Mind, body and soul

“C. I. Scofield, in his reference Bible, explains that…
the spirit gives God consciousness,
the soul gives the self consciousness,
the body gives the world consciousness.”

Watchman Nee excerpt The Latent Power of the Soul


(the rocky shore of Lake Huron / Mackinac Island, MI / Julie Cook / 2017)

“In the history of man’s creation we read,
‘The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground’
thus was his body made–
‘and breathed into his nostrils the breath
or spirit ‘of life’:
thus his spirit came from God;
‘and man became a living soul.’

The spirit quickening the body made man a living soul,
a living person with the consciousness of himself.

The soul was the meeting-place, the point of union between body and spirit.

Through the body, man the living soul, stood related to the external world
of sense;
[he] could influence it, or be influenced by it.

Through the spirit he stood related to the spiritual world and the Spirit
of God, when he had his origin;
[therefore he] could be the recipient and the minister of its life and power.

Standing thus midway between two worlds, belonging to both,
the soul had the power of determining itself,
[therefore] choosing or refusing the objects by which it was surrounded,
and to which it stood related.”

Andrew Murray

(brackets are mine)

to infer

Since reasoning, or inference, the principal subject of logic, is an operation which usually takes place by means of words, and in complicated cases can take place in no other way: those who have not a thorough insight into both the signification and purpose of words, will be under chances, amounting almost to certainty, of reasoning or inferring incorrectly.
John Stuart Mill

The idea of a God we infer from our experimental dependence on something superior to ourselves in wisdom, power and goodness, which we call God; our senses discover to us the works of God which we call nature, and which is a manifest demonstration of his invisible essence. Thus it is from the works of nature that we deduce the knowledge of a God, and not because we have, or can have any immediate knowledge of, or revelation from him.
Ethan Allen

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(St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Limitation collides with the Limitless
Try as it must, it cannot describe that which is beyond description.
The human mind labors to find the words…
even just one word…
but it fails.

An Entity that is without time, without form, without definition, without words…
Efforts are made to contain, to explain and to chain…
To detect, to dissect as well as inspect
Yet to do so has proven impossible.

Is IT greater than?

Of course IT is…
Without exception…

Yet…

The ego must see, must touch, must measure….
in order to claim, to believe and to state that something is indeed real.

The masses are left to merely inject, project, and to infer…
their own words…
their own thoughts…
their own meanings…
as well as
their own feelings…

Making IT forever less than…
less than IT should ever be…

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.
1 Chronicles 29:11

Have a good life

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Allen Saunders

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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(cross found in the Rock of Cashel cemetery, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just when you thought you had things situated, straightened out, figured out
and felt you were rolling merrily along feeling in charge, doing a good job of keeping your world in the middle of the road… Life’s little wicked twists and turns come calling, sending you careening out of control.

And so it was when the phone rang late this evening.
It was my godmother calling.
I’ve written about both my “godparents” before.
He is a life long Episcopal priest, Dean Emeritus of the Cathedral in Atlanta where I had grown up.
She, his wife, for the past near 70 years.
He’s soon to turn 93 and she 90.
Their bodies and minds failing in tandem.

I first wrote about my godfather shortly after I started this little blog of mine
as he was the one person in my life who had made the greatest impact–
as he basically saved me from myself when he came into my life…
when I was all of 15 years old.
I won’t retell that long convoluted tale as you can read it elsewhere if you so desire,
(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/ ) but suffice it to say, he’s meant the world to me.

Whereas he and I have shared the common thread of each being adopted, as I was a teen when we first found one another, we each had, throughout the years, a sea of ups and downs with our perspective internal baggage. We had our hard fraught moments as much healing took place over the years within both of our hearts as we walked the journey together. He taught me about unconditional love and what it truly meant–as I continued testing the depths of that love.

She was often in the shadows.
As the wife of a very busy and well known national cleric, picking up pieces, tending to children, as well as the home front, would have been the assumed standard lot for such a spouse.
Yet she was never one to shrink or hide.
This was a woman who had had a career on Broadway in the 40’s staring in Carousel along with other well known musicals.
She was outspoken and very very sound in her faith, never mincing her words.

She had more than her fair share of input into the shaping of my life.
So much so that my own mother was often intimidated.
She was the type of woman who saw what needed to be done and simply went about doing it, no matter who or what would or could be in the way or problematic.
“No” was not a word that was within her thought process.

So today when the phone rang, I figured it was a call of checking in and touching base.
Perhaps a thank you for the latest goodies I’d sent through the mail…
But no, this was not that type of conversation.

Before we even finished with the opening pleasantries of the “hey, how are yous”– she begins with “the Lord told me that He wants me to call and tell the people in my life what they have meant to me…so…I want you to know how grateful I am for…how precious you are to me…how much I thank you…how I want you to know…”

“WHOA—what are you saying???!!!” I fumble over the words.
“Well, I’ll be 90 soon, I don’t have much time left….
“WHOA—let’s not rush things shall we….” I hear myself stammering.
“Now let’s not put the cart before the horse shall we…” I continue trying to stop where this conversation is going…for all sorts of reasons–

She continues on with her “speech” when suddenly her mind takes the conversation elsewhere, in a totally different direction and tone… which is what’s more telling to me than her kind and endearing words–
Time is truly of the essence is it not…in this world that is…

Whereas my Godmother is sound in her faith and has no doubts, no regrets, as she continues pushing forward despite failing body and mind, living to hear His word and obeying those words to the very end—I fear there are not many of us who are as determined to do His very bidding up to that last breath we each have on this earth—or perhaps it’s more about having the courage to do so.

And maybe that’s it–
Courage, freedom, determination…

What is it that gives us, offers us, the courage to do and say the words God urges us to speak…. as well as giving us the “why”… as to why we are to speak certain words in the first place… and then there is the “when”… when are we to speak them and to whom.

When do we give ourselves the freedom to speak such words?
And what is it that sets our determination to do all of the above—
is it our health, our time, our circumstance?

As the conversation finally came to an end, with me most thankful as the difficulty and awkwardness of her words were crushing in on my heart, she put my godfather on the phone who proceeds to tell me he loves me and to “have a good life”

Oooooo, this is NOT the conversation I wanted to hear this evening.
Often within adopted folks there is a tiny voice buried deep within that likes to perpetuate a lie that “you’re not really ever wanted,” so hearing, as well as accepting, such deep and meaningful words, that you matter or are dearly loved, or are precious to someone can be very hard to digest… as you simply feel most unworthy…
Plus this whole signing off as if I’ll never see them or hear from them again is most unnerving–as it reminds me that none of us are guaranteed a thing in this world, especially not time…that precious commodity we so often take for granted…

So when this once prolific writer, speaker, preacher, religious leader who just so happens to be my “godpoppa” utters his parting words in an almost singsong sort of fashion
“Have a good life”
I’m like a deer in headlights…frozen in the moment.

Have a good life….
Who says that???!!
An almost 93 year old man who has spent the last couple of years fighting with his mind as it tries to shut down, and he’s hellbent to hold on…

This as I head to Dad’s today which is a whooooole ‘nuther ballgame–

So here’s to life…
Here’s to the end of life…
Here’s to how we choose to live that life, up to the very end…
and here’s to love….

May we all “have a great life…”

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 14:15

Best intentions

“Hell is paved with good intentions.”
― Samuel Johnson

“A good intention, with a bad approach, often leads to a poor result.”
― Thomas A. Edison

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(Variegated Fritillary visits the heather / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(Variegated Fritillary visits the heather / Julie Cook / 2015)

Best intentions are not always best—and sometimes it takes a lifetime to finally, sadly, remorsefully understand such wisdom.
What is it that they, those anonymous and innocuous wise sages, say about that proverbial road to hell?
The one I fear I’ve spent a lifetime paving?

Despite the poor choice of yielding to those intended intentions, time and time again we see that it is actually our hearts which often steer us toward the kinder and gentler offering rather than the more difficult.
Which may just prove that it is indeed better to lead with one’s head, rather than one’s heart.

As a people we tend to lean toward wanting to be kind not tough, soft not hard.
And yet it seems that we as a people learn best by the harder knocks in life.
Those lessons in life that spare neither our feelings nor hearts.

As parents we experience all of this first hand do we not?
Tueri et provide — to protect and provide is the creed and motto of any parent.
We spend most of our time and energies wanting, and / or doing, just that for our children—
Yet it is not always the better decision, stance or choice.
A child’s hard lesson learned is usually a well lesson learned—it may be painful in the beginning, especially for the observing parent, but a great reward of character for the child in the long run.

And with all this talk of good intentions, one should know that inevitably there’s a whole lot of reaping and a whole lot sowing to be had.
And sadly good intentions don’t always seem to reap a like kind.
Instead they often times reap a whole lot of uncomfortableness, misfortune and misery.
Leaving behind those well intended souls, in the wake of the aftermath, like a deer in headlights wondering what just happened.

Thankfully there is another small thought or motto that has become a bit of a life-line
or actually it’s really more of a short sweet prayer which helps me through those moments when my best intentions get the better of me. . .

God, I blew it so please renew it. . .

And so once again, in this thing called life, as I look back on those intentions that may have, at the time seemed best yet rather turned out to be anything but best—even overflowing with negative repercussions, I once again offer up my prayer—
“God, I blew it. . .again. . . and it’s a mess, and only you can “renew” it. . .please help”

Time for a little reflection

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

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(luscious raspberry / Julie Cook / 2015)

When I was in college, I worked at a girls summer camp in Black Mt, North Carolina.
There are many posts yet to be written, with some already published, regarding those summers long ago.

The camp counselors were afforded one full day off and one half day off each week.
I would find myself conflicted each time my off day rolled around.
Maybe it’s the built in work ethic I’ve been graced with or maybe my ego was too loud and proud, but whatever the reason, I would always have to force myself to take the time off.

Years later when I was a teacher, I often found myself in a similar situation. Whereas schools don’t afford their teachers time off other than scheduled holidays, I would work even if I was deathly sick–loathing to have to take a sick day. Good teachers you know, never take sick days.
They work through the pain.
And that in turn may actually equate to good teachers actually being stupid. . .but that’s another conversation for another day. . .
But like my principal always said (I had 9 in 31 years so I don’t remember which one)
“a sick teacher is better on any given day than a well substitute.”

I’ve learned over the years that a little time off, a little time for rest, a little time for reflection, a little R & R is often just what the doctor ordered. . .

When I started this little blog 2 and a half years ago, my work ethic carried over from the classroom. I transitioned into retirement from teaching with the help of the blog. I’ve posted something everyday since the inception of this little blog of mine.
In my early days of zealous posting, it was upwards to 3 posts a day.
Luckily for all of us I have mellowed.
I’ve posted sick, tired and even during major events such as my son’s wedding.
As I’m constantly thinking, observing and composing a new post throughout each and every day it’s usually God who has the last word. My original intentions usually take 180 degree turn once His hand is involved. . .

Yet as of late, my life with Dad and Gloria is taking its toll.
I’m finding myself very weary of body, mind and heart.
Each of their respective healths are declining.
Dad has been horrendously sick for the past week.
The doctor keeps throwing out the notion of colon cancer.
Which it very well may be—but I like to think not.
I’ll be taking him next week, despite the initial decision we wouldn’t go, to the gastroenterologist.
He’s sick, looking pale, losing weight and can’t eat a thing but a little bland rice, toast, and applesauce. . .
Gloria has developed Parkinson’s and the dementia is taking a toll—yet she’s fighting it and us with every breath of gusto she retains—she is like a little whirling dervish.

I love the community I have developed here.
You are my dear friends and my life-line
Some of us text, chat and e-mail–sharing our own personal ups and downs.
I don’t know what I’d do without knowing I had your prayers and support–especially on those hard days of driving and doing.

I think I may take a day or two off.
Not stop writing—for Heavens sake no—this is my catharsis. . .
But I’m thinking I may rest over the weekend.
It’s Brenton and Abby’s first year anniversary this weekend and we told them
we’d do something special for them.

So I think I will just kind of “rest” over the weekend
Rest my thoughts, mind and body.
Seek some small diversion to help clear my head and heart.

But as I say that, I probably won’t listen to my own advice and will press on like the good teacher I am 😉
At any rate, we’ll be chatting soon. . .
my love and hugs friends. . . .

Prayer of the Afflicted

“Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.”
Matthew Henry

“The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.”
Charles H. Spurgeon

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(quince blooms dying on the branch due to the bitter cold / Julie Cook / 2015)

How long O Lord am I to stay
Troubled
Burdened
Broken?

Do you not see or hear me as I lay in misery?
Can you not see that I am afflicted of both mind and body?
I sit in the mire and I need You, desperately
Yet I fear Your silence.

My soul wrestles deep within me
It twists and turns in anguished pain
My body is consumed by the searing heat
as my soul withers in silent torment
Do not forsake me O Lord. . .

Have You turned your back on me?
Have You forgotten your servant?
My mind aches to make sense of this
Yet my soul finds nothing but emptiness
The tormenters mock and scoff at my pleas

What have I done?
What haven’t I done?
You take no delight in burnt offerings or sacrifice
All I have to give to You is a withering body
and an anguished mind–
Up until now that is all I thought I could offer You. . .

Just as I am broken of body and broken mind,
there, however, remains a seemingly impenetrable fortress
The last barrier separating me from all that Is and all that Will Be. . .

My will, which is the last defense of self. . .
Tearing down the unseen walls of ego and pride
Truly giving to You all that I am. . .
Abandoning
Forsaking
Relinquishing
Not only the brokeness of a physical body and brooding mind,
but the final brokeness of self

That I may yield to You O Lord
That I may not fight what happens. . .
As I have truly no control of the unseen events. . .
Rather that I may let go,
The I may truly give it all to You with no looking back
That I may trust
That I may rest
For in my brokeness, I find only wholeness in. . .
You

It’s hell getting old

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

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(Watercolor Beach, Florida, The Gulf of Mexico on a fine September morning / Julie Cook / 2014)

This is not a tale about the proverbial wisdom which comes with age.
This is not a tale about aging parents (or maybe it is).
This is not a tale about the endurance of a family’s legacy with the addition of adorable grandchildren.
This is not a tale about the new 30 being 50 (which is so stupid right?)
This is a tale about you and me and simply put, about the triumphs and agonizing defeats
of aging. . .

Once upon a time, somewhere around the age of 50, life suddenly became less clear. No, I’m not talking metaphysically, I’m talking literally, as in things are literally out of focus.
A trip to the eye doctor is scheduled.

The good news is that you haven’t contracted some terrible disease nor or you going blind. . .
well not exactly going blind. You’ve simply gotten older and your vision is well, not what it use to be.

Thousands of dollars later you walk out with new glasses or contacts, which are suddenly making you feel as though you now live on a boat which has just set sail on a storm ridden sea. Up and down and all around you swivel your head like a bobble head, desperately searching for that tiny little speak of clarity and focus. . . Yet you must constantly remind yourself that the new glasses are “fly” and you are looking designer chic, albeit nauseated and still blind and of course thousands of dollars in the poor house.

Also at this magic age of 50, your doctor informs you that it is time for a colonoscopy.
I really don’t want to go into what all that entails as this venue is family friendly but if you must know, I am still having nightmares from the one I had 3 years ago–swearing I’d never do that again. . .of which I’ve now done twice. The only good thing to come from such an experience, other than being told you’re not dying nor that there’s anything detected, by observation, to be wrong with the workings of the plumbing, was that I lost 6 pounds while enduring the dreaded “prep”

Let’s move on.

By the age of 50, if you’re a female, you will most likely find yourself popping pills on a daily basis.
Not exactly mommy’s little helpers but more like the pills derived from the urine of a horse.
Great.
The dreaded yet welcomed hormone replacement therapy pills.
Pills to keep you calm.
Pills to keep you cool.
Pills to keep you collected.

It is usually obvious, to the casual observer, as to the women who are not popping said pills but certainly need to be popping said pills. They are the women who break out in a sweat in the dead of winter, shedding all forms of clothing, screaming at any and all as if everyone is an idiot for having the heat on, as it is only 25 degrees outside–this as they cut on the AC, turning it down to that of a meat locker all the while screaming at any and all for merely making the comment that no one is hot.

They are the women who you find crying hysterically because they just looked at a picture of their now grown children when they were but sweet tiny babes. . . but who, in the blink of an eye, are now screaming incessantly at said now grown children who made the ill fated decision to pop in for an unannounced visit. . .that they should have called first because the house is a mess.
Go figure.

Also sadly around the age of 50 one’s mind is not as sharp as it once was.
You find yourself forgetting that you’re in the process of cooking supper.
You seem to have forgotten that you had put the skillet on the stove and that you are suppose to be waiting for it to heat up.
You seem to have forgotten that you had added the olive oil ready to sauté, let’s say, a nice piece of fish.
Your phone rings.
You answer.
You chat.
You suddenly smell something burning.
You now remember the skillet and the olive oil.
There is a small fire.
No one is seriously injured and the kitchen can be repainted.
Enough said.

Also around the age of 50, there is the issue of your ears and of your hearing.
That once taken for granted clarity of the sweet whispered secrets and the singing of birds–both of which are sadly no longer special simply because you no longer hear them.
In fact you find yourself wondering why the birds no longer sing.
You decide it must be due to global warming.

This is when you decide its time to make the appointment with an audiologist.

You have that little hearing test.
“Raise your hand when you hear the beep.”
You never raise your hand.
You now leave the office with thousands of dollars worth of two little things you’re to poke in your ears to help you now hear.
The birds actually still sing.
Good.

Let’s create a little scenario to highlight a few of these aging problems shall we, in order to help put all of this observation business into perspective.

Let’s say that it’s your anniversary.
And since you are old, it’s an anniversary of significant number because at this stage of the game, they are all of significant number.
Your spouse offers to take you to the beach for a long weekend.
Ooooooo.
This is a gracious offer because your spouse hates the beach but knows you love the beach.
However, he does really likes to eat.
The beach has really good food.
Really, really good food.
It’s a win win.

As your spouse begins to feel badly that you are sitting alone down on the beach under a little umbrella surrounded by couples and families who are all sitting under their own little umbrellas, as he’s inside in the nice air-conditioning watching football. He decides it would be a nice gesture to brave the 97 degree heat and the irritating sand to come sit with you for, say, 30 minutes or until he feels he’s catching a sunburn. How this is, when he is wearing a tee shirt, shorts, shoes, a hat, sunglasses and has wrapped a towel around his legs lest the sun hits them, is beyond your soul—yet you’re just happy for the company.

The ocean looks inviting.
It’s 97 degrees.
Sweat begins to form on the brow.
The waves look big and fun.
Something about the ocean and waves brings out the inner child in said spouse.
Your spouse begins to take off his hat, his shoes, his glasses.
He empties his pockets of keys, wallet, etc.
You ask what he’s doing as you have decided he has been struck by heat stroke.
“I’m going to get in the water with you for just a minute”
“Really?!” you hear yourself squeal with excitement.
You both venture into the water.
Boy the current is really strong.
The waves are really big. . . this as they crash over your head, knocking you off your feet.
You nervously look around for sharks.
Your spouse dives under the water.
He seems to be having fun.
Really, really lots of fun.
He never seems to have fun.
This makes you a little nervous.
Suddenly you see a little gray thingie falling from his left ear.
“YOUR HEARING AID. . .” you hear the words coming from somewhere far away as if the world has suddenly gone into slow motion.
BAM
Another towering wave crashes over you both.
You now hear cursing.
Very bad words being echoed out over the sound of a frenzied ocean.
He remembers to take off his glasses but can’t remember the most expensive thing on him?!
Frantically you search the maddening swell for the lost hearing aid as your spouse narrowly catches the other hearing aid falling from his opposite ear.
You swim around desperately searching for a small grey hearing aid in a vast swirling churning sea.
Your spouse is now back up under the umbrella, throwing things.
The woman sitting under the neighboring umbrella looks nervous.
You scamper out of the water and begin frantically walking down the beach, at water’s edge, praying to see the hearing aid washing up on shore.
You ask the nice ladies sitting in the surf to be on the look out for a hearing aid.
The proverbial needle in the haystack is now your reality.
You sadly relinquish the search and head back to the umbrella.
Visions of a ruined anniversary trip swirl through your head.
Tears now are stinging your eyes.
Literally thousands of dollars are now floating out to sea in a tiny grey hearing aid.
You pack your things back into your beach tote in order to go back inside.
Your spouse, now calmer, tries to reassure you he’s not upset.
You feel terrible and guilty because you know differently.
Remember you have been married a significantly long number of years, you know him better than that.
He gathers the remaining towels and follows you up the stairs.
You fight holding back a flood of tears as you knew that moment of the happiness and fun was too much to hope for. . .he works really hard and has very little precious time away from work and the business has not been good as of late. . .who can afford thousands of dollars floating out to sea?
Luckily you have on sunglasses so no one is the wiser that you are about to lose it on the sand.
“It’s alright” he reassures, they’re insured.
“What?!”
“Really?!”
“I just remembered. That’s why they cost so damn much, I paid for the insurance”
A smile crosses his face.
You begin to feel a little better.
You want a margarita.

The moral of this little tale. . .?
Well, if you’re under 50, you probably won’t understand.
If you’re over 50, you already know. . .you get it.
Not only is growing older expensive. . .
It is painful,
It is limiting,
It is aggravating,
It is life altering,
and. . .wait. . . let’s see. . .What we were talking about?!
Hummm. . .
Oh well, let’s just go have a drink shall we. . .