give my your Light

“Everything becomes more and more itself.
Here is joy that cannot be shaken.
Our light can swallow up your darkness;
but your darkness cannot now infect our light.”

C.S. Lewis


(they take the bulbs and shades…so life is in the dark / Julie Cook / 2020)

Transition seems to bring about a variance of both light and dark.
I can have a lamp, but without a bulb or electricity, I have only darkness.

The same remains true for the soul.
If there is no light, there is only darkness.

We pray for light.
Give us you light oh Lord…

“In me there is darkness,
But with You there is light;
I am lonely, but You do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help;
I am restless, but with You there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience;
I do not understand Your ways,
But You know the way for me.”

“Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor
And in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.
You know all man’s troubles;
You abide with me
When all men fail me;
You remember and seek me;
It is Your will that I should know You
And turn to You.
Lord, I hear Your call and follow;
Help me.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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

The only truth to cling to, not our current reality

“How great you are, Sovereign LORD!
There is no one like you, and there is no God but you,
as we have heard with our own ears.

2 Samuel 7:22 NIV


(my current reality in what was once a kitchen / Julie Cook / 2020)

My current reality is obviously upside down.

Despite my angst and trepidation, let alone this world of mine being turned up on its head…
the one that I do know is that all of this mess is temporary.

And just like that…we all know that this Nation of ours is also obviously turned upside down.

And as to whether this mess in our Nation is temporary or rather a marker of an ending,
is yet to be seen…yet in the end, the one thing we do know is that all of this will mess
will eventually pass away…

Meaning this too is only temporary…but the thing is…we just don’t know how long it will last…
But that really doesn’t matter.

None of this mess really matters–

Because in the end, there is only One thing that truly matters…
Only One thing that truly matters and actually remains–as a constant.

Whew!

Thank goodness.

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.

Psalm 102:25-27

king for a day or king for life—it’s a choice

“It is better to be a child of God than king of the whole world!”
St. Aloysius Gonzaga

“It is necessary to have an absolutely sure intention in all our actions,
so that the generous fulfillment of our daily duties may be directed
toward the highest supernatural ideal. Thus, our life, apart from moments of prayer,
will be a prayerful life. It is clear that the habit of giving an upward glance
to God at the moment of action is a great assistance in aiding us to
behave always with a pure intention and in freeing us from our natural impulses
and fancies, so, that, retaining our self-mastery, or rather,
God becoming the sole Master, all our movements become dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
We see in the Gospel that whenever our Lord was about to undertake some important step,
He always paused for a moment to raise His eyes to Heaven,
and only after this moment of recollection did He take up the work He had to do.
‘He lifted up His eyes to Heaven’ is a phrase that recurs with significant frequency.
And doubtless, when there was no outward sign of this prayer,
there was the inward offering. The ideal is the same for us.
The constant subjection of self to the guidance of the Holy Spirit
is made easier from the fact of His presence in the soul,
where He is asked explicitly to preside over all our doings…
We shall not submit wholeheartedly to the invisible Guest unless
He is kept in close proximity to us.”

Raoul Plus, S.J., p. 37-8
An Excerpt From
How to Pray Always

where you can find all the answers

“Only in Christ can men and women find answers to the ultimate questions
that trouble them.
Only in Christ can they fully understand their dignity as persons created
and loved by God.”

Pope St. John Paul II


(shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2020)

“There is nothing to be dreaded in human ills except sin—not poverty,
or disease, or insult, or ill-treatment, or dishonor, or death,
which people call the worst of evils. To those who love spiritual wisdom,
these things are only the names of disasters, names that have no substance.
No, the true disaster is to offend God, to do anything that displeases him.”

St. John Chrysostom, p. 334
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

at home…with God

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis


(our home in December 2017 during a winter storm / Julie Cook)

As we prepare to move homes…from a house we built to one we did not,
I have become keenly aware of what it means to be rooted as well as somewhat uprooted.
What it means to be sheltered.
To be comfortable.
To feel safe.

Yet that’s not always the case for many of our sisters and brethren.

For many, there is no sense of stability.
No sense of security nor well-being.

So within the melancholy I’m finding in leaving,
there is a greater sense of gratitude.

If a house can feel emotion, which we know it cannot, my desire would be that this house
could feel our deep level of not only a bittersweetness in leaving but more importantly,
that it could sense our level of thankfulness for the years of shelter, safety,
and rootedness it provided.

And so it is within this flood of emotion…the type of emotion that only transition
can bring…of which I know is not coming from the leaving, the going, or the coming that
is the root of my unsettledness…it is the longing I have for “home”—
a longing for a home that transcends this world.

I know that our hearts, none of our hearts, will be at rest until we find
ourselves embraced in the arms of our Father…


(Julie Cook / 2019)

The peace coming from the Holy Spirit is more than relief from suffering,
a sense of well-being, or a sense of equanimity.
It is rooted in a deep sense of home, home amid the cosmos
(which we who have faith know is being at home with God).

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.
from Christ vs Satan in Our Daily Lives

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

her name was Eunice Dunn

I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger

Lyrics by
Ron Lane / Ronald David Wood
Sung by Rod Stewart


(Eunice and mom / June 16th, 1953)

Throughout my entire life, I only knew her by her first name…Eunice.

Eunice passed from this life shortly after I arrived into this world–
into this family…

I was born in 1959 and eventually adopted in early 1960— Eunice,
on the other hand, had already long since “retired” from the years she spent
with my grandmother, mother, and aunt.

I imagine that our family’s circle was somewhat complete when Eunice finally
met me when mom and dad had brought me home from the adoption agency in 1960.
They were so proud to show off their new baby to this very special part of my
mom’s story.

I had always heard about Eunice but really knew very little about her.
As long as they had lived, both my mom and aunt spoke of Eunice with
only adoration and abiding love.

For you see, Eunice was more the mother to these two girls rather than their
own mother.

Eunice was a black woman, only a year older than my grandmother.
A black woman who raised two white little girls.

I found her listed on the Atlanta 1940 census records.
She was listed as a part of the household of my grandfather…listed as a servant.
And it was in that census record that I first learned of Eunice’s last name…Dunn.
And that she was but a year older than my grandmother…
My grandmother was 36, Eunice was 37.

This, however, is not a tale about the well-to-do verses something akin to “The Help.”

This is a story about a young working widow and the other woman who helped her
raise her daughters.

Two women working to make ends meet during a precarious time in our Nation’s history.

The part of the story that I always knew was that my grandmother was widowed in 1940,
at the ripe young age of 36.
She had two young daughters–one who was 6 and the youngest who was 1.
My grandmother’s husband, my grandfather, died of alcohol-induced TB while
spending his final days in a TB sanatorium–dying at the age of 40.

My grandfather had squandered their entire life’s savings during the great depression.
My grandmother, as long as I had known her, had a deep wariness of men and
never trusted a man who drank…despite her affinity for Vodka later in life.
Over the years, she liked my dad yet despised my uncle, my aunt’s husband.
Probably with good reason but that’s a story for another day.

Growing up, I can never ever recall my grandmother ever speaking of her husband…
my grandfather.
A man who died nearly 20 years before I was born.

This man–his name, his memory was deemed persona non gratis within this small family.
No pictures.
No stories.
No recognition.

But Eunice…Eunice, she was special.

My grandmother, at 36 years old, while during a depression and world war,
had two little girls who she needed to provide for.

Eunice at 37 also had a family she needed to provide for.

My grandmother went to work and even took in borders during the War.

Yet despite these precarious times, I always knew that my mom,
aunt and grandmother had Eunice.

Eunice was a black woman who worked as a housekeeper for my grandmother.
Later, in order to make ends meet, my grandmother actually took in her older unmarried sister.
The two opened a beauty salon for the upper crust women of Atlanta.

While they spent their days cutting, perming, and dying the hair of Atlanta’s upper crust,
Eunice tended to my mother and aunt.
She cooked, cleaned, and fed the family.
She bought groceries, got my mom and aunt ready for school each morning
and met them each afternoon following school.
She always had supper ready and waiting for my grandmother and her sister after they’d
take the bus home late each evening.

Eunice would arrive each Monday morning and would stay until Saturday morning.
She had her own room and basically kept the house running.
She would go home to her own family on Saturday afternoon, only to return to my grandmother
every Monday morning.
This routine ran for 20 plus years.

Years later my aunt and I would both lament about the sacrifices Eunice had made
for both her own family and my grandmother’s family.
It was a difficult time as the world suffered through both the Great Depression and a world war.
This was a generation that was more familiar with the idea of sacrifice over protests
and demonstrations.

I remember my aunt telling me about how, as a little girl, she would have to ride
in the back of the bus with Eunice.
This being life in the South during segregation.

However to my mother, aunt, and grandmother…there were never any color barriers…
no segregation…all they knew was what made a family, family…
and Eunice was very much a part of that family.

The only pictures I’ve ever seen of Eunice were found in a musty old envelope of photos
that had been stored away in our attic…in a box of things that had been dads following
mother’s death in 1986.

I’ve looked and looked over the internet for any little nugget I could find regarding
Eunice—but the only thing I found was the 1940 census record which listed her
as a part of the Watson’s family.

I wanted to write something that would provide Eunice with the place of honor
that she so rightly deserved and held in the hearts of both my mom and aunt…
but with so little to go on, that has proved difficult.
With the loss of my grandmother in 1989, mother in 1986, and Martha in 2017—
those who knew best are now long gone.

I wanted people to know that despite what our current culture screams about racism,
there has been love that remained colorblind long before the radicalism
of movements such as the Black Panthers or today’s Black Lives Matter.

So I want to say thank you to a woman who I never really knew but who had met me
a very long time ago.

I want to thank her for making both my mom and aunt into the women they become,
in turn, making me the woman who I have become.

Love and family are strong bonds.
Bonds that have each helped to make me the person I am today.

Thank you, Eunice.


(Mother and Eunice, 1953)


(Mother on her big day / 1953)


(Mother with her mother, Mimi / 1953)


(mother with her father in law, my beloved Pop / 1953)


(Mother and dad off to a honeymoon / 1953)

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

finding God in all sorts of places…

“We must always remember that God does everything well,
although we may not see the reason of what He does.”

St. Philip Neri


(part of a bilboard is visable from where we parked for a pick up order from Longhorn’s / Julie Cook / 2020)

We had worked all day in our attic…sorting the boxes and plastic tubs of our younger lives.
What to keep, what to toss.

The art of a toddler, the 1950 bank files of my dad, my mom’s 70’s stylish readers,
my dad’s 1930’s coloring books, my husband’s father’s WWII pictures…
Yet the dust and decay took a toll on my sinuses–just like like white on rice…
oh wait, is that colloquialism considered passe PC in this culture of ours???

Anywhoo…

After a full day’s work, we opted to order supper to go from our local Longhorn.

When we pulled into the parking lot, finding a parking spot, I couldn’t help but
notice a rather prominent portion of the billboard hiding just behind the neighboring McDonalds.

The word GOD drew in my attention.
I wonder, had others noticed the same sign, the same word?

Our life is a gift and a giving to others; therefore it is joy at a profound level.
Anyone who seriously makes this idea his own and begins to practice it will find it to be true;
he will discover that the will to live it out, that is, to accept everything as a gift from God,
can transform our life right down to its roots.

Hans Urs von Balthasar
from You Crown the Year with Your Goodness

love, family, holiness

“O Holy Family—the Family so closely united to the mystery which
we contemplate on the day of the Lord’s Birth—guide with your example
the families of the whole earth!”

Pope St. John Paul II


(Bartolome Esteban Murillo / circa 1660 / Hermitage Museum)

Joseph, the man tapped by God to be the earthly father of Jesus,
is more or less an enigma…just as he remains an enigma in
ecclesiastical history.

As a preteen, after Jesus was lost from the family’s caravan having hung back in Jerusalem to
visit the Temple following the family’s pilgrimage for the festival of the Passover,
we simply don’t hear /read much more regarding Joseph or of his presence in the boy Jesus’s life.

By the next time we hear about Jesus, he is a grown man who has a predestined meeting
with John the Baptist for baptism.
It is simply assumed that Joseph must have died, leaving Mary a widow.
And oddly, throughout the ages, artists have more or less depicted Joseph as an older man…
as we know that Mary was a young woman when she was engaged to Joseph.

Perhaps that has been the rationale…Joseph was older and therefore passed
away when Jesus was just an adolescent.
But I wonder…was he really that much older than Mary?

There seems to be more questions about the man Joseph than there are answers.
And perhaps that is all part of the Holy mystery that embraces our lives.

But the one thing I know…
the most important thing that we do know, is that Joseph had to be
quite the man to be chosen by God the Creator to be the earthly father to God’s only son.

The example of a man as to what a father is meant to be…
the type of man that our sons and daughters so desperately yearn for in their lives.

Our children, now more than ever, need their fathers.
Joseph reminds us of this.

“Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed, which alone maketh light
all that is burdensome and equally bears all that is unequal.
For it carries a burden without being burdened and makes all that which
is bitter…sweet and savory.
The love of Jesus is noble and generous; it spurs us on to do great things
and excites us to desire always that which is most perfect.”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 87
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ