thoughts on the discoveries found along our individual paths

“It is a lesson we all need—to let alone the things that do not concern us.
He has other ways for others to follow Him; all do not go by the same path.
It is for each of us to learn the path by which He requires us to follow Him,
and to follow Him in that path.”

St. Katharine Drexel


(Spring keeps on trying/ Julie Cook/ 2023)

The Lord discovered to me a sense of my unbelief that, though late,
I should remember my transgressions and that I should be converted
with my whole heart to the Lord my God.

St. Patrick

“Undertake courageously great tasks for God’s glory,
to the extent that he’ll give you power and grace for this purpose.
Even though you can do nothing on your own, you can do all things in him.
His help will never fail you if you have confidence in his goodness.
Place your entire physical and spiritual welfare in his hands.
Abandon to the fatherly concern of his divine providence every care
for your health, reputation, property, and business;
for those near to you; for your past sins;
for your soul’s progress in virtue and love of him;
for your life, death, and especially your salvation and eternity—in a word,
all your cares.
Rest in the assurance that in his pure goodness,
he’ll watch with particular tenderness over all your responsibilities and cares,
arranging all things for the greatest good.”

St. John Eudes

love for 1000 years, the Bread Doctor, the happiest nations and Jesus wept…

“What it’s like to be a parent:
It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but in exchange it teaches
you the meaning of unconditional love.”

Nicholas Sparks, The Wedding

Sometimes our attitude towards people with physical handicaps can be
both patronising and harmful.
Who are we to determine that someone’s life is not worth living?

David Robertson

A few years back I’d written a post…
and it just so happened that that particular post in question was written
in order to coincide with the International Day of Downs Syndrome Awareness…
that being March 21st.

Well, I’m a few day’s early of this year’s awareness day yet I’ve felt compelled
none the less to revisit that post and share a new story…

(click the link for that year’s full post)

for a thousand years….I have loved you for a thousand years

That previous post was not simply a story about kids living with Downs Syndrome but
rather it was a post about the need to look deeper into how our world actually looks
at such kids and their families—how they all live life with such a “disability.”

That previous post piggybacked off of an article that was written by our friend
the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson.
The article had first appeared in Christian Today and later, David included
it in his blog.

David pointed out that “In the UK 90 per cent of babies in the womb who are diagnosed with Down’s are aborted. In Iceland it is 100 per cent and Denmark is getting close to that as well. These countries boast that they will have got rid of Down’s – what they mean is that they will have got rid of any human beings who have Down’s.

The Definition of Happiness

Iceland and Denmark were recently listed as two of the top 10 happiest countries in the world. But it does depend on how you define happiness. The criteria used were ‘income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity’. Perhaps other criteria could also be used? I would put a parent’s as pretty well near the top of the list. Watching this video there may not be some of the other ‘happiness’ factors, but the love is clearly there. Maybe our experts need to rethink how they define happiness?”

Fast forward to this week.

While recently flipping through a magazine, an interesting article jumped out at me.
It was a story entitled
The Bread Doctor: Why a small-town doctor opened a bakery for his daughter
with Down syndrome

As I read the story, I was immediately reminded of that previous post, David’s article
and of those nations who are proud to have “eradicated” Downs.
…and at what a cost that eradication has extracted…happiness? Really?!

I knew I needed to head over to the world wide web
in search of a sharable version of the story and low and behold I found one.

https://www.ldsliving.com/the-bread-doctor-why-a-small-town-doctor-opened-a-bakery-for-his-daughter-with-down-syndrome/s/93004

I also found a lovely YouTube video about this doctor from Wyoming, the baker from Oregon
and the daughter with Downs…

David’s final paragraph from that original article still pricks the soul.

Have not previous leaders and those who seem to know what is best for all
not thought they had “solutions” for a utopian society, a “happily perfect” society??
Eradication always seems to be the answer…quick, neat and emotionless…
and yet those of us who prefer to choose life, I believe, know otherwise.

Jesus wept…

I sometimes wonder what Jesus would think of a society which is so
determined to get rid of what it perceives as the weak,
the disabled and those who don’t quite fit the ‘perfect’ mould.
But then I don’t need to wonder.
Jesus wept – and he still does.

David Roberston

what might be

Contrary to what might be expected,
I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned
in my seventy five years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness,
whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else,
that has called me inexorably to Christ.

Malcome Muggeridge


(a tulip bloom to be / Julie Cook /2023)

Many of you may or may not be familiar with the British author, journalist
and Christian convert Malcom Muggeridge.
Muggeridge was deeply impacted by his association with Mother Teresa.

I have often quoted Muggeridge here in cookieland…and wouldn’t you know,
as if right on cue I’ve found today’s quote, like previous quotes, rather prophetic.

Yet if the truth be told I believe, as well as suspect, that what
I find to be prophetic is actually prophetic for not only myself but is prophetic
for others as well.

Firstly, the following is a brief synopsis of who the man, Malcom, was according
to Christian Classic Etheral library:

Muggeridge was born in 1903. His father was a member of the House of Commons and Muggeridge later described his upbringing as “socialist”. In 1924 Muggeridge left Cambridge University and worked as a teacher in India and Egypt He also contributed articles for various newspapers including the Evening Standard and the Daily Telegraph.

In 1932 Muggeridge became a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian in the Soviet Union. He witnessed the Ukranian famine and wrote vivid accounts of this disaster. Muggeridge then returned to India where he became assistant editor for the Calcutta Statesman. He also published the book, The Earnest Atheist (1936).

On the outbreak of the Second World War, Muggeridge joined the Army Intelligence Corps and served in Mozambique, Italy, and France. He also worked for M15 during this period. After the war Muggeridge became a correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in Washington (1946-52). This was followed by a spell as editor of Punch Magazine (1953-57).

Having professed to being an agnostic for most of his life, he became a Christian, publishing Jesus Rediscovered in 1969, a collection of essays, articles and sermons on faith. It became a best seller. Jesus: The Man Who Lives followed in 1976, a more substantial work describing the gospel in his own words. In A Third Testament, he profiles seven spiritual thinkers, or God’s Spies as he called them, who influenced his life: Augustine of Hippo, William Blake, Blaise Pascal, Leo Tolstoy, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Soren Kierkegaard and Fyodor Dostoevsky . In this period he also produced several important BBC documentaries with a religious theme, including In the Footsteps of St. Paul.

In 1982, he surprised many by converting to Roman Catholicism at 79 along with his wife, Kitty. This was largely due to the influence of Mother Teresa. His last book Conversion, published in 1988 and recently republished, describes his life as a 20th century pilgrimage – a spiritual journey.

Malcolm Muggeridge died on 14th November, 1990.

So as we sit on the cusp of another one of life’s transitions…
with that transition being our awaiting for the springing
forward of time…only to be accompanied by the first sights and scents of Spring,
I/ we, are each reminded that this is indeed the season of change.

We are each straddling a fine line between that which was, and of that which is
along with that which might be.

It’s no secret that I’ve been rather quiet here in Cookieland these past many
months.

Life has changed.

I have discovered that, much like the Lenten journey we are currently traveling, this
has been a time of quiet contemplation…
not so much a time for chatting, explaining, espousing or posting but rather a
time of reflection.
A time of wondering…and a time of wondering of what might be.

So as we ready ourselves to lose an hour in order to gain an hour (go figure!)
I look to the signs our Creator offers us sojourners during this Lenten season–

And whereas things may currently appear to be bleak and barren…this little tulip
bloom reminds me that wonderful things are in store for each of us…

All the while I keep wondering what just might be…
what might be for both you and me…

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through
righteousness unto eternal
life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

This year, give something… no matter how small…

Give something, however small, to the one in need.
For it is not small to one who has nothing.
Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.

St. Gregory Nazianzen


(winter blooms in the deep South / New Orleans, LA /Julie Cook/2022)

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds.
A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship,
and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

St. Basil the Great

O tidings of comfort and joy…Merry Christmas

Man’s maker was made man, that He, Ruler of the stars,
might nurse at His mother’s breast; that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey; that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430)


(ice crystals form on the glass / Julie Cook /2022)

In the midst of the mystery of these cold and dark days, my wish is that we
will each continue to seek and find both comfort and joy…
Comfort and joy found in both the knowledge and grace of the birth of an innocent babe…
God made man…
Savior to all who are lost and to all who still seek that which is greater
than themselves.

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same,
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this infant lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth efface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ is one of the oldest Christmas carols
there is, and one of the most popular.
The carol originates from 16th-century England and the
earliest known printed edition was published in 1760.

Classic Fm

a wicked wind this way comes…

“She wanted to kiss the hurt away, but knew from her own life
that it would always be there.
The sadness would remain, but it would exist next to new, buoyant memories.
He had come through his own fiery trial as she had hers, not unscathed,
but forged into something altogether different and stronger.”

Sharon Kay, Wicked Wind


(Clingman’s peak / North Carolina/ Julie Cook/ 2022)

Winter storm Elliott has certainly made his, her, its presence known from west to east
and south to north…

Raging winds, dangerous ice, blizzard snows, deadly windchill
only to be followed by power outages, ruptured pipes, dead batteries and delayed travel…
right on cue for both Christmas and Hanukkah…
Misery likes company, or so they say,
so I suspect we’re all in pretty good company right about now.

The troubles in my little neck of the woods is the hurricane force like winds and
the negative windchills. Nothing like frostbite taking place within 10 minutes on
exposed skin out in this mess.

Perched on the northwestern side of this mountain I now call home,
it seems to make for some mighty wicked winds during normal conditions…
throw in a winter cyclone and well, it’s
nothing like anything I’ve ever exactly experienced before.

However as the good girl scout I was taught to be, I have prepared.

There is a generator up and running.
I put down rugged traction metal treads on the outdoor stairs.
I bought a chainsaw, axe and tow rope.
I have two 4 x 6 metal stacks full of seasoned firewood wrapped tightly
to keep it all dry.
I have either removed and brought inside or bungee-corded and strapped down
all outdoor items that might choose to become projectiles in such winds.

I have a new car battery and new tires.

I have the pantry, fridge and freezers all filled.

I am thankful that I was able to prepare and thankful
now to have a safe warm place in which to shelter.

And so now I hunker down.

Yet I can’t help but notice that in all of this life and death storm business—
the sky is currently a bright Carolina blue and the
sun shines brightly high in the sky.
Clouds blanket the nearby mountain range but at least my little
corner remains clear.

This is just part and parcel of a new normal.
My new normal.

And I must say that there is a deep sense of satisfaction in knowing
that one can weather a storm…be that an actual storm or simply one of life’s
many storms.

Most often that satisfaction comes only after the storm has
subsided and passed…not during the height of the tumult.

And it is in all of the hindsight following such a storm,
a storm that life seems to constantly bring our way, that we
actually discover that our mettle has been tested…
We know all too well that the fire we have passed through was most certainly hot…
and whereas we were not necessarily left fully or wholly intact, let alone left
unscathed, we realize however that we have been forged into
something altogether different and blessedly…we have been forged into
something altogether so much stronger than ever before.

So here’s to weathering our storms…

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2


(Clingman’s peak / North Carolina/ Julie Cook/ 2022)

And so this is Christmas…

And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now
And so this is Christmas

John Lennon

(as noted yesterday, I wanted to share the two posts I’d written over the years regarding
the Christmas Day ceasefire truce between British and German troops during WWI.
No matter what circumstances we may be facing…be it war or simply life–there
remains nonetheless the Holy Miracle of a December’s night eve.)

The WWI Christmas Truce
December 17, 2019 by Jenny Ashcraft
On December 24-25, 1914, an impromptu cease-fire occurred along the Western Front during WWI.
Amid the battle, soldiers from both sides set aside their weapons and came together peacefully
in an event that has come to be known as the WWI Christmas Truce.
Here are a few first-hand accounts of that historic event.


British and German Officers Meet in
No-Man’s Land During WWI Christmas Truce Courtesy of Imperial War Museums

The Canadian Expeditionary Forces 24th Battalion recorded their experience.
“Early in the afternoon shelling and rifle fire ceased completely and soon
German soldiers were seen lifting heads and shoulders cautiously over the parapet
of their front line trench.
Encouraged by the fact that no fire was opened by the men
of the 24th, a number of Germans climbed over the top, advanced in
No Man’s Land, and, making signs of friendship,
invited the Canadians to join them
and celebrate the occasion.
Regulations frowned on such action, but curiosity proved strong,
and a group of Canadians, including a number from the 24th Battalion,
moved out to see what the enemy looked like at close range.

Conversation proved difficult at first,
but a number of the Germans spoke English fluently and others,
having rehearsed for the occasion, one must judge,
endeavored to establish their benevolence by
constant repetition of the phrase, “Kaiser no damn good.”

For nearly an hour the unofficial peace was prolonged,
the Canadians presenting the Germans with cigarettes and foodstuffs
and receiving in return buttons, badges, and several bottles of
most excellent beer.

By this time, news of the event had reached authority,
and peremptory orders were issued
to the Canadians in No Man’s Land to return to their own line forthwith.

When all had reported back, a salvo of artillery fire,
aimed carefully to burst at a spot where no harm to friend or foe would result,
warned the Germans that the truce was over and that hostilities had been
resumed…

For some days after Christmas comparative quiet prevailed in the front line,
but soon activity increased and the Battalion’s losses indicated that
normal trench warfare conditions again existed.”

Captain Hugh Taylor from the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards led his company in an attack
near Rouges Bancs on December 18-19, 1914.
His troops succeeded in pushing back German soldiers and occupying their trenches.
While returning alone to the British trenches to report,
Taylor was caught in machine-gun fire and killed instantly.

For nearly a week, his body lay near the German line.
During the informal Christmas Truce, soldiers from both sides collected the dead and brought their bodies to the center
space between their respective lines. They dug two trenches and buried
British soldiers in one and German soldiers in the other.
An English Chaplain conducted a service.
Afterward, the soldiers spent several hours
fraternizing with one another. Captain Taylor’s body was carried
to a small military graveyard at La Cardoniere Farm and buried.


(British and German troops bury soldiers during the WWI Christmas Truce – 1914
Courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

Three Americans serving in the Foreign Legion took part in the Christmas Truce.
Victor Chapman, Eugene Jacobs, and Phil Rader were in the trenches that day.
Rader, a former United Press correspondent, wrote a stirring account of his experience.
“For twenty days we had faced that strip of land, forty-five feet wide,
between our trench and that of the Germans, that terrible No-Man’s Land,
dotted with dead bodies, criss-crossed by tangled masses of barbed wire.”
Rader recounted cautiously raising his head.
“Other men did the same.
We saw hundreds of German heads appearing.
Shouts filled the air.
What miracle had happened?
Men laughed and cheered.
There was Christmas light in our eyes and I know there were Christmas tears in mine.
There were smiles, smiles, smiles, where in days before there had been only rifle barrels.
The terror of No-Man’s Land fell away.
The sounds of happy voices filled the air.”
The Christmas Truce of 1914 eventually ended, and the goodwill shared between enemies
for a brief moment during WWI
evaporated as fighting resumed.

(To learn more about WWI and the soldiers who fought in it, search Fold3 today!)

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red one
Let’s stop all the fight
A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now
la, la, ah, ah
Happy Christmas
Happy Christmas (happy Christmas)
Happy Christmas (happy Christmas)

(John Lennon)

Christmas 1914 (re-post from 2014)

“There is no limit to the measure of ruin and of slaughter;
day by day the earth is drenched with newly-shed blood,
and is covered with the bodies of the wounded and of the slain.
Who would imagine, as we see them thus filled with hatred of one another,
that they are all of one common stock, all of the same nature,
all members of the same human society?
Who would recognize brothers,
whose Father is in Heaven?”

Pope Benedict XV


(an artist’s impression taken form The Illustrated London News,
January 1915 of British and German soldiers during the Christmas truce of 1914)

(today and tomorrow I will offer two re-posts—posts I’d previously written
regarding the miraculous Christmas Truce of 1914 during WWI—
thus a small reminder that the true meaning of Christmas is far greater and more powerful
than ourselves and that of our own inward and outward struggles and turmoil)

War is a funny thing.
As in it is an age old oddity.
An ugly, devastating oddity.

Since his fall from grace,
man has been engaged in a constant state of struggle.
Battling and fighting a war within himself as he wages war against all others.
Living in a constant state of destruction…
Conquering, defending, killing, invading, taking…

And yet within man’s duality of his nature…that connection between light and dark…
of both right and wrong,
of both love and hate,
of give and take,
of fair and unfair
of peace and war…
all of which seems to leave him no choice but to create a balance within the chaos
of some sense of fairness or rightness…
as if war should be, could be, conducted fairly or even oddly, justly,
Man continues to yearn for the light, the upright, the hopeful…

As man feels his way through the never ending darkness, he has learned to set parameters.
He creates rules.
Rules of engagement.
Rules of war.
Rules set by the Geneva Convention.
Rules stating that nations are to fight fairly,
as if to say…fight by the rules.

Yet all of this seems to be grossly oxymoronic…
as if war, fighting, maiming and killing could ever be fair,
or just, or right, or proper….

Yet on Christmas Day 1914 man’s conflict and inner struggle with this duality
of his imperfect balance, oddly righted itself…

That in the midst of death and insanity, the arrival of Christmas,
the coming and eventual arrival of the child whose birth brings both the gift of
hope and peace to not merely a few but rather to all mankind,
brought balance, albeit briefly, to man’s seemingly unending inner conflict…

On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for
the celebration of Christmas.
The warring countries refused to create any official cease-fire,
but on Christmas the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang Christmas carols
to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers
even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day,
some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the
Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues.
At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick,
but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands
with the enemy soldiers.
The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs.
There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a
good-natured game of soccer.

Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task:
the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man’s
land between the lines.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war
in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of
chivalry between enemies in warfare.
It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by
officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof,
however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons,
the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.

During World War I, the soldiers on the Western Front did not expect to celebrate on the battlefield,
but even a world war could not destory the Christmas spirit.
History.com

“Hark the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born king.”
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!

Charles Wesley

Scurvy, Limeys, Victorian Stockings and St. Nicholas (a re-boot)

“A man ought to carry himself in the world as an orange tree would
if it could walk up and down in the garden,
swinging perfume from every little censer it holds up to the air.”
Henry Ward Beecher

“The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic
His giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves.”

St. Nicholas of Myra


(bowls of both whole and sliced Calomondians and Kumquats being readied
for a cranberry relish / Julie Cook / 2014)

(a little timely history lesson for this season of giving/ originally posted
in 2014)

“Shiver me timbers boys.
Looks like the scurvy’s hit the ship”
Scurvy you ask?
A devastating Vitamin C deficiency which was a very common occurrence for sailors, as well as pirates, of the 1600 and 1700’s. Cases have actually been documented as far back as ancient Egypt.

Months aboard a ship, with very little fresh water and food, let alone the luxuries of fresh fruits such as oranges, lemons or limes, rendered sailors deathly sick. It was an abnormality of sailing that left captains and doctors scratching their heads.
Sailor’s gums would swell and hurt. Their teeth would begin to fall out, their legs would swell, turning purple– a condition, which left untreated, would eventually lead to death.

It wasn’t until the 1747 when British doctor James Lind, intrigued by the mysterious ailment afflicting British Sailors, as well as renegade sailors such as pirates, conducted several experiments determining that the sailor’s bodies were depleted of Vitamin C.
Therefore all British sailors were originally issued lemons and lemon juice as part of their sea rations. However, lemons not always being as plentiful as limes, a substitution was hence made. It seems that the acid content of limes is less than lemons, almost by 50%, so the sailors would have to consume larger quantities of limes, earning them the moniker of Limeys.

The gift giving of citrus, particularly oranges, didn’t occur until the Victorian Era when children began receiving an orange in their stockings on Christmas Eve. In fact, the celebration of Christmas itself, much as we know it to this day—that of jolly ol St Nicholas, gift giving, card sending, a decorated tree and stockings being hung on the mantle, is greatly attributed to Victorian England and the arrival of the Industrial Revolution. The custom of placing an orange in a stocking first became popular in England and much later in the United States with the birth of the tansconinental railway system.

Oranges were considered to be an exotic novelty as they had to be shipped to England from more southern Mediterranean climates. And what more special gift could one give to weary winter senses than a tropical fruit such as an orange?! The fact that oranges and other citrus fruit helped to ward off deadly disease by offering much needed and depleted vitamins made even more sense when it came to offering them to children, especially those in disadvantaged families where fresh fruits and vegetables were considered luxuries.

Scurvy was not a disease confined only to those stuck on ships for months at a time, but it was a prevalent disease throughout Ireland during the deadly potato famine. Many soldiers as well as civilians also fell victim to the disease throughout much of Russia during the deadly Crimean war.

The custom of oranges as gifts however dates back even earlier than Victorian England–actually as far back back to 325 BC, to our original St Nicholas who was the Bishop of Myra, located in present day Turkey.

Known for his generosity to the poor and disadvantaged, legend has it that St Nicholas learned of three sisters who’s father was so terribly poor that he could not provide a dowery for his daughters–therefore the girls were to be sold into slavery. Nicholas who had come from a wealthy family took it upon himself to secretly deliver a bag of gold for each girl. It is said he tossed the gold through an open window, which in turn landed in a shoe–hence why many European children began leaving shoes out on the eve of St Nicholas day (December 19th) in order to receive a gift.
The gold, over the years, evolved into being associated with that of a gold ball and eventually an orange.
And as time would have it, St Nicholas who was the patron saint of children, also evolved– eventually becoming associated with the birth of the Christ child and one who would deliver presents to children on a certain night in December (as according to the Julian Calendar)

In the United States, oranges where given as gifts following the completion of the transcontinental railway system, when items such as citrus fruit grown primarily in California and Florida, could be transported all over the country. Oranges were especially popular during WWII as a special stocking stuffer since the rationing of so many food items had become prevalent during the war days. To receive any and all types of fresh fruits were considered a very special treat.

Which brings us back around to today and the growing prevalence of oranges, and their citrus cousins such as grapefruits, which are currently whisking their way to grocery stores shelves across the country as our “winter” fruits now make their debut. With the growing seasons of the citrus crops in both California and Florida coming to fruition, now during the Christmas season, there’s no better refreshingly bright addition to a home than either a scent infused, clove studded, pomander or the heavenly scent of citrus infused baked goods and cookies. Be it an orange, tangerine, pomelo, meyer lemon, key lime, kumquat, or grapefruit to name but a few, be sure to add a little Vitamin C to your diet and enjoy some citrus during the holidays. . .

being lost can lead to being found…

“There are two ways of knowing how good God is:
one is never to lose Him,
and the other is to lose Him and then to find Him.”

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen


(Fra Fillipo Lippi, Madonna and Child with Angels, 1450-65/ Uffizi Gallery/ Florence, Italy)

It never seems to fail does it??

I think it’s pretty safe for all of us to opt betting the full pile of chips
on the fact that this time of year will be, nay is, nothing less than nuts.

It will be, if it’s not already, oh so crazy, oh so hectic and oh so overwhelming…
or for some of us….
it may just be simply a little too quiet, a little too empty and
a little too lonely…

So just for fun, lets throw in a lingering pandemic, a variety of flus,
a mixed bag of weather, an angry divided nation, a wounded duck economy,
one’s own personal ups and downs….
and suddenly we find the perfect storm is churning…just waiting to unleash
its full fury on our unsuspecting souls.

And just like that, suddenly and overwhelmingly we realize that we don’t
know whether we’re coming or going—
and with the truth of the matter being that we really just don’t care.

And if that same truth be told, many of us are probably well on our way to
being much more lost than we are being found.

Thus as the full torrent of the season begins sweeping over us like the unrelenting
waves of an angry sea…knocking us over and over while consuming
what semblance of sanity remains…blessedly, if we stop fighting the madness
just long enough and if we stop to listen just oh so keenly…
a tiny jolt, a tiny shock wave, can be faintly sensed.

And it is in that tiny jolt, that tiny shock wave which jerks us back to
reality—a reality that poignantly reminds us that we’ve actually been
much more lost than we’ve ever been found.

Thus this is why Archbishop Sheen’s words uttered at the beginning of this post
resonate so beautifully today.

Some of us may know how good God truly is—but chances are right about now,
many of us might not be so certain and might just not even be aware
of the fact that we truly are so very lost.

Thus it is my hope that we may all rest in the knowledge that if we can stop
just long enough…
if we can just be still long enough,
we might be so fortunate as to taste that oh so longed for, awaited for
overtly yearned for, and painfully pined for sweetness…
a sweetness found waiting to reward those who are knowingly, or simply unknowingly,
lost…
sweetness for those who are simply waiting to be found…

And suddenly it dawns of us that it is God who has been patiently
waiting this entire tumultuous time…waiting on the lost to stop
long enough to feel and hear His call home…

for even the angles will find themselves rejoicing…

In the same way, I tell you,
there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:10