hanging…in the balance

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be,
since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”

Thomas à Kempis

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(Sweetgum balls hanging on the branches / Julie Cook / 2016)

Having read an interesting editorial type article this morning
(which was actually yesterday morning if you’re reading this on this particular morning)
I was struck by one sentence in particular, or actually just one part of the sentence…
Stuck such that it was one of those ‘the scales have fallen from my eyes and I can see clearly now’ moments…

…that God has given us over to ourselves…”

Wow!

There is so much truth and clarity in those 8 words that I immediately felt that these past
endless anguishing months of this election misery coupled by the feeling,
from what seems to be a decades long slow demise of our western society…
as in it’s all going to hell in a hand basket and why am I the only person
who seems to feel this way sort of thoughts,
that it all became amazingly crystal clear, snapping into a steely sharp focus,
the instant I read those words…

The article was actually a commentary, or perhaps more of a personal observation,
regarding this election business of ours…
written by Michael Brendan Dougherty, a correspondent at TheWeek.com.
I’d actually found his article posted on a blog post by an Eastern Orthodox monk.
Dougherty is a Catholic…and from reading his article, he’s my kind of Catholic—
as I tend to be a more orthodox Christian.

The entire article is on point, but it was that one sentence
“that God has given us over to ourselves”
which is what really jumped out at me…
like getting hit upside the head with a giant dose of Divine revelation.

And whereas I agree whole heartedly with the opinion of Mr Dougherty,
I know that there are a ton of folks who don’t or won’t and will pooh pooh the notion of
A) that there is a God, let alone one who is holding the balance of life in His hands
and
B) that that opinion is merely the ramblings of some rabid Christian xenophobe who doesn’t
know his a%# from a hole in the ground….

Yes, I’ve heard enough negative Conservative and Christian
bashing as of late to last me a life time….

But the fact that God has most assuredly handed us over to our own devices, or rather,
that He allowed us to hand our own selves over,
what with all that freewill of ours you know,
is so much more true than even most Believers will be able to grasp..

For we, the family of Believers, have tolerated far too much…oh so much…
more than we ever should have…
and for that…we are certainly now reaping what we have sat back and turned
a blind eye to for so very long.

We have tried to blend the world with the Word that was set upon this Earth to live amongst us..
The Word made flesh that came to set this world upside down upon its head…
yet we wanted things to be nice and calm while not rocking any boats..

We wanted to get along and not offend.
We wanted the best of both worlds…His and our own…
So we became hard headed and hard of hearing.
We became the masters of appeasement.
We played the games…
and now the game masters have mastered us…
as we are finding that we believe everything they tell us…hook, line and sinker…

We were told…
by The Divine Word…
how to live…
how to let live…
how to love…
how to behave…
yes, very much like children…
yet we chose not to listen…
trusting rather in our own empty self-centered ideas.

And now we are left wondering how, we as a society and as a people, ever found our way
to this point and this mess.

What mess you ask?

Just look around the globe…

From these two candidates being all we had to choose between…
to the Middle East which is boiling…
To Russia once again becoming our nemesis,
or perhaps we were only fooling ourselves as they’ve never not been our nemesis….

From the earth to which now grows heavy under the weight of our toxic living…
to a seething sea of mass immigration of epic proportions…
To our embracing a culture of death…

our messes are endless…

But as Mr. Dougherty reminds his readers at the end of his editorial,
he reminds us that God’s judgment is not to be infinitely bad
nor is it to be the end of the story…
for in that judgement of our having turned away from Him
is actually our story of Hope…

“But for those who can accept it, God’s judgment is a good thing.
The same fire that consumes the chaff is used to purify gold and silver.

Here’s the full article…
http://theweek.com/articles/659600/election-gods-judgment

And so today,this new morning, we see that life has taken yet another turn…
that perhaps not all have been prepared to take…
May we continue in our prayers for this Nation and her leaders—
that we will turn back to our Sovereign Lord…

If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
If you remove wickedness far from your tent

Job 22:23

New found freedom

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 8:2

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(Tiger swallowtail butterfly visits the blueberries / Julie Cook / 2016)

Anyone who has ever felt the full weight, the abject heaviness of the shackled chains
of all that they have ever done that was…
bad,
wrong,
deceitful,
selfish,
sick,
illegal,
lewd,
hurtful,
hateful,
evil,
vile…

Sinful…

Whoever has carried, lived with, bore up under…
all that was less than…
Less than that which has ever been known to have been better not to have been…
done,
said,
acted upon,
thought,
harbored,
carried out…

An empty tomb
A new day
A new life
A promise fulfilled…

Has finally set you free…

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

All things new

Cause of who you are and who I am in you
You make all things pure, oh oh
‘Cause of who you are and who I am in you
You make all things true, oh
You make all things new, all things new

Watermark – All Things New Lyrics

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(wild butterfly pea / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(silver spotted skipper / Julie Cook / 2-15)

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(silver spotted skipper / Julie Cook / 2015)

On this new morning to this new day to this new week,
I beseech you oh Lord,
make all things new–
in me. . .

He who was seated on the throne said,
“I am making everything new!”
Then he said,
“Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:5

Mercy and Grace

I had many friends to help me to fall; but as to rising again, I was so much left to myself, that I wonder now I was not always on the ground. I praise God for His mercy; for it was He only Who stretched out His hand to me.
May He be blessed for ever!
Amen.

Saint Teresa of Avila

“You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.”

― Rumi

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(a newly blooming white hydrangea / Julie Cook / 2015)

Somewhere each morning,
sandwiched inbetween slumber and waking. . .
Dreaming and living. . .
Grace and Mercy meet,
And within each greeting’s kiss,
they tenderly wake a brand new dawn.

Grace, mercy and peace will be with us,
from God the Father and from Jesus Christ,
the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

2 John 1:3

Song of Triumph

“We thank Him less by words than by the serene happiness of silent acceptance. It is our emptiness in the presence of His reality, our silence in the presence of His infinitely rich silence, our joy in the bosom of the serene darkness in which His light holds us absorbed, it is all this that praises Him.”
― Thomas Merton

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou – Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

Emily Bronte

Eternal truth, eternal righteousness, eternal love; these only can triumph, for these only can endure.
Joseph Barber Lightfoot

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(the first butterfly of the new season, a Tiger swallowtail amongst the quince / Julie Cook / 2015)

We greet this brand new morning not as we normally would every other morning of every other day. . .
But rather, this new morning, this new day, is greeted with great expectancy. . .
We greet this morning not simply as a new day through old cloudily lenses but rather we greet this morning with the clarity of new sight.
For today marks the beginning of a day of transformation.

It is as if we, you and I, have emerged under the wing of the Victor from deep within the sealed dark and dusty tomb of Death
Eyes now clear, wide opened and focused are anxious to behold the brilliance of a new dawn.

And we greet this new morning with a song. . .
We sing our song in the face of all that was broken, damaged and dying.
For ours is the song of hope, of life and of Love

For what was fragmented, splintered, lost and laid in a tomb to rot has been found, recovered, repaired and made brilliantly whole.
For this new morning has been paved with wholeness. . .
Life indeed is now transformed
As we triumphantly sing this new morning’s song of a clear and brilliant Alleluia

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed:
let shout of holy joy outburst.
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The three sad days are quickly sped,
he rises glorious from the dead:
all glory to our risen Head!
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
He closed the yawning gates of hell,
the bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumphs tell!
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live and sing to thee.
Alleluia!

Words Symphonia Sirenum Selectarum, 1695
first three lines adapted from Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestria, 1525-1594
arranged by William Henry Monk, 1823-1889

Possibilities and Potential

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.
Pope John XXIII

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.
Winston Churchill

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(a tulip tree bud ready to burst forth / Julie Cook / 2015)

Alarms sound
coffee brews
a sun rises
sleepy eyes open
showers taken
dogs walked
breakfast gulped
buses run
bells ring
traffic snarls
It’s Monday morning, again

A new day and a new week eagerly arrives
Last week is gone along with all that happened and took place,
be it good or bad.
This new morning, to this new week, offers all sorts of potential and possibility.
The sky’s the limit.
There are no “nos” yet shouted.
There have yet to be any disappointments
There are no failures
No quarrels
No wrongs
No crises
Only a clean slate just waiting for a fresh new mark
Greet the day with head held high. . .
For this is the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad in it
Psalm 118:24

Newness

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
you shall begin it serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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(spicebrush swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2014)

While out walking in the woods, on a most blustery day, a tantalizing surprise made its presence known. . . Gloriously, it appears that our long weary wait, through a never-ending winter, may soon, blessedly, be drawing to a close.

Life has been painfully cold, unseasonably so. Nightly lows have remained in the mid 30’s. Wind and rain has been the featured guest as of late, but today, joyfully today, a glimpse of Hope.

Lithely, without rhyme or reason, bouncing on shimmering translucent wings, the first butterfly of the season dances past non believing eyes.

Still bundled up, fighting March’s final fierce stinging winds, we wander along the trail just happy the sun has decided to make a long awaited appearance. Are we seeing things? Was that truly a butterfly wistfully flitting past?

A spicebrush butterfly makes its way to a small twig in order to bathe in the warm rays of an early spring morning.
A sign of new days and new ways, as the heavy unending winter mercifully dwindles and wanes, becoming nothing more than a shadow.

Today is a new day indeed.
A glimpse of a happy change has made its presence known and for it, we are most grateful!
We sit perched on the edge of a happy new month.
Oh Blessed Happy Day!!