trying my soul

Leaves without flowers:
these are they which have words without works.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


(a soon to be blooming vine / Julie Cook / 2021)

Is it a coincidence that this week of all weeks, Holy Week, a week of the trying souls,
that WP is once again trying to make the new block editor the the only option for posting??
That the classic editor is becoming more and more elusive?
Perhaps my beloved classic editor is to be eliminated all together?
Is it not just a small microcosm, a random example of our current times?

The canceling, the exclusion, the elimination of the what was…
all for that ‘something’ that the powers that be deem to be so much other than
as well as better than…
something deemed to be more inclusive, and in turn, better?

But is all of that truly better?

Elusive and difficult, at best, is not better.

Does it matter that a portion of the population prefers what was???
Preferring that ‘what was’ is something that works best and better for others??
Or is it that ‘they’ and ‘it’ are both simply obsolete?

My husband and I ran to Home Depot today…a trip we make almost three times a week,
while we head to Lowes the other days of the week—
either way, we are in search of things needed for this new old home we’ve “inherited”
via purchase.
But let’s not go there today.

So I opted to sit in the car while my husband ran into the store.

While I sat in the car I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a notice that
The Chosen was offering their new trailer for the soon to be released Season 2.

The Chosen–that marvelous crowd funded show about the life of Jesus…via the
backstories of those who came in contact with the son of a carpenter…

I clicked on the trailer.

Isn’t it funny how God often desires to “speak” to us, His children, in places and in ways
we’d never imagine?
It matters not when nor where God opts to speak out loud to us–He will speak no matter
what or when!

He spoke to me today in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Athens, Ga.

I heard a resounding word—“your world is small, MY world is all encompassing.”

I looked at all the cars, all the folks pushing carts all around me…
Everyone was busy.
Life was on the move…and yet…
I had a resounding sense that all that I was seeing and experiencing was oh so small
and insignificant.

There was a true sense of peace in all of that.

All the news, all the mayhem, all the politics, all the legalities, all the pandemic..
all the madness taking place..none of it mattered…I felt a sudden sense of being
small and insignificant.

And in that insignificance, in that smallness…there was a release.
A peace found in the small…
No news
No storms
No politics
No laws
No division
No defunding police
No lawmakers
No masks
No vaccines
No trials
No hate
No death…

All bits and pieces of insignificance.

Our God…your God, my God..
Greater than anything of this world…
Greater than our own thoughts and imagination…
Thank goodness!!!

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son.
Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will,
because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—
that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—
you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why
I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

when the crud is not the crud and other odd phenomenons

“There is no such thing as moral phenomena,
but only a moral interpretation of phenomena”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil


(Dr. Seuss’s Sneeches)

There was a time when we would catch a cold, or more accurately the crud, as those sorts of symptoms
are lovingly referred to a catch all crud…you know the symptoms…
that of a sore scratchy throat,
a runny or stuffy nose, a post nasal drip
with a hacking or phlegmy sort of cough…
at times, it’s even accompanied by aches and / or light chills.

A typical winter visitor.

Nowadays however…those sorts of symptoms have folks looking at you a bit sideways.
Leary and skeptical as they step an extra 6 feet away.

“Did you just cough???” an alarmed voice practically shrieks.
Fever, do you have a fever???
Can you smell??—

Well if your nose is all clogged up and your sinuses are giving you fits, breathing,
let alone smelling, are both difficult at best.

Suddenly you feel the need to tie a bell around your neck.
You feel you’re living in Nathanial Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter…
although your letter is not a giant red A but rather the mark of the Covid beast.

Colds, sinus infections, even the flu are now all considered Covid unless otherwise noted
by a medical professional— and then people are still skeptical.
You saying you’ve gotten a cold or suffering from allergies is no longer good enough.

Folks want to tie you down and slam a giant swap up your nose.

I’ve had Covid and I’ve had a bad cold.
I know the difference.
And right now, it’s a bad cold.

But try letting the general population know the difference and
‘them become fighting words.’

No one believes you anymore.
Your word is no good.

I ran into the grocery store the other day and almost had to laugh out loud.

Naturally we were all wearing our masks like good stewards,
but one young lady had also added a pair of ski goggles.

I looked for a biohazard suit but she just had on a major mask with some
serious goggles.

I thought to myself…”you know, I would hate to live with that much fear…”

So before you mark me as some capitol rioter or uber conspiracy theorist…
just know that I realize that we’ve been hit with half a million deaths in this country.
And yes I’ve known those who have succumbed and died from the virus.
And I have even known some who took the vaccine and died two weeks later.
So yes, I do know it is real, but I also know hysteria when I see it.

So while we’re talking about hysteria, let’s take a look at, for instance, Dr. Seuss.

That almost mystical and rhythmical child’s author of yore.

Seems that our dear Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is rapidly becoming persona non gratis.

A pariah of sorts.

The once beloved children’s author, who was the epitome of tolerance,
had he still been living, would have turned 117 yesterday.

Yesterday, as in “Read across America Day”, as in my grandkids went to daycare
in their Dr. Seuss pj’s all for Dr. Seuss PJ reading day…as in we all love Dr. Seuss…
or so I thought—we loved him last week.
This week, obviously, not so much.

As in my beloved The Grinch Who Stole Christmas book that I still have these 61 years later…
is now looked at sideways.


(1957)

Sadly it seems that our current Woke folks out there have decided that Sneeches and Whoos and
red fish, blue fish are currently out of step with our suddenly perfect society.

Isn’t it just grand knowing we live in a perfect society?
However, I fear that in that perfect society, it might just be filled with
imperfect residents.

Woe be unto us all.

For these days will pass by like a puff of wind.

And all those who are perfect among us will be caught up in the wind…

Grab the hand of a Sneech because we’re all about to be blown away.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy,
and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it,
because the time is near.

Revelation 1:3

So much change yet so much anticipation…

There is a rich parallel between farming soil and spiritual soil.
It’s no accident that one of the most important virtues of the Christian life is humility,
a word that stems from the Latin word “humus”, meaning “earth”, or literally, “on the ground.”
Humility is a virtue required of men and women alike,
and truly the one virtue all the saints hold in common.

Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering
from Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking


(early January 2020 / the sun comes up over the ocean / Julie Cook)

I took the above picture almost exactly a year ago to the day.
It was early January 2020…

2020.

Let that soak in.

A year, that before it would blessedly come to a close, we would all eventually grow to loath.

Yet on this particular morning in January of 2020, it was just a quiet walk along the beach.
Life was life.
Peace was found in the rhythmic sounds of an undulating surf that simply
was breathing in and out.

We had yet to hear of words such as Wuhan, COVID, Coronavirus, pandemic,
lockdown, masks, George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, riots, protests, CHAZ, socialism,
radicalism…
words that would soon come washing over us like a callous Tsunami.

There was however already the nauseating media circus over an impeachment proceeding…
but had we not all basically grown somewhat numb to the media’s OCD obsession over
all things Trump?

And who could have known that a year ago, when life seemed typical and average…we would find
ourselves, a year later, yearning and pleading for things to be just that…
simply typical and average?

I learned a long time ago to be cautious about wishing one’s life away.

On a collective whole, we have all grown to hate the year 2020.

Oh there are some who had joy throughout the year, but we haven’t
heard much about that joy or the positive milestones nor of the blessings.
Rather we have been inundated with the negative, the darkness, the isolation
and the death.

And so the collective thought is for a good riddance to 2020.
Yet in that good riddance, we must be both willing and open
for welcoming in a new and unknown.

So my prayer on this new day of this new and unknown year is appropriately
from the Book of Psalms…sung prayers.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8

A Happy NEW year to us all!

“If you would suffer with patience, the adversities and miseries of this life,
be a man of prayer.
If you would obtain courage and strength to conquer the temptations of the enemy,
be a man of prayer.
If you would mortify your own will with all its inclinations and appetites,
be a man of prayer.
If you would know the wiles of Satan and unmask his deceits,
be a man of prayer.
If you would live in joy and walk pleasantly in the ways of penance,
be a man of prayer.
If you would banish from your soul the troublesome flies of vain thoughts and cares,
be a man of prayer.
If you would nourish your soul with the very sap of devotion,
and keep it always full of good thoughts and good desires,
be a man of prayer.
If you would strengthen and keep up your courage in the ways of God, be a man of prayer.
In fine, if you would uproot all vices from your soul and plant all virtues in their place,
be a man of prayer.
It is in prayer that we receive the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost, who teaches all things.”

St. Bonaventure, p. 25-26
An Excerpt From
The Ways of Mental Prayer

Stuff happens

“I put myself in the way of things happening, and they happened.”
Theodore Roosevelt


(my current view within my home / Julie Cook / 2020)

We are a people of stuff…
We are a stuffy people…
and yes, stuff, our stuff, happens.

I have so much I want to say about stuff.
There is so much to say.
So much to say about the stuff of…
Mandates.
Vaccines.
Masks.
Santas that make kids cry simply because they asked if he could bring them a nerf gun.
Elections.
Election fraud.
Bought elections.
Being tired of the ongoing drama over elections in Georgia.
Being weary from all the Europeans, Australians, and South Africans lecturing us US bloggers
about US politics and policies.
Being tired of folks complaining about those who show their Christmas spirit.
Being tired of the shutdowns of restaurants, bars, and small businesses while Hollywood marches on.
Being sick about any and all things China.
Being sick about all things Russian.
Fake news.
Wokeness.
Riots.
Leftist propaganda.
Antifa.
Black Lives Matters.
Democrats.
Weak Republicans.
Wokeness.
Harry and Megan.
Pandemics.
Lockdowns.
Canceling Christmas.
Abortions.
Did I mention wokeness?
Political commercials.
Robo political calls.
Manipulation.

But I’m afraid that if I start trying to sort out all of this stuff,
I won’t be able to stop…

So instead, allow me to share both an interesting as well as beautiful reflection…
a comment I received yesterday regarding the post I had written about the nuttiness
over the attempts being made by the powers that be
to “cancel” out Christmas—with the argument being if we cancel out Christmas,
we will help with the never-ending flattening of the never-ending pandemic.

This from LightWriters:

Shows us just how closely this all seems to tie into the
anti-Christian communist agenda—virus came from there,
many of the masks we are forced to wear are made there—
Yet, our God laughs at the wicked as we read in the Psalms.
He is greater and many will have an opportunity in this ‘crisis’
to think about the true meaning of snd reason for the season.
Shalom and Blessed Christmas

https://5wise.wordpress.com

So instead of trying to begin sorting out all of this insufferable stuff,
allow us rather, during this Advent season, to head toward a deeper space.
A space deep within each of our beings where the ancient piece of the Divine resides.
Where the tender mark of the Creator rests upon the created.
The indelible fingerprint of the master potter permanently engrained
upon the vessel of his creation.

“…And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that
we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us
that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is
really good and light because it comes from God.
Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty,
light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us;
whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed
as love and rules the world and our lives.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

call me a rebel working with the saints

“I rebel; therefore I exist.”
Albert Camus

“Until they become conscious they will never rebel,
and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

George Orwell, 1984


(James Dean, from Rebel Without a Cause)

I read a great post yesterday over on Mel Wild’s site, In My Father’s House, and wanted to share.
It was posted on Halloween and Mel notes that since it was Halloween, ‘why not share our
favorite horror story of 2020—COVID 19 lockdowns.’

I want to share his words because, despite our current election diversion, we may have
missed the fact that most of Europe is currently going back under pandemic lockdowns.
And given the results of our election come Tuesday, we might be headed back down the same
dismal path.

But we are being told that it is all in the name of science you know.
But what is that science really?

So is it a bad thing to want to stop the spread of a pandemic?

Of course not… but the trouble that is found in this train of thinking, which is
supposedly based on “expert recommendations”, is that we must examine who
these experts are, we must determine who they work for and we must exhaust all
our options rather than jump straight to putting the final nail in the coffin.

Despite my rule-following, conservative, law-abiding demeanor, I have been known to harbor
a bit of a rebellious thread.

So when “the” government and the powers that ‘want to be’ are clamoring that we must
suppress the people in order to suppress a virus, I begin to wonder what is
the real angle…
what is the drive to this suppression?

So I find Mel’s post quite enlightening.
Mel bases this latest post on the words of Thomas Woods,
Senior Fellow at Mises Institute and New York Times bestselling author of 12 books.

Mel states that…as Woods put it recently,
the COVID shutdowns around the world have proven that the cure is actually worse than the problem
in more ways than one, which of course is a controversial thing to say,
but it’s hard to argue with the evidence.
I personally have been frustrated by the continued politicization of lockdowns in the name
of preventing the spread of the virus.
On that note, here’s a recent email Woods sent out about how these lockdowns
have failed to stop the virus around the world.
(Trigger warning: Woods’s views are quite libertarian and not politically correct!):

“With Massachusetts seeing a rise in “cases,”
I saw someone on Twitter lamenting that he and his fellow Massachusetts residents
had “dropped the ball.”

Notice that this person cannot admit that the voodoo doesn’t work.
It’s always because the peasants didn’t comply enough.

If you stupid people would just obey us, this thing would go away!

I understand why progressives might be attracted to this way of thinking:

(1) They hold a superstitious belief in the powers of the state —
so if the state says it can wipe out a virus, who’s to say it can’t?

(2) It involves “experts” dictating to the stupid rubes,
which is their preferred model of governance.

(3) It allows them to ridicule the working-class people they despise — why,
if only these backward hicks would “follow the science,” we’d be out of this thing already!

But let’s face facts:

Lockdowns only delay the inevitable, and they leave wreckage in their wake.
(And forget about masks: as I’ve shown before,
mask mandates have no discernible effect on the spread of the virus.
If they were as effective as people say — e.g.,
if we’d just wear masks for six weeks, we’d be out of this! —
there should be some obvious effect on the charts, but there just isn’t.
Believe me, I wish masks could solve the problem so I could get the rest of my life back.)

And what is the point of indefinitely depriving ourselves of what makes life worth living,
so we can live in an antisocial dystopia?
What are we staying alive for then?
So we can sit at home and stare at the wall?

There are other concerns in the world apart from COVID-19.
Incredible that this should have to be said.

Even some of the elderly are starting to say:
I’m at the end of my life, and you want me to spend my final months and years
like a vegetable?
What’s the point?

Meanwhile, vastly more deaths are being caused elsewhere by the policy.
Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta just published a column in the Daily Mail arguing that
the response to the virus has been worse than the virus itself.

Even the New York Times noted that excess deaths from TB, HIV, and malaria
caused as a direct result of the lockdowns will exceed two million.

I could go on and on about the collateral deaths,
but I’m probably sounding like a broken record by now.

As Professor Gupta puts it, “Lockdown is a luxury of the affluent;
something that can be afforded only in wealthy countries —
and even then, only by the better-off households in those countries.”

By the way, Prof. Gupta describes her politics as “left-wing,”
and is aghast that people think she’s part of a right-wing conspiracy
because she opposes barbaric lockdowns.

Mel finishes out his post with these words:
As we observe a day that celebrates fear,
let’s think about how we’ve been continually indoctrinated by the politically-motivated
fearmongers during this pandemic in an election year.
Let’s think for ourselves and do own research.
Again, let’s be safe and use common sense with regard to protecting our vulnerable,
but let’s also not give into fear and stop living our lives.
We need to safely open up our country and get back to living again.

Here is the link to the full post–Mel includes a video of Thomas Wood
addressing this concern

https://melwild.wordpress.com/2020/10/31/halloween-covid-dystopia/

And since today is All Saints Day, I am reminded of those souls who have
gone before us–those who we proclaim as saints—
They are saints because in actuality they were rebels.
They fought the status quo, tyrannical powers, and heresies
all in the name of God, fighting His good fight and giving their lives
by speaking Truth when Truth was unacceptable.
They lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew…
and may God help us to be one too…

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
words by Lesbia Scott 1929

I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.

And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green:
they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.

2 They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
and God’s love made them strong;
and they followed the right, for Jesus’ sake,
the whole of their good lives long.

And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
and one was slain by a fierce wild beast:
and there’s not any reason, no, not the least,
why I shouldn’t be one too.

3 They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.

You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.

maybe we could at least make folks smile…under those masks

“Once plague had shut the gates of the town, they had settled down to a life of separation,
debarred from the living warmth that gives forgetfulness of all.”
“If there is one thing one can always yearn for and sometimes attain, it is human love.”

Albert Camus, The Plague

No you’re not having a case of deja vu…I just had a thought that piggybacks
off of a recent post.
Plus I still love that little meme…
‘looks like plague’s back on the menu boys…”

Cracks me up it does…and I think I need some cracking up—
in fact I think a good many of us could benefit with a good crack up,
chucke, chortle, laugh, or at least a smile.

And so do you remember a couple of weeks back when I did a bit of a history lesson on the
plague doctors of the Medieval and Renaissance ages…those physicians tasked
with dealing with those suffering from the plague, otherwise known as The Black Death?

Remember they were the ones who donned those elaborate bird-like masks and cosutmes
that were intended to protect them from the deadly vapors thought to be carried on
the winds, especially the night air.


(Paul Fürst, engraving, c. 1721, of a plague doctor of Marseilles
(introduced as ‘Dr Beaky of Rome’).
His nose-case is filled with herbal material to keep off the plague.)

Here’s a link to that post:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2020/07/28/miasma-once-again-we-are-afraid-to-breath/

I mused that maybe I should get such a mask and use it when I was venturing out into
contagionville, aka our everyday world.


(Venetian Plague doctor mask worn at Carnival / pintrest)

And pondering over this mask business, I had a new idea.

I really hate that we are now having to constantly wear masks.
I miss the smiles.
We are in isolation even when we venture out…
a sad reality.

I was on an elevator Friday with a family with a little girl…
she looked up at me and I told her how much I liked her cherry decorated mask.
She thanked me but I couldn’t discern a smile.

I follow the rules.
I do it.
I wear them.
Mine are not fashionable, just practical.

Doing as I am told and instructed…
I’ll admit that in the very beginning, before mandates, I confess to defiance…
but not now, as I’m not willing to die on this particular mountain,
as there will be other mountains soon that will require my allegiance…
I will adhere to the “mandate.”

So we know that I’m not being like those defiant ones who still venture into stores
where signs are all over the doors clealy stating that all who enter must wear a mask.

There are even those freindly little voices over the loudspeakers reminding all customers to wear
their masks and to follow the arrows as how to traverse the aisles…
‘follow the green arrows, don’t cross the red X’
And yet there are those who just can’t seem to follow directions.

I taught a lot of those kind of folks.
Directions, to some, just don’t come naturally–we simply say “bless their hearts.”

I have noticed that those who do wear their masks have issues with darting their eyes.
Quickly diverting their glance should another set of eyes make contact.
All other worldly really.

It makes shopping no longer very enjoyable.
The ‘mask fog’ on glasses makes seeing darn near impossible and yet maybe one plus is that
you can now tell you should do a better job brushing your teeth or yes, you do need mints.
Perhaps a blessing to those who use to be near you as you spoke.

And how about talking muffled?
Repeating over and over what you’re attempting to ask for until the
poor clerk finally can discern your words.

It seems that we all benefited from looking at faces for clues and discenment

I miss that.

So after looking over some old pictures, it dawned on me.
We’re about the start seeing those halloween festivities in stores.
What will costumes be like this year, what will trick or treating be this year?

So I found this picture when the Mayor was just a baby and we were strolling through
Target and I put on this halloween mask to give the baby Mayor a giggle.

And so now I have it.
Let us don the masks of the season to illict some most welcomed giggles and laughs!
Lord knows we need them.

By the way…the Mayor has been most puny. It seems she now has the Sherrif’s viral infection…
a high lingering fever.
Not Covid thank goodness…just a good ol childhood virus…so I’m off to go give care.

Be back soon.

A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

miasma…once again, we are afraid to breathe

“Once plague had shut the gates of the town, they had settled down to a life of separation,
debarred from the living warmth that gives forgetfulness of all.”
“If there is one thing one can always yearn for and sometimes attain, it is human love.”

Albert Camus, The Plague


(Paul Fürst, engraving, c. 1721, of a plague doctor of Marseilles
(introduced as ‘Dr Beaky of Rome’).
His nose-case is filled with herbal material to keep off the plague.)

Miasma–The miasma theory (also called the miasmatic theory) is an obsolete
medical theory that held that diseases—such as cholera, chlamydia,
or the Black Death—were caused by a miasma (μίασμα, ancient Greek: “pollution”),
a noxious form of “bad air”, also known as night air.

The theory held that epidemics were caused by miasma,
emanating from rotting organic matter.
Though miasma theory is typically associated
with the spread of disease, some academics in the early nineteenth century suggested
that the theory extended to other conditions as well,
e.g. one could become obese by inhaling the odor of food.

The miasma theory was accepted from ancient times in Europe and China.
The theory was eventually given up by scientists and physicians after 1880,
replaced by the germ theory of disease: specific germs, not miasma,
caused specific diseases. However, cultural beliefs about getting rid of odor made the clean-up
of waste a high priority for cities.
(Wikipedia)

If you have ever traveled to Italy, pre-pandemic of course, you might have noticed that
the Italians tend to be, what we Americans might call, overtly health-conscious…
almost to the point of extremes.

So I can only imagine that their pandemic quarantine and loss of life was a very heavy,
heavy burden,

And yes, they do indeed believe in the notion of “night air”—aka “bad air”.

I have Italian friends, so I know this.
And yes, this belief, phobia, or fear, whatever you might call it, was truly way pre-pandemic.

They don’t understand why we Americans don’t use bidets.
You know those extra toilet looking things in hotels that my son once thought was
a fancy foot washer.
They bundle up with full face scarves in the winter to fend off inhaling cold air
and in the summers, they fear air conditioning— they think it produces “bad” air.
That is why so many older hotels and apartments do not have AC.

And if the truth be told, they may be on to something…think Legionnaire’s disease.

But I digress.

So when I read Kathy’s post yesterday over on atimetoshare, about masks—
“To mask or not to mask”
TO MASK OR NOT TO MASK
it got me thinking…

Plague doctors…THAT’S IT!!!!
We need plague doctors…
Oh, wait… isn’t that what Dr. Fauci is….???

Digressing again…

So a plague doctor, according to Wikipedia:

The clothing worn by plague doctors was intended to protect them from airborne diseases.
The costume, used in France and Italy in the 17th century, consisted of an ankle-length overcoat
and a bird-like beak mask, often filled with sweet or strong smelling substances (commonly lavender),
along with gloves, boots, a wide-brimmed hat, and an outer over-clothing garment.

The mask had glass openings for the eyes and a curved beak shaped like a bird’s beak
with straps that held the beak in front of the doctor’s nose.
The mask had two small nose holes and was a type of respirator which contained aromatic items.
The beak could hold dried flowers (including roses and carnations),
herbs (including eucalyptus, peppermint), spices, camphor, or a vinegar sponge.
The purpose of the mask was to keep away bad smells, known as miasma,
which were thought to be the principal cause of the disease before it was disproved by germ theory.
Doctors believed the herbs would counter the “evil” smells of the plague
and prevent them from becoming infected.

The beak doctor costume worn by plague doctors had a wide-brimmed leather hat to
indicate their profession.
They used wooden canes in order to point out areas needing attention and to examine patients
without touching them. The canes were also used to keep people away,
to remove clothing from plague victims without having to touch them,
and to take a patient’s pulse.

So do you think this will be an okay type of mask for me to wear to the grocery store
while keeping me safe?
Just thinking…


(as seen on Pintrest)

visiting the well alone is the only way

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin


(the original well used by Jacob, the famous Samaritan Well, currently located in the West Bank)

Every now and then, when it is most needed, God reminds us, well let’s make that He reminds me,
He is indeed still there and still in charge.

I don’t know about you but I have just felt so beat down as of late.

Wear a mask…
Don’t tell me to wear a mask…
Things are bad…
Things aren’t so bad…
Have school…
Don’t have school…
We hate Trump…
We love Trump.
Black lives matter…
No lives can matter…
Riots, looting, kneeling, anthems, flags…

Abortions, yes.
Abortions, no.

Hashtag (#) LGBTQ, transgender, asexual, bisexual, anything sexual…

Kill the Christians…
Hate the Jews…
Love everyone…but just don’t love those or those…

Watch the news.
Don’t watch the news.

Leave the house…
don’t leave the house…

It is simply overwhelming.

It is depressing, maddening, frustrating, and confusing.

I’ve told you before how great the series The Chosen is.
That crowd-funded production about the life of Christ.

It has brought the Gospels to life…to such a personal level…a real level.

The first season of episodes is out and now they are waiting to have
season two funded.

I cannot wait.

It is not a movie or a television show—it comes from an App or on the computer.

The final episode of season 1 is the tale of the Samaritan woman at the well.

First of all, I did not realize the significance of the well itself.
The well in the Book of John is the purported well of Jacob.
A seemingly dry site that Jacob knew would bear water…
God had led him to the sight.
God lead him here 730 years before the birth of Christ.
And it’s been bearing water ever since…
despite now being enshrined within an Orthodox Chruch.

I’ve read the Bible.
I’ve heard the stories.
I’ve seen various Biblical films and film productions about the life of Jesus—
none of which has moved me on such a deep and visceral level as this
story has as in The Chosen.

This Jesus…he is the one who I yearn to meet.
He is so real, so approachable…so unlike all previous depictions.

It also makes the various Biblical stories seem more relatable, more emotional,
more real.

Here is the Biblical story according to the NIV version from the Book of John:

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more
disciples than John— although in fact, it was not Jesus who baptized,
but his disciples.
So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria.
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob
had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey,
sat down by the well.
It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,
“Will you give me a drink?”
(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?”
(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink,
you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.
Where can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us the well and drank from it himself,
as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.
What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain,
but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father
in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming.
When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman.
But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.
Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

John 4:1-30

If I could figure out how to share this particular episode from The Chosen here
on this blog, I would— but instead, I found on Youtube the added bonus feature from the episode
with the director and a Rabbi recounting the importance of this encounter between
a Jew and a Samaritan.
A man and a woman.
A Messiah and a broken soul.

The Chosen offers backstories to its characters.
They are an educated guess into what might have been…
based on what is known.
This is what makes these individuals so relatable…so much more so than the
stories from the Gospels.

The woman was scorned by her community for her lifestyle.
She was not welcome to visit the well in the cool morning hours with the other women of the
village…she had to go alone in the heat of the day.

She was a Samaritan…Jews considered this particular Jewish sect, a subgroup that was
less than…traitors of sorts.

Within her own community, she was an outcast living a depressing, empty
and sinful existence.

The deck was stacked against her when running into this Jewish man at the well.

Had she been with the other women, there would have never been the encounter.
She had to be alone.

Thus I realize that Jesus must come to us not when we are in the company of our friends
or surrounded by a crowd…he must come to us when we are alone, vulnerable,
and not distracted.
He needs our full attention.

It is to be a one on one encounter.

If you haven’t seen the episodes of The Chosen—I implore you to find them.
If you don’t know Jesus…if you find him sterile and benign, if you
mock him or simply disbelieve…watch just one episode…
I know you will view this Jesus of Nazareth much differently than ever before.

Shepherds—please, lead your flocks

I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless
the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold,
my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising, my feet will give way.

St. Jerome


(sheep farm, Killarny Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Firstly—- I read the following July 4th post written by our freind and
most knowledgeable Christian sister IB.

As I read it, I felt warm tears falling down my cheeks.

I too have most recently deeply felt her words.
A sense of pleading that our Chruch leadership does what they are entrusted to do…
that being to lead their flocks—come hell or high water.
Not cower in the corner of current ideologies…

A day later, I read a post by our dear friend and former Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden..
A post that mirrored IB’s thoughts and words but simply written from across the pond.

I’ve cut and copied both posts here.
I hope their words will touch your spirit.

We Aren’t going to “Get Our Freedom Back…”

So listen, I don’t want to sound uncharacteristically somber and serious,
nor do I want people to think I’m a total conspiratress.
I am you know, I do love a good conspiracy theory.
The problem being this isn’t a “theory,” it’s simply common sense.
So, I just want to say, those who are waiting patiently for things to “get back to normal,”
it ain’t happening. It ain’t going to happen.

Those who seem to believe if we just comply enough, just cooperate enough,
just do everything they say, (wear your mask you idiot,
so we can all open back up again) it ain’t going to happen.

If you’re waiting for covid 19 to go away, it ain’t going to happen either.
We could get down to no cases anywhere and there’s another “pandemic” right around
the corner waiting for us.
The media is already on it.

Government and public health officials are already trying to say we’re going to have
to wear masks for years, certainly until we get a mandatory vaccine.
Besides, flu season is coming this fall…

Never in the history of ever has anyone in government voluntarily relinquished
power over others that they have managed to attain.
The only way to get our freedom back is to stop playing the game,
stop the charades, and stop buying into the fear.
We have to say “no,” and we have to say it somewhat collectively.
None of this can continue without our consent.

I’m pleading with Christians who are just sitting there quietly accepting
a ban on singing in church. C’mon on people, some part of you knows this is not okay.
The power of life and death is in our tongues, it says that in the Bible.
If we believe those words, if the singing we do actually means something,
then we have to realize that shutting down churches, mandating we all wear masks,
and telling us it’s too dangerous to sing our praises, are all huge red flags.

I’m pleading with everyone who has ever felt the “benevolent” hand of government,
anyone who still carries trauma from those experiences.
C’mon people, we all know what this is.
It smells just like history trying to repeat itself.
It’s a power play.

We flattened the curve!
Heck, we shut down unused field hospitals and laid people off from our hospitals.
We did not get our freedom back.
We shut our businesses down, we bought the hand sanitizer,
we put on the masks, and we stayed home and we still did not get our freedom back.
It ain’t going to happen. Freedom once taken is not something you just “get” back.
There will be no passively sitting around and waiting for our freedom to be politely
returned to us once we’ve met all the requirements.

We met the requirements. So they just moved the goalposts.
They will continue to do so.

We aren’t going to “get” our freedom back, like it will just be passively
and nicely returned to us based on our compliance. That is a big lie, a total deception,
and has never happened anywhere, in the history of ever. Frankly,
I’m a bit embarrassed people still believe that. Not even God Himself,
and He is Holy, just, and perfect, just “gives” us freedom.
He may open the door to our prison, tear down the walls, and coax us out,
but even then we have to walk out under our own steam.
Or crawl.
Whatever works.
The point being, it is extremely rare we ever get anything without first opening
our hand and reaching out for it.

Jan 22, 2020, is when all of this began in my state.
We are going on seven months now! 7 months. A quarantine is for the sick,
not the healthy, and it should last about two weeks.
To quarantine the healthy is simply tyranny.

Such notions often put me at odds with friends, family,
even some churches. The problem being, I know I’m right,
I know that everything I see points in the direction I am observing.
We get our freedom back when we stop voluntarily consenting to hand it over.
That easy, that simple.

Happy Independence Day!
https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/we-arent-going-to-get-our-freedom-back/

The State, freedom of conscience, and civil disobedience.

The state and the Church have a history in our country.
The relationship status might read “it’s complicated”.
It ranges from the conversion and Christianization of the state to the deepest antipathy
of the State and its persecution of the Church.

Even when Christian, the Church has had to challenge the state.
Becket took on Henry 2nd and won. It cost him his life, but he won.

Thomas More took on Henry 8th. It cost him his life.
While he won the moral argument he lost the legal and political one.

The narrative in this country is of course set in the far wider and more
complex contest for a system of values fought in a variety of states
with a variety of aspects of the Church.

Glancing from the dynamics of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar,
through the Maccabees up to Bonhoeffer and Hitler, Solzhenitsyn and Stalin,
the contest for setting the values by which human beings live,
across states and cultures, defines one of the most powerful narratives in human history.

The pendulum swings from benign to malign.

In our day we are moving with some speed towards the malign.
Any reading of 20C history demonstrates a three-cornered fight between
two totalitarian ambitions, Marxism and Fascism, and Christianity.
All three make absolutist claims on humanity that are irreconcilable.
The anaemic relativism of our decaying culture in the West disguises
the sharp and brutal quality of the contest.

Christians are rightly wary that the in 21st C there is no reason for thinking
that the contest has been suspended. Fascism’s toll of Christians (and Jews)
in Germany and Spain was horrendous but dwarfed by the toll wreaked
by the Soviet Union and Marxist China.

In each period of attrition, the sign that the struggle to the death
had begun was the control of Churches and worship by the authorities.

The beginning of this century has exposed the oncoming depth and intensity
of a cultural revolution of values that are inimical to the faith in the west
and suddenly out of nowhere, for medical rather than political reasons,
the state suddenly closes the churches and prohibits worship.

There are three patterns of Christian response.
The first is the highly secularized and spiritually incompetent one, which says,
“places don’t matter; your private thoughts are everything,
corporate worship is overrated.
We are not worrying about the implications for a weakened church losing financial
and philosophical traction becoming ever more bankrupt in both.
There is nothing to see here, move on, don’t fuss.”

The second response, more literate historically but still
underdeveloped spiritually says “yes it’s a terrible sign that that the churches
have been down unilaterally. Yes, it looks authoritarian and apocalyptic,
but check out the facts. It was a pandemic.
It was medicine and science, not politics.
Calm down.
Nothing to worry about.”

The third group is more inclined to the view,
“if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck,
it may well be a duck”.
There is no value free science; everything has a political dimension;
more importantly, everything has a spiritual temperature,
character and metaphysical flavour or dynamic.
Whether there was intentionality or not, the state took upon itself the right
to close churches, prohibit worship, and deny the autonomy of personal
choice and informed conscience. And although this was a temporary measure (it seems)
it set a precedent which should have been exposed, challenged and repudiated.”

This is not the place to argue that the science on singing, water droplets
and infection is contested, as is the nature of the virus itself.
But it is the place to make common cause with Lord Sumtion and vociferously claim
that civil liberties require us to make a distinction between those who want to withdraw
from public life in order to protect themselves in a situation that is scientifically
and medically ambiguous, and those who chose to take certain risks congruent with a
personal value system and the dictates of their conscience.

It is the place to say that Christians do not recognise the power or authority of
the state to prohibit gathering for worship in ways that are not
medically or scientifically lethal or antisocial.

It is the place for insisting that the bar that state has to cross to
outlaw worship, close churches and outrage Christian conscience is considerably
perhaps impossibly higher than the secular state recognises.

It is, therefore, a legal and moral duty for the Church to challenge
the jurisprudential and ethical authority of the state to have set a precedent
in the authoritarian closing of churches and prohibition of worship.

It is for this reason that Christian Concern and a number of Church leaders
(amongst whom I am the least) have issued a challenge to the government by means
of judicial review to test the legality of this programme of church closure.

Further, if the legal challenge should be lost, many of us believe that Christians
could argue that we had a moral and ethical duty to refuse to acknowledge
the legitimacy of unjust law that not only acted as a threat to civil rights
and liberties that our forebears fought so hard to defend, but also struck
at the heart of our religious, spiritual and moral allegiance and identity.
https://ashenden.org/2020/07/06/the-state-closure-of-churches-and-civil-disobedience/

Bowing, kneeling…humility, reverence

“Every man’s measurement is determined by his responses
when he is on his knees before God.”

J. Otis Yoder, When You Pray


(a woman worships in silence alone, in a small Florentine chapel in Florence, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

I grew up in a Christian denomination that included a great deal of kneeling throughout its services—
I became quite comfortable early on, being on my knees when I came before God…
be there a cushioned kneeler or a bare floor.

I was also accustomed to solemnly bowing if I ever crossed in front of the altar.
Bowing was a sign of respect and reverence as the church’s cross was center-point above the altar.
I would also genuflect, a slight kneel, before and after entering or exiting my pew.

Reverence and humility offered to and for God—both deeply ingrained in my being long ago.

I carry that same sense of respect and reverence with me to this day.

I humble myself before God.

I do so because I am reminded of Moses coming before the Great I AM, and being told to remove his
sandals because he was standing on Holy ground. (Exodus 3:5)

Each of our houses of worship, consecrated to the Lord, becomes Holy ground.

It is why I will offer myself as a humble servant when entering a House of Christian Worship.
It is why I will kneel in the quiet of solitude when I pray alone, be it at home or
someplace else, whenever I come before the Lord my maker.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand…

Psalm 95:6-7

Yet oddly kneeling and bowing seem to have become quite the hot item as of late.

And it has nothing to do with the worship of God but rather the worship of man.

Last month the in vogue thing was the wearing of masks…
that is now replaced with a demanding that one should kneel or bow…
as a sign of servitude to another human being.

Bowing and or kneeling are now required by the ‘madness mob’ as an act of contrition.
It is demanded by those who deem that you and I are either the wrong skin color
or that we are on the wrong side of their movement—think Seattle and their
new 6 city block zone that is now proclaimed as a “new” independent country
within a country.

I don’t bow or kneel to man.
I bow and kneel to God—plain and simple.

We must respect our fellow man as we strive to serve mankind with our actions and heart…
but our kneeling and bowing…our worship is reserved but for One and for One alone.

During my marriage ceremony, the priest asked that my soon to be husband and myself
would step up to the altar and kneel–this as he proceeded to bless us.

We were kneeling at the altar, before the cross, as a sign
of our respect to God…we knelt, inviting God to please come and be a part of this new journey
that we were about to embark upon….we knelt asking for His blessing of our union–
two becoming one.

I am now deeply perplexed as I watch human beings demanding that other human beings kneel
and bow down before them—and if one does not comply…the result, with the least being ridicule
and the common being bodily harm.

What have we become to one another?

There was a wonderful story this past week about a Georgia State Patrol officer who had
gone to work a protest.
He, as have officers all over our country been told to do, was asked by the crowd to kneel
before them in order to show his contrition and respect.

He stated that he has respect, otherwise he would not have given up vacation time in order to
come oversee a protest in hopes of keeping everyone safe…but that he will only kneel…
to God.

https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/georgia-state-trooper-tells-protesters-in-viral-video-i-only-kneel-for-god

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven,
and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11