the direction of bricks and mortar

Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good,
and melt at other’s woe.

Homer

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(Julie Cook / 2015)

Currently feeling most grieved over the latest madness sweeping across this
great nation of ours…
what with the divisiveness and hateful discourse bombarding our daily lives…
Of the recent marches and demonstrations…
with now high school kids adding to the mix…

My thoughts shift to relationships…
meaningful and significant relationships…
To those components of mortar and to the building blocks…
to all that builds and creates a base
a community…

to those footings…
to the foundations…
and to the resulting communions we build…

Thoughts shift to those who have crossed my own life…
to those who imprinted and imparted upon me…
a betterment,
a lastingness,
an endurance..

where would I be without such…

Today I ran across a post I’d written 2 years ago…
oddly it was just sitting out there on the internet…
under a particular search word…

It seemed rather timely so I decided to borrow a portion it for today’s post…
because it recounts the importance of a life that helped to form my own life.

For I now see that our youth currently need individuals in their lives who are strong…
those who don’t mind taking time…
those who aren’t afraid of taking a risk …
Those who want to help…
to mould,
to shape,
and to guide.

For our kids need to hear the words “don’t” and “no”…
as well as “good” and “job well done”
they need to be loved and nurtured…
not ignored or simply turned out…
they need to be disciplined and held accountable
not left unbridled or excused…
they need to be given directions…
but not carried…

Because they will seek out those individuals…
that communion and community..

the concern will be to whom and to what….

excerpt–original date Jan 12, 2015…

Being able to express myself was always important.
I most often found that freedom in the process of simply writing.
First, as a young girl, in the form of a journal / diary,
then as I grew older,
it came through the writing of letters.

It was in the writing of letters where I allowed myself to fully express my thoughts.
It was the one place my often frustrated brain could and would be allowed to soar.

In the days before computers, emails and word documents…
I loved buying and sending cards.
I would spend hours writing letters–
especially the letters I’d write that bordered more along the lines of epistles,
those lengthy and meaty tome like lettes to my godfather–a long retired Episcopal priest.
He passed away late December at the age 94.
I have often referenced him and his influence in my life in many a previous post.

The letters were often written with a myriad of misspelled words,
despite the large dictionary by my side.
There were gaping gaps in the written thought… as I would think much faster than I wrote.
The letters were laced with outrageous sentence structure,
which in turn would make any english teacher cringe,…
yet they were letters written with passion, honesty and humility.
And despite the holes, the poor sentence structure or the youthful angst,
my godfather would receive each letter expectantly, happily, and lovingly…
all without a judgement of content or the editing of grammatical structure–
this from a man who made a living writing and speaking.

Our correspondence began when I was around the age of 15.
My early letters were laced with the pangs of innocence and adolescence.
Yet as I aged and matured those letters became more complex,
even troubling, as I fought my way, often with fraught emotion,
through the often tangled jungle of life.
I wrestled with my faith and beliefs.
Life was not always easy nor kind.
There were obstacles, illnesses, deaths, disappointments, poor choices, grave mistakes,
coupled with a few triumphs, glimpses of joy and moments of contentment.

Always with love and often, no doubt, with great frustration,
he would offer words of either encouragement or warning,
lessons or simply the “if I were you”…
yet his words were always laced with love.
It was here, within the correspondence of a young girl, now grown woman,
where I learned about unconditional love.

I never filtered my words or emotions yet perhaps today, looking back,
I see that it would have behooved me to have used a bit more restraint—
yet he never faltered or expressed disappointment.
My Godpoppa, the busy world at large Anglican leader,
would never specifically tell me what to do,
despite my often desperate queries.

He would never say “yes” or “no” but rather he’d offer wisdom woven with advice all of
which he hoped would allow me to eventually find my own way.
He was a signpost of guidance,
of the miles thus traveled and of miles yet to be traveled.

And so as I currently find myself surveying a sea of rising national angst..
My thoughts now wander to those meaningful and significant relationships that we form…
those unique and timely bonds offered by the mentors and the role models amongst us…

To what direction are they now pointing…
To what sort of guidance do they long to impart…
To what sort of mortar and foundation do they wish to use…
and does anybody really still care…

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for human masters…

Colossians 3:23

(The Very Reverend David Browning Collins 1922-2016)

spin

“We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone.
Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never-so-little scar.”

William James

cotton-candy-spin
(image clowns4kids.com)

Cotton candy—the quintessential staple for both circus and fair.

Who among us seemingly mature adults doesn’t secretly yearn for their very own paper rolled cone of pink, bouffant whipped, magically melting surgery goodness when spotting any sort of advert for either circus or fair?

Who doesn’t fondly recall the yearly pilgrimage when the Circus rolled into town?
The sights and sounds of all the colors and music colliding as one…marking the magic of childhood wonder…
From the parades of the marching animals to the death defying flying trapeze artists…
from the clowns riding in tiny jalopies to the booming voice of the circus master…

Despite all of the sensory overloads, if the truth be told, it was the single chance to order a titillating cone of cotton candy which remains paramount in our memories….

Recalling one Christmas many years ago, when my son was a little boy,
Santa had delivered his very own, spin at home, cotton candy maker.
My son thought he had died and gone to heaven as he immediately wanted to make cotton candy for breakfast.

I, on the other hand, had regretted Santa’s choice from the get go as all I could envision was an endless sea of sticky hands, sticky faces, sticky clothes, sticky house…laced with the mother exhausting battle of a small child running on too much sugar….

Thankfully the novelty wore off quickly as there just wasn’t that same sense of delight about making cotton candy in ones kitchen verses the thrill of ordering it, watching it on the other side of the protective glass being spun onto your very own paper cone…add to that marvelous tantalizing moment
with the giddy savoring of the very first melt in you mouth adrenaline rush of sweet tasty sugary magic…

Oh how delightfully wonderful the simple act of spinning sugar can be…

Yet in this tale of spinning all things sugary should be a small consumer warning that not all sugary treats are as sweet nor as innocent as they may seem…

For there is one who is eagerly at work spinning, for both you and me, our very own cone full of sugary spun falsehoods and lies which he passes off as a delightful simple treat…
However there is nothing sweet nor simple to his deception.

For therein lies the importance we are to remember…
that there is one who toils in the shadows, working tirelessly…
taking the very Truth of God, as He spins it into something diabolically other than…

With the the real tragedy of all of this being that we unwittingly and eagerly hold out our hands while impatiently waiting for our very own offering of the twisted serving of his sweet insidious lies.
Which only leads to our coming back for more and more and more…

The prince of darkness happily spins every word of God into a cloyingly sick sweet false prosaic for our sadly spiritually hungry appetites…
as we are either too blind, too naive or simply too hungry to discern the reality.

It would behoove us to remember that too much sugar and too many sweets is never a filling nor lasting alternative to the banquet that has been lovingly prepared for both you and me…
A lavish feast which will fully satisfy all of our tastes, wants and needs…

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:15-24

our bonds

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Incase you missed the feel good story of the week, I wanted to share it with you.

This particular surveillance video has gone viral,
ever since a homeowner in Louisiana spied a young boy sneaking into her garage each day
simply to hug her dog.

Not knowing the identity of the little boy, Hollie the homeowner posted the video to her Facebook inquiring if any of the neighbors might know the identity of the young boy…she wanted him to know that she would welcome him to come by anytime he’d like to play with her black lab Duchess.

It didn’t take long before she learned the identity of young hug bandit.

His name is Josh and it seem that he has been dealing with the loss of his own dog who had passed away early in the year.

There was something very moving and emotional about the image of the young boy throwing down his bike as he hurried his way into a strange garage in order to throw his arms around the neck of this dog…
lingering but a moment before running off, grabbing his bike and disappearing from sight….only knowing he would return day after day.

There is a deeply mystical wonderment to what it is that draws us so intensely to other creatures.
The need for companionship, love, affirmation, security, comfort…

With all the bad we see and hear each and everyday…
for all the hardness in our hearts…
for all the stoicism and cynicism…
for all of our jadedness and self-centeredness…
seeing a young boy wanting, needing, to hug a dog….
is a raw reminder of something that is as ancient as time…

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14

Learning, relearning and acceptance

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

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(two pictures of the same little toadstool, the first one is with the old camera, the second with the new camera, I think the old camera works just as well. . .Julie Cook / 2015)

I think we all remember yesterday’s post regarding my new camera fiasco.
You remember, right?
The fancy smancy one my husband gave me for Christmas?
The one I was having to venture out onto a new learning curve over?
As in it has all sorts of different lens.
The one that scared me a little, actually a lot, but which I decided learning how to use would be a great new adventure. . .?

Well—(insert heavy sigh)—-

It’s all packed back up in the shipping box complete with the macro lens and camera bag along with the packing slip.
Also the additional zoom lens I decided I needed after it turned out the fancy smancy camera could not zoom in on distant objects as well as my old point and shoot, it too is also boxed up and ready for return shipping.

(insert another heavy sigh)

It seems I may just want the best of both worlds and that sadly does not exist.

The new zoom lens arrived today.
I attached it to the camera and went outside to “practice” zooming.
Imagine my chagrin when the new lens no more zoomed up on anything than I could by squinting.
The old Nikon point and shoot with its fixed lens, not an interchangeable lens, could certainly zoom.

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH could be heard echoing off the back woods.

I immediately marched inside and proceed to call the good people at Sony.
The first person did not speak English and I worried that he knew about as much about cameras as he did English.
I thanked him and hung up.
I then called back and reached a nice and informative young lady.
I began my tale of frustration.
She assured me that the camera my husband gave me was top of the line, which I knew, and that it would take great pictures but it just wasn’t going to zoom like my old camera. They (Sony) had not yet come out with a lens for the a6000 e-mount series that could do what I wanted. Which I find odd. Why put a camera on the market without providing it, and those who purchase it, with the capacity to do what other cameras can do? Plus she told me lenses were going to be a huge investment.
UGH.

She suggested a nice point and shoot that had a super zoom ability as well as a macro setting yet wouldn’t “macro” to the extent of the fancy smancy camera’s macro lens, yet could provide most likely what I was looking for in a camera. But didn’t I have a point and shoot already in my old camera and hadn’t I wanted to try something new, hence the new camera? A new camera that just couldn’t do what the old camera was capable of doing.

Dilemma and frustration were now reaching a crescendo within me as I fretted over what to do.

It remains boxed ready to be returned. The point and shoot would probably be the more practical of the two as it would be a great travel camera and an all over “go to” when wanting to take a variety of pictures. The fancy little camera on the other hand did take great pictures with great close ups but that’s about it.

Whoever would think that the purchase of a camera could be so vexing?

So as I wrestle with the decision to keep or to return the camera, I am reminded that not only is the learning of how to work new things, along with the new skills associated with said new things, ever important, the acknowledgement and accepting of where our abilities lie is equally as important.

Multiple lenses and what all that would entail with the investing in endless pieces for a camera that requires a great deal of care and work may not, for me–a mere grab the camera and go for it individual, be very practical. And therein lies my issue—what I am is one thing and what I want to be is something else entirely. Accepting what I am and where I am as far as causal hobbyist verses working toward a level of professionalism is the key to sorting out this little issue.

So as for now I will continue to think about what I want in a camera while more importantly I begin to learn to accept the reality of my needs verses my wants–in both who I am and with what it is that I need in order to be successful in not only the big things but as well as the little things in this thing we call life.

Everything we need

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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As this small birds finds its needed water for drink and bath, so shall you have your needs filled–
Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or
“What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and
indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

(Matthew 6:31-31 NRSV Anglican)

The key, throughout life, is being able to understand the difference between a need and a want.

My grandmother had a little expression that, as a young kid growing up, frustrated my own battle between wrestling with needs and wants…”your wants will never hurt you”—meaning, I could want and want all day long and at the end of the day, I’d still be perfectly fine. In my thought process however, I always told myself “well yes, that may be so, but I still want __________ –you may fill in the blank.

Our Western Culture constantly works to undermine the concept of need as it feeds the endless well of want. It caters, in all of it’s sleek and glamours advertising, to convince us that we “need” the new clothes, the new purse, the new house, the new car, the new body or we won’t be complete— we will be less than, we will be unhappy, we will be unfulfilled….the list goes on and on.

As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, offering our gratitude for so much more than the mere founding of a colony which grew to be this powerful Nation we call home, may we take pause, being mindful that there is indeed a great God, who claims us as His own. . . may we rest in the knowledge of knowing that not one single thing about us passes His attention–ever. That we truly have all we ever need—that is if we are fed, clothed, sheltered and loved—everything else is just gravy.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
(Matthew 6: 25-27 ESVA)

The need: knowing that you are loved by a great God. That being truly the only “need” any of us “needs”
The want: the empty attempts of filling ones life with the stuff of moth and wormwood.

Rest beloved in the knowledge of knowing that your God will fill your needs. . . will you trust Him?