stand up now or soon, you won’t have the opportunity…blame it on the bats

Alleluia.
Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed.
Alleluia.

Book of Common Prayer


The Resurrection of Christ, from the right wing of the Isenheim Altarpiece, c.1512-16 oil / Matthias Grünewald)

Christ has Risen—
Christ has risen indeed!
Amen…

We are resoundingly reminded of this little fact each Easter…
we are delightfully reminded that our hope remains intact and steadfast.

Growing up—Easter always meant a new pretty dress and shiny black patented leather shoes.
Sunny and bright…radiating light all for the most Holy day in all of Christendom.
Easter Sunday was such a festive and beautiful day despite the early spring weather
being unpredictable.

There was the deep and resounding pipe organ accompanying the rising crescendo of voices
ringing out that Jesus Christ had (has) risen today…

Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

(Latin hymn, “Surrexit Christus hodie)

Holy, Holy Holy…

Sacred while full of joy.

Yet sadly, we took it for granted didn’t we?

We just assumed every Easter we’d dress up, go to Church, sing joyfully then
gather with family for a festive lunch and competitive Easter Egg hunts.

This joy came after the lead up of dying eggs, picking flowers, cooking foods we’d
fasted from for the previous 40 days…

We let it become systematic…routine.
We took it for granted.

We didn’t realize it then did we?
We didn’t realize it two years ago.

However, last year gave us a foreboding glimpse to what was to come
and I dare say, the majority of us didn’t see what would be coming.

Not here…not us.

We had a pandemic.

We shut down our world.

We shut down our lives…our jobs, our stores, our movies, our schools and
more importantly, our houses of worship.

But hey, we can do anything for the good of the whole for a few weeks right?

But it wasn’t a few weeks was it?

We are now over a year in…
and two Easters have since come and gone.

So what does any of this mean?

Well Christian participation, that of church worship attendance
in the US, is now for the first time ever, down below 50 percent.

Before I go much further, let me give my full disclosure here—
I do not regularly attend any particular church.
So before you start wagging fingers at me for assuming that I am
some sort of ‘do as I say but not as I do’ sort of individual…
My journey with my Anglican roots has been jolted to the core
over its frenzied and gleeful racing away from God’s word…
all the while it blindly races to embrace the world’s word…
a word that is a lie.

So I am waiting for His lead as to where I need to land.
But until that time, know that I cling to a deep Christian Spirituality.
The mysticism that is our faith.
The Mysticism embedded within a three time span.
A timeline that exists between betrayal, brutality, death, hell
and Resurrection.

So I caught a blog post about Christian persecution…modern day, 21st century
persecution.

It was shared by our friend Vincent over on Talmidimblogging

“More than 245 million Christians worldwide are enduring high levels of persecution
for their faith—from militant extremist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram
(an Islamic extremist group terrorizing West Africa),
to government law and the general culture that often sees converting
to Christianity as betrayal.

According to Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List—an in-depth investigative report focusing
on the global persecution of Christians—persecution is increasing at an alarming rate.
That 245 million number is up this year from last year’s total of 215 million.

https://theologyschool.org/2021/04/04/christians-whose-lives-dont-matter/

The post highlights the top 10 nations from around the world who are trying to
silence Christians and eliminate the faithful and their faith.
Brutality
Torture
Kidnapping
Rape
Imprisonment
Death

The article however got me thinking.

Thinking about what we in the West take for granted.
We take our faith, our ability to go to our places of worship, all for granted.

We witnessed such on this past Easter Sunday both here and in Europe
where various masses and services were interrupted by law enforcement—interrupted
by the police for breaking pandemic protocol.

Where pastors and priests were reprimanded and even arrested for holding services with
their parishioners during a pandemic…
all the while secular events begin to open back up.

Police descending upon our houses of worship all the while rioters and protestors
continue their unchecked mayhem in our major cities—while thousands of immigrants
flood across our borders—the pandemic is allowed to fester due to our oh so woke
liberal minded leadership in what they allow to cross our borders by turning their
blind eyes.
They hammer home for everyone to get vaccinated yet they can’t even say that with the vaccine
things will ever get back to what they once were—as in going back to normal.

Control is an interesting thing.

Eating bats is also interesting.

It appears to be problematic— not only for the said consumer, but
apparently for the entire world.

We first saw that little problem with the Ebola outbreak a few years back…
Bats were the culprit then…and supposedly they are the culprit now.

Bats leading to the demise of Christianity in the 21st century?

I suppose stranger things have happened….

But if you are a Believer and you are beginning to wonder how much longer
the powers that be think they can curtail your right to publicly worship
you might want to speak up now…while you still legally have a voice.

Or you can just blame it on the bats and keep quiet.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

an early Joyous Easter

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair.
We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła)


(empty tomb courtesy the web)

We have a jammed packed next couple of days…
Starting with a wedding in Atlanta on Friday…

One of my oldest and dearest friend’s daughter is getting married.
Getting married in the midst of a pandemic is problematic at best…
ask any bride from this time last year all the way ’til now…
Cancelations, plan B’s, C’s and even D’s to simply giving up and giving in
while opting for the notion of eloping.

I kind of happened to mention to my friend that…
“you do know, that in all of Christendom, there are no weddings on Good Friday…”
“And why is that?” she asked a bit annoyed…you should know my friend is Jewish
while the groom and his family are Catholic.

Oh something about Good Friday being the most solemn day on the Church’s calendar…this as my thoughts trail off…

I got a rather quick and snappy reply from a mother of a bride who has had
to jump every hurdle and hoop known to man due to a pandemic while trying
to pull off the wedding of a daughter’s dream….
“Well you know” she begins…”had some idiot in China opted not to eat a d@mn bat,
we’d be having the wedding on Saturday and they’d actually be going on their honeymoon
of choice but again, since some d@mn idiot in China decided to eat a bat… we are, in turn, living plans B, C, D, E and even F!!”

We mustn’t mess with the mothers or the brides of 2020 and now 2021…

And so immediately following the wedding, we’ve got to race back home because I’m signed up to get my second vaccine at 9 AM sharp at the Cancer and Blood Center in Athens.

I know…
I was vaccine shamed…plain and simple, so let’s not talk about it…

Rather let’s pray I don’t get as sick this round as I did following shot number 1 …because
everyone is coming to our house Sunday for Easter Lunch!!!!

So, since the next couple of day’s will be spent dashing here and there as well as cooking and cleaning …
I wanted to wish everyone a joyous day of Resurrection…
A keen reminder of redemption and hope!

“The soul that does not attach itself solely to the will of God will find neither
satisfaction nor sanctification in any other means,
however excellent by which it may attempt to gain them.
If that which God Himself chooses for you does not content you,
from whom do you expect to obtain what you desire?…
It is only just, therefore, that the soul that is dissatisfied with the divine action
for each present moment should be punished by being unable to find happiness in anything else.”

Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p. 14
An Excerpt from
Abandonment to Divine Providence

Does our anxiety separation grow exponentially with age?

“The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey.
The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage.
One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.”

Thomas Merton


(the unhappy traveling Mayor when a loved one leaves the car and she does not / Julie Cook/ 2021)

Recently it’s been hard to ignore, but both the Mayor and Sheriff have developed
a bit of separation anxiety when one of their loved ones gets out of the car
in order to run an errand.

I tend to be the lucky one left behind to sit with the unconsolable two
while their mom or dad runs in to a store.

What started out as a content and happy journey of riding in the car
has slowly morphed into the understanding that a loved one is leaving
while they are being left behind.

And so this latest toddler developmental drama has gotten me thinking.

Our past year, meaning both yours and mine, has been anything but pleasant.
To say it’s been trying is simply putting it mildly.

Anxiety ridden?
Yes.

We’ve been forced to mask up, sanitize until our skin cracks, be vigilant against
an unseen enemy, line up for a questionable shot, forced to become TP hoarders…

We’ve put education on the back burner, we’ve worked and lived in isolation,
we’ve balanced home and work all within the home, we’ve stayed put, stayed apart,
watched helplessly as our government has turned on us, wondered who we are as a nation,
struggled to find new ways to reinvent ourselves, labored to balance our physical
and mental health, locked down life as we knew it, missed out on our favorite activities…
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

I think the worst has been the separation.
Physically, mentally and emotionally.

It has been thrust upon us… and the jury is still out as to whether it
has been the right choice.
Chances are, when we look back, we will know it was indeed wrong.

Our seniors have been left alone in their Assisted Living facilities…
often falling ill and even dying alone…as family has not been allowed to visit.

Funerals have come and gone without the attendance of the typical respect of attending mourners.

Schools have shuttered their doors, leaving kids to “learn” remotely, alone.

The very nature of our beings, the social creatures that we are, has been stripped from us.

It has just over a year when this madness began.

This virus that has disrupted the globe, originated in Wuhan, China…

I don’t know a single person who has ever blamed the Asian community for any of this…
The CCP, the Communist Chinese Party is who is to blame…not the Asian people.

So for our news media, and even some governmental leadership, to spin that there is
a surge in crimes against Asian Americans carried out by white suprematists…
what we know as those majority of Trump voters who are simply white conservatives,
is blatantly egregious and a glaring lie.

A disturbed man in Atlanta went on a killing spree this past week, killing 8 people,
near and around Atlanta’s metro area.
His victims were all associated with Asian Spas as either customers or workers.
He claims a sexual addiction made him do such.
Shades of Flip Wilson claiming “the devil made him do it”

And that is what it is…the devil.
The Evil One who reigns supreme.

The young man is an unbalanced “nut job” and not a serial killer of Asian people.
He is not a minion of Donald Trump, contrary to what the news and certain leaders
would have us believe…
all because the former president told us that this current virus is from China.
Of which it is.

Our media and leaders are lying to us by creating ghost scapegoats where no
scapegoats are to be found.

Our journey this year has been hard enough.
If we begin being sucked into believing lies,
the year suddenly becomes heavier and even much more difficult.

Our separation from the Father of all creation is at the root of all our angst.

We have turned our vision from the greater to that of the lesser.
We have turned away from our Creator and turned rather to the mortal man.
Allowing man to become our greater god.
A small god who will always disappoint.

This journey has just become even more miserable…all because of our separation…
Separation from one another but more importantly, the separation from our God.

I think the Mayor and Sheriff are on their way to true knowledge.
When the very one who you put your entire life into their hands leaves you…
it is indeed dire.

Our opting to separate from our God our Father is becoming life ending.

In order to continue this difficult journey…we need God.
And if you find yourself laughing at such a thought or mocking this little proclamation of mine…
you just tell me how you want to keep moving forward if you don’t have Grace to
help you keep going…
Good luck with that.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:6-9

nuggets

“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

(image from the series Oak Island on the History Channel)

Nuggets, and no, I’m not talking about chicken nuggets.

Rather I am talking about those tiny morsels of wisdom that often
push their way up to the surface along our life’s path…
just like a tiny treasured object emerging from the scattered debris underfoot.

Something shiny catching our eye… something that magically captures a ray of sun,
redirecting that glimmer upward which grabs us by the shoulders and shouts
“hey, look…I’m here!!”

I have to admit that for the past couple of months, I have been consumed by this move
of ours.
The culling, the packing, the schlepping, the hauling, the unpacking, the cleaning, the painting,
the repairing…on and on it’s been going—so much so that my senses have been void of
almost all and any news as well as being rather barren here in blogland.

Sparse on news is not a bad thing.
Sparse on blogland is more frustrating as I so enjoy reading posts.
I learn when I do so.
However unfortunately, skimming has been my recent MO.

So there have been a couple of things that have stuck with me throughout this
recent journey I’m currently traversing.

The first little nugget was the advice “trust the process”

Sounds simple enough…but is it really??

This was said to me when we first began toying with the notion of selling
and buying homes.
I had no idea whether the selling and buying process was truly the right thing
for us to do.

Remember, we were taking this on in full pandemic stride.

There were pros and cons on both sides of the aisle.

The cons often stood tall against the pros.
Then suddenly, that would all flip.

Hopes would both rise and fall…
there was excitement, trepidation, exhilaration, remorse…over and over
this roller coaster would fly.

But yet the voice of a friend kept ringing in my head…“trust the process
Over the course of days, weeks, months…it became a sort of mantra.
A leaning onto and into something else other than myself,
something greater, grander and beyond my mere limitations.
Something without limits or boundaries.

Job had to trust his process.

He may not have had much peace throughout his process…but he knew that the source leading
him to the end of the process was the only thing he could trust—
Omnipotence laced within a process.

And so, in turn, we trusted.

The next little nugget that was offered…
“this may not have been the house you needed, but this house needed you”

meaning– we always tend to think that we are the ones needing and wanting—
it’s the typical egocentric approach to life.
We think that we are at the center of the universe while everything else gravitates
around or to us.

But in actuality, we might just be on the outskirts circling around
something greater than ourselves…something where we are an input and not
the recipient.

So as things continue to literally fall into some semblance of place…
God keeps speaking…the question is…am I listening…

For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

troubling times…saved by wine? Hmmm

“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not
show itself in protection from suffering….
The love of God did not protect His own Son….
He will not necessarily protect us–
not from anything it takes to make us like His Son.
A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go
into the process.”

Elisabeth Elliot


(Mom and the Sheriff keeping guard / Julie Cook / 2021)

I think we’d all agree that we are indeed living in some of the most troubling
and trying times.
And no, I am not suggesting that we should drink our woes away…
so just stay with me a bit and I’ll explain.

Friday, when we’d traveled to Atlanta for the Mayor’s big day on Saturday, I needed
to help my daughter-n-law shuttle the kids to the pediatrician’s office.
The Mayor was to have her 3 year old check up.

Due to the Pandemic still being at full throttle, the pediatrician’s office is not allowing
siblings to come into the office together.
It’s only a one child at a time policy.

The procedure now is that one is to text the office once arriving at the building.
The receptionist will text when they are ready for you to come in,
as well as texting which examination room you are to go directly to when you enter the office—
no more sitting in a waiting room.

In my mind, the trouble comes when you have more than one child in tow or that you
need for all your kids to be seen…so someone has to hang back in the car.
You’ll need a helper…another person who can sit in the car with the other kid(s)
while the parent takes the specified child in at the designated time.

Now, enter another conundrum.
Safety.

Given our idiotic defund the police movements mirrored by the rise in violent
crimes in our major cities…
sitting in a parking deck, even in broad daylight, is simply not wise.

I grew up in this city.
As kids, my mom and aunt walked these very sidewalks near this particular doctors office.
Back in the 30’s and 40’s, while they were growing up,
my mom and aunt would walk to school, to the homes of friends and
especially to the movies…
exactly right where the Sheriff and I were now to wait in the car.

We were parked in a single floor covered parking deck of which was a bit obscure.

Since it was cold, my daughter-n-law wanted to leave the car running, while leaving
me the keys.
She suggested that I move over to the driver’s seat incase I needed “to gun it” in order
to get away.

HUH??

Was it really that bad here I asked.

“Yes!”, she replied as there have been carjackings, armed robberies and various
violent crimes all within blocks of where we were…and not just in the cover
of darkness but now in the light of a sunny day.

She and the Mayor headed inside the building as I locked our doors.

The Sheriff did not appreciate being left behind, even while sitting with “mom”
and in turn, began to cry.

Needing a diversion, I quickly sought out his favorite things—two paint brushes.

While I’m on my knees, turned around in my seat trying to get him happy,
I vigilantly scope out our surroundings—looking left, right and in front.

Next I start looking around in the car for anything I could use to bap any would be
intruder on the head. I was determined to get the drop on any criminal
before they could get to us…gun or no gun.

Nothing like a threatened grandmama bear protecting her little grand cubs

“Why does your mommy have a bottle of wine in the back seat?” I ask the Sheriff
thinking he’d readily answer in his sweet gibberish way.

I decide to hold onto the bottle just incase.

After about 20 minutes, the Mayor and her mom are exiting the building, making their
way to the car as I quickly unlock the doors.

Since she didn’t need any shots, the Mayor was none the worse for the wear.

I proceed to tell their mom that I was going to use her unopened bottle of wine
as a weapon if needed…and by the way, why was there a random bottle of wine
in the car?

“Oh, it was Catholic Teacher Appreciation week and that’s what they gave us.”

Working on a wing, a prayer and a bottle of wine—and it all worked on
this fine Friday afternoon in Atlanta.

Now….may we each pray for God’s healing Grace

no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 54:17

popping back up for air and holding onto the life buoy…seek while you can

Not all saints have the same sort of holiness.
There are those who could never have lived with others saints.
Not all have the same path. But all arrive at God.

St. John Vianney


(commercial recreation specialists)

During this somewhat self-imposed fasting from the world, I have been forced afforded the opportunity to step back from the world’s madness while sinking into my own moving madness.

Yet whereas I may be currently focused on the latest box to sort,
the latest immediate crisis repair screaming for attention,
or the simple task of navigating new and unfamiliar terrain…
I am not totally unaware of the continuing idiocy reigning supreme in this world of ours.

A pandemic remains.
Isolation is a reality for many.
Socialism and Marxism continue to be the current ideological darlings.
Civil unrest, Antifa, and protests just won’t go away.
Impeachment is a never ending taxpayer’s nightmare demanded by politicians who
don’t seem to care for said taxpayers.
Persecution of The Church is rampant.
The media is a rabid dog.
Zero tolerance for the unborn looms large as abortion is seen as some sort of unalienable
right.
All the while a cancel culture hopes to cancel out us middle Americans.

Yesterday marked the day of remembrance for the Holocaust.
It appears that it went largely ignored by our oh so pious news outlets.

Ode to the shifting tide.

And so I wonder…why have I even bothered coming up for air?
Is it any wonder that I opt to cling to a life buoy?

I suspect it would behoove all of us to cling to that life buoy…

That we must seek Him while we can.

That we pray while we still have the opportunity—
the only life line to He who is Holy.

Prayer is, as it were, being alone with God. A soul prays only when it is turned toward God,
and for so long as it remains so. As soon as it turns away,
it stops praying. The preparation for prayer is thus the movement of turning to God
and away from all that is not God.
That is why we are so right when we define prayer as this movement.
Prayer is essentially a ‘raising up’, an elevation.
We begin to pray when we detach ourselves from created objects and raise ourselves up to the Creator.”

Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 91
An excerpt from
The Prayer of the Presence of God

A tit for tat, a gerbil on a wheel or just life in middle school…

The cry against the idea of moral retribution reveals several deep-lying misconceptions.
These have to do with the holiness of God, the nature of man,
the gravity of sin and the awesome wonder of the love of God as expressed in redemption.
Whoever understands these even imperfectly will take God’s side forever,
and whatever He may do they will cry with the voice out of the altar,
“Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments”
(Revelation 16:7).
Perhaps Moody’s word about this is as wise as any that has ever been uttered.
He said, “No man should preach on hell until he can do it with tears in his eyes.”

A. W. Tozer


(a final look at my old den during the NFL playoffs / Julie Cook / 2020)

Our days are numbered in this house of ours—this is the week of the BIG move.

It’s funny, when your world is changing and turned upside down, for whatever reason,
we humans tend to want to cling desperately to anything and everything that generates
a sense of routine…a sense of that which we know, a sense of the familiar
a sense of normalcy.
A routine of sorts.

Life, in most of our collective arenas, is a far cry from “normal”

So for me I’m trying to find that balance–on a personal level, spiritual
level and even on an average citizen level.

This move has been long and drawn out for all sorts of reasons.
We’re leaving a house that is in better shape than to the house where we are going.
So there will be work.

Yet it has seemed that God has opened every door along this journey—and so there is a reason.

Yet while we’ve been packing, sorting, culling, tossing…
for me to still try and cook a decent meal— manning the kitchen,
albeit with just a remaining skillet, a cooktop and oven—
just give me a plastic fork and it’s all good.

It keeps me grounded, sane and from having a meltdown from overt change.
Because change has been on overdrive since March has it not???…
and if the truth be told, the change madness has running
rampant for the past four years—thank you politicians, news media and now China.

Being able to throw out a post or two, on some sort of regular regime, also helps me.
I told you a long time ago, I blog because I’m a retired educator.
This teacher still needs to “teach”, to share, to observe…

There is a calming peace found in regime and rhythms.

Yet this Nation of ours seems to be running on the opposite end of ‘peace’,
rhythm and rhyme.

I managed to play a bit of catch up in my WP reader yesterday and caught a post written by
our friend Pastor Jim, aka slimjim, from over on The Domain For Truth.

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2021/01/09/wicked-is-the-doctrine-of-regeneration-through-chaos/

The title of his post reached out and grabbed me by the collar..

Wicked is the Doctrine of Regeneration through Chaos

Jim’s post began with these words,

In physics energy diminishes with resistance such as friction.
But it doesn’t always work that way with politics.
Instead one extreme act provoke an equal and possibly more extreme act.
Human sinful nature doesn’t want an eye for an eye; rather some is tempted to outdo the other side.
Wicked is the doctrine of regeneration by chaos and even more wicked is this doctrine put into practice.
No one side of the political and religious and socioeconomic spectrum has a monopoly of craziness.
Everyone has a “vote” of what they say and do. For example saying stolen election
lead to the opposite side saying stolen election or worst.
Saying burning the system down will lead some to burn things down.
But others might want to burn down what the other side think is important too.
One side over run police station and have occupy zone of areas that are not theirs.
So some from the other opposite side overrun the Capitol;
but what further extreme reaction will be done next by those who disagree and
are displeased with this?

I tend to have that sort of Rorschach test reaction.
You know, it’s that “quick what do you see??”
But in the case of reading a title to certain posts, I have that
‘quick, what comes to mind?’ sort of thought.

When reading Jim’s title to his post, I thought of the idiocy of a tit for tat.
You know…that childish back and forth business.
Adults might know it as the bravado of posturing.
As in an “I can do anything you can do better…I can do anything better than you…
yes I can, no you can’t…”
And on and on it goes.

Think of a gerbil on it’s spinning wheel—running around and around and going nowhere.
That is pretty much what we are witnessing.
A matter of we hate you, NO, we hate you more.

Sigh

And that’s when it dawned on me…we are living life in a perpetual state of middle school.

I will be without the internet within a day or two and not totally certain when I’ll be reconnected
in our new location…I’ll have my phone but won’t be posting from the phone as I don’t have
that much patience. I will be checking in however.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body,
whether good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:10

So much change yet so much anticipation…

There is a rich parallel between farming soil and spiritual soil.
It’s no accident that one of the most important virtues of the Christian life is humility,
a word that stems from the Latin word “humus”, meaning “earth”, or literally, “on the ground.”
Humility is a virtue required of men and women alike,
and truly the one virtue all the saints hold in common.

Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering
from Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking


(early January 2020 / the sun comes up over the ocean / Julie Cook)

I took the above picture almost exactly a year ago to the day.
It was early January 2020…

2020.

Let that soak in.

A year, that before it would blessedly come to a close, we would all eventually grow to loath.

Yet on this particular morning in January of 2020, it was just a quiet walk along the beach.
Life was life.
Peace was found in the rhythmic sounds of an undulating surf that simply
was breathing in and out.

We had yet to hear of words such as Wuhan, COVID, Coronavirus, pandemic,
lockdown, masks, George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, riots, protests, CHAZ, socialism,
radicalism…
words that would soon come washing over us like a callous Tsunami.

There was however already the nauseating media circus over an impeachment proceeding…
but had we not all basically grown somewhat numb to the media’s OCD obsession over
all things Trump?

And who could have known that a year ago, when life seemed typical and average…we would find
ourselves, a year later, yearning and pleading for things to be just that…
simply typical and average?

I learned a long time ago to be cautious about wishing one’s life away.

On a collective whole, we have all grown to hate the year 2020.

Oh there are some who had joy throughout the year, but we haven’t
heard much about that joy or the positive milestones nor of the blessings.
Rather we have been inundated with the negative, the darkness, the isolation
and the death.

And so the collective thought is for a good riddance to 2020.
Yet in that good riddance, we must be both willing and open
for welcoming in a new and unknown.

So my prayer on this new day of this new and unknown year is appropriately
from the Book of Psalms…sung prayers.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8

A Happy NEW year to us all!

“If you would suffer with patience, the adversities and miseries of this life,
be a man of prayer.
If you would obtain courage and strength to conquer the temptations of the enemy,
be a man of prayer.
If you would mortify your own will with all its inclinations and appetites,
be a man of prayer.
If you would know the wiles of Satan and unmask his deceits,
be a man of prayer.
If you would live in joy and walk pleasantly in the ways of penance,
be a man of prayer.
If you would banish from your soul the troublesome flies of vain thoughts and cares,
be a man of prayer.
If you would nourish your soul with the very sap of devotion,
and keep it always full of good thoughts and good desires,
be a man of prayer.
If you would strengthen and keep up your courage in the ways of God, be a man of prayer.
In fine, if you would uproot all vices from your soul and plant all virtues in their place,
be a man of prayer.
It is in prayer that we receive the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost, who teaches all things.”

St. Bonaventure, p. 25-26
An Excerpt From
The Ways of Mental Prayer

East to West, West to East…and a very Merry Christmas to all!

The journey of the wise men took them from the east to the west…
and that’s the journey that Christianity took.
It started in Israel and it moves to Rome, the capital of the world.

Dr. Edmund Mazza
from Rediscovering Christmas


(ode to my world / Julie Cook / 2020)

Is that a bunch of presents, all tied up with a bow?
Oh.
No.
No, it’s not.
Wait, where’s the tree???
Is there a tree??

Yes, it’s in the basement, ready to be loaded on a truck.

What you’re seeing is just a small snippet of boxes and bubble wrapped pieces all
from a home ready for moving.

Who moves during a pandemic?
Obviously, we do.

This will be our last Christmas in a house that has witnessed 21 of our 37 Christmases.
Yet we’re off to see the Mayor and Sherrif for Christmas…so the cats will have to
carry on Christmas day without us.

The catnip is locked up!

The quote I used today by Dr. Mazza is somewhat technically true.
Things did seem to travel from east to west.

I somehow think that our Orthodox brethren might be able to agree on that eastern part—
as when we think of the east…we think ‘Eastern’ Orthodox…
However, they might dispute that notion of Rome being the capital of the world as
that capital kind of moved, at some point in ancient time, to Constantinople
(modern-day Istanbul)–

And of course it did sort of move back Rome’s way before it began heading off west again, spiraling, splintering and dividing– but I digress…
So we’ll just leave that footnote to be argued by the theologians and historians.

And so here I am in the west, preparing to move to the east.
Perhaps a bit backward…however by going east, I might just be heading back homeward.

Things are beginning to look barren and sparse.

Before:

After:

So as I live amongst the boxes and now travel over to share a magical time with both
the Mayor and Sheriff–
just know that I wish each of you a joyous, safe, healthy, and blessed Christmas!!!

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be
taken of the entire Roman world.
(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria).
And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary,
who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

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.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby,
who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread
the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things
they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Luke 2:1-20

bring back our sons…a sad, frustrating and familiar plea

“Stop killing our children, bring back our children,”
Amrata Hamza mother of an abducted child, taken at the hands of the Islamic
Terrorist organization Boko Haram


(The mother of Muhammad Bello, one the students who was abducted by gunmen,
reacts in Kankara, Nigeria, on Monday. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters))

Well it appears that in these days of all-consuming news of all things election and or pandemic…
somehow I missed a most tragic story out of Nigeria.
It’s a story that actually took place nearly three weeks ago.

A deja vu sort of tale.
As I wrote a post 6 years ago about a very similar incident.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/bring-back-our-girls/

It seems that there has been another mass kidnapping of kids from a private boarding school
in Nigeria at the hands of the notorious Islamic group Boko Haram.

A massive group of armed gunmen stormed a school in the northern section of the country
and took over 600 boys as prisoner…or captives or whatever it is one calls the taking of
so many kids.
A mass kidnapping.

Here are excerpts from the story that I read on Fox…

A Nigerian woman whose only son is among the more than 330 boys still missing
after being kidnapped from their school in the northern Katsina state last week pleaded
for their return in a protest Tuesday,
as the jihadist rebel group Boko Haram reportedly claimed responsibility for the mass abduction.

Hundreds of gunmen with assault rifles on Friday surrounded the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS),
an all-boys boarding school in the town of Kankara,
firing at police before rounding up students and forcing them to march through the heavily
forested region in separated groups, witnesses have said.

The Daily Nigerian said Tuesday it received an audio message from Boko Haram
leader Abubakar Shekau saying that his group abducted the schoolboys because
Western education is against the tenets of Islam.

“Stop killing our children, bring back our children,”
Amrata Hamza, whose only son was abducted, told local broadcaster CLIQQ TV during a protest
organized Tuesday. “I don’t know the condition of my son.
I’m speechless.
I can’t talk, I have not drank water since I arrived in Kankara.
There is much sunlight, I know our children are thirsty,
they are hungry. Please help us bring back our children.”

The Nigerian government said a joint rescue operation was launched Saturday by state police,
air force, and army after the military engaged in gunfights with bandits after locating
their hideout in the Zango/Paula forest.
Many of the initial 600 male students taken from the school escaped their captors,
but more than 330 remained unaccounted for as of Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

This latest episode comes six years after Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 schoolgirls
from their dormitory at the Government Secondary School in Chibok in northeastern Borno State
in April 2014.
First Lady Michelle Obama spotlighted the issue at the time with the hashtag
#BringBackOurGirls.

About 100 of the girls are still missing.
Boko Haram said at the time that it wanted to stop women from attending schools.
The recent incident at the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara,
is the worst attack on a boys’ school since February 2014,
when 59 boys were killed during a Boko Haram attack on the Federal Government College
Buni Yadi in Yobe state.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/nigeria-boys-school-kidnapping-boko-haram

These are the types of stories that should outrage us as a global family but instead,
everyone is more focused on the election circus taking place in the US.
As well as whether or not it will be safe to take this hurried up and rushed vaccine
in order to stem the tide of a raging pandemic.

And what of the millions upon millions of dollars that have been poured into the elections–
elections on the national level as well as state level.
Money poured into campaingns by the likes of silcon valley, tech oligarchs,
leftist liberals…all the while children suffer, families suffer.
Suffering locally as well as globally.

Protecting children is, as adults, our responsibility.
It matters not that if it is at the local level of responsibility or
that of a global responsiblilty.
Children are our heart, soul and future.

No full term aboritions.
No abortions, period.
No sex trafficking.
No child prostituion.
No abuse.
No kidnapings.

Only our protection, love and guidence.

Let us pray for those boys as well as for their aching families.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:10