acknowledgement

“When twilight drops her curtain down
And pins it with a star
Remember that you have a friend
Though she may wander far.”

L.M. Montgomery


(my mom’s camp autograph book from the summer of 1947)

“Society is neither my master nor my servant,
neither my father nor my sister;
and so long as she does not bar my way to the kingdom of heaven,
which is the only society worth getting into,
I feel no right to complain of how she treats me.
I have no claim on her; I do not acknowledge her laws–hardly her existence,
and she has no authority over me. Why should she, how could she,
constituted as she is, receive such as me? The moment she did so,
she would cease to be what she is; and, if all be true that one hears of her,
she does me a kindness in excluding me. What can it matter to me, Letty,
whether they call me a lady or not, so long as Jesus says “Daughter” to me?”

― George MacDonald

The importance of acknowledgement.
To be thought of, recognized, considered, remembered….
it’s all any of us want.

It seems as if we are wired to vie for attention, affection, place, prestige, recognition…
For who among us doesn’t remember the grade school moment of being passed over
when teams or sides were chosen.
That demoralizing trauma of childhood of being ignored or considered less than
and unworthy…

As children we wanted to be able to count our friends as we would marbles…
creating our own special royal court…
or…
we wanted to be a part of a special court…
a part of a group of cohorts, the proverbial band of brothers..or sisters….
We yearned to be acknowledge just as much we desired offering acknowledgment.
Even the quietest and most shy among us secretly desired to be acknowledged,
albeit in more simple and subtle ways.

So why should we assume that the God of all Creation, He who calls us His own,
would be impervious to also wanting to be acknowledged by those He deeply loves
and adores…

For I am His and He is mine…

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:6

Simple things

“For those who listen for Christ’s coming,
a knock sounds over and over again.
The things that come forth are not necessarily highly spiritual.
Sometimes they a very simple things…”

Christopher Friedrich Blumhardt

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(a pomegranate spent on the bush / Julie Cook / 2016)

There are no spotlights.
No need for fanfare
Nor promotions
No celebrations or applause…

No need for advertisements
No billboards nor banners
There are no commercials
No ratings
No rewards
No honors…

Debates, campaigns, battles, elections, coronations…
do not impress…
nor does strength, or bravado, or self promotion, or might, or power…

Rather…
it is in the simple, the quiet and the seemingly insignificant
to which the veil will lift…

For it is in the humble,
the steadfast,
the patient
and even the mundane
to which both Grace and Glory will be found….

The work for God goes on quite simply in this way;
one does not always have to wait for something out of the ordinary.
The all-important thing is to keep your eyes on what comes from God
and to make way for it to come into being here on the earth.
If you always try to be heavenly and spiritually minded,
you won’t understand the everyday work God had for you to do.

Christopher Friedrich Blumhardt

What do you see?

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen:
not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

C. S. Lewis

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(a camouflaged praying mantis on the rubber plant / Julie Cook / 2015)

Marginalized,
lambasted,
ridiculed,
disrespected,
and ignored.

Considered. . .
foolish,
out of touch,
ignorant,
and old fashioned.

Silenced and hushed.
Mocked and scorned.
Altered and changed.
Disproven. . .or so they say. . .

I am supposedly alone in my thinking,
cast aside as one who is mad for believing.
I am told that I cannot believe nor proclaim.
There is no room for such nonsense in our culture.
It has now been cut from every corner of what ever was.
Never mind that our laws and our very government is rooted in Its Word.
The spoken Word of Law and Order
Of right and wrong. . .
Of consequence and cost. . .

It has been stricken from walls and books,
from playing fields, events and meetings.
It has been ripped from ceremonies and pledges.
Mere mention brings an assault of legalism, reprimand and anger. . .

You are correct, I have never seen nor heard nor touched. . .

And yet I continue to believe. . .

Despite your objections to the contrary,
or your attempts to call my hand. . .
or your incessant pursuits to silence my thoughts.

I believe because I have seen It all too clearly. . .

In the stars and in the moon. . .

I have heard it in the coyote’s cry and in the whippoorwill’s sad song.

I have found It in the sun that has warmed my face–
As I have found It in the mighty winds and tumultuous seas of any given storm. . .

And I have found It in the silence of loneliness and despair. . .

It is found in the face of every new born child
And It is in the bird which takes flight on the winds.
It rests in the gentle touch of the elderly.
And it sits upon the shoulders of the innocent. . .

So despite your objections and your vehement desire to erase It from my life,
as well as every other’s life. . .
I will continue to believe,
to proclaim,
to worship,
to pray,
to observe,
and to witness

You may think you can make It all go away by simply taking it all away and
pretending It just isn’t there. . .

yet His Wonders never cease. . .

May your wonders never cease
may your spirit never leave
may we ever long to see your face
and when we turn from you again
oh how quickly we forget
may we be reminded of your grace
May Your Wonders Never Cease

Lyrics by Third Day
May Your Wonders Never Cease

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

A small thank you to Bono in a growing world of ingratitude

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
G.K. Chesterton

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(Black eyed Susan / Seaside, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

If you don’t already know this little fact about me by now, let me just remind you—- I am not the most “digital” oriented individual in this age of electronic technological wonderment. I am happily, rather, a much more simpler person really. Perhaps considered old fashioned by some standards. Appreciating the straddling of two worlds–that of the “that was then”–“this is now” best of both worlds.

I had recently caught a glimpse somewhere, on some commercial, something about U2 offering some sort of free iTunes download. As this seemed to coincide with Apple unveiling their latest must have device, my most uninterested brain thought there was a correlation—thinking that if you got a new phone, a free download followed suit. I don’t know, like I said, I wasn’t really paying attention and it wasn’t really on my radar because I’m happy with my older version phone as I continue figuring out how it works—plus I’m just not an ardent music fan.

Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly like music. I actually love Jazz, Motown, Classical and contemporary Christian. I like some R and B, some top 40, but I just don’t cleave to it as I once did when I was much younger. I no longer listen to music when I’m in the car—preferring the sounds of quiet and silence—or perhaps more like the sounds of a rather raging world. That might have something to do with 31 years I spent in a classroom filled with the never ending deafening din of teenagers chattering, arguing, screaming, laughing, fighting, and never ever shutting their mouths.

So imagine my surprise the other morning when I journeyed downstairs to the basement for my morning ritual of bonding with my emotionless nemesis—aka my time on the elliptical, when there was a change of tune, literally on my playlist. I have a small selection of tunes downloaded to my phone which I turn to during my morning “workout”– aka death march, which helps to drown out my suffering, huffing, puffing and snorting.

I have 4 little classic U2 songs which pretty much sum up my routine. I know exactly which one and at what place I should be on my daily death march, aka workout, with the playing of each song. Two rounds get me near the end of my time of servitude and torture, aka workout, closing out with the finale of a rousing rendition of triumph from the band Macklemore.

Yesterday morning, suddenly following “Beautiful day” came a most unfamiliar tune–something about being raised by wolves. “What in the world” I could be heard uttering with breathless concern. Fumbling for my glasses, as I worked to balance keeping up my endless rhythm of stepping, I grabbed my phone to investigate what had taken control of my playlist.

Low and behold, it appeared that my playlist somehow connected to that invisible “cloud” of which seems to be the latest technological otherworldly invisible hangout, and I received the “free” U2 download.
Hummmm.
How’d that happen I wondered.
I don’t even know how to “go to the Cloud!!”
And what in the heck is the Cloud?
Where is it?
Why is it?
and really. . .
How in the heck does something invisible work for everyone on the planet?!
It’s all so, otherworldly. . .perhaps even alienesque, but I digress.

So as I continued my workout,my act of homage to health, listening to this new album (here is not the place nor time for a critique but I do find it all to be a bit dark and melodious but we must remember that Bono and the boys did grow up in Ireland during the height of a very sad chapter in Irish history known as “the Troubles”, but I digress as usual), it dawned on me that I needed to tell Bono and the boys “thank you”

In a day and time when a rather youthful society has grown accustomed to the ubiquitous BOGO (buy one get one), the free this and that attached to purchases of everything from food to clothes from electronics to even cars—all of which I call the marvelous marketing hook, the simple act of saying a proper “thank you” has been all but forgotten.

If, you the consumer, come in for a “free” test drive, we, the dealer will give you a new iPad. If you the consumer sign up for our insurance, we the company will give you a “free” cruise. If you the consumer sign up for our phone service, we the company will give you, not one, but two, free phones. And of course there are the department stores with their mega 70% off sales. . . Really? Do we honestly think we’re getting something next for nothing? Do we really think these mega department stores, with their crushing percentage sales, are giving away their profit margin without making money. . .woe to the naive.

Consumers are sadly being duped into thinking they save and gain, which leads to an unrealistic inflated sense of buying power— this false sense of power is produced by a frighteningly slick and savvy Product Marketing, super sales, economic selling engine. Nothing, and I mean nothing in our economy comes for free–despite that incentive cash loaded gift card Wally world just gave you for spending your money with them. There must be give and take—it’s just that the need to feed the proverbial consumer machine comes with a growing ravenous appetite in order to keep our accustomed sense of well being in tact–it is a vicious economic cycle that continues to spiral out of control.

And sadly, all of this economic game of cat and mouse comes with a jaded consumer market left ungrateful and simply wanting and hungry for more. Give us more glitz, glamorous goodies, shiny and slick tricks and baubles all in order to get us to buy–more.
The enticement has become expected.
We have created our very own ravenous consumer monster—a monster of expectation and assumption.
There is no gratitude, rather only ungraciousness and a hunger of wanting more.
If we, the consumer, do not receive our incentive of something for nothing, we rile against the
provider of service and goods.

All of which in turn has lead to a generation that has either forgotten how or never knew how to properly say “Thank You”

I grew up in a place and time when it was expected that if I, as a child, received any sort of present or even the slightest act of kindness, I was expected to offer a hand written thank you.
And don’t think I can’t see you. . . I see you rolling those eyes and I certainly can hear the snide asides of “how archaic” and “who in the world sends a thank you note, let alone actually writes anymore? Who needs to write when all we do is peck on keyboards. . .”

Yes I know, this blog is produced via a keyboard—but trust me I have stationary, I write and I love snail mail! My early years of conditioning and acknowledging the need to offer thanks, leads me to a constant stream of written cards, notes and hopefully an obvious gracious heart.

And as it now appears that I have received a small gift, a free download of a new album by the Boys of Belfast, I need, I want to send a proper Thank You.

And whereas I’m not quite certain as to where I would need to write Bono, or to whether or not he would ever see such a note, I shall use my tiny platform in the blogosphere to offer a heartfelt “thank you” for the “free” album that has mysteriously descended from the proverbial Cloud into my most humble little playlist.

Now whether or not there is an “alternative” reason behind this suddenly “free” kindness, I don’t know nor do I wish to sound ungrateful or assumptive as to motives. As my grandmother would tell me, you just need to write the Thank You note, end of sentence.
so. . .

Dear Mr Bono,
I wish to express here, in this small blog of mine, a humble offering of gratitude. . .
I wish to offer you a heartfelt thank you for. . .
Firstly making music—music which offers hope, joy, soulful examination, lessons of history and most importantly for the assistance of aiding a middle aged woman, who is working her way to the goal of better health, the incentive to simply keep plugging at it. You do all of this by offering the gifts and talents of self by setting your time and skills to the writing and creating the rhythms and beats of a talented music making machine.
Secondly I wish to thank you for the acts of kindness and compassion I know you offer to an ailing world. You unselfishly use your platform to bring recognition and awareness to causes and concerns, as well as a voice to many of the voiceless, in this often tragic and sad world.
And Thirdly Mr Bono, thank you for the album you just gave me for simply turning in. . .
Blessings for many more productive years. . .
Sincerely, Cookie

Time

“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
― Gibran Khalil Gibran

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(Julie Cook / 2014)

Time is a short commodity on this end.
Life is a tad overwhelming right now, and yes, there will be a surgery next Tuesday— we’d be most appreciative for lots of prayers for my son please. . .
However I did want to offer you something bright, cheery and colorful on this beautiful Spring Morning.
And as so many bloggers seem to honor the way of the wordless Wednesday, I too shall be quiet.
Well, more quiet than usual. . .
Please enjoy these vibrant magenta balls which are currently gracing my walkway.
Happy Wonderful Wednesday and may time always be on your side.

Solitary

And if, happy in the lot of no created thing, he withdraws into the center of his own unity, his spirit, made one with God, in the solitary darkness of God, who is set above all things, shall surpass them all.
— Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

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(female mallard on the San Antonio River / San Antonio, Texas / Julie Cook / 2014

If I choose to go my way alone, wandering in one direction. . .all the while, as the world travels the opposite path, do you think of me as lonely?

If I prefer the silence of nothing compared to the constant wiring din of life’s deafening sounds, do you find me odd?

If I choose to leave behind the constant steady kinetic energy of the masses, seeking the single movement of One, do you think me sad?

If I am afraid of me, of being alone inside of me, who then can depend on me being fully there for them?

It is only in the recesses of the silence of my soul, far down in the depths of a seemingly empty void of nothingness, where I can begin to hear the tender sweet whisper of the Creator—this, as He whispers to soothe and woo His beloved, His created.

How can I, or you, say that God is dead, that God is silent, that God is non existent if I, or you, choose chaos over peace, noise over silence, crowds over solitude?

I, as well as you, leave Him no room, no space, no place. . .

He is not the raging storm.
He is not the restless wind.
He is not the shaking ground.
He is not the loud crashing waves

He is the Silence
He is the Stillness
He is the Calm
He is the Hush

I seek the solitariness of my being in order to find Him waiting.
He waits for me to come to Him not in the hustle bustle of my senses and nerves but rather He waits only within the emptiness of my soul.
I must pour off the excessiveness of my life
I must lose myself from not only the world but from myself as well

I must be quiet in order to find my voice
I must be empty in order to be filled
I must be solitary in order to be joined in Union

The Creator waits for His beloved in the space of the solitary

Whatcha looking at? (otherwise known as looking, seeking, finding)

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Is it just me or is this dove giving the other two doves “the eye?”
Perhaps one of the other doves is putting a move on this dove’s lady friend.
Perhaps one of the other doves is putting a move on this dove’s boy friend.
Either way, quite a hoot.

Which brings us all to ask the question. . .What are you looking at—or better yet, what are you looking for. . . . . .

Looking and finding—

Some folks spend a lifetime looking, seeking, searching—a lifetime without ever finding what it is they seek.
Some folks don’t seem to ever really know what it is of which they seek.

The emptiness, the shallowness, the idleness—a deep internal sense of lacking. Can’t put a finger on it, but there’s just something not right.
The disquiet which seems to keep the rhythm off kilter.
Restlessness, nervousness, a very deep unhappiness is brewing.
All of which sends us out on a never ending journey of looking, seeking and searching for what it is that will fill up this deep longing, desire, wanting, need. . .

The quick answer, the band-aid if you will, is to simply placate the gnawing. Putting a cease and desist to the seemingly empty quest of searching and looking—but we continue to ask. . . searching and looking for what.

Some turn to drugs and alcohol in order to numb the gnawing. Some think of an endless quest of self gratification through which a variety of sexual outlets and liaisons will finally silence the yearning. Some think that an endless trip to the mall of materialism will satiate the hunger. Violence becomes an outlet, anger escalates–anger at others—yet the truth of the anger is really that of self.
A long loathing hatred of self.

Maybe fame and fortune must be the key. The continuum to climbing the proverbial ladder of success– yet, as if in a dream, there is no real top to the ladder as there are simply more rungs added upon rung–a never ending climb upward, hand over hand, step upon endless step. . .

Perhaps it must be a quest for perfection—perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect bodies—defying age, that must be the answer.
Remodel, remake, reclaim.
Tuck, tack, augment.
To be beautiful, that’s the ticket—isn’t that what the god of Hollywood tells us little people? We need to be a glamour star for that is truly what we must be seeking. Living life as large and as glamorously as possible?

Yet, the restlessness that resides deep within the marrow of the now weary bones simply will not be silenced. For some it all becomes too late—the endless quest for placation leads to self destruction. Is that finally the answer?! Simply to silence it, making it stop —forever? Is that the hope we seek

But therein lies the rub, for the ache, the need, the void. . .it is not ever silenced—not by any of those devastatingly destructive choices. . .not by any of those. . .ever.

For it is actually in the silence in which the answer lies—
Rather than turning up the world as loud as we can, thinking it will drown out the ache, the hurt, the pain. . .
The answer, all along, is simply in the Quiet. .
Why are we so afraid of the silence?
Why are we so afraid?
Why?

Can any of you hear it?
Do any of you hear it?
Is that a voice. . .
Is this a dream?
No.
You hear it again. This time it is louder.
A voice.
It is a voice.
Just as quickly as you and I hear the Voice, we suddenly notice that the ache, the pain the void, the hurt—it’s not as loud, not as deep, not as empty.
You and I may finally exhale—as a lifetime of seeking, searching, looking is all released in a single sigh.
A release
the finality of letting go,
finally relinquishing
All the pain, the aching, the burning, the relentless gnawing is now all replaced. . .
There is now real—
Peace
Silence
Completeness
Oneness

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”