piece of cake

“Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.”

St. Brendan


(the wildflowers are now blooming / Julie Cook / 2020)

Oh, how the words of St. Brendan have touched my heart today–
(today, for me, being Monday and yesterday for you).

Walking into the unknown.
Journeying beyond the familiar.
Needing faith, as well as hope, while we leave the old ways, the old life, far behind.

Now left feeling helpless while trying to navigate uncharted waters…
Murky waters leading into something vastly different and to
something surreally new.

This is not to be a temporary change—not a momentary glitch to a set pattern or routine.
Such hiccups in life are not always pleasant but are made manageable in that we know they are
not meant to last…as in, not forever.

But this is not that.
This is not a slight bump or pothole in the road.

I think in all of this that what it boils down to is my simply yearning for what was…

And if the truth is really told, I think it is the feeling of freedom that I long for,
as well as pine over, the most.

To come and go as I once did…without worry or fear.

To hug an old friend who I’ve run into in a store.

To take a spontaneous road trip.

To save for, to plot and then plan a special vacation.

To actually linger in a garden shop…feasting on the colors and breathing in
the heavenly scents of beauty…free of masks or strips of tape that
keep me at a certain distance.

To simply being able to finally go back to the dentist for the new crown for my broken tooth.

Yet all those things are deemed “non-essential”, unnecessary to the basic day to day living.

So instead, I am left to precariously gather weekly supplies while spraying myself
with the sole sacred can of Lysol.
I tend to wee grandchildren as their parents now work and teach from home.
We cook, we eat, we clean, we wash, we huddle together and we wonder what tomorrow
will bring.

And so yes, I pray that God will give me the faith to leave what was known and trusted
behind as we all now embark on a journey into the new…of that which is
untrodden fresh ground.

If I walk hand in hand with my Father…that which is unknown, will be a piece of cake.

You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you,
that you may live, and that it may go well with you,
and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

Deuteronomy 5:33

I witnessed a crime…

Crime is the price society pays for abandoning character.
James Q. Wilson


(courtesy Publix produce images)

First, let me preface this tale with a small disclaimer…I hate going to the grocery store
on a Saturday.

This tale, however, begins because of my having been gone most of last week,
and half the week prior, and thus my pantry was in great need of re-stocking.

Despite feeling that I should don a surgical mask due to my grandmother crud,
I went on, mask free, lest I send coronavirus shock waves through our small city.

I headed off, much to my chagrin, to my local grocery store of choice.

As I turned onto the drive leading to the parking lot, I noticed a group of about 7
teenage girls. They were walking along the sidewalk and I thought they might veer off,
crossing over in front of me–
crossing over to our city’s greenbelt walking-path near the grocery store
which leads back to our high school—

But no, they continued on the sidewalk up towards the grocery store.

This was not exactly an area of town to be out strolling…
because it is congested and a high traffic area.
Plus it was a cold blustery day.

I continued on my way to the parking lot, figuring the girls were probably walking to the
nearby McDonald’s.

The always enduring high school teacher, who lives forever deep within me,
always wonders when I see a flock of kids, out and about, simply walking where
kids would not normally be walking.
It’s something akin to a teacher’s eyes in the back of his/ her head.
Always watching, always knowing.

I parked, gathered my bags and made my way inside, grabbing a cart.

I started toward the produce section when I saw the same set of teens walking
rather quickly towards me, out from the store towards the door.

“Boy, that was fast,” I thought.
In and out they were as in I had no idea they had even been heading to the grocery store.

They had no bags, no cart, no nothing.

Yet as they rapidly passed by me and the fruit section,
the gal on the tail end of the entourage reached out and grabbed a peach.
She held it tight in a clenched fist while looking back to see if she had been seen.

And yes, she had…she had been seen.

I had seen and she saw that I had seen.

So I did the only thing I thought to do without causing some sort of ruckus—
I simply gave her the death stare of any high school teacher who had just
spied poor behavior.

Part of me wanted to loudly holler out for the young woman to put the fruit back
as I wondered what else had been picked up as they were walking with quite the
quickstep to the exit.

So here are the obvious facts to this little incident…
I am a 60-year-old white woman.
The group of 7 girls consisted of black teens.

Now those two little facts alone should just be obvious observations…
yet they are enough for most of today’s hypersensitive politically correct,
progressive liberal lot to accuse me of racism, as well as something
I’ve just learned about today, “white fragility.”

Yet the only facts are:
I am white and old.
They were black and young.

And from those two obvious facts…our culture will race to pull all sorts of accusations
out of the air.

I later told a friend about what I had seen at the grocery store and her response
was that it was sad they wanted something healthy and probably didn’t have any fresh
food at home.

The rolling of my eyes set in.

Well, I can certainly tell you that the nicked pinched peach was an afterthought while
our culprit was simply passing by an open bin. There was no focused intent on taking a
piece of fruit.
It was just sitting there and she was passing by and simply slipped a hand down to
grab one as in, “oh, let me grab that as I make my way out the door’.

And might I add that any peach sitting out this time of year would be an imported
rock-hard poor excuse for a fruit…not even palatable.

My response to my friend was not to make some sort of liberal excuse for stealing.
Because that was what it was…stealing. It would be the sort of excuse we’d hear
from our progressive left…an excuse for doing wrong.

So okay…to be fair…

I suppose we all recall the days of our own youth…
days of reckless abandon when we too nicked and pocketed something seemingly harmless
like a piece of fruit, a yard ornament, a street sign, a glass from a restaruant…etc.

Yet sadly today, what we now readily give a pass to is, none the less, blatant stealing.

It is always hoped that we will each grow up and mature…learning, knowing and realizing
right from wrong.
Right from wrong as well as learning that the notion of taking what is not ours
is one of those top 10 commandments—as in “DO NOT…”

It is hoped that we grow to have remorse for our past wrongs while we work toward
living a life that is better than…a life of positive morality.
A life of setting wrongs right.

Yet unfortunately, the idea of what was once perceived as wrong is now
perfectly ok…and we make excuses as to why it is now right rather
than wrong.

We have made excuses our demigods…excuses for every ill that befalls
our culture.

We could once justify wrongs as right in those life and death situations.
Situations of war, or of need vs want, or of the necessity of life vs death…

Yet did that make them any more right than wrong?

Probably not…but the taking of some bread or milk lest a child starve
was deemed justifiable…the assassination attempt of a tyrant like Hitler
was justifiable to the pacifist Christian pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer because
the taking of the one life would spare the hundreds of thousands he was annihilating.

However, we now have created the notion of excusing and justifying behavior that is
obviously wrong for simply every day lives…and this notion has been long percolating.
We’ve made an art of turning wrongs into rights and defending such to the hilt.

Our culture no longer desires to call a wrong, wrong.
Rather we make excuses.
We make sad pathetic excuses for needs not being met.

It is a want versus need mentality.

There are excuses for poverty.
Excuses for inabilities.
Excuses for limitations.
Excuses over race.

Had the girls not been racing toward the exit, I could have offered to buy her the fruit.

But then we’d both have been acknowledging what she had done…
and the reality is, she didn’t want acknowledging.

So this little incident brought my thoughts back to an article I had just read earlier
in the day on The Federalist.

How ‘White Fragility’ Theory Turns Classrooms Into Race-Charged Power Struggles
White fragility theory is counterproductive and divisive.
White teachers should not be discounted, bullied, or shut down during anti-bias trainings in schools.

An article that, as a former educator, I could readily relate to…
For I saw this indoctrination coming down the pike nearly two decades ago.

The article focused on a recent talk given by academic and author, Dr. Robin DiAngelo
to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in Atlanta.

She’s written a book and is a bit of a self-proclaimed expert on “White fragility”

Huh?
Who knew, but it seems that white fragility is indeed a thing.

Her book focuses on “why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.”

The answer, she says, is “white fragility,” defined as “a state in which even a
minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.”
This “racial stress” is the direct result of “implicit bias,”
which runs so strong in white people that it is a core reason racism persists in America.
This claim is based on a worldview, advanced by an increasingly influential field
called Whiteness Studies, that racism is inseparable from the reign of Whiteness.

What is Whiteness?
It is hard to say, but the basic idea is that all the institutions of society
are “white”—made by white people, ruled by white people,
and kept in place by white people to make sure that white people continue to benefit from “white privilege.”
These institutions are infected by white supremacy,
a result of the long arc of racism in American history.
Whiteness works through implicit bias, which refers to a whole range of unconscious behaviors,
speech, and beliefs that keep white supremacy in place.

Needless to say, I think this sort of thinking is nothing but a bunch of crap.
This sort of mindset leads to only more trouble.
It leads to a deeper misunderstanding.
And even a greater and much wider divide.

But then, I’m white… so…yeah, of course, I would think that.
Or so would say, Dr. DiAngelo.

And therein lies both the rub and the irony.

Let us dare not speak of racism directed toward whites or disdain and vehemence directed
towards Christians or toward pro-life supporters, or towards traditional marriage proponents,
or towards conservatives or towards anything or anyone who embraces traditional values…
especially towards issues of morality…issues of right vs wrong…

Because in this brave new world of which we now created and find ourselves living…
it is a world where wrong is now right and right is most certainly wrong…

There is no true biology.
No boy or girl.
No girl or boy.

There is no God
There is no Savior
There is only the State

We have created an excuse for each and everything…
along with more and more reasons as to why we must dislike and mistrust one another…
We must quiet each and every last one who dares to disagree with the new state’s mindset.

But Believers know that this is Satan’s plan.

To divide and conquer.

We must never forget…the battle may be raging, but the war is already lost.
So let us not be on the wrong side of the winning vs the losing when
it is all finally said and done.
And that will require a constant need to shout the Truth while the
chosen ones attempt to silence anyone who dares to utter such a Truth.

Hate, wrongs, mistrust, division, disdain, oppression…lose each and every time.

Here’s the link to the article.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/02/28/how-white-fragility-theory-turns-classrooms-into-race-charged-power-struggles/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=01ad0a3f38-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-01ad0a3f38-84149832

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 4:17

topsy turvy while sleeping at the office

When life is uncertain and the world seems topsy-turvy, consider Jesus’s words:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Tim Challies


(The Mayor walking and working / Julie Cook / 2019)

So here I am in Woobooville, complete with the Mayor, working out of the Atlanta office this week.

It seems that one of The Mayor’s main assistants has Jury Duty while the other
main assistant, who lest we forget is pregnant with the Mayor’s soon to be new sheriff in town…
a new sheriff who is expected to arrive at the end of April,
is feeling quite puny and under the weather…

Enter the chief aide…
Moi.
Chief assistant and caregiver.

And so since the house that houses Woobooville has but three small circa 1950 bedrooms—that being
the main assistant’s bedroom, The Mayor’s bedroom and then the guest bedroom
(aka the chief aide’s bedroom)— the anticipation of the new sheriff’s arrival has
now turned things upside down and the entire house topsy turvy.

The guest bedroom has been emptied of what makes a guest bedroom a bedroom…
all of which has now been replaced by brand new baby boy furniture… continuing its transformation…
Thus, there is no longer a guest bedroom that has a big people bed.

Sooooo…what was the formal living room has now been turned into a complete Woobooville office…
Meaning, it is the holding place for all things Mayorial.
The Woobooville office, the walking zebra, the fox stroller, Pepa the Pig scooter and my new
bed…aka sleeper sofa along with all the old “stuff” that came out of the New Sheriff’s new nursery.


(I now sleep in the office)

The den has also been gutted of the old worn out broken furniture as it awaits a few new pieces…

So needless to say, we are upside down in Woobooville…but rest assured, the Mayor has not missed
a beat of her responsibilities…


(the Mayor hard at work in Woobooville / Julie Cook / 2019

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him
who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

Ephesians 1:11

Spring cleaning

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once,
“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very
splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures,
following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
they have to take you in.”

Robert Frost


(blue bird box obviously under some sort of construction / Julie Cook / 2018)

Pulling into the driveway and getting out of the car, I hear the familiar chatter of the
resident birds that grace our yard. Glancing over at the birdhouses dotting the trees,
I think I see a bluebird poking its head out of one of the boxes.

Instinctively I race for my camera as I’ve not had much opportunity this spring to
take many pictures of life in the yard.

Focusing in with the camera, I quickly realize that I’m not seeing a bluebird poking her
head out of the box but rather a wad of straw…
as if it’s being pushed up and out of the box.

Each year, usually late February, I always open up all of the boxes in order to clean out
the old nests and straw….because who wants to move into to someone else’s leftover mess?

However, it appears as if someone, bird or not, is busy with a bit of spring cleaning…
As I am reminded of my own bit of Spring cleaning waiting for me…

However my cleaning, where much of it is to be of the literal…
that of scrubbing, washing, and sorting…
my cleaning also needs to be taking place from within.

Each of us must be mindful in our remembrance that Springtime is not merely the time
in which all of Creation sheds the old while producing the new, the fresh, the radiant
and the young…
Spring is also the time for us, mankind, to shed our old while taking on a newness
of fresh beginnings as well.

Shedding the dust and weight of the heaviness of our old sinful selves—
Ridding ourselves of that ever-present sinful nature of man, as we step outward and forward
with the Resurrected Christ into the light of a new dawn…

There is certainly no rest for the weary!

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this
day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates,
or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household,
we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua 24:15

speaking wisdom

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world;
there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.
He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.
We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel,
that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart,
and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal
the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words,
‘Wait and Hope.”

Alexandre Dumas


(late afternoon in Northwest Georgia / Julie Cook / 2017)

Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.

I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?

No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.

For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.

Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.

Psalm 49:1-14

Sacred

Love is a sacred reserve of energy;
it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


(generations of sacred texts / Julie Cook / 2017)

What makes something sacred?

Something that is to be held in reverence,
passed from one generation to another?
What is it that makes something so dear, so esteemed, so important,
albeit within the confines of a family,
that it becomes a treasure and a life line linking one individual to another?

Deep and heavy thoughts as I slowly begin to purge, pack, relocate
sort, discard, save and add to my own niche of life those things that
were once others as I labors to merge them now as mine.

A frayed small ribbon peeks out from atop a long ago repaired cloth bound,
oh so frail, little black book.
The homemade cover tenderly stitched in order to preserve and protect someone’s
sacred treasure

A hymnal whose first page is now page 7.

As to whose hymnal, which denomination, how old…
Who knows…
But in the family, on someone’s side, it has obviously weathered.

Hymn 527 sounds very much like my beloved 345
A hymn that is as soothing as a beloved’s rhythmic cadence of breath.

“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” has been described as perhaps the most beautiful
of all the countless versions of the 23rd Psalm.

The Tune St. Columba is named for the Irish saint who
“carried the torch of Irish Christianity to Scotland”
(and who has the dubious distinction of being the first to report a sighting of
the Loch Ness monster, in 546).
The tune is one of the Irish melodies collected by George Petrie (1789-1866)
and given in Charles Villers Stanford’s
“Complete Collection of Irish Music as noted by George Petrie,” in 1902.
There it is said to have been sung at the dedication of a chapel in the county
of Londonderry.
The association of the tune with this text,
and also its harmonization, are from “The English Hymnal,” 1906.

Excerpt: “Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worhip”

In a time of grave uncertainties..
both personally and globally…
A time of unprecedented growing rage and division.
May we each rest in the knowledge that we remain bound always to the Sacred….

Please enjoy this beautiful video…

Be not dismayed

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!
Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated),
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

DSCN3370
(jellyfish on the beach / Santa Rosa, Fla / Julie Cook / 2016)

We are currently living in a boiling tempestuous sea.
A time of grave moral unrest.
A troubling time…

Some merely observe that it’s been bad before and it’ll be bad again…
Others note that it’s just a part of life…
an ebbing and flowing…
a swinging of the proverbial pendulum…

And it is true…
In my lifetime I have seen, as well as experienced first hand,
the upheaval of perilous unrest in this brave Nation of ours…

I have seen the continued growth and birthing pains of an ever evolving democracy.
I have seen the colliding of old verses new.
Young verses the elderly

I have lived under the dread and worry of nuclear annihilation for all my life…
beginning with the tuck and cover drills of elementary school…

I have sadly seen…
flags being burned
draft cards being burned
bras being burned
and politicians burned in effigy

I have seen protests…
sit ins
die ins
marches
hunger strikes
picket lines

I have seen clashes of ideologies, religions and beliefs…

Yet I cannot recall such a dangerously contemptuous time in my near 60 years.

We are perched on the precipice of what seems to be the death of life as we once knew it.
As a delusional group of “politicians” vie for control and power…of my life and of your life,
and of the life which we have known.

This Nation, united under the benevolent eye of the very God our pilgrim settlers and founding fathers each paid homage to,
is transforming and morphing under the cloak of a sinister shape shifting blanket,
that is barley detectable to the naked eye…

Some believe this is all for the good…
While other believe this is all for the bad.

Throwing the baby out with the bath water is never a good idea…
and yet that is what is slowing taking place.

Those of us of a certain age watch, as a deer in headlights, the daily news feeds…
wondering if there is anything left that is recognizable…
While others simply ignore the melee as they reach for another cocktail or numbing agent of choice.

The moral Judaeo/ Christian sector of this Nation has idly watched a slow yet deadly erosion…
an erosion of such catastrophic proportions, that shoring things up…is now nearly impossible…
As the very traditional family nucleus, the core center which has served as the lynchpin and underpinning of the history of humankind, is now ominously ready to cascade into a dark abyss.

So is it any wonder that so many of those who cleave to the belief in an Omnipotent God,
stand jumbled up and cast off to the side, in udder bewilderment and dismay….
as they are left wondering and shuddering at the strangeness now taking hold to all that they have known….

‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not rejected you
[even though you are exiled].

‘Do not fear [anything],
for I am with you;
Do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you;
I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand
[a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’
Isaiah 41:9-10

the frivolity of the frivolous

Thus it is necessary to commence from an inescapable duality:
the finite is not the infinite.

Hans Urs von Balthasar

The spirit of man can endure only so much and
when it is broken only a miracle can mend it.

John Burroughs

DSCN0241
(statue on the grounds of Christ Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Tis the season to be merry and bright, happy and light, warm and fuzzy…
Christmas and Santa.
It’s all neatly rolled into one within the wrappings of December.
The giddy frivolity of a season which gives way to making merry while paying homage to the birth of a child.

Yet let us look more closely at a single word…

Frivolity– a noun meaning lightness, gaiety, fun, the making of merriment

yet counter that with

Frivolous–an adjective–flippant, glib, lacking worth or merit

One word divided into two of its variations, its various grammatical formations and contexts–each with very different meanings…

Christmas–the olde English—Cristes Maesse–or Mass of Christ
The sacred celebration of the Nativity or birth of Christ…the birth of the One proclaimed as the savior of mankind.

And then there is Christmas of the ho ho ho, jolly ol’ St Nick, the giving of gifts kind of Christmas…

With the introduction of Saint Nicolas, who evolved over time from a 3rd century Greek Catholic saint whose real life story of giving and providing paved the foundation for today’s more secular jolly older bearded, reindeer driving, present giving, hero of both young and old…Christmas the holy joined with Christmas the worldly, as the two became synonymous, joining as one.

And sadly today we see that the world of consumerism has run away with the latter of the two….creating part of our problem.

One word’s united meaning, the celebration of the birth of Christ, as well as the season of Santa and the giving of gifts….
Yet today the word is painfully becoming estranged, polarized and oh so sadly divided.

The Christian faithful throughout the ages have always had a wonderful way of melding traditions taken form the various seasons and times of the year from their various cultures and countries, coupled with the more traditional pagan / secular celebrations of those various countries and cultures, uniting and embracing all with their Christian teachings with the end result being those yearly holy observances which blend both the religious/ holy with secular celebrations.

Lest we forgot the story from the other week regarding the celtic cross…
As St Patrick used the circle around the traditional latin cross as a bridge between the Celtic worship of the sun–uniting both sun and Son together…in turn creating the iconic Celtic Cross.

Yet mankind frustratingly always has had a knack for messing up, distorting and even destroying good intentions.
What was once a time affording all a collective remembrance of the young and less fortunate during a time which was also witness to the faithful’s remembrance of the birth of the Savior—has now tragically morphed into a self consuming monster of advertising, marketing, consumerism and a big business feeding frenzy of madness.

Couple that with the now secular overt political correctness war of words of holiday and winter celebration with the keeping of Santa, as that’s good for the economy, while in turn booting the holy Christ Child totally out of the picture as that has nothing to so with the economy….

Seems as if we greatly prefer material gifts and presents verses the one true gift of a Savior….

It is indeed a truly sad kettle of fish we have going on as law suits now abound where once stockings were hung by the chimney with care—
As the word Christmas is no longer welcomed or allowed to be associated with this “special” time of year… especially in our public governmental sector, schools, colleges, etc—
If it receives any sort of federal funding or assistance, than you can forget Christmas and the whole birth of Christ associated with it.

Lest we offend the Atheists, the Jews, the Hindus, the Muslims, the Satanists, the Wickens….who if the truth be told, buy and gather to give those “christmas” gifts…

A long long time ago when I was in elementary school, way back in the early 1960s…My school had a healthy mix of both Jewish and “Christian” kids.

When it came to Christmas, with our teacher bringing in the small tree for our classroom, as we excitedly and joyously made ornaments in order to decorate the small tree— ornaments which now poignantly hang on my own tree today, the excitement of one and all was palpable.
Names were drawn for the classroom secret santa party which culminated on the last day of school before the Christmas break.

Our teachers, in their infinite wisdom, did something great.
In addition to our classroom Christmas tree, we also had a classroom menorah. Our Jewish classmates would, for the eight days of Hanukkah, share with us their
“holiday” along with its traditions.

Excitedly each day of Hanukah we’d ooo and ahhh, as only kids in the innocence of wonder do, over the lighting of a single candle—hardly able to contain the excitement until all 9 candles were lit.
It was a reverent event and we appreciated as well as respected the importance that the lighting of those 9 candles meant and what that 8 day observance represented to our Jewish classmates… just as they appreciated our reverence for our classroom’s small nativity scene.

A marvelous teaching tool and key to helping our young minds understand, tolerate, respect as well as allowing us to develop an appreciation for one another’s spiritual customs.
As the spirituality within man is a key component to being human.

We loved hearing our classmates excitement as they shared with the entire class the receiving of each gift on the night prior during their familiy’s observation of the Festival of Light.

We were taught the dreidle song and would play for the chocolate coins while we in turn shared the various customs of Christmases form around the world…
As we would buy our Jewish classmates their secret santa gifts as they, in turn, would buy us ours—
Never was there any resentment, no forbiddance to the right to observe, share or worship, no jealousies, not animosity….but rather a collective joy found in the frivolity of a season so merry and bright, yet sadly now seemingly steeped in what has become the frivolous, the polarized, the secular, the forgotten, the worldly and the empty….

DSCN0240
(statue on the grounds of Christ Cathedral / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:8-14

Good old fashioned hate, with an extra dose of love

“I hate and love. And why, perhaps you’ll ask.
I don’t know: but I feel, and I’m tormented.”

― Catullus

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(detail of an embroidered bee on a pair of pants / Julie Cook / 2015)

Looking in the closet, deciding what to wear, I opt for the yellow pants with the embroidered bees.
In honor of Dad.
You should know Georgia Tech’s mascot is a yellow jacket.
Yellow Jacket. . .Bee. . .
Comme ci, Comme ça

Every state has its own hyped up in-state college rivalry.
You know, those colleges within each state which vie for bragging rights from one another–with such being anything from the highest recruited freshman class to the nicest campus, the best football team, the best basketball team, the best gymnastics team, the best debate team, the top research facility. . .yada, yada, yada. . .as the list goes on and on.

Here in the South we simply call it “good old fashioned hate”
Someone wrote a book about such using that very title so I’m assuming that’s what we call it.
Here in Georgia that love / hate relationship exists between The University of Georgia and The Georgia Institute of Technology, better known as Georgia Tech, or simply Tech.

I come from a long line of Georgia Tech graduates. . .
My brother, my dad, my uncle, my grandfather, my cousins, even my son took a few course at Tech.
I on the other hand earned my degree from The University of Georgia, otherwise known as Georgia or simply UGA.

People often ask about my family’s rivalry but it’s never a problem. . . not until each fateful fall Saturday in late November when The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets meet The University of Georgia Bulldogs on the gridiron—-then there’s a problem. My Uncle would get so upset, he couldn’t bear to watch the game or even listen to it on the radio—simply too stressful.

Ask anyone from Ohio how they feel about Michigan.
Ask anyone form Michigan how they feel about Ohio.
Ask anyone from Auburn how they feel about Alabama.
Ask anyone form Alabama how they feel about Auburn.
You learn quite quickly that you’ve simply created fertile ground for a fight, plain and simple,
like I say, good old fashioned hate. . .

My deep sense of rivalry satisfaction however, comes in knowing that a man who graduated from both Emory University and Georgia Tech, who claims allegiance to a yellow jacket nation, actually had to endure paying for his daughter to attend college at his much hated arch nemesis.
Enough said.

As I sat in the waiting room, the nurse stepped out to change the channel of music.
U2 was currently singing yet she told me that they needed to change the tempo as Bono was just a little too lively for my dad. I know Dad didn’t complain, probably wasn’t even paying attention, but I let her change it nonetheless.
Eva Cassidy began singing a somber and melodic Fields of Gold.
“This is to make me feel better?!” I mused to myself.
The nurse immediately noted my “bee” pants saying how cute they were.
I explained I wear them for dad.
We then chat about that whole Georgia / Georgia Tech thing. . .

Looking over at Dad, I notice that he just looks so, well. . .old.
Small and tiny, shrinking.
His clothes seem to swallow him these days.
His hair, what hair remains, sits most days a bit disheveled on his mostly bald head.
His glasses, too big for his now tiny face, are always dusty, clouding his rummy eyes.
He’s pale and frail.
Usually listing to the right as he walks. . .make that, shuffles.
We made small talk. . .or actually I attempted to make small talk as Dad rarely initiates conversation.
I asked a few short questions in order to fill the quiet of the waiting room, albeit for Bono’s singing.
“I don’t know” was Dad’s reply, “you know my short term memory isn’t good.”
“I just looked at him, feeling sad, as he began staring forward with his chin dropped in his hand as his arm was propped up on his knee.
As they call him back to see the doctor, telling me they’ll come for me when he’s finished, I lose myself in my thoughts as the song Mad World begins to play. . .
All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places,
worn out faces. . .

Not making me feel better at all. . .

The nurse finally calls me back.
I walk in as Dad is sitting in a chair looking rather small.
I take a seat by him on the doctor’s stool.
“Oh you’re wearing bee pants. . .”
“Yes Dad, just for you” I proudly smile.
He beams a smile of satisfaction.
He becomes fretful about a new prescription the doctor had told him about but I reassure him that we’ll find out more when the doctor comes back in to go over the lab results.

Dad’s hemoglobin is low. It’s been low.
Meaning he’s anemic.
There are symptoms and signs. . .
Dad is most likely bleeding internally, most likely intestinal.
Last visit they shot him full of Vitamin B-12.
Added lots of D and changed up some of the prescriptions.
He seems much better than last visit.
Not as pale, not as wobbly, not as poorly.
At 87 with one so frail, a colonoscopy is asking a lot.
As the doctor had explained to me on our last visit. . .”say he has a colonoscopy and say they find cancer—what do you do?” The odds wouldn’t be in Dad’s favor with surgery. And what of treatment? What of chemo or something even more aggressive. . .would he, could he survive?
We all agreed, with Dad leading the charge, we will wait and see. . .monitor.
Sounds good. . .

So today his levels are still low, but stable. . .so all is good. . . for now

It’s a quick ride home as he is only a Point A to Point B sort of individual. .
no diversions whatsoever!!
He tells me multiple times that he’s worried about Gloria as she’s constantly hurting and frustrated that her hands aren’t as apt to do what she wants them to do. I tell him that I hope the doctor can prescribe something for the arthritis.
He smacks his lips.
In fact the entire time we’ve been in the car, he’s licking his lips or rather moving his tongue over the top of his mouth. . . you know, the way you do when your mouth is dry and you’re trying to work up enough saliva to make it unsticky. . .but the sound is one that is enough to drive a person crazy.
I realize that his mouth is most likely dry from all of his prescription and I make a mental note to say something to the doctor on our next trip back in a couple of weeks.

There was a time I’d have gone nuts over the endless smacking sound and of the constant litany of the same worried question after worried question. My patience with Dad has not always been great.
He tends to be very obsessive compulsive. Especially in regard to my brother. I won’t go into that whole story—suffice it knowing that he committed suicide years ago and dad has a very unhealthy conscious decision in choosing not to heal.
He is a dog with a bone, refusing to let go. . .
For years he refused counseling, always preferring to wallow.
I had a hard time with Dad and all of that.

Yet thankfully time and age have a funny way of sorting things out.
Dad, unbeknownst to himself, is continually teaching me about the important things in life . . .with the kicker being that I’m finally open and appreciative to such.
Funny how that works.
And the most amazing thing of it all. . .
is that a diehard yellow jacket hating Bulldog can proudly wear a pair of yellow bee pants. . .
just for Dad. . .
Good old fashioned hate steeped in love. . .

Out with the old and in with the new

“I’m getting old, that’s the thing! What’s in me now won’t be there anymore.”
― Leo Tolstoy

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C. S. Lewis

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(a small fall mum which is hanging on through cold and frost / Julie Cook / 2014)

A very happy New Year to all!!!

As I raise my glass to you. . .

May you look forward and not back
May you be hopeful and not full of regrets
May you hold on to the future and let go of the past
May you go forth with confidence eschewing doubt
May you be open to the new and be willing to let go of the old
May the God of both Heaven and Earth, the Creator of all that was and all that is and all that will be grant you happiness and peace as we enter this new year together. . .

A blessed New Year’s day and may God’s blessings carry you throughout the New Year.