transcendence

Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence:
it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense
“destined” to go beyond himself,
and he is called to this in a mysterious way.

APOSTOLIC LETTER
SALVIFICI DOLORIS
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II 1984


(Cades Cove / TN/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Maybe it’s the grey skies.
Maybe it’s the deluge of rain.
Maybe it’s age.
Maybe it’s not feeling 100%
Maybe it’s life’s circumstances.
Maybe it’s just our current times..

It seems as if I’ve had a weighted heaviness sitting on my spirit
for quite sometime now…and this “heaviness” seems
much like a festering splinter that is attempting
to work its way to the surface…

What I know about such a type of splinter is that it is
being worked to the surface by a body wanting to rid itself
of an infecting foreign entity.

So maybe this heaviness will be worked up and out as well.
Maybe, just maybe, the heaviness is only a symptom.
But a symptom of what is not exactly clear.

Recently I’ve found myself ruminating on idea of the
transcendence of time.

Vocabulary.com tells us that
transcendence comes from the Latin prefix trans-,
meaning “beyond,” and the word scandare, meaning “to climb.”
When you achieve transcendence, you have gone beyond ordinary limitations.
The word is often used to describe a spiritual or religious state,
or a condition of moving beyond physical needs and realities.
One way to achieve transcendence spiritually might be to fast
for a long time.
If you have trouble letting go of material needs,
then you will have a difficult time achieving transcendence.

As a Christian, I believe, that on this earth, we live in a
constant state of transcendence or perhaps that is transcending…
meaning we are constantly trying to climb beyond.

Gravity and time each keeps us bound to this earth, yet our spirits long
to go to a place beyond and unknown.
There is a longing in our beings for that which we cannot see
but yet we feel is calling us.

Over the years I’ve often written about my “godpoppa”–
He was an Episcopal priest.
Adopted like me.
And he bore the bulk of my teenage angst and
later my often tumultuous choices of life, both good and bad.

He died in December of 2016 only a few months prior to my dad’s death
and even that of my aunt’s.
Loss, let alone back to back losses, is/ are never easy.

And yet this one man’s influence on my life remains just as it
always has–both strong and robust.

It matters not that he is not here physically, because in my reality
he continues on in my soul–day in and day out.
His influence and teachings continue to positively impact all
that I do.

I was fortunate to have had such a person come into my life
when he did, but I do not believe it was by fate, chance or some
random encounter.
I know without a doubt God places folks within our life’s journeys
at just the right time and place.

I do think, however, we’d all agree that it is the physical that
we miss the most when we lose someone we love.
Not so much their words, not at first anyway.

We want to be able to see them, hear them, feel them.
Just as a child who has fallen and skinned a knee, we want to be held
and comforted in our sorrow.
And despite our knowledge of what the separation means when speaking
of death, we still want this now ‘lost’ person to hold us.

And yet their love, the love we shared, transcends both space and time.

What I gratefully remember is the man whose eyes smiled at me…
and yet those same smiling eyes could and would always penetrate past all
my thick protective walls.

He taught me that walls must be broken if true healing is to take place.
He taught me that I had to risk all things earthly in order to find my true
peace and well being.
He taught me that I had to be broken before I could be built back up.

And so I suppose that journey of brokenness to transcendence continues
as I write.
Hence the oft felt heaviness.

God continues to push, or maybe that should be pulls, us along…
as we put one hand over the other, rung after rung…climbing
ever upward and ever forward to that which we cannot see yet knows
waits for us just beyond…

And do you know what makes this journey all that more mystical and
otherworldly??

It is the single fact that along this journey, we might be fortunate
enough to find someone who we thought we’d previously lost forever.

And that’s when it suddenly dawns on us…this most beloved person had
never been lost at all…they were simply waiting for us…
despite neither of us realizing it at the time…
and it is in that single moment of reconnection that we
find our greatest blessing…

So here’s to transcendence, time, space and to the one constant that
always binds—that being love.
(thank you Patti)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant 5 or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never ends.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues,
they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

troubling times…saved by wine? Hmmm

“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not
show itself in protection from suffering….
The love of God did not protect His own Son….
He will not necessarily protect us–
not from anything it takes to make us like His Son.
A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go
into the process.”

Elisabeth Elliot


(Mom and the Sheriff keeping guard / Julie Cook / 2021)

I think we’d all agree that we are indeed living in some of the most troubling
and trying times.
And no, I am not suggesting that we should drink our woes away…
so just stay with me a bit and I’ll explain.

Friday, when we’d traveled to Atlanta for the Mayor’s big day on Saturday, I needed
to help my daughter-n-law shuttle the kids to the pediatrician’s office.
The Mayor was to have her 3 year old check up.

Due to the Pandemic still being at full throttle, the pediatrician’s office is not allowing
siblings to come into the office together.
It’s only a one child at a time policy.

The procedure now is that one is to text the office once arriving at the building.
The receptionist will text when they are ready for you to come in,
as well as texting which examination room you are to go directly to when you enter the office—
no more sitting in a waiting room.

In my mind, the trouble comes when you have more than one child in tow or that you
need for all your kids to be seen…so someone has to hang back in the car.
You’ll need a helper…another person who can sit in the car with the other kid(s)
while the parent takes the specified child in at the designated time.

Now, enter another conundrum.
Safety.

Given our idiotic defund the police movements mirrored by the rise in violent
crimes in our major cities…
sitting in a parking deck, even in broad daylight, is simply not wise.

I grew up in this city.
As kids, my mom and aunt walked these very sidewalks near this particular doctors office.
Back in the 30’s and 40’s, while they were growing up,
my mom and aunt would walk to school, to the homes of friends and
especially to the movies…
exactly right where the Sheriff and I were now to wait in the car.

We were parked in a single floor covered parking deck of which was a bit obscure.

Since it was cold, my daughter-n-law wanted to leave the car running, while leaving
me the keys.
She suggested that I move over to the driver’s seat incase I needed “to gun it” in order
to get away.

HUH??

Was it really that bad here I asked.

“Yes!”, she replied as there have been carjackings, armed robberies and various
violent crimes all within blocks of where we were…and not just in the cover
of darkness but now in the light of a sunny day.

She and the Mayor headed inside the building as I locked our doors.

The Sheriff did not appreciate being left behind, even while sitting with “mom”
and in turn, began to cry.

Needing a diversion, I quickly sought out his favorite things—two paint brushes.

While I’m on my knees, turned around in my seat trying to get him happy,
I vigilantly scope out our surroundings—looking left, right and in front.

Next I start looking around in the car for anything I could use to bap any would be
intruder on the head. I was determined to get the drop on any criminal
before they could get to us…gun or no gun.

Nothing like a threatened grandmama bear protecting her little grand cubs

“Why does your mommy have a bottle of wine in the back seat?” I ask the Sheriff
thinking he’d readily answer in his sweet gibberish way.

I decide to hold onto the bottle just incase.

After about 20 minutes, the Mayor and her mom are exiting the building, making their
way to the car as I quickly unlock the doors.

Since she didn’t need any shots, the Mayor was none the worse for the wear.

I proceed to tell their mom that I was going to use her unopened bottle of wine
as a weapon if needed…and by the way, why was there a random bottle of wine
in the car?

“Oh, it was Catholic Teacher Appreciation week and that’s what they gave us.”

Working on a wing, a prayer and a bottle of wine—and it all worked on
this fine Friday afternoon in Atlanta.

Now….may we each pray for God’s healing Grace

no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 54:17

bring back our sons…a sad, frustrating and familiar plea

“Stop killing our children, bring back our children,”
Amrata Hamza mother of an abducted child, taken at the hands of the Islamic
Terrorist organization Boko Haram


(The mother of Muhammad Bello, one the students who was abducted by gunmen,
reacts in Kankara, Nigeria, on Monday. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters))

Well it appears that in these days of all-consuming news of all things election and or pandemic…
somehow I missed a most tragic story out of Nigeria.
It’s a story that actually took place nearly three weeks ago.

A deja vu sort of tale.
As I wrote a post 6 years ago about a very similar incident.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/bring-back-our-girls/

It seems that there has been another mass kidnapping of kids from a private boarding school
in Nigeria at the hands of the notorious Islamic group Boko Haram.

A massive group of armed gunmen stormed a school in the northern section of the country
and took over 600 boys as prisoner…or captives or whatever it is one calls the taking of
so many kids.
A mass kidnapping.

Here are excerpts from the story that I read on Fox…

A Nigerian woman whose only son is among the more than 330 boys still missing
after being kidnapped from their school in the northern Katsina state last week pleaded
for their return in a protest Tuesday,
as the jihadist rebel group Boko Haram reportedly claimed responsibility for the mass abduction.

Hundreds of gunmen with assault rifles on Friday surrounded the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS),
an all-boys boarding school in the town of Kankara,
firing at police before rounding up students and forcing them to march through the heavily
forested region in separated groups, witnesses have said.

The Daily Nigerian said Tuesday it received an audio message from Boko Haram
leader Abubakar Shekau saying that his group abducted the schoolboys because
Western education is against the tenets of Islam.

“Stop killing our children, bring back our children,”
Amrata Hamza, whose only son was abducted, told local broadcaster CLIQQ TV during a protest
organized Tuesday. “I don’t know the condition of my son.
I’m speechless.
I can’t talk, I have not drank water since I arrived in Kankara.
There is much sunlight, I know our children are thirsty,
they are hungry. Please help us bring back our children.”

The Nigerian government said a joint rescue operation was launched Saturday by state police,
air force, and army after the military engaged in gunfights with bandits after locating
their hideout in the Zango/Paula forest.
Many of the initial 600 male students taken from the school escaped their captors,
but more than 330 remained unaccounted for as of Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

This latest episode comes six years after Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 schoolgirls
from their dormitory at the Government Secondary School in Chibok in northeastern Borno State
in April 2014.
First Lady Michelle Obama spotlighted the issue at the time with the hashtag
#BringBackOurGirls.

About 100 of the girls are still missing.
Boko Haram said at the time that it wanted to stop women from attending schools.
The recent incident at the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara,
is the worst attack on a boys’ school since February 2014,
when 59 boys were killed during a Boko Haram attack on the Federal Government College
Buni Yadi in Yobe state.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/nigeria-boys-school-kidnapping-boko-haram

These are the types of stories that should outrage us as a global family but instead,
everyone is more focused on the election circus taking place in the US.
As well as whether or not it will be safe to take this hurried up and rushed vaccine
in order to stem the tide of a raging pandemic.

And what of the millions upon millions of dollars that have been poured into the elections–
elections on the national level as well as state level.
Money poured into campaingns by the likes of silcon valley, tech oligarchs,
leftist liberals…all the while children suffer, families suffer.
Suffering locally as well as globally.

Protecting children is, as adults, our responsibility.
It matters not that if it is at the local level of responsibility or
that of a global responsiblilty.
Children are our heart, soul and future.

No full term aboritions.
No abortions, period.
No sex trafficking.
No child prostituion.
No abuse.
No kidnapings.

Only our protection, love and guidence.

Let us pray for those boys as well as for their aching families.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:10

thin black line, 6th Ave Heartache

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

An odd thing happened two nights ago.

Now you need to remember that I was taken off my HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
about 7 weeks ago.
Hormones, I’d been on nearly 30 years.

Sleep has never been great, but take away the hormones and things immediately went
from bad to really really bad in literally a single night’s time.

However two nights ago, despite battling the need to breathe while living
with a sinus infection along with poison ivy, I was actually asleep.

How do I know?
I was flat on my back.

I’m usually a side to stomach sleeper yet at some point or other,
when I’m really asleep, asleep—
I’m always mysteriously flat on my back.

At 1:30 in the morning, I became aware that I was itching.
Groggily I started scratching at my poison ivy now spreading across my torso.
Suddenly in my head, I was hearing a song that I know I had not heard playing that day
as some sort of background music in a store.

Clear as day, playing lyrically in my head.

It was a song I’ve always liked..a 90’s sort of song…Why I’ve always liked it,
I don’t know, but it has always made me feel a bit heavy-hearted and melancholy.
Again, I’m not sure as to why.
Although it’s an older song, it seems to still be quite relevant.

Rousing my brain to full awake mode, I opted to get up and head into the bathroom
in order to slather on some more anti-itch medicine— all the
while that song kept ringing in my head…

“And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in…”

I crawled back into bed now restless as my thoughts were racing.
All the while still itching and listening to non-existent music playing.

Why was this song stuck in my head—especially when I was good and asleep??

The following morning, after grabbing my coffee, I googled the song.

According to Wikipedia , The lyrics are based on Dylan’s (Jakob Dylan)
own experiences while living in New York City, in particular, the story of a homeless man
who would sit outside Dylan’s window and play the same songs every day.
One day, the man was gone, but his things were still there,
until gradually people started taking them.

Well, that seemed to make it all feel even worse…doubly more sad than before.

So I kept digging a bit further.

What did the Bible have to say about a black line??

As I kept looking, I was constantly being redirected to the mark of Cain.

Hummmm.

Remember, being raised a poor illiterate Episcoplain kid, the breadth and depth
of Bible study was never my forte.
But I was now intrigued.

I knew Cain and Abel…really the very first tale of humankind’s lowest moments.
Or actually, that might have been their parents…but either way, we humans weren’t off
to the best of starts.

Choice…we never seem to have mastered choice…but I digress.

Why would God want me to think about all of this at 1:30 in the morning?
I know, I know…time to God is irrelevant but to a woman who hardly ever has deep
sleep, as in REM, I was just a tad frustrated.

There were (are) a lot of articles on the web about the mark of Cain
and many of them have some sort of racist connotation.
Naturally…it always goes back to race.

It seems race has been with us since the beginning of time and we still don’t know how to
deal with it—- gees…!
But again, I digress.

So after reading, I managed to find an interesting article on Bibleodyssey.com
written by Eva Mroxzek, an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Indiana University.

She hit on the whole good mark, bad mark thinking…
Cain killed his brother and God marked him for life.
The question…was or is…. was or is the mark a mark of shame or a mark of protection?

Was it leprosy?
A ‘keep your distance’ sort of mark?
Did God turn his skin a darker color?
Did God have a horn grow out of Cain’s head?
Did it have to do with circumcision?
Did God give Cain a dog?
Huh???

Did God have mercy on Cain and forgive him for having killed his brother…the first
recorded murder in human history only to followed by the greatest act of forgiveness??

But wait…was that the greatest act of forgiveness or was that actually
during Good Friday…
digressing again…

So, was the mark a mark of forgiveness…

On and on the so-called wise ones have debated this issue for eons.

And yet oddly here it comes visiting me at 1:30 in the morning by way of a 1996 song.

Ms, Mroczek notes at the end of her article…
“But the most striking interpretations rely on a later meaning of the Hebrew word oth:
a letter of the alphabet.
A midrashic text suggests that God inscribed a letter on Cain’s arm as a mark of protection
(Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer 21).
Thus, the mark of Cain becomes a sacred sign.
In another midrash (Tanhuma Genesis 10),
it is the word Sabbath that is inscribed on Cain’s face—after the personified Sabbath day
itself begged God to forgive Cain’s sin.
And a targum—an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures—
identifies the mark as the holiest sign of all: God inscribes on Cain
“the great and honorable name of the LORD,” namely the tetragrammaton,
the four-letter name of God (YHWH).

https://www.bibleodyssey.org/people/related-articles/mark-of-cain

So the jury is still out.

Why the song?
Why the direction toward Cain?
And is this a message of foreboding or passage of forgiveness.

I’ll let you know what happens when the next hot flash rouses me from
what little precious sleep there is…I’m sure God will have His say…
I just wish I was wise enough to figure out where He was taking me.
But if I knew that…there’d be so many answers to so many questions…

Heartbreak does seem to be happeing on all sorts of 6th Avenues across this Nation…

Sirens ring, the shots ring out
A stranger cries, screams out loud
I had my world strapped against my back
I held my hands, never knew how to act
And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in
6th Avenue heartache
Below me was a homeless man
I’m singin’ songs I knew complete
On the steps alone, his guitar in hand
It’s fifty years, stood where he stands
Now walkin’ home on those streets
The river winds move my feet
Subway steam, like silhouettes in dreams
They stood by me, just like moonbeams
Look out the window, down upon that street
And gone like a midnight was that man
But I see his six strings laid against that wall
And all his things, they all look so small
I got my fingers crossed on a shooting star
Just like me just moved on

oh how the times are a changin’

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-cha
ngin’.
Bob Dylan


(the Mayor’s new ride)

Sadly the Mayor has come and gone…having returned to her official office in Atlanta.
In her wake, this satellite Woobooville office is now in a bit of disarray.

There is washing, cleaning, boiling of bottles and rearranging of a few moved rugs…
chores that this aide must attend to which help to ease the bittersweet sting
that comes with the here then there, the ins and outs of grandchildren coming and going.

Like any grandparent, I obviously love my grandchild.
I see so much wonderment and joy in her existence.

And like her parents…the sun rises and sets in this little girl.

So it only makes sense that we as her family look out and around this oddly
changing world of ours a bit warily.
Troubled by what we see and what we hear.

We wish to hold her just a bit tighter.
Holding her in the protection of our arms within a presumed assumption of safety
in this little corner of this world of ours.

As Bob Dylan sang in 1963…the times, they are a changing…

And the changing is not to my liking.

Friday evening I was watching the news.

There was a story complete with video—
because don’t we seem to video everything these days,
don’t we feel we must record every moment rather than simply living it????…
anywhoo, I digress—
…there was a recorded clash between two very different minded individuals…
and the clash was not pretty.

There was a lady standing on a busy street corner in Portland, Oregon who happened to be
wearing an NYPD ballcap.
Some punk, and yes the word punk is most appropriate, came up behind the woman and
began harassing her….all because of the ballcap.

He had a foul angry tirade directed at this woman for her obvious support of law enforcement.

Antifa came to mind and Antifa he was…

He cursed, berated and belittled this woman…He was crude, crass and vile…
all because she seemed linked to the police–a group he obviously held vehement disdain for…

She turned to the punk and told him that the hat was because her husband had been killed in 9/11.
Rather than backing down or even expressing a bit of remorse, his response grew even viler,
cruder and laced with a deep seething hatred.

I immediately felt my own blood pressure shoot up as I wanted to jerk this dude up by
the scruff of his neck and read him my own form of the riot act.

I call it having a ‘Peter moment’…

I really like both Peter and Paul—
I feel very much akin to their often expressed sense of unworthiness due to their faults and sins…
I know all about faults and sins…
all about not living up and yet thankfully all about redemption.

Yet I probably identify more with Peter than I do Paul.
Peter is more of an emotional hot head.
He often lead by the heat of the moment and of his heart whereas Paul was more
calculating in his actions…
he was full of thought and recourse.
A cause and effect sort of leader.

It was Peter during the height of confusion and conflict, on the night in the garden
during the arrest of Jesus, who draws his knife in a fit of rage and proceeds to cut off
the ear of one of the soldiers
He’s reacting as I would…defensive, protecting, frightened and angry.

Jesus screams out to Peter to stop.

Jesus rebukes him and then proceeds to heal the soldier’s ear…
Now why at that moment the soldiers didn’t all drop their swords and run away,
I don’t know… but that wasn’t to be the ending of the story now was it…

But the gist here is that Jesus rebuked that knee-jerk reaction of Peter’s.
Just as he would have rebuked me when I turned and dotted this jackass’s eye…an expression
my students would often say…”I’m going to dot that eye of yours…”

But the woman maintained her cool, for the most part, and only appears to curse the fellow at the
end before the light changes and they both, I assume, go on to cross the street.

That clash, that confrontation bothered me to no end.

First…who whips out a phone to videotape that kind of crap?
Who has a bunch of cronies standing behind them, snickering and laughing
when one of the members tells a widow that he hopes her husband rots in the grave…
all because he’s a cop.

I don’t understand Nancy Pelosi saying that anyone who disagrees with her party’s agenda
will simply be “collateral damage” and that they just don’t matter.

I disagree so therefore I’m collateral damage and I don’t matter.

I don’t understand Eric Holder telling his minions to ‘hit republicans
low and hit um hard’ —because his minions are taking that literally.

I don’t understand Rep Maxine Waters telling crowds to attack any and every republican
that they see out and about…make their lives miserable she extols the crowds.

I don’t understand what is happening.

I don’t understand the loss of civility.

There is a WWI cross memorial in Maryland that has been on public display since the end of the war
erected in 1925 to remember those Maryland boys who had lost their lives in “The Great War”, the war
that was to end all wars…

Its case is coming up for review at the Supreme Court as there is a suit that has been brought forth
attempting to have the cross removed because it now sits on Government property.
Never mind that the cross is a memorial to war dead.

And so now the hairs of the sites are set on Arlington.
What of all those crosses on graves in Arlington?

I think of all those crosses, and stars, in Normandy.
Foreign soil yes, but an Amercian governed Cemetery.

We have forgotten who we are.

From punks on street corners to leaders in office to people who view
memorials…we have lost our humanness… we have lost our sense of sensibility.

Some days I’m left shaking my head.
Some days I just want to keep my head under the covers.
Some days I simply hang my head
But every day, I need to lower my head to pray…
Lord have mercy on our souls…..

**Tomorrow I will have a story about what should and does matter—
It goes far beyond this idiocy we’ve allowed to consume us–
It’s a story that actually has something to do with a kid who loves his
college and his football and whose life is tragically very limited…

http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/10/20/911-widow-harassed-leftist-protester-portland-tucker-carlson-ann-coulter-react

a family’s erosion

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton,
you may as well make it dance.”

George Bernard Shaw


(should not the day a new baby comes home be one of joy? Try telling the little girl on the
right / 1964)

It seems that even at the tender age of 5 I was gifted with intuition…
as in knowing something is a bad idea from the get go.

Just look at that all-knowing face captured on the day the new little brother was
adopted and brought home.
The younger me must have had a premonition that none of this was going to end very well…

and I was correct, it did not.

As most of you who know me recall—
I have written at length in past posts about both my adoption as well as the
dysfunctional life my family suffered at the hands of the mental illness that
engulfed and eroded my brother…

In his erosion, my family eroded.

Today it is not my desire to rewrite any of those posts but maybe today’s post can be a
bit of an addendum…

(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/
and
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/mr-mole-continued-forgiveness-and-grace/ )

The reason for this heavy revisiting is due in part because I happened upon a letter
that I’d found in a box that has been buried deep within dad’s basement for many years.
It was in a box tucked away in a forgotten back corner, under a table,
left to the spiders and whatever else lurks in a dark 65 year old basement.

The letter was written, or more accurately typed, in 1986.
It was a letter from my dad to my brother.
Wednesday was the first day I had ever seen the letter.

I want to share the letter with you and I’ll explain why after you read the letter:

September 2,1986

Dear Ed,
As you know, your mother is seriously ill and will probably die within the very
near future.
Because of that I am under probably as much stress as I have ever felt.
At the same time, it seems that our past problems have come to a head and are causing
me more stress than I can handle.
I had hoped that we could continue to relate as father and son, and to live in the
same household.
That has become impossible, so I have had to ask you to move out.
I hope you understand that I take no enjoyment from all of this.

I realize that you have some personal property in the house and will make it
available to you if you will just call me and set up a time to pick it up.
I cannot, however, consent to you coming and going if I am not present,
so please do not come to the house without calling.
If you don’t have any place to store your things I will help you with a mini
storage warehouse for a couple of months.

I want you to have the bank account your mother and I set up for your education,
and hope you will use it accordingly.

When we talked last Tuesday you said I couldn’t make you leave, and you refused to return
your house key: so I checked with my lawyer to see just what our respective right are.
He said that technically I could ask you to leave the house, or not return, and have
you arrested if you come back. I sincerely hope this never happens, but you must understand
that I will do whatever is necessary to preserve my sanity and to be sure I can be supportive
of your mother during her illness.
I hope you can understand how I feel and that I still want to help you to whatever
extent I can and feel justified, but cannot have you living at the house any longer.

Please let me hear from you and let me know what you want to do about your belongings.

Love, Dad
(the typed letter was signed personally)

And now a little background if you are new to this history of mine…

My brother and I were 5 years a part in age, with me being the oldest.
We were both adopted and not biologically related.
Even in the beginning Ed was different from me, mother and dad.

He was very fair complected, burning easily rather than tanning and he was covered
in freckles where we were not.
His hair was much lighter than our darker hair.
Despite my not being biologically related to mom and dad, no one could
tell it by just looking at us..
Ed however was different….and he always sensed it.

Even his head was more elongated than ours.
He cried incessantly as a baby.
He wet the bed long past when such was considered “normal”
He was considered hyper in school long before there was ADHD.
He struggled academically but soared in the area of physics.
He loved music, didn’t play sports and had a difficult time “fitting in”
He ran away when he was a senior in high school and was found in Texas,
driving Mother’s car, on his merry way to California, “to watch the moon and the stars.”
He fought dreadfully with all of us as his temper was dangerously violent.
He had threatened each of us at different times by promising “to blow our brains out”
Dad tried to get counseling but it was to no avail.

He eventually attended Ga Tech where he excelled in science with a keen interest
in aerospace engineering.

During this time Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer at the tender age of 53, only
to die within a 9 week window from the initial diagnosis.

I know without a doubt that death was mother’s blessed release as she had lived 15 years
of abusive hell at the hands of my brother—
who was especially vindictive to her despite her unending kindness.
He succeeded in eventually breaking her spirit.
Cancer and death were her ticket out.

I know now that his “abuse” to her was the misplaced anger he had so wanted to direct
to his own biological mother.
He was full of rage and simply could not live with that initial rejection.

During all of this time, my brother had actually begun a quest into his adoption and to
finding his birth parents.

I had long since gone off to college, graduated, moved to what I hoped would be far
enough away from the madness, and eventually married.
I had promised myself to “get out” and out I did.

My brother was the first case in the state of Georgia to have an adoption annulled—
my dad wanted to do whatever he could to help this troubled son of his find the peace
he so desperately sought…as is evidenced in his letter written prior to the court case.

This was a story of two loving people who simply wanted to have a family and because they
were unable to do that on their own, they turned to adoption.
And this is a story of a family member who suffered for years without
understanding what was wrong with him.
Life in a family where one member has a severe undiagnosed mental illness….

For those of you who don’t buy into the fact that much is happening in utero with a
fetus except for the physical development….
Let me tell you that there is also a great deal happening as far as mental,
emotional and cognitive development is concerned.
I am a firm believer in the transference of both positive and negative emotions
from mother to forming baby…
that there is much in the way of a lasting impact from mental and emotional miscues
just as there is with the physical miscue.

The long story is that my brother was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and he
did eventually locate his birth mother…moving states to be near her…
However she resoundingly rejected him again.

The adult rejection was more than he could bear, and so in his rejection he found no
alternative but to end his life.
He shot himself.
He was only 30.

I don’t write about this to make you sad or upset or to discourage anyone hoping to
adopt a child…
I share this story because I want to hopefully bring awareness…

I am the sole surviving member of my little family of four.
I am an ardent advocate for adoption as I am gravely opposed to abortion.

Yet there are those who would callously argue that had my brother’s birth mother sought
an abortion or had it been in a time when an abortion was legal and “acceptable”
perhaps years and lives suffered in misery, with an eventual suicide,
could have all been avoided.

Yet murder is never truly justifiable now is it?

I also know that despite the tragedy, the heartache and sheer madness—
God’s hand was alway there for me…guiding, steadying, leading….
but I also know that He is not a manipulator and will not
stop folks from doing what seems to be on their inevitable radar…

Yet He can bring goodness and light from both the bad and the dark.

I believe this, because I know this.

I simply write this because I want others to know that there is now help more readily
available for those who suffer mental illness than there was even 30 years ago.

Sadly my dad had also became broken in the loss of his son—
for he lost this boy he had loved on so many different levels,
only to find the loss unbearable.

For my dad was not a strong man who could bear up under tragedy.

He went to his grave just two months ago still feeling guilty over ever having to have
written that letter, for “kicking Ed out of the house”
He had rationalized, unjustly so, that somehow he too had contributed to my brother’s
rejection—
and no matter how hard professionals and loved ones tried to convince him over the years
that he did what he had to do in order to perserve the safety and sanity of his
remaining family, he carried that painful guilt with him to the day he died.

So this little story which is all about adoption, rejection, mental illness, suicide
and even survival is just as much a story about Grace…

For I have seen and lived both the dark and the bad and had it not been for God’s healing Grace…
this sole survivor of 4 might not have been here today to share her story.

So everyone who has ever been touched by tragedy, sorrow, heartache, darkness, cancer, suicide,
mental illness…must know that even in the darkest dark, there is always HOPE!!!
Because there is help…on so many different levels!!
And no matter how bad things often seem…God is always God and He has overcome the darkness
so that we may find our way to the Light….

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5

Hooey and fraud

“They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft,
and therefore seldom fail to punish it with death;
for they allege, that care and vigilance, with a very common understanding,
may preserve a man’s goods from thieves,
but honesty has no defence against superior cunning; and,
since it is necessary that there should be a perpetual intercourse of buying and selling,
and dealing upon credit, where fraud is permitted and connived at,
or has no law to punish it, the honest dealer is always undone,
and the knave gets the advantage.”

Jonathan Swift

dscn4581
(I suppose this little screech owl is an example of something that is fraudulent,
for he is a bit of an imposter…I saw him at a taxidermy museum
and he was just too cute to pass by without a picture/ Julie Cook / 2016)

I don’t think that I can ever say it enough…

I hate technology.

Yea, yea, I know,
it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread as it makes our lives…
so much easier,
so much more efficient,
so much better…
because we are all so….connected….

hummmm…connected, yes….

And when it works, and works efficiently, it is easy…
maybe a little too easy…
But easy is not today’s point.

I had this little notification thing put on my credit card that when it is used,
I receive a text and an e-amil… as in an alert.
It tells me that my card, ending in blah blah,
was just used at such and such for x amount transaction.

As in monitoring fraudulent activity with the card…
to alert me that the card was used and if it wasn’t used by me,
then it’s time to panic.

So this morning, as I was hurrying to get ready to head over to dad’s,
because today was the day hospice was delivering the hospital bed…
the bed dad is adamant about not allowing in the house…which is a post for another day…
I hear my phone buzz.

“Who in the heck is texting me this early?!”
I grouse as I’m in a race to get dressed.

It’s a text from my credit card folks informing me that my credit card ending in blah blah
was just declined over a $900 purchase for a plane ticket to São Paulo.

Now granted I am greatly in need of getting away.
As in leaving all my troubles behind…
As in going away…
Far far away…
As in my nerves are almost frazzled…

And I will confess to having contemplated being a bit, shall we say, irrational…
As in calling my aunt and telling her to grab her passport….
As in we’re out of here….

Yet I don’t recall being so spontaneous as to buying a one way ticket to São Paulo…
And if the truth be told, I don’t want to go to São Paulo…
Maybe Paris.
Maybe Rome.
But not São Paulo…

So I call the number on the back of my card and get the nicest young man named Austin.
I explain to Austin about the text and the email and São Paulo as he pulls up my account.
Sure enough he sees where there was a declined purchase at South American Airlines for
a one way trip to São Paulo…
Thank God for declined!!

A far cry from the typical purchase of jeans from LL Bean…
which is more along the lines of a typical card purchase for me.

So sweet young Austin shut down my account and will be issuing me a new card.
He checked the last five purchases…
$8 for a book?
check…mine
$49 bucks for some shorts and a shirt?
check–mine
mine,
mine,
and mine…

With nothing anywhere near a $900 for an airline ticket.

And with this latest adventure to the land of fraud,
I started thinking….

Technology is good…in a great many ways…yet it comes with a tremendous price…
both figuratively and literally…
but again, I digress….

It comes with grave responsibility and vigilance…
both of which most folks half heartily observe,
as they are lulled into a false sense of security.

It comes with pin numbers,
passwords,
alerts,
rapid alerts,
magnetic security strips,
retina detection,
finger print scanners,
voice recognition
and chip readers…

all things that lull us into thinking we are safe….

This as I wonder what will be next as the security attached to our technology
works hard to always stay one step ahead of those nefarious individuals who take a
retired school teacher’s credit card number
and attempt to buy a one way ticket to São Paulo.

For you see, I try to be safe.
I try to do what I can to protect my savings and my identity
But if those nefarious folks out there really want something,
no matter what I do, they will find me…
and they will find you too I’m afraid.

Well not unless I call my aunt, telling her to grab her passport,
cause we are taking life off the grid…
but again, I digress…

We do everything in our power to protect our cards, our phones,
our smart, and not so smart, things
Yet what do we do to protect our souls?
Yes, you read correctly, our very souls.

For you see we have been fed a lot of hooey in the past several decades,
with the hooey only getting more slick with time.

We’ve been told that God is actually spelled with a little g.
We’ve been told that there are way better gods out there…
forget all that mumbo jumbo religious business…
that’s so yesterday…

We’ve been told that any god with a big G should be all accepting and all loving…
no holds barred, doesn’t matter what we’re loving or accepting…
“it” must agree…

And while we’re at it…
“it” isn’t always a “he”, “it” may be a she or just an “it”…
cause “it,” whatever “it” is, is ours and we like “it” how we want “it”…
Because we don’t want a god with a big G who isn’t on our same page.

We want gods that keep us connected 24 / 7
gods that allow us to instantly buy tickets to São Paulo, with or without our own money.
We’re told that these are the gods that we need to have,
yet they need us to spend lots of money…
cause more money means better gods.

gods that will make us like the folks we see on TV,
cause we are told being like the folks on TV is to be really cool and great and godlike.

We’ve been told that we don’t need a god with a big G because we can be our own god.

We can make babies in petrie dishes
We can make new animals from old animal DNA
We can make boys girls, and girls boys…
We can travel to the moon and beyond…as in we’ve messed up this planet enough,
time to set our sights elsewhere….
We can buy tickets to São Paulo without ever having to talk
to a person all without money that’s not our own…

We can take people’s money and go the São Paulo to do whatever we want when we get there..
again, kind of god like in our own little g godlike way….

We don’t want a god with rules or one telling us how to live.
We don’t want a god who claims to be a creator, cause, heck, aren’t we creators!

So yea…
fraud….
hooey…
and we’ve got all kinds of trouble…

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

sanctuary

Sanctuary, on a personal level,
is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul.”

Christopher Forrest McDowell

DSC00494
(interior of the Cathedral of Notre Dame / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

The first time I was made aware of the concept of sanctuary
as in the meaning of the word as a verb of action verses a noun of place,
was when, as a little girl, I watched the 1939 movie the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
It didn’t matter that it was an old black and white movie made 20 years before I was born…
it was and still remains, just as the original story itself, a classic.

This 1939 classic starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara, based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same name, left a powerful and lasting impression on my youthful mind.
That being…
a church, The Church, can protect anyone asking it to…

Maureen O’Hara played the role of Esmeralda, the beautiful gypsy girl, falsely accused of practicing witchcraft as well as murder.
Charles Laughton played the deformed bell keeper, Quasimodo, who had fallen in love with the beautiful Esmeralda.

One of the pivotal and overtly theatrical moments in the film is when Esmeralda, whose hands are bound as a rope hangs around her neck, is being led to the gallows on a horse drawn cart as she is about to be publicly hung for the crimes of witchcraft and murder.
A huge procession marches forth from the church as choirs sing and bells toll…for the people of Paris have gathered to witness the public hanging of this poor young girl.

Quasimodo, who is perched high aloft along the ledge of the bell tower, looks down at the proceedings and grabs hold of a rope…
Miraculously to the astonished crowd, Quasimodo swings down, just in the nick of time, grabbing Esmeralda from the clutches of the gallows master. He then swings back up to the safety of both bell tower and Church where, holding a now limp Esmeralda who has fainted…he lifts her high over his head for all the crowd to see while crying out “Sanctuary, Sanctuary…”
Letting all those gathered below know that the girl in now safe within the arms of the church because those who enter a church, seeking sanctuary, are protected from the masses and the authorities outside the walls of her building’s structure.

The concept of a church, the physical structure, offering safety to those at risk… resonated deeply in my thoughts….
As it seems that for centuries the collective body of The Church has been a place of protection and safety to not only our spiritual beings, but to our physical being as well.

Yesterday, when reading a recent news article about the growing security worries now facing our churches and places of worship, I imagined that moment long ago of Quasimodo yelling “Sanctuary

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/08/08/churches-take-new-security-measures-in-face-terror-threats.html

Back in April, it seems that during a daily worship service at an Orthodox Church in Riverside, California, several young mothers had excused themselves from the service as they carried their crying infants outside as not to disturb the remainder of the service.
As the women stood outside the church chatting, while holding their babies, a car appears out of the blue pulling up close to the sidewalk where the women stood.
The windows of the car are rolled down as several men with bullhorns hang out from the windows and are heard to shout Allauh Akbar…
The startled women stare in disbelief while holding their children tightly to their chests…
all the while as a feeling of dread washes over them.
And yet just as quickly as the car appeared, it drives off leaving the women shaken.

Since this incident in April, numerous houses of worship, churches and synagogues around the globe have had similar unsettling incidents to occur—
Most notably being the recent attack on Father Jaques Hamel.
The attack took place in a quiet catholic church on the outskirts of Rouen, when two young men interrupted the service grabbing Fr Hamel and slashing his throat in front of horrified parishioners.

There have also been reported acts of vandalism, break-ins and incidents where churches have received anonymous written threats of violence.

But attacks on Churches and Synagogues is sadly nothing new.

Our houses of worship, although representing something much larger and greater than mere man himself, can fall victim to acts of evil intent just as easily as the average person.

In times past, just as in this present time, there have been fire bombings on buildings, desecrations of buildings, attacks and sadly murders on both clergy and parishioners…
As it is becoming much more alarming and worrisome that these sorts of incidents are on the rise…
No longer seemingly the random act of evil and madness, but now more and more the deliberate growing act of hatred.

Whereas there was a time when the Church as a whole was revered and respected, a place in which the lost, the sorrowful and the frightened could find refuge….
that simply is no longer the expected given.

Yet whereas the building and the bodies of believers themselves may come under attack—we are not without hope—for the blood of the Lamb remains our refuge and sanctuary no matter what may befall a physical building or our physical body…

SANCTUARY indeed!!!!

‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’
Ezekiel 11:16