Battered yet undeterred

“Out of defeat can come the best in human nature. As Christians face storms of adversity, they may rise with more beauty. They are like trees that grow on mountain ridges — battered by winds, yet trees in which we find the strongest wood.”
Billy Graham

How nice to meet someone so undeterred by things like. . .reality.
The Lorax

(the first post freezing quince bloom–looking worse from winter’s wear / Julie Cook / 2015)

The Psalmist cries. . .
“Hear me oh Lord. . .”

Cries of anguish, pain, sorrow, emptiness, suffering. . .

The Psalmist also speaks of joy. . .
Joy is longed for and joy is infectious. . .
Praise and alleluias are easily multiplied. . .
Everyone wants in on happy, joy, uplifting, good, glad. . .

It is, however, to the other. . .
to those deep groanings of the suffering soul and spirit. . .
the laminations, the cries, the wailing, the tears, the sorrow. . .
of which, alone we will all eventually find ourselves.

It is a dry place of solitude, oneness, singleness and loneliness
It is a place that is gritty, dirty, uncomfortable
It is the furnace ready to refine. . .

Yet this place of isolation,
this place of misery,
this deeply troubling place of peril
and of anguished sorrow. . .
is also the place in which character is forged.
It is the place where the knowledge of self is realized–
for good or for bad. . .

Crisis crashes down upon crisis
Weary roads traversed
stop and go, stop and go
wills are battered
hearts are bruised
bodies fail
sewage spills forth in a torrent of rage
as money flees through the broken glass

Personalities clash,
while the like minded work in tandem
Step by step, one foot forward
Sinister lurks in the shadow, composing its agenda
Controlling, one way, the only way
Demanding will not yield its way
Selfish will not have the last word

Having been hit broadside. . .
Blindsided by mayhem, confusion and hatefulness
Caught in a place of no control and no return
Nearly broken, battered, hurting. . .
yet decidedly undeterred. . .

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

Psalm 37:10-15


Sacrifice gives way to life–a tale of the humble quince

Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

(ripened quince / Julie Cook / 2014)

I have 4 quince bushes planted along our bank.
They are some of the first plants which begin bearing a glimmer of life after the long, grey, empty and very dormant winter.
Deep rich and luscious greens accented by beautiful magenta and coral flowers are the first colors in my yard when everything else is still gripped in the grey shadows of death and decay which continues to hold fast to all hope.

That’s what the quince do, they offer hope.
Just as soon as the tiny rays of life slowly unfurl from the little quince, I know that the remaining trees and plants will soon follow suit.
The quince is the standard bearer of the yard, a heralder trumpeting, for all to hear, that hope and life are soon at hand.

This time of year however is a different story.
Pale yellow grey spotted globules nestle closely against spindly little barren brown sticks.
With the waning of the calendar year, so wanes the quince.
All the leaves have fallen off, leaving the scrawny limbs dotted with grey speckled lemon like fruit.
Not the pettiest sight.

My husband always threatens to cut the quinces down as he’s convinced the plants are dead.
And I in turn must always explain that the bushes are not dead but rather simply entering a time of decline.
This “season,” in the life of the quince, is the time when the bush drops its leaves— leaves which are expendable allowing the quince to concentrate all remaining nutrients and energies into the growth and flourishing of fruit—as the fruit is what ensures the plant’s survival, as the fruit contains the seeds to new life.

Heralder of Hope
Sacrificer of self
Focuser of energies
Offerer of renewal and that which sparks the emergence of new life
Guaranteer of survival, everlasting

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 3:31-36


“the greater number of a man’s errors come before him disguised under the specious form of necessity; then, after error has been committed in a moment of excitement, of delirium, or of fear, we see that we might have avoided and escaped it.”
― Alexandre Dumas

“It is better to lose your pride with someone you love rather than to lose that someone you love with your useless pride.”
― John Ruskin

(Blooming quince with small emerging fruit / Julie Cook / 2014)

Softly sweet, she bends gently in the breeze.
Like a thousand stars in an endless sky, tears glisten, falling down her cheeks,
The wicked words piece tender hearts ’til all her blood runs dry

Gentle demure petals bruise too quickly–
falling away, one by one. . .
He picks up the remaining flower, seemingly oblivious to the unfolding drama

Dark secrets hide in the shadows.
A long and twisted past clings to her bare skin.
She is lost in the misery she hides

Stones are prepared as He now slowly turns to look. . .
eyes quietly meet for the first time
Loss and fear desperately cry out to hope and mercy

A sad sorrowful soul is vexed
as its resigned head bows down to death
Suddenly a single statement is powerfully uttered, sending stones falling from anxious hands

The pious now quickly scatter, carrying away their own guilt
Only two remain present, misera et misericordia
Hope looking up, offers His hand to the remaining hopeless

She could be anyone of us
as the sins continue pounding the rocky shore
In the blink of an eye, the sea is calmed as the world is now quiet.

All is forgiven you.
Sin no more.

To prune and to be pruned

“All gardens, even the most native and naturalistic, benefit from the hand of an artful pruner. In this season where the garden is poised for the green flood of springtime, remember that our gardens are co-creations, shared with mother earth. And like any good mother, she expects you to tidy up your room. Now get clipping!”
Tom Spencer, Soul of the Garden

(the sweet demure bloom of the Quince / Julie Cook / 2014)

To prune a garden, shrubbery or a life takes careful thought and consideration.
It is a task not for the faint at heart nor is it a task for the weary.
It is a task for those possessing patience and for those with an eye for what may be.
It is not a task for the quick minded, the “hurry up and be done” mind.
Rather, pruning, is a task which requires time and thought.

Oh it’s easy to whack and hack here and there— cutting away willy nilly for the pure sake of cutting.
Chop off this and cut away that—be gone overgrown and growth!
Take it all off, to the ground I say–be gone eyesore and out of control!
Take this and take that, you, the unsightly nuisance of my world

And the litany of no more goes on and on. . .
No, pruning is not a chore for those whose vision is simply of the here and now. . .
. . .For pruning is a deliberate act of the future.
It is accomplished with care, concern and hope.

Even the tools of choice must be considered carefully and artfully.
Does one choose the more controlled and deliberate instruments of cutting which offer the ability to chip away slowly with precision and direction?


Or does one, whose main objective is merely to obliterate what is perceived to be the immediate problem—that of the surface only, choose something lethally quick yet destructive? A device which says to its victim “be gone and be done”—a device which takes away everything– leaving only the bare and barren behind with the fleeting backhanded thought that things will surely come back just as before?



A loving Creator, who looks out upon the broken landscape of our lives, surveys much which needs pruning and weeding.
No small task.
Not a task for the faint hearted or weary indeed.
For He is neither.

The pruning and weeding of our lives is skillfully accomplished by the hand of One who loves tenderly and deeply, yet also fiercely. It is a task mastered by One who is not afraid to inflict the initial pain which is a result of the initial pruning because it is He who has the eye for what will be.
He is the One who sees the possibilities for perfect growth. That which was once overgrown and out of control can be and will be tamed, trained, thinned and trimmed all by the loving hands of this Master Gardener.

There is pain in the pruning by the hand of the Creator. Whereas the pain may be physical, it is also mystical. One which burns yet is tender and sweet. . .one which seems long lasting yet is gone in the blink of an eye. For no temporal pain caused by the pruning of affliction and suffering lasts an eternity.

It is the eye of the Master who sees that which He loves, drawing it ever closer to His hands.
He tenderly trims and cuts—He staves the oozing and bleeding, gently binding the wounds.
His vision reaches beyond time, for He sees to the moments of regrowth and reemergence, as the tender new shoots, slowly at first and ever so gently, begin to curve upward.

And as He looks upon His handiwork, this Master Gardener smiles, as that which was out of control and overgrown, is now neat and tidy. The weeds which choked out the tender shoots are now dug up and gone. The tangled mess of branches and sticks are now neatly cut back. Miraculously the once hidden tiny buds, receiving the full warmth of the sun, now joyously begin to reopen in all their splendor and gratitude.

All is well, all is well. . .all is now, finally well, with my soul.

the owl and the pussy cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!


Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.


‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Edward Lear


I know what you’re wondering…”Julie do you make quince jelly?”
Well, I suppose I would but my quince are merely ornamental–or so that’s always been my understanding. Their spindly spiky twig like branches lay bare all winter yet for the shriveled decaying brown spent fruit. Spring brings forth bright brilliant green leaves accented by the most demure and dainty coral or magenta blooms. Summer and early Autumn oddly gives way to the bushes loosing their leaves while their fruit plumps up into globule masses— two of the bushes have bright green fruit while the other two are more yellow/ green tinged with grey spots.

A low growing woody type of shrub that hugs the bank out back almost like a vine. I prune them in the early spring and must be very careful as they have lethal thorns. I think they are some of my favorite bushes/ shrubs in the yard. Unusual, exotic, sturdy yet delicate. The quince dates back to early Greece mythology..passing through Roman lore and cookbooks…they dot the globe from Australia to Scotland–and yet I’ve never tasted a quince nor had quince jelly.

As for needing a “runcible” spoon in order to eat my quince as Mr. Lear so poetically mused in the above children’s poem….it should be noted that Mr. Lear made up the word. There is no such thing as “runcible” let alone a runcible spoon….but don’t tell the owl and the pussycat as it truly made the wedding feast quite special…..

May your Wednesday be just as magically special………