transcendence

Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence:
it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense
“destined” to go beyond himself,
and he is called to this in a mysterious way.

APOSTOLIC LETTER
SALVIFICI DOLORIS
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II 1984


(Cades Cove / TN/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Maybe it’s the grey skies.
Maybe it’s the deluge of rain.
Maybe it’s age.
Maybe it’s not feeling 100%
Maybe it’s life’s circumstances.
Maybe it’s just our current times..

It seems as if I’ve had a weighted heaviness sitting on my spirit
for quite sometime now…and this “heaviness” seems
much like a festering splinter that is attempting
to work its way to the surface…

What I know about such a type of splinter is that it is
being worked to the surface by a body wanting to rid itself
of an infecting foreign entity.

So maybe this heaviness will be worked up and out as well.
Maybe, just maybe, the heaviness is only a symptom.
But a symptom of what is not exactly clear.

Recently I’ve found myself ruminating on idea of the
transcendence of time.

Vocabulary.com tells us that
transcendence comes from the Latin prefix trans-,
meaning “beyond,” and the word scandare, meaning “to climb.”
When you achieve transcendence, you have gone beyond ordinary limitations.
The word is often used to describe a spiritual or religious state,
or a condition of moving beyond physical needs and realities.
One way to achieve transcendence spiritually might be to fast
for a long time.
If you have trouble letting go of material needs,
then you will have a difficult time achieving transcendence.

As a Christian, I believe, that on this earth, we live in a
constant state of transcendence or perhaps that is transcending…
meaning we are constantly trying to climb beyond.

Gravity and time each keeps us bound to this earth, yet our spirits long
to go to a place beyond and unknown.
There is a longing in our beings for that which we cannot see
but yet we feel is calling us.

Over the years I’ve often written about my “godpoppa”–
He was an Episcopal priest.
Adopted like me.
And he bore the bulk of my teenage angst and
later my often tumultuous choices of life, both good and bad.

He died in December of 2016 only a few months prior to my dad’s death
and even that of my aunt’s.
Loss, let alone back to back losses, is/ are never easy.

And yet this one man’s influence on my life remains just as it
always has–both strong and robust.

It matters not that he is not here physically, because in my reality
he continues on in my soul–day in and day out.
His influence and teachings continue to positively impact all
that I do.

I was fortunate to have had such a person come into my life
when he did, but I do not believe it was by fate, chance or some
random encounter.
I know without a doubt God places folks within our life’s journeys
at just the right time and place.

I do think, however, we’d all agree that it is the physical that
we miss the most when we lose someone we love.
Not so much their words, not at first anyway.

We want to be able to see them, hear them, feel them.
Just as a child who has fallen and skinned a knee, we want to be held
and comforted in our sorrow.
And despite our knowledge of what the separation means when speaking
of death, we still want this now ‘lost’ person to hold us.

And yet their love, the love we shared, transcends both space and time.

What I gratefully remember is the man whose eyes smiled at me…
and yet those same smiling eyes could and would always penetrate past all
my thick protective walls.

He taught me that walls must be broken if true healing is to take place.
He taught me that I had to risk all things earthly in order to find my true
peace and well being.
He taught me that I had to be broken before I could be built back up.

And so I suppose that journey of brokenness to transcendence continues
as I write.
Hence the oft felt heaviness.

God continues to push, or maybe that should be pulls, us along…
as we put one hand over the other, rung after rung…climbing
ever upward and ever forward to that which we cannot see yet knows
waits for us just beyond…

And do you know what makes this journey all that more mystical and
otherworldly??

It is the single fact that along this journey, we might be fortunate
enough to find someone who we thought we’d previously lost forever.

And that’s when it suddenly dawns on us…this most beloved person had
never been lost at all…they were simply waiting for us…
despite neither of us realizing it at the time…
and it is in that single moment of reconnection that we
find our greatest blessing…

So here’s to transcendence, time, space and to the one constant that
always binds—that being love.
(thank you Patti)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant 5 or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never ends.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues,
they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

our dark night of the soul

“May God be pleased to give me His light,
that I may speak profitably of this;
for I have great need of it while treating of a night so dark
and speaking of a subject so difficult.5”

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul


(2017 / Julie Cook)

Our days are shrouded by a shadowy veil…
as darkness yearns to cover what small light remains.

I feel the palpable trepidation…I know you do too.

Straddling a great divide, which widens day by day, we are
stretched nearly to a breaking point.

How much longer is our collective lament.
Yet I fear this is just the beginning.

“The reason why the soul not only travels securely when it thus travels
in the dark, but makes even greater progress, is this:
In general the soul makes greater progress when it least thinks so,
yea, most frequently when it imagines that it is losing.
Having never before experienced the present novelty which dazzles it,
and disturbs its former habits, it considers itself as losing,
rather than as gaining ground,
when it sees itself lost in a place it once knew,
and in which it delighted, traveling by a road it knows not,
and in which it has no pleasure.
As a traveler into strange countries goes by ways strange and untried,
relying on information derived from others, and not upon any knowledge
of his own—it is clear that he will never reach a new country but
by new ways which he knows not,
and by abandoning those he knew—so in the same way the soul makes
the greater progress when it travels in the dark, not knowing the way.
But inasmuch as God Himself is here the guide of the soul in its blindness,
the soul may well exult and say,
“In darkness and in safety,” now that it has come to a knowledge of its state.”

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul

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?

(Repeat)The brine, the rugs, getting lost and a grateful heart

*****Since it’s going to be such a crazy week, I thought I’d pull out a memory from
Thanksgivings past…November 2013.
It was the first Thanksgiving I had the bright idea of brining a turkey.
Dad was still with us, our son wasn’t yet married so there was no Mayor or Sheriff.
It seems so long ago…and yet the tie that binds…a grateful thankful heart!

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
― Oscar Wilde

DSCN2663
(the blasted turkey sitting in it’s brining bag in the basement refrigerator)

Last Sunday afternoon I accompanied my husband to Lowes as he was in need of some bolts and caulking.
I love going to Home Depot and/ or Lowes as there is always something that catches my eye…
a new plant, some birdseed, new rugs…and that’s exactly what I had in mind—
some new throw rugs.

New rugs for the kitchen as the existing rugs are in a word–nasty.
They were cheap and have not withstood life in the kitchen of a cookie.

As my husband headed off to the nuts and bolts aisle, I casually mention that I’d be
heading over to look at the rugs, catching up to him in a minute.
“What?” he irritatingly asks / states—
as in ‘oh no, we don’t need rugs, we’re not here to spend a bunch of money, no, no, no…’
Of which I reply “don’t get bent out of shape, I’m just looking”
(please note the inflection that is used by a wife who says she’s “just-looking”)

I cruise the carpet aisle spying the giant rugs hanging vertically
from the massive warehouse ceiling.
Hummm….
I pull a couple of the throw rugs and runners out of their cubbies,
laying them out on the slick concrete floor…
Hummmm…
I read a couple of descriptions, pull my phone out for a picture or two.
I roll everything back up, putting the little rugs back in their appropriate bins
before heading off to nuts and blots where I find my husband studying
the various sizes of cement bolts.

As he finds what he came for and we begin heading back the direction of which we had
actually entered this massive warehouse store, making our way to where the check out counters
are located, I casually state that I need to run back and check the prices of those throw rugs again.
This is when I can actually feel his eyes rolling back in his head as I cut off for the rug section—
again.

We meet up at the checkout.
As we are leaving, pushing out his buggy that now has a 2 x 4 dangling precariously
out the front, I causally throw out that I just may come back tomorrow and get those
little rugs for the kitchen.
Note the use of the word “little” strategically placed in the sentence.
Silence in the resignation of new rugs.

Monday afternoon I happily return home from Lowes with 3 new throw rugs and one runner
as I’m more than ready to move out the stained existing rugs.
I sweep, mop, and sweep some more before laying out the new rug pads.
Next, I gingerly roll out the new runner, smoothing it into place.
I then lay out the 3 smaller rugs… strategically placing each in its distinct place–
one by the cooktop, then one in front of the refrigerator and finally one in front of the dishwasher…
the three places I spend the majority of my life.

I step back admiring the colors.
“Oh, dear! Are they too busy?” I muse.
I ask the cats.
Percy immediately goes over to the runner and lays down.
I take that as a sign of approval.
Once my husband gets home from work I clock him to see how long it takes
him to notice, that is, if he notices at all.
2 minutes.
Not bad.
And even better, he’s complimentary, he actually likes them.
Relief.

Fast forward to Tuesday.

I think I’m going to be really smart, I’m going to spread out this Thanksgiving
cooking business over the course of two days verses making myself crazy by doing
it all on Wednesday.
Piece of cake, I’ve got this!
Dad and Gloria have agreed to come for lunch with our son and his fiancé coming in that evening—
I’ll be cooking and serving in shifts, but at least, everyone will be here, albeit in intervals.

Last year I thought I’d mix things up a little by attempting to brine my next turkey.
I’ve never had a problem with my turkeys being too dry, I just thought I’d do something
a little different, as brining does seem to be the vogue thing to do.
Impart a little flavor and try my hand at something new and different.

I prepared the solution–a couple of gallons of water, ice, salt, spices, salt,
apple cider, and did I mention salt?
I get the 5-gallon brining bag in the sink, place my 20lb bird in the bag, and then gingerly
pour the giant black kettle of solution into the bag.
I seal the bag, heaving the now massively heavy bag into a roasting pan to help balance it as I prepare to carry it to the refrigerator in the basement.

I take maybe 5 steps from the sink when suddenly there’s a snap then a sickeningly slurping sound erupts.
This is followed by the glug, glug, glug of 3 gallons of liquid cascading out all over
my wooden kitchen floor, the new runner, and 2 of the smaller new rugs.
“NOOOOOOO!!!!!!”
I scream for no one but me and the cats to hear, sending them running.
I am paralyzed… because if I move, more liquid will flow. “NOOOOOOOOOO”
“AGGGGHHHHHHHH”
Surprisingly I don’t cry.
I’m in a panic!!

The wooden floors!!!
The rugs!!
AAAGGGHHHHH!!!
Towels, I need towels!
I run to get every bath towel we own.
I proceed to sop up all the liquid before it destroys the floor.
I pick up my new, now saturated rugs” – — did I mention that it was 34 degrees
outside and pouring down rain.
I run outside in the cold rain, throw the rugs down on the oh so wet driveway,
pulling out the garden hose to wash off the salty solution now soaking into my new rugs.
Anyone driving by most likely thought I’d totally lost any brain I had.

DSCN2667
(waiting for the runner to dry out)

I lay the remaining towels, including beach towels, in the garage,
dragging my now heavy soaked rugs in from the rain, laying them on the towels,
layering other towels on top. I proceed jumping up and down attempting to “blot”
them dry as best as I can on a pouring down rainy day.
Did I mention it was 34 degrees?

Back inside I continue sopping up the salty solution,
mopping the kitchen floor, more towels.
Not to mention how many times I now had to run the washing machine.
The damn turkey (please forgive my language, it just seems appropriate at this moment in time)
is still sitting in the brining bag waiting for transport to the basement sans the brine.
I pull out another jug of apple cider, pouring it over the turkey,
reseal the bag and drag it to the basement.
I eventually bring the rugs inside to the laundry room where I drape them over the dryer and
washing machine and the heat vent hoping they will dry out by Thursday.

Fast Forward to today, Thanksgiving.
The rugs are back in place, a little wavy and a bit shimmery,
even after vacuuming, as the salt seems to now be ingrained.
The oven is full of delightful dishes offering up heavenly aromas.
The stove has simmering and bubbly pots of savory goodness.
The table is set,
Round I may begin.

The phone rings.
“JULIE?”
Hey, dad are y’all almost here?
Dad yells into his cell phone as if I’m on another continent and the connection is poor.
“NO, WE’RE LOST AGAIN”
Ugh…are you freaking kidding me?

They got lost last time.

They’ve only been coming here to this house for the past 14 years several
times a year.
Gloria is not one for the interstate–an hour’s drive takes her 3 hours as she likes
to go by way of Tennessee to get to our house.
“Where are you, Dad?”
“THE SAME BAKERY WE STOPPED AT LAST TIME”

“Tell Gloria to stay were y’all are and I’ll be there in just a bit”

I cut off the oven and everything on the stove, grab my keys, and off I go.
I find them sitting in the parking lot of an empty bakery and just like the commercial,
I roll down my window and holler, “FOLLOW ME”

We won’t talk about Dad sneaking a drink of his favorite libation,
of which he’s not supposed to have, and then of him practically falling asleep
in his plate, but at 86 I can’t scold him too badly.
Or of him biting into a chocolate turkey and breaking his partial.
Or of the hour drive here which takes them 3 hours and yet they refuse
for us to come pick them up.

We won’t talk about round 2 when our son and his fiancé came for dinner and of
how he and his dad got into a fuss over money and school at the table.
We won’t talk about my husband dreading opening his business tomorrow as the madness
known as “black Friday” brings him such discontent.
Or of how hard it is to run a business and not conform to being open on holidays
and on Sundays, as nothing remains sacred in this country.
We won’t talk about the things that worry us as parents for our children
or as grown children for our aging parents or of how we will manage to make ends meet
for them as well as for us and of what the new year will bring to the business.

There’s so much not to talk about and yet there is so much that needs talking about…
as in my being so so grateful…grateful for the fact that I still have my dad,
that he and Gloria still manage to visit despite getting lost;
that my husband who has worked so very hard to make his business survive given our
country’s economy keeps tirelessly working to make it a go;
that I was able to retire after 31 years of teaching to “tend” to this family of mine;
grateful that our son can attend college and that he will be taking the LSAT next weekend;
grateful that I can have food on the table which is lovingly prepared to share despite
brining disasters;
grateful that there could be new rugs; grateful that I have a family,
for good or bad, who loves and supports one another the best way it knows how.

So on this day of reflection and of Thanksgiving,
with the clear knowledge that God has blessed me and that He has blessed
all of us beyond measure, it is with a grateful heart,
I say AMEN!!

to be saved, we must first lose

But there must be a real giv­ing up of the self.
You must throw it away ​“blind­ly” so to speak.
Christ will indeed give you a real per­son­al­i­ty:
but you must not go to Him for the sake of that.
As long as your own per­son­al­i­ty is what you are both­er­ing about you are not going to Him at all.

C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity


(scene from The Chosen when Jesus heals Mary)

To be saved, we must first lose.

The concept of losing doesn’t make much sense to the mind of a 21st-century individual.
Especially to a 21st century American…losing is not something Americans are accustomed to.
Nor is it a concept on the minds of many Americans who are busy with protesting
rioting and looting…losing is not on their radar.

Burdened by so much that is taking place around this pain-racked Nation of ours,
I turned to a new devotional written by the writers of The Chosen.

The following was the entry for Day 3:

To save our lives, we must lose them.

That’s a mind-bender, for sure, but clearly vital to understand.
Jesus said it to the disciples after they’d already dropped everything to
follow Him from town to town.
They sacrificed their careers, homes, and relationships for the man
they believed was the Messiah.
Life as they knew it had turned upside down,
but more would be required of them, and Jesus was doubling down.
He knew what lay ahead. He knew He was leaving.
And He knew they would become pillars of the early church,
in charge of spreading the truth about salvation to the world,
disciplining the masses, and claiming Christ in the face of imprisonment, torture, and death.
They would lose their lives on earth—figuratively and literally–
for the sake of all they would gain in heaven.

And they did it well because their testimonies,
their personal stories of what Jesus had said and done,
were potent demonstrations of His transformative love and power in their lives.
They shared the gospel with an unstoppable, contagious, relentless passion that—
to be honest–seems kind of rare these days.

How come?
Well for starters, they weren’t in love with themselves or their own stories.
They weren’t branding their Christian narratives for maximum personal benefit,
approval, or sump[athy…or for clicks or likes.
They weren’t assigning themselves the hero role or belaboring their “before Christ”
dysfunction with all its juicy, sensationalistic tidbits.
When you look at biblical examples it’s amazing how few words are given to their broken pasts–
the almost exclusive focus is on Jesus.

Take Mary Magdalene.
The fact that she was delivered from seven demons is a crucial aspect of her
testimony because it showcases Jesus’authority and why she responded to Him
the way sed did.
And then that’s it.
That’s all the detail we need to know.
In other words, her autobiography wouldn’t have been titled
The Dark Years with three hundred pages dedicated to describing the monsters within.
Fascinating?
Sure.
But powerful and effective and glorifying to the one who rescued her?
Not so much.
There’s a reason we meet Mary subsequent to her healing—because that’s where the real story is.

There are a few other things we know about her:
(1) she followed Jesus and financially supported His ministry until His crucifixion,
which means she gave everything she had to follow Him;
(2)she endured the crucifixion and stayed close to Jesus while He suffered and died;
and
(3) as mentioned in “Delivered”, she was the first person He appeared to after
He rose from the dead, and she was the one He sent to tell the disciples
the universe-altering news.
All because the old was gone and dead.
Jesus had given her new life.

Which means that even if you’ve been a believer for all of ten minutes,
those minutes are entirely more relevant than the twenty, forty,
or eighty years of darkness prior to your conversion.
Reason being, we’re called to represent Jesus and to die to the lives
He saved us from. When we do that, and when He stays the hero of the story,
our words and lives become real-time, potent demonstrations of
His transformative love and power.

The Chosen
40 Days With Jesus

I am Peter…

Then Jesus said to Simon,
“Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for men.”

Jesus speaking to Simon Peter
Luke 5:10


(the actor Shahar Issac who plays Simon Peter in the series The Chosen)

I could be Legion—a devil hoard
I could be the Magdalene—an abused self loather
I could be Judas—a misguided traitor
I could be Matthew—selfish and financially driven
I could be Peter—willful, defiant, sarcastic, and hopelessly lost…

I could be, or better yet… I am each and every one of these.
We all are, are we not?

These thoughts came to me this afternoon as I propped my phone on the kitchen counter
to watch Episode 4 of The Chosen while I was readying supper and waiting on
the arrival of some friends.

The app has been sitting on the screen of my phone now for months–
ever since I first saw the story about this unusual movie series and actually
shared its story here, with you.

And yet it’s simply sat, untouched.

Time you know.

Carving out roughly an uninterrupted 40 minute moment has not, up until most recently,
been possible.
And it is for me to remember that it is indeed sitting there on my phone.

To remember that all I must do is to look down and see the tiny face of Nicodemas
staring at me each time I look at my phone, swiping through the various screens.
He stares up at me, with a sideways yet knowing look as if to say, Julie,
click and watch another episode won’t you?

And then my attention finds its original quest, or a new chore calls even louder.

These past months, now weeks which are turning into endless days, have been
more than overwhelming for all of us.

A virus, death, pandemonium, lockdowns, the shuttering of life…
and now the madness of a devolving civilization is heaped on top
of an already surreal moment in time.
Embers piled upon older embers.
Reigniting the flames.

And yet this afternoon, in my kitchen, chopping squash, I am reminded…
I am Peter.
Or was that Matthew?
What of Mary…
or worse, might I be Judas?

But thankfully, I have not yet traded my soul for gain.
Or have I done so inadvertently?

And thus I am reminded…
He calls…

He calls not simply Simon bar Jonah the poor fisherman, or Matthew the
greedy taxman or Mary the broken and abused or even Judas the traitor…
He’s calling me.
He’s calling us all.
Now.
Today.

Will I listen to Him or will I allow the misery of our times to consume me?

My angry, depressed, and most bewildered heart…?

Pierce my heart for your sake oh Lord…

https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen

We joke, we laugh, we speculate…but…

“Will you come with me to the mountains?
It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened.
Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.
But will you come?”

C.S. Lewis


(the blooming quince / Julie Cook / 2020)

I can’t say how this will all play out…how it will all end.

I think, however, I can speak for all of us in saying that we beg that it end.

We laugh at those online videos, those memes shared…
because we know that misery loves company.

We try so desperately to make light while trying so hard to laugh in our
seemingly unified endless misery.

Yet throughout all of this we must remember…
there are those who have suffered.

Those who have…
Suffered the loss of income.
Suffered the loss of livelihood.
Suffered the loss of stability.
Suffered the loss of wellbeing.
Suffered the loss of health.
Suffered the loss of life.

Let us keep in our prayers and hearts those who have lost…

Now when Jesus saw the crowds,
he went up on a mountainside and sat down.
His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
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.

Matthew 5:1-12

Prayers for Australia

“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get
us involved in His plan for the answer.
If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf
of the people for whom we pray.”

Corrie ten Boom


(Newsweek)
The map shows active fires across the country of Australia as of 9:14 p.m. AEDT, January 6, 2020
GOOGLE MAPS / MY FIRE WATCH

Day in and day out, I am overwhelmed when watching the news reports regarding the
constant fires raging across the land of our brethren down under.

Simply put, Australia is on fire.

Millions and millions of acres are now burned and scorched.
Thousands of homes are now gone.
Thousands of people are now homeless, having lost everything.
There have been at least two dozen fatalities.
Thousands will suffer the health effects of breathing in air from the ash-laden skies.
And there are an estimated half a billion (480 million) animals killed.
Read that again…half a billion.

Many surviving animals are severely burned and wounded—many are being cared
for at various facilities around the country.

As Corrie Ten Boom reminds us in her quote—when we pray for others,
God will draw us into the answer—in some capacity or other.

Frustratingly it doesn’t seem as if there is anything I can do from here in Georgia
to help those affected by the fires in Australia…
So I researched for various charities and aid
foundations that are taking donations.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/118605092/australian-bush-fires-how-to-help-watching-a-continent-burn-from-our-skies-we-can-all-do-something

I know we must be careful when making credit card donations to various sites on-line
so if you decide you want to do so—make certain the site is reputable.

Normally I would donate to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army but those donations
will go into their general crisis aid accounts—
I wanted something that would be specific to Australia.

I opted for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
for their rescue efforts of the native wildlife.
But St Vincent’s is also a good choice to help with providing food, shelter and clothing
for those individuals who have lost everything.

May the fires be extinguished.

“True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that
seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude
toward that person or circumstance.
People describe intercession by saying, “It is putting yourself in someone else’s place.”
That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place;
it is having His mind and His perspective.”

Oswald Chambers

I know our problem


(sun coming up /Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

I’ve been chatting a great deal, as of late, about the current state of events
taking place around this Nation of ours.

Not a great deal of positives to report–or so say the news outlets…
or so say many of us average observers.

Because according to anything newsy, the sky is falling, the Russians are coming,
the White Supremacists are already here, everyone is a racist and if you support the
President of the United States of America, you are to be immediately outed via all things social media,
shamed, tarred, feathered and branded a deplorable, annihilated and readily destroyed…
plain and simple.
Heck, they wanted to make a movie about that very thing.

100 years ago such news would have been met with shrieks of laughter or the
hushed tones of berating to never say such heresy.

Sigh.

The other thing I’ve been chatting on and off about is the state of the Chruch
(be it the Chruch on either side of the pond)—
As in there’s been a big sell-out by denominations and clergy…all opting to follow the culture
gods and not the God of all Creation.

Happy happy is the key.
Abortions are okayed.
Same-sex marriages are approved, as well as happily conducted in sanctuary after sanctuary.
Gay clergy are a-okay.
Transgenderism is embraced.
The biological concept of male and female is now passe as gender is a fluid notion.
The traditional family is a cumbersome dinosaur and considered obsolete.
Males are to be neutered all because we no longer like strong male figures in the world.
Intolerance is the new tolerance.
Violence is the end to whatever means…
all the while the Chruch turns a blind eye or jumps in willing, into the thick of it all.

Yep, things seem all topsy turvy if you ask me.

And so I think I’ve finally figured out the problem.

At first, I thought the problem was simply that we had become an angry people.

Think Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Neo-Nazis…or even the angry progressive liberal news…
However, I think I’ve actually narrowed things down beyond the mere angry component.

Yes, we are indeed an angry people but that is just a result of our real problem.

The real problem is that we have lost The Sacred.

We have lost our understanding of The Sacred.

We have lost our longing for The Sacred.

We have lost the reality of our very need for The Sacred.

But here’s the thing, The Sacred has not lost us.
Never has.
Never will.

But for us, on the other hand…well…we lost The Sacred like we lose our keys.

We put Him down and can’t seem to remember where we put Him.

And if the truth be told, we don’t care if we find Him or not.

We’ve become so consumed by ourselves that we’ve squeezed the space The Sacred occupied
till there is no space left.

We are smug and arrogant, powered by tremendous appetites and egos…and yes, anger.

And yet I dare must ask… exactly how happy are you?
How content?
How at peace?

And so here’s the thing…it’s not too late to make room in that overly crowded
discontented space.

It will take, however, a little humbling,
a little letting go of that ego and of course that anger…and a simple,
“Dear Father, please hear me…”

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy,
and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

There is never coincidence, not even in the dark of night

“And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck,
but everything by God’s wise providence …
for matters that have been in God’s foreseeing wisdom,
since before time began, befall us suddenly,
all unawares; and so in our blindness and ignorance we say that this is accident or luck,
but to our Lord God it is not so.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(Pieta in The Cathedral of Notre Dame / Paris, France /Julie Cook / 20118)

“Many of the saints tell us that these times of God-ordained ‘desolation’ or dryness
are very important times of growth if we persevere through them by exercising a deeper
faith, hope, and love.
It is particularly important, they tell us,
not to give up our spiritual practices but to remain faithful.
God in His wisdom knows how long and how deeply we must be tried in order to come closer to Him,
and we should patiently trust Him during the trial while persevering in our practices.”

Ralph Martin, p.174
An Except From
Fulfillment of all Desire

With God, there are no accidents.
Never.

Even when, in our thinking, a near-irreparable tragedy, of which is a true accident and is
nonetheless horrific and simply unbearable…leaves both our lives and bodies shattered…

We are reminded that God is still very much present.

Yet such a reminder, to those who are living in and with the aftermath,
rings often empty and even bitterly insulting.

Our pain and our anger are both agonizingly palpable.

Yet such moments, more often than not, send even the most staunch religious
and spiritual among us into the depths of deep darkness.
A wasteland of sorrow, loneliness, bitterness and yes, a gnawing and seething anger…

The wasteland can last, for what can seem, an eternity.

Or…on the other hand…perhaps there was no accident…no tragedy…

There was no particular impetus for a sudden wandering into the wasteland of an empty soul…

We simply find ourselves, our souls, suddenly and oddly empty and cold.

At best, our faith remains shallow…
At worst, our faith seems lost forever…

However, we are reminded to hold fast.

To hold on.

Words, which to the hurting, the lost, the lonely, more often than not,
echo of emptiness and even the trite.

It will take a conscious act of totally emptying oneself to all that is.
It will take a complete letting go of all that we know and hold dear.
It will take a blind leap of faith.
It will take a willingness to trust in that which we cannot see while we cling to
a promise given to each of us long ago.

We have a choice…
we can choose to remain lost, bitter or angry.
Or we can cling to the one promise we have…

Be not afraid…

The tragedy, the accident, the sorrow which could not, cannot be prevented…
nor that of the painful results, while one seems to remain caught in the vicious cycle
of pain both physical and spiritual, that results from such situations…
is ours to either keep and hold on to or to let go of while we figure out how to find our way back…home

That is our choice, our conscious decision.

There are no accidents with God, no coincidence.
And when in the desert, He remains steadfast despite a perceived silence.

I say all of this as I am in the midst of reading a book that is a tale
of the horrific, the unthinkable, the unimaginable and yet a tale
of the hope, the healing, and the Saving Grace…
of which far outweighs that of the Evil.

More on this story as time allows.

It does indeed seem empty to say to those who suffer the unimaginable that they must simply
hold on and hold tight…
but that is exactly what we all must be willing to do…
and to “will” ourselves takes a conscious act…

Something Beautiful Happened
A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil
by Yvette Manessis Corporon

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
“All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Isaiah 41:10-13