Mortal enemy

“You remind us that how you treat somebody defines who we are”
Quote by Col William Percival regarding his meeting with Gunter Grawe
a former German POW who was interred in Washington St at what is now
Joint Base Lewis-McChord— who, some 70 odd years later, returned at age
91 to visit the camp)


(a spotted orb weaver just outside my closet window—too close / Julie Cook / 2017)

He was mad at his ex mother-n-law and that’s why he did it.
Makes sense right?

No, I didn’t think so either….

But more on that in a bit….first the spider…

Those of you who know me know that I am quite terrified of spiders.
And much to the chagrin of my husband and daughter-n-law, my son seems to
have inherited this fanatical fear.
Some call it a phobia, I call it a state of paralyzing terror ….

Dealing with any kind of snake, any sort of reptile…is a piece of cake…..
but let an arachnid show up— and it’s all over but the screaming!

So when I opened the shutters the other morning in my closet, I was greeted
with the sight of this orb weaver having set up camp right outside my window.
It was all I could do to take the picture without perishing.

Yet don’t they say facing one’s fear is how to best beat it??

Well personally I think stomping, swatting, smashing or simply running away
screaming works just as well.

So you would think that I consider the spider to be my mortal enemy right?

Well, yes and no.

Now whereas a spider can indeed kill a person, chances are that is not going
happen, not unless you live in say Australia where their spiders are truly lethal.

But here in Georgia we have just a couple of “deadly” spiders.
We have the Black widow, the brown widow and the brown recluse—
with each one causing terrible reactions when one is bitten…
and if bitten just in the right spot, a bite could actually lead to death—-
Yet those odds are not as great as just suffering form severe tissue loss
at the site of the wound.

And whereas I do “fear” spiders, they are not my true mortal enemy.

My true mortal enemy however does walk this earth.
He is very much, and for the loss of a better association of words,
alive and well.

I’m talking about that which comprises all evil…

Satan, a dark and sinister ironic bearer of light.

On Sunday our Nation witnessed another unimaginable horror.
The senseless and tragic mass shooting of a church congregation.

Just like most everyone else, a peaceful fall November Sunday was suddenly
punctuated by Breaking News…with word coming out of a tiny town in Texas that
a gunman had gone into an equally tiny Baptist Church shooting, killing and
wounding almost the entire congregation present during that morning’s service.

I sat glued to the television as I kept checking my phone and computer for the latest
updates. Like Newtown’s Sandy Hook…it seemed as if madness had once again,
crossed that imaginary uncrossable line.

Not that each time we have a mass tragedy it isn’t madness…it’s just that we,
as humans, seem to believe that some things are off limits when it comes to
that which is horrible….
yet sadly we are learning that nothing, absolutely nothing, remains “off limits” to
that which is Evil.

I was perplexed, as I was reading the updates, as they were laced with the personal observations of those who immediately began calling for the banning of guns or that
this had somehow been Trump’s fault…
on and on went the litany of blame.

Because that’s how we now seem to be as a people—it’s how we seem to deal with
things—
We don’t even wait for full details.
We don’t allow for shock which gives way to grief and sorrow…
Rather we immediately seek a reason, a rationale, an answer—
because, by God, there has to be an answer…otherwise we have no option but to
acknowledge that there are just some things totally beyond us and beyond our control…
and we just can’t handle that idea…

I posted a comment the other day on a fellow blogger’s site with much the same
sentiment—as person after person kept asking how and why…
I knew how and I knew why.

People were pointing accusatory fingers…”this is the fault of the NRA,
“it’s the fault of the Republicans”,
“this is the fault of those who support the President”
“this is the fault of white America”….on and on went the ugly banter….

Was it President Clinton’s fault for Columbine?
Was it President Obama’s fault for Sandy Hook?
No.
Just like this is not the fault of President Trump.

A man who claimed he had issues with his former in-law’s.
A man who had actually filed legally for the application to possess
a gun license despite having a criminal past.
A man who had been courtmartialed.
A man who had been held in Military detainment for a year.
A man who had beaten his wife and fractured his stepson’s skull.
A man who had assaulted his own dog…
A man who had been dishonorably discharged from the AirForce….
…this man walks into his former in-law’s church and destroyed as much life
as he possibly could….as the in-laws weren’t even present.

There are no reasons…
because anything remotely attempting to be a reason
would merely be an excuse—because simply put, there are no reasons for this.

It would not have mattered if all the guns were gone.

I heard last night some stats to the effect that if all the guns were banned right
this very moment, there would still be 5 million out there.
So then you’d have those folks going door to door collecting—

You can collect all the guns you want but when you have Evil intent on evil,
it matters not if there are guns, or trucks, or bombs, or hatchets, or
planes or poison—
Evil will destroy everything in its wake when it so desires…
that is what Evil does.

And so we now consider the opening quote I chose to use this morning…

I follow a terrific blog—Pacific Paratrooper—a great blog about the history
of WWII with the specifics being confined to the fighting on the Pacific front.
The history lessons are excellent as well as the stories of those brave men
and women who fought and served, yet are leaving us daily due to time and age…

Yesterday’s story was about a former German POW who was interred actually here in the States for three years until the War’s end.
It seems that 4000 or so German prisoners of war were actually held here in the
states…
Their experience here being a far cry from those prisoners who were held in the
Death Camps of Nazi Germany and even later, those held in the Gulags of the USSR.

Herr Grawe, at 91, wanted to come back to visit the US camp,
wanting to see one last time, the place that he has long admitted actually
saved him.

He declared his capture by the Americans at the age of 18 was “his luckiest day,”
“No guard called us nasty names. I had a better life as a prisoner than
my mother and sister back home in Germany.”

On the flip side we have seen those former surviving prisoners who have returned,
albeit reluctantly or be it defiantly, to view the German death camps…
camps they survived but places in which left them permanently damaged.

A contrast of human survival…survival at the hands of fellow human beings.

Col. Percival reminds us that we are defined by how we treat others.

So in the upcoming days, weeks and months we as a Nation will be judged by a world
who looks intently at how we will react to our latest sorrow.

But in all of this, it would behoove each of us to remember who the real enemy is….
and that is Satan…..
the master of all lies and deception, the creator of all hate and division.
Our mortal enemy…..

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,
for it is written:
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord.
On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17-21

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/wwii-german-pow-returns-to-say-thanks-intermission-story-27/

the diversion of a feeding frenzy

“If our condition were truly happy,
we would not seek diversion from it in order to make ourselves happy”

Blaise Pascal

“The news media is in a feeding frenzy”
George Bush

DSCN3893
(the butterfly bushes are rife with those feeding / Julie Cook / 2016)

DSCN3896

Ok, so you thought you were going to see some images of ravenous sharks, wildly thrashing about,
tearing apart some poor fish…

Sorry, it’s not shark week.

However…
rest assured…
A feeding frenzy is indeed under way…
With both you and me front and center on the main menu.

For it is now open season on the average citizen.

We are currently under assault, you and me, by all the news media outlets, as well as all things political.
I hate to say it, but the season is open and in full swing until November.
And unfortunately it looks as if it won’t truly be over until most likely sometime after the
first of the new year…or so.
And depending on the results, it may never be over…

The thing is….
we are all currently dealing with our individual lives….

We don’t have time to spare for things other than our manic lives….
It is simply to the everyday nitty gritty of living that has us consummed.
Time is not ours to give away to those who are now chomping at the bit for pieces of it.

For me…it’s dad who has developed a gravely concerning malady…
that is proving troublesome to pinpoint, let alone resolve…
as a few grim scenarios are waiting in the wings.

I’m driving back and forth to this doctor and that, to this test and that, all the while reassuring Dad that he is a okay…despite the alarming physical symptoms.

Do I have the time or energy to be bothered every time I just want some quiet down time…???
Flipping on the telly, seeking some mindless light diversion, yearning for a little football,
yet instead I am met by the likes of every TV personality and new anchor bashing Trump, touting Hillary, telling me only one kind of life matters, yada yada yada…????!!!!

Do I want to see ad after ad about why I should vote this way or that—???
Ads both dark and ominous of what will happen if I vote this way or that????
Do I want to see ads filled with a whole lot of malarky and bull crap????
All the while finding myself sadly yearning for the days of those cheeky little toilet paper ads…

And it seems that I am not the only one needing a diversion from the feeding frenzy of this season.

The odd phenomena of the Pokemon craze has become a global obsession.
Even as poor dad frets and waits to see the latest doctor in a string of doctors,
look what my son spies sitting by his grandfather…sigh…

IMG_2234

And whereas I am actually gravely concerned over this current trend and need
by this ailing world of ours…
This ravenous desire of seeking such an obsessive diversion…
Wondering why we don’t or can’t actually see what our true need actually is…
What it is that we yearn for…
What it is that we ache for…

That being satiated by the balm of the Resurrected Christ…

Yet reluctantly I can understand the need of escape from all this misery,
mayhem and feeding frenzy that is currently besieging us…

For it is in this desperation that the masses now seek the diversion of a virtual game…
sigh….

So…
With that being said…
and that being that,
it’s time to put down the remote,
close the laptop,
turn off the freaking phone…
and head outside for a real life diversion…

One that is actually Heaven sent….

DSCN3897

DSCN3955

RSCN3923

RSCN3936

RSCN3954

RSCN3910

Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Psalm 119:23-24

Out with the old

“Life moves on and so should we”
Spencer Johnson

God is coming! God is coming! All the element we swim in, this existence, Echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it?”
Walter Wangerin, Jr.

DSCN8569

DSCN8570
(remnants of Fall on their way to the compost pile / Julie Cook / 2014)

They were beginning to smell.
They were–
Sunken
Discolored
Half frozen
Smushed
Rotting
Reeking

Several could still be picked up by hand but many had simply turned to mush.
Cold, nearly frozen, mush hiding beneath cracking shells.
Those were scooped up with the old garden spade.

Back in September, they were hopeful.
They were–
bright
colorful
shapely
textural
And they spoke of harvests, waning light and golden days.

For those who were’t paying attention, time, as fickled as she is, has darted forward.
A season is ending and all which claims such as its own, is fading, withering and slowly dying.
Any and all remnants must be sorted out, moved out and eventually thrown out.

A seismic shift is set to take place.
Nature knows this even before we do.
She has set change into motion.
There is much which must take place.
This before the anticipation may truly begin.
Life must first be stripped bare.
All garish excessiveness must be removed.
No distractions are to remain.
Even color must now depart.
For the time of focus is at hand.

So for now all that remains is but the waiting.
For expectancy drifts across the chilling winds.
Watching
Waiting
Hoping
All in anticipation for the season known as Advent.

“Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; So that, at the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal.”
The Book of Common Prayer, published in 1662

Thankfully thankful

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.
Meister Eckhart

“Anything I cannot thank God for for the sake of Christ, I may not thank God for at all; to do so would be sin. … We cannot rightly acknowledge the gifts of God unless we acknowledge the Mediator for whose sake alone they are given to us.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

DSCN8548
(a brown English transfer ware Spode platter / Julie Cook / 2014)

DSCN8546
(a turkey ready for brining / Julie Cook / 2014)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!
“Is that . . .”
A turkey in a cat litter box lined igloo cooler?
Why yes, yes it is.

And why do I have a turkey sitting in a cat litter box lined igloo cooler you ask?
Well, since I thought we could all use a good dose of humor today, I’m providing a link for the post I offered up this time last year. You know, the one about my attempts at brining a turkey. . . You remember the one. . . When I put the big bird in a brining bag, filled with the 5 gallons of solution only to have the bag split open in mid step as I began to transfer the very heavy and giant oh so wobbly bag of bird and brine to the refrigerator, only to have the entire contents of the bag, all 5 gallons worth of liquid, slosh out of said split bag, cascading onto my new kitchen rugs and all over the hardwood flooring?

You didn’t forget that little escaped did you?

Well incase you did, perhaps reliving that little holiday mishap is in order. I think by now, with all the food, all the family, all the weather, all the news we don’t want to think about, a little humor just might do us all some good!

It was the true stuff of nightmares and of legends all rolled into one. Plus it was a very cold rainy day—it’s all coming back to me. . .

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/the-brine-the-rugs-getting-lost-and-a-grateful-heart/

And whereas Dad won’t be making the trip over this year for Thanksgiving, as they don’t feel as if they can make the drive which means they won’t get lost again, we, on the other hand, will be going over to our son and daughter-n-law’s house to share, along with all of her family, their first Thanksgiving as a married couple. I’m certain there’ll be a story to share after this event of new togetherness!!

Despite not hosting this little annual shindig, I am cooking, not only brining but preparing to take this little fowl show on the road. Two cooked birds driving in the back of my car. . .hummmmm. Should prove to be very interesting later today. . .

When it came to this year’s brining, I was ready—the strongest bag I could find in the house was a cat box litter liner. Forget those whimpy brining bags, I needed hard core.
And as for some sort of reinforcement for the liquid and bird filled bag verses sitting a bag and a bird on some flimsy little tray, a cooler was the biggest thing I could find to put the turkey in.
Is brining necessary?
Heavens no.
I’ve cooked many a turkey without it, but when one is offering up Thanksgiving Turkeys (yes this year there are two) to one’s new in-laws. . .brining sounds impressive and will hopefully prove beneficial.

Yet before I let this day pass, basking in what I hope will be a thankfully successful meal with family, new family and fiends, I wanted to take a moment to thank you.
Yes, you.
All of my friends in this blogoshpere of ours who stop in for visits on this little blogsite world of mine.
I want to thank you for becoming a part of my circle of friends.
For your insights, for your prayers, your wisdom, your interests, your comments, your kindness and for sharing your life with me as you allow me to share mine with you.
I am blessed and my life has been made the richer for each of you!
So on this day of thanks, may I say to you, Thank You!
Now fingers crossed the new in-laws like the turkeys (yes, plural as in there are two big birds)
Happy Cooking!!

Longings

“Until the longing came again, like the longing that you hear in the whistle of a train that is going far away. But the longing isn’t really in the whistle, the longing is in you—for the wonder and the loveliness that is in the world, and everywhere.”
Meindert DeJong

“Will it be here that we shall find a place which will not elude us, or which if it remains does not exert on us a culpable attraction? Or must we, leaning over the deck and watching the shores glide by, move forever onward?”
André Gide

DSCN8541
(a Georgia sky on a late November evening which heralds change is in the air / Julie Cook / 2014)

What does your heart
pine for,
ache for,
yearn for?

What do your senses
long to touch,
crave to taste,
thirst to hear?

Is it a familiar embrace?
The loving sound of your acknowledged arrival?
The sought after special glance?
The intimate gathering of your sacred and long outgrown surroundings?

The time is at hand. . .
Longing and expectancy are reaching a fevered pitch.
Tis the season of fanfare and making of merry.
Cascading emotions flow like wax from a candle.
Anticipated elation mingles with tremendous reluctance.

Where does one find oneself on those magical days?
Is it in the familiar or perhaps the far far way?
Is there work to be done or is time allowed for gatherings?
And what of the missing?
Long gone or simply far away?

Open arms long to welcome.
Relief for some, trepidation for others.
A cocktail of the joyous and melancholy poured up neat.

And yet, during this new season of
longing,
awaiting,
expectancy
there is One who waits, hidden in the shadow of
the fanfare,
the hoopla,
the crowds,
the travel,
the food,
the gifts. . .

Come thy long expected One
A single star brilliantly lights your path
Your name is whispered on the wind
Open arms long to embrace
The surroundings stark and simple
No fancy settings here
As cherubim long to sing you home
Your place at the table has been set
A homecoming is fast approaching
as our Thanksgiving finally begins

DSCN8545
(a Georgia sky on a late November evening which heralds change is in the air / Julie Cook / 2014)

Embrace

“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.”
― Albert Einstein

DSCN8441
(the lingering colors of fall / Julie Cook / 2014)

Flavors of the season,
orange sherbet
lemon custard
and
cinnamon–
envelop us dripping lusciously down trees like ice-cream from a cone on a warm sunny afternoon.
Dazzling displays of color,
tantalize
tempt
and
tease–
whetting appetites and visual tastebuds.
The warm yet vibrant hues of the Master Artist’s palette sweeps across the season’s canvas as a jewel toned curtain descends on yet another delicious November day.

Twilight

Twilight drops her curtain down, and pins it with a star.
Lucy Maud Montgomery

DSCN8422
(a lone evening star caught in a southern sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

Stillness magically, thankfully, blessedly now covers the land.
Gone is the endless din of noise from the day’s chaos known simply as Life
With November’s chill slowly wrapping her arms around everything she sees, our pace gently slows.
Shadows have grown long as day’s light is now limited.
The time of reflection is at hand.

Timid and oh so slowly, one by one, the tiny late season jewels of the evening sky make their debut.
At first it is but a single star in the deep azure and magenta swarth of sky, which silently commands rather than begs the curious to gaze skyward.
Guiding, luring, beckoning as if by some primordial drive, we are drawn to this single brilliant light.

2000 years ago, God put His finger to the sky, and in so doing, He pierced the night with a tiny ray of light. A pinpoint of celestial brilliance shone down upon humanity’s darkness. A single directional beam called humankind to its side.

The season of expectation is at hand, as our thoughts return skyward.
We continue to cast our gaze heavenly.
We continue looking, waiting and watching.
Will Hope call for us again?
Will we recognize it for what it is?
Will we feel its pull, its draw, its offer of redemption?

Twilight, when silence descends and Hope appears
When the light of a single star dares to shine
and humankind is once again made whole