refuge found in a memory (re-run number 3–it’s that good)

“The Lord manifests Himself to those who stop for some time in
peace and humility of heart.
If you look in murky and turbulent waters,
you cannot see the reflection of your face.
If you want to see the face of Christ,
stop and collect your thoughts in silence,
and close the door of your soul to the noise of external things.”

St. Anthony of Padua


(a statue to St.Anthony in the small chapel of St. Blasiuskirche,
Salzburg, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

When I first read the quote that I’ve opted to use today,
I was immediately transported to a different time and place…
and to a previous post.

It was 2012 and I had recently retired from 31 years of teaching—
I was also preparing
to embark on an arduous journey with my elderly father…
how arduous, I had no idea,
but I knew life was changing and I knew it was not going to
be for the better.

My aunt, another friend, and I had all embarked on a bit of an adventure
during that fall of 2012.
It was a wonderful trip which holds some very precious and
treasured memories…especially since my aunt is no longer with us.

Yet during that trip, there were a couple of very special moments
that have stayed near to my heart…
and one thing I’ve learned over the years,
adventures offer lessons.

And so I looked back at that original post and found
that the serenity that I had experienced
during that adventure, and later in the writing of the post,
I realized that I greatly needed to relive, as well as share, again,
that peaceful gratitude I found one quiet fall afternoon.

And so here is that post from October 2013 about a warm fall
afternoon in 2012 in Salzburg, Austria:

The deep groaning and creaking sound of the huge ancient
wooden door being pulled open echoes loudly throughout the small
yet cavernous chapel.
It must be the vaulted ceiling helping to carry the sound deep
into the hallowed room.
The burning votives cast an otherworldly glow.
There is a lingering scent of incense mixed with the musty dampness.

There is a lone figure, an older woman, kneeling at one of the front pews…
her rosary woven through her fingers, moving ever so slightly,
bead per bead as she silently makes her petitions before
the small statue.

I once heard it put that religion was just something for
old women and children.
Pity that…as that must mean that older women and children are the only ones
who “get it”…everyone else must be too vain, too prideful,
and too arrogant to truly understand.

My eyes begin to adjust to the lack of lighting as the cool air
is a welcomed feeling against the late afternoon Autumn warmth outside.
I walk slowly, quietly, reverently down the small aisle,
my hand resting on the smooth wooden end cap of each pew,
as I make my way to my seat of choice.
I kneel slightly, the genuflection of reverence,
before slipping into the pew.

I’m not Catholic but raised Anglican–yet I oddly welcome
and greatly appreciate the nuances
of ancient worship–-more than would be expected from my raising.
There is a deep mystery that I believe many in our mainstream churches miss.
This Christianity of ours is an ancient faith but that is too
sadly forgotten in this age of the technologically savvy megachurch.
The ancient components of worship seem lost on those now sitting
in stadium type seating waiting, as if ready for the latest blockbuster to begin,
to be wowed not by participation but by passive viewing.

Despite my pained attempts to muffle my movements,
each step, each rustle of my jacket, causes deep reverberations
through this ancient room,
I feel very conspicuous even though just one other person is present.
She never wavers from her intense focus to her prayerful conversation.
She is oblivious to my presence.

I take in my surroundings before dropping to my knees.
The chapel is hundreds of years old as worship here dates back to the 1200s.
Dark wood paneling with cream-colored walls.
Arched vaults line the ceiling with stone columns systematically placed,
acting as supports, creating the aisles throughout the room.
This is not one of the beautifully bright and light
Rococoesque churches of Austria that the tourists clammer to enter in order
to view famous paintings,
statues and frescos with ornate altars boasting a multitude of plaster cherubs
heralding glad tidings.
This chapel is small, dark, ancient, and humble.
Perhaps that is why I was drawn inside.

I slip down to my knees as I make the sign of the cross.
I begin my “conversation”—-it is one of thanksgiving and gratitude
as a tremendous sense
of warmth and contentment engulfs me.
I then begin my petitions—-not for myself,
but for those I love who are not with me on this particular journey.
After some time, I open my eyes.
How long had I been praying?
I rest in the moment as a tremendous sense of safety and peace washes over me–-
it is almost palpable.

Am I a tourist or a pilgrim? I like to think that when I travel,
I am a pilgrim.
I want to not merely observe, but rather, I want to partake…
I want to be a part of each moment in time.
I am not here to watch an old Austrian woman in prayer,
watching from the shadows of an ancient chapel as some sort of
voyeuristic individual
or as someone viewing animals in an enclosure,
but rather I want to pray beside her to the same God who hears
each of our prayers.
I am in communion with her even though she never glances my way.
I want to appreciate this chapel that is a part of her daily life,
wishing I too had such a special and reverent place of retreat.

The history here is so old as countless individuals previously
have gathered here to worship, to seek, to lament, to rejoice.
I slowly rise from my knees slipping out of the pew.
I make my way to the small alter to pick up a fresh votive.
I gently touch the fresh wick to one of the existing burning flames–
my hand slightly shakes.
I feel the warm heat against my cheeks rising from the candles.
I place my lit votive in an empty slot silently thanking Saint Anthony
and God for this time of communion with not only them but with
this woman who never seems to notice my presence.

I am grateful.
I slip a few coins into the small metal locked box by the door.
I make my way back outside, into the light.
It almost hurts my eyes as it is now so sunny and bright.
The sounds of the throngs of people on the streets are almost painful to my ears.
This is Oktoberfest, the streets and alleyways are teeming with a sea of people.

For a brief moment, I had a glimpse of the Divine.
I feel different for the encounter.
Changed.
Better.
Not in an arrogant sort of way but more in the way that I have been fortunate
to be privy to something so rich and so special.
I look out at all of the throngs of people reveling in this historic and exciting
city during this raucous time. I slightly smile inward thinking that I hold a special
secret that no one else knows…no one other than that older woman back in the chapel
and myself.

all that remains is Silence (a timely repeat)

Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts:
secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.”

James Joyce

In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa


(Julie Cook / 2014)

****Yesterday, while I was searching through some older posts,
I came across a post that I wrote back in April of 2014.
I am assuming it was written as a lenten /Good Friday post.
While rereading it, there was something in it that I couldn’t quite
put my finger on, yet I knew something, very strongly, was speaking
to something deep inside of me.
It speaks these seven years later as I find myself in a different
space and time.

It’s that transcendence notion again.
That of going beyond to that which is calling us home.

And so perhaps it is Nicodemus who I can relate to at this particular
moment in time.
Perhaps I too feel the weight of a deafening, defining yet empty Silence…

Yet blessedly, what I do know, despite coming these many centuries after Nicodemus,
is that the Silence will not remain silent for long.

It has only been a few hours.
There is. . .
no rush of wind,
no gossip or chatter,
no signing birds
no barking dogs
no children at play
no rumble of thunder
no toil of labor.
Nothing.

The only thing which remains is the Silence,

And yet there is a sound to Silence.
It is the sound of a heartbeat pulsing through tired worn out ears.
The heaviness of a labored sigh expelling through a dry open mouth.
The sound of hunger wrestling through an empty gut.
The popping of tired old joints.

He had asked them to bring the body here.
To the cold Silence of a bought grave.
Emptiness fills the Silence.
A lingering sweet scent of myrrh and aloe now fills the cold empty space.
With the women all gone, as well as for all the others, he silently holds a solitary vigil.
Two laborers wait nervously by the trees ready to seal the tomb.

He stands alone staring, for what seems to be an eternity,
at the now lifeless shrouded mass.
A surreal moment for a tired old man who has seen far too much of
a life that he cares not to recall.
What was it his old friend had told him of the conversation he
had had with the Teacher that night which now seemed so long ago…
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven:
the Son of Man.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes
will in Him have eternal life. . .

What does any of that now mean at this particular moment in time?
Does the Son of Man now die as any other man?
Everything he thought he knew is now turned upside down.
He silently wrangles with these thoughts of life and death,
when suddenly he is reminded of how very tired he feels.
He had raised his hand, without thought, resting it against the
cold massive stone in order to steady himself.
It has been a terribly long and pain filled day.
He is no longer a young man.
He is old and tired, but the events of today have aged him further.

There are no more tears, for they have long since fallen.
He shutters slightly, pulling the tallit, the prayer shawl,
closer over his aged body, as an empty coldness now envelopes the dark tomb.
Silently the sun begins a slow descent below the horizon,
as he notices an odd coloring to the sky.
It is now time he takes his leave for the Sabbath is soon to begin.

Sabbath.
How odd that suddenly seems.
He slowly turns towards the two men waiting in the shadows.
No words are spoken.
He offers a silent nod as he walks away.
The workmen wait until he is gone before bracing the long pole under
the massive stone.
It is done.

And now Silence fills the World.
Not even a whisper remains.

Yet oddly, vibrations faintly rumble underfoot.
An expectancy fills the air.
A small flock of birds chaotically flutter in the night sky.
Something in the dark has sent them into motion.
The animals sense it first.
They always sense change before any human.
Mankind doesn’t yet take notice.

Within the Silence, the Earth begins to tremble.
Birth pangs fight viciously against Death’s motionless hold.
Transcendence is at hand,
as blinding light seeps up through cracks in the ground.
Tremors roll over a planet as waves crash against distant shores.
The Earth now shifts ever so slightly on its axis, as cosmic explosions mysteriously shimmer in the night sky.
All in Hell begin to quake.

The Silence is no longer so silent.

down the slippery slope –off we go…time for a revolution?

“To join two things together there must be nothing between
them or there cannot be a perfect fusion.
Now realize that this is how God wants our soul to be,
without any selfish love of ourselves or of others in between,
just as God loves us without anything in between.”

St. Catherine of Siena

‘He that deceives me once, its his fault;
but if twice, its my fault.’”

“The Italians having a Proverb,

Bumbling, stumbling, fumbling, miscues, incompetence, misguided,
bloodied guilt, laughter, foolishness, ignorance, blindness, calculating,
arrogance, ineptitude, stupidity, mismanagement, hapless, clueless,
blatant defiance, wrong, hurtful, deceitful, cold, uncaring, blame…

Shock, anger, resentment, betrayal, loss, sorrow, bereft, bewildered,
now rage…

Tumbling, falling, rolling, sliding— lost..into an abyss

Hear us oh Lord…

He said:
“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.

“You are the salt of the earth.
But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out
and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world.
A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone
in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify
your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:3-16

And Jesus said…I am here for a revolution.
Not a revolt, but a revolution.
Believer…are you ready?

headlines, headaches and heartache

Yesterday’s headlines consisted of stories about a former president partying
like it was 1999…with about 500 of his closest friends.
This all on the posh isle of Martha’s Vineyard…
It was reported to be a most “epic” party by several of the rappers who
were in attendance.
Rumor has it that even Madame Speaker was there to shake a tail feather.

Forget the frenzied called for masks and mandates…Forget our dear old godfather Dr. Fauci.

What’s  500 partiers and 200 staff members when one turns 60?
By gosh, there was a party to be had!
You can’t  really shake what your mama gave you if you’re all masked up…

Another story, on the opposite side of the country, involved a family oriented
prayer event down near the waterfront in Portland, Oregon.
If any city needed some prayer right about now…it would be Portland.
A city still under siege by lawlessness.

Disturbingly this event literally came under fire by our country’s lovely
anarchists and antifascists.

When does Christian worship call for anarchy’s knee jerk reaction??
Well, obviously now.

Not even the children nor toddlers attending were spared from the violence
as the antagonizing groups clad in black took to throwing rocks and spraying
colored gas and flash bombs into the family oriented crowd gathered.

Where were the police you ask.

Standing back and watching…don’t you remember, we want to defund them.

Meanwhile back on the east coast, the police of Martha’s Vineyard called the
ensuing traffic nightmare following the end of said presidential birthday party
a s%$t show of a mess.
Well naturally those elite partiers wanted the police to help sort out
any and all traffic woes, never mind about protecting innocent folks elsewhere…

All the while, the news is still rife with the cries of good ol squad
member Ms Cori Bush.
Ms Bush, along with her personal security detail, simply will not rest until
all the police are defunded.

What is the irony of a congresswoman crying for defunding the police
while she surrounds herself with her very own private police force…
forget the “little” people…we’ll be ok.
But wait…who’s paying for her security entourage???
Why do I think it’s you and me, said taxpayers.

Then there was the sad story of the passing of longtime college football
coach and Florida State University legend, Bobby Bowden.

Bobby Bowden, who retired in 2009 had coached at the college level for 55 years.
And like any coach, he was both loved and hated.

Loved if you were a Seminole, hated if you were a Gator or ‘Cane.
Yet I would imagine respected by most.

Bobby Bowden, who alongside his wife Ann of 51 years, raised 6 children.
3 of which went on to their own coaching careers.

I once heard Coach Bowden tell a story about a family vacation they took when
their kids were all little.

They had stopped for gas and for something to eat.
It was probably sometime in the early 1960’s.
These were pre cell phone and stranger danger days.

The family loaded back into the station wagon
and hit the road again.

It wasn’t until about 30 minutes down the road when the family realized
that not all heads had been counted.
One was missing.

Naturally they turned the car around and went back and found their wayward
child patiently waiting.

That kind of stuff just happened when you had 6 kids, Coach Bowden chuckled.

Coach Bowden was once quoted as saying
“The heck with political correctness. I’ve never believed in it.”

I appreciate folks like Coach Bowden…they are old school, like me.

So heres to old school…
while we forget the woke, the elites, the daft, the tone deaf,
the hateful, the arrogant…

Time to remember the desires of the soul…

“The human soul, by its very nature,
is endowed with the faculty of knowing God and the capacity for loving Him.
The intelligence of the soul, transporting itself above all that
is created and finite, has power to raise itself even to the
contemplation of that Being who alone is uncreated and infinite,
who is the source of all good and all perfection;
it is able to form of Him an idea that is clear and accurate and indelible.
The will of the soul is made to love this sovereign Good,
which the understanding presents to it.
The desires of the soul,
which no created object can ever satisfy and which reach far beyond
the limits of this life, tend necessarily toward a Good that
is supreme, eternal, and infinite, and which alone can content
the soul and make it happy.”

Fr. Jean Nicholas Grou, p. 3-4
An Excerpt From
The Spiritual Life

Does our anxiety separation grow exponentially with age?

“The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey.
The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage.
One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.”

Thomas Merton


(the unhappy traveling Mayor when a loved one leaves the car and she does not / Julie Cook/ 2021)

Recently it’s been hard to ignore, but both the Mayor and Sheriff have developed
a bit of separation anxiety when one of their loved ones gets out of the car
in order to run an errand.

I tend to be the lucky one left behind to sit with the unconsolable two
while their mom or dad runs in to a store.

What started out as a content and happy journey of riding in the car
has slowly morphed into the understanding that a loved one is leaving
while they are being left behind.

And so this latest toddler developmental drama has gotten me thinking.

Our past year, meaning both yours and mine, has been anything but pleasant.
To say it’s been trying is simply putting it mildly.

Anxiety ridden?
Yes.

We’ve been forced to mask up, sanitize until our skin cracks, be vigilant against
an unseen enemy, line up for a questionable shot, forced to become TP hoarders…

We’ve put education on the back burner, we’ve worked and lived in isolation,
we’ve balanced home and work all within the home, we’ve stayed put, stayed apart,
watched helplessly as our government has turned on us, wondered who we are as a nation,
struggled to find new ways to reinvent ourselves, labored to balance our physical
and mental health, locked down life as we knew it, missed out on our favorite activities…
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

I think the worst has been the separation.
Physically, mentally and emotionally.

It has been thrust upon us… and the jury is still out as to whether it
has been the right choice.
Chances are, when we look back, we will know it was indeed wrong.

Our seniors have been left alone in their Assisted Living facilities…
often falling ill and even dying alone…as family has not been allowed to visit.

Funerals have come and gone without the attendance of the typical respect of attending mourners.

Schools have shuttered their doors, leaving kids to “learn” remotely, alone.

The very nature of our beings, the social creatures that we are, has been stripped from us.

It has just over a year when this madness began.

This virus that has disrupted the globe, originated in Wuhan, China…

I don’t know a single person who has ever blamed the Asian community for any of this…
The CCP, the Communist Chinese Party is who is to blame…not the Asian people.

So for our news media, and even some governmental leadership, to spin that there is
a surge in crimes against Asian Americans carried out by white suprematists…
what we know as those majority of Trump voters who are simply white conservatives,
is blatantly egregious and a glaring lie.

A disturbed man in Atlanta went on a killing spree this past week, killing 8 people,
near and around Atlanta’s metro area.
His victims were all associated with Asian Spas as either customers or workers.
He claims a sexual addiction made him do such.
Shades of Flip Wilson claiming “the devil made him do it”

And that is what it is…the devil.
The Evil One who reigns supreme.

The young man is an unbalanced “nut job” and not a serial killer of Asian people.
He is not a minion of Donald Trump, contrary to what the news and certain leaders
would have us believe…
all because the former president told us that this current virus is from China.
Of which it is.

Our media and leaders are lying to us by creating ghost scapegoats where no
scapegoats are to be found.

Our journey this year has been hard enough.
If we begin being sucked into believing lies,
the year suddenly becomes heavier and even much more difficult.

Our separation from the Father of all creation is at the root of all our angst.

We have turned our vision from the greater to that of the lesser.
We have turned away from our Creator and turned rather to the mortal man.
Allowing man to become our greater god.
A small god who will always disappoint.

This journey has just become even more miserable…all because of our separation…
Separation from one another but more importantly, the separation from our God.

I think the Mayor and Sheriff are on their way to true knowledge.
When the very one who you put your entire life into their hands leaves you…
it is indeed dire.

Our opting to separate from our God our Father is becoming life ending.

In order to continue this difficult journey…we need God.
And if you find yourself laughing at such a thought or mocking this little proclamation of mine…
you just tell me how you want to keep moving forward if you don’t have Grace to
help you keep going…
Good luck with that.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:6-9

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

Lessons from the Blitz and four essential human freedoms

Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is,
and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present,
and from the present, to live better in the future.

William Wordsworth


Blitz damage in Coventry, November 1940 (© IWM)

Throughout much of the past couple of months leading up to last week’s
debacle, I mean election,
I’ve been slowly making my way through my latest read…a book by Erik Larson.

I had read other books by Larson in years past, and I expected this current read to be right
on par with his previous books…books that look back to a past of darker days…
darker than the days of our current time…
As in yes, there have been darker times…if you can imagine such.

The book is titled The Splendid and The Vile:
A Saga of Chruchill, Family, And Defiance During the Blitz

I can’t even begin to do justice here, within my small reflections, as to what it was like
for the British people to live through the nightly bombings of their cities, towns
and villages by the German Luftwaffe.

For 8 long months, every single day—hundreds of German planes filled the skies
over the United Kingdom dropping tons upon tons of explosives and incendiary deceives
indiscriminately over an innocent people–only to leave destruction and death in their wake.

When the bombings stopped, over 32,000 civilians had been killed.
Over 87,000 had been maimed, burned, and injured.
Of those, 7,736 children were killed and 7,622 were seriously injured
while many were left orphaned.

London alone endured 57 straight nights and days of bombings.

The bombings took place predominantly at night but would, at times, happen both day and night.
As in a double whammy of insult and injury.

Sirens would sound, people would run for shelter as their world, bodies
and lives were literally shattered.

In just one single night, November 14, 1940, 16,000 bombs were dropped on the
city of Coventry.
The ancient 14th-century Cathedral in Coventry was just one of many churches
which would take a direct hit


(Death from the skies: An aerial view of the wrecked cathedral / The Mirror)


Winston Churchill and the Mayor Alfred Robert Grindlay visiting the ruins of Coventry Cathedral in September 1941
Horton (Capt)-War Office official photographer-This is photograph H 14250 from the collections of the Imperial War Museum

In London, the fickleness of war was clearly evident when after
London’s worst day of bombing, St. Pauls Cathedral appeared triumphantly and
miraculously to rise up from out of the smoke and ash.


St Paul’s Cathedral survives the Blitz, December 1940 (© IWM)

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33314462

Yet, as with all wars, the human toll is unimaginable.


(Upper Norwood, London, 1944 (© IWM) )

In early 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his State of the Union address.

In his speech, the President spoke of the lend-lease act that he was
going to be presenting to Congress…
a plan intended on assisting the British people without the US technically involving
herself in a war that the United States wasn’t keen on participating in.

“The future and the safety of our country and of our democracy
are overwhelmingly involved in events far beyond our borders…”
the President noted.
According to Larson, Roosevelt described a world to come that would be founded upon
“four essential human freedoms” :
speech, worship, and freedom from want and fear

It has been 79 years since Roosevelt’s speech.
Since that time, there have been other wars, police actions, along with a myriad of
perils that have each threatened both our democracy and that of the
pillars of Western Civilization.

And yet throughout it all, those four essential freedoms have stood the test of time…

They stand in part because of the foundation found buried deep in the fortitude
of the human spirit…along with that of determined and clear-minded leadership.

Those were dark and dire days and yet Western Civilization prevailed over the
chokehold of fascism, socialism, and communism.

My hope and prayer for our world today is that none of those past perils shall
be forgotten or tossed aside as today’s leadership and her people seem to be
giddily racing to embrace that which we once fought so hard to defeat.

‘Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this
world of sin and woe.
No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.
Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except
for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…’

Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

Everyone is in favor of free speech.
Hardly a day passes without its being extolled,
but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like,
but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”

Winston S. Churchill

thin black line, 6th Ave Heartache

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

An odd thing happened two nights ago.

Now you need to remember that I was taken off my HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
about 7 weeks ago.
Hormones, I’d been on nearly 30 years.

Sleep has never been great, but take away the hormones and things immediately went
from bad to really really bad in literally a single night’s time.

However two nights ago, despite battling the need to breathe while living
with a sinus infection along with poison ivy, I was actually asleep.

How do I know?
I was flat on my back.

I’m usually a side to stomach sleeper yet at some point or other,
when I’m really asleep, asleep—
I’m always mysteriously flat on my back.

At 1:30 in the morning, I became aware that I was itching.
Groggily I started scratching at my poison ivy now spreading across my torso.
Suddenly in my head, I was hearing a song that I know I had not heard playing that day
as some sort of background music in a store.

Clear as day, playing lyrically in my head.

It was a song I’ve always liked..a 90’s sort of song…Why I’ve always liked it,
I don’t know, but it has always made me feel a bit heavy-hearted and melancholy.
Again, I’m not sure as to why.
Although it’s an older song, it seems to still be quite relevant.

Rousing my brain to full awake mode, I opted to get up and head into the bathroom
in order to slather on some more anti-itch medicine— all the
while that song kept ringing in my head…

“And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in…”

I crawled back into bed now restless as my thoughts were racing.
All the while still itching and listening to non-existent music playing.

Why was this song stuck in my head—especially when I was good and asleep??

The following morning, after grabbing my coffee, I googled the song.

According to Wikipedia , The lyrics are based on Dylan’s (Jakob Dylan)
own experiences while living in New York City, in particular, the story of a homeless man
who would sit outside Dylan’s window and play the same songs every day.
One day, the man was gone, but his things were still there,
until gradually people started taking them.

Well, that seemed to make it all feel even worse…doubly more sad than before.

So I kept digging a bit further.

What did the Bible have to say about a black line??

As I kept looking, I was constantly being redirected to the mark of Cain.

Hummmm.

Remember, being raised a poor illiterate Episcoplain kid, the breadth and depth
of Bible study was never my forte.
But I was now intrigued.

I knew Cain and Abel…really the very first tale of humankind’s lowest moments.
Or actually, that might have been their parents…but either way, we humans weren’t off
to the best of starts.

Choice…we never seem to have mastered choice…but I digress.

Why would God want me to think about all of this at 1:30 in the morning?
I know, I know…time to God is irrelevant but to a woman who hardly ever has deep
sleep, as in REM, I was just a tad frustrated.

There were (are) a lot of articles on the web about the mark of Cain
and many of them have some sort of racist connotation.
Naturally…it always goes back to race.

It seems race has been with us since the beginning of time and we still don’t know how to
deal with it—- gees…!
But again, I digress.

So after reading, I managed to find an interesting article on Bibleodyssey.com
written by Eva Mroxzek, an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Indiana University.

She hit on the whole good mark, bad mark thinking…
Cain killed his brother and God marked him for life.
The question…was or is…. was or is the mark a mark of shame or a mark of protection?

Was it leprosy?
A ‘keep your distance’ sort of mark?
Did God turn his skin a darker color?
Did God have a horn grow out of Cain’s head?
Did it have to do with circumcision?
Did God give Cain a dog?
Huh???

Did God have mercy on Cain and forgive him for having killed his brother…the first
recorded murder in human history only to followed by the greatest act of forgiveness??

But wait…was that the greatest act of forgiveness or was that actually
during Good Friday…
digressing again…

So, was the mark a mark of forgiveness…

On and on the so-called wise ones have debated this issue for eons.

And yet oddly here it comes visiting me at 1:30 in the morning by way of a 1996 song.

Ms, Mroczek notes at the end of her article…
“But the most striking interpretations rely on a later meaning of the Hebrew word oth:
a letter of the alphabet.
A midrashic text suggests that God inscribed a letter on Cain’s arm as a mark of protection
(Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer 21).
Thus, the mark of Cain becomes a sacred sign.
In another midrash (Tanhuma Genesis 10),
it is the word Sabbath that is inscribed on Cain’s face—after the personified Sabbath day
itself begged God to forgive Cain’s sin.
And a targum—an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures—
identifies the mark as the holiest sign of all: God inscribes on Cain
“the great and honorable name of the LORD,” namely the tetragrammaton,
the four-letter name of God (YHWH).

https://www.bibleodyssey.org/people/related-articles/mark-of-cain

So the jury is still out.

Why the song?
Why the direction toward Cain?
And is this a message of foreboding or passage of forgiveness.

I’ll let you know what happens when the next hot flash rouses me from
what little precious sleep there is…I’m sure God will have His say…
I just wish I was wise enough to figure out where He was taking me.
But if I knew that…there’d be so many answers to so many questions…

Heartbreak does seem to be happeing on all sorts of 6th Avenues across this Nation…

Sirens ring, the shots ring out
A stranger cries, screams out loud
I had my world strapped against my back
I held my hands, never knew how to act
And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in
6th Avenue heartache
Below me was a homeless man
I’m singin’ songs I knew complete
On the steps alone, his guitar in hand
It’s fifty years, stood where he stands
Now walkin’ home on those streets
The river winds move my feet
Subway steam, like silhouettes in dreams
They stood by me, just like moonbeams
Look out the window, down upon that street
And gone like a midnight was that man
But I see his six strings laid against that wall
And all his things, they all look so small
I got my fingers crossed on a shooting star
Just like me just moved on

black lives vs all lives…when will we understand….it’s all lives

“Wealth and dominion fade into the mass
Of the great sea of human right and wrong,
When once from our possession they must pass;
But love, though misdirected, is among
The things which are immortal, and surpass
All that frail stuff which will be – or which was.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley


(Fox News)

This is a lamentation of sorts.
As in I’m feeling much like Jeremiah.

I’d like to address a couple of groups within this current culture wars of ours…
as in Mr. and Ms. Black Lives Matter…along with some mayors and even governors–
should the shoe fit.

To BLM: I caught your latest slick new commercial, airing on one of the sports channels,
the other evening.
The end of the commercial is what I suppose is to be your proverbial bottom line—

It went something like this…
‘All lives will matter only when black lives matter…’

And that is exactly the sort of thinking that is at the heart of all our problems.

But because I am white, having said such, you would first attempt to call me
the latest rage name of Karen.

Trust me, I am no Karen.

I do not consider myself privileged nor better than anyone else…
something about men and women being created in the image of God…
but I digress.

After calling me names, you would attempt to intimidate me, perhaps even harass me.
You would next force me to kneel, apologize, beg for forgiveness…
all before I could be granted absolution.

Thus, I will not expound further on your commercial or your notion that only
one color of life matters.
It simply won’t do any good for me to do so because you will
not listen…you will simply go back to calling me a disparaging name before wishing me ill.

So some troubling news surfaced from out of this past weekend…
maybe you’ve heard or seen a few snippets…

Over the 4th of July weekend, at least 7 innocent children were killed.
Killed not by the pandemic but rather they were murdered.
They were 7 black children killed by other black people who just so happened
to have guns.

Did you hear the cries of the parents and grandparents?
Did you see their anguish on the television?
Did you hear their desire for the police to be more active in their neighborhoods?

And so I speak to our big city Mayors and Governors…

The most recent black on black shootings have escalated on a greater proportional
scale than that of the recent events of black men and women being killed
by police officers.

And yet it is the police officers who you wish to see defunded and disbanded
while you allow ‘zones’ of your cities to be hijacked by violent agitators.

You mandate that law-abiding citizens must social distance and wear masks but you
tell the throngs of agitators that it’s okay to march and express their civil disdain.

Mayor Deblasio blames the Pandemic on the tremendous escalation of violent crimes
and murders in New York City.

Seattle’s Mayor Durken likened the CHOP/CHAZ zone in her city to something like
Seattle’s own version of a “Summer of love”—
But then an innocent 16-year-old black boy was shot and killed…
and suddenly the “summer of love” is no more.

Atlanta’s Mayor Bottoms had her chief of police resign after the Mayor went over
the chief’s head and fired several officers involved in the shooting of a black man
at a Wendy’s in downtown Atlanta.
The Wendy’s was subsequently burnt to the ground by an angry mob and the Mayor
actually allowed the violent agitators to “occupy” the area around the Wendy’s
as they claimed it now as a memorial and quasi shrine to the man who was
killed by police.

But that all quickly came to a screeching halt when an innocent 8-year-old little girl was
shot and killed by one of the “zone’s” occupiers.

So what of these mobs of yours?
What of the violence from these mobs?
Do you still consider these mobs “peaceful protestors” or perhaps more along the lines
of thugs and hoodlums bent on nothing but trouble?

What of the urban black community and their guns?
What of the blatant disregard for human life?

Black lives do not seem to matter to other black lives and yet it is
the white community that is vilified as the offenders of what matters and doesn’t matter.

So I ask you BLM, Mayors, and Governors—how many more children must die
before you focus on what is your real trouble–our real trouble–that being,
responsibility.

When will we all understand that these lives of the youngest amongst us are
the lives that offer us the most hope?

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

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