Quick change of course

“Fortunately Jesus didn’t leave [the disciples]-
or any of us-without hope or direction.
Where we fail, Jesus succeeded.
The only One who as able to recognize and follow His purpose from the beginning was Jesus.
He alone was able to obey consistently and please God completely.
And His divine mission was to make a way for each of us to do the same.”

Charles R.Swindoll

I don’t know why I am still amazed…still amazed at how quickly our lives can
take a turn as our little worlds can quickly change in the blink of an eye.

This came to mind last night while watching the breaking news from Florida
when it was reported that there was a jewelry store robbery in
Coral Gables, Fl.

The armed robbers shot an employee of the jewelry store in the head,
took off from the store, carjacked a UPS truck, held guns to the driver’s head
and lead police on a chase that ended in a hail of gunfire.

The UPS driver and an innocent bystander were both killed.
The robbers were apprehended and both already had a laundry list of
past serious committed crimes.
I do not know how the store employee has fared.

As the wife of a man who ran his own jewelry store for 50 years,
we always thought about these incidents.
In fact, a few years before I had met my husband, he was shot in his store when
three armed men came into his store in an attempt to rob the store.

His body still bears the scar.

He was lucky.

I see a lot of UPS trucks out and about this time of year.
They actually come to our house a lot this time of year as I tend to
shop a bit more easily the older I get.

It’s a matter of a click and poof…
in a couple of days, a UPS driver rolls down my driveway.

So the thought of a man who got up yesterday to go to work and didn’t come home
last night tugged at my heart.

Then I think of the two shootings we’ve had on two of our different military bases
in the past two days…
People got up to go to work and didn’t come home because
of the evil intent of others.

So when I got an early morning call that The Mayor was throwing up
uncontrollably and they were headed to the ER of the Children’s hospital,
I simply got dressed and got in the car and made my way to Atlanta.

It hadn’t been my plan to make a mad dash on a Friday morning to Atlanta nor was it
our daughter-n-law’s plan to call into school and request a sub at the last minute.
Nor was it in the thoughts of a 22-month-old little girl to become suddenly
violently ill out of the blue.

But life happens…for good or bad.

I don’t know about you, but I pretty much take each day for granted.
Getting up, going through the motions of the day as I plan on doing the same
the following day.
I think we all do.

But maybe we, me, you all need to be a bit more reflective,
a bit more thought-filled.
Maybe we need to consider our lives a bit more reverently.
Considering it as a fragile gift that is to be savored and cherished.
Reveling in those who are nearest and dearest rather than the cursory hi’s and byes
as we pass like ships in the night.
Relishing, rather, in those brief moments we can spend together at home.

Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s my age, but the revelation that life is fleeting
is felt more keenly.
And so the divisiveness eating away at our country, I find to be such a terrible waste
of time and energy.

God.
He is good…
and yet…

We are living in a time that has the lowest number of people attending a
Church or Synagogue.
We have the lowest number of people who consider religion as an
integral part of life.
We have the highest number of people who doubt the existence of God.
And yet we have some of the highest numbers of depression, suicide, addictions,
and a large number of the population that has a deep dissatisfaction with life.

I recently read that the traditional religions of Christianity and Judaism are
both being replaced in younger generations with an odd mix of yoga, self-help,
and meditation.

I saw the same thing happen in the early ’70s just as we were coming out of
the tumultuous ’60s along with a war, as people were looking desperately for some sort
of numbing agent. Self-help books were flying off the shelves.

But what is the first place we turn in the face of disaster?
We look to God.

A perplexing quirk and fickleness of humankind.

In our world, a little girl got medicine and got better.
In the world of others, they are trying to put to pieces
back together without their loved ones.

May we take this season of all things holiday to reconsider the
importance of our lives and of those in our lives.

Cherish those closest to you.
Hold them a bit longer, hug them a bit tighter.
Linger in their presence.

For both time and life are fleeting…


The Mayor and Moppie or Biyah or Ba easing back to better health / Julie Cook / 2019)


(The Mayor managing to eat a Pedialyte popscilce / Julie Cook / 2019)

Be strong and courageous.
Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

“Awaken in my soul a great longing for you. . .”

As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you O God
Psalm 42:1

DSC00080
(a group of deer nibbling out back / Julie Cook / 2015)

I picked up a nice little new book during the holidays, Meditating On The Word by Dietrich Bonhoeffer–translated by David McI. Gracie

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as we remember, was the young German Lutheran pastor who was arrested in 1943 and was subsequently sent to a Nazi death camp for his part in the resistance movement and attempted assassination of Hitler— eventually being executed by hanging on the personal order of Adolph Hitler just two weeks before Hitler’s own suicide.

David Gracie is an Episcopal priest who currently works for the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

The gist of this little book is to offer instruction to the faithful on how to utilize the Psalms when practicing and honing the act and art of meditation as a prayer tool.
The book reflects on the importance Bonhoeffer placed on meditation, as he often instructed his young seminarians at Finkenwalde to make a daily habit of at least an hour’s time spent in meditation and prayer, remarking that “every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me”

Last evening I was reading the chapter on Psalm 42 which begins with a sermon Bonhoeffer preached on the 6th Sunday after Easter, June 2, 1935.
It opens with the first line of the Psalm. . .“As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you O God. . .” The following excerpt is “translated” by Father Gracie who chose to inject the use of the feminine pronoun—which normally I would prefer the more traditional masculine but in this instance, I found it most personal and reflective as it seemed to echo my own thoughts. . .

“Have you heard the bellowing of a hart penetrating a cold autumn night in the forest? The whole forest trembles under its longing cry. Here a human soul cries out, not for some earthly good, but for God. A devout person, from whom God is far removed, longs for the God of grace and salvation. She knows the God to whom she cries. She is not the seeker after the unknown God who will never find anything. She once experienced God’s help and nearness. Therefore, she does not call into the void. She calls for her God. We can only rightly seek God when God has already revealed himself to us, when we have found him before.
Lord God, awaken in my soul a great longing for you.
You know me and I know you.
Help me to seek you and find you. Amen

I was struck by the correlation between the cries of a hart, and the cries of a human soul. The use of the word hart is a Medieval word used simply as another term for what we would refer to as a stag or deer. I can’t say that our local white tail deer “cry out” as the description notes but I do think that the bugling of an elk would be more along the lines of such a reverberating sound, such as a hart may have made, which would certainly penetrate the stillness of any autumn night.

I can only image the anguishing sound of a human soul crying out loud to an unseen God, as I have been known to offer my own fair share of crying out, or perhaps more like screaming out, into a void.
Yet the key here is that my cries did not fly out into a void, as it often seems during such a raw moment of emotion, but rather out towards an omnipotent God.

To be in anguish and / or agony and to cry out as a wounded animal is most often done out of frustration, a sense of utter loneliness or from a sheer sense of total isolation and abandonment. To cry out into the night, to the wind, to the emptiness, to the abyss, to the void, to the nothingness is the ultimate primal act of anguish—but here’s the thing or actually the pure wonder of a seemingly empty hopelessness of which Bonhoeffer points out. . .he notes that she, me, you cries out not into a void, but rather the cry being uttered is to God. “We can only rightly seek God when God has already revealed himself to us. . .when we have found him before”

Having, at some point in the time of life prior to the seemingly single moment of separation, isolation, and devastation– there was once a prior encounter between the created and the Creator. He had revealed Himself. We cry out not to the nothingness but rather we cry out to the God of all of time.
We may cry out in frustration, in sorrow or in anger, but cry we do–and it is at this single moment, this nanosecond of time, when life, our life, is never to be the same.

Awaken in my soul O Lord, the longing which leads me to seek, to seek you and you alone. . .