Here our prayers oh Lord…Heal us oh Lord…

“The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of one poor little person to save a multitude of others,
redeemed like her at the price of His Blood.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(Howard Chandler Christy, Scene at the Signing of the Constituion)

Our House of Representatives has had a Chaplin since its near inception dating back to 1789.
Because it seems that our founding fathers realized that this man-made institution always needed the
assistance of a higher power.

And if it was ever needed, it is needed now…

Oh God, hear our prayers…and bring us your healing…

A prayer offered by the House Chaplin, Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, S.J

if you don’t like it…

Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress.
Napoleon Bonaparte


(a mud dusty turtle/ Julie Cook / 2019)

In the news recently, I’ve read where our President has responded to the
Speaker of House’s fab four darling freshmen members…

It seems that they have been not shy about spouting their disdain for the handling
of the illegal immigration issue, the border crisis, the impending ICE raids,
and even a disdain for the office of Homeland Security…

Their disdain is coming via twitter.

In a counter tweet, the President responded with something along the lines of
“if you don’t like it, go back from where you came form”
Of which for a couple of them means they’d just be going back here to the US,
but not so for a couple of the others as he later added
“if you don’t like it, you can just leave”

Now, first of all, let me clarify— I hate all things twitter.

I liken it to a grown-up version of name-calling as well as good old fashioned
‘he said, she said’ sort of childish nonsense.

So no, I don’t like Twitter.

Maybe if we really try to figure it out, maybe it’s because everyone wants to have
some sort of public platform in order to express their ill content while hoping that
those out there reading will join on whatever the current bandwagon may be.

A cheap, easy and often anonymous sort of platform.

It seems to embolden people who have a more or less private avenue in which
to babble outward…
They are emboldened as they can readily spout off something via
the twitter waves while others rally to their words.

But I digress…it’s lunacy run amuck but there I go again digressing.

I will, however, be the first to say that yes, we, as in this country of ours,
have quite a mess on our hands.

My friend Kathy over on a Time to Share (atimetoshare.wordpress.com) actually wrote about this
issue yesterday, our mess that is, in a post entitled Illegal, what don’t we understand?

Here’s the link
ILLEGAL – WHAT DON’T WE UNDERSTAND?

And I agree with her.

I commented as much while she, in turn, responded that she was having some pushback
from the millennial crowd… of which I am not surprised.

Of course, the whole illegal notion and humanitarian crisis issue runs contrary to what
many of the democratic hopeful presidential candidates would want anyone to
truly understand because it helps their numbers to simply say “crisis, what crisis?!”

When you have hundreds of thousands of folks pushing their way into a sovereign
Nation by climbing fences, swimming across rivers, digging tunnels,
hiring “coyotes” to sneak them in, hiding in the backs of big rig trucks,
hidden in the trunks of cars, etc…
with the keyword here being “sneaking’, then someone in all of this has to know
that this is not the “legal” way in or the legal way
to go about seeking citizenship.

But according to many liberal democrats…” legal citizenship” is an oxymoron.

Sneaking is ok in the minds of most of the progressive left.
Yet a synonym for sneaking is shady.
And who doesn’t understand that sneaking and shady are not words for being exactly
on the up and up?

Oh but there I go digressing.

In order to house the hundreds of those attempting to cross the border
on a daily basis, we have had to put up detention centers.

Some of the Fab 4 reps are complaining about the detention centers and have reported
that detainees are being treated like animals and are told to drink toilet water—
of which others who have actually volunteered to help at the centers
vehemently deny.
And so perhaps AOC and Omar are not speaking the truth but are rather promoting their
typical heightened sense of the melodramatic because melodramatic garners
likes and followers.

We certainly have been hearing a lot of complaining, haven’t we?
Fussing and cussing as to how bad America has become.
And the complaining spill over on to any supporter of the President
as they are equated to that of a deplorable, an ignorant dimwit, or simply
a redneck.
On and on goes the gripes…and for the lack of a better word, bitching.

I once worked for a principal who was former military.
I liked him and he was a good man to work for but there was one thing about him…
he couldn’t stand to have teachers, students or parents come to him fussing,
cussing or complaining about this or that.

He would quickly stop said complainer in mid complaint and ask rather what
was their solution.

And the solution, mind you, had better be well thought out, affordable and feasible.

So don’t simply grouse about something but rather find a viable solution to
counter your complaint.

And so here is the thing…we have record numbers of people literally
knocking down the fences to get into our country.
Pushing, shoving, running, jumping, sneaking and being all shady in their pursuit
of what this country has to offer.

While our headlines are rife with the images of people who have tragically
died doing so.
They have put not only themselves at risk, but they have readily put their children
at risk as well.

Is the potential death of a child equal to the risk of illegally invading
another country?

Many a progressive liberal would argue that yes, yes it is…
but I would be hard-pressed to see them do the same with their own lives
and their own children.

Knowing that the risk to life is very high.
And that bad things most likely will happen..
is it worth putting a young child through such?
Is their life that expendable?

Firstly there has to be some level of responsibility on the parts of these parents.

And so the Fab 4 reps and their followers are clamoring to just drop all walls,
the fences, any and all checkpoints and roll out the red carpet while saying
‘just come running on in…’

So where do the hundreds of thousands go?
Who feeds them?
Who houses them?
Who clothes them?
Who employes them?
Who educates them?
Who tends to their medical needs?

All of that costs money.
A level of money that this country does not have to give.

And that’s the thing…how do we pay for all the hundreds of thousands who come?

We currently have a homeless epidemic in this country…
Look at Portland, Seattle, Chicago, LA….any large city across this nation has
a vast number of homeless.
Many who suffer from mental illness or drug addiction.

Yet we can’t seem to figure out how to help our own so how are we expected
to welcome the throngs of individuals who are wanting to cross the borders–?

And so we have a group of naive, melodramatic, representatives who
are being very verbal about their disdain for our Nation, our
government, our leadership.

Are they offering any viable solutions or are they simply rabble rousing the masses
with inflammatory words such as impeach, occupyer,
Russian accomplice, racist, Nazi,hater

If there are no viable solutions to be offered, perhaps leaving the place
they seem to enjoy running in the ground might be the best choice
for all concerned…

At least their departure would open up a few more spots to those sneaking in…

Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged;
behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

James 5:9

our neighbors, the warren(s)

“Be cunning, and full of tricks,
and your people will never be destroyed.”

Richard Adams, Watership Down

“Love the animals.
God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled.
Don’t trouble it, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness,
don’t work against God’s intent.

Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov”
Richard Adams, Watership Down

We have some neighbors…its a family of 5 and they live outback
someplace behind the house.

We believe there were perhaps 6 or even more, but one of their smallest family
members met a tragic demise…
Our older cat, Peaches, might know something about all of this but we won’t talk
about that today…

Rather we’ll just enjoy those who call our yard their own…

The other day, I went to open the front door and this is who greeted me on the walkway
directly at the bottom of the front porch steps.


(julie cook / 2019)

Next, I went out on the back deck to check on what was cooking on the grill when
something down below caught my eye…
That’s when I spotted him, or is it a her, under my blueberry bushes


(julie Cook / 2019)

Definitely munching on the blueberries…


(julie cook / 2019)

This afternoon I went out front to water my plants when suddenly someone darted
out, right in front of me…


(julie cook / 2019)

That’s when I turned around only to see these two youngsters chasing each other around the yard.


(julie cook / 2019)

Without a vegetable garden these days, I certainly don’t mind our neighbors sharing my yard.


(julie cook / 2019)

Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.
Proverbs 3:29

Teach me…

“When you pray, you only have to ask for two things:
You should ask for the light to see the will of God,
and you have to ask for the courage to be able to do the will of God.”

Venerable Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz


(buckeye butterfly rests on the viburnum / Julie Cook / 2019)

“My great God, you know all that is in the universe, because you yourself have made it.
It is the very work of your hands. You are omniscient, because you are omnicreative.
You know each part, however minute, as perfectly as you know the whole.
You know mind as perfectly as you know matter.
You know the thoughts and purposes of every soul as perfectly as if there were no other
soul in the whole of your creation. You know me through and through;
all my present, past, and future are before you as one whole.
You see all those delicate and evanescent motions of my thought which altogether escape myself.
You can trace every act, whether deed or thought, to its origin and can follow it into its
whole growth and consequences. You know how it will be with me at the end;
you have before you that hour when I shall come to you to be judged.
How awful is the prospect of finding myself in the presence of my judge!
Yet, O Lord, I would not that you should not know me.
It is my greatest stay to know that you read my heart.
Oh, give me more of that openhearted sincerity which I have desired.
Keep me ever from being afraid of your eye, from the inward consciousness that I am not
honestly trying to please you.
Teach me to love you more, and then I shall be at peace,
without any fear of you at all.”

Bl. John Henry Newman, p.150
An Excerpt from
Everyday Meditations

we live in both dark and light

“The true diversity of humanity is this: the luminous and the dark.
To diminish the number of dark, to increase the number of luminous,
that is the aim.
That is why we cry: education, knowledge!
To learn to read is to kindle a fire; every syllable spelled sparkles.
But whoever says light does not necessarily say joy.
There is suffering in the light; an excess burns.
Flame is hostile to the wing.
To burn and yet to fly, this is the miracle of genius.
When you know and when you love you will suffer.
The day dawns in tears. The luminous weep, be it only for the dark ones.”

― Victor Hugo


(prematurely fallen muscadine / Julie Cook / 2019)

See the picture above?

Look closely.

At first glance, you see some sort of greenish greyish orb perched in the middle,
amongst the debris of what must be some sort of woodsy ground.

However, upon further inspection, you will note that the right half of the green orb,
or rather a prematurely fallen muscadine, is the side with actual color,
as is the surrounding area.
The color of life and growth.

The left side appears to be rotting or rotten while the surrounding debris around the
muscadine is equally ashen and grey…as in decaying, rotting and dark.

It is a prime example of contrasting imagery between light and dark, life and death…
With the poor muscadine being caught in the middle.

And if the truth be told, that muscadine, my friends, is more representational of both you
and I then either of us can even begin to imagine.

Light vs dark…
life vs death…
While we are constantly suspended between the two.

It’s as if each one vies for our very being.
The endless struggle for mankind.

That struggle is much more active and much more real than most of us care to admit,
let alone contemplate…as the forces of both light and dark, life and death, continuously
wage battle over our very existence.

Metaphors, yes…yet also very much a reality.

I started an interesting book the other day, The Shadow Party
How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and the Sixties Radicals seized control of
the Democratic Party

by David Horowitz and Richard Poe.

“Ahhh”, you say rather knowingly…” one of ‘those’ types of books.”
A book that speaks of conspiracy and paranoia.
And so now you’re assuming that I am one of those paranoid loons or deplorables
we hear so much about—oh so lovingly nicknamed by Hillary Clinton…
all because I am a conservative individual reading a book that reads like
a Hollywood spy thriller.

Yet the book is much more than a tale of political upheaval, speculation and
finger-pointing.
The book actually, and perhaps unbeknownst to the authors themselves, speaks to this very
battle of both light and dark, life and death, that I previously referenced…
it’s just that they speak on a level that hits much closer to home than anyone might imagine
as it addresses our life here in America.

There is a great darkness growing in our Nation.
And it is both you and I who hang in the balance.

It is a life that is growing ever more precarious while we are perched between
both light or dark, life or death…
For we are living in some terribly strange times.

This book reminds me of a wonderful post I read the other day by one of my favorite bloggers—
Robert, Bobby, Kloska from Thoughts from the Side of the House.
Bobby is a former professor at Notre Dame who doesn’t
post as often as I or others would wish due to some tremendous health struggles
that get terribly in his way.

His struggles with cancer and the devastating outreaching effects have been an
amazing witness unto themselves.

I, for one, am most grateful that he continues to share both ups and downs.

This past week, for the fourth of July, Bobby wrote about what it is that is
at the root of what many of us believe to be a “crisis” in this Nation of ours.

“Life in America has never been perfect.
In every age, there have been injustices, conspiracies, and controversies.
This is not unique to America; it is part of the human condition.
Yet in America, because we had inherited these noble institutional mechanisms, hope remained.
So long as the republic contained within itself a critical mass of virtuous citizens
committed more to the common good than to privileging any particular sect, group,
or class, then the structures through which we grapple with self-governance could
still yield improvement.”

Today, I have my doubts.

We live in a country that in the span of only a few generations has suddenly lost
any kind of right understanding of objective truth –
as the founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence, “…
of the laws of nature and of nature’s God.”
Today, the prevailing understanding of truth is that it is something purely subjective.
This is no small matter.

Today, there has emerged this new idea that you and I supposedly have some kind of
power to create whatever truth we want.
This, of course, not only opens the door to logical self-contradictions,
it very clearly contradicts objective reality itself.
You’re not George Washington even if you think you’re George Washington and
“claim this as your truth.” Simple people see this.
Grounded people see this.
People connected to the earth and nature really see this.

Sophisticates, distracted people, and afflicted people often do not.

What we have is a crisis of truth.

In all human communities, freedom is built upon personal and collective
responsibilities.
These responsibilities always rely upon truth.
Our greatest problem today is not simply that we have lost any meaningful concept of truth.
No, it’s worse than that.
Our greatest problem is that 1) we don’t know that truth is something objective to be discovered;
and 2) we no longer have adequate tools to do the work of discovery.

Let that sink in.

We don’t understand that truth needs to be discovered…
and yet everything of consequence depends on this one thing!

The discovery of truth does not come cheaply.
It requires diligence, patience, nuance, thoughtful consideration, and intellectual
humility.
To actually discover truth and not merely “win” an argument,
it is enormously helpful to be able to presume the good will and sincerity of one’s
discussion partner. But today our public discourse is largely carried out on Twitter.
News and opinion media have become reactionary and overly polemical.
Even our so-called presidential debates take on the form of a cheap tv game show.
How helpful is that?
Complex questions cannot be answered in one minute sound bytes.
It is folly to even try.

A crisis of truth leads to a crisis of love.

The loss of truth has led to the particularly harmful notion that your disagreement
with one of my ideas is somehow disrespectful of me as a human being.
Tragically, in 2019 America, “disagreement” equals “hate” to a lot of people.

But what if you truly love me?

To love is to will the good of another person.
If I hold an opinion that is not rooted in truth,
then that opinion can be quite harmful to me and to the people I influence.
Isn’t the most loving act to help me discover the truth?
Yes, this might require a discussion, debate, or argument.
Prudence dictates that such discussions occur at the right time,
in the right place, and with appropriate people.
But the premise of these kinds of honest disagreements and discussions is love.
To neglect such conversations with people you supposedly love
(or even with the culture at large)
is to not really love and care about them at all.

At the end of this sobering and somewhat frightening discourse,
Bobby is quick to remind us that not all is lost.
This is not a hopeless situation…

Not hopeless because it is in our hopelessness that our real Hope is to be found.
For in that Hope, resides the One true Everlasting Truth.

The Main Crisis on American Independence Day in 2019

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

we can do anything for two weeks… Right?


(the current veterinary hospital in my foryer)

We are four weeks and one day into our 12 week period of recuperation from
the joint fusion surgery.

I think from what I know now, I would opt to continue trying to exhaust the patchwork
fixes as this whole business is proving harrowing for both patient and caregiver.

Throw in having to race to care for ailing grandbabies—and you can just throw the title
exhausted nursemaid in front of my name and call it a day!

We have to drive an hour and a half over to the Veterinary surgeon’s office every
two weeks for a recasting and check on the progress of the leg.
In two weeks they will x-ray and hopefully transition from a club leg
to a smaller wrapping.

Oh did I mention that we had to have a special antibiotic compounded out at a
special Veterinary pharmacy in Arizona as he had a rare infection in the bone?

Have you ever tried administering a syringe of antibiotics into the mouth of a cat
who is less than thrilled that you are squirting things in his mouth that he
has deemed no good?!
Didn’t matter they flavored it tuna…he hated it.

The pain meds fared no better.

When it was all said and done, I would have happily taken the syringe of pain meds
squirted in my mouth!

Two weeks ago, they had put the latest cast on a bit too high up the leg for the patient’s liking…
it hit that tender underneath skin (the leg and whole hip are shaved) and it was too
irritating to bear, plus he had peed all over it…
so…. we had to drive all the way back the following day for a rewrapping.

Have you ever seen a poor cat with a club for a leg attempt to get into a litter box???

Bless his heart is all I can say.

He simply lays down to do his business.
And then proceeds to accidentally step in it with the cast.

And of course, the litter box is actually in the cage he is to be calling home for these 3 months.
Making for some tight quarters.
Of which is a lovely addition to the foyer of our home.

Have you ever tried to vacuum and sweep up after a cat who can’t maneuver properly while
scattering cat litter all over the place?
I vacuum mountains of litter up, that have mounded outside the cage, at least twice a day,
all the while practically standing on my head in the cage.

And since cats, and this one in particular, are fastidious cleaners, he is constantly
whacking himself in the head with the club leg while attempting to groom himself.

Sigh.

So we have one miserable patient.

The nurse isn’t too happy herself.

And speaking of cones…

There are times when one just has to be coneless.
Such as when it comes time to eat.

His head is too far into the cone for him to reach the food…so…
when it’s time to eat and have some water, I let him out and remove the cone.

I’ll let him use his scratching post and simply sleep unencumbered but I must sit with him.
He has attempted several escapes by clumping up the stairs, dragging a club behind him..
or he slips and slides back to our bedroom.
He even attempted to jump up on the bed and fell before I could get to him.

And trying to get comfortable is not always easy

So the Vet told me yesterday, after examining the incision, that there is a
small reopening of the wound on the hoc (aka back knee)—of which is a product of the cast rubbing…
and so it is imperative that he remain as incapacitated as possible.

Again, sigh.

You’ve heard the expression about attempting to herd cats right?
Well trying to keep one locked up 24 /7 is just about as equally impossible.

And so I am reminded of the mantra I used as a young working mother.
We can do anything for two weeks.

As a young wife and mother, I loathed having to work when our son was little.
Unfortunately, we didn’t really have any choice–especially since mine was our only insurance.

I was always very selfish with my time outside of school as I wanted my time away from school
to be dedicated only to both my husband and son.

That’s why I never went on to get any advanced degrees after my bachelor degree.

I didn’t want to go back to school, work and then try to squeeze in being a wife and mom.
Something would be shortchanged and it wasn’t about to be my husband or son.

But I certainly don’t begrudge those gals who have to go it alone and have to balance
so many plates in order to make it all work for their kids—I just have a problem with the
“I can have it all” mentality while thinking there are no casualties left in the wake.

See, I’m old school in that regard—I don’t think women can have it all and be successful
at either work and mothering…let alone being a wife for that matter.
One or the other is going to suffer. That’s just a fact.
And if you think you can be great at each, you’re only fooling yourself.

I can remember once lamenting to a principal, who was my boss but also my friend,
that I never felt I was truly good at being both a teacher and a mother as I was
always going to be “half-ass” at best with both.

I could not be 100% in whatever I did because something, or someone, was always demanding
my time and attention and that time and attention had to be split.

Plus I’m not one who thinks that a nanny, an au pair, a daycare, a sitter can ever do the
same thing a mother can do for her children.

And yet my son had to attend daycare.

I absolutely hated it but as my pediatrician always tried to reassure me,
daycare was the necessary evil in the lives of working parents.

I’d drop our son off each morning, then cry my way to work.

Guilt was my middle name.
As it often is with most working moms.

So once the summers rolled around, I guarded each and every precious second that I was able
just to be a wife and mom.
And that was one of the joys of teaching and being a parent—our schedules were in sync.

But as teachers, we were always required to earn hours towards our recertification
as well as participate in various trainings and workshops each summer.
Many of which would require about a two-week time slot.

So once we seemed settled, I’d find myself once again having to disrupt our “home” time
by getting up extra early, get my sleeping son up and ready for daycare as I’d then drive
an hour over to Atlanta for various teaching workshops at The High Museum of Art
or Oglethorpe University.
Returning back to town around 6.

I hated it but for both of us, but I would tell myself, I, we, can do anything for two weeks.

And so we did.

And now, as we seem to visit the Vet’s office for check-ups and recasting every two weeks…
I continue telling myself, as well as Percy… we can do anything for two weeks…
two weeks at a time.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

refined

“Never will we understand the value of time better than when our last hour is at hand.”
St. Arnold Janssen


(refining metals)

“Let the Word of God come; let it enter the church; let it become a consuming fire,
that it may burn the hay and stubble, and consume whatever is worldly;
there is heavy lead of iniquity in many; let it be molten by divine fire;
let the gold and silver vessels be made better, in order that understanding and speech,
refined by the heat of suffering, may begin to be more precious.”

St. Ambrose