evil lurks in a garden…humm…where have I heard that before?

When confronted with two evils,
a man will always choose the most attractive.

Anonymous


(the quince faded and yet in the summer’s dogdays, are now reving back up / Julie Cook / 2020)

With little to no time to tend to the yard as I would normally do this time of year…sadly,
surreally, this time of year has not been like previous times of year…

So having taken out the garbage the other evening, I glanced once again forlornly,
over to the ever-growing leggy quince, the fledgling maple trees,
and some stubborn resprouting crepe myrtles all dotting the back bank…

Disgusted by what I saw…weeds were thriving amongst that which was treasured.

Neglected entirely too long!

Is this not the current story of our lives?

The negative now flourishing amongst that which we hold dear because of our distractions,
our worries, our heaviness…

So I threw the trash in the bin and grabbed my clippers…enough already!!!!

I went over the quince first.

I wanted to hit the high spots…that obnoxious giant poke salat and those
annoying runners from the crepe myrtle that was cut down years ago and those shoots
from the maple trees…
but as I clipped and yanked with the ire and determination of a woman frustrated with
much more than aggravating weeds…something caught my eye…

WHAT???

Hidden amongst the quice was something rather unkind and most unwelcomed.

Poison Ivy.

Or was it worse..was it the dreaded thunder wood?

I had already clipped and pulled, without my gloves mind you, several of these
“pesky” weeds, before realizing these pesky weeds were much more insidious than shoots,
runners or the blooming plants from random dropped seeds by passing birds.

I dropped my bundle of weeds, along with my clippers, practically running inside to immediately
wash my hands.

The next day I saw this:

Okay I thought, I have prescription cream for such…I’ve got this.

The day after that, two more spots on my shoulder.

Okay, more cream.

The day after that, after itching through much of the night, may we now times these
few red blistery spots by at least 100 that now currently cover my entire torso.

The doctor gave me a steroid shot today and a prednisone pack.

Did I mention the 6 or more hot flashes I’m already experiencing throughout the night
due to stopping the HRT?

Itching, hot flashes…
Sleep?!
HA!

Insomnia is my middle name!
Don’t worry about that twitching eye, it’s trained on the madness raging all around us.

Yet in all of this, I was reminded that where we think beauty and peace reside,
where we believe calm and simplicity rest, our ancient nemesis does not sleep.

Remember this as you ponder the current madness ravaging our nation.


(Christ smashing the head of the serpent in the Garden / The Passion of the Christ)

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

“do not do anything which you cannot offer to God.”

“Here is a rule for everyday life:
Do not do anything which you cannot offer to God.”

St. Jean Marie Vianney


(blooming quince / Julie Cook / 2020)

There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain
to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed.
All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His
divine action.
It is really and truly there present, but invisibly present,
so that we are always surprised and do not recognise His operation until it has ceased.
If we could lift the veil, and if we were attentive and watchful God would continually
reveal Himself to us, and we should see His divine action in everything that happened to us,
and rejoice in it. At each successive occurrence we should exclaim:
‘It is the Lord’,
and we should accept every fresh circumstance as a gift of God.
We should look upon creatures as feeble tools in the hands of an able workman,
and should discover easily that nothing was wanting to us,
and that the constant providence of God disposed Him to bestow upon us
at every moment whatever we required.”

Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade
An Excerpt From
Abandonment of Divine Providence

We joke, we laugh, we speculate…but…

“Will you come with me to the mountains?
It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened.
Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.
But will you come?”

C.S. Lewis


(the blooming quince / Julie Cook / 2020)

I can’t say how this will all play out…how it will all end.

I think, however, I can speak for all of us in saying that we beg that it end.

We laugh at those online videos, those memes shared…
because we know that misery loves company.

We try so desperately to make light while trying so hard to laugh in our
seemingly unified endless misery.

Yet throughout all of this we must remember…
there are those who have suffered.

Those who have…
Suffered the loss of income.
Suffered the loss of livelihood.
Suffered the loss of stability.
Suffered the loss of wellbeing.
Suffered the loss of health.
Suffered the loss of life.

Let us keep in our prayers and hearts those who have lost…

Now when Jesus saw the crowds,
he went up on a mountainside and sat down.
His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:1-12

rousing a deaf world… do you hear Him?

“Pain insists upon being attended to.
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences,
but shouts in our pains.
It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

C.S. Lewis


(a prematurely warm February has lead to early blooms…ornamental quince / Julie Cook/ 2020)

Life is hard.

The world around us only helps to make it even harder.
Our current political turmoil, with Socialists actually becoming viable presidential candidates,
hangs like a suffocating wet blanket over our heads.

There are days we all feel beaten, defeated and even worse—
days when we feel as if we have sorely lost our way.

Depression weighs heavy like a thick fog, making it difficult to feel our way
through the murky mist.

Yet oddly, on various recent days…days which really felt heavy, burdensome and nearly unbearable,
a voice spoke through the fog…
Words were spoken that were far more than coincidence.
Words that pierced through the thick heavy shadows with shining clarity…

I wanted to share these words with you and hope that they
might perhaps lighten your spirits just as they lifted mine…
at the very moment I needed to hear them…

Reminders that yes, there is still a great and loving God the Father…
God the Redeemer, God the Savior—
The Great I AM

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13

Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you,
LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

1 Kings 18:37

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight.
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
and champions at mixing drinks,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
but deny justice to the innocent.
Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw
and as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
so their roots will decay
and their flowers blow away like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty
and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 5:20-24

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

trouble

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world, you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33


(blooming quince / Julie Cook / 2018)

As sure as the sun rises every morning, we are each guaranteed, at some point or other,
an encounter with trouble.

Some trouble will be gut-wrenching.
Some trouble will be fleeting.
Some trouble will knock us down.
Some trouble will take us to our knees.
While other trouble will simply be bluesy and lowdown…
soulfully woeful, gritty and dirty.

We are told that yes, there will be trouble.
Not a question of if… but rather a matter of when…there will indeed be trouble.

We don’t know the type nor kind of our troubles, but we know
that troubles will eventually come.

The test of the matter will be how we decide to respond.

How we, if we, opt to get back up.

Hope is found in knowing that we have a Redeemer, a Savior who has overcome
each and every trouble that was, is or will ever be…
We overcome because He has already overcome…

So get behind us trouble…

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.
And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:4-5

little flower

“He does not come down from Heaven each day to stay in the gold ciborium.
He comes down to find another Heaven He cherishes infinitely more than the
first, the Heaven of our souls, made in His image,
living temples of the Most Blessed Trinity!”

St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 31
Meditations with the Little Flower


(the blooming quince, a sign Spring is nigh / Julie Cook / 2018

“If a little flower could speak,
it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it,
without hiding any of its gifts.
It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty,
or that it had not a sweet scent, that the sun had withered its petals,
or the storm bruised its stem,
if it knew that such were not the case.”

― Thérèse de Lisieux

passage of Providence

dscn4787
(the quince are about a month early / Julie Cook / 2017)

“In a clock, stop but one wheel and you stop every wheel,
because they are dependent upon one other.
So when God has ordered a thing for the present to be thus and thus,
how do you know how many things depend upon this thing?
God may have some work to do twenty years hence that depends on this passage of providence
that falls out this day or this week.”

Jeremiah Burroughs

Costly Justification

“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

RSCN2711
(flowering quince / Julie Cook / 2016)

‘It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son—“you were bought with a price”(1 Cor 6:20) and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship Vol 4 pp 45

We have honed our craft both you and I….
As we have become that which we justify…

For within each justification lies…
the crime,
the hating,
the sentence,
the lying,
the hurting,
the bombing,
the cheating,
the policy,
the stealing,
the taking,
the death,
and even the murder…

Echoed are the causal observations…
“Twas a crime of passion”
“It was a justifiable homicide”
“It was taken in order that they could eat”
“It was hidden for their own good…”
“It was stolen in order to pay…”

There are…
The interestingly tragic assisted suicides…
The abortions due to untimely pregnancies…
The surreal justifiable shootings…
The acceptable culture of death…
The wars to end all wars…
The nuclear deterrents….

Every human act can be justified into being correct…

It was…
the right decision…
a necessary evil…
the only option…

How quickly it rolls off the tongue, as it slips easily from consciousness.
There is no remorse, no guilt, no real sorrow…
because it was something that had to be…

The justification of and for every action and reaction of mankind…

And yet how does one justify the free offering of ones only child…
In order that others may live…

One word….

Grace….

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—-not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

footnote

Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure unfinished masterpiece.
Vladimir Nabokov

DSCN2632
(the quince are in bloom / Julie Cook / 2016)

A footnote…
an afterthought,
a lesser thought,
an added thought,
another thought,
an annotation,
an aside,
a reference,
insignificant,
not as important,
less than,
in addition to….

That is what the link below represents.
A mere blip on the radar to a previous story.
A footnote, a follow-up, a recap…

The lead-up stories blanketed the various news agencies last week…
Both liberal and conservatives bastions of all things newsy…each covered the story.
Not, mind you, the televised nightly news, but the cyber newsies had it covered.

Would they or wouldn’t they…?
That was the big question…the lone elephant in the room…
What would it take…?
How best could it be presented…?
What would they say…?
How would the acknowledgement, by the most powerful nation in the world,
play out with the current horrendous level of persecution?

The announcement was to come Thursday.
Yet here it is now Sunday…and nary a word has been seen nor heard…
There has been no real reporting of the results…
That is…until late this afternoon…

It was during a quick tour of the various cyber news sites, scanning the top stories of the day…
The he said, they said, she said, no they didn’t say stories…
And there it is was…
Off to the side on one of the more “conservative,
or controversial sites depending on your point of view…
in a column reserved for annoying advertisements and the stories of the bizarre…

The White House refuses to acknowledge that the systematic torture and killing of the Christians in Syria is genocide….

Yet how odd it is that the White House now happily recognizes and “approves” of Iran and its continuing development of nuclear weaponry…
plus is now readily paying out 1.7 billion dollars to Iran for “debt and interest”….

What’s wrong with this picture…?

http://video.foxnews.com/v/4799285801001/white-house-refuses-to-acknowledge-genocide-of-christians/?intcmp=hpvid1#sp=show-clips

Waiting

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”
― Elisabeth Elliot

Wait on the Lord” is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.”
― J.I. Packer

DSC00759
(a few rain kissed quince buds waiting to bloom / Julie Cook / 2015

We are a waiting people are we not?
It seems, since the beginning of time,
We, humankind, have waited.

We wait for birth
And we wait for death
Living, falls someplace in between

The Israelites waited and wandered,
Wandered and waited for years. . .
As it seems they continue waiting. . .

We Christians wait. . .
We wait for answered prayers,
We wait for signs,
We wait for good,
We wait for justice,
We wait for peace
We wait for the final judgement

Society waits. . .
It too waits for justice
For peace,
For answers
For change,
For better, never worse
For instant
For perfect

I wait. . .
I wait for the happiness of those I love
I wait for a closer peace
I wait for answers
I wait for direction
I wait for truth
I wait for righteousness
I wait for healing

Waiting
Through the yearning
Through the tears
Through the frustrations
Through the anger
Through the impatience

Tempering the anguish
Trying not to dwell
Not to obsess
Fighting the whys
the why nots

I cry out in the silence
How much longer oh Lord?
Can’t you see?
Do you not know?
Why don’t you do something?!
NOW!
Do you not care?
How can you let him hurt?
Please
Hear me
Do you hear me?
Please

“Wait”
is the single reply. . .


Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.

Psalms 27:14