Going home…as it should be

Maybe that’s the best part of going away for a vacation-coming home again.
Madeleine L’Engle


(mom’s roses / Julie Cook / 2018)

Well…
for both happy and sad, today (yesterday in case you’re reading this today) has finally come.

The day for packing up and having to move from a temporary home back
to a real home has arrived…

This is the part of life’s story when being the adult, the grown-up, the parent,
the grandparent is one of the more difficult roles to play.
Life dictates that I’m supposed to be the one who knows what is best and
simply keep that stiff upper lip.

And so, reluctantly, I do.

We packed up and journeyed homeward.

A wreck, coupled by construction, on 285 had us sitting in traffic for over an hour.

Do you know what a screaming baby sounds like in a car stuck in the middle of
an interstate impasse?
A baby who is happy only as long as the car is moving??

I wanted to roll down the windows for all the truckers and cars alike—telling them this
is what I’m currently listening to so could everyone just please drive
like they’re supposed to!!!

Yet when we finally reached “home”, what a splendid greeting…
Mom’s little lone tea rose bush was in full bloom.

Blooms of anticipation for a great-granddaughter mom never meet here on earth but
who I know she has met long before I had even met my little one.

This wee one has finally come home…a home that was once mom’s home…
a home that was also once my own home.

What a most fitting welcome…

And so whereas I will miss these day to day moments of growth and change…

I know there’s just nothing like one’s own bed and one’s own space…
each providing a welcomed sense of peace

Sweet dreams my precious little wee one…

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Proverbs 3:24

an interesting tale…

dscn4469
(morning surf, Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

The following tale is taken from a writing by Madeleine L’Engle
Waiting for Judas

“There is an old legend that after his death Judas found himself at the bottom
of a deep and slimy pit.
For thousands of years he wept his repentance,
and when the tears were finally spent he looked up and saw, way, way up,
a tiny glimmer of light.
After he had contemplated it for another thousand years or so,
he began to try to climb up towards it.
The walls of the pit were dank and slimy, and he kept slipping backdown.
Finally, after great effort, he reached the top, and then he slipped
and fell all the way back down.
It took him many years to recover,
all the time weeping bitter tears of grief and repentance,
and then he started to climb up again.
After many more falls and efforts and failures he reached the top and
dragged himself into an upper room with twelve people seated around a table.
“We’ve been waiting for you, Judas” Jesus said.
“We couldn’t begin till you came”

I heard my son-in-law, Alan tell this story at a clergy conference.
The story moved me deeply.
I was even more deeply struck when I discovered that it was a story
that offended many of the priests and ministers there.
I was horrified at their offense.
Would they find me, too, unforgivable…

But God, the Good Book tells us, is no respecter of persons,
and the happy ending isn’t promised to an exclusive club.
It isn’t -face it- only for Baptists, or Presbyterians or Episcopalians.
What God began, God will not abandon.
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
God loves, everyone, sings the psalmist.
What has named will live forever Alleluia!

Madeleine L’Engle

It is indeed an interesting thought to consider that there was, could have actually been,
repentance, then forgiveness given…
to the one who seemingly sold his soul for thirty pieces of the silver for
the betrayal and life of God’s beloved son…
only to be followed by the taking of his own life by hanging over
the damning realization of his actions…

Who am I, steeped in the wretchedness of my own transgressions,
my own unworthiness, is to say, can say,
who is to be forgiven…and who is not…

An interesting tale indeed….

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;
who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked,
following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—-
among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh,
carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath,
like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy,
because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive
together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—-
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches
of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:1-10

living in the shadows

“Gregory of Nyssa points out that Moses’s vision of God began with the light, with the visible burning bush, the bush which was bright with fire and was not consumed; but afterwards, God spoke to him in a cloud. After the glory which could be seen with human eyes, he began to see the glory which is beyond and after light. The shadows are deepening all around us.”
Madeleine L’Engle

DSCN1189
(shadows cast on the grounds of Adare Manor / Adare, Co Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

While no one seems to take notice,
Distortions and false precepts gather around the faithful…
like opportunistic buzzards circling overhead …

All the while a noose tightens…

The hard truths have been concealed by the naive,
who with their blankets of all things happy,
dole out feel good prosaics offering only false hope…
numbing the reality of all those who prescribe.

Like a spider’s sticky web, the lies have been beautifully spun…

Reality was decided long ago yet it appears to be more than most care to bare…
So a heavy dish of falsehoods and half-truths have been offered up with limitless appeal

And now discernment must play a pivotal role.

Not all who follow claim the one and only Truth…
they’ve been chasing after the elusive shadows…
which disappear with the fading light

Judgement now dances a strange dance with confusion.

Time has arrived with its decisive ultimatum…
Choose Light
Choose the Life
or…
remain hidden within the shape shifting shadows of your own distorted illusion…

These are a shadow of the things that were to come;
the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Colossians 2:17

Achilles heel

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I like the fact that in ancient Chinese art the great painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work: human creation is never perfect.
Madeleine L’Engle

DSC01203
(our resident mockingbird / Julie Cook / 2015)

Achilles had his heel.
Hercules was tripped up by a lack of common sense.
Samson was lost without his hair.
David faltered over lust.

Many a great hero, real or imagined, throughout history have each possessed one foible, one glaring flaw, one true weakness or ailment that. . . more often than not. . .proves to be, if not the ultimate downfall, a true precursor to an often catastrophic stumble or hinderance.

And even if these said flaws of either body or character do not topple said hero, they can certainly allow others, those mere mortals, to see that even the greatest among us, on occasion, stumble and fall or at the very least struggle. Yet it is the mark of a truly great individual who can get back up, admit a frailty, battle on often publicly, all the while moving forward.

My achilles heel has always been my “gut”. . .
At 10 the doctors told my mom I had a “nervous” stomach.
Spending many an outing that should have been full of adventure and fun,
I sought the refuge of a bathroom while “dying” from sheer stomach cramps and the ensuring
disaster which usually followed suit.

Later it was called a spastic colon—a true medical term if ever I heard one, wink, wink.

By the time I went to college, it was given a fancier name, IBS.
A catchall phrase used by the medical community to tag patients who suffer from the unexplained and often debilitating bouts of the gut. My southern genteel ways prevent me from offering overt descriptions which border on the periphery of TMI, but trust me, it is not pleasant and can truly, for some, be life altering—in a not so good way.

My pediatrician sent me off to college with a bottle of Paregoric, a foul tasting liquid of the opiate family which, when I was young, was the go-to treatment for colicky babies and childhood stomach viruses. A most unpalatable teaspoon of Paregoric nipped the debilitating cramps, pain and subsequent visits to the loo, rapidly in the bud.

Sadly the FDA took Paregoric off the market years ago.
Funny that. . .the one drug that seemed to provide the best relief for suffers also was a most abused drug by those not exactly needing the drug for medicinal purposes. . .
Today there are a handful of prescriptions out there but they pale in comparison and 9 times out of 10 don’t always work for sufferers as each sufferer is not the same as the next with symptoms swinging and varying in opposite directions—this is not a one size fits all ailment.

However this post is not about guts, IBS or drugs. . .rather it is an observation concerning the flaws, weaknesses and “issues” all of us face on a daily basis, while, to the best of our abilities, putting all aside, in order to trudge forward in our lives attempting to make our worlds a better place.

For some of us it is the battle of addictions. . .for others it is the daily turmoil of physical impairments and handicaps. Others of us struggle with life altering medical conditions while others fight an endless war of weight. Some of us are hampered by mood swings and temperamental demeanors, while others find leaving the safety of home almost unbearable. The list is ad infinitum.

Each of us has an Achilles heel, an ailment, a weakness, a struggle– with some of us suffering from multiple ailments, weaknesses and flaws, which simply put, is our cross to bear throughout life.
Each “cross” is every bit aggravating, debilitating, painful, life altering, socially unacceptable, destructive, draining, exhausting, never-ending, frustrating as the next. . .yet for the most part we all work to get through them, one step at a time, one day at a time- – – just to make the most of our lives as well as for those lives that have been entrusted to us.

For a fortunate few, there maybe a remission, a cure, a healing, a conquering of these “afflictions”. . .yet for the majority, it is a life long struggle of adapting, praying, dealing, suffering, accepting, fighting. . .

The task is never easy. . .
often fraught with pain, lethargy, impairment, discomfort, embarrassment. . .
but we press on, always with our sights resting just on the horizon of possibilities. Maybe it is our nature as we are hardwired to move ever forward despite any chain or weight we carry shackled to our bodies.

It is hard.
It is exhausting.
It is lonely.
Yet we mere mortals, who are all heroes hidden in disguise, press forward. . .
it’s just what heroes do. . .


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Evening sky

In the evening of life we shall be judged on love, and not one of us is going to come off very well, and were it not for my absolute faith in the loving forgiveness of my Lord I could not call on him to come.
Madeleine L’Engle

IMG_0694
(a mid June evening sky in Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sweetly calm gentle evening sky;
A hush falls over the land.

Oppressive heat thankfully dissipates
as now soothing evening air eases weary minds

Gone for today is life’s hustle and bustle,
serenely replaced by an unseen artist’s muted tones

A heavy head leans against the window’s glass
while inquisitive eyes watch Peace lazily pass by

The road seemingly stretches endlessly onward
carrying way-ward travelers safely home

Rest now found in an evening sky
as serenity covers the earth