God does not change

“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards
the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself hath ordained.”

President George Washington
April 30, 1789
First Inaugural Address

When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.

Viktor Frankl

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(painting by Rembrandt Peale 1830)

As human beings,
we are conditioned to understand that…
to live is to change.

We have discovered most often through the angst of struggle,
that if change is inevitable,
then may we be the masters of such change…

May we control it,
issue it,
and stop it…
as only we see fit…

For we have both resisted as well as orchestrated change.

Yet in the arrogance of control,
we have seen, time and time again,
that the stonewall to change,
the one thing America cannot, nor can ever force change upon,
is the Creator of all that is.

So in her growing egotistical frustration, this nation
has chosen to forgo the need for a Creator…
vying, rather, to be her own creator…

And the actions of her folly will be her undoing….

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face,
and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin
and heal their land

2 Chronicles 7:14

wisdom then is wisdom now

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past,
but by the responsibility for our future.

George Bernard Shaw
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(seaweed / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

Wisdom extolled in a different era is still offered to us today–sadly, it seems, we are not listening….

“Since the dawn of the Christian era a certain way of life has slowly been shaping itself among the Western peoples, and certain standards of conduct and government have come to be esteemed.
After many miseries and prolonged confusion, there arose into the broad light of day the conception of the right of the individual; his right to be consulted in the government of his country; his right to invoke the law even against the State itself…Now in this resides all that makes existence precious to man, and all that confers honour and health upon the State.”

In an age of mounting skepticism, Churchill proclaimed the cause of ‘Christian civilization,” notes Mansfield.
“Churchill saw external threats in the “barbarous paganism” of the Nazis, who embodied principles that were the polar opposites of “Christian ethics.”
Furthermore, Churchill was concerned about the internal threats form some of his own countrymen who had lost their Christian vision. Every Christian, thought Churchill, had a “duty to preserve the structure of humane, enlightened Christian society.”
To neglect this would send society spinning into chaos because, said Churchill, “once the downward steps are taken, once one’s moral intellectual feet slipped upon the slope of plausible indulgence, there would be found no halting-place short of general Paganism and Hedonism.

Stephen Mansfield, “the Hidden Calling” The Chrisitan Post, July 19, 2012
Excerpt taken from:
God & Churchill
How the Great Leaders’ Sense of Divine Destiny Changed His Troubled World And Offers Hope for Ours
by Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley

the law

“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation:
they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour…
If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”

― Charlotte Brontë

“It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a bible-reading people.
The principles of the bible are the groundwork of human freedom.”

― Horace Greeley

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(Santa Rosa Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2016)

Oh, how I love your law, O Lord
It is my meditation all day long.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
You word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Your decrees are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
Your statutes have been my song,
wherever I make my home.
My lips will pour forth praise,
because you teach me your statutes.
My tongue will sing of your promise,
for all your commandments are right

(Psalm 119: 97-115, paraphrased
taken from The Divine Hours
Prayers for summertime
Phyllis Tickle)

Have we all but lost the way of the psalmist…
the one who sings with reckless joy regarding a love so pleasant and sweet…
steeped in the law of God?

Have we allowed our fallen brokeness,
that which stirs within us the spirit of rebellion,
to replace our abiding pleasure in God’s law with
repugnance for any and all holy command?

Rarely is a song now sung…
Seldom does a heart beam and rejoice…
Hardly ever are the virtues proclaimed…
in the holy writ of the Law…

Rather…
there is revelry…
there is abandonment
and there is hedonism in the restless sea of self…
as the flag of all things free is hoisted high above the madness.

It was to be a blanket of care and safety….
A rule of life…
A safety net catching those who stumble and fall…

To listen,
to abide,
to follow….
would have, could have, been so simple.

Life could have been so sweet…

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.
The one who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

John 14:21

Glendalough, boardwalks and getting lost in Ireland

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord:
His going forth is prepared as the morning”

Hosea 6:3

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(a stand of beautiful ash trees, Glendalough in the Wicklow National Park / County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Walk up to the monastery, take a little look around then head left past the church, going on up to the trail head…take the first right…this will lead you to the boardwalk.
The boardwalk will take you to the upper lake where you’ll be greeted with quite the view—it’ll be about a 20 minute easy walk up then 20 minutes back…”

“Will you be coming with us?”

“No, no, I’ll be right here waiting on you when you get back…
Now off you go…”

Meandering through the tiny pig trails which crisscross through the overgrown knee high grass and brambles, all of which offer any casual observer a sense that a fuzzy patchwork blanket had recently been spread across the land, a seemingly long forgotten cemetery sits frozen in time. This once sacred site, littered with ancient and not so ancient graves, beckon to both pilgrim and tourist to come lose oneself in the mystery of time.

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(graves litter the ground of St Kevin’s monastery / Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

Stones worn by rain and time now stand as lonely sentinels to what once was. Many are in disrepair, dangerously listing to either left or right and terribly skewed off balance.
Despite the overcast skies, the honey bees busily buzz around the flowering and ripening blackberries reminding all that life indeed continues even amongst the departed.

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(rippening blackberries / Julie Cook / 2015)

After wandering through the long lost stone remnants of the 6th century celtic monastery founded by St Cóemgen or better known to the Anglican speaker as St. Kevin, we made our way to the trail head which, after a short jaunt by the lower lake, would take us gently upward for a spectacular view of the two lakes for which Glendalough is so named.

Walking past the lower lake we are greeted by the serene sight of deer grazing on the opposite side of the lake…and something even more amazing…
a joyous and peaceful silence.
Blessed beautiful peaceful silence.
No planes, no cars, no motorcycles—just the wind rustling through the leaves and the sounds of birds chattering overhead.

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(a group of fallow deer grazing / Glendalough / Julie Cook /2015)

Continuing on our way we come upon a fork in the trail. Stopping at a sign which points right for a 1.6 km hike upward along the lower lake or straight for a 1.4 km hike upward through a lush canopied forest…we ponder our choice.

Rationalizing our limited time and desire to see as much as possible, we opt for the best of both worlds…it made perfect sense, or so it seemed–we’d take the path leading into the forest, straight up for the journey upward and hit the boardwalk tail for the decent downward.

A no brainer.

As we began our upward journey, we soon noticed that the terrain was changing. No longer was the walking trail smooth–it was now narrowing and littered with meandering roots and stones. Stumbling a bit and tripping over the roots, we pressed onward.

“I’m not dressed for this. . .” one in our party grouses.

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(the beginning of an upward journey / Julie Cook / 2015)

Up and up we wander, suddenly realizing that we’re very much alone, as in the other hikers and tourists seem to be now long gone or have mysteriously disappeared. It’s just the three of us and a vast forest reaching ever upward.

Hummm….

“Isn’t it odd that nobody else is around…?”

“What time is it?”

“Well past the 20 minutes it was suppose to take us to the top”

Now huffing and puffing it appears as if the trail has begun to switchback rather sharply indicating we were heading up quite the mountain trail… oddly we had noticed a sign a bit of a ways back pointing to what must be an abandoned mine…
“Lead mine this way”

“Where’s the lake???” we simultaneously ask

“Where’s the view??

“What’s a lead mine?”

“Where they mine lead, duh”

“Way up here?!”

HUMMMMMM…

“I wish I’d brought my bottle of water.”

“It’s well past 20 minutes.”

“Reckon we ought to keep going?”

“He’s going to kill us if we don’t find the lake!”

“Who cares, I’m tired and I don’t have on the right kind of shoes for this.”

“Is that rain I feel?”

“I need to go to the bathroom”

“I think you can pick a tree for that”

“Did anyone bring a Kleenex?”

“I just thought this was a quick little stop to see a lake!”

Ya’ll stay here and I’ll go on up to the next turn to see if there’s any sort of clearing, lake or view. I’ll holler for ya’ll to come on up if I see something, otherwise I’ll come back and we’ll just go back down the way we came.

“Deal” the other two offer in unison as the relief of a brief respite is lost on no one.

Heading up the now very narrow tail, all I can see is switchback after switchback with trees still looming overhead. Certainly nowhere near the top and with nary a view in sight.

Part of me longed to keep going, straight to the top, proper shoes or not, as I’ve lived long enough to know of the sorts of rewards that await those who persevere upward…
yet my two traveling companions were having none of it and were more than ready to head downward…after all this was just our first day on this amazing journey and we’d certainly not built up any sort of traveling stamina just quite yet…and anyway, lunchtime seemed to be calling.

Slowly we began our decent while little by little the trail opened up.
Tiny waterfalls trickled down the hills as lush vegetation greeted us each step of the way

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(Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(Irish clover / Julie Cook / 2015)

Catching a view of the lower lake only added an exclamation point to the moniker “the Emerald Isle, as a delightful peace descended over three weary souls…

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(Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

Finally back down to the part of the trail that thankfully looked familiar, we glance the now infamous boardwalk to our left.

“Guess we should have just taken the boardwalk in the first place huh?”

” Oh I don’t know…I think what we’ve seen has been pretty darn great!”

“And doesn’t the air just feel so good? So much cooler and better than home…!”

Finally catching a familiar glimpse of St Kevin’s tower, we breathe a gentle sigh of relief as we can rest knowing the safety of the parking area and our van is happily close at hand.

“I guess we need to confess we missed the boardwalk and the lake…”

“Reckon he’s going to be worried, it’s been like what, two hours since we left…?”

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(the remains of St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Oh I don’t know, maybe that’s the point…just to let go and to lose ourselves…”

Lose ourselves or not, I’ve still got to go to the bathroom!…”

And thus began a marvelous adventure…or perhaps more aptly put, a marvelous misadventure of a lifetime….

…Time and nature have both joined together, allowing all who traverse this area a rare gift—one does not have to ponder long as to why St. Kevin chose this particular place in which to seekout God—anyone stopping long enough, to simply bask in the peace while listening to the engulfing silence, will actually hear the whispers of a Creator’s magnificent joy. . .

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(the grounds of St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

***Glendalough, meaning “the valley of the two lakes” is a beautifully serene area nestled within the Wiclow Mountains National Park, County Wiclow, Ireland. Only about 1 to 2 hours south of Dublin.
Glendalough was home to a once thriving celtic monastic community founded by St Kevin in the 6th century.