the last of the lions

“What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.”
Hans Urs von Balthasar

(Senator Bob (Doyle, 95, salutes the casket of his friend, colleague, opponent and
fellow WWII vertern, George, H.W. Bush)

(this is a portion of a post I offered back in 2018 with the passing of
President George Herbert Walker Bush— Bush 41…
Bush was the dear friend, colleague and fellow veteran of Senator Bod Dole
—one of the last of the greatest generation who pledged their life
and service to our great nation—Senator Robert Dole passed away
yesterday…)

If there is one image that has touched my heart the most, over the past couple of days
other than the image of former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully resting
at the foot of his casket, it is this image…
this one picture…

The poignant and heart touching image of Senator and fellow WWII Vet
Bob Dole of Kansas being helped to his feet, in order to salute his longtime friend.

Senator Dole, of Kansas, is 95 years young yet is frail and is in failing health
but he was determined to be brought to the US Capitol building in order to pay his
respects to his fellow veteran and friend.

To most men of ‘that generation’ respect has always meant standing, and in this
case saluting, as both men fought, and were each wounded,
during what they simply referred to as “The War.”

Bob Dole was in the infantry fighting in Italy when he was hit by German
machine gun fire in the back and arm.

According to Wikipedia:
Dole was badly wounded by German machine gun fire,
being hit in his upper back and right arm.
As Lee Sandlin describes, when fellow soldiers saw the extent of his injuries,
all they thought they could do was to “give him the largest dose of morphine they dared
and write an ‘M’ for ‘morphine’ on his forehead in his own blood,
so that nobody else who found him would give him a second, fatal dose.”

Dole was transported to the United States, where his recovery was slow,
interrupted by blood clots and a life-threatening infection.
After large doses of penicillin had not succeeded,
he overcame the infection with the administration of streptomycin,
which at the time was still an experimental drug.
He remained despondent,
“not ready to accept the fact that my life would be changed forever.”
He was encouraged to see Hampar Kelikian, an orthopedist in Chicago who
had been working with veterans returning from war.
Although during their first meeting Kelikian told Dole that he would
never be able to recover fully, the encounter changed Dole’s outlook on life,
who years later wrote of Kelikian, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide,
“Kelikian inspired me to focus on what I had left and what I could do with it,
rather than complaining what had been lost.”

Dr. K, as Dole later came to affectionately call him, operated on him seven times,
free of charge, and had, in Dole’s words,
“an impact on my life second only to my family.”

I am always gratified when I read of or hear of the stories about the impacts
that one human being can have upon another…
impacts, that more often than not, are unbeknownst to the one who is doing the impacting.

I call it the gift of the unknowing.

These unknown gifts actually consist of simple things such as time,
assistance or a listening ear or even what might be perceived as an
insignificant opportunity…
These gifts, which more often than not are unbeknownst to the giver…
become paramount and even life-changing to the recipient.

Bob Dole had his gift giver.
And we Americans are better for it.

And if the truth was told, I think most all of us have had a gift giver, if not several,
during the course of our lives.

Senator Robert J. Dole (1923-2021)
Mr. Dole, a son of the Kansas prairie who was left for
dead on a World War II battlefield,
became one of the longest-serving Republican leaders.

(NYT)

so thin a line

“Solitude has soft, silky hands,
but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.
Solitude is the ally of sorry as well as a companion of spiritual exaltation.”

Kahlil Gibran


(Julie Cook / 2015)

There is a thin line.

It is so thin a line that it is not visible to the human eye.

It is so thin a line that even the web of a spider appears heavy
and large in comparison.

And dare I say that such a line is not even visible by means of the
strongest electron microscope.

It is a line that cannot be detected by sound waves or any sort
of visible imagery.

No doctor, scientist, engineer or even artist has ever seen such a line…
because this line is impossible to see…

And yet there are those who know far too well that this line exists.

There are but a few hardy souls who, for both better and worse, know
that this line is very much active in our daily existence.

For those who know that this line exists…
also understand that this line is not visible to the eye but rather
visible to one thing and one thing only.

And thus knowing that this line exists…as in not through
a visual ability but one that is rather more visceral than not,
those who know, know that this is a line that can only be felt.

For this is a line that is only experienced within the human heart.

The line exists somewhere between love and sorrow…
Sweet and bittersweet….
Gain and loss….
For it is composed of both complete joy and utter despair.

One side of this line is marked by love while the other side is marked
by sorrow…
with nary a space or gap in between.

Man has long since accepted the fact that to love does indeed,
more often than not, guarantee sorrow.
The degree of that sorrow is only dependent upon each particular individual.

But what is known is that to have loved and to have ever lost that love,
that is indeed the line of which we speak.

The cognizant mind knows that to love means that there is indeed a real
possibility of hurt, loss and pain, but it is not until that love is removed…
that anyone can fully understand the endless depth of such a loss
and such a love.

For it is in that loss and separation that one can finally grasp the full
spectrum and depth of that very love.

So the question we must ask…are we willing to suffer in order to love?
Or maybe that question should be…are we willing to love, knowing that
we very well may suffer.

I for one think the answer is a resounding yes.

So here is to the thin line of love.

But because of his great love for us,
God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—
it is by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2:4-5

When you lose one of the good ones…

We all have our likes and our dislikes.
But… when we’re doing news – when we’re doing the front-page news,
not the back page, not the op-ed pages,
but when we’re doing the daily news, covering politics –
it is our duty to be sure that we do not permit our prejudices to show.
That is simply basic journalism.

Walter Cronkite


(Jovita Moore, WSB new anchor, reporter, journalist)

It was a chilly, grey, rainy Friday morning.
Not exactly a conducive day nor conducive weather for traversing the maze
of interstates leading into the massive city of Atlanta.

However, as oddly as it seemed, the knotted network of roadways actually
flowed better than they normally should.

The weather, however, pretty much reflected the somber news
Atlanta had woken up to earlier that morning.

One of the few remaining good ones had passed away Thursday night.

It had been the heavy responsibility of Channel 2’s news anchor
Justin Farmer to share the heartbreaking news Friday morning
that his friend and colleague Jovita Moore had lost her battle with cancer.

Perhaps you think it might seem like an odd thing for me write a
post about…that of a news anchor’s death from cancer….
but what I want folks to know is that Jovita Moore was not just any
old news anchor, reporter or journalist.
She was one of the good guys…or is that good gals?

We are currently living in a culture that is rife with fake news, lying
journalists and overtly biased reporters.
Foaming at the mouth is more apparent than at any other time
in the history of the industry.

Journalism is now considered a caustic profession.
Scoops and stories are spewed out at the cost of any and all facts.
Skewed is the name of the game.

Truth is one of the first casualties these days from
both liberal and conservative journalists.
Neutrality no longer exists.

However it did with Jovita.

Truth mattered to Jovita.
As did an always upbeat and positive demeanor, when she’d take
to her desk each evening in order to report Atlanta’s and the nation’s news.

She was well worth turning on the evening news for as she delivered the facts
and the climate of the times, with a professionalism that is now as rare
as an extinct species.

Kindness marked her delivery yet she could be tough when the need
called for it.

That toughness was called upon back in the Spring, back
one day in April.

Jovita had run to a local grocery store one evening following
her newscast. Suddenly she realized that she was about to pass out
in the parking lot.

Her head was swimming.
And she had noted that she’d been a bit foggy as of late.

A trip to the ER offered some telling news.
There were two small tumors in her brain.

There was surgery and she offered her own update.
Positive and even cheerful as always.

However, the biopsy was not what anyone had hoped for.
She had an aggressive form of brain cancer.

The city, and even the state, held a collective breath and began a link
of prayer…a diverse city and state all gathering heart and soul
for the sake of one of their own…just another Atlantan, just another
adopted Georgian.

Jovita lost her brief battle Thursday night.
She was only 53.
She was surrounded by her mother and three children.

The link to her story is below.

The world always seems a bit less bright when one of the good
ones goes home.

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/channel-2s-jovita-moore-passes-away-after-battle-with-brain-cancer/BYZ3I5MHBJC57PTH56PG3IA75E/

can a grape break your heart…maybe it’s time for Grace

“Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together
the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken.
Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?”

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


(red grapes /Julie Cook / 2021)

What causes a heart to break?

What causes that overwhelming suffocating pressure inside
your chest when you realize that your heart is actually breaking?

Is it sorrow?
Is it loss?
Is it absence?

What is it that causes that deafening pounding inside one’s brain
while an unending flow of tears leaves an etched trail cascading
down cheeks?

Is it fatigue?
Is it distance?
Is it emptiness?

Could a grape break your heart?

The fact that the bag stated seedless grapes and yet they were full of seeds…
can that break your heart?

Grapes most likely will never break your heart…

But maybe it’s who was last eating those grapes…
Maybe, just maybe, that’s who can break that heart.

What about a can of diet Dr. Pepper?
Can a soft drink break you heart?

Doctors might agree that caffeine isn’t necessarily good for your heart
as it might just make your heart race, however the chances are that
that drink won’t leave your heart broken…

But maybe, just maybe, it’s the person who was last drinking that soda
who might break your heart.

So what about an endlessly hungry, bottomless pit, of a cat…can such a cat break your heart?

The incessant meowing of one who wants feeding at each and every turn,
might break your nerves, but most likely a hungry cat won’t break your heart…

Yet maybe, just maybe it’s the thought of who last fed the cat which
can break your heart.

And what of a stack of wine corks…
Can a random stack of wine corks break your heart?

Some agree that drinking wine might actually be good for your heart, it is however
doubtful that an idle stack of leftover corks would ever break your heart…

But maybe, just maybe, it’s the creator of that idle stack that might just
break your heart.

And so what of scent?

What of the lingering scent that remains from one who was, only moments
prior, holding you in their arms?
Does that remaining presence which is now woven into the fibers of your own clothing–
does that scent of that person who is now no longer physically present…can that
remaining scent break your heart?

Maybe.

It might just  break your heart because you find yourself holding on tightly to your
own piece of clothing…burying your face deeply into that shirt while breathing
in as if your very life depended on it…trying desperately to catch a last lingering reminder
that love was indeed present despite a now empty and silent distance.

And so what about homework?
Can homework break your heart?

Homework…
There was a time when certain types of homework nearly broke my will…
but school work never broke my heart.

Yet what I am discovering however, is that the homework of learning how to accept Grace, allowing Grace to penetrate
into what was once perceived to be an undeserving soul…Grace that yearns to pry open and
break down one’s ancient walls…walls built to be impenetrable…yet walls that must succumb to Grace that is now being offered freely and graciously from one to another…is a lifeline that I never knew how badly I needed.

And so it now seems that that simple act of an offering of Grace can indeed break one’s heart…and more often than not, that breaking is agonizingly painful, yet it is also something most necessary if one hopes to push through this thing we call life.

And so my hope for you is that you too may also be fortunate—fortunate to find and to receive this gift known as Grace…

Yes, it might just break your heart, but that breaking just might be the only way you can find it and hold on to it.

“I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”
Hermann Hesse

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