one woman, legislation, obedience…life and love

“to dedicate oneself as a Victim of Love is not to be dedicated to
sweetness and consolations;
it is to offer oneself to all that is painful and bitter,
because Love lives only by sacrifice and the more we would surrender ourselves to Love,
the more we must surrender ourselves to suffering”

St. Thérèse de Lisieux,

“God never inspires a wish that cannot be fulfilled”
St. John of the Cross

We can say,
‘It is what it is—now Lord, show me how to deal with it.’
St. Therese said she had no peace in her soul until she started her day with that orientation.
Then, trusting God to walk beside her,
she finished her journey as the woman four popes called the greatest saint of modern times.

Doug Lorig

In 1937, a pamphleteering psychiatrist claimed that the “Glorious Hurricane” (Pius XI)
unleashed by Thérèse was an infallible sign that the Catholic Church was in its death throes.
The universal exaltation of an insignificant “neurotic” was proof that a masochistic religion
was on the way out at last.
Fifty years on, today’s psychologists and religious writers know a great deal more about
Thérèse Martin and her world, and are quick to acknowledge the wonders wrought by grace
in the mind and heart of a child stricken by the loss of her mother when she herself was
only four and a half years old. Indeed, Thérèse’s path to sainthood is a source of
comfort and inspiration to countless victims of emotional or other crises today.
Sainthood is not reserved for “normal” people.

The “Little Way” is not some sleight of hand for getting to heaven on the cheap.
It is the modern realization of the Gospel injunction,
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into
the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18, 3).

On June 2, 1980, Pope John Paul II, the first Pope to make the pilgrimage
to Lisieux, put it strongly: “The `Little Way’ is the way of `Holy Childhood’.
It is a way which both confirms and renews the most fundamental and universal truth.
After all, which of the Gospel’s truths is more fundamental and more universal than this,
God is our Father and we are His children?”.
thelittleflower.org

“Sainthood is not reserved for ‘normal’ people.”
No, I would suspect it is not.

Nor is it for the faint of heart.
But for a young frail Thérèse, to serve, while in turn drawing as one with God,
was her sole goal…sainthood would merely become a by-product.

I’ve written about Thérèse before.
She is a bit of an anomaly really.

Nothing about this young girl should be the hallmarks of becoming not only a saint
but that of a Doctor of the Chruch.

Giants among theological and spiritual giants.

And yet here is a young girl.

Words that described her in life…

Obscure.
Sickly.
Frail.
Unassuming.
Quiet.
Young.
Almost shy and even quite childlike.

Childlike not in a sense of her maturity but rather in her approach to God.

A simple childlike faith.

One that consisted of love and love alone.

She was only 24 when she died a painful death from the ravages of tuberculosis.
And yet 4 separate popes have stated that she is the greatest saint of modern times.

High praise for a young girl who lived a simple life of a cloistered nun

“Conscious of her own weakness, but willingly trusting in God’s merciful love,
which finds its way even to the humble, she came to love her poverty.
Her offering of herself to merciful love begins with these words;
“God is asking me to do something, I cannot do it on my own, so He will do it for me”
(June 9, 1895). From this moment on Thérèse lived the daring surrender of herself.
A totally dependent child has no choice but to surrender itself completely
to its father’s merciful love.”

Again, Thérèse discovered the truth of Jesus’ words,
“If you do not become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18:3).
The way of “spiritual infancy” is Jesus’ own way as a son, the supreme son,
living only for his Father. Who is more fully an adult but Jesus or more fully a child?
From this point on Thérèse lost her fear of sin, of falling asleep during prayer
or any other imperfection; love had burned everything away.

Pope John Paul II reminds us when speaking of St Thérèse of Lisieux
That “God is our Father and we are His Children.”

The notion of God as father and we as children is not new.
It is something Jesus often reminded those who listened to him speak…
the importance of being like little children.

And it is the way in which Thérèse lived…

To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must become like little children.

So the importance of children is not lost on me when I read about
House Bill 481, the Heartbeat bill.

Nor is it lost on those who hunker down quietly yet steadfastly to hear God’s word.

This is a controversial bill which actually passed the Georgia Senate this past week.
It will now travel to the House for a yay or nay…. and if the yays have it,
it’s off to the Governor’s desk for final approval and signature.

This is a state bill that if passed, will limit when an abortion can be performed in
the state of Georgia.
The bill reads that six weeks is the “magic” number and time when a doctor can hear a heartbeat…
the telltale sign of an entity living separately from the mother…
meaning that there are two hearts now beating in a woman’s body.
Her heart and that of the child she carries in her womb.

I see this bill as a victory for those who have no voice of their own.
A victory for unborn children.

Others see it very differently.

Many protestors outside of the State Capital this past week have dressed up as characters from
the Hulu show and popular book The Handmaid’s Tale.

These women march in an odd macabre mass of unity protesting a baby’s right to live
while somehow viewing the notion of life rather than murder as abhorrent.
The Salem Witch trials seem to come to mind when I see their images.

Various female members of Georgia’s House Democrats have been very vocal in their dismay
of the passing of this bill.
They argue that this bill is a setback for women at the hands of male legislators.

While on the other hand, many female Republican legislators are ardent supporters of the bill.

Kind of like me…a woman, who just so happens to be in favor of this bill.

Allysa Milano, a very outspoken hashtag sort of Hollywood actress, in light of this bill,
is now calling for filmmakers to boycott Georgia.
She just so happens to be shooting a film here in Georgia.
Lucky us.

The movie industry has become big business for Georgia.

This is not the first time a controversial piece of legislature has brought out those who
attempt to tighten the screws on Georgia’s economy…that is if Georgia opts to go in an opposite
direction from that of what Hollywood or other giant business marketers think…
if the state steps out of line with a progressive liberal culture’s mindset,
then it’s lookout Georgia.

There is the “religious liberty” bill that was recently re-introduced…having been
previously introduced and reading much like a similar national bill that happened
to have been signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

This more recent bill is a rift on a 2016 bill that was nixed by then Gov. Nathan Deal
when the LGBTQ communities sounded a very loud and very vocal alarm that they sensed some sort
of potential discrimination—never mind that such a national bill passed in 1993.

Yet even the owner of the Atlanta’s Falcons and Atlanta’s Soccer United teams, Arthur Blank
chimed in—he told a reporter that he disagreed with the Governor and thought
that such a bill would be bad for Georgia—as he saw the potential for dollar bills to
quickly disappear from state coffers if advertisers and others pulled out over such a bill.
He didn’t word his disapproval as such, but that was his bottom line unspoken reasoning.

The NFL, NBA, etc had already threatened to exclude Georgia from consideration as a
potential host city should such a bill come into effect.

Advertisers and the entertainment industry were also making their loud grumbles

How ever would dear Coca-Cola, aka Coke, make it if her home state
took a step backward, or so thought all of these big shakers and shifters?

And so now with The Heartbeat bill set to become a possible law, the same loud and
money ladened voices are beginning to sound.

And thus it is that I am reminded of a demure St Thérèse of Lisieux—

Despite such giants of opposition…be they physical or institutional,
Thérèse never wavered or backed down from her faith or of her desire to love.

She was simply obedient to God…to His commandments and to His will.

She fixed her eyes on God and God alone…allowing for all things to fall into place.

And so now we the faithful must also be obedient.

We can get behind a bill that protects the lives of unborn children…who indeed
have their own heartbeat by 6 weeks, or we can allow Hollywood, a plethora of
‘communities’, and those who throw their money around as their weight
to determine what is best for Georgia and its unborn children.

Sadly we continue seeing how these things play out.

However, we remain—
Obedient in prayer and to what we know to be God’s will…

Life and Love.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up
with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

humility lives among us…we just happen to over look it.


(Master Sargent William Crawford)

During his daily readings, my husband recently stumbled on a story that touched his heart.
It was a story that he, in turn, felt compelled to share with me.

It’s that type of story.

It is so much that type of story, that I, in the same like spirit, felt compelled that I should
now share with you.

It’s a story of war, sacrifice, loss, life, discovery as well as that of a quiet and very deep humility.

A forgotten story really.

And it seemed that it was to remain a forgotten story…that was until one day
in 1976 when a young airman cadet, studying at the United States Air Force Academy,
who much like my husband happened upon a particular story during his daily reading…
a story that in turn, deeply touched his heart.

One that he knew he would not only need to investigate but would be compelled to eventually
share in like kind.

It is a story that I pray continues to touch all of our hearts…

It is a story that unfolded in the mid-1970s when a couple of young Air Force Academy cadets
discovered a hidden unknown little fact about their school’s quiet and unassuming janitor.

A story that would have our current culture’s minds racing to the muck and mire of the nefarious…
but rather it was to be a tale that harkened to the amazing and the near miraculous.

Perhaps it was the way he carried himself in an unassuming and humble manner,
but day after day hundreds of Air Force Academy cadets would pass this janitor in the hall
oblivious to the greatness that was among them.

In the mid-1970s, William Crawford might spend one day sweeping the halls and another cleaning
the bathrooms, but it was a day approximately 30 years prior that would create for him a special
place in the history of war…

Fast forward to a military dinner in 2011…

Retired Air Force Col. James Moschgat shared Medal of Honor recipient
William “Bill” Crawford’s story last Friday night with about 200 people gathered
at the annual Pueblo Medal of Honor Foundation Golf Tournament Dinner.

Moschgat was a cadet at the Academy when, one day in the fall of 1976,
he was reading a book about individual experiences from World War II.

Moschgat said he was reading about a Colorado man named William Crawford,
an Army private who, in September 1943 in Italy, raced through intense enemy fire —
three times and on his own initiative — to detonate hand grenades on enemy gun sites.

After the battle, Crawford later was captured by the Germans and was presumed dead.
In 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father, but later that year,
Crawford was found alive when a group of soldiers were rescued from German control.
Crawford re-enlisted in 1947 and retired in ’67 as a master sergeant.
After the Army, he went to work at the academy where, according to Moschgat,
he blended in and developed a reputation for being a shy, shuffling janitor.

Moschgat said he wondered if this war hero was the same man who cleaned his squadron’s quarters.

“I looked at my roommate and said, Jim, you’re not going to believe this,
but I think Bill our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.”

The next day, Moschgat said he showed Crawford the book and asked if it was him.
“He looked at it a moment and said it was him. He said,
‘That was a long time ago and one day in my life.’

Read the full article here:
https://medalofhonornews.com/2011/05/story-told-of-medal-of-honor-recipient.html

Crawford’s was a tale of the ordinary doing the extraordinary.
As well as that of a forgotten prisoner of war.

Once released and back home, Crawford reenlisted in the Army and eventually retired from
the Service in 1967.

Eventually making his way to that of janitor at the United States Airforce Academy.

Crawford was once heard to lament that his one regret was that he not had been awarded the medal
honor in person once it was discovered that he was actually alive as a prisoner of war and not
dead as it was presumed.

So unbeknownst to Crawford, in 1984 when then-President Ronald Reagan came to offer the commencement
speech at the Academy’s graduation, a special presentation had been arranged.
President Reagan would present the Medal of Honor, during the commencement, service to an
unsuspecting Crawford.

When Crawford passed away in 2000, he was awarded one final and unique honor for a non-airforce veteran.
He was buried in the United States Airforce Academy’s cemetery—the only member of the
United States Army afforded such a fitting tribute.

Crawford’s story reminds us of the importance of humility as well as how the ordinary
can always be extraordinary albeit humble and quiet.

https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/air-force-academy-janitor-medal-of_honor-x.html

simple and vulnerable… tiny and small

“He who carries God in his heart bears heaven with him
wherever he goes.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola


(julie cook / 2013)

While it is the loudest, the brightest and the biggest that currently vies desperately
for attention…

A culture dares to scream out to all who give ear…that bigger is better…
and that even bigger is better still…

It is a time when more equates to satisfaction and it is only in fullness where true
happiness will be found…

Yet it is also oddly a time when more is never truly enough…and the full
are never contently satiated…

It is a time of glaring sensory overload…
when even in sleep a brain is unable to find rest…

Yet Omnipotence continues to seek out the lowly,
capturing the attention of a world gone mad.

A reminder is currently proclaimed…
that it was but a baby who entered the world, humble and meek, who would
in turn, be King.

It was the simple and the vulnerable, the tiny and small, who stopped the world from
spinning…but for the briefest of moments.

Where have all those prophets of old now gone?
Those voices who foretold the glories of Salvation?

Where are those who defied the world while proclaiming both Hope and Peace?

Rest assured, we are told, they have not gone far from view.

They are still very much amongst us.
Walking tiny and small between the giants of this land

They are quieter than the oh so loud and prideful self-consumed…

They are the ones who stop, lingering long enough to listen…those who
will hear the baby’s cry while standing ever so still…

“Write:
I am Thrice Holy, and I detest the smallest sin.
I cannot love a soul which is stained with sin; but when it repents,
there is no limit to My generosity toward it.
My mercy embraces and justifies it.
With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths,
and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me.
I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return.
Tell sinners that no one shall escape My Hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart,
they will fall into My Just Hands.
Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them,
that I listen intently to the beating of their heart . . .
when will it beat for Me?”
St. Maria Faustina
excerpt from The Diary of St Maria Faustina

“Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, a simple, uneducated, young Polish nun receives
a special call.
Jesus tells her, “I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world.
I do not want to punish mankind, but I desire to heal it,
pressing it to My merciful Heart.”

Jesus also tells her to record His message of mercy in a diary:
“You are the secretary of My Mercy. I have chosen you for that office in this and the next life.”
These words of Jesus are found in the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska,
which chronicles Sr. Faustina’s great experience of Divine Mercy in her soul and her mission
to share that mercy with the world.

In the Diary, this woman mystic’s childlike trust, simplicity,
and intimacy with Jesus will stir your heart and soul Her spiritual insights will
surprise and reward you.
“Only love has meaning,” she writes.
“It raises up our smallest actions into infinity.”
(The Catholic Company)

Sister Faustina was a young, uneducated nun in a convent of the Congregation of
Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930s.
She came from a poor family that struggled during the years of World War I.
She had only three years of simple education,
so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden.
However, she received extraordinary revelations — or messages — from our Lord Jesus.
Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled into notebooks.
These notebooks are known today as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska,
and the words contained within are God’s loving message of Divine Mercy.

“Though the Divine Mercy message is not new to the teachings of the Church,
Sr. Faustina’s Diary sparked a great movement,
and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ.
Saint John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the
“first saint of the new millennium.”
Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary,
the Pope calls her “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.”
thedivinemercy.org

Sin and Confession

“No conflict is more pivotal to the heart and soul of America than the sin battle.”
David Fiorazo

“If forces of sexual deviancy prevail, every part of our culture will be corrupted
and contaminated beyond repair…
Religious principle, tolerance, and rights of conscience mean nothing to pro-sodomy advocates.
They will remorselessly crush anyone and anything that gets in their path…
In their quest for cultural domination,
they will relentlessly extinguish the light of sexual normalcy and morality,
as well as the light of Christianity.”

Bryan Fischer
former Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association


(fungus growing on a fallen tree / Cades Cove, TN / Julie Cook / 2018)

Sin.

It’s a word that we take for granted yet it is a word whose actions are destroying us.
For we are its actions and we seem not to even care.

Our culture has opted to expunge the word from our vocabulary while blindly
embracing its very nuances.

And what of the Chruch?

She is either impotently silent or either she busies herself by embracing those
very nuances in order to appear more viable, more likable, more cultural.

And yet sadly, once again, we hear of the scandal and predation from those very
souls who are entrusted to represent this bride of Christ, the Church.

We are betrayed.
We are complicit.
We are quiet.
We are culpable.

The following quote by the martyred Confessing Church pastor Deitrich Bonhoeffer could have
easily been stated today rather than 78 years ago.

Bonhoeffer was speaking of Nazi Germany and of the German Lutheran Chruch’s blood
it bore upon it hands… but his words could readily speak to us today…
speaking to the Catholic Chruch, the Anglican and Episcopal Church, the Methodist Chruch,
the Presbyterian Church…
his words could be directed to most of us who claim to be Christians of the 21st century.

We the church must confess that we have not proclaimed often or clearly enough
the message of the One God who has revealed Himself for all time in Christ Jesus,
and who will tolerate no other gods beside Himself.

She must confess her timidity, her cowardice, her evasiveness and her dangerous concessions.

She was silent when she should have cried out because the blood of the innocent was
crying aloud to heaven.
The church must confess that she has witnessed the lawless application of brutal force,
the physical and spiritual suffering of countless innocent people,
oppression, hatred, and murder.

And that she has not raised her voice on behalf of the victims.
And has not found a way to hasten to their aid.
The church is guilty of the deaths of the weakest and most defenseless brothers
of Jesus Christ.
The church must confess that she has desired security and peace, quiet,
possession, and honor to which she has desired security and peace, quiet, possession,
and honor to which she has no right.
She has not born witness to the truth of God and by her silence,
she has rendered herself guilty,
because of her unwillingness to suffer for what she knows to be right.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1940

Bishop Gavin Ashenden has recently addressed the tragic issue of predation in the church
and of the current need for the Chruch to speak up while she owns up to her responsibility–
finally speaking the Truth while she gets busy with a much-needed Spring cleaning…

Gay predators, telling the truth and spring-cleaning the Church.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sine that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Hebrews 12:1

what is prayer

“Why must people kneel down to pray?
If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do.
I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep,
deep woods and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if
there was no end to its blueness.
And then I’d just feel a prayer.”

L.M. Montgomery


(the quince are slowly forthcoming / Julie Cook / 2018)

According to Merriam Webster prayer is:

1. a (1): an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought said a prayer
for the success of the voyage

2. a: set order of words used in praying
b: an earnest request or wish
2: the act or practice of praying to God or a god kneeling in prayer
3: a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers —often used in plural
4: something prayed for
5: a slight chance haven’t got a prayer

Books have been written, lectures have been given and the search engines are endless…
Everyone has an idea, a thought, a notion…
as to what prayer is…
Both personally and publically

For you see prayer can be both.

There are the: ‘what types’, ‘which ways’ and ‘how-tos’…

Gandhi, a Hindu, offers one nice thought on prayer…
“Prayer is not asking.
It is a longing of the soul.
It is the daily admission of one’s weakness.
It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

While Mother Teresa, a modern day saint, offers another thought —
“Prayer is not asking.
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition,
and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

Yet both saint and Hindu offer similar thoughts along a similar line…

Asking or not asking
Longing yet nothingness
Listening versus hearing
Words or silence.
Knees or standing
Thoughts or shouting
Loud versus quiet
Individual versus group
Need or praise
Hope or hopelessness…

We know that Jesus both wept and prayed..much as many of us do to this day.
He also implored…as in an earnestness that almost borders on begging.

Moses prayed and implored
Abraham prayed and implored
Just as every prophet, every apostle and every saint on down the line has done since.

I saw a sign outside of a church not long ago that read ‘to worry is an annoyance to God
As in God tells us not to worry…and yet our prayers are so often overflowing with
the very worry that this sign tells us is an annoyance to God–for it is a manifestation
of our doubt…our lack of faith…
and to some, it is even considered sinful…as in a lack of trust….and did not God state
to us to pray without ceasing, and to trust.

So I suppose I’ve annoyed God considerably over the years.
Sometimes more than others.

Sometimes I’ve known Him to listen, other times I’ve been left to wonder.

This is where the nonbeliever loves to pounce…taking hold of that latter notion with a
sneering “see, I told you so”…”for there is no God.”

But none the less, I pray.

Because none the less,
I believe.

Silence and frustration
Sound or emptiness
Annoy or implore
Wordless or shout
Anger or sorrow…

I pray.

“In the silence of the heart, God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa

taking one last hit for the team in ’17; looking forward to ’18

Keep Calm and Carry On….
words seen on a WWII British motivational poster


(why do I think this sad little persimmon is a reflection of myself? / Julie Cook / 2017)

You didn’t think I could let the year end without having one last ‘hit for the team’
and not share it did you??

Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year!!!

But first let’s take a wistful look back to last year….
Or more accurately…back to yesterday afternoon.

Remember, I still have a hole in my head, stitches in my mouth and an annoying
space where there once was a tooth…still swollen, still uncomfortable,
still having trouble chewing without dropping things randomly from my mouth.

Kind out like our cat Percy who lost most of his teeth as a kitten….
He drops his food from his mouth all the time, right in mid bite,
but unlike a dog, he just lets it sit and moves on to a new bite.
I just try to be a bit discreet…..

Anywhoo…..

So here it was New Year’s Eve day—we didn’t really have much to do…
my tooth, or lack there of, had put the kibosh on any sort of plans….

It was a day that the coldest temperatures of the year were descending,
yet thankfully the weather folks had backed off of any sort of snow event,
So…. what better way to spend the day than to head out to wander
through the woods?

I was well layered…
turtleneck, sweater, vest, waxed barn coat, jeans, trusty lined LL Bean boots,
gloves, earmuffs and a scarf—I had my trusty camera in tow and was excited
to be out, breathing in fresh air, up off the couch from nursing the hole
in my head and ready to take some lovely pictures in which to share…with you…

The woods are so open this time of year, allowing yearning eyes to take in
a quiet vastness.
And there is such a palpable stillness.
The only sound one hears is the crunch of leaves underneath wandering boots.

I had hoped to find and capture a few little surprises here and there–
for despite most things being long dead, hibernating or in a state of waiting..
the woods still have much to offer.


(drying and dying persimmons linger on the limbs / Julie Cook / 2017)


(lingering ink berries / Julie Cook / 2017)


(a hooked bush…where a buck deer has rubbed its horns / Julie Cook / 2017)


(a large gall on a tree / Julie Cook / 2017)


(hidden little deer moss / Julie Cook / 2017)

I was lagging behind my husband, as I kept stopping to take pictures.
We had made our way deep into the woods, finally stopping at the creek.
At this juncture along this meandering creek there happens to be an old fallen
tree bridging both sides of the creek.

I’ve told my husband 100 times, I can’t balance like I use to and I’d rather look for
a different place to cross where I could slide down the edge of the bank,
hop across a more shallow area of the creek, while scooting up the
other bank on the other side….

It made perfect sense.

But he kept insisting that I cross the tree as I’ve done it before…
agitated pondering what in the heck was wrong with me today???

And whereas, yes I have crossed it before, still with trepidation, but that was when
the weather was warmer and I was not layered like a chunky eskimo
with a camera slung over my arm, while being full of codeine.

I had been feeling like a fuzzy slug, so at this particular moment, while staring at a precarious tree spanning a creek in the middle of the woods in the middle of nowhere,
a little voice said “don’t do it”….

Did I mention it was 36 degrees?

“You’ve done it before, just reach out for that limb…”
my know-it-all husband instructs.
Easy for him to say, that limb is dangling over the water and he is a
bit taller than I am.

Cautiously I step out onto the tree, putting one foot boot in front of another.
Making my way to the middle where the tree narrows.
That dangling branch was no where near my grasp.

Suddenly, and for reasons I know not, I begin to list to the left—
the left is where the tooth is missing, the left is where the camera dangles,
the left is where there is a deep murky water hole.

SPLASH!

Suddenly I am chest deep in a cold creek stuck amongst a maze of gnarly limbs and vines.
Plus my left foot had sunk deep into the muddy bottom all the while as I’m flailing
my arms trying to get to the bank.

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, there was a thankfulness that all snakes were
fast asleep.

My husband had obviously raced back across without thought and was desperately
trying to yank me up the bank but my left foot, as it’s always the left,
was mired deep in the muddy bottom.

At this exact moment of panic, an image crosses my mind and no, it was not my
life flashing before my eyes, but it might as well have been.

Have you ever watched that show Life Below Zero on NATGEO?
That show about those hearty, perhaps more like fool hearty, souls who live
alone in the middle of nowhere Alaska, totally off the grid???

One sentiment rings true with each of those survivors…
‘if you get your feet wet out here, you’re as good as dead.’

Well, not only were my feet wet, I was immersed up to my chest in dark brown tannin
stained water, a maze of limbs and vines, with my left leg stuck deep in
the silty mud.

What seemed like an eternity was probably more like 2 minutes at best….
I got to the bank while my poor husband was trying to pull up a wet,
stuck, dead weight, mad as hell wife….
suddenly I realized my camera was now totally underwater.

I hear an out of body voice shouting.
“I TOLD YOU I DIDN’T WANT TO CROSS THE TREE!!!!!!”

Finally with my foot free from the mud, I keep telling my husband to let go and quit pulling and yanking cause he was crushing my head.
“LET GO, I’M OUT! I’M UP!!!”

And there I stood along the bank—
dripping like I had just popped up out of a refreshing summer pool…
a soaking wet dog in need of a good shake.

Water was now sloshing in my boots as I took a step.

My husband, now in a panic, just knew pneumonia was instantly setting in.

“Now he worries…gees” as I’m still muttering words I shan’t share here.

It was almost a mile back to the truck.

As he stands there just staring at me, I hear my own commanding voice
“Just start walking to the truck.”

Did I mention is was 36 degrees?

The only thing dry on me, if I may be candid, was my bra and head.

Once back at the truck, my boy scout of a husband thankfully had a towel
in the truck in case of emergencies.

And here was our emergency.

Right there in the woods, I began peeling off the layers of sopping wet and very
cold clothes as I no longer had feeling in my legs.
Bear Grylls voice was now drifting in my head…and thankfully I wasn’t going to
have to eat grubs or drink urine to survive…
but a nice camp fire would have been welcomed.

Boots
socks
pants
coat
underware
vest….
all shed as I wrapped the towel around me like a moo moo.

Did I tell you it was 36 degrees?

My husband is still just helplessly staring and sputtering…certain
I’m about the die immediately from consumption.

“Just get in the truck and drive” I grouse.

It was an hour or so drive home.

“But wonder if something happens or we get stopped and you’re just, just, just
sitting wrapped in a towel….???”

One look from me was enough to spur him back to reality and action.
Into the truck we got… with the heat now blowing just a fast as it could blow.

Thankfully we were not stopped and I got home in one piece to a hot shower with all the
muddy wet clothes going directly into the washer.
The camera, well, it is mostly like DOA

The moral of this little tale you ask?

Well, if you hear a little voice telling you not to cross a log,
don’t cross the log.

If you have a hole in your head and codeine in your system and see a log,
don’t cross the log.

And maybe, just maybe, a certain husband will one day actually listen when
the wise one speaks….

Oh, and always keep a towel in your vehicle, maybe even a change of clothes..
a bottle of bourbon wouldn’t hurt for those emergency and medicinal purposes…
since there was no St Bernard coming to my rescue…

Have a safe, dry, warm and happy New Year’s Day—-
I think I’ll just sit on the couch and watch a few good bowl game….
GO DAWGS!

quiet and still—allowing God to dwell within

The first stage of this tranquility consists in silencing the lips when
the heart is excited.
The second, in silencing the mind when the soul is still excited.
The goal is a perfect peacefulness even in the middle of the raging storm.”

St. John Climacus


(the beauty of the tiny shelf fungus scattered amongst the debris deep in the woods /
Julie Cook / 2017)

Yesterday I read the following words on an Orthodox blogging site and found them to be
both comforting and soothing…
while I also desperately recognized the need to seek that same sense
of hesychia
the seeking of an inner quiet and stillness…
both of which are of the utmost importance–

This as our times are crying so utterly loudly…screaming at us in such a way that
we are actually failing in our attempts at seeking a quiet inner stillness–
We are so full from the madness of our times, so much so, that the place that God
seeks to dwell within our very being is already so terribly full…

Hesychia, stillness [quietude], is essential for man’s purification and perfection,
which means his salvation.
St. Gregory the Theologian says epigrammatically:
“One must be still in order to have clear converse with God and to bring the nous
a little away from those wandering in error”.
Through hesychia a man purifies his heart and nous from passions and thus attains
communion and union with God.
This communion with God, precisely because it is man’s union with God,
also constitutes man’s salvation.

Hesychia is nothing other than “keeping one’s heart away from giving and taking and pleasing people, and the other activities”.
When a person frees his heart [nous] from thoughts and passions,
when all the powers of his soul are transformed and turned away from earthly
[corruptible / decaying / perishable] things and towards God,
then he is experiencing Orthodox hesychia.
St. John of the Ladder writes that stillness of soul is
“the accurate knowledge of one’s thoughts and is an unassailable nous”.
Therefore hesychia is an inner state; it is “dwelling in God”.

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.