bring an empty heart

“It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect through trial and suffering.
Only by carrying the Cross can one reach the Resurrection.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(fall leaves doing what they do, fall / Julie Cook / 2020)

Reading the late great archbishop’s words…I would imagine that some readers don’t
much care for the notion of man’s enduring trials and suffering while on this earth…
that of carrying the Cross…with each as a means of reaching the final end goal—
that of our being Resurrected with Christ.

We don’t like to think that we are meant to carry a cross, that we are meant
to suffer or endure…a loving God should want us happy and content right??
A loving God shouldn’t allow those He created and supposedly loves to suffer
or to encounter pain, violence, or be handed a heavy cross to bear…

yet…

What we need to remember is that we live in a fallen world.
Sin shadows our every move.
In our lifetime we will each experience various trials.
Avoiding them as best we try, trials will still come regardless of our vain attempts
to keep them at bay.

However, our best recourse is to rid ourselves of ourselves…
To sever our ties to the trappings of this earth.
To completely empty our hearts.

For it is in that emptying, as St Liguori reminds us, that we are allowed
be open ourselves for the filling of the Holy Spirit.

We must detach ourselves from ourselves and from the world in order to save ourselves.

And it is only through following Christ, first to Golgatha then to that empty
tomb, that we will find our true peace and joy and everlasting life.

“The heart cannot exist without love; it will love either God or creatures.
If it does not love creatures, it certainly will love God.
In order to become holy, we must therefore banish from our heart all that is not for God.
When anyone came to the Fathers of the desert and desired to be received by them he was asked:
‘Do you bring an empty heart that it may be filled by the Holy Ghost?’
And they were right, for a heart that is filled with the things of earth has no room
for the love of God.
He who brings a vessel filled with earth to the spring will never be able to fill it
with water until he empties it of the earth with which it is filled.
How does it happen that so many pray and go frequently to Holy Communion and still make
no considerable progress in the love of God?
The reason is doubtless because the heart is full of self-esteem, of vanity, of self-will,
and of attachment to creatures.
He, therefore, who wishes to arrive at the perfect love of God must practice poverty in spirit.
He must be detached from worldly possessions, from temporal honors,
from his fellow creatures, and from himself.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 114-5
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

***off for a few days in order to find a few more falling leaves with the Mayor and the Sheriff

To the place where God is hidden

“Faith and love are like the blind man’s guides.
They will lead you along a path unknown to you,
to the place where God is hidden.”

St. John of the Cross


(mushrooms found along my walk in the woods / Julie Cook / 2020)

The point is simply that without God’s grace we cannot be good.
Without love, justice turns to cruelty.
Without hope, courage turns to blind despair.
Without faith, this-worldly wisdom is foolishness to God.
The two levels, natural and supernatural, hang together.

Peter Kreeft
from Back to Virtue

the soul humbles herself…

“Our perfection does not consist of doing extraordinary things,
but to do the ordinary well.”

St. Gabriel Possenti


(Julie Cook / 2020)


(Julie Cook / 2020)


(Julie Cook / 2020)*

“No human motive should lead us to pray:
neither routine, nor the habit of doing as others do, nor a thirst for spiritual consolations.
No, we should go to prayer to render homage to God.
It is not, however, a common-place visit of propriety,
nor a conversation without any precise object;
we want to obtain from Him some definite spiritual good,
such or such progress in the uprooting of some vice, in the acquisition of some virtue.
We have, therefore, a purpose upon which we are bent, and all our considerations,
affections, petitions, and resolutions should combine for its attainment.
God is there, surrounding us and penetrating us;
but we were not, perhaps, thinking of this.
We must, therefore, withdraw our powers from the things of the earth,
gather them together, and fix them upon God;
thus it is we place ourselves in His presence.
Naturally, we approach Him by saluting Him with a profound and humble act of adoration.
In presence of so much greatness and holiness,
the soul perceives herself to be little and miserable;
she humbles herself, purifies herself by an act of sorrow;
apologizes for daring to approach a being of so lofty a majesty.
Powerless to pray as she should, she represents her incapacity to God,
and begs the Holy Ghost to help her to pray well.”

Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey, p. 91
An Excerpt From
The Ways of Mental Prayer

(Fall’s wild persimmons hang and fall from the tree)

‘patches of Godlight’

“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could
never get from reading books on astronomy.
These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’
in the woods of our experience.”

C.S. Lewis


(shelf fungus oddly existing on the dry red dirt of Georgia / Julie Cook / 2020)

I think we need to go to the woods.
Why?
Because we need a diversion from ourselves.

I am oh so weary from the vitriol and hatred that is eclipsing our senses.

We need to be reminded that we are truly small and that there is a world out there that is
actually much greater than ourselves.

We actually need to be put back in the food chain in order to grasp
the bigger picture—-
however sadly, we tend to run in the realm of human predation…so what can I say.

Let’s get out of our cities, our lockdowns, our narrowmindedness.
Let’s get out from under the bickering and hatred racing around our lives.
Let’s go to the woods…

But before we actually get into the woods, we’ve got to park the truck.
We’ve got to start walking…
and here’s what we see before we even get into the woods…

We see a lone downy turkey feather covered in the morning dew…


(turkey feather covered in dew / Julie Cook / 2020)


(detail of turkey feather covered in dew / Julie Cook / 2020)

Before we venture much further, before we leave the rutted red dusty path and diverge
into the thick stand of trees and vines, we see a carpet of dew-covered netted webs…


(a spider web covered in the dew / Julie Cook / 2020)


(detail of dew covering a spider web/ Julie Cook / 2020)

More tomorrow when we finally venture readily and willingly deep into another world…

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 55:8-9

humility of the heart

“Love proves itself by deeds, and how shall I prove mine? …
I can prove my love only by scattering flowers, that is to say,
by never letting slip a single little sacrifice, a single glance, a single word;
by making profit of the very smallest actions, by doing them all for love.
I want to suffer and even rejoice for love, for this is my way of scattering flowers.”

St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 4-5
An Excerpt From
The Story of a Soul


(wildflowers at the beach /Julie Cook / 2020)

“The true reason for which God bestows so many graces upon the humble is this,
that the humble are faithful to these graces and make good use of them.
They receive them from God and use them in a manner pleasing to God,
giving all the glory to Him, without reserving any for themselves…
It is certainly true that he who is humble is also faithful to God,
because the humble man is also just in giving to all their due, and above all,
in rendering to God the things that are God’s; that is,
in giving Him the glory for all the good that he is,
all the good that he has and for all the good that he does;
as the Venerable Bede says:
‘Whatever good we see in ourselves, let us ascribe it to God and not to ourselves.’
To give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received and are continually
receiving is an excellent means of exercising humility,
because by thanksgiving we learn to acknowledge the Supreme Giver of every good.
And for this reason it is necessary for us always to be humble before God.
St. Paul exhorts us to render thanks for all things and at all times:
‘In all things give thanks.’ (1 Thess. 5:18).
‘Giving thanks always for all things.’ (Eph. 5:20).
But that our thanksgiving may be an act of humility it must not only come
from the lips but from the heart, with a firm conviction that all good comes
to us through the infinite mercy of God.”

Rev. Cajetan da Bergamo, p. 87-8
An Excerpt From
Humility Of Heart

timing is not mine

Truth has no special time of its own.
Its hour is now – always.

Albert Schweitzer


(a very fearful and shy visitor / Julie Cook/ 2020)

Time has never been my own.

It is not mine, nor is it yours.

Time is truly not any of ours to claim.
Time is beyond control.
It is beyond ‘our’ control.

And guess what…we humans don’t like that.

So what that all means is that “things” happen.
They happen whether we like it or not.

We have two cats.

Both cats were rescue cats.
Cats who found us to rescue them rather
than our finding them to rescue.

Now whereas most folks go to a shelter or have a friend who contacts them regarding
a found stray animal, we had two animals who actually found us.
Each about 7 years apart.

They sought us out.
We did not go looking for them.

Percy, who was in dire straits at just about a month old, was in the most desperate of shape.
Peaches, on the other hand, was about 8 months old, wandering alone in a back field,
and was very very hungry.

They were in need and each one had some innate drive which brought them to where they
each believed help would come.

Help came.
Love came.

Fast forward to present day.

Two days ago, I saw a dark blur dash across our front porch.
Huh?
What the heck??

I told my husband about seeing this odd blur and he told me that he meant to tell me
that he’d also seen a dark blur race across the back patio that he thought was certainly
a cat.

UGH! was my response.

We live on 5 acres in a mostly rural area with a few subdivisions nearby.
Stray animals, obviously, are not strangers to our area.

So I poked around the yard, bent over nearly on my head peeking through the lattice
covering our front porch, when low and behold, up under that front porch, first,
I heard a small mew and then I could make out two small ears.

UGH…agian
Oh, did I mention Percy has blown out his other back knee and really needs another
expensive and ardrous surgery??

This kitten, who appears to be part calico, is not like Peaches or Percy, whereas he, she, it
is not necessarily seeking us out–it has merely taken up residence in the dirt under my front porch.

I sumise that it is about 3 months old.

And yes, as you can see from the pictures, I have obviously offered free food and water.
Call me a softie but St. Francis is constantly whispering in my ear…

A friend of mine told me that her sister would take the kitten.
The problem is that I can’t “get” the kitten.

It is so skittish that I can’t get near it.

I tried yesterday…as it readily ate the food I offered, to pet its head after I coaxed it out
from under the porch…
.
I thought I had a perfect moment and tried to scoop it up, wraping it in a towel
as I hoped to move it to a cage that I’d set up with food, water, a litter box and cushion
until I could transport it to my friend’s sister.

And that’s when it bit me.

It then jumped and ran.

Great.

Rabis or cat scratch fever…maybe worms.
UGH!

So needless to say, the kitten ran and remains under our porch.
I continue to place dry food and water near the front porch in the evening
and by morning, each have disappeared.
Call me a sucker.
But like I say, St. Francis speaks loudly in my heart and soul.

So this story of three different cats, each needing and wanting, got me thinking about us
as humans both wanting and needing.

Sometimes we humans go forth needing…we seek because whe innately know we need.
Yet at other times we are needing but we dare not acknowledge such…I think we call that
hubris and pride.

Yet God, our Father, knows of both our needs and wants.

He is the consumate Gentleman.
He’ll place the food and water out by the porch..knowing we’ll come out
at some point, in the cover of darkness, in order to find our necessary sustenance…
but He will not force us out to take what He offers.

He is patient, dilentgly waiting.

He’s been bitten more times than can be counted…yet He still puts out
the sustenance, that being His own Son, and continues to sit and wait on the steps…
waiting with open arms…
He knows His children and He waits until they can actually figure their needs and wants.

Sometimes they, we, will readily come out from under that porch.
Sometimes they, we, will never come out.
Sometimes they, we, know their needs.
Sometimes they, we, know their wants.
Sometimes they, we, are humble enough to seek out what we know we need.

He will never force us…
He just patiently waits.

I’m thankful He waits.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18

Wooowhoooo!!!!!!! Listen up my frustrated friends…we’ve found the fix!

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
Nicolas Chamfort


(a long sought after item for the Mayor, her Peppa muddy puddle boots / Julie Cook / 2020)

I really didn’t have a good picture to represent “joy” for today’s post
except for these muddy puddle jumpers—and trust me, they represent great joy for the Mayor.

We have searched high and low for some Peppa boots…Peppa happens to be the
Mayor’s number one love at the moment. It was Elsa from Frozen, and of course Vee from
Vamparina, and now it’s a silly little British pig who loves to jump in muddy puddles.

And thus, it was pure joy when she saw that “mom” (aka me) had gotten her a present
of Peppa boots.

But I’m really the one today who is full of complete joy.

Why you ask?

Well, Tricia from over on Freedom Through Empowerment told me how to find the old classic
posting page for Word Press.
And so I did as instructed and Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, it worked!!!

So Oneta, listen up—this will make your day!!!!!!

This is from Tricia:
“Someone pointed out to me that if you go into WP Admin and click on posts,
in the upper left corner, there is an “add new” tab and it gives you the classic option.
It seems to work but I’m sure once WP figures this out it will disappear too.”

I did it and wooooowhooo, it worked!!!!!!
For how long is anyone’s guess, but for now, I am at peace.

Isn’t it funny how one little simple thing can make such a
huge difference in the ebb and flow of peace versus anxiety?!

I think such a simple joy has a great deal to do with our lives this year.
It has been such a heavy burdened year for all of us and so, I believe,
it is the little things that can really bring us the greatest joy.

Here’s to the little things in our lives and here’s to joy.
And here’s to Tricia’s impending nuptials…
Joy all the way around!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Yard sale…but more importantly, prayers

We’ve spent weeks purging and sorting.
And thus the BIG sale is today!

But…

What is most important today is that we need to think of and offer
our prayers for The Frist Family as they now battle COVID 19.

I am both incensed and angry that there are many Americans who are wishing ill
of the President and his wife…that there are people who are actually gleefully
hoping for a fellow human being to not only succumb to illness but to actually die.

When does the hope of death become the rallying cry of any advanced society?

We have become an abysmal lot when we have lost our humanness.

I would normally note that we are an abysmal society, but to use the
word society would be too gracious.
A society does not wish for the death of others but rather it bans together
working toward the betterment of the whole.

So I offer my prayers for healing and restored health for our President
and the First Lady.

I pray for our Nation…I pray that it can learn, or perhaps re-learn, what it means
to be a cohesive body that is concerned for each member of her whole.

I pray that she may regain her love for each neighbor.

I pray for physical healing as well as collective healing.

May God have mercy on the United States.
And may the United States remember what mercy is all about.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Can’t you see? Not exactly.

Can’t you see (I’m gonna take a freight train) can’t you see
(I’m down at the station lord) what that woman (ain’t never gonna go back) been doin’ to me
Can’t you see oh can’t you see (gonna ride me the southbound)
(All the way to Georgia) what that woman (till the train run out of track) been doin’ to me

Marshal Tucker Band 1973


(from N-lightenment.com)

Ok, I’m diverging today entirely from any topic we’ve been riding lately.
Driving basically off the cliff and jumping the tracks of all subject matter.
No politics.
No debate observations.
No current civil unrest rants.
No religious tit for tat…
Something entirely off track.

That Marshal Tucker Band song up above, that I’ve allowed to open this post,
is from my youthful days of high school and it came racing to my mind
yesterday morning.
It came after I’d woken from the longest and oddest dream I think I can ever
remember having.

Now, remember I’ve been fighting the withdrawals from my HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
for almost 3 months.
There has been NO, I repeat, NO sleep worth mentioning in all that time—
only insomnia and rolling hot flashes on and on all night long.

I begged my doctor to do something.
Yes begged and pleaded actually…that’s how bad me not sleeping becomes.
Reluctantly she put me back on the HRT but it is a dose fit for a mere ant.
And an ant’s dose isn’t doing me any good.

So yes, me without any real consequential sleep is not pretty.
Just ask my long-suffering husband.
He now gets very little sleep as well because all I do is toss and turn and
kick off covers all night long.

So the night before last, I doubled the CBD oil dose (yes the doctor said she
hears it helps with hot flashes but I take it for IBS and no it is not
helping with the hot flashes) plus doubled my IBS meds.

And so I actually slept without fighting my hormonal self.
Maybe I had drugged myself…but I digress.

But in that sleep came that bizarre dream.

They say that dreams are actually quite brief but I swear this particular dream went
on all night.
Even when I’d groggily come to some sort of consciousness,
I’d quickly tell the dream part of my brain to let it keep playing out because
I wanted to see how it all ended.

I believe that dreams are a mixed bag.

I believe God can speak to us in our dreams.
I believe that the devil can speak to us in our dreams…which are more like nightmares
but again, I digress.
And I believe we can speak to ourselves in our dreams.

So this dream had a younger me and an old childhood friend galivanting about.
I’ve not seen this friend of mine in years so that was the first odd thing.
Plus we were more like our younger teenage selves.

Next, we ran into a former President and first lady.
Now that is really odd because I’ve not thought much of this presidential duo
in several years. A bit of a past president but not too long ago.
Think W and Laura…
And I usually don’t think that much about presidents, let alone first ladies.

There was a woman who I think was actually that first lady.
She was kind and soft-spoken.
In the dream, something bad had happened to her,
a terrible betrayal and I had known about it.
And I felt terrible for her.
Yet there was nothing I could have done to stop it as I realized the trauma when she had–
that being after the fact.
Yet I ached for her anyway.

I can remember looking at her and she looking at me—so I impulsively took her in my arms to
hug her and offer comfort.
Not that I’m a big hugger in real life, but I do hug those who I feel are in need.
People who hurt do need hugs, but overall I’m not touchy-feely.

However, it was the look on her face, the love in her eyes towards me,
and her embrace of me that was what got to me.
Now granted her face is not the face of the real first lady in question.
Dreams work that way…you think it’s a real person but the faces are
never quite what we actually know them to be.

I woke almost with tears in my eyes.
And then started ruminating.
And then the Marshal Tucker Band song just revved up, playing in my head.
And no, the CBD oil does not contain any THC!
This craziness is all me and me alone.

Now we all know that I’m adopted.
We all know how that crazy story played out as I’ve written at length about
being adopted and having learned the identity (sort of) of my birth parents
all these many years later— written just last year.

I know who my biological father was—and from everything I’ve heard, he was a
good and kind man.

My birth mother on the other hand, who is, yes, still living, has not been as kind.
She let her lawyer inform a social worker that I was in the past and that
was where I was to stay.

And I was like, ‘Ok, you’re what…84? and I’m almost 61??…so yeah,
I’ll just stay in that past.’
Paaaallleeeezzzze.

Anyway, I did come to a peace about all of that a while back…something I’d also written
about…so it’s good to have all this material to write about I suppose.

But what I knew from this dream was that something deep inside of me yearns for that
sort of love that I saw in that woman’s eye for me and felt in her embrace.
Something I’ve never seen or felt before.
Nope never.
A deep abiding, unconditional love of a mother to her child.
And all I know is that I wanted it…or shall we say, want it.

Yep, you read it— a 61-year-old sleep-deprived woman is pining for a mother’s love.
Go figure!?!

And yes, I’ve written about this before as well…my adopted mom and I,
before her premature death to cancer at 53, had had a fractious relationship while
I was growing up—especially when I was a teenager.
But I don’t know too many moms and daughters who delight in one another
during said teenage years…
We were much closer when she suddenly got sick and died prematurely.

As that angst-driven teen, I was headstrong, stubborn, and detached from both my mom and my family.
Our family was a dysfunctional hot mess and I resented every minute of it.

I’ve written about that too…
all about my brother’s mental illness and his inability to cope
with his having been adopted…and thankfully we were not biologically related.
So you would think I’d quit having these random, out of the blue, type dreams…
but nooooooo.

And no I don’t need therapy.
I have been prayed over long ago for healing and healing came.

But to still want that sort of love is not to simply be dismissed
or even purged.
There’s something there and it keeps knocking
at a deep door in my being.

It’s a good thing to want love and to be loved.
I don’t think there’s a whole lot of that running around this country of ours these days.

So maybe that’s it.
God is bringing the idea of unconditional love to the forefront of my thoughts
because we are all living knee-deep in divisive hate.
And no, that is NOT the fault of the sitting president…it is
the fault of every human being who is ranting and raving these days.

So yes, I still yearn for that embrace.
Just as I still yearn to see that look of love in some unknown mother’s eye.

And I suspect, one day…I will both see and feel that look and that embrace…

So here’s to love.
Ture abiding love…

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16

no greater love…

“At the time of the liberation of the camps,
I remember, we were convinced that after Auschwitz there would be no more wars,
no more racism, no more hatred, no more anti-Semitism.
We were wrong.
This produced a feeling close to despair.
For if Auschwitz could not cure mankind of racism, was there any chance of success ever?
The fact is, the world has learned nothing.
Otherwise, how is one to comprehend the atrocities committed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia…”

Elie Wiesel, Open Heart


Piotr Cywinski poses in front of barracks in Auschwitz, the former Nazi death camp –
WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Last evening, I randomly stumbled upon a story about the current director of
Auschwitz Memorial in Poland, Piotr Cywinski.
The story was offered by the Telegraph’s journalist Will Brown.
And boy, what a tidal wave that tiny obscure article has had on my heart.

There I was Tuesday evening glancing at my computer waiting on “THE” debate of the century…
I was being bombarded with all the hype regarding the debate and all the utter idiocy raging
across this land of ours when a certain storyline caught my eye.

“Auschwitz director offers to serve time in place of 13-year-old Nigerian
sentenced to 10 years for blasphemy”

It seems that there is a 13-year-old boy in Nigeria, Omar Farouq, who has been sentenced to
10 years in prison for violating Sharia law for speaking blasphemy.

Let that sink in…
a 13-year-old child is sentenced to a state prison for speaking blasphemy according
to Sharia law.

According to Wikipedia, Sharia law is (/ʃəˈriːə/, Arabic: شريعة‎ [ʃaˈriːʕah]),
is a religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition.
It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the hadith.
In Arabic, the term sharīʿah refers to God’s immutable divine law and is contrasted with
fiqh, which refers to its human scholarly interpretations.
The manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between
Muslim fundamentalists and modernists.

So naturally, the United Nations has expressed its outrage over this case…
but we’ve seen how their outrage has effected other egregious global actions before.

According to the Telegraph’s article,
“Kola Alapinni, Omar’s lawyer, told The Telegraph that the adolescent has been held
in a prison for adults and not been allowed to see any legal representation.
If Omar had been older, Mr. Alapinni says, he would have been sentenced to death.”

According to Reuters, “If a pardon was not possible,
Cywinski said he and 119 other volunteers would take on the boy’s punishment
and each spend a month in a Nigerian jail.

As the director of a memorial to a place “where children were imprisoned and murdered,
I cannot remain indifferent to this disgraceful sentence for humanity,”
he said in the letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, posted on the Memorial’s Twitter account.”

Two spokesmen for Nigeria’s president declined to comment on the unusual intervention on Saturday.

And so Mr. Cywinski, who has children the same age as Omar, has volunteered to take the boy’s place.
“There are some times we have to stop our own silence and try to do something.
It’s not enough to just like something on Facebook or retweet it.”

Mr. Cywinski has appealed to the Nigerian president, President Buhari,
knowing that he had visited the Auschwitz Memorial in 2018 and believes that that
visit has had to have had an impact on the President.

Mr. Cywinski has yet to hear a response from the Nigerian President.

And so as I currently listen to two men jabbering back and forth, mostly hatefully
to one another, all about the ills of our Nation…my thoughts are actually
being pulled to a small story about a Polish man wanting to take the place of
a young Nigerian boy that he’s never met, who is about to be sentenced to prison for
10 years for speaking contrary against Muslim law…
In the big scope of humanity…I think it is this small story that speaks
so much louder than two grown men calling one another names.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/auschwitz-director-offers-serve-time-185809700.html

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nigeria-crime-blasphemy/auschwitz-memorial-director-offers-to-share-nigerian-boys-blasphemy-jail-term-idUSKBN26H0OH

Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13