onto the less than 10 rolls we’ve got.
But I would love to trade, say, some frozen blueberries from this past summer
if you’re still interested…
I have not wipes nor toilet paper– for this is what specter greeted me this morning
at my grocery store…
The ghost of stores shelves past.
My past or long past you muse…
long past…for our time has been one of amplitude and plenty.
(my store’s shelves / Julie Cook / 2020)
I came, this morning, however, for diapers, waters, fresh fruits, and vegetables
along with some kid and adult-friendly snacks.
I would have liked to have gotten some more chicken and pork chops—but there were none.
I was fortunate in that I got the last pot roast.
The egg shelves were no better.
(Julie Cook / 2020)
I managed to snag the far left top dozen.
Well forget it….there wasn’t a sack of sugar to be had in the entire store and cooking oil
wasn’t much better.
The milk you ask.
I was met at the door with the managers wiping down all carts before they handed them over
one by one to each entering customer.
Walking in I was met by a flurry of mostly older shoppers, many decked out in full masks and gloves.
Eyes darting intently here and there over the top of the blue sterile masks.
Yet the gal in the floral department was busying herself with her flowers and for the
briefest of moments, I felt a sense of what was…normal.
The carts now whizzing past me with nervous eyes peering over masks jolted me back to
a frightening new world I’d woken up to.
And what world is this I’ve woken to?
My dentist has canceled my appointment for next week since they’re closing their office.
The shopping center, where our grocery store is located, was much less full given
that the Belks store is closed, as are some of the smaller retail shops.
Just Publix and Target were open—and now their hours are limited.
I watch the cars driving up and down our street and I wonder where they are going.
Our daughter-n-law and the Sheriff are coming down this afternoon to join us and the
Mayor—leaving our son, the dog, and cat at home while he works from home.
Our daughter-n-law will be teaching “remotely’ during the day while we watch the kids…
for how long, is any one’s guess.
If the sun comes back out and things begin to dry out…
life with a rambunctious two-year-old might smooth itself out.
And I am cooking…a lot– but nothing over the top fun as I’ve got to
manage the eggs, milk, sugar, and oil that we currently have.
So as I pushed my cart up and down aisles more empty than full, with fellow
shoppers looking more suspicious at one another than kindly…
I felt warm tears welling up in my eyes.
I felt a sense of deep melancholy wash over me—but I quickly pushed it
I had to be a normal person with a positive outlook for tomorrow.
Not one of the blue masked, darting eyes people!
By the time I got home, my husband wanted to know if I had gotten any frozen foods
or canned goods.
He’s our resident Eeyore with a black cloud over his head.
He also has a friend he’s known since they were kids who has become a
sort of gloom and doom prepper.
He’s watching way too much news.
“Buy up all the cans of beef stew you can find” he lectures my husband.
I told my sweet Eeyore that I had gotten some boxed chicken broth, frozen tater tots
(for the Mayor) since all the frozen mac-n-cheese was gone. I wanted to buy fresh things…
he then warily chides me…what happens when all the fresh is eventually gone
and the shelves remain empty…what then?
This was not to be today’s post.
Today’s post was to be something deep and meaningful.
Something thought provoking and profound.
But after spending the day yesterday in Atlanta with Dad,
I thought profound could wait.
Last week I had shared a post entitled Status quo…
a post about how, at this point with Dad, we were just happy to have the status quo.
A hanging in and on…
Well that status quo changed in the blink of an eye.
I knew he wasn’t doing well and that it’s all just a matter of time…
but the hospice nurse told me Thursday that his kidneys are failing…rapidly.
And that it truly is just a matter of time…she certainly did think he’d last the weekend,
but his kidneys couldn’t hold out much longer…
As I suppose the cancer will push the kidneys to their breaking point.
cause Cancer is just that way.
And happily, blessedly, he did last the weekend…
For the one thing about Dad that you should know is that the genes he inherited,
at least from his mother’s side, have tremendous staying power.
He is a Timex watch and an Energizer Bunny all rolled into one.
As he goes on and on while taking a licking….but he keeps on ticking!
Not so much because he is strong, full of fortitude or stamina…
far from it….
He is not, nor has he ever been athletic, health conscious or a vigorous sort of soul.
He will actually finally confess to the very truthful fact that he is,
and always has been, lazy…
As he was a man who also loved his scotch….
But what Dad does have is chocolate.
A deep and abiding love of chocolate… as it courses through his veins.
I’ve written about Dad and chocolate before.
I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
He can eat chocolate 24/7
Now mind you, I love a good piece of chocolate or some decadent type of chocolate dessert…
As there is nothing quite like a cold creamy slice of chocolate pie topped with a generous mound of whipped cream, a rich yet elegant pots de creme,
or a handful of M&M’s grabbed while on the run…
but I can’t just sit around all day long eating chocolate….I’d get sick as a dog!
But that is exactly what Dad’s beside table looks like—a plethora of all things chocolate.
As he doesn’t miss a beat nor does he get sick.
It’s like Popeye and his spinach.
So when I picked up their groceries,
I naturally picked up several items out of the chocolate food group.
And when I returned home, Dad demanded that I bring him one of the chocolate covered doughnuts…
as in, immediately.
Never mind I told him he’d need to eat at least a bite of lunch first…
for Dad’s appetite for real food is now almost non existent,
yet as for all things chocolatey, he’s still going strong.
So imagine my startled surprise when I walked back into his bedroom to check on him,
chatting away while putting things away…
when I suddenly look up, only to find him like a little kid,
with his mouth covered in chocolate…
So I suppose a picture is indeed worth a thousand words…
reminding us that in those times of sadness and sorrow, pain and frustration…
we can still find a glimmer of hope, a smile, a laugh and actually something good…
of which helps us forget, albeit briefly, the bad…
So for today…we’ll take both the good and the bad as long as there is chocolate and doughnuts….
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
who has been given to us.