Totus Tuus / Entirely Yours

Totus Tuus…
The apostolic motto of Pope John Paul II
latin for
Entirely Yours


(a small creek and waterfall runs into a quiet lake cove / Julie Cook / 2017)

My cousin called me this afternoon, checking in on progress.
I ran down my list…with not much progress to report.
My monotone responses probably told him more than any unfinished laundry list could.
He told me to perk up.
Easier said then done when facing a seemingly unmovable wall.

Life right now is still overwhelming but in an entirely different
sort of fashion then from before.

For good or bad my stepmother’s estranged daughter has decided she wants to move
her mother to North Carolina, to be closer to her.
My stepmother’s son, who I have worked closely with over these past two years,
is reluctantly acquiescing to the option.
It’s complicated.
I think that was the title of a recent movie.
I can relate.

They move her next weekend.

They are packing up her little world.
What’s left and what remains of my dad’s world
will wait to be purged once my stepmother is moved.

It only seemed appropriate that she should move first before I “move” Dad.

When the dust settles with all of this,
our son and daughter-n-law will eventually move to the house…
With the house that I called home for 55 of my 57 years,
the place where I grew up, will soon be theirs.

Dad wanted that.

But I’m still jumping through hoops…
As I continue filing papers, waiting on lawyers, waiting to close then open
all sorts of accounts and continue paying exorbitant bills as none of that
goes away when one dies…
I am facing movings, re-movings, packing, repacking, good-byes, hellos…
shifting lives that are not mine but lives I am responsible for or a part of…

My stepmother claims no knowledge of who Dad was.
She told me again today she had no known remembrance of “that man”
“and isn’t that the craziest thing?”
“I can’t believe you all keep telling me I was married to him.”
On and on she goes remembering everything around him but not him.
She even told him this before he died, that she never remembers meeting him.
He stared at her as I had tried telling him this, but he didn’t want to hear it.

Yet she can point out a mirror hanging on the wall in my dad’s bedroom…
a mirror that she wants me now to take down so she can take it with her…
because that mirror has hung in every house she’s ever lived in.

Go figure.

So as I continue wrestling with life…mine and others…
I have found a new book…
or maybe I should say, the book found me.

The book is from the private diaries of Karol Wojtyla—Pope John Paul II

Any of you who know me, know that the late pope has always been very important
to me—ever since I watched him walk out on that balcony overlooking St Peter’s square
in 1978, with arms raised, greeting the world as the first Polish pope.

The title of the book is
In God’s Hands
and it is the spiritual diary spanning approximately 41 years of his priesthood.

The diaries were to be burned upon the Pope’s death but his close aide and confidant
Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz defied that wish as he understood the spiritual
significance of sharing these private thoughts and writings.

They were just recently translated into English and made available to an audience other
than Polish or Italian readers.

The Pope reminded me of something very important, right on the very first page…

“At a certain point, however, one needs to abandon human calculations and
somehow grasp the Godly dimensions of every difficult issue.”

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the One who is always in control no matter how
out of control we may feel….

Thank you Fr. Wojtyla….

Oh Heavenly Father, may I learn to be…
entirely yours….

Totus Tuus…
Entirely yours

Tarnished

“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean,
who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

Raymond Chandler

DSC01135
(polishing a few silver pieces / Julie Cook / 2015)

There once was a time, several generations ago, when young brides-to-be would receive silver items as wedding gifts. Sterling silver, as well as silver-plate, trays, bowls, silverware, etc. all most often monogramed. It was all the rage. Girls would register at various stores for a particular silver pattern such as something produced by the likes of Reed and Barton, Gorham, Tiffany, Wallace to name but a few. Gifts would range from place settings, a single serving piece, picture frames, ornaments, candle sticks. . .with the list going on and on.

As each generation seems to set its own mark on the world, it appears that today’s modern day brides-to-be are a bit more practical in their choices of what sorts of gifts they’d like to receive. Coffee machines–as in cappuccino, espresso, single cup. . .towels–both kitchen and bath, sheets, glasses, plates, bar ware, cookware, outdoor serving items, candles, goodies form Crate and Barrel, William Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Macys as their lists go on and on.

By the time I got married, almost 35 years ago, silver was not as popular a wedding gift as it was in, say, my mother’s day. The cost of sterling silver had begun a slow assent upwards and the truth be told, the upkeep and usability of silver was quickly loosing its appeal and practicability. Shiny pretty silver certainly has a wow factor but keeping that brilliant mirror surface sheen is another matter entirely.

We all know from basic chemistry that certain metals, when exposed to various substances, can change. In the case of silver, especially sterling silver, a mixture of air and hydrogen sulfide turns the surface of silver items, at first a cloudy dull grey gold which will, if not wiped away, eventually turn black.

Tarnish luckily is not a permeant problem. However if salt is added to the mix, a silver piece really has problems! The salt will corrode the surface, eating into several layers of the silver, pitting the item–with the damage sadly being permanent.

Polishing silver, in order to remove the tarnish, is an arduous painstaking task. It is a labor intensive, time consuming and messy process. When the silver piece is polished, using a cream paste and soft cloth, a thin micro layer of the surface is taken away as the tarnish resides only on the top layer—the other layers remain intact. Rust on the other hand is a corrosive reaction on certain metals which eats through layer upon layer, eventually destroying the metal.

Tarnish is often what deters folks these days from wanting to buy silver items. The upkeep in today’s busy, everybody’s working world, is enough to turn anyone away from the beautiful things found in today’s antique and specialty stores.

As we all know. . .tarnish will always comes back.

I’m a lot like silver.

Being exposed to certain elements, I eventually succumb to the effects of “tarnish.” I lose my brilliant surface appearance, my beauty fades as I eventually turn a very dull lifeless black.

I allow the oxidizing agents of the world to affect my sheen and brilliance. I become sullied and dulled by the exposure to negative elements. Not merely the eating and drinking of the wrong elements for my betterment, but to the more shady and insidious elements. . .those negative things which I expose my eyes, ears, heart and mind to. . .be it certain forms of entertainment such as music, television, movies, even down to the books and magazines I choose to read. . .I allow negativity, violence, foul useless language, sexual promiscuity and selfish gratification to permeate my world. I am lured away from that which helps to keep the tarnish at bay.

God looks and sees a once brilliantly shining creation dulled and darkened by the exposure of time away from Him. . .His word, His people, His realm.
My perception dims.
I can’t distinguish that which is positive and that which is the negative.
Exposure to the world verses exposure to my Christian spirituality. . .as sadly I choose, even often unknowingly, the world.

I allow an often tired body and mind to choose the easy way. . .the path of less resistance to dominate and take over. In order for me to choose God and His desires, it calls upon certain factors such as vigilance, diligence, observance, prayer, fasting, communion, reading and digesting the Word, healing, confession, even praise—often times not easily felt or desired. Sometimes it all seems to be counter to my mood, my disposition, my feelings, my abilities, my strength. . .a conscious choice and determination must take hold. . .

Yet thankfully God does not tire of polishing or re-polishing.
He doesn’t mind the time and effort spent.
He doesn’t mind the elbow grease required to wipe away the heavy layer of darkness which encases my entire being.

Slowly but surely the black is lovingly removed as the tiny areas of brilliance begin to reemerge.
God holds me, enfolds me within His welcoming hands. He gently, yet determinedly, focuses in order to rub over and over those negative tarnished areas of my heart and soul.
Allowing the brilliance, that is His creation. . .
to shine forth, yet once again. . .

“For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day.
Luke 17:24