time marches forward or does it?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.
But that is not for them to decide.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


(time’s toll on a sunflower / Julie Cook / 2021)

Not much time to chat due to grandparent duties but I did want
to squeeze in a thought that has been percolating in my brain…

That being the thought of history and time.

Pretty deep and vast subject matter I know, but
perhaps the point of this percolating is more subtle and succinct
then the topics themselves.

I have to admit that, years back, when I got my first Apple computer along
with an eventual iPhone, I began to utilize the e-calendars on those devices.

Traditionally I had kept a wall calendar at home as well as in my classroom.
Never one to use one of those notebook planner / organizers that
Stephen Covey made so popular in the 1980’s, I stored most dates in my head.

I tried planners but I was not dutiful when it came to working in them
as one was expected. I was usually on the move, so much so, that storing
things in my head just worked for me.

And that head system of mine worked pretty well throughout my tenure
as a teacher until I began to notice that I would miss a hair appointment here
or a meeting there…getting days and weeks a bit skewed.

We call that age.

So wall calendars were big with me…

Once technology began to trickle into both my professional and personal life,
the electronic calendars were quite handy as I especially liked the alert
systems allowing my device to alert me as to an upcoming appointment.

However I was a little peeved when I realized Apple had pre-inserted various
“holidays” onto the calendars.

Some “holidays” I knew, some I did not.

Now I understood having the biggie National holidays marked
as most business, banks and post offices are to be closed.

And it was good to see where days, say like, Thanksgiving or July 4th,
were going to fall during a week when it came to planning time off,
trips or family gatherings.

And I suppose having Ground Hog day pre-marked is a good thing
if you like using a giant rodent as a weatherman…
yet in our family, having that date marked was good because it also happened
to be Aunt Martha’s birthday.

However I have to admit that there were a few “holidays” that I would
have preferred having the option to delete as they were
not pertinent to me and my world.

When I first saw Juneteenth, marked on June 19th, I had no idea as to
what that was all about.
It seemed so random.
Was it some sort of millennial thing that I was not privy to…?

Well naturally, I needed to investigate.

As a one time history major…
how did some things ever seem to elude my studies?

Or was it merely presented as a different name as the notion of a Juneteenth was indeed more new to me than old?

Juneteenth it seems, marked a day for the emancipation of enslaved
African Americans.

Ahh—well….
So why not just call it Emancipation Day?
And so through my investigating, I discovered that it was indeed referred to
as Emancipation Day in Texas as well as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day or
Liberation day…

I think I like Jubilee Day the best as that is indeed something to
have been jubilant over!

So now I get it.

But what I don’t get, is why there are now groups of folks out there
who are saying that July 4th should no longer be relevant…??!!

There are sectors now claiming that America’s day of Independence should
not be recognized.
As in July 4th is not a day of liberation from tyranny…
They are saying that it is not a day of independence
for black, brown, red or yellow Americans…

Now I’ve written long and hard about the importance of a
young Nation’s fight for independence.
That that initial fight for freedom was but the beginning of
many freedom fights to come.
One begetting but another.

I’ve written about how Betsy Ross and her flag were not and are
not symbols of racism—as she was both a pacifist as well
as an abolitionist.

Here’s a link to that previous post:
https://wordpress.com/post/cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/28222

And I noted in that previous post..
“Slavery was not a new problem to a new Nation.
Nor was it a problem created by the new Nation.

It had been a form of “free labor” used by other Nations long before
there were 13 colonies and even before there had been a new land.

And the Quakers (of which Betsy Ross belonged) were actually
one of the first religious groups to denounce the ownership of slaves
and vocally oppose the practice of slavery.

Betsy Ross, the Continental Congress, and the new flag had nothing to do with racism
or slavery…end of sentence.”

So when I read or hear of certain groups out there clamoring that
July 4th is not representative to all Americans or that it is
not a day that all Americans should recognize as a day of this Nation’s
independence…well I get a bit rankled.

Like I say…that fight for freedom set in motion more freedom fights
to come.

And so when I hear such talk, I feel it’s important to remind
folks of a few facts…
Facts like Betsy Ross, along with the flag she created to be carried
by the Revolutionary soldiers, had nothing to do with the new
hot button word, racism.

Or the little fact that men, both black and white, actually had the
right to vote long before any color of women.

So after a hard fought emancipation, came a suffrage movement…
where eventually all Americans were afforded the privilege to vote in
free and open elections.

But hearing so much talk these days about separating black from white…
I just don’t understand.

Wasn’t the quest for emancipation to have all people in this country
living free and on equal footing with one another?
Having the same sorts of opportunities—not hand outs but
opportunities??

And in turn, didn’t generations before today’s new angry and woke generation,
fight hard to bring about that same equal footing???—was it not their desire
for the divisiveness and strife to end??

And yet today, are we not seeing a backwards trend?

Rather than the hopes and toil of all those Americans, of all colors,
in previous generations who labored just so you and I could work side by side
in a Nation that is both by the people and for the people…we now
have a new generation who wants to go back to separations and division…
back to hate and immense anger…

The unity so many fought for and even died for…is now unraveling before
our very eyes…
May it not be so.

As we ready for another year’s Day of Independence may we remember
to honor all those men and women of all backgrounds, both past and present,
who made, and continue to make, the ultimate sacrifice for our ability
to be free…
and sadly that freedom seems to now be a matter of fussing and cussing with
one another…

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of
chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
give me liberty or give me death!

Patrick Henry

splitting hairs, missing the knots

For while we say time marches forward,
all things in time move backward toward the middle and eventually to
the beginnings of history.
We are too vain; we think we are the summit of history.

Morris Bishop


(antique fishing balls encased in rope netting, Julie Cook / 2017)

I think we’d all agree that there’s a great deal happening in this world of ours.
Just as there’s a great deal happening in this country of ours.
And I’m pretty certain we’d each agree that we are all now standing at some sort
of a crossroads, a fork in the road, a diverging path.

Eney, meeny, miny, moe…
which is the path we now should go…?

Choices. Decisions. Options.
Yet are those choices, decisions and options really ours to make?

We’ve been inundated by protests, demands, demonstrations, violence,
disagreements, special interest groups, fake news, real news, marches,
angst, politics, policies, black lives matters, antifas, alt rights,
progressives, liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans,terrorists,
radicals, extremists, anarchists, LBGTs, atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims and
anything else in between…

I recently read an article by The Rev. Gavin Ashenden.
Rev. Ashenden is that rather rebellious Anglican prelate I’ve referenced
previously in a past post or two.
My kind of priest actually.

Another clerical voice in the ever shrinking pool of the global faithful
who is opting to do something quite novel…that being sticking to his guns,
his vows, his belief in the face of those who cry foul. His beliefs that God’s
word is just that, God’s word…not man’s, not some theologian’s, not some
special interest group’s, but God’s and God’s alone.

Rev. Ashenden’s article,
“The Trans Dilemma–Human Dysphoria & the Life of Brian”
is a response to the very public growing battle and preoccupation with changing,
what now appears to be on a whim, one’s sexual orientation.

No longer do our legislatures want those seeking, or the parents who are seeking,
the option of changing ones sex to have to wait for some sort of legal process.
Rather it should be something that one should be able to do by the checking
of a box or the proclamation of a particular day.

Rev. Ashenden notes that it seems that “we have shifted as a society to
a place where we treasure and respect feelings more than most other factors.
It’s part of a growing self-preoccupation.

He continues,
“If I feel something, it must be true or real.”
It’s the under-side of an “I want” consumerist society where a whole range of
very sophisticated agencies play on our feelings of how we would like to look or
like to feel, or like to be seen.”

The Trans Dilemma – Human Dysphoria & the Life of Brian.

This issue is just one more in a litany of growing issues that are bombarding us
on a daily basis.

It is a never ending sea of society telling us all to accept,
get on board or be damned.
Forget choice, decision or option because it is all one-sided really.

Yet are these issues really just a lost population’s attempt at grasping
straws…just as a drowning man grasps at anything afloat to save him?
Or is there something much deeper and much more grave taking place?

Are we as a society merely preoccupied with the business of splitting hairs
when in actuality we’re really missing the giant tangled knots glaring us
in the face….

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.”
For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire
and enticed.
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;
and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Don’t be deceived…
(James 1:13-16)

how far are we to go?

“But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”
Albert Camus

09ec7fde8431bb983f7eb58a98416a76
(Betsie, Corrie and Nollie Ten Boom)

Survival of the fittest.
We’ve all heard of it…
that notion that the strong, cunning, stealthy and fortuitous among us usually come out
on the other side..
Whereas the weak, sickly, naive and unlucky, more often than not,
will succumb to those more trying events of life.

Many a survivor of all sorts of traumas and events are often heard to opine as to “why me?”
“why did I survive, making it to the other side, when the other’s did not??”—
those others who seemed to be perhaps better people, more kind, more gracious, more giving,
seemingly to have more to live for or even greater purpose…
why didn’t they live, while the now living survivor laments to still be breathing….

I think it is called survivor’s remorse…
a natural reaction…

Yet perhaps there is a deeper purpose for those who survive…
something that reaches to a place far greater than any mere mortal can comprehend….

Ravensbrück Concentration Camp…
A “death” camp north of Berlin constructed in 1938 in order to house female prisoners.
It was a camp initially built to hold roughly 900 women…
but by the end of its first operational year, it had far exceeded its maximum number,
swelling to 10,000 women.
A reasons for the Germans to continue with construction.

Mostly Poles, but there were prisoners from every Nazi occupied nation.
Many of these women came with children and many more gave birth while being held
in Ravensbrück.
There were unspeakable medical trials and tests carried out on many of Ravensbrück’s women,
leaving many to die agonizing deaths while others toiled through 14 hour days of
extreme manual labor.

During its operation from 1939 to 1945, it is estimated that 132,000 women came and
went from Ravensbrück…most of whom went out by way of death.

Betsie Ten Boom, Corrie Ten Boom’s older sister, was one of the thousands of victims
of Ravensbrück.
She was humiliated and worn down physically from months of being treated more
like a hated animal than a humanbeing..
Gravely sick and malnourished, her body simply gave out while her spirit
never wavered.

Betsie saw it as her Christian duty to minister to the other women–
both believers and non believers…
even compelling her fellow prisoners to pray for their monstrous
and sadistic guards.

For it was in those guards who beat, tortured, belittled, mocked,
demeaned and ridiculed their captives, who Betsie saw as people in need.
Betsie knew that Christ died not only for her but for those guards as well…
and if Christ would give his life for these Nazis,
then why should she not be willing to do the same….

“Let any one of you who is without sin…”
Betsie knew that no one on this earth was without sin and therefore…
all, both captive and captor, were in need of Christ’s saving Grace.

Corrie had seen the dead bodies of prisoners stacked up like cord wood…
those who had lost their battle to survive,
staked inside one of the bathrooms of the infirmary…
the same room where she would eventually see Betsie’s body,
discarded and waiting to be incinerated…

And yet without hate for their captors, Corrie returned to the barracks,
determined to carry on Betsie’s mission of love in a place that knew no love.

Shortly following Betsie’s death, Corrie was, as it was later discovered,
mistakingly discharged from Ravensbrück.

However before she could be released, she had to be “healthy” enough to leave.
Corrie was currently suffering from staggering edema in her legs and feet…
So as in a case of deep irony, she was sent to the infirmary to heal,
the very infirmary where women were merely sent to die,
in order that she might pass the physical exam necessary for release.

In the dank and dirty infirmary she was placed with those who were dying
from all manner of disease. The air was putrid with rotting flesh.
Yet she was thankful to have a wooden platform in which to lie down,
while being able to prop up her grotesquely swollen legs against the wall.

As she later reflected in her book The Hiding Place,
Corrie knew that living in such a place as Ravensbrück made the retreating of self,
that of one turning deeply within self to a place that normal humanbeings
dared not tread,
a necessity of simple survival.

It was a place of survival by any and all means…
a place that she would later recall as being Satan’s ploy….
“this was the great ploy of Satan in that kingdom of his: to display
such blatant evil that one could almost believe one’s own secret sins didn’t matter.”

A place where morality, kindness and decorum were strangers.
She found herself fighting hard to continue loving and offering hope where
none was to be found.

At night in the infirmary she would be unable to sleep due to the constant wailing
of women pleading for the guards to bring a bed pan as the women were all too ill to
make their own way to the latrine.
Knowing what she must do, Corrie painfully dropped her heavy swollen legs from their
elevated position and climbing down from the platform, found the bed pans as she would
carry them from patient to patient.
Serving her fellow “woman” as only she knew Christ would…

On one of the aisles full of the sick and dying were a couple of Hungarian gypsies
who were suffering with severe gangrene.
Sadisticly they enjoyed waving their pus covered black dying limbs in Corrie’s face,
shrieking and laughing at her…taunting her efforts of simple kindness.
As these women had tragically become the animals they were assumed to be.

One night, Corrie couldn’t find the bed pans.
The other patients told Corrie that the Hungarian women had taken the pans and were hiding
them in their cots so they wouldn’t have to get up.
Suddenly Corrie felt the sensation of a wet piece of cloth, which had a wretchedly
foul odor, land on her face.
The gypsies were laughing as they had flung their diseased soaked bandages on her face.
Terrified and demoralized, Corrie ran sobbing to the latrine to wash her face under
the lone working spigot…vowing never to offer aid again….

and yet….
the one prayer that she would say over and over throughout her life came to her lips..
“Jesus, I cannot forgive them/ him/ her. Give me your forgiveness.”

She marched back into the ward, heading directly toward the Hungarian women,
when she heard the bed pans crashing down on the floor.

The thing is that Corrie could have, and by world standards should have,
selfishly thought of her own health and legs,
not bothering to sacrifice her health and potential release,
for the sake of others who openly mocked and ridiculed her selfless acts…
but as a Christian, who was actually living her faith…
Corrie knew there was no option

“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than
on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His.
When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command,
the love itself…”

And so as we now find ourselves marching forward into this new strange and hate
filled world of this 21st century,
may we recall that same command to love… as well as to forgive…
knowing that we have been given the love necessary…
a love that far exceeds the depths or capacity
of the human heart….

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7