somewhere in between..then and now

“We should take as a maxim never to be surprised at current difficulties,
no more than at a passing breeze, because with a little patience
we shall see them disappear. Time changes everything.”

St. Vincent de Paul


( Highlands, NC / Julie Cook / 2021)

There will always be ‘the then’—and following that—is “the now”…
everything in between is what we call life.

Sometimes we are given a precious gift…we are allowed to reunite with
“the then”… merging it into “the now”.

The middle, that which is known as life, simply fades out of sight.

Time, as well as life, is forgotten.
Years fade blessedly away.
And so ‘what was’ is suddenly and tenderly embraced by ‘the now’
Grabbed up and held tightly in aching arms that have been oh so
empty for far too long.

And we find ourselves exhaling slowly, whispering a grateful thank you to
a Father who knew all along that “the then” was bound to always
be a part of ‘the now”

Thank you Father…

“God never hurries.
There are no deadlines against which he must work.
Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.”

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine

THE LION OF MÜNSTER…we need more lions

Woe then to our poor German people. Disorder and revolutionary
convulsions will not come to an end until the batter of everyone
against everyone has spent all its power.”

Bishop von Galen


((c) Redmich/Thinkstock)

Since I’ve started reading a new book, I’ve decided we need
some lions…heck I’ll be happy to have just one lion!

What you say???!!!….I hear you smugly inquiring…

Yep, a lion.

This book is a historical book…
it’s a story about a man born in 1878,
born into a well to-do German family.

The boy would eventually grow up to become a priest…
eventually a bishop, an archbishop and later, a cardinal…
but more importantly…he became a lion….

He became a voracious and loud roaring nemesis of Adolf Hitler.

His name was Archbishop Clemens August Graf von Galen.

I won’t waste our time today with the biographical background and growth
of this man, although it does lay out who this would-be lion, a lion
who would never back down, was to grow to become…

Heck, I’m only to page 37 and WWI has just ended.
And already, with only 37 pages in, there is oh so much to share!

So today, I’ll just offer enough to give us pause to ponder.

So picture yourself looking into a mirror of the past, but
you still can see your own reflection. That’s what this book
is—a mirror.
A mirror of what was and fretfully would will most likely be.

The words I’m choosing to share today are actually words that
this lion wrote following the devastating war that was to end all wars…
that being WWI.
Later similar words would come prior to WWII…

Following WWI, Germany had been defeated and her citizens decimated—
a situation that the world perceived as fitting since
the Germans had been the obvious aggressors and instigators of this
catastrophic World War.

But this book actually examines a devout Christian’s nonobjective view
of his homeland and of the troubles his nation was preparing to
fall victim to.

Following the Treaty of Versailles…Germany was hurled
into the black hole of impotence.
It was enough of a black hole that could generate the
cataclysmic energy that would allow a man like Adolf Hitler
to rise to…an evil dominating world foe of democracies and freedom.

Before the first world war, Germany was known for being one of the most
highly educated and cultured societies that existed.

And so it is to this very day, 76 years following the end of WWII,
that I still have to study and re-study the dynamics that allow me
to wrap my head around the idea that a nation of knowledge
and refinement can grow into a mindless nation bent on
destruction, death and world dominance.

Jumping forward a bit in the book, we read that it was shortly
after Adolf Hitler seized power and the Nazi Party turned
Germany into a totalitarian state in 1933,
Blessed Cardinal Clemens August von Galen began openly speaking
out against the dictatorial regime as the new bishop of Münster.

“The book’s author notes that
the Nazis killed people for distributing von Galen’s sermons,”

“Throughout World War II, Bishop von Galen became one of Germany’s
most outspoken bishops, authoring letters and sermons that challenged
the Nazi regime’s racial ideologies.
In 1937, von Galen assisted Pope Pius XI in the writing
of his 1937 anti-Nazi encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge”
(“With Burning Anxiety”), and in 1941,
he delivered three sermons denouncing the euthanasia program,
confiscating of church property and the injustice of the Gestapo,
appropriately earning him the nickname “The Lion of Münster.”

But this wise man understood back in 1917 what would eventually
lead to the opening of door for the likes of Hitler.

He spoke of the great importance of leaders and leadership…
in particular those those in position of governmental leadership,
to know who it was they served and to always remember what it meant to be
a servant.

A servant.

“What, Galen asked, makes for a good community—
one in which people of different classes, professions, and social positions
really consider themselves to be united and to which they can give their hearts,
their loyalty, and their service?
“Why”, he continued, “did Germany not have such a community?”
For although it had the externals of a community–indeed,
a self-governing community, since all power has been given
to the people–in fact the people of different classes, professional standing,
political parties and religions felt themselves at odds with each other.

The fault, he argued, was egoism, disordered self-love,
by which everyone seeks his own interests with concern
for the good and rights of his neighbor.

Years later, Galen wrote:
“if the right of the state, today the might of the majority,
really makes right, then why only this might?
Why not also the might of the stronger fist,
why not the might of money, why not the might of craftiness
and clever business dealings?
The destruction that is introduced into the community by the
working out of this fundamental principle should open people’s
eyes to the destructiveness of this principle itself.”…

“If the state is the creator of all rights and the
all-powerful lord of all rights, the, many concluded,
their rights and freedoms would be secure only if they themselves
were the holders of state power.”

“We will not come to an inner people’s community,”
he concluded, “as long as State absolutism is the fundamental principle
of our political life.”
Such absolutism leads inevitably to centralization and attacks
on any persons or groupings that are independent of the state.
That was the reason for the Kulturkampf (culture struggle),
for the Prussian state saw the Catholic Church as the bulwark
of freedom and the rights of individuals and small communities
against arbitrary state power.

And so I will leave us today to ruminate over the notion that our
dear Western Civilization is currently looking in a mirror of decades past….
Yet what we are seeing looking back at us is the makings of a monster with nary
a lion to quell the rampage…

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll
written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able
to open the scroll or to look into it,
and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open
the scroll or to look into it.
And one of the elders said to me,
“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the
scroll and its seven seals.”

Revelation 5:1-5

lost sheep seeking the Good Shepherd

Sinners have a spiritual vision that Pharisees do not have.
They look at Christ, and their humility allows them to perceive
in him their only hope of salvation.
The Pharisee sees merely the man, whereas the lost sheep sees the Good Shepherd!

Fr. Sean Davidson
From his book Saint Mary Magdalene:
Prophetess of Eucharistic Love


(My most favorite sheep, ever / Co Donegal, Ireland / Gleann Cholm Cille /
Julie Cook / 2015)

Growing up a city girl, I always assumed that there was but one type of sheep;
White and fluffy.

And for reasons that escape me, I have always had a deep affinity for sheep.

I’ve shared this notion before but I think this affinity was born from a prayer.
It is derived from the prayer of the penitent…a prayer I grew up praying
since childhood– found in The Book of Common Prayer.

The prayer begins…Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep…”

A prayer that speaks straight to the root of my heart…erring and straying.
I think I’ve always identified with both that whole straying and lost
sheep business.

So bah bah I go…

I have been known to vow that one day I would escape to someplace obscure,
becoming a shepherd…
or if should I need to be more PC, that would that be shepherdess…
but I’ll just stick with shepherd since I don’t care for the interchangeability
of pronouns and monikers.

A shepherd of sheep.
The shepherd calls and sheep know his name….

Over the years, my various moves from city to rural life, along
with various travels, taught me otherwise…sheep come in many sizes,
shapes and colors…but it wasn’t until a trip to Ireland that the whole sheep
variety thing played out in real life.


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)

And so knowing human beings as I do…I know that we seek that often
elusive shepherd…
We seek the voice of the one who will guide us and care for us…
We seek it in our relationships.
We seek it in our jobs.
We seek it in our leaders—
for we are innately seeking one who will care and lead.

The trouble is that we most often seek the wrong voices, the wrong
lights, the wrong directions, the wrong glitz…
We seek temporary satisfaction in our shepherds.
We seek more of the immediate gratification and quick easy fit.

Yet sadly, those that we seek are limited, short-lived,
or most often then not, fleeting.

There is only One who is consistent and constant…never changing.
He knows each of his sheep…both lost and found.
He will leave the found 99 in order to go find, rescue and fetch that 1
who is lost.

How fortunate we are those who have erred and strayed!


(one of a kind / Julie Cook /2015)

“There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely
in this obscurity; it has suffered:
for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable,
than that of rejoicing and of action.
In suffering God gives strength,
but in action and in joy the soul does but show its own weakness
and imperfections.
And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue,
and becomes pure, wiser, and more cautious.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 149
An Excerpt From
Dark Night of the Soul

the times of which we now live…non typical or is that atypical??

“Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(the fallen bud of a mountain fraser magnolia / Julie Cook / 2021)

Typical…non typical…atypical…

If I was a betting woman, I’d bet that you would wholeheartedly
agree that these are indeed some more times!
As in twilight zone and frustrating times.
No longer typical.

So you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been MIA from bogland for a
couple of days.

If you noticed, thank you…if not, that’s ok.

Life has just been a tad busy the past several days.

Firstly, the Mayor and Sheriff came to visit Saturday, spending the night.
And as is the usual case, they each had a good case of the snoggy noses—
aka daycare crud…of which is pretty typical of any kid in daycare.

Daycare and schools—petrie dishes of germs dontcha know.
Plus it probably didn’t help that the Sheriff thought it would
be fun to toss the little decorative soaps I have in a pretty little
antique bowl in our guest bathroom into the toilet.
Of which I had to retrieve by hand—and yes, I did then wash my hands.

So now, just so we all know and understand…
that which was once ‘typical’, back in the good ol olden days…
those glorious days before COVID, is no longer simple or
‘typical’ today.
Because ‘typical’ today, must always be suspect.

So back to story…

The kids came and went.
And in rapid succession and a near blink of an eye,
we then had some old friends come up from Florida for a two day visit.
A bit of revolving door company—but I do love company.

In the midst of the comings and goings, I noticed that I was coming
down with something…a good old case of daycare crud…
because we all know that when the Mayor and Sheriff have daycare crud,
I too get daycare crud.

I do try to be facetious with the hand washing and the sharing of food
with them but you know toddlers—if they are anywhere near you,
they will inevitably sneeze, cough and drool all over you.
Or take a sip from your drink glass without you even realizing that.
Toddlers and germs just go hand and hand.

And I swear, since I retired from teaching—I am no longer as immune
as I once was to the typical school fare fodder of germs.

So our guests weren’t paranoid Covid worriers but I certainly didn’t want them
to have some inward angst that I was a typhoid Mary.
And since I couldn’t breath, I opted to call the ENT to see if I could
get an appointment early morning, leaving me time to “entertain” our guests.

Ok, so remember, typical is no longer typical.

The ENT explains to me that they booked out for several days
and next suggested I try Urgent Care.
Booked??? For days??? What???
I could understand nothing perhaps available that particular day, but days???

Remember—not typical days.

So it was off to Urgent Care I would go.

I am glad that I did have the foresight to call first.

In case you are unfamiliar, Urgent Care facilities are those little medical
popups in and around shopping areas that help fill in the gaps
when a doctors office is closed, or overrun, and you’re not
so bad off as to go to an ER.

They are typically a walk-in basis.
Note ‘typically’ and remember these are not typical times.

When I called and explained that my ENT recommended that I
needed to go see them since they were booked up and out,
the gal told me I’d need an appointment.
Dreading the worst, I asked for her first available.

I was calling a tad after 8 AM and blessedly she has something
at 10:40.
She told me to arrive at 10:30 and sit in my car and text them
as soon as I arrived.

This particular Urgent Care is located on the end of a Publix Shopping Center
in a small town near us.

When I pulled in, the parking lot was jammed packed. I next noticed
an odd long line of cars snaking around the side of the building
around to the back.

Huh?
Maybe they are getting Covid tests.

I text the number letting them know I was in the parking lot.

A text popped back asking for my symptoms.

After I typed, hitting send, I received another text asking for my
car’s make and model.

I figured that a nurse was coming out to do temp checks
before allowing folks inside.

Well next, I got a call from the desk asking for my copay to be paid
over the phone and for me to get in line on the right side of the building.

Huh?
Was that on the right to go inside or was that right to join
the car snake line?

I saw a nurse on the sidewalk and walked over to her and asked.
She told me to get in the snake car line.

And so I did.

Nurse after nurse was coming out of backdoors and going from car to car
as the snake line would slowly roll forward.

Finally it was my turn.

I rolled down my window and had to wear my mask.

The nurse asked about my symptoms—well, I couldn’t breathe,
had pressure, headache, scratchy
throat, lovely colored nasal drainage…this being all from my grandkids
I explained…typical grandmother toddler sharing

She then said we’ll do a Covid test.

I explained that I had had Covid and that I had had the vaccines
and I knew this was my type of typical sinus infection.

There’s that word again…typical!

Next thing I know she’s telling me to tilt my head back and breathe through
my mouth.
I was already doing that because my nose was not working!
And then bam—up went the extra long swab stick in my nose.
Never mind my nasal passages were closed up, she jammed that
sucker up both sides.

And then I went back to sitting with the other cars in the snake line.

Finally a PA came to my window and handed me the negative Covid results.
Of which I already knew was indeed negative.
I told him I had a history of sinusitis and I knew this was that.

And usually with my former ENT practice they would hit me with a shot of steroids
give my a prescription for an antibiotic and off I’d go.

This young man begins to explain, in a very cloyingly sweet condescending way,
that what we think is typical is really no longer really typical.

Huh?

Internally, I am rolling my eyes while I’m wondering how will I
be getting my steroid shot through this car window as it’s usually
administered in the hip.

He then proceeds to tell me that I can come back in two days to repeat the test.
RPEAT THE TEST? I practically scream.
Calmly, again, I explain to him that I could not breathe and that
my head and teeth were killing me all from my typical type of sinus infection.

“Well,” he began, I believe, like Covid, this is a viral infection.”
‘Like Covid’???!! I’m thinking…for crying out loud!!! THIS IS A SINUS INFECTION!!!!
And by using the word viral, well it’s their way of saying,
‘you won’t be getting any medicine’–as in go home,
tough it out and when you are still sick in two more days you’ll be back
getting the meds that you should have gotten in the first place.

Seeing that I was in a bit of dire straits without being able to breathe
with lovely colored discharge acting like a slow lava flow coming
out of my nose, he tells me he will prescribe me some oral steroids.

Fine!

After an hour and a half, I pull out of the snake line of cars,
make my way around the back of the shopping
center and pull into a parking spot in front of Publix so I can run in
to pick up the prescription.

The nice gal at the prescription counter tells me they’ve not gotten in
the call-in yet and that I would need to wait.
In the mean time I ask if she could get me a box of the sudafed which was
behind her on the counter.

She gets me the box and then proceeds to ask for my license, makes a copy
and has me to sign some book stating that I had asked for sudafed.

It was more of a rigermarol to get a non prescription box of sudafed than
had I been getting a prescription for narcotics.

So once again not typical.

Happily I can report that whereas I am still puny, I can blessedly breathe.

And thus our lesson of the day is that Covid has turned everything we
once thought to be typical into a life of anything but…
a life now lived in the atypical—
so once again, thank you Wuhan, thank you China…

even the smallest is a gift

“Truth sees God, and wisdom contemplates God,
and from these two comes a third, a holy and wonderful delight in God,
who is love.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(a tree frog hanging out / Julie Cook / 2021)


(a tree frog hanging out / Julie Cook / 2021)

Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us…
and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask…
What would he not give to his children who ask,
since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?

St. Augustine

I can feel it coming…

Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor Frankl

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord
And I’ve been waiting for this moment, for all my life, oh lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord, oh lord

Lyrics by Phil Collins


(a single leaf suspended between tree and earth / Julie Cook / 2021)

I can feel it.
The question however is, can you?

Can you feel it?
Can you sense it?
Or have you been too desensitized to that which is taking place
all around us?

Change– a great, mighty and yes, even grave change is in the air.

Many of us are already well aware that we cannot possibly know the time
nor the place…
But yet, this change is coming nonetheless.

A great many of us sense that the change is coming and coming soon.

It might be incremental at first.
Slow and innocuous.
Seeping in quietly yet deadly, like a colorless and odorless gas.

Maybe it’s merely what we’ve been witnessing taking place throughout our country
in these past few years…
think BLM, Antifa, the Proud Boys…

Was it born during a crusade?
Was it born in the dark ages of the plague?
Was it born in a Spanish Inquisition?
Was it born in France during the Reign of Terror?
Was it born in the birth of a young nation following its own revolution?
Was it born on the fields of Antietam, Gettysburg, Bull Run, Vicksburg,
Appomattox…or the scorched earth tactic ravaged on Georgia?
Or was it born in the corded nooses dangling from trees?

It might have been born in the mustard gas wafting through
the trenches of WWI ….
It might have been born in the death chambers and ovens of Poland
and Germany.
Maybe it was born in Stalin’s iron fisted USSR gulags.

Maybe it was born in a fast paced and currently overreaching technology.
Maybe it was born on the heaviness of 9/11
Maybe it’s born on our southern borders?
Or was it born in Benghazi or Afghanistan?

Or was it simply born in the disobedience found in a now hidden garden?

Has it simply been unfolding, ever so slowly, for eons?

Division.
Anger.
Resentment.
Fear.
Paranoia.
Bullying.
Lying.

The latest pandemic has only helped to embolden this ensuing change.

Mandates.
Masks.
Ultimatums.
Us vs them.
Passports.
The clean vs the unclean.
Freedom vs dictation.

Virus and illness vs death or life…

Elitism.
Wokeness.
Liberalism.
Cancel Culture.

Christianity, morality, conservatives all now equated to pariah.

Persecution?
Yes.

And with these overwhelming thoughts of change—
in that change is indeed a’coming–
I was actually amazed at the coming together of some giant collective
thinking taking place on a single afternoon.

First there was IB offering a telling vid clip based
on a post found on http://www.aier.org

And I think it’s that ‘in your face’ flaunting by a maskless Squad debutant
that has been truly the taunting on the cake.
An exorbitantly decadent who’s who Met affair featuring
the likes of a young woman feeling her oats, daring
to wear her statement of taxing the rich, stretched across her derrière
as she tips her bareless shoulder, rubbing it with her ever so rich fellow guests.
It was enough hypocrisy to last a lifetime.

The Best Defense Against Violence


https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2021/09/15/the-moral-vacuum-kate-wand/

Then our dear wise sage Oneta offered up her own take on
this air of change with the following post:

MANDATES AND WEARY CHRISTIANS

Posted on September 16, 2021 by oneta hayes

“I’m just not watching anymore TV,” stated my friend.
We had just attended a meeting in which someone said the mess
in our country was our fault, speaking of senior-aged Christians,
laying the blame on our lethargy in letting “stuff” happen without speaking up.
I agree completely.

We have been taught “Live in peace with all men”
and “let there be no divisions between you.”
Letters to editors of papers and magazines—almost unheard of;
attendance at local political rallies—almost unheard of;
protests on the streets—almost unheard of;
spitting fire on tweeter—unheard of.
That’s the way it has been!
It is the fault of sleeping Christians.
Too often Christians point out that we do not fight the way the world fights.
Our duty is to put on the armor of God and pray.
Yep.
But do you believe even five percent of people who
claim to be Christians do that?
Even if we do that, it does not absolve us of having
an obligation to be good citizens of the nation in which we live.

Meanwhile the evil has crept in tide by tide so it is
now a huge wave swamping the land.
Boy scouts have to take girls; “rainbow”
no longer represents a promise of God;
urinals removed from restrooms because it might offend
“persons with no male genitalia;” babies murdered by the millions.

So it goes. Evil has overtaken us. And Christians are weary.

My nephew, Teral, put the following scripture on FB this morning.
And he shall speak great words against the most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the most High,
and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given
into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Daniel 7:25 KJ

This is speaking of the anti-Christ.
I do not know whether or not the anti-Christ now lives.
But I do know there are things happening right now that
are preparing the way for him.
The current “mandate” orders are a significant sign.

Other translations of the above scripture say
“saints are worn down, oppressed, persecuted.”
I am witness to that truth.

Another interesting thing about this scripture is
“think to change times and laws.”
Isn’t that referring to breaking down of traditions and laws?
Looks like it to me. We are certainly having a change in laws,
moral laws, even in Constitutional laws.
And traditions?
Now it is no longer to talk of mothers and fathers!
A combination of anything can be family –
if indeed one demands a family at all.

And lastly there was the wisdom of Mel Wild of In My Father’s House.
His latest post (actually last two posts) explores the current ignorance found
in those claiming that Christianity is actually Socialism in sheep’s clothing.
His post Sorry, Jesus is NOT a Socialist lays out the truth
that our current culture cares not to acknowledge.

https://melwild.wordpress.com

So let’s round out this small treatise with the master of drums himself,
Phil Collins…who sadly today, due to injury can no longer play his
beloved drums…

Weird things happen

“That proves you are unusual,” returned the Scarecrow;
“and I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration
in this world are the unusual ones. For the common
folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.”

L. Frank Baum, The Land of Oz


(a fallen persimmon / Julie Cook / 2021)

Yesterday I thought I had an entire post dedicated to my trappings through the woods
while sharing my excitement over knowing fall was soon at hand because of all
the persimmons I found ripening on the trees….

I thought I had written that we all knew it’s getting to be fall when I was out
spotting persimmons.
I also thought I had written about how we just needed to forget about life’s madness
for just a bit while we simply enjoyed a brief respite out of doors,
albeit for just a minute or two.

I had a bunch of different pictures of persimmons that I’d uploaded to the post
that I wanted to share.

And so this morning, just like every morning, I grabbed my phone since
I use my WP app in order to publish my posts as I grab my coffee,
and so I thought after it showed “published” I was good to go.

It wasn’t until I finally sat down this afternoon
(yesterday if you’re reading this today) and pulled up the blog that I
saw the bulk of the post was MIA.

Huh?
The post looking at me was not the post I last saw last night…
Not the post that I had saved in order to publish the following day.
It was woefully incomplete…
Where’d what I’d written and uploaded go??

Well, who the heck knows.
So ode to the WP gremlins.

And so today, I had decided that I wanted to write a scathing post
about what our past great military brass—leaders such as Washington,
Grant, Nimitz, Bradley, Pershing, Patton, McArthur, Eisenhower,
Powell, and even ‘Stormen’ Norman…what would these men who were tried
in the fires of the horrors of war think?…
What would these men think about the likes of what we’re
stuck with today????—
Stuck with a set of currently woke, painfully politically correct,
inept, blind and deaf, treasonous military leaders???!!!!

Can anyone say following the correct chain of command?
Can anyone say court-martial???
Can anyone say treason???
Can anyone say sleeping with the enemy??

So instead of that needed post…we’ll just go back to persimmons.

Persimmons harken to a gentler life…
No treason found thankfully in a persimmon.

(***all images are various ripening persimmons/ Julie Cook / 2021)

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

Psalm 145:5

a clear blue sky…

And they were canopied by the blue sky,
So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.
Lord Byron, “The Dream,” 1816


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)

Despite the calendar refusing to turn from one season to another, there
was that ever so gentle hint of change.

The lack of humidity, coupled by a deep azure blue sky up above,
brought a slight smile to my face while I walked between the two
school wings.

I was well aware the bell was soon to ring as we readied to move from
2nd period to 3rd.
Over in an adjacent building, I had to pick up some copies for my next class,
so I joyously soaked in the quick respite of peace found outside
on this beautiful September morning.

As I walked back into my building, ready for the bell to ring, I took up
my usual position standing by my classroom door, ready to monitor
the hall during class change.

With the ringing of the bell, doors flung open as a throng of adolescents
chirpped and chatted their way out into the hall…a sea of bodies moving
much like fish, navigating both up, down as well as around the stream of a hallway.

Suddenly, a neighboring teacher and coach, came running up to me grabbing my arm.
“They’ve attacked us…they’ve hit New York and D.C…
“Turn on your television!!!” he yelled out over his shoulder as he continued
racing down the hall.

“What?”
“Attack?”
“Who?”

As my kids began to trickle into the room, I hurriedly went over to
turn on the classroom television.

And there is was…smoke streaming upwards from one of the the
World Trade Towers.

Some of my kids had already gotten wind of what was taking place while
others remained blessedly, albeit briefly, clueless.

There was now a heavy silence in the room as my kids walked in, dropping
their backpacks on the floor as they gathered in front of the T.V.
Some stood, some sat on the table tops, all staring silently at the images on
the television.

One girl broke the silence with a panicked plea…
“Mrs. Cook, my dad, my dad, he flew up this morning to New York for business.”
“Go use the phone in my office to call your mom…”

The remainder of the day was a heavy haze.
New York.
D.C.
Pennsylvania…

The teachable moments that day were unfolding before our eyes on every channel
on every television around the world.

There remained a heightened sense of what could possibly happen next.

Following the end of the day, I waited on my son, who was in the 6th grade,
to walk up from the Jr High so we could go home.
It was more than time to go home.

Like the other kids, he walked into my room overwhelmed.
I got my things together and we walked quietly to the car.

This particular night was to be our monthly school board meeting.
It was the night that the Teacher of the Year was to be announced.
I happened to be one of the three teachers nominated.
I was representing the high school.
The two others were from the elementary school and our junior high.

I had so hoped our superintendent would cancel the meeting
but he was of the mindset that we would not let “the terrorists” win…soooo
the meeting was to begin at 7.

I called my husband telling him that I didn’t want him to accompany me
to the meeting that evening but rather I wanted him to stay
home with our son.
At this point, we really didn’t know what else, if anything, would happen.
Plus the heaviness of what was playing out before our eyes was simply
overwhelming…I wanted to be lost in my thoughts.

Before getting ready to head to the BOE, I walked out onto our back deck.
At the time, we lived about an hour west of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson
Airport…we lived in one of the westerly flight paths…planes overhead
were always common.
On this particular late afternoon, the sky was eerily quiet because the
Government had grounded all US and international flights in and out…
all around the country.

At the BOE meeting, when it was time to begin the meeting, we all stood for
the Pledge of Allegiance—tears poured from all the gathered faces.
The Board Chairman asked for a moment of silence for all the
lives lost and for all those still missing and for those searching.

He then lead us in reciting The Lord’s Prayer.

The sobs were palpable….

And so now, all these 20 years later…
I wonder….
what have we gleaned, what have we learned?
As an educator, that is always the question…what has been learned?

Looking around…I think we’ve learned very little, if anything.
Despite our vow to remember, we’ve actually forgotten.
We’ve skewed the factual with the desirable.
We’ve softened as we’ve chosen to ignore or even twist reality.

When speaking of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill once mused
“What kind of people do they think we are?
Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease
to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson
which they and the world will never forget?”

His was a vow that those oppressors and usurpers of democratic freedoms
should never forget that those who have chosen the path of freedom
have vowed to fight the good fight to the bitter end.

I dare say our leadership today has long forgotten such a vow.

The vow to defend Western Civilization from the onslaught of
tyranny and oppression.
But rather our leadership and many of us have actually fostered a culture
of ill that strives to despise itself.
We have turned away and within… as we choose to devour ourselves
from the inside out.

Did approximately 3000 people die in vain September 11th 2001?

What of those individuals who when faced with the choice of burning to
death chose to jump to their death…were those heinous choices in vain?

Did thousands of first responders die in vain that day as they raced toward disaster
rather than retreating?

Have thousands more, who over the past 20 years have fallen victim to lasting
toxins, have they suffered and died in vain?

Have thousands of servicemen and women died in vain defending
the very freedoms that you and I simply take for granted?

Did 13 servicemen and women die last week, in vain, when hastily retreating
from an undignified exit to an unfinished mission all because of a sitting
president’s ill advised plan?

I really don’t know what to think on this 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Who is this America that now looks in the mirror?
I dare say that all those who gave and have given their lives
on and since that fateful September day would no longer recognize the
nation we have become.

Time lessens our sorrow but it also dulls our minds and hardens our hearts.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
Clarence Darrow

trust and confidence

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord,
and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

St. Augustine


(The Mayor with training wheels / Julie Cook / 2021)

Do you remember when you first learned how to ride a bike?
I started my journey on wheels with a tricycle.
Eventually graduating to a small bike with training wheels—

And in due time, off went those training wheels…
and thus, for better or for worse, I was suddenly on my own.

No broken bones but a lot of skinned knees, elbows and stubbed toes.
And this was a time long before we knew helmets were important.

At my current age, I hate to admit that I don’t exactly remember a
whole lot of this particular rite of passage—
however I can remember my mom and dad, taking turns racing behind me,
holding onto the bike if I started to veer too far to one side or the other
or God forbid…started rolling way too fast for my level of
expertise.

And thus today, the gauntlet has been passed…it is now the Mayor’s turn.

Of course there is a great deal of hesitancy and trepidation.
“MOM, MOM, I NEED YOU!!!!” (yes she calls me mom, her mother is mommy…
daddy is dada, my husband is da)…

And in like fashion, how many times have I cried out to God… “Father, I need you!”

“I’ve got you Boo” I reassure her as I hold onto the back of her seat as she
laboriously attempts peddling up the street…Peppa Pig rain
boots probably do not aid in one’s peddling.

I let go once she hit level ground.

“Look at you Boo—you are riding your bike!!!!”

And right then, in that moment, there comes the obvious and visible
sense of self satisfaction.

So as I stand there, looking at my granddaughter riding a bike on the very
same street where I learned to ride my own bike,
my thoughts are transported to thinking about my own learning to ride
as well as to something else…that of learning my way on the journey
as a child of God.

A juxtaposition of life’s journeys.

How many times have I set out, unsure of myself, sitting in a driving seat
position, while God had His hand on my back?

“Steady” He say’s…”Ive got you Julie”

I wobble, teetering and leaning, trying desperately to keep myself
upright. I feel His hand resting on my back so I have a sense of
serene security.

Then, ever so slightly, He removes His hand…”you’ve got this”
I hear as I peddle off heading straight ahead…knowing all the while
He’s standing behind me, smiling.

And right when I get going too fast, losing control…He’s the first
one there… either to grab me by the shirt and or pick me up once I fall.
Once again He gently repeats…you’ve got this…because I’ve got you.

And whereas I won’t always be able to be with my granddaughter as she takes
off on her own life’s journeys…I have given her over to God…knowing that when
mom or da, mommy or dada can’t be with her…
Abba will always be by her side—

“How can we not ask at every turn,
‘What is going to happen? How will this turn out?’
The main thing is not to consent consciously to anxiety or a troubled mind.
The moment you realize you are worrying,
make very quickly an act of confidence:
‘No, Jesus, You are there: nothing–nothing–
happens, not a hair falls from our heads, without Your permission.
I have no right to worry.”
Perhaps He is sleeping in the boat, but He is there.
He is always there. He is all-powerful;
nothing escapes His vigilance.
He watches over each one of us ‘as over the apple of His eye.’
He is all love, all tenderness.”

Jean C.J. d’Elbée,
I Believe in Love:
A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux

marvel and rejoice

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter
of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal
likewise with their fellow men.

St. Francis of Assisi


(a snail seeking relief from the sun / Julie Cook / 2021)

Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians,
but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren,
God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ.
For if he is the head, we are the members;
he and we together are the whole man…
the fullness of Christ then is the head and the members.
But what does ‘head and members’ mean? Christ and the Church.

St. Augustine