Utopia???

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even
glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.
And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail.
Progress is the realisation of Utopias.”

Oscar Wilde


(a view of a portion of “the cove” Cades Cove, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park /
Julie Cook/ 2018—a little piece of utopia)

Many many years ago when I was but a wee lass in high school, our cheerleaders
would lead the crowds gathered in the stadium, ready for those fall Friday night
gridiron showdowns, with a rousing rendition of
“We’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit, how ’bout you!?”

Back and forth we’d chant…the cheerleaders and the fans…

So now tell me…
why after all these many years later do I hear that same chant resonating in my head,
albeit with a slightly different variation of wording??!!

…”we’ve got trouble, yes we do, we’ve got trouble, how ’bout you?”

I think it’s because this same story keeps popping up over and over again leaving me
nothing but unsettled.

It’s the story about the 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasi-Cortez Socialist Democrat who is
pretty much set to win the New York Congressional seat she’s chomping at the bit over,
come November.

Being 28 years old, she is two years younger than my son…and she is the same age as many
of my former students.
Those who are more idealistic while remaining totally unrealistic.

And I have no problems stating the fact that she, along with most of her millennial cohorts,
all have some unreal and lofty sorts of Utopian notions as to how life should be…
and yet they have no idea of how a Utopian society is to manage itself.

Because in part…there is no such thing nor will there ever be such.

This lack of reality is due in part because they have no real clue as to how many
past societies have attempted such…with each one failing miserably.

Many with tragic results.

Think Hitler, think Lenin, think any sort of cult leader…

All in part due to the fact that this unrealistic desired ideal has no true concept of
management nor of how history will, not if but will, repeat itself.

Physics teaches that any void left open will be filled.
It matters not how it is filled, but the fact is that it will be filled none the less.

Saying all of those wonderful pie in the sky happy words…words spoken because the one
speaking believes folks want to hear such…

Yet has anyone informed these kids that if it sounds too good to be true…
99.9% it is not and will not be true.

People are people and each person, like it or not, has free will—
they…meaning you, me, them and us all have the will to do such and to play along…
or…
we have the choice not to do such and not to play along…
the will to actually opt out of this whole cooperation notion of kumbaya living.

Reading a recent article by the freelance writer Lauren DeBellis Appell, I was alarmingly
reminded of how this democracy of ours is really teetering on a precipice.

Ms. Appell writes:
“The 28-year-old candidate acts like she’s the millennial version of Oprah,
except there’s one major distinction.
All the “free” stuff she’s giving away has to be paid for by someone–
and in this case it’s not her.
It’s you–the American taxpayer.”

And that’s the thing…so many young up and coming politicians, along with, sadly,
some of their senior mentor members, are touting some really grandiose ideas.
It’s a marvelously bright new sort of futuristic day waiting for you, me and everyone…
yet the problem is that money does not grow on trees, there is no fairy godmother,
and there are no magic hocus pocus words to zap all of these dreamy thoughts into a living,
functioning reality.

Pretty happy words remain empty when there remains no meat on the bone.
There must be the necessary finances and concrete plans to back up these futuristic
Utopian visions.

Burdens such that cannot be borne on the shoulders of the working middle class.

Hopefulness will always be a must, but reality is always the bottom line of necessity…

It is the requirement needed in order for any society to function successfully…
Idealistic dreamy sorts of ramblings offered by those seeking leadership roles will remain
merely dreamy notions for as long as these hoped-for leaders have no concept as to how
things work, how things are paid for, how monies are raised and secured and how people
are governed.
People will not remain mindless lemmings for long.

History teachers us such.
Thus it is mandatory that these young hopefull wannabes study the history of past nations,
governments and leaderships…

For a pig wearing lipstick is still just a pig.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/08/25/ocasio-cortezs-socialist-fairytale-could-destroy-american-dream.html

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances
contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

Romans 16:17

the Christian Paradox

“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our
only necessities.”

Oscar Wilde


(the sad little cherub birdbath has seen better days / Julie Cook / 2017)

Reflecting back over this past and most chaotic year—chaotic on so many levels….
As it has been chaotic, yes, personally but perhaps the correct word there
would be difficult….

Yet chaotic is what it has been, none the less and more importantly, on
a National and Global level….
thus making it more acute because its a sort of chaotic which affects us all.

It has been a year which has seen its fair share of words and acronyms,
some tried and true, some new and biting…each having left us changed.

Words and letters such as BREXIT, Tweet, Trump, Merkel, May,
Hillary, Russia, Putin, LBTGQ, ISIS, snowflakes, cupcakes, harassment,
sexual, misogynist, tolerance, intolerance, conservative, media, fake news,
liberal, Socialist, Nazi, Communist, accept, Democrats, Homophobic, Republicans, e-mails,
leaks, white supremacist, racist, walls, migrants….

On and on the list has grown….
so perhaps the ending of this particular year is coming none too soon.

It has certainly been perplexing watching the shift in dynamics within our Nation
as well as within the world at large.

It has been disconcerting watching this shift in Culture—
particularly in and with what we thought we knew.

It is maddening to be called “phobic” when one simply disagrees with a sinful
lifestyle.

In the latest posting of Anglican Unscripted, Bishop Ashenden was also opining
the same sorts of issues but with a more keen eye on the shift within Christian
Culture and the Church….

The good Bishop notes that there are all sorts of calls emanating from various pulpits,
all the way to Canterbury itself, the ancient seat of the Anglican Church—

Calls are being made for a total acceptance, absolute tolerance and drastic change….
Coupled by the actual accusations towards those who opt not to get on board with the
acceptance, the tolerance and the change….
Actually accusing those who cling to Scriptural Authority as being outdated,
out numbered and flat out wrong.

I can remember when words from various pulpits were words of God, Salvation, Fatih, Sacrifice, Obedience, Jesus, Love, Grace—
not this modern mantra of jumping on the culture train or else…….

Bishop Ashenden notes that it seems as if the majority of the English Clergy,
(and I would include their kissing cousins of the Episcopal Church), are
either outright socialists or of socialist leanings.
While frustratingly the more Orthodox remain silent for fear of reprisals.

As it appears that the majority of both clergy and laity have lost confidence in the Spiritual message of Salvation, that which calls for all humans to repent,
having rather “transferred their allegiance to a political solution.”
Because who wants to be told to repent from a lifestyle that society has
deemed worthy as God has succinctly and resoundingly deemed as sinful?

And what we the Faithful must note….is that within that notion of all things
of a political solution, there is absolutely no call to or for repentance.

Anglican unscripted:

And now we look to the paradoxical…

We look to the counter balance to all of the liberal heavy handed hullabaloo
with the story of the ancient Coptic Church in Egypt.

It is a church whose roots are found in St Mark who brought the Gospel to Egypt
during the reign of the Emperor Nero.
A long suffering church body of Believers who have suffered at the hands of Islam
since Muslims invaded their homeland in 641.

Believers who do not adhere to the cultural gods, but rather adhere only to the
Word of the One Almighty and Omnipotent God…

For there is no demand for change, or tolerance of the sinful, or acceptance of
society’s demands.


(Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church of Egypt)


(The Amir Tadros coptic Church in Minya on Sunday.
The building was set ablaze on Aug. 14)

Consider the following comment….

What kind of faith makes people go back to church immediately after that
church was bombed?
What kind of faith makes people chant the Nicene Creed right after their church
was bombed?
What kind of faith makes a community continue liturgy outside because their church
wasn’t yet safe enough to be in?
What kind of faith makes one go on national TV and tell persecutors that they
are loved and forgiven after they just attacked and killed 28 Christians?
The unshakable faith of Christ.

We mourn.
We are in pain.
We are angry.
We have lost many brothers and sisters in Christ, and their blood continues to flow.
But many of us neglect to remember something –
the Coptic Christians remain undefeated.
They continue to grow.
They continue to inspire and strengthen the faith of Christians around the world.

https://howtoreligion.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/coptic-orthodoxy-and-self-defense/

And so will round out these thoughts with the words of the late Orthodox monk and saint,
Saint Paisios…..

“[St. Paisios responds to the question: ‘Geronda, what is this joy that I feel?
Can it be that I am not aware of my sinfulness?’]

No, my child!
God gives you a chocolate here and there, in order to give you joy.
For now, it’s chocolates; later, it will be wine —
like the wine they drink in Paradise.
Do you know how sweet is the wine they drink there?
Oh my!
If God sees a little philotimo (*), a bit of good disposition,
He offers His Grace abundantly, and it intoxicates you —
even from this life.
The spiritual delight one receives, and the transformation he feels in his heart
when the Grace of God visits him, cannot be given…
even by the best cardiologist in the world.
When you feel such joy, try to hold on to it for as long as you can.”
~+~
(*) – Philotimo, is the spontaneous, self-sacrificing love shown by humble people,
from whom every trace of self has been filtered out,
full of gratitude towards God and their fellow man.
Philotimo comes from a deep, abiding connection with God,
so that one is constantly moved to do and seek that which is good,
right and honorable.
(Although this definition has been repeated many times during these teachings,
the last time was 5 months ago,
I feel it is never too often to remind us of its awesome meaning!)

From Discerning Thoughts

And so we end this year of the humanly chaotic being warned.
For we the faithful are being called.
Called not to be quiet, not to fear reprisals, not to accept that which is wrong
but to hold up to the world the Image of God incarnate in His only begotten son….

His duality is seen in the oldest documented Icon of Christ the Pantocrator.
One side of his face is the Christ who is benevolent, kind and loving,
the other side is of the Christ who sits in judgement….judgement of all mankind.

What those who clamor for all things cultural and accepting have chosen to ignore
that Jesus will indeed sit in judgement.

We are called to repent.
To be repentant.
For in that repentance and in that the turning away from sin is found
the true acceptance of Salvation.


(Christ Pantocrator, the oldest known Icon of Christ, 6th Century AD / St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai)

dreams

“Yes: I am a dreamer.
For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,
and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

Oscar Wilde

Spare a little candle
Save some light for me
Figures up ahead
Moving in the trees
White skin in linen
Perfume on my wrist
And the full moon that hangs over
These dreams in the mist

These Dreams lyrics
Heart

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(super moon 2016 / Julie Cook)

Maybe it was the moon…all that super business doing some massive gravitational pull
on my subconscious…
Or maybe that’s just it in a nutshell, my subconscious…

It was about 5:30 this morning when I woke from a night of fitful sleep.
I had a headache.
If it’s not my back, it’s also my neck—
as in all my discs are giving out…
and obviously the warranty has given out as well…

I got up and rummaged around in the oddly lit house under the watchful eye of the latest super moon,
looking for a couple of motrin to alleviate the gnawing aching pain.
I thought I’d just go ahead and get up since I was pretty much wide awake…
But knowing I had a long day in Atlanta with Dad, what harm would laying back down do,
just for a minute….

Bad idea.

Obviously I fell back asleep…into one of those massively deep sleeps…
as in out like the dead.

It was during this dead sleep that I found myself having the most crazy and vivid dream.

But of course I don’t know why that would be something new or out of the ordinary because
all of my dreams are pretty much crazy.
They often seem quite real albeit bizarre, odd and absolutely not normal.

In this particular dream I was somewhere, though I knew not where,
I just knew it was not home, nor any place familiar.
I was pushing my son in a baby carriage…whereas in real life he’s almost 28…
yet in the dream he was a baby.

We were trying to get away from some bad guy who was following us.
The next thing I remember is that I’m reading in a newspaper in some sort of room
that was again, not familiar.
It was the obituaries and I was reading that both my dad and godfather had each died as
I suddenly found myself desperately trying to text my mother to tell her what I’d read…
because I knew she’d need to know and would need my help.

Ok, so in real life, my mom has been gone now for over 30 years, long before texting ever existed,
let alone living in a society that is now joined at the hip with their cell phones.

I remember that I frustratingly couldn’t get the text right….
which just means that some part of my brain knew that mother was not exactly in texting range….
and yet I couldn’t find my right clothes or any of my “stuff” …
because remember, I was someplace unfamiliar….

Thankfully I finally woke up…only to realize that both my husband I had overslept—
I jumped up, he got up…
and off we both raced for the day.

As he was getting ready to leave for work, I told him briefly about my dream—
and in his typical nonplused fashion…
“I can tell you where you were.”
“Really?!
You can?!” I marveled.
“Yeah, you were in the nut house because all your dreams are the stuff for loony bins”

And I suppose he has a point.

The night before last, I dreamt someone was trying to kidnap and kill my beloved cat
and that I had gotten Carrie Underwood to watch him and help keep him safe.

But I knew where that bizarre dream was born…
it was the direct result of the heavy birthday supper I had eaten that night—
very rich and overfilling…resulting in very poor and fitful sleep.

Last night’s dream however was so vivid that I woke with tears in my eyes and immediately hit
the computer to scour over the obits for my godfather…who thankfully was not there.
A bit irrational but that’s how clear it all seemed.

He and dad are in equally poor states of health…both physically and mentally
with him in a facility while dad is still at home….
So I imagine that that constant worry over both of them,
simply lingers somewhere past the waking and cognizant part of my brain.

And then there was / is mom.
Obviously I am missing her tremendously as I now go it alone caring for dad.

When I was young and foolish I would, from time to time, imagine what it would be like when I
was like my parents who, at the time, were caring for both of my grandmothers—
it’s just that I never imagined what we’d all be living, or in mother’s case not living,
as we are today.
And maybe that’s the thing—life is never what we imagine nor dream what it will be.

Sometimes it can be the stuff of dreams—
all good, all nice and all delightfully other worldly…
but for the majority of the time,
it is humanly real, raw and very very hard.

I think that’s why I’ve let what’s going on in this country of ours bother me so badly…
as it’s just left me feeling so depressed, not that my own life hasn’t been depressing enough.

Life is hard.

And it requires a great deal from us just to make it through.

I work hard just getting through each day…
as these past two years have been all but draining of all emotions and physical well being.
It’s as if I’ve been living under a very heavy grey cloud…
ever since, having lost their cognitive and physical freedoms,
Dad and my stepmother required outside help.

And it is very much that I have bordered on depression on and off these past two years.

Yet I work very hard to make certain that they are ok in their own home…
cause that’s how dad wants it…
to go out in a box from his own home…whenever that day comes—
despite me explaining to him that I don’t think a box will be involved….

There is the day to day running of their household…
the caregivers, the housekeeper, the nurses, hospice, the bills, the taxes, the invoices,
the groceries, the doctors, the hospitals, the maintenance on a older home…
And then there is our household 75 miles away—
as in me the caregiver, the maid, the cook, the yardman, and everything else in between…
when and if there is time or energy or even desire…

People wonder why I don’t have time to do this or that anymore…
why can’t I squeeze in anything for me or for them or for whatever…
I obviously don’t even have time to sleep worth a flip let alone the nicer things about
nurturing self or that of friendships….

So I grow angry when I see on the news the sea of protesters across this county.
Surely I’m not the only person who has life issues to contend with.
My life is more than enough to keep me busy and focused…
Lord knows how’d I manage to balance protesting, marching, walking out of class…
all the while fussing and cussing with my neighbors on the street…

Life is bigger than any of us realize…
It’s bigger than this election.

When it is all said and done…
presidents will come and go,
elections will come and go…

Some elections will go the way we want and some will not…
that’s how life works—not always as we’d like…

That’s simply life and it is what it is wherever or not you and I like that…

And I can honestly say that anyone battling a catastrophic illness, caring for loved ones,
watching elderly parents slowly slip away or who has been devastatingly injured,
will tell you that that is not how they ever would have imagined or dreamed their lives would go.

So everyone out there who seems to think they have all sorts of time for all
this bitching, complaining and nasty fussing and cussing…
because that’s what protests are are they not…glorified bitching and complaining…
obviously has way too much time on their hands to waste…
the otherwise precious energy for living.

My God, can’t those of you just be thankful that you can afford to be in college?
And can apparently afford to ditch class…
not to mention all these high school kids out there walking out of class who can’t yet even vote.
Stay in class for heaven’s sake and learn something about being a decent citizen
because wandering around on the streets fussing and cussing your neighbor
isn’t gaining anything but expending wasted anger….

Instead of wrath and anger, be thankful that you live in a country that affords you
the opportunity to vote—
Never mind that whomever it was you wanted to win may not have won…
because that’s simply the result when two people run…one wins, one does not.
That’s called democracy and you have a military that has lost countless of lives
of men and women over the generations who sacrificed everything for you…
you who now use your protected freedom and wasted time in life that you cannot get back
to bitch, complain, fuss and cuss and march…

But be glad you have choice…so many countries don’t get choice.
That little fact is in part why other nations view us as entitled and spoiled—
we bitch and complain even when we have options and choice…
as in we never really seem happy.

Be glad that obviously you are healthy enough to go out, ditching class or work,
just to bitch and complain…
because those who are sick, hurting or busy with the demands of life, simply can’t fit any of that in.

Dream…dream big…big wonderful sorts of dreams…
because one thing we know about America is that dreaming and working can make dreams come true—
because America has always equated to opportunity…
where in other nations…
opportunity not so much….

Don’t fuss and cuss…because life is simply too short…
Dreaming is so much more important and much more fun and much more hopeful and much more productive
than bitching and complaing and marching and fussing and cussing our neighbors….

Just ask Dad….who just wishes he could have a little more time in life to dream….

“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams….”

Acts 2:17

sweet and precious

“Promise me you’ll always remember:
You’re braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.”

A.A. Milne

Ordinary riches can be stolen;
real riches cannot.
In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.

Oscar Wilde

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(our resident fawn / Julie Cook / 2016)

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Blessings for a peace filled Sunday….

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

Isaiah 43:4-5

fairness

Life is never fair,
and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.

Oscar Wilde

DSCN3367
(coquina clam shell / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / 2016)

It seems that from the time we’re old enough to talk, we’re complaining about life not being fair.
And we’re right…it isn’t fair.
But that’s just life…

Over the past 10 days or so, I had posted, in addition to my regular daily posts, an imploring of the faithful to please join my family in prayers for our niece Chrissy.
Her husband rushed her to the ER over a week ago in distress….difficulty breathing, vomiting, disoriented. She was immediately put into ICU.
During the next 10 days her body just fell apart.
Nothing could get regulated before something else went awry.
Breathing, potassium, blood…
She just couldn’t hold on any longer and lost her battle at 6:30 Sunday evening.
She was 43.

We had just settled down for our father’s day supper when my brother-n-law called us.
Earlier in the day they told us that she seemed to be doing better. Odd how that is…one minute things seem better and leveling off, then just as quickly it all turns around in an instant.

I have been gratified by the prayerful support—it has been humbling and a wonderful life line for my sister-n-law who was amazed I had asked people to pray.

My father-n-law, Chrissy’s grandfather, passed away exactly two months ago. I worry about my sister-n-law as it is a tremendous amount of loss in such a short time.

Chrissy started reading my blog right after her grandfather died as I’d written a piece in tribute to him. She made me laugh, which she did often… she had to text me when she couldn’t figure out how to read the post because she didn’t know how a blog worked. I told her it wasn’t difficult.
She was always a hoot.

Time is a healing force and I know that that will eventually be the case here as well…it won’t make any of this any easier, but it will help as that is how time is…healing.

The details of “where do we go from here” was all painfully raw last evening as my sister-n-law and Bill, Chrissy’s now devastated husband had to figure out the details of things that, at 43, folks don’t much think about—things such as where will she be buried, what should she wear, what about work, what about Eli’s summer ball…
all the things you don’t think about or simply take for granted as life is simply life…

I do want to express a sea of endless gratitude for all the support, prayers and friendship that you have each offered up on behalf of my family.

God remains in our midsts—this much I know for certain.
There will be sorrow and tears—but there is a confidence and strength as well.

Onward and upward we go….

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

Unconditional invitation to love

To give and not expect return,
that is what lies at the heart of love.

Oscar Wilde

Love means to love that which is unlovable;
or it is no virtue at all.

Gilbert K. Chesterton

We are called to show utter commitment to the God
who is revealed in Jesus and to all those to whom
His invitation is addressed.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

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(blooming quince / Julie Cook / 2016)

Like a flower, it opens regardless…whether you want it to or not…
It opens.
The heart of God opens…
It opens for you, toward you, for you… whether you want it to or not…
It opens.
You didn’t do anything, of your own accord, to warrant its opening…
On the contrary…
It opens with or without you..
You ignored it.
It opened.
You disregarded it.
It opened.
You never much cared for it.
It opened.

It beckons to you…
Asking you…
Inviting you…
Wishing only to woo you…

The invitation stands…
Wide open…

Said the sinner to the saint

“You must not be discouraged or let yourself become dejected if your actions have not succeeded as perfectly as you intended. What do you expect? We are made of clay and not every soil
yields the fruits expected by the one who tills it. But let us always humble ourselves and acknowledge that we are nothing if we lack the Divine assistance.”

Padre Pio (Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina)

The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past while every sinner has a future. ”
Oscar Wilde

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(a photograph of Padre Pio on the wall of a small cottage in Glencolmcille, County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

Said the sinner to the saint, bending low in humble contrition…
“You must pass first sir, for I am unworthy to be seen in your presence…”
Said the saint to the sinner, bending deeper in overwhelming compunction
“Sir it is you who has offered me the glimpse of Light which has been hidden within my own shadow”

To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:7

For all of us sinners are indeed called to be saints…..