the night before the storm

“Faith and love are like the blind man’s guides.
They will lead you along a path unknown to you, to the place where God is hidden.”

St. John of the Cross


(the evening sky before the arrival of a tropical storm…no sailors delight…
Julie Cook / 2019)

“Therefore, when God gives spiritual comfort, receive it with thanksgiving,
but know that it is the bounty of God, not thy merit.
Be not puffed up, be not overjoyed, nor vainly presume,
but rather be the more humble for this gift and the more cautious and fearful in all thine actions;
for this hour will pass away and temptation will follow.
When comfort shall be taken away from thee, do not presently despair;
but wait with humility and patience for the heavenly visit,
for God is able to restore thee a greater consolation.
This is no new thing, nor strange to those who have experienced the ways of God:
for the great saints and ancient prophets have often felt this kind of variety.”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 64
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ


(evening sky before a tropical storm arrives / Julie Cook / 2019)

“wash your spirit clean”

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while,
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir


(a close up of a persimmon / Julie Cook / 2019)

Every now and then, we all need to go take a walk in the woods.

Walking away from the crowds, the city, the traffic, the noise, the stress…
Sometimes we even need to take a brief walk away from life…
and the best place to go to…is to the woods.

Allowing ourselves to marvel in the tiniest details of the Master’s hand…


(a small fallen dogwood seed / Julie Cook/ 2019)


(the last blooming “weeds” /Julie Cook / 2019)


(a lovely shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2019)


(deer moss /Julie Cook / 2019)


(more deer moss / Julie Cook / 2019)


(hidden shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2019)


(a fallen acorn / Julie Cook / 2019)

“I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land
so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.

Ezekiel 34:25

norovirus yet no cruise

Tuesday morning we received a call from our son that work had sent him home due to being sick…
really, really, sick.

A high fever along with the inability to stay out of a bathroom.

He was off to see his doctor.

We got another call later that it was not the flu… but…..
The doctor told him that if he was no better by the afternoon, he needed to go to the ER.

I think when your doctor sees you and then tells you to go to the ER,
things must be getting out of hand.

Next call… he was in the ER.

So off we went to rescue the Mayor and Sheriff, or maybe we were rescuing their mom…
either way, we were the cavalry riding in for the rescue.

I did consider donning rubber gloves, a surgical mask along with a bottle of Clorox for
the drive over.

We went and rescued the children from the Big House, the Pen, the slammer…aka daycare.
Next we did the grocery store run and finally the pharmacy.

The ER called with the following day with the lab results…
The Norovirus…
the bane of anyone who likes to frequent the cruise world.

And here we were with none of us having been near a cruise ship and yet we were living
with the same associated misery…
pity…

The kind ER doctor thought to email the CDC’s Norovirus fact sheet…

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Anyone can get infected and sick with norovirus.
You can get norovirus from:
Having direct contact with an infected person
Consuming contaminated food or water
Touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth

Outbreaks are common
The virus spreads very easily and quickly
Norovirus spreads:
From infected people to others
Through contaminated foods and surfaces
Outbreaks can happen anytime, but they occur most often from November to April.

The culprit, in our case, was most likely from last week when the Mayor took ill
as the ER doctor said cruise ships were not the only hotbeds… daycares were also
a highly likely suspect.

We are finally back home as everyone seems to be on the mend… for now…
and I just pray we are spared!!

Meanwhile the Mayor liked her watch that her watchmaker ‘Da’ brought her
and the Sheriff continues to practice his push ups…

Our Judaeo / Christianity roots keeps us disciplined

“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence,
were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite,
and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer.
And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity,
in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty…

“Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe,
that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable,
as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty,
are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”

Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, excerpt from a letter to Thomas Jefferson.


(image Memoria Press)

Monday night, once the dishes were finally finished, I sat down to catch a bit
of the day’s news.
I came in right at the beginning of a sit-down interview between Fox News journalist
Martha Maccallum and Wall Street editorialist, Bill McGrun

The subject topic was ‘Faith in American Politics’ as both journalists were offering
their take on the speech given by Attorney General William Barr Friday to a closed-door
audience at Notre Dame’s law school.
The gist of the speech has been called Barr’s take on the ‘coordinated
campaign to destroy the traditional moral order.’

I’ve written about this very subject for quite some time here in my small little corner
of the blogosphere.

Mr. McGrun observed that Barr was basing much of his thoughts on that of the
Founding Fathers and the sustaining of a ‘free’ society.
McGrun noted that “if you want a free society,
it requires people capable of self-governing
which means restraining your passions.
Religion contributed a lot of that morality that made people disciplined—allowing
them to be free and so when religion is in decline, you then get anything goes…”

Below is the link to the interview between Maccallum and McGrun…
it is a short interview and worth the viewing
but below that is the link to the full video of Barr’s address.

When I was searching for a video clip to share regarding Barr’s speech,
many news outlets offered clips with a few key soundbites along with their
overtly negative reactions.

I simply wanted the speech without any added commentary, con or pro.
So what I found was actually marked as a banned video.
Why that is I am uncertain.

The other item I sought to share was the column Mr. McGrun referenced that he’d written
following his having watched and digested the Barr speech…however,
in order to do so, I would
have to be a Washington Post on-line subscriber…
of which I am not nor do I wish to pay for.

So perhaps there is some other place where his column may be found…
but due to my limited social media connections, I’m not certain.

And as an aside I should note that both Barr and Maccallum are Catholic.
Maccallum’s son plays football for Notre Dame.
And Barr has younger family members attending Notre Dame
My Bulldogs beat the Irish, but could not beat the roosters (South Carolina)
so if you think this is a biased observation, think again.

Lastly, I’ve included a link to the Notre Dame student-based school newspaper
which published a story regarding the speech.

All of which are well worth the time to both watch and read…

https://video.foxnews.com/v/6094808752001/?playlist_id=5410209611001#sp=show-clips

William Barr speaks at Notre Dame about ‘militant’ forces of secularism, religious liberty in America

PS—I might be out of pocket for a day or two as illness has once again struck the home
of the Mayor—dad is now ailing and so we are off to help out…

consequences…the decisions we make

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest.
That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.
The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which,
a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.
An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge
or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


(a willet makes off with a crab for breakfast /Julie Cook / 2019)

Scanning a local Atlanta’s news feed Sunday, I noted the storyline about a local Army Master Sgt.
passing away ten years after he was initially wounded in Afghanistan.

I stopped to read the story.

It seems that this soldier’s tale is a bit more complicated than that of a soldier being wounded
in the line of duty.

This particular soldier, Master Sargent Mark Allen of Georgia, was shot in the head 10 years ago
after he went out on a search mission for a fellow soldier who had deserted the unit.

The AWOL soldier was Sgt Bowe Bergdahl.

Bergdahl deserted his unit and was eventually captured by the Taliban.
He was in captivity from 2009 until 2014, when then-President Barak Obama
traded 5 Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl.

Master Sargent Mark Allen’s now recent widow Shannon,
did not know that her husband was actually shot while searching for Bergdahl,
not until several years later when President Obama ordered the prisoner exchange.
All she had known was that her husband had been shot in the line of duty and had
suffered a debilitating traumatic brain injury.

Allen was to spend the next 10 years of his life in a wheelchair and unable to
communicate, requiring constant around the clock care.

The full news story is below…followed by a bit of personal reflection…

Georgia soldier injured while searching for Bowe Bergdahl dies 10 years later
By: Chelsea Prince, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A retired Army National Guard officer from metro Atlanta died Saturday,
10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
in Afghanistan.

Master Sgt. Mark Allen was injured in a June 2009 search mission for Bergdahl,
who walked off a U.S. military outpost and was captured by the Taliban.
Military prosecutors said Allen was shot during a firefight that erupted when U.S. forces
and about 50 members of the Afghan National Army were attacked by enemy fighters.

Allen suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him in a wheelchair and
unable to communicate.
His wife, Shannon Allen, told WSB Radio that she did not learn about the circumstances surrounding
her husband’s injuries until 2014, after former President Barack Obama negotiated Bergdahl’s release
in a swap for five Taliban members detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Shannon Allen typically declined interviews,
but she was in the courtroom in October 2017 when Bergdahl pleaded guilty to charges of desertion
and misbehavior before the enemy, The Associated Press reported.
He was later sentenced to a dishonorable discharge from the Army but avoided prison time.

When Allen returned home, after being treated for three years at a military hospital in Florida,
he was honored as a hero.
The father of two was a frequent recipient of local accolades in his Walton County hometown.

According to an obituary printed in the Walton Tribune,
Allen spent 21 years in the Army and the Army National Guard.
He retired in 2013 upon receiving a Purple Heart.
He is survived by his wife, his son, Cody, and a daughter, Journey.

Services are planned for this week.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Tim Stewart Funeral Home in Loganville.
A funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church of Snellville with a burial to follow.

This story was written by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Stories such as these are hard for all sorts of reasons.
Lives are shattered and forever changed all because of one person’s choice,
action or decision.

Two children lost their dad this past weekend… and if the truth be told,
they actually lost the dad they had known as small children, ten years ago
when he was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban.
There are conflicting reports that upwards of 8 other soldiers were shot and killed
as a direct result of that particular search mission.

The story behind Bergdahl is cloudy.

When President Obama exchanged 5 military prisoners for Bergdahl’s release,
some of the truth behind Bergdahl’s story began to emerge.
Details causing some in our Government’s leadership to question the legality of
President Obama’s prisoner exchange.

Bergdahl was eventually tried in a Military court and pled guilty to desertion.

He was given a dishonorable discharge, demoted in rank and was fined $1000 from his
monthly pay.
He did not face any prison time.

Since then, some have wondered aloud whether or not Bergdahl was actually
an enemy sympathizer.
A disillusioned soldier who decided to take his chances by deserting the Army
and country he served, opting to seek asylum with the enemy…or did he merely desert,
hoping to elude capture and simply “run away” to whatever it is was that he thought
might be a better life.

Bergdahl, however, does not deny deserting.

In a letter to his parents just prior to his desertion, Bergdahl paints
the picture of a young man who was very much disillusioned.
He was angry and had decided that he must wash his hands of any part of the mission and war.
He spoke of “being ashamed to be an American”
He noted that “the US Army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at”
He points to the fact that America and her military are arrogant and even cruel in their actions
against the Taliban and the local people.

His father’s response was for his son to follow his conscience.

Yet one thing history has taught us is that war is not pretty nor is it ever fair.
Wars are bad and bad things happen during such.
Rules of engagement, the Geneva Convention, the UN, all have
been put in place to aid man in fighting his wars fairly…
yet what of any war is ever fair?

But those who are the committed members of our military understand
the mission and in turn work to that end.

And yet in all of this, I am reminded about the matter of consequence.

A man who was once proclaimed as ‘The Great Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll, once noted that
“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.”

Ingersoll was not a Christian man however both Christian and nonbeliever can each agree
that from all actions comes consequence.

No matter Bergdahl’s claims as to what took place following his departure from his Unit,
the fact of the matter was, and remains, that the consequences from his decision
and actions that fateful day in 2009 has forever changed a myriad of lives.

Bergdahl made a conscious decision, that many say to this day, was purely selfish.
I happen to be one of those who find Bergdahl’s actions self-absorbed…
and according to Military protocol, even criminal.

His choice to walk away, for whatever reason, set in motion a chain reaction of
life-altering events…perhaps none so great as experienced by the Allen family.

The Bergdahl case remains somewhat fluid as his legal team continues to push that he
be awarded various medals from that of POW survivor to a Purpleheart…
as well that his “Court Martial” be overturned.

Despite whichever side of this case you find yourself, the fact of the matter is
that decisions, actions, and choices all hold weight.

And often that weight is a balance between life and death.
As they directly affect other people…whether we see or not the effect.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

The noblest of acts

“Cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton


(the only sign of color this fall / Julie Cook / 2019)

“The true reason for which God bestows so many graces upon the humble is this,
that the humble are faithful to these graces and make good use of them.
They receive them from God and use them in a manner pleasing to God,
giving all the glory to Him, without reserving any for themselves…
It is certainly true that he who is humble is also faithful to God,
because the humble man is also just in giving to all their due, and above all,
in rendering to God the things that are God’s; that is,
in giving Him the glory for all the good that he is,
all the good that he has and for all the good that he does;
as the Venerable Bede says: ‘Whatever good we see in ourselves,
let us ascribe it to God and not to ourselves.’
To give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received and are
continually receiving is an excellent means of exercising humility,
because by thanksgiving we learn to acknowledge the Supreme Giver of
every good.
And for this reason it is necessary for us always to be humble before God.
St. Paul exhorts us to render thanks for all things and at all times:
‘In all things give thanks.’ (1 Thess. 5:18).
‘Giving thanks always for all things.’ (Eph. 5:20).
But that our thanksgiving may be an act of humility it must not only come
from the lips but from the heart, with a firm conviction that all good comes
to us through the infinite mercy of God.”

Rev. Cajetan da Bergamo, p. 87-8
An Excerpt From
Humility Of Heart

Deus absconditus

“Three things are necessary for the salvation of man:
to know what he ought to believe;
to know what he ought to desire;
and to know what he ought to do.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(a fallen leaf hangs in the balance by the thread of a spider / Julie Cook / 2019)

“One of the most formidable obstacles to the conversion of a soul is the fact that
God is a hidden God: Deus absconditus.
But God, in His goodness, reveals Himself, in a certain manner, through His saints,
and even through fervent souls.
In this way, the supernatural filters through and becomes visible to the faithful,
who are thus able to apprehend something of the mystery of God…
make no mistake, there is a sort of instinct by which souls,
without clearly defining what it is they sense,
are aware of this radiation of the supernatural.”

Dom Jean-Baptist Chautard, p. 124-5
An Excerpt From
Soul of the Apostolate