give my your Light

“Everything becomes more and more itself.
Here is joy that cannot be shaken.
Our light can swallow up your darkness;
but your darkness cannot now infect our light.”

C.S. Lewis


(they take the bulbs and shades…so life is in the dark / Julie Cook / 2020)

Transition seems to bring about a variance of both light and dark.
I can have a lamp, but without a bulb or electricity, I have only darkness.

The same remains true for the soul.
If there is no light, there is only darkness.

We pray for light.
Give us you light oh Lord…

“In me there is darkness,
But with You there is light;
I am lonely, but You do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help;
I am restless, but with You there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience;
I do not understand Your ways,
But You know the way for me.”

“Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor
And in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.
You know all man’s troubles;
You abide with me
When all men fail me;
You remember and seek me;
It is Your will that I should know You
And turn to You.
Lord, I hear Your call and follow;
Help me.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

dying unto self

“Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus,
contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful.
A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren,
participates in the great work of saving souls.”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich


(Vasari’s Annunciation / The Louvre / Julie Cook / 2011)

“The life of our flesh is the delight of sensuality;
its death is to take from it all sensible delight.
The life of our judgment and our will is to dispose of ourselves and what is ours,
according to our own views and wishes; their death, then,
is to submit ourselves in all things to the judgment and will of others.
The life of the desire for esteem and respect is to be well thought of by everyone;
its death, therefore, is to hide ourselves so as not to be known,
by means of continual acts of humility and self-abasement.
Until one succeeds in dying in this manner, he will never be a servant of God,
nor will God ever perfectly live in him.”

—St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, p. 126
An Excerpt From
Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery With the Saints

When I read these two quotes, my thoughts went immediately to that of The Annunciation.
That momentous moment in time when Mary willingly died unto self—
all in order to say a simple “yes” to God.

And so I went hunting for an Annunciation image that I had used in some previous post.
I opted for a more obscure image…not the typical Leonardo image.

I wandered back to 2015 and found this image by Vasari.
Curious as to what post I had written prompting me to use the image, I re-read
that 5-year-old post.

Imagine my surprise when reading the post and discovering that I was writing
about an issue that we, as a society, are still allowing to percolate and circulate throughout
our culture–that of white privilege and that of “white” images causing stress to
both whites and non-whites alike.

Irrationality…but more like silliness really.

Here is the story in a nutshell:

“Well it seems that upon a recent visit to the Met,
as this individual was viewing some paintings of the museum’s collection of several
Renaissance and Baroque masters depicting Jesus Christ,
this said individual suffered “personal stress” as the images contained,
typical of the time, images of a “white” Jesus.
This individual is now claiming that these images of a white Jesus are racist and should be removed”

I’ve included that post…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/whats-wrong-with-this-picture/

wakeful and hopeful

Being awake for God and for other people—that is the kind of ‘waking’
that Advent has in mind, the wakefulness that discovers the light and brightens the world.

Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI)


(Rublev’s Christ circa 1420 / Icon from Svenigorod / Julie cook / 2014)

“Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us,
namely, the memory of the God who became a child.
This is a healing memory; it brings hope.”

Pope Benedict XVI

(Happy Hanukkah and Advent
to all the brethren and sisters of our collective faiths)

food for thought; Advent

Sometimes I don’t need God to tell me what he is like so much as I need God
to tell me everything will be alright.

anonymous


(Julie Cook / 2013)

So as the debates rage on…
Be it a draconian world supposedly led by science vs one of humanity’s common sense…
complicated by lockdowns, masks, vaccines…
I caught a few storylines yesterday that only seem to add to the confusing madness.

According to Fox News, Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s supreme nutjob,
has ordered national executions, placed a ban on fishing as well as placing a
ban on salt production…
These various actions being his idea of handling Covid and preventing it from
entering his hermit kingdom.

Kim Jong Un has ordered at least two people executed, banned fishing at sea,
and locked down the capital, Pyongyang, as part of frantic efforts to guard against the
coronavirus and its economic damage, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Friday.

One of the lawmakers, Ha Tae-keung, quoted the NIS as saying Kim is displaying
“excessive anger” and taking “irrational measures” over the pandemic and its economic impact.

Ha said the NIS told lawmakers that North Korea executed a high-profile
money changer in Pyongyang last month after holding the person responsible
for a falling exchange rate.
He quoted the NIS as saying that North Korea also executed a key official in August
for violating government regulations restricting goods brought from abroad.
The two people weren’t identified by name.

North Korea has also banned fishing and salt production at sea to prevent seawater
from being infected with the virus, the NIS told lawmakers.

So I suppose if you can kill the people first before they even can get sick…
then that makes perfect sense.

Next came a more somber headline out of Japan–

You may or may not know this but Japan has a very dark secret…
it has the dubious distinction for a proliferation of suicide.
They even have a beautiful and tranquil forest that is known as a place where
folks go to end things…the suicide forest.

And given the added burden brought about from the pandemic, be it lockdowns, lost
economy…Japan’s fragile mental health is even more fractured.

The National Police Agency said suicides surged to 2,153 in October alone,
with more than 17,000 people taking their own lives this year to date, CBS reported.

By comparison, fewer than 2,000 people in the country have died from COVID-19 in 2020.

The forest might need to be exorcised.

Then there was this little cheery headline:
The US could face an ‘apocalypse’ by Christmas as COVID-19 cases surge

Apocalypse in one hand…Christmas in the other.
Notice how I am weighing them.
Tipping back and forth…yet Christmas just simply lifts higher.

Winter is setting down upon us.
Heavy, dark, and foreboding.
Yet we must not despair.

We must not allow the news outlets or our leaders to crush our hope.
We must not allow them to crush our Christmas spirit!
Let us not allow a pandemic to win.
Let us not allow despair to triumph.

We are preparing today to enter an ancient time of mystery.
And it is in this mystery that we have overcome the world…
This mystery has overcome pandemics, elections, wars, division, animosity,
hatred, pettiness, along with man’s small-mindedness.

We are allowed a small peek at the ending of the story…and in that glimpse,
we see that victory will indeed be ours.

Be clear-minded.
Be watchful.
Wait…
He will come…

God travels wonderful ways with human beings,
but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people.
God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather,
his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof.
Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels,
where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be.
There he confounds the reason of the reasonable;
there he aggravates our nature, our piety—that is where he wants to be,
and no one can keep him from it.
Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous
that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly
and makes it marvelous.
And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…
God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings.
God marches right in.
He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would
least expect them.
God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected,
the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

3 things

“Three things are necessary to everyone:
truth of faith which brings understanding,
love of Christ which brings compassion,
and endurance of hope which brings perseverance.”

St. Bonaventure


(a Georgia evening sunset / Julie Cook / 2020)

“Walking by faith, let us do good works.
In these let there be a free love of God for His own sake and an active love for our neighbor.
For there is nothing we can do for God.
But because we have something we can do for our neighbor,
we shall by our good offices to the needy gain the favor of
Him Who is the source of all abundance.
Let us then do what we can for others;
let us freely bestow upon the needy out of our abundance.”

St. Augustine

the power of color

The problem with racism as the new thought-crime is that it’s not really about race,
or skin colour, it’s about power using colour.
When I look at someone, I see character not colour.

Dr. Gavin Ashenden


A page from Moses Harris’s The Natural System of Colors. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

As a high school art teacher, I always taught a color theory unit to my Art I classes
before letting everyone jump right into using color…be it colored pencils, pastels, paints, etc.
Color was much more complicated than just grabbing some paint and a brush…
and my anxious charges needed to understand such.

We would explore the whole physiology of how our eyes and brain see color and perceive color.
We talked about prisms, refraction and the bending of light.

We would talk about what it meant to be color blind…as several of my students were color
blind and how’d we’d work with that.
We even had blind students come to talk to those of us who could see about
how they actually perceived color.

We studied Joseph Albers, the father of color theory.

We talked about warm /hot colors, cool/cold colors, monochromatic colors,
polychromatic colors.
Even beginning with the simple word, chroma.

We studied the effects that color played in our psychological wellbeing and
how colors could actually affect our emotions.

And so yes, color is much more nuanced than simply consisting of primary and secondary colors.

I would place three cups of clear water on a desk.
Next, I would use food coloring and drop in enough drops to have a solid red cup
of water, a solid blue cup of water, and a solid yellow cup of water—our primary colors.
I would then put three empty cups on the table.
I would pour equal proportions of yellow and red into a cup to make orange,
blue and red to make purple, then blue, and yellow to make green–our secondary colors

I’d next pull out a new empty cup and pour a bit of each of the second set of colored water cups
into the last empty cup—coming up with a muddy brown yucky color what is known
as tertiary.
Something that happens when a bunch of colors are blended into one.

I’d explain that sometimes when we’d paint and mess up a color we were going for,
we would unintentionally make things worse when we kept trying to add more and more
different colors thinking we could ‘fix it’…less is more I would implore…

And so when I was reading Dr. Gavin Ashenden’s latest post, Resisting Group Think,
this whole business of color theory came racing back to my thoughts.

Our dear friend from across the pond is just about as baffled as I am
with the new intense obsession, our culture is now having with color.
But rather than paint, our culture is obsessed with skin…
and the color of that skin.
And that obsession with skin color has a dubious name…Racism.

Dr. Ashenden notes that…“racism morphed.
It moved from doing something to thinking something, and then much much worse,
it became someone thinking you thought something.
This summer everyone is guilty, if the new anti-racist posters are true:
“silence is violence.”

But I have three reasons for not believing in racism as people now accuse one another.
It’s not easy to tell what race someone is; there is a sliding scale of skin colour;
and there is a better, healthier way of describing why some people don’t like some other people.

The races are mixed for most of us. Last year I was bought a DNA kit for a birthday present.
It turns out I am roughly 30% Anglo-Saxon’ 30% Celt; and 20% Jewish
(with a bit of Russian thrown in -!) God forbid one racial bit of me should ever fall out
with one of the other bits. Does the Celt in me deserve reparations from my Anglo-Saxon
invader bit?
Don’t even start with the Jewish persecution stuff, the massacre in York in 1190,
the mass expulsion in 1290 by Edward 1st. Luther? Hitler?

And I’m white. But I have never thought of myself as white. This skin tone stuff is
equally confusing and on a sliding scale of pigment.
Megan Markle looks white to me. My more remote Aryan ancestors came from India.
When I look at someone, I see character not colour.

The problem with racism as the new thought-crime is that it’s not really about race,
or skin colour, it’s about power using colour.
It’s the imposing of the American cultural crisis on the rest of the world,
which has different cultural issues. It seems to be about transferring power
from ‘white’ (whatever that is) to black (whatever that is).

The worst thing about the new racism is that it uses a prism through which everything
and everyone are assessed through the lens of power.
This new language of power-relations replaces one moral world with another.
It changes our worth from what we do, and replaces it with what group we belong to.

We face a crossroads in morals and culture, and the new racism is
the tool used to shift the direction.

We are losing a simple and direct morality which invited you to love your neighbour
as yourself, and held you accountable if you failed or refused; we are replacing it
with thought-crime, collective guilt, censorship and the re-writing of history.

Resisting ‘group-think.’

And so we see that today’s culture indeed uses a prism in which to see…
but rather than bending light waves to see color…this prism bends peoples perceptions
to that of power and control.

I’m beginning to wonder if being color blind might not be the way we need to proceed…
yet we know that we have tied so much baggage to our ideas of societal color that we will
never be able to offload such a burden that we have created.

Unfortunately, I will never look at a color wheel the same, ever again.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number,
from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes,
with palm branches in their hands,

Revelation 7:9

When buzzards come calling…

When vultures surround you, try not to die.
African proverb


(close up of a turkey buzzard / Lifescience.com)

Look at that face would you?
Look how the nostril just opens through to the other side…
I’ve always heard that, as the garbage men of the bird world, buzzards
can’t smell…well I would certainly hope not!

It is supposedly by their keen eyesight that they are able to scope out and zoom in on the
latest roadkill.

So over the past weekend, since it has been so miserably hot and while we are still
supposedly in some sort of social distancing lockdown…
just don’t tell everyone out on the roadways that, we opted for some idyllic countryside driving.

I don’t know about you but I’ve come to realize that I feel very heavyily burdened.

Be it this ongoing Pandemic mess…total civil unrest across the nation and world…
political persecution should you support the sitting president…
Christian persecution…

All the while questions loom heavy overhead…
Will there be school, will there not be school…
will there be a second wave…did we ever finish the first wave…
will they open Chruch…will we just succumb to Marxist ideology and the church will be
rendered dead…should we don a mask or not…

And so pray tell, how much longer will all of this mess go on!?

So as we started driving and I was looking out the window, with the weight of so much
heaviness on my mind, I focused my eyes on something a bit odd…
I noticed a black image sitting atop the steeple of a small country church.


(youtube)

“Oh my gosh,” I exclaimed to my husband, “do they not have any sense of reverence?”
“Who?” my husband surprised by my question responds a bit bewildered.

“Buzzards!”
“There’s a buzzard sitting on top of that church’s cross on its steeple.

“No respect” my husband chuckles.

I wish I had been able to get out my phone to take a picture but the one I found
on-line gives you some idea of what I’m talking about.

I went back to staring out the window while musing the symbology of a specter of death
perched on a cross atop a steeple.

And so wouldn’t you know it, when we were out driving around the following day,
I saw the same thing…but this was another church with another buzzard perched up top.

What are those odds?

Coincidence?

Who knows…but what I do know is that there’s got to be a heavy dose of irony
buried somewhere in two different visions of death birds perching on top of a cross,
an image of life.

Yesterday, Tricia, over on Freedom Through Empowerment,
and I were chatting back and forth about the implications of the news over Hagia Sophia
becoming a “working” mosque again mirrored by the Marxist push to attack
Christianity here at home.

We both noted that whatever is to come from any of these latest digs at
the global body of Believers was not going to be good.

For many weeks now a thought has been nagging at the back recesses of my thoughts.
It’s a thought that I believe is being slowly fine-tuned.

This was my response to Tricia—a response I cleaned up when re-reading
my initial reply because there is just something about pecking out a deeply
thoughtful response on a phone while using a thumb.

“Tricia—as a kid, I was always mesmerized by the stories of the early saints and martyrs of the church.
I often imagined living life in early Rome,
sneaking about and worshiping in secret, in the cover of darkness or hidden in catacombs.
I imagine my defiance if ever discovered and arrested.
I would face the torture with fortitude.

Or so thought my youthful bravado self.

Even over the past decade, as we’ve seen more and more about the persecution of Christians worldwide,
I’d like to think I would be courageous.
But here, at home, we have something much more sinister and insidious.
No less full of persecution with the end goal being Christian eradication—
yet am I courageous in our oh so woke society?

Do I take to the streets in defense of my faith?

Churches are being attacked..both here and in Europe and it is not by Muslim extremists…
but by extremists none the less.

I can’t help but think God has prepared you, me, Tom, Kathy, IB, Wally, CS et al,
(just a few of the blogging community of Fatih)
to be those who dare to meet in the catacombs albeit the catacombs of today…
those of our neighborhoods and cities.
Am I willing to risk everything for my faith??
I hope I will be able to answer yes.
Is this a preparation of an ending, a clash of both Good and Evil—–
of course, we can’t answer that…but it sure does feel like it.”

And so I’ve come to view my buzzard friends as both a symbol as well as a reminder.

Death has always smugly desired to sit upon that which has always promised life.
Yet those of us who are true Believers, and trust me, there are many today
who call themselves “believers” but who are not…are here for a reason.

Do I think “the end is near?”

I asked this same question just the other day…and like the other day, I couldn’t say,
I can’t say… but what I do know is that it sure does feel like it.

So I think we need to get ready.
Catacombs and buzzards seem to be waiting!

Yearn to be small

“It is very strange that the years teach us patience –
that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.”

Elizabeth Taylor (née Coles)


(full moon / 2018 / Julie Cook)

Sorrowful at dusk, I wandered outside to mindlessly water the plants.
The sun had set and the moon was rising in the evening sky.

There was a quiet to this little world of mine.

A stark contrast to those teeming cities across this reeling nation caught in turmoil.

It was not yet night but rater twilight…and the rising moon caught my eye…

It wasn’t yet a full moon, but the light cast was illuminated through a humid and hazy sky–
casting an ethereal thin glowing shimmer…all veiled through a typical southern night sky.

I looked up, and despite not yet being a full moon, I suddenly felt very small.

Overwhelmed by a seemingly small glowing skewed orb in a steamy southern night’s sky,
oddly, I found a peace in the sense of being small.

I suddenly yearned to be small…
I relished in feeling minute.

For to be small meant that I was not the center of this, or better yet,
I was not, am not, the proverbial center of the universe or even my universe.

And maybe that is really my hope…my hope, my wish, my prayer…
that my fellow countrymen would and could see that they too should yearn to be small.

That the terrorists, the rioters, the looters, the arsonists, the criminals could see
that they are not as big as they imagine nor as grand as their egos dictate.

And so I say to one and all, yearn to be small.

Egos, our egos, are not small.
They vie for power and control.
They vie to be front and center.

An ego is much like a black hole in that it gobbles up everything in its path.
It feeds upon everything and everyone that happens within its sights.

Death, the loss of life, the destruction of property are all of little consequence–
as the ego fails to acknowledge the reality.

The ego lies.
Satan lies.
He is the father of all lies.

The ego is too self-absorbed to see anything other than itself or of its wants and needs.
The ego yearns to be fed.
It must be fed in order to survive and thrive.

Our lives are being consumed by egos.
Ravenous egos.
And they don’t care who stands in the way.

We can either succumb to the lies of an ego, or we can be bold while
daring to be small.

May we yearn, nay dare, to be small.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;
believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms.
If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.

John 14:1-4

somewhere past Orion’s Belt

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

Job 38:31-33


(Orin’s belt constelation)

Stepping out into a mild early April night…
Knowing that the world has gone mad,
I look up, wondering where you are.

Craziness awaits inside and out while I search the night sky.

Orion’s belt.

I quickly search through the vast darkness.
Are you there…somewhere beyond those stars?

Orion’s belt…
those three aligned stars that have always guided those who
have journeyed through the night.

Desperately and viscerally filled with pain, I long to see your face…just one more time.
to hear your voice…
to relish in your wisdom…
to rest in your embrace.

Can you look down, seeing me, looking up?

Oh for the comfort found in the cadence of your melodious voice…
Your soothing words as I wade my way through this mindfield that is now our world.

A strange new world that I do not care for.
I did not ask for this…but I know you did not ask for your own path.

We share a common bond…adoption.
Lost before we felt found.

Each struggling to make our own way.
You painfully watched my own struggle, knowing that I had to go on my own.

I still struggle and somehow there is comfort in that struggle because
I know you know.

Your had your own battles.
You fought through a world war.
Your heart broke watching your own children fall…
and you unselfishly added me to that fold.

You helped to guide a major southern city through her Civil Rights angst.
You met dignitaries along with the homeless, treating each one as the same.

And despite all the power players and demands, you remained my polestar…my guiding light.
Always pointing me toward which direction I should go.

And yet oddly now, I too have become a Polestar…
A signpost pointing others to their own direction.

Yet in all of this, I wonder… how am I to know which way is right?
How did you know?

You trusted in something, in someone, so much greater than yourself.

You always knew.

You listened and you fought your way through the brambles and vines
that vied to entangle you.

You knew I would and could do the same.

The world is now so odd.
So strange.

Not like anything we’ve ever known.

And yet there remains the signpost…pointing the way.
I hear your confidence and clarity.

Just as I see it when glancing in the night sky..
It’s somewhere just past Orion’s belt…


(Julie and her Godpoppa August 1983)

“He was there alone with himself, collected, tranquil, adoring,
comparing the serenity of his heart with the serenity of the skies,
moved in the darkness by the visible splendors of the constellations,
and the invisible splendor of God, opening his soul to the thoughts which fall from the Unknown.
In such moments, offering up his heart at the hour when the flowers of night inhale their perfume,
lighted like a lamp in the center of the starry night,
expanding his soul in ecstasy in the midst of the universal radiance of creation,
he could not himself perhaps have told what was passing in his own mind;
he felt something depart from him, and something descend upon him,
mysterious interchanges of the depths of the soul with the depths of the universe.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

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