Be wary, keep watching…the time draws nigh

I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night:
ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,

Isaiah 62:6


(the German watchman nutcracker /Julie Cook / 2019)

“St. Augustine says, that to prevent the sheep from seeking assistance by her cries,
the wolf seizes her by the neck, and thus securely carries her away and devours her.
The Devil acts in a similar manner with the sheep of Jesus Christ.
After having induced them to yield to sin, he seizes them by the throat,
that they may not confess their guilt; and thus he securely brings them to Hell.
For those who have sinned grievously,
there is no means of salvation but the confession of their sins.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 138
An Excerpt From
Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori

Okay, you can’t see the glue right??

“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most
undesirable sentiment.
If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and
address yourself to the task of behaving better next time.
On no account brood over your wrongdoing.
Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World


(you can’t even tell, I don’t think / Julie Cook / 2019)

Well, guilt is a powerful tool.

At last, my moment of weakness arrived…so I must confess…
I have relented.

I didn’t lie to you.

My intention was certainly a BIG no to this year’s tree…
but…
there were those faces, those words, those insistent voices.

It was one of those things, as I started the day, that I had not even contemplated.
It never crossed my mind that I’d be doing “this” for the remainder of the day,
well past dark.

Yet I had gotten plenty of proddings from those both near and far…
And I suppose it was indeed a sense of something missing, as I’d peer over to an empty
spot that was the ghost space of Christmas trees past, that pushed me this morning.

I marched up to that dreaded closest and pulled out that dreaded tub of
broken angels and tiny little nutcrackers.
Old ornaments of all the Christmases past.

I pulled out my various glues and got comfortable at the kitchen table.

I sorted through survivors and the debris.

I next text my husband’s friend, unbeknownst to my husband, and asked if he could
come by sometime today in order to help my husband haul up ‘that tree’ from the
confines of the basement.

He giddily text back a triumphant “YES!”

Now I know I told you that I did manage to put up the outside lights.
That was an all-day affair on the coldest day of the year thus far.
All by myself.

The neighbors have always guilted me with that as well as they would go into
my husband’s business asking when were the lights going up.

What is it with people and the lights????

I had rationalized that if the outside of my world could appear as if Christmas
was alive and well,
no one would be the wiser to what was missing on the inside.

But yet, there were a few who were the wiser.
And yes…even I was wiser.

Be they here at home or now in their own home, I think it’s the comfort of knowing
“it’s” still there.
That home is still home.
And that all is right in the world of “home” is what truly matters.

“It” is always blessedly there whether we are, or they are, here or not…
It’s that sense that life is as it should be…carrying on as if everything is
forever a constant.

The constant of the happy warm memories of what was.
Forget the bad and painful.
Forget the negative or even the current.

It is to the warmth of fond memories that the heart of a child,
now locked deep inside an adult, runs to.

There is a sense of permanence, of rooting and of anchoring found in those types
of memories.
The true essence of how we came to be who we are…for good or for bad.
For it is of the kinder memories we cling to of how we came to be.
We seem to need them in order to be reminded of them.

And so today became the day that I gave up or rather gave in.

Today, the warmth of Christmas came home…
whether anyone is here to see it or not.

Christmas comes and they will always know.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
Galatians 4:4

Enrich, inspire, live

“Health is God’s great gift, and we must spend it entirely for Him.
Our eyes should see only for God, our feet walk only for Him,
our hands labor for Him alone; in short,
our entire body should serve God while we still have the time.
Then, when He shall take our health and we shall near our last day,
our conscience will not reproach us for having misused it.”

St. John Bosco


(interiour vault of the Cathedarl of St John The Baptist / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert
for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society.
It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in
Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign.
It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity, and scandal.
It means overcoming every separation between faith and life,
and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness.
It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life,
since, as the Second Vatican Council put it,
‘there is no human activity—even in secular affairs—which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion’.
It means working to enrich…society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel,
and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value
to all the other hopes which inspire our lives.”

Pope Benedict XVI
An Excerpt From
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI

the purse never lies


(cheatsheet.com)

I’m old enough to remember that as a little girl, I had my very own pair of little
white gloves that I was to wear each Sunday when we attended Church, because
that is what was done back then.

It was a time when men dressed nicely in their finest suits and women wore nice dresses
hose and heels.

A more refined and truly polite time that was not as casual and crass as we are today.

Some may say how stuffy and fussy it all was but at the time,
it was all I knew and now with hindsight, I rather like it.

As a child, I was also expected to wear my gloves to other nice events that we, as a family,
might be attending…be it dinner out to a nice restaurant or even when in the 6th grade,
we all took ballroom dancing lessons…
White gloves were a must for any young lady no matter your social class.

Yet no matter the occasion, gloves were always to be worn when attending anything
with my grandmother Nany.

Nany was my dad’s mother and she minced no words when it came to presenting oneself
out in public.
I think that’s why it is to this day I won’t leave the house without makeup
and or looking somewhat put together…
I might have on jeans and a ball cap, but my face will “be made up” by gosh!

I also think that’s why dad was more slouchy, especially as he got older…
never one to care much about his appearance, I would often have to get him
to change clothes before we went out.
His brother, my uncle, never owned a pair of jeans and rarely do I remember
him without a tie, but my dad, on the other hand, was happy in jeans,
a wrinkled dress shirt, an ancient cardigan with or without moth holes,
and always white socks.

Nany taught me to always put my ‘best face forward’…meaning—being presentable
no matter the situation…
I find that there is a great deal of wisdom in that.

So when it came time for me to enter the workforce, I spent my entire teaching career,
despite being a high school art teacher, ‘dressed for success.’
And I use to instill that same mindset within my students—dress the part,
and the part will be yours…

I also remember Nany always having a purse hooked to her arm…
never ever a shoulder bag or tote, but a purse only…
one to be worn in the crook of the arm.

Much like we see the Queen do.

I’ve never thought anything of the Queen and her constant companion…her purse,
because the Queen is of a certain era much like my grandmother despite the fact that the
queen is more the age of my only remaining living aunt–well into her 90’s

Many folks have often wondered as to why the Queen needs to even carry a purse
otherwise known as a handbag.

I’ve heard tell that the Queen actually carries what most women of a
certain time period carries…
lipstick, a small mirror, a few throat lozenges, a pen, a note pad, her reading glasses…
But I’ve also heard tell that the purse doubles as a bit of a secret messenger.
As in a sly little spy.

From House Beautiful

Lucky for Queen Elizabeth II, she has no need for house keys.
And we bet you would never catch her running around her house (um, palace)
looking for her misplaced cellphone. Which begs the question:
What does she keep in those famous Launer purses she carries around every day anyway?
Well, royal biographer, Sally Bedell Smith, got the scoop.

Back in 2012, Smith revealed that the Queen always keeps a mirror, lipstick,
a pen, some mint lozenges and reading glasses on hand.
And on Sundays she brings a few small bills “precisely folded” to give as a church donation.

But apparently her purse is more often used as a way to send signals
to her staff than anything else.

“It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag
move from one hand to the other,” royal historian Hugo Vickers told PEOPLE.
You see, this is a signal the Queen uses to indicate to her staff that
she’s ready to wrap up her current conversation.

However, you might not even know it’s happening – they’re that discreet.
“It would be done very nicely,” Vickers says.
“Someone would come along and say,
‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you.'”

Other cues Queen Elizabeth uses?
According to the Telegraph, if she puts her handbag on the table at dinner,
it means she wants the event to end in the next five minutes.
And if she puts her bag on the floor, it shows she’s not enjoying the conversation
and wants to be rescued by her lady-in-waiting.

But Vickers says the most dramatic gesture of all is spinning her ring,
which tells her staff she needs to be rescued immediately.
Fingers crossed this never happens to us!


(Euronews)

So when I look at this picture taken over the weekend of Her Majesty sitting amongst
the NATO World leaders, of whom she had hosted at a reception for at Buckingham Palace,
I am imagining that under those black gloves, the Queen is spinning her
wedding ring off her finger…as in will someone please rescue me from
these people…NOW!!!!

It seems that during the reception, several world leaders, the prime ministers of Canada,
Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, along with Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter,
all didn’t realize that there just happened to be a live mic near them recording their conversations.

They were enjoying drinks and jokes.

Why am I reminded of a fraternity party?

Their conversation was that of jocularity, jokes and laughing…
laughing at the expense of another world leader not present in the group
nor who was privy to the group’s jokes…
that member being the President of the United States, Donald Trump.


(US New and World Report)


(International Business Times)

Once the footage was made public and began making the viral rounds on all things social media,
The President, the brunt of the jokes, was understandably both hurt and mad.

Some will say he had it coming.
Some will say it simply shows his low esteem amongst his leadership peers.
Some will say what’s the big deal…

So what does an angry President Trump do—he packs up his things
and leaves the meetings for home ASAP.

For what it’s worth, I have two feelings about this.

My initial reaction would have been much like the President’s—
as in I would have been taking all my marbles, going home both hurt and mad.
I would be feeling like that kid everyone always talks and laughs about behind their back
but suddenly all go quiet when the kid walks up asking what everyone is laughing
about.

However, on the other hand, I would really have liked for the President to have stayed.
To have been the bigger man amongst this group of smug sophomoric immature leaders…
knowing what they had said, he would have stayed—making them the uncomfortable ones,
Standing his ground and in the end, most likely, having the last laugh.
Because if the truth be told, he actually had the last laugh as he got what
he went to get for the US from NATO.

So what might be the one take away from all of this is that there is but one leader
who has it probably more right than all the rest…
that being The Queen.

We never hear of her ever engaging in locker room humor.
She does not get chummy with others, preferring to keep a professional relationship.
She keeps her political opinions to herself.
She is gracious and engaging and is always respectful of her guests,
whether or not she agrees with their views.
And she will never ever do a sit-down interview for all those wagging tongues
(Her children and grandchildren, however, are another story)

And whereas she is not setting national policy nor is she an elected official
voted on by the people for the people, she is a leader none the less…
She sets a standard of how to carry oneself in a public fishbowl

So what might be the real secret to the Queen’s long success in the public eye…?
I think we all know…
it’s the purse.
Because the purse does not lie.


(yahoo.com)

what comes from the Spirit

“The adorable Heart of Jesus is our comfort, our way, our life.”
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


(a winter treat blooms / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

“The experience of the Church and the saints demonstrates a general law:
what comes from the Spirit of God brings with it joy, peace, tranquility of spirit,
gentleness, simplicity, and light.
On the other hand, what comes from the spirit of evil brings sadness, trouble, agitation,
worry, confusion, and darkness.
These marks of the good and the evil spirit are unmistakable signs in themselves.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe

a solemn reminder

Time and tide wait for no man.
Geoffrey Chaucer


(historic marker / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

Perhaps this is an odd place for an early morning stroll but Colonial Cemetary in
Savannah is both a peaceful and serene place to wander…
Not only are there tabby lined paths that weave throughout this rather massive burial
place, but there are also beautifully majestic ancient oaks veiled in the otherworldly
ethereal Spanish moss which cast dancing shadows across the landscape of an otherwise eerily
still and silent place …
All of which adds to the allure of this surreal and tranquil place.
It is a place steeped in centuries-old history.


(tabby path / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

The stories and lives of the known as well as the unknown.
Folks who had come from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Poland, Germany…
Most of who had come pre-Revolutionary War and who have since each found a resting
place in this protected piece of land, in a country they would each come to call home.

A Declaration of Independence bears many of their names just as do state counties.
State colleges have named buildings in their honor as we remember both the heroic and the notorious.


(historic marker / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(historic marker / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(historic marker / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

From Today in Georgia History:
August 2, 1776- Statewide
Georgia joined The United States on August 2, 1776, the same day that Button Gwinnett,
Lyman Hall, and George Walton signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.

The declaration was approved on July 4, but signed by only one man that day, John Hancock.
Fifty other delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress signed on August 2.
Later that year, five more brought the total to 56.

Eight of the signers, including Gwinnett, were foreign-born.
One was Roman Catholic, a handful were deists and the rest were Protestants.
They all went on to lives of public service in the republic they founded:
there were two future presidents, three vice presidents, two Supreme Court justices,
and many congressmen, diplomats, governors, and judges among them.

In 1818, 14 years after Georgia’s last signer died, Georgia named counties in their honor.
Charles Carroll of Maryland, the last of all the signers left, died in 1832 at the age of 95,
but their revolutionary idea of a self-governing free people lives on.

The experiment they began remains unfinished, as it was on August 2, 1776,
Today in Georgia History.


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

The cemetery, no matter how many times I find myself wandering, affords me new discoveries
hidden amongst the trees and mostly ignored by the abundant squirrels who call this
park-like cemetery home.

Numerous tiny graves now protect the innocent… some who are named, some who are not.
Eternally protecting the mortal remains of those who were born only to quickly pass away—
as they were born during a time when both birth and death walked hand in hand


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

Some grave markers are elaborate—hand carvings which are each works of art
while others remain plain and simple.
Some markers offer kind and poetic words while others have lost all legibility
to the passing of time.
Names, dates, and lives seemingly washed away from both time and the elements.

It is said that despite the iron fence that now encloses the cemetery,
the buried actually extend yards beyond, extending outward into the city they
called home.
The city paved and built over many graves long before a permanent fence
was erected.

Even the office of the Archdiocese of Savannah is housed in an old colonial building
that undoubtedly was built upon the graves of the unknown as recording details of
those buried was not always a priority.

Yellow fever victims are in a mass grave in a far corner of the cemetery while
unknown Confederate and Union soldiers now spend eternity side by side.

It is said that this is one of the most haunted places in the city…
but yet this city boasts many an otherworldly spook and specter.

I like to learn of the lives who have all gone before me.
Those who lived in a time much different from my own and the
similarities of lives lived are more alike than different.

For we all live, love, hurt, suffer, laugh and cry…and each eventually die.
Not so much different as we are still very much alike.


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

And the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 ESV

‘unthankful day’???

Ingratitude is always a kind of weakness. I have never known men of ability to be ungrateful.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Ungratefulness is worse than a cancer; it eats away at your soul;
blinding your heart and eyes to the beauty and miracles that are
all around us each day in our lives.

Geraldine Vermaak


(a storefront window seen in Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2019)

Well, I certainly hope everyone had a warm, happy and thanks-filled Thanksgiving!

Whether yours was small and quiet or large and raucous, I hope you had
some time for a bit of private and or even vocal reflection…
being able to reflect upon what it was and is that you have in your life to be
thankful for and over.

I made mention, in one of my posts prior to my brief Thanksgiving hiatus, that
I was concerned about our society’s obsessive frenzy over of all things black,
cyber and local shopping for Christmas, as we hurridly hop from Halloween to Christmas
flippantly glossing over Thanksgiving…

That in our zest and zeal, for all things of consumerism and materialism,
we forget the importance that first and foremost, there must always be gratitude.

Like many other families and individuals, our little crew took the show on the road
this Thanksgiving.
We ventured to Georgia’s first city…the city of her inception, Savannah.

There’s a bit of personal history there and I’ll chat about that another day…
but for today, my focus is on that of being thankful.

Thursday, before we were to sit down and break bread over our own Thanksgiving dinner,
we enjoyed a leisurely stroll throughout this Southern historic city.
As we made our way through the city’s shopping district, we noted that there were
actually, a few businesses open, while the majority were closed for the observation of Thanksgiving.

As I would expect nothing less.
Families and individuals being able to take a day for a national observation of
gratitude.

I stopped in front of a local business that had posted a bit of a diatribe on their
storefront window extolling the importance of an “Unthanksgivng Day” as they
opted to stand with the indigenous people.
Decolonize this place they said??

Huh?

First I thought to myself, “here you are closed, on a national day of Thanksgiving so
perhaps you should have actually been open to show your true discontent…
or is that malcontent?
But instead, you were closed, most likely indulging in the day…”

And then I pondered the notion of decolonization…as in are we all to vacate this
Nation of ours, heading back to whatever land was that of our ancestors,
telling the last one out to leave a single light on.

The following day, I caught a news story in the same vein of thinking.
It was a story about how the disgruntled, or is that disgraced,
former football QB Colin Kaepernick, who had attended an
“Unthanksgiving Day” on Alcatraz Island, of all places, vocalized his endorsement for
an Indigenous People’s day while espousing the need to do away
with Thanksgiving.

Sigh.

Again, I thought, ‘here is a very blessed young American man who has had so very
much in his life to be thankful over and for, yet he’s promoting the notion of
being Unthankful…”

It makes no sense to me.

Am I the only one who sees the egregious irony in someone having been adopted
as a baby and in turn, afforded so very much love and opportunities, opportunities
found in a great land of freedom and just that, opportunity, and yet here he is touting
a day of Unthanksgiving?
Is not this unthanksgivng just another word for ingratitude?
As in unthankful?
As in ungrateful.

Oh, I get it.
I get what this is all about.
I get the gist behind all of this being that our Native American populations have grievously
suffered over the centuries at the hands of the white European’s first arrival and then
the ensuing conquest of the new land.

I have often said we owe a great deal to our native Americas past and present,
but try as we like, we cannot rewrite our history.
We can’t do away with Columbus Day despite his treatment of the locals upon landing…
because he also opened a great door.

We can’t discredit that.

We can’t decolonize a nation or toss out Thanksgiving because Pilgrims
have gotten more attention than their local native hosts.

That is what much of this millennial disgruntlement seems to be about…
a desire to rewrite an often less than stellar history.

But here’s the thing—you can’t rewrite your history…it is what it is.

It is there for better or for worse, in hopes that you will learn from it
not erase it just because you don’t like it.
It will not disappear no matter how hard you try to turn it into
something it never was.

That you will learn from what was
Grow from what was.
That you do not repeat the negative of what was.
But rather that you may find that which must be celebrated and
in turn, offer thanks…

Do not grouse.
Do not complain.
Do not lament.
Do not have a temper tantrum over that which you do not fully grasp
understand or truly know…
And do not whine over that which you cannot change.

But rather learn, grow and rejoice.

Be grateful.

Do not ask what is there to be grateful for…
the list is endless.

Be thankful for the others, who went before you, offered their lives
so you could live in a place that allows you to grouse, to complain
to have temper tantrums while you opt to hashtag everything that
comes across your phone.

Find your gratitude not your negativity.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more
people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:15