We are a coveting people, yearning for Royalty

“When I realize that God makes his gifts fit each person,
there’s no way I can covet what you got because it just wouldn’t fit me.”

William P. Smith

We are always striving for things forbidden, and coveting those denied us.
Ovid


(Royal Standard of Great Britan)

I’m not exactly certain as to why it is…
but what I do know is that it is indeed a real thing.

What am I talking about you ask?

Well, a couple of things really…but first I need to set the stage for our day’s
dialogue with a peek into an odd little obsession of ours.

It seems that we Americans have a bit of an obsession with anything and everything “Royal.”

Maybe it goes back to our being the somewhat red-headed stepchild or the kissing cousin or
simply the former colonist…I’m not exactly certain as to the reason but what I do know is
this—-
That the wee tidbits and morsels of all things Royal…be it from the news (aka gossip rags)
all the way to the paparazzi pictures tossed our way like a bone to a starving dog,
everything Royal seems to leave us only salivating for more.

We might think this goes back to a public’s love affair, from both sides of the proverbial pond,
with a young girl who grew from a shy and awkward girl into a glamorous beautiful princess all before
our wanting and wondering eyes…

It was a possessive sort of obsession with a girl who had married an older cad of a prince—
a man who had perhaps stopped his selfish playboy ways in order to settle down with
the Cinderella of his dreams.

Our favorite happy neverending fairytale.

Yet it was a tale that was neither happy nor neverending.

We loved how she doted over her two adoring sons and we felt protective when she became a
much-maligned princess from the Royal’s perspective.

And eventually, we painfully mourned when her beautiful life was tragically cut short…

Her demise was due in part to our obsession and to those who wanted to feed
that obsession.

We took her into our hearts as the tragic romantic heroine who seemed to need us as much
as we needed her…

Or maybe this fascination of ours goes back even further.

Maybe it goes back to the King who abdicated his short-lived reign in order to marry the
“woman whom he loved”—
A very public curiosity over the matter of duty versus that of love.

It was an abdication for a woman who was both an American and twice-divorced—all of which
precluded a British monarch the right to marry such.

The desire for forbidden fruit.
The desire of our wanting what we cannot or should not have…
or at least in this case, our wanting it for another.

And so being the hapless romantics that we truly are, we must have thought it oh so noble
to turn one’s back on both one’s solemn birthright of duty and responsibility while racing
blindly into the arms of love for love’s sake…
or was that lust for lust’s sake?

Never mind they both became Nazi sympathizers.

Or maybe it goes back even further…back to the life of a young Queen and mother who lost
her beloved prince consort prematurely to a brief illness,
as she spent the next 40 years of her very public life living a very public life of mourning.

A woman we associated with wearing nothing but black while ruling a realm,
of which the sun never set, with an iron thumb.

Or maybe it goes back even further…all the way back to our history books…
back to a king who was married 6 times…
Marrying, executing, losing and leaving women left and right for all the wrong reasons…

We became fixated on such a notion…that being of marriage for the sake of an heir—
The proverbial carrier of both name and nation…

Throw in the tawdry sex and it was a made for a Hollywood script nearly 500 years
before Hollywood was ever imagined.

Never mind that his illegitimate, bastard and passed-over daughter carried his legacy
on longer than any other man or woman…
that is until our present day’s monarch.

So no matter when this fascination of ours started, we are hopelessly continuing on
with such as we wait, watch and speculate what will be the latest saga
between two brothers…Wills and Harry…
as we fixate on their wives, their children, and their seemingly tragically
beautiful lives.

Lives that truly have no bearing on our own.

However, this post is not so much about our love affair with being Roayl,
being Roayl watchers or hoped for fairytales coming true as it is about our
wanting what others seem to have.

And no, I’m not suggesting that we want Royalty over our Presidency…
despite perhaps many
bemoaning such a possibility…
For we have our own royalty as we have turned our Presidents into our personal
little Royalty…
think JFK and Jackie, Ronnie and Nancy…
Just as we do with our entertainers and sports figures.
We have mastered the art of making people into things they really aren’t.

Yet this post is not even about that…turning people into things they are not…
nor is it about duty vs selfish wants…

Or maybe, just maybe, it is…
Maybe it is about our selfish wants.

For this is a post about our yearning to have that which is not our own…
wanting what others have and we have not.

We call it the simple act of coveting.

And coveting just happens to be on that oh so controversial list of “do nots”
as in the list of the Ten Commandments.

I think our subject actually comes in at number 10

Thou shalt not covet.

Or as we read in Exodus 20 verse 17 and according to the New International Standard,
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant,
his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Yet we have seen this notion of wanting what another has since the dawn of man.

Adam and Eve wanting the knowledge God had.
Cain wanting the recognition from God that was afforded to Abel.
David seeking another man’s wife…

We have been wanting what is not ours to have been since that initial apple incident…
as our wants have only become even more alluring.

Coveting is indeed our insidious obsession.
And our society has honed it into a fine art form…a very profitable art form.

One we call marketing.

They have it, we want it.
So let’s make it work.
Plain and simple.

We’ll market it, make everyone think life’s happiness depends on it and then we’ll sell it…
We’ll make gobs of money in the meantime…allowing for more wanting and having.

I think social media has had a deadly hand in all of this.
Social media has become a very slick tool in the marketing of wanting and having.

Not only are we inundated by cutting-edge advertisements and sales gimmicks working on a
psychological level convincing us that our happiness and well-being depends on getting and having–
we now have social media making us yearn for what we see others enjoying, doing and having.

The beautiful life plays out in front of our very eyes making us feel less-than because
we don’t seem to be having as much fun, traveling to such exotic destinations,
attending such fun events or accumulating as cool a-stuff as those whose lives
spill out before us on Instagram and Facebook.

I had a friend once tell me that she was going to stop looking at facebook because, as she
confided, it actually made her feel bad about both herself and her life.

She found herself becoming jealous and in turn depressed over her friends who were traveling,
having fun, buying new cars, new homes, new everything and anything they thought to post…
images of that which she wasn’t doing or of that which she didn’t have.
All she was doing was getting up each day and going to work.
How fun, how glamorous or how mundane or how boring was such a life?

Just the other week I found myself lamenting that my cousin was heading out on a trip
to Bermuda while several other friends were off to Europe for a couple of weeks…all the
while I was off to babysit.

I wanted what they had… the fun, the freedom, and the adventures.

Yet what was wrong with what I had?

Absolutely nothing.

For what I had was more lasting and not fleeting… it was not something that would only grow dim or
forgotten in a short time but rather it was something that was enduring and edifying.

Yet only a few of us are brave enough or honest enough to admit that we find ourself
feeling less-than when we see or hear of what others are doing or where they are going
or what it is they are buying…

We are coveting…

We want what others have…
while leaving behind what is our own realtime lives.

We compare what we have, or rather what we don’t have, to all that is around us and in turn determine our
level of self-worth and self-esteem—and if the truth be told, we usually come out
on the short end of the stick.

How many of us snap pictures of this or that wonderment we’re currently experiencing and find
it almost too hard to resist the urge to race to our social media outlets in order to quickly
upload, post, and share?
Living not in the moment but rather living in the moment ahead.

Our brag sheets to the world…while we calculate just how many ‘likes’ we will then accrue.

The fleeting fickleness of having and not having.

We have become the masters of voyeurism.
Living a life of watching the lives of others as we yearn for that which is not ours.

We are living in a world, in a culture, that glamorizes that which we have been commanded to
avoid—to avoid at all costs for our own eternal salvation.

We’re being sold a bag of ill goods..a bag of lies while we greedily digest the tawdry,
the egregious and the wanton with a sick level of zeal.

Being happy with what we have.
Being grateful for what we have.
Being satisfied with where we are…with who we are.
Being content.
Being at peace.
Enjoying.
Rejoicing…

Things which are quickly forgotten…
just as is the cost for such forgetting…
along with the cost of coveting.
All of which are becoming dangerously inbreed deep into our psyche.

So perhaps the lesson to be found in this roundabout tale is the fact that we most certainly do
yearn for Royalty.

We yearn to be the princes and princesses of a king…
the sons and daughters of a great King of a great Kingdom…
afforded the glory found in such a king and kingdom.

And the thing is, we need not dream of such…
for we are the heirs of the one Great King…

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

Hidden faith

“The cause is hidden.
The effect is visible to all.”

Ovid


(a portion of the interior of St. Kevin’s Monastary, Glendalough National Park / Co. Wicklow, Ireland/
Julie Cook / 2015)

The thrill of the dig.
Or is that the thrill of the hunt??

Either way, I think it’s how archeologists describe what it is they do.

They dig, sift, hunt and discover.

It’s that adrenaline rush when searching through endless layers of rock, dirt, and sand
knowing that ‘treasure’ is but a shovel scoop away.

When I was young, I was fascinated by digging, unearthing and discovering.
Add to that a love of history, and for me, it all made for an imagination which was running wild.
Wild with wonder and of possibilities and of the what could be’s…

Would I find a Piece of Eight while building a sandcastle at the beach or
perhaps a fossil in the soil while camping…not to mention the anticipation
of striking it rich while panning for gold in the North Georgia mountains.

Nowadays I usually relegate my digging to Antique stores…
yet the hunt is no less exciting.
And the find—well the real finds are few and far between.

So it was with a tad of bated curiosity that I clicked on the following story.
It’s an intriguing tale about the unearthing
of what is believed to be a 2nd century hidden underground Christian church;
hidden for centuries, right under the feet of occupying ISIS fighters
in the city of Manjib, Syria.

Historians and archeologists believe this underground maze of chambers, trap doors,
and tunnels to be that of a secret church dating to the time when this area of
modern-day Syria was under Roman occupation.
It dates to the time when Christians were persecuted for the practicing of their faith
and therefore met in secret as they were literally forced underground for their faith.

As I watched, read and wondered about this latest discovery of those who courageously once
worshiped during perilous times, my thoughts couldn’t help but wander to a time in our own
future and that of our own practicing Faith’s uncertainty…
I felt that I had received a more somber history lesson than I actually cared to imagine…

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/05/01/ancient-christian-ruins-discovered-under-former-isis-held-territory.html

Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
but I do not turn from your law.
I remember, Lord, your ancient laws,
and I find comfort in them.
Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
who have forsaken your law.
Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
In the night, Lord, I remember your name,
that I may keep your law.
This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts.

Psalm 119:49-56

Happy Birthday Dad….

“I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up,
foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust,
I forgot to ask that they be years of youth.”

Ovid


(a rather blurry picture I’ve posted before of dad when he turned 4 in 1932)

I wasn’t very sure we’d make it to today…
and not so certain we’ll finish the day…
but…
for now it will be a day of celebration
as our birthday boy turns 89…

“May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6: 24-26

Off to a little celebration

“I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth. ”
― Ovid

“People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state–it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel

IMG_0018
(A very young dad with his big brother Paul–1928 or 29)

So I’m off to a tiny fete this morning…a very wee celebration.
Shhhh…..
Someone is turning 88 today and has asked that all interested parties just…
forget the day,
let it pass,
ignore it…
for it, this milestone of life, represents but one less year remaining on this earth….
one year closer to departing this life….

Well, if you look at it that way, I suppose we’re all working our way closer to demise each and every morning we open our eyes…however…I certainly don’t think that’s any way to live…
merely ticking off the days…especially when there’s a birthday to celebrate…

So celebrate we shall…. despite all the gloom and doom from the birthday boy…

Happy Birthday Dad!!!!!

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is thy faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.

Lamentations 3:21-25

Homesick

“I felt a pang — a strange and inexplicable pang that I had never felt before.
It was homesickness.
Now, even more than I had earlier when I’d first glimpsed it, I longed to be transported into that quiet little landscape, to walk up the path, to take a key from my pocket and open the cottage door, to sit down by the fireplace, to wrap my arms around myself, and to stay there forever and ever.”

Alan Bradley

“Give me the waters of Lethe that numb the heart,
if they exist,
I will still not have the power to forget you.”

Ovid

God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.

Meister Eckhart

DSCN0881
(sheep on a teaching farm / County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

A fitful night…
dreams seemingly more real than not…
To wake…
On and off, over and over…
as the dream simply picks up where it left off.
A continuous movie playing out inside my head, all night long…

Trying desperately hard to find you, to call you…
Yet I can’t reach you.
I am there, not here…
but I am lost…
I need for you to come find me…
for it is only you who can help me….

Yet why is that?
Why do I seek you and your help?
Are there not others…?
Others even more capable…
Those who are more near and not so far away…?

Waking….
Perplexed, exhausted, wondering…
What ever does it mean…
or not mean…?
As the thought,
the memory,
the utter physical uneasiness…
hangs heavy over the day.

Homesick, yet here at home.
Missing and longing…
Aching for something else…
someplace else…
something more…
Yet what could it be…and why…?

You are there and I am here.
A melancholy heaviness clouds my thoughts.
It was all but a mere brief crossing of paths.
Yet with a lasting effect.
There was a change.
Deep and profound…
And I am the better for it…
Yet there remains a yearning, a hunger, an aching…
for more…

So very much more.
For hearing,
for seeing,
for feeling,
for learning.

Yet frustration is found in the simple being…
of so very far away…

My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.

Isaiah 26:9

Life’s fragile moments

Beauty is a fragile gift.
Ovid

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DSCN8309
(gerber daisy, with a small shield bug / stink bug / Julie Cook / 2014)

This beautiful gerber daisy continues blooming like nobody’s business, unaware that in a few short weeks, the first frost of the year is predictably scheduled. Until then, I suppose we shall bask in the vibrant colors and beauty of the last hoorah of a slow fading season.

Beauty of a flower, with it’s often quickly fading glory, is not the only fragile “gift” I’ve recently been privy to observe. . .rather, it is Life herself, that is most tenderly fragile. . .as I have so poignantly observed over the past couple of weeks. . .

I did something this morning that I have never done before. I finished my 30 minutes of pure torture on the elliptical when something unexplainable inside myself made me push the start button—again.
A double run.
It must have been an outer body experience.
Sweat was already pouring down my face, my toes were already numb and luckily I had yet to inhale my gum.

Maybe it’s because in two weeks I’ll be turning 55.
Maybe it’s due to the black cherry juice (yes black cherry juice but more about that another day).
Maybe it’s because of the cheesecake.
Cheesecake, did she just say cheesecake?!
Yes.
And I’m proud of it.
I made the most heavenly and unctuous cheesecake over the weekend. I haven’t made, let alone eaten, a cheesecake in years.
What’s so bad?
It’s got all the major food groups—dairy, eggs, grains —graham crackers are a grains right?
And for all of you über svelte individuals out there who post your latest marathon number on the back window of your cars and nosh on kale chips and who are currently rolling your eyes over my paltry 30 minutes of weights and a 30 minute elliptical “run”, now doubled, on this fine Tuesday, may it be noted that I work rather hard at striking a balance, trying not to go too far off on any one tangent— or ledge for that matter.

Life is all about a healthy balance. . .
A balance of activity, spiritually, health, relationships and butter. Yes you heard / read me correctly, butter.
Remember, I grew up as a member of the Julia Child butter is life club. . .life is no fun without butter. . .

Yet it is my having witnessed and observed a couple of “encounters” over the past several weeks which has not only touched my heart, but has brought my attention around to this precious thing we call Life. . . with all of her tragedies, her triumphs and her fragility, of which has maybe pushed me a bit further this morning in the pushing of myself. . .

Two weekends ago a friend of mine popped in on a Saturday afternoon for a visit of catch up. Her daughter, who went to school with my son, has moved far way. And not that she’s not been away before, she has. It’s just that now, her mom ( my friend) always knew it was temporary—as in away at college, away on trips, away on study abroad programs–always knowing she’d be returning . . .home. . .
This time however, the move is more of a permanent nature.
As in moving to Chicago to live and work sort of permanent.

She and her husband had just returned from a quick weekend visit–the first visit since the big move.
The daughter had plotted and planned a grand weekend adventure for her parents as it was their first trip to the Windy City. At one point during the adventure, the daughter looked at her mom asking if there was anything special she wanted to do or see before having to head back south to Georgia.
My friend then said something that struck such a deep chord in my soul. She turned to her daughter, locking her arm around her daughter’s arm and said– “I didn’t come up here to be entertained. I don’t care if I do or see a single thing. . .the only thing I wanted to do was to be with you”

WOW!

That took my breath away not to mention the sudden tears filling my eyes.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have a mom anymore who can say that to me or that I can now finally truly appreciate hearing that from my mom–or that I would long hearing that from my mom.
I suddenly felt a tremendous sense of sadness missing my mom.
Maybe it’s because I was thinking sightseeing mode for my friend and the fact that she just wanted / needed to see her daughter, as that was all that simply mattered, caught me by surprise.
Only the love of a mother. . .

The next observation came Friday evening. My husband and I had gone to dinner at a local restaurant. The place was packed as we were lead over to our table. Scanning the overtly crowded restaurant, I thought I recognized the face of a former student but thought better of it as I knew he was now making his home in Atlanta. Out of the blue, a friend who had seen us being seated, made her way over to say hello. It turns out she and her husband were actually dinning with this former student and his family.

In the midsts of her conversation, she began telling me something about this particular student, when suddenly she said “after his accident. . .”
Accident? I inquired as I had no knowledge of him having been in an accident.
She proceeds to tell me that yes, he had a diving accident almost two years ago and was now paralyzed from the shoulders down.
“WHAT??!!”

Long story short. . . I got up and went over to his table to speak with him. He had come to see me just before I retired a little over two years ago. He had graduated college and was actually working at the State Capital. He had had this diving accident shortly after seeing me at school and has since been in rehab and therapy working on some hoped for mobility.

As I made my way back to my husband and our supper, I was still so terribly shocked. Such a vivacious, joyful young man perched on the periphery of a long career and happy future when BAM, he’s thrown a devastating curve ball. Yet he still possesses that most vivacious smile and joyful spirit.
I wondered if I could or would have any sort of spirit if I was sitting in his place or if I were his mom. The unfairness of life plagued my heart.

The last situation came about yesterday.
I had run up town to a local little farmer’s co-op when I ran into a young man I had had the pleasure of working with many years back. I had also had the pleasure of teaching his wife many years ago. I actually had worked with both this young man as well as his older brother as they each began with careers in education at my school. Having long left teaching, he now owns his own investment firm and is quite successful.

As this was a Monday morning and he was not dressed for the office, I asked if he wasn’t working today or did he take Monday’s off. He seemed to be a bit reserved which was quite out of character.
He hung his head a bit, telling me that “no, this is the second anniversary of my son’s death and I just couldn’t go in to work today.”

Hit with the enormity of his words, I felt winded.

Two years ago, as he and his beautiful family, his wife and three young sons, were leaving a restaurant off our town’s small downtown square, just as the family was crossing the street, a truck made a shape turn into the intersection, not seeing the young child at the end of family’s journey across the street, the truck struck and killed the little boy.

It was a terrible accident. The young teen driver had simply not seen the little boy. It was a devastatingly tragic accident. An accident which shook our entire community.
I had not realized, when I saw my friend, that this particular day had marked the very sad day of remembrance for his family. Again, the unfairness of life plagued my heart. As a parent, who has not suffered though such a tragedy, any and all words of solace on my part ring terribly empty, as simply, there are no words.

And so it is on this October day that I am most mindful of Life and of her most fragile nature.
Her Triumphs and her tragedies.
We are joined together, you and I, by the ties of such events which take place each and every day.
It is what joyfully or sadly grants us a unifying humanity. For good or for bad we journey together on this planet. We are all given choices. We may either join together supporting one another as the global family we are, or we may rile against one another with suspison, distrust and hate.

There are those who are bent on destruction and hate.
And I wonder, what is the point.
I am reminded of the lyrics of Gary Jules song, It’s a mad world:
“And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you,
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world, mad world, mad world”

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5

May we choose caring, may we choose compassion, may we choose love, may we choose Life.
Life is simply too fragile to choose anything else.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:3-4

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