I wish….

“Without free will we cannot have moral responsibility.
And without moral responsibility we cannot have justice, law and indeed society.
Human beings cease to be human and instead become just a collection of chemicals
living out the pre-determined paths of our meaningless existence.”

David Robertson


(a small remaining cluster of American Beautyberries—probably what my mockingbird got
drunk off of / Julie Cook / 2017)

During the course of one’s life, it is hoped that at some point, one will actually understand—as in comprehend with inward knowing….
where exactly one has been,
where one currently is,
and where one still needs to go….

I can say that with a great deal of certainty that I have, in the course of figuring
out where it is I have been, along with where I currently am, as well as where
I need to be…. that I have in turn done things, said things, thought things…
all of which would have been best never to have done,
never to have said, and never to have been thought.

Some of these things were said, done and thought most willingly—
While others were said, done and thought more reactionary or as fleeting bits of thoughtlessness or even innate quirks of randomness…
None the less, having caused pain, sorrow and suffering to others while often being
totally unbeknownst to myself, as they were done with mere flippant thoughtlessness.

Some of which, over the years, have been most grievous—
and in hindsight, grievous to both others as well as to myself…

I have done, said and thought things with mean intent, ill intent, selfish intent,
hurtful intent, harmful intent, malicious intent, prideful intent, sinful intent…
as the intents are ad infinitum.

And I wish, in this place of life’s hindsight, that I could go back in time
undoing each action, word and thought that was wrong, hurtful, mean, boastful,
selfish and or egregiously sinful.

But I cannot.

I can perhaps apologize, if such an apology would be appropriate, yet there have
actually been instances that I was simply unaware of…
instances that I was clueless to and unaware that I even needed to make some sort
of amends.

Plus time has a way of removing us so far away physically from those first moments
of error that the opportunity to “make things right” or even simply to offer a
sincere word of remorse have closed for the duration of life on this earth.

People come and go…and lives each come to an end.
Actually making it is impossible to extend a conscious heartfelt ownership
of wrongfulness in some instances…

There is however, one thing certain…
we have a responsibility to ourselves as well as to others.

That is a fact of being a human being.

It’s something that is part and parcel with being a part of the human race.
And yet we most often forget that simple fact…and it is in that forgetfulness
where most of our errors come to surface.

Just as it is part and parcel of being human that we will make poor choices in
our actions, words and thoughts against both ourselves as well as others.
But what never changes is that each poor choice of action, word or thought has a consequence.

It’s just that some are more noticeable then others.

And when we have nothing but hindsight to remind us, it is then and there, in the
solitude of our remembrances, that we must seek the Grace that God so freely offers.

The act of contrition and true repentance.

As our remorse and sorrow over these mis-actions, words and thoughts weigh heavy on the burden of a soul.
And if they do not, then the checking of a pulse just might be in order.

Grace will not erase our actions, words or thoughts, once so arrogantly, vainly or ignorantly displayed, but it will always change our perception of such actions, words and thoughts just as it will change us…
ever so slightly back to that image our Creator had of us all along…

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions,
and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

Titus 2:11-12

ignorance is bliss…

“Whatever the cost of our liberties, the price is cheap
compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

Walter Cronkite

dscn4418
(a sandpiper busy looking for breakfast / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

There’s something afoot…
I can feel it…

Something perhaps in the air…

And no,
it’s not a change in season…
It’s not an approaching weather front…

It’s simply more of a feeling…
An odd unsettling feeling…

You know…
it’s like that feeling or sense that animals seem to get just before some
impending natural disaster…such as an earthquake or some other epic trauma.

An out of sorts sort of uncomfortable feeling…

It’s like taking your hand and running it along the grain of a plank of raw wood.
Although the wood is not sanded nor smoothed, along the grain one’s hand
may run the course of the plank without fear of cuts or splinters.
But the minute you decide to run your hand back in the opposite direction,
you are stopped immediately with the bristling of the wood repelling your touch.

That’s how things feel…
as if I’m running my hand against the grain..
there is oddly no smoothness to the flow…
rather a herky jerky uncomfortableness.

Of course you will tell me that life has been doling out its fair share
of uncomfortableness in my little corner of the world…
between dad, changes, legal matters, deaths, moves, discs and nerves…
that’s got to be it… right?

To which I say no to all of that…

I will confess that I’ve stopped watching any national news….
with local news now on a very limited basis…

Sick of it all quite frankly.

Pretty much sick of watching anything about us as a nation these days…
For a weary pall has been cast.

It’s now hard to even watch any sporting events
as they too have taken to marching in the latest political fracas…

We’ve made it hard, you and I and this nation of ours…

Not just because of anthems,
or debates,
or the raging news,
or the media firestorms,
or the never ending three ring circuses,
nor even an impending election…

and I’m thinking that I won’t even bother to vote..
the first time I’ve ever considered such…
but there’s not much point now is there?

But the signs…
they’ve been all about us.
They’ve been there for quite some time…
Yet we’ve refused to pay them any mind.

We’ve all heard and seen the warnings…
but yet we’ve refused to acknowledge any of it…
any of it for what it is…
Because to acknowledge is to admit that we’ve been wrong…
and we don’t like to do that…
we don’t like being wrong.

We are a cake and eat it too type of nation.
Land of opportunity…
because doesn’t opportunity mean having cake and getting to eat it?

We accept every and any sort of choice and lifestyle and decision
because that’s what we’re all about…freedom
for the land of opportunity and freedom means it’s all good because we’re all free…
free to choose and free to decide….

Forget that there are grave responsibilities that come with freedom,
as well as with…
choice,
and opportunity,
and cake,
and even eating…

We’ve even made it pretty darn clear that we don’t like having a God who is just that,
God.
We’ve decided we want our God to be a feel good god…
one who is all accepting, all tolerable and certainly for all choices…
and don’t forget about loving,
because of course he, she or even it must be loving…

Because we’ve decided that that’s what a God should be,
someone who is all about loving and acceptance and only good things…
Because we like good things…always happy, always bliss…

We want nothing to do with the business of
warnings,
harbingers,
rules (aka commandments)
covenants,
death,
dying,
pain,
suffering,
responsibility,
obedience…

So yes…
I keep sensing something unsettling,
something uncomfortable,
maybe even something foreboding…

“Ignore it” you say …
because remember,
ignorance is indeed bliss…
and we all want bliss….

When the Lord God decides to do something,
he will first tell his servants, the prophets.
When a lion roars, people are frightened.
When the Lord God speaks, a prophet must prophesy.

Go to the high towers in Ashdod and in Egypt and announce this message from the Lord:
“Come together on the mountains of Samaria.
See the great confusion there because the people don’t know how to live right.
See how cruel they are to others. They take things from people to hide
in their high towers.
Their treasuries are filled with the things they have taken in war.”

So the Lord God says, “An enemy will surround your land.
They will break down your strong walls and take the things
you have hidden in your high towers.”

The Lord says,
“A lion might attack a lamb,
and a shepherd might try to save the lamb.
But the shepherd will save
only a part of that lamb.
He might pull two legs
or a part of an ear from the lion’s mouth.
In the same way, most of the people of Israel will not be saved.
Those who live in Samaria will save only a corner from a bed,
or a piece of cloth from a couch.”

This is what the Lord God All-Powerful says:
“Warn the family of Jacob about these things.
Israel sinned, and I will punish them for their sins.
And when I do, I will also destroy the altars at Bethel.
The horns of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground.
I will destroy the winter house with the summer house.
The houses of ivory will be destroyed.
Many houses will be destroyed.”
This is what the Lord said.

Amos 3: 7-15

Surprise Guests

DSCN0448
(photograph: Julie Cook/2013)

“Nature is the art of God.”
Dante Alighieri

Whenever I work in the yard, tend to the garden or have an opportunity of being out in the woods, there are no limits to the sights and sounds that so often bring me a sense of Divine Joy. I don’t know how anyone can stand outside, in the middle of “nature”, be it woods, ocean, mountains, field, garden–large or small, and definitely proclaim there is no Creator.

I have stood at the base of massive jagged mountains, ominous clouds capping the space above my head, as an angry, churning, black sea roared at my back–all the while feeling suddenly finite and small. I have stood waste high in brush, scanning the field for the infamous resident grizzles that called the very place I stood, home–all the while knowing that I was suddenly back in the food chain… and not necessarily on the top of that chain. I have paddled lazily on an inflatable raft on a turquoise clear sea, only to spy an ominous fin rise silently up then silently down right besides me– knowing all the while that I remained untouched, on my raft, not by my own accord.

It is at these certain moments when I, as the egocentric all powerful human, find myself knocked off my pedestal of arrogance, left but to quickly discover that I am merely a small piece of this place we call earth. We do not control this place, even though we so smugly think differently… it, in the end, will indeed control us.

It is at these moments, the moments of fierce and unpredictable adventures out of doors, when I know I am less and there is indeed More….yet there does not necessarily need to be extreme conditions or moments of fear for me to experience the often elusive glimpse of Divine Wonder—I can do so when I water a container of flowers or even clean out the garage….just as I did the other day and found a surprise guest hiding in a corner.

Mr. Toad had obviously wandered in our garage thinking he could or should hide-out behind the trash bin. I thought it best that he should be returned to the yard–as I gently scooped him up, depositing him near the plants in the garden. I would think the food “pickings” of a better variety and much more tasty in the yard verses the garage.

Even when I have the chance meeting with a toad, I am beautifully reminded that there is a Creator whose handiwork is constantly all around me. I am most thankful for these brief surprise encounters with nature, particularly when they are most unexpected,—these moments draw me out of my finite world, allowing me to see, sense, feel and touch the infinite Wonders which surround and thankfully engulf me.

I hope you have such opportunities on this Monday morning in June. What Wonders will you discover today?