Thin Blue Line Strong

“It may…be judged indecent in me to come forward on this occasion; but when I see a fellow-creature about to perish through the cowardice of her pretended friends, I wish to be allowed to speak, that I may say what I know of her character.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

A few weeks back I read a dialogue between a BLM activist and a Thin
Blue Line supporter. Note how I use the words activist and supporter.

Activist: a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.

Supporter: a person who approves of and encourages someone or something
(typically a public figure, a movement or party, or a policy).

The BLM activist had gotten into a tit for tat with the Thin Blue Line Supporter

(in case you didn’t know…BLM–Black Lives Matter
Thin Blue Line—supporters of our law enforcement)

The BLM activist was vehemently going on about how black lives mattered,
while the Thin Blue ling supporter shot back that blue lives mattered too.

Well the BLM activist quipped that there are no such things as blue people.

But here’s the thing—we know the metaphors but oddly the metaphors are
only allotted to one side.

In the immortal words of our biology wiz and friend IB, ai yi yi….

Po-tah-toe vs Po-ta-to

And thus this conversation came flooding forward after I read Stephanie’s
latest Caringbridge journal entry regarding her husband Rob—the policeman shot
in the line of action earlier this week and who remains in Atlanta’s Grady Hospital’s
ICU.

Our school (the school I taught at for 31 years) has an
academic awards ceremony each spring.
The evening highlights the various academic and scholarly accomplishments
of our students..and yes, even our scholarly athletes.

Each year those students who have maintained a certain high GPA,
are earmarked as an honor graduate—
honor graduates are in turn encouraged to look back over their school years
in order to pick one of their teachers from their entire
schooling who they believe made the biggest impact on their educational growth.
These teachers, be they elementary, middle school or high school
are then awarded an “apple” plaque that is engraved with the name of the honoring
student during the academic honors program.

I was blessed over my many years to receive a lovely orchard of apples.
It was / is a tangible reminder of why we teachers do what we do.

So reading Stephanie’s latest entry regarding her and Rob’s son
Grady’s honor night this past week was more than touching.

The fact that our principal, superintendent and admin staff went that
extra mile to live-stream the event to Rob’s hospital room,
just so he could experience this special night with his son, as well as wife,
is, well…what CHS does best.

On top of that, knowing that Carrollton and Carroll County’s local
law enforcement personnel gathered together to participate en masse
to help Grady celebrate this important night all the while he is
fully aware that his dad is in a bit of dire straights was and
is tremendous.

Yes…blue lives do exist…they go the extra mile for all of us mere mortals

From Stephanie:

I left the hospital before visiting hours concluded today to attend
Honors Night with Grady and watch him receive awards for being
a projected honor graduate and a beautiful plaque for earning
his fourth-year academic letter.
So many members of our law enforcement family joined us for this celebration.
We are so grateful for the sacrifices they make every day,
but tonight was super special to have them surrounding us to support Grady.
The school was able to stream the ceremony live for Robbie to be able
to watch it from the hospital,
and they scheduled Grady to receive his awards at the beginning
of the ceremony so that Robbie would not tire while viewing the video.
Our school system’s superintendent, Grady’s High School Principal,
and the High School Administrative Team did a beautiful
job organizing the ceremony.
They recognized our law enforcement family and made a beautiful tribute to Rob.
They asked us to join them on stage for Grady to present his Honor Teacher award,
and he gave it to me.
I was so surprised and shocked.
Receiving an “apple” from a student is the most humbling and
rewarding experience for an educator.
To receive one from my own son truly was the most
fulfilling moment of my entire career.


So all metaphors aside—all lives matter—and that’s not racist…

that’s simply biblical… 

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

1 Corinthians 12:14

what’ll ya have?

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
W. Somerset Maugham


(a welcoming image as seen from out of my car window / Julie Cook 2020)

If you’re familiar with either Atlanta or Athens, Georgia, you no doubt know about
The Varsity.

The Varsity is as synonymous with Atlanta and Georgia as is Coca Cola.
The snappy “What’ll ya have?!” is equally synonymous as that is how each
counter customer has been met at The Varsity since its inception in 1928.

This anchoring mainstay has weathered the ravages of time and has managed to
survive when other seemingly enduring institutions have given way to the various burdens
of fickled consumerism.

The Varsity was the drive-in restaurant dream of a man named Frank Gordy.
Ironically this 1928 drive-in was born the same year as my dad,
So I’m certainly not surprised that my dad had a life long affinity with this
car hop ladened hamburger / hotdog joint.
From that of a hungry young boy to that of cash strapped college student whose dorm
was within walking distance of this iconic drive-in, my dad loved his “Varsity.”

And so the irony has never been lost on me that thirty years later,
the Athens drive-in was within walking distance from my sorority House in Athens.

It was the place of late night exam runs.
It was the place you went after your date had brought you home… or…
it was the place you went after you dropped your date off at her dorm or sorority house…
each hoping not to run back in to the other…
It was, and is, the ritual place of both pre and post football game meals.

This was the case for both me and dad…spanning the course of separating decades.

The funny thing is that it’s just that one of us went to Tech and the other went to Georgia.
The two schools known for their good old fashioned hate.
Two rival schools who love to hate one another but who are bound together by a love
for classic Georgia cheap eats.

So yes, grease dripping from onion rings, hand cut french fries, chili dogs and fried
peach pies running throughout both the veins of me and Dad is the ultimate
comforting calling of “home”…
Not the greatest of foods…not the healthiest nor always the tastiest…
but there is just something to be said for traditional consistency and staying power.
The Varsity has both.

Fast forward to this past week.

It was spring break for many school systems…
Our daughter-n-law was blessedly out of school.
We thought we’d volunteer to keep the Mayor for a day or two—
splitting up the madness at their home from having both the
Sheriff and Mayor constantly under foot.

And so, in this new outskirts of Athens home of ours,
it only seemed fitting that we had to pass the torch, bringing forth a right of passage
by taking the Mayor to The Varsity.


(the Mayor visiting during “spring break” visits the Varsity with mom and da)

The Mayor is three years old.
In her young life, she’s already been a time or two to the Varsity in downtown Atlanta…
Her dad took her.

Her dad, our son, spent his own time with his granddad joyfully dining many times
at Atlanta’s Varsity, making lasting memories.
He thought he would be the first to introduce his daughter, this young member
of our clan to the tradition of good ol fashioned grease…however…
I happen to know that our memories really begin to percolate to the surface
at or about the age of three.
So despite her ‘dada’ thinking he was the first…
I’m banking on this latest trip being the visit that will stick.

“What’ll ya have…What’ll ya have…”
Two dogs, walking all the way
A sack of rags, and an FO– or maybe a PC
(aka, two loaded hot dogs, an order of onion rings, and a frosted orange…an orange sherbet
based drink or chocolate milk over ice)

indissoluble bond

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this:
it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government
with the principles of Christianity.

John Quincy Adams


(detail from a triptych I created before retiring,
based on the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald)

I found this followup article to yesterday’s post…an article that actually preempted
my post from yesterday by a couple of day’s…a penultimate of sorts from
the Washingtonexaminer.com

With a similar observation, the article by Kimberly Ross, notes that
“For the first time in 80 years,
the number of Americans with dedicated church attendance has fallen below 50%.
According to a Gallup poll released Monday, only 47% of those polled confirmed that they
are members of a religious body.
This is quite a decline from previous years of polling,
which saw the number hover around the 70% mark for several decades.
Unsurprisingly, the downward trend began around the dawn of the new century.”

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/what-does-declining-church-attendance-mean-for-our-society?utm_source=deployer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Beltway+Confidential&utm_term=Post+Up+Opens+2020&utm_content=20210401154409

And whereas I do fret and truly worry about how and where our liberally woke , Antifa laced and
oh so socialist minded society seems to be racing…gunning for our Judaeo Christian foundation,
I continue to find hope—glimpses of light that remind me that no one on Earth can nor will silence
the Resurrection of Life eternal.

I have read that God will not, cannot, ever be silenced…
yet in that proclamation however,
there is not a guarantee that the United States is destined for the ride.
The ride that connects the dots from Resurrection to Return.

And yet that very question remains in the minds of many of the faithful in our Nation.
Can we, will we be able to work toward remaining in that time line…or will we not.
Maybe we shouldn’t care.
Maybe we should.

Seek while He still may be found…

“Our national discourse is fraught with anger and tension.
There has been great struggle, sacrifice, and sadness over the past year.
There is uncertainty surrounding both economic and public health.
With challenges still remaining, there is no better time to seek spiritual guidance
and hope at places that foster relationships and fellowship.”

an early Joyous Easter

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

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła)


(empty tomb courtesy the web)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

trying my soul

Leaves without flowers:
these are they which have words without works.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


(a soon to be blooming vine / Julie Cook / 2021)

Is it a coincidence that this week of all weeks, Holy Week, a week of the trying souls,
that WP is once again trying to make the new block editor the the only option for posting??
That the classic editor is becoming more and more elusive?
Perhaps my beloved classic editor is to be eliminated all together?
Is it not just a small microcosm, a random example of our current times?

The canceling, the exclusion, the elimination of the what was…
all for that ‘something’ that the powers that be deem to be so much other than
as well as better than…
something deemed to be more inclusive, and in turn, better?

But is all of that truly better?

Elusive and difficult, at best, is not better.

Does it matter that a portion of the population prefers what was???
Preferring that ‘what was’ is something that works best and better for others??
Or is it that ‘they’ and ‘it’ are both simply obsolete?

My husband and I ran to Home Depot today…a trip we make almost three times a week,
while we head to Lowes the other days of the week—
either way, we are in search of things needed for this new old home we’ve “inherited”
via purchase.
But let’s not go there today.

So I opted to sit in the car while my husband ran into the store.

While I sat in the car I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a notice that
The Chosen was offering their new trailer for the soon to be released Season 2.

The Chosen–that marvelous crowd funded show about the life of Jesus…via the
backstories of those who came in contact with the son of a carpenter…

I clicked on the trailer.

Isn’t it funny how God often desires to “speak” to us, His children, in places and in ways
we’d never imagine?
It matters not when nor where God opts to speak out loud to us–He will speak no matter
what or when!

He spoke to me today in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Athens, Ga.

I heard a resounding word—“your world is small, MY world is all encompassing.”

I looked at all the cars, all the folks pushing carts all around me…
Everyone was busy.
Life was on the move…and yet…
I had a resounding sense that all that I was seeing and experiencing was oh so small
and insignificant.

There was a true sense of peace in all of that.

All the news, all the mayhem, all the politics, all the legalities, all the pandemic..
all the madness taking place..none of it mattered…I felt a sudden sense of being
small and insignificant.

And in that insignificance, in that smallness…there was a release.
A peace found in the small…
No news
No storms
No politics
No laws
No division
No defunding police
No lawmakers
No masks
No vaccines
No trials
No hate
No death…

All bits and pieces of insignificance.

Our God…your God, my God..
Greater than anything of this world…
Greater than our own thoughts and imagination…
Thank goodness!!!

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son.
Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will,
because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—
that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—
you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why
I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

God alone suffices

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.
All things pass.
God does not change.
Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”

St. Teresa of Avila


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2021)

“If you wish to explore the Holy Scripture,
and you overcome your laziness and apply yourself, thirsting for the knowledge,
then every good thing will be yours. You will fill your mind with the divine light.
Then, when you apply that light to the doctrines of the Church,
you will very easily recognize everything that is true and unadulterated,
and lay it up in the hidden treasures of your soul.”

St. Cyril of Alexandria, p. 167
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

extend love and forgiveness

God wants us to receive His mercy and, in turn,
be merciful to others through our actions, words, and prayers.
He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He extends
love and forgiveness to us.

Fr. Chris Alar, MIC
from his book Understanding Divine Mercy


(hidden creatures amongst the rosemary /Julie Cook / 2021)

Free me from evil passions and heal my heart of all disorderly affections,
that being healed and well purified in my interior,
I may become fit to love, courageous to suffer and constant to persevere.
Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed,
which alone maketh light all that is 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 á Kempis, p. 89
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

God does not judge as man judges…

“The school of Christ is the school of love.
In the last day, when the general examination takes place …
Love will be the whole syllabus.”

St. Robert Bellarmine


(after the rain/ Julie Cook / 2021)


(after the rain / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Set free from human judgment, we should count as true only what God sees
in us, what he knows, and what he judges.
God does not judge as man does.
Man sees only the countenance, only the exterior.
God penetrates to the depths of our hearts.
God does not change as man does.
His judgment is in no way inconstant.
He is the only one upon whom we should rely.
How happy we are then, and how peaceful!
We are no longer dazzled by appearances, or stirred up by opinions;
we are united to the truth and depend upon it alone.
I am praised, blamed, treated with indifference, disdained, ignored,
or forgotten; none of this can touch me.
I will be no less than I am.
Men and women want to play at being a creator.
They want to give me existence in their opinion,
but this existence that they want to give me is nothingness.
It is an illusion, a shadow, an appearance, that is, at bottom, nothingness.
What is this shadow, always following me, behind me, at my side?
Is it me, or something that belongs to me?
No.
Yet does not this shadow seem to move with me?
No matter: it is not me. So it is with the judgements of men:
they would follow me everywhere, paint me, sketch me,
make me move according to their whim, and, in the end, give me some sort of existence…
but I am disabused of this error.
I am content with a hidden life.
How peaceful it is!
Whether I truly live this Christian life of which St. Paul speaks,
I do not know, nor can I know with certainty. But I hope that I do,
and I trust in God’s goodness to help me.”

Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, p. 99-101
An Excerpt From
Meditations for Lent

think and seek the things of God…

“O man, when the world hates you and is faithless toward you, think of your God,
how he was struck and spat upon.
You should not accuse your neighbor of guilt,
but pray to God that he be merciful to you both.”

St. Nicholas of Flue


(I think it’s called an Autumn cherry…despite it’s prolific blooms during early Spring / Julie Cook / 2021)

“This world is filled with many vulgar and dishonorable things that will claw and tear at your
Christian purity if you allow them to.
Don’t let them!
Seek instead the things of God.
He will purify you and free you from your slavery to profane and inconsequential things.”

Patrick Madrid, p.1
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Bible

stairway to heaven

“Apart from the cross,
there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

St. Rose of Lima


(Hotel Oud Huis de Peellaert stairway/ Bruges, Belgium/ Julie Cook 2011)

Remember back in the day, those heady days of the early 1970’s?
We had just crossed over the infamous Rubicon—a time of transition from the turbulent 60’s
crossing the threshold into a new decade—we did not want to look back.
Rather we crossed over, hoping the new decade would bring us
the gift of change….positive, war-free days change.

Musically it was a time just prior to the colorful days of spinning mirrored balls,
platform shoes, Night Fever and the world of all things Disco.
It was a quickly closing window of time…a time when rock bands still vied for the
waning spotlight.

It was a time when every sweaty-palmed young man and every young lady whose smile bore
the glint of silver braces, each felt a magical flutter when hearing the familiar and melodic
opening notes to the perfect slow dance song of all time—
the song that created an almost 10 full magical minutes of holding close slow dancing…

Should you dare rest your head on his shoulder??
Should you dare pull her closer to your chest??

Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven

And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all is one and one is all, that’s what it is
To be a rock and not to roll, oh yeah
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page / Led Zeppelin

Granted, I for one loved dancing to the song…especially if I was dancing
with “the one”—that particular boy who had stolen my fancy at that particular time
in life.

But I must admit, I often pondered those lyrics as the visual image of a stairway to Heaven
was akin to St. John Climacus’ The Ladder of Divine Ascent, also known as the Ladder of Paradise.


(The 12th century Ladder of Divine Ascent icon /Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt/
showing monks, led by John Climacus, ascending the ladder to Jesus, at the top right.

There were 30 rungs to the ladder…each a nod to the thirty some odd years of Christ’s life.
“It is the Divine model of the religious,
it presents a picture of all the virtues and contains a great many parables and historical touches,
drawn principally from the monastic life, and exhibiting the practical application of the precepts.”

And all of these thoughts came flooding to the forefront of my thoughts when I read today’s quote
by St. Rose of Lima.
There is no avoiding the cross as we look to climb the ladder to Heaven.

Many of the faithful, more of our Protestant brethren, often don’t understand what is
most often perceived as a bizarre and often macabre view of the cross, or crucifix,
that our Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican brethren seem to fixate upon.

And I for one tend to be one of those who look toward that cross.

It is the dark shadow of our faith that so many prefer to ignore or simply look past
pretending it doesn’t exist…but I see it for what it is.
The only means by which I now have hope.

For it there was no cross, there would be no hope.
If there is no decent into Hell, there is no ascent to Heaven.

It is the ugly truth as some would say…but I say it is the only truth.

There would be no Easter, no resurrection, without the cross.

We are told that we must carry that cross if we wish to live.
We can not avoid it.

There is no Easter joy if there is no cross of Good Friday.

The sacrifice had to be made if any of us were to be saved.

So yes, the cross is indeed our stairway to Heaven…

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you.
And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Isaiah 60:1-3