Simple, humble and pure…

“By reason of His immensity, God is present everywhere; but there are two places
where He dwells in a particular manner.
One is in the highest heavens, where He is present by that glory which He
communicates to the blessed; the other is on earth—within the humble soul that loves Him.”

St Alphonsus Liguori


(seagull and reflection/ Rosemary Beach, Fl /Julie Cook/ 2020)

“Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance.
Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility.
Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin.
Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world,
but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give.
For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.
We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh.
Rather we must be simple, humble and pure.
We should never desire to be over others.
Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God’s sake.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end.
He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father’s children who do his work.
They are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St. Francis of Assisi, p. 333
An Excerpt From
Witness of the Saints

Blemishes and flaws

In nature there is no blemish but the mind: none can be called deformed but the unkind”
William Shakespeare

“In other men we faults can spy,
And blame the mote that dims their eye;
Each little speck and blemish find;
To our own stronger errors blind.”

Benjamin Franklin

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(white hydrangeas / Julie Cook / 2015)

When did we decide that perfection, the flawless, the blemish free was the goal?
When did we convince ourselves that only the unspoiled, the unsullied, the sparkling and the immaculate were to be the prize, the treasure, the quest?

When did we decide to pour our finances into recreating a nose, teeth, a chin, cheeks, breasts, hips, stomachs, backsides, eyes, hair. . .
When did we decide we needed to look like “them” in order to be beautiful, accepted, better?

When did we decide we didn’t like our face, our body, our minds, our souls. . .
We decided we needed to take action. . .we built up those whose appearances seems to have achieved perfection and we, no matter the cost, the expense, the stupidity, wanting it too, have decided to risk everything for the flawless and the blemish free. . .
We won’t be satisfied until we too are one of the beautiful people.
No matter sacrifice or cost, pain or suffering. . .

When did we look in a mirror comparing what looked back to the magazine covers, the television shows, the movies? Deciding we just didn’t like what we saw. . . too big, too small, not round, too square, too heavy, too scrawny, too long, too short, too pale, too dark. . .

Flawless and blemish free. . .
Who set the mark for beauty and who has perpetuated the lie. . .

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7

O make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Ephesians 5:26-28

The pursuit of purity

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”
― Mae West

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(azalea bloom / Julie Cook / 2015)

I suppose if anyone could exude a rather racy, even wanton lifestyle, it would be the famously baudy actress Mae West. Mae was considered a maverick well before her time as she was a fierce woman of independence long before such was fashionable. She began her career acting in Vaudeville and continued writing, producing, singing, appearing, performing for the next 7 decades.

Her famous line full of buxom appeal and coy shift of shoulder, “why don’t you come up sometime n see me” left audiences, in 1933, a bit shocked as well as intrigued by this overt coquette of an actress. Wholesomeness, innocence and purity were not virtues claimed by Mae West.
She made no bones about it as her life reflected, up to her death at age 87, a woman who didn’t seem to care much for social norms.

Whereas Mae West was always up front and honest about basically being bad or a pushing the envelope sort of individual, there are today so many others who wish to project an image of pure goodness without much regard for honest self examination. Meaning, the best foot forward may be well intended or even purposely placed, yet the truth of the matter is that it is actually greatly soiled.

Projecting a persona of humility and squeaky clean living while actually racing toward the polar opposite would or should certainly require a bit of self reflection and introspection. Who among us wouldn’t benefit from a little delving into our hearts? Examining our intentions, our desires, our ambitions, our drive, the pursuit of our goals—questioning our true motives and asking the hard questions as to whether our desires, pursuits, lives, thoughts are as pure and as good as we project and actually believe, or rather are they not perhaps a bit soiled? We work so hard trying to fool others, yet are we not the ones who are truly fooled?

It is to each of us, each single individual, to consider the purity of our own lives and heart.
Some of us will claim we don’t have time to bother with a life where purity or wholesomeness is involved.
Some of us will even wonder why we should dare take to the time to even consider such.
Some will argue that the idea of a pure life equates to a boring life. . .and by world standards,
I suppose that might be true.

Purity equates to wholesomeness, chastity, and innocence. Not exactly popular virtues by way of Hollywood’s or the Entertainment industry’s standards. It’s a sad observation that virtues consisting of the positive and of goodness simply don’t sell like vices such as sexual promiscuity, violence, greed, self absorption, etc.
Yet there remains buried deep within our hearts a desire to seek that which is pure.
That which is whole, clean, virtuous, good . . .

To be washed clean.
To be given hope.
To be made whole.
To be turned around.
To find true peace.
To be made pure

Life changing.
Life altering.
Life saving.

And it is to the One who is Pure. . .it is He who calls our name and to whom we all long.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Tall grass

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.
Saint Basil The Great

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do, If bees are few.
Emily Dickinson

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(red clover blooms in a field of tall grass / Julie Cook / 2015)

I lose myself in the tall grass
Hidden from preying eyes
Inhibitions that lay chains upon the backs of the innocent
are lost in the tall grass
Running unhindered, unencumbered. . .finally free
The tiny and small feel brave and bold in the tall grass

I am safe in the tall grass
Resting from demanding voices
Fears that lay hold falsely around the necks of the virtuous
are banished in the tall grass
Basking uninhibited, joyously. . .finally at rest
The weak and the weary are at peace in the tall grass

I joyfully sing in the tall grass
Free to be who I wish to be
Songs soar on the wings of the grasshopper reaching happily
above the tall grass
Resting, musing, dreaming. . .finally happy
The innocent and pure feel happiness and joy in the tall grass

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Delicate and pure

The devil put before me that I could not endure the trials of the religious life, because of my delicate nurture. I defended myself against him by alleging the trials which Christ endured, and that it was not much for me to suffer something for His sake; besides, He would help me to bear it.
Saint Teresa of Avila

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(delicate blooms of San Antonio / Julie Cook / 2014)