quiet significance found in the seemingly insignificant

It is a dangerous thing to be satisfied with ourselves.
St. Teresa of Avila
From the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 4


(a single drop of rain / Julie Cook / 2021)


(detail of a drop of remaining rain / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Even though we know that God’s will and commandments apply to everyone,
we do not always have the strength to fulfill them.
Now, every time we respond faithfully to a motion of the Spirit,
out of desire to be docile to what God expects of us,
even if it’s something almost insignificant of itself,
that faithfulness draws grace and strength down on us.
That strength can then be applied to other areas and may make
us capable of one day practicing the commandments that up until
then we had not been capable of fulfilling entirely.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 20
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

beat down but not broken

“Never give up prayer, and should you find dryness and difficulty,
persevere in it for this very reason.
God often desires to see what love your soul has,
and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.”

St. John of the Cross


(The pampas grass beat down following the deluge of TS Fred / Julie Cook /2021)


(The pampas grass beat down following the deluge of TS Fred / Julie Cook /2021)

Like many of my fellow Americans, I think it would only be fair of me
to acknowledge that I too am frustrated.

Frustrated, mad, sad, depressed, angry…and any other words that
describe this feeling of betrayal and disappointment.

I think many of us are feeling that we should just throw in the towel.
Throwing up our hands….up in the air proclaiming “WE QUIT!”

Yep. We. Quit.

As in we are mad as hell and do not care to take this nonsense any more!

Like many of you, I am so angry over the apparent loss of direction and
leadership that is supposed to be keeping a steady hand on this ship’s wheel…
With that ship being the good ol USA.

The latest frustration, coming on the heels of consecutive years of frustration,
is currently happening half a globe away.
Despite being so far away, it is something that is supposed to be under
the watchful eye of the leadership in our Nation’s capitol.

I read today that a former soldier stated that the Afghanistan debacle
is nothing but an out of control dumpster fire….
meaning that it is an out of control mess that has erupted into
uncontrollable flames.
A raging fire with no one there to work at putting out the flames.
Think instant combustion produced when multiple toxins collide.

It all could have been prevented if the right set of eyes were
keeping watch.

And like many of you, I am tired of the more elite folks among us…
those sions of business, technology, entertainment…
oligarchs and technocrats who hold control over so many of us…
controlling with the power wielded by their mega bucks…
Those movers and shakers who vie for the throne of rule.
I am tired of their attempts at controlling me and you and what we
can and cannot do all because they vie to play God.
They who think they know what is best for both you and I.

I am tired of elitist politicians who, long ago, lost their way.

I am tired of woke athletes who prefer lecturing fans rather
then playing ball.
Athletes who put politics above what they are being paid to do–play ball.
Athletes who belittle the fans who actually pay for their elitist lives
via tickets and merchandise support, fans who just want folks to play ball.

I am tired of being belittled and disparaged because I claim to
be a moralist, a conservative, a Christian…a person who loves this country.
I am tired of the ridicule simply because I chose not vote for Bill,
Barak, Hillary or Joe.
I am tired of being equated with ignorance, backwardness and
living out of step with the times only because I choose to have
a differing opinion.

And I dare say, I am not alone.

Yet this is all most likely due to our own ‘bad’.
Our sitting back a bit too long.
Our settling into complacency.
Our allowing ourselves to be swayed and swept up into the zeal
of the pigs wearing lipstick.
The distracting shimmering sparkles of false riches they’ve tried
offering us.

When the tropical storm Fred made its way northward, it brought with
it a torrent of rain.

I looked out from the back porch as a racing river of rain tore
its way downward through our yard.
A grassy yard that was now a churning angry lake.

Later in the day, once the rains had passed, I looked outside again.
That was when I saw how badly the pampas grass bushes
had been beaten down by the downpours.

Suddenly I felt very much like that pampas grass.
There was a time when I felt content…seemingly tall while
being able to sway to and fro with the wind.

Now I feel as if I’ve been reduced to the look of being trampled.

And just when I felt a sea of despair washing over me,
I stumbled on these two quotes of the day…
one by St. John of the Cross, the author of The
Dark Night of the Soul…and the other by
St. Augustine of Hippo—an early founding leader of
this thing I call my Christian Faith.

A faith that was honed, forged and tested by countless men and women
who bore much but have long gone before now…
Men and women who knew the trials of frustration, lies, wars,
torment, persecution…but men and women who, like the pampas grass,
may have been beaten down…yet what we know about them,
they were never ever broken…

Their bodies may have broken but their spirit and faith remained…
and it is why we are still here these 2000 some odd years later.

These may feel like beaten down days…
but what we as Believers must remember, we will never be broken.

“There are two loves, the love of God and the love of the world.
If the love of the world takes possession of you,
there is no way for the love of God to enter into you.
Let the love of the world take the second place,
and let the love of God dwell in you.
Let the better love take over.”

St. Augustine, p. 34
An Excerpt From
Augustine Day by Day

The Mayor and the storm

“There is peace even in the storm”
Vincent van Gogh


(the Mayor knows no fear at the park / Julie Cook / 2021)

The Mayor has stayed on for a few days following the Sheriff’s big birthday
celebration…so a trip to the park was in order.

Sadly, the weather has taken a turn for the nasty worst…
thunderstorms, flash floods and tornado warnings have been on tap for most of today.
and I fear much the same remains in the forecast for tomorrow as well.

Time to get creative with a three year old who is stuck inside during
bad weather!

Meanwhile, our back yard is now a raging river…
time to batten down the hatches!!


(back yard stormy weather / Julie Cook / 2021)


(back yard stormy weather / Julie Cook / 2021)


(the flood waters wash away the pine straw / Julie Cook / 2021)

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

the sharing season is here…

“Wisdom cannot be imparted.
Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else…
Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
One can find it, live it, do wonders through it,
but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


(black swallowtail caterpillar / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well, I knew it was just a matter of time.

The caterpillars have found the parsley.

There must be at least 15 caterpillars now making the most of my nice pot of parsley.

And so you should know that this lowly creature will…

Become this lovely creature:

And this one…

And this one…

And this one…

Will all become one of these…


(Black swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

These guys, well, I moved one of their caterpillars out from the garage yesterday,
so there are no before images…only the after shots


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so now, I share…my parsley.

Yet I must confess that sometimes I’m not too keen to share certain things.
I think we all have a bit of the selfish child that remains buried within.

As adults, we know that sharing is a good thing.
And so we can bend our will in order to do what is kind, considerate and decent.
We strive to teach children to do the same.

We must teach them to share as they/we seem to come into this world
hardwired with a distinct “mine” mentality.

When I first started to keep a garden…I would get so mad at the rabbits, the crows,
the other birds, the squirrels, the deer, and yes the caterpillars, who would
all invade, dig up or purge my labors by eating seeds, the tender new shoots
or the actual fruits of said labor, my fruits and vegetables.

And then I figured out that if I planted a little extra or a few distractors, things
that would appease my thieves, I could then strike a delicate balance between
what I knew would be stolen versus what I wanted to be harvested.

And sometimes, despite my best-laid plans, it just came down to who was the fastest
on the scene.

Now granted this was not always the perfect relationship as the deer would seem to
poke their feet in the melons simply to be spiteful…or the birds would jab
each blueberry, leaving the berry on the bush, full of holes.
But if I was going to be successful with a garden…there had to be give,
take and yes, share.

And so speaking of sharing, last week when I had to go to Atlanta to keep the Mayor,
who had contracted the Sheriff’s viral infection from the previous week, the
very notion of sharing took place in the form of “rain.”

And no, I do not refer to the sort of rain that falls from the sky.

If you’ve ever been around a young child who coughs or sneezes or
God forbid, suddenly needs to throw up…well, you know that kids
don’t cover their mouths, turn away, cough into the crook of an arm, or
race to the bathroom when an emergency calls.

To a child, if it comes, whatever it might be, it comes for good or bad…
matters not who might be in its path.

So there was a puny Mayor, who was sitting on my lap last week while we were watching cartoons.
Suddenly she started sneezing…and a spray of mist subsequently blanketed my lap and legs.
Gleeful the Mayor happily announces “RAIN”!!!!

“Yes”, I sardonically noted, “it has rained…”
…as I grabbed a sacred Clorox wipe in order to wipe down my legs and arms.

So should I be surprised that I now have felt like crap for the past two days and find
myself unable to breathe due to such a cloggy nose?

No.
No, I am not surprised.

For a sick child shared her “rain” with me.

And well, despite the shelves being long bare of Clorox wipes…
the sacred canister we had on hand was simply no match for the Mayor.

And so why do we seem so mystified when folks continue getting that
Wuhan flu??? That COVID mess?
Why do we ponder as to how it keeps making the rounds?

Sharing just seems to happen…even when we try being selfish.
No matter the best precautions, the best-laid plans…sharing is going to happen
whether we want it to or not.

Oh and for the record…that poison ivy…well, it keeps sharing too.

Everything seems to want to share…all the wrong sort of things!!!

So regarding the following verse, just know that God did not mean that we should share
our germs…but other more treasured items and deeds….
the germ part is just part and parcel of being alive.

The good and bad.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16

How can you mend a broken heart…

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?

Song Lyrics, Robin and Barry Gibbs (the Bee Gees)


(The Mayor itching to get in the rain / Julie Cook / 2020)

These are pictures of The Mayor itching to get out into the rain
What is it that draws kids to the water…itching to get out into the rain???

Well, we had to take the Mayor back home yesterday and naturally, it broke my heart.
It always breaks my heart to take her home.
She was adamant that she did not want to go home.
I suspect that it had a great deal to do with the fact that she did not
want to go home because she knew that the new daycare was in her future, once again.
Funny that a 2 and half-year-old knows what the cards have in store.

And naturally, it breaks my heart that I can’t just keep her 24/7.

I can’t tell you how much I love those kids–The Mayor and her brother, the Sheriff.

And so I think about how much we love our children and our grandchildren…
and yet I think about what just happened in Georgia–

The Georgia House bill—the Abortion Bill 481–aka the Georgia Heartbeat bill,
was unsurprisingly ruled unconstitutionally this week.

A heartbreaking ruling…

Children are our future, our hope, our love…not some sort of commodity that can
easily tossed aside on some sort of whim…

Life is not a mere whim…

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/georgia/federal-judge-says-georgias-heartbeat-abortion-bill-is-unconstitutional/X6N3AMLHRJCORN424DJK672ZYA/

There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19

Captain’s log…

“By beginning a diary, I was already conceding that life would be more bearable
if I looked at it as an adventure and a tale.
I was telling myself the story of a life,
and this transmutes into an adventure the things which can shatter you.”

Anaïs Nin


(the Mayor having afternoon snack on day 1 of isolation / Julie Cook / 2020)

Captain’s log:
It is now day two of the nationally imposed isolation of social distancing…
aka, stuck in the house with the ones you love…

Question: When stuck in the house with the ones you love for upwards of two weeks
or dare they say, even longer…
how long will they remain the ones you love?

Captian’s log to be continued…

can’t go back…lessons from the road

If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slips away
Cause your baby is so far away.
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with
Don’t be angry, don’t be sad,
Don’t sit cryin’ over good things you’ve had
,
Lyrics, The Isley Brothers


(the main stairwell in the Biltmore House / Ashville, NC / Julie Cook / 2020)

About a week or so ago,
I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that I had cared for sick grandkids who in turn,
unintentionally, gave me their sickness.

It seems that germs just love to travel and share themselves.
Just like the song by the Isley Brothers, you gotta love the ones you’re with…
germs will love any and all… whoever they are with or even near.

But this is NOT another post chattering on about coronavirus or the flu or any other bug.

This post is rather about adventure…
Or better yet…this is a post about lessons.

In that previous post, I had made mention that we had had a little impromptu adventure
while trying to escape all this unrelenting rain…

About two weeks ago, we were sitting in the house… sick and tired of sitting in the house.
It had rained for almost the entire month of February.
It was our wettest February on record.

Let’s get away” I proclaimed
My husband agreed.

We threw some things in a bag and headed north.
About a 4-hour drive north.

It had been years since we’d visited the Biltmore House
and thus that would be our destination.

We opted to stay at the Inn on the property,
spending the following day visiting the house,
then we would drive around the mountains before heading home.
Short and sweet.

And most importantly, it was minus the rain.

But then there was the snow.

However, let’s back up 40 years.

Back in 1980, I was a college student who had no real feel for what I wanted to do with my life.
I thought I knew.
I thought I had known.
I wanted to work with kids.
I wanted to write.
I wanted to work in advertising.
I wanted to meet a nice boy.
I wanted to get married and I wanted to be a mom.

I bounced back and forth between each different course and college major that were
more or less, a flavor of the day regime.

I have written about this journey when I first started blogging.
It was about how I finally made my way into teaching.

It was the summer of 1980 when my angst and turmoil finally came into focus in the
middle of the mountains of North Carolina.
Specifically, Black Mt., NC.

I had taken a job at a Christian summer camp for girls as a camp counselor—
Riflery Director oddly enough.

I spent my summers working at the camp until I graduated and made my
way to my first teaching post.
It was a position that would last 31 years.

So before we set out on this little adventure,
I asked my husband if we could drive over to Black Mt,
find a little inn for a night and spend an afternoon
wandering the little town before going to see the camp.

Knowing how important this place once was to me,
he knew he was now simply along for the ride.

When we started out from home on this northward drive,
we took an off-the-beaten-path route.
Many two and four-lane roads avoiding much of the interstate.
Crossing over into NC from Georgia, just before entering the Nantahala forest,
I caught sight of a homemade sign perched along the side of the road…
sitting boldly in plain sight.

It was a conversation bubble sign.
One conversation bubble read: “God, why won’t you send us someone who will help us?
The response bubble read: “I did, but you aborted them”

A powerful thought to chew on and get lost in while driving.

Our visit to the Biltmore was brief but enjoyable.
It had been meant to be our diversion,
a brief respite from our temperate rainy winter.

But then…it snowed.

The snow was pretty as it gently covered the mountains.
It was a gift from the relentless rain we had left back home.
Soft and silent.
White and muting.
A fitting and tender offering.

The small town of Black Mt. is about a 15-minute drive east from Ashville on I-40 or about
20 minutes via Hwy 70.

It was my home for several summers…a place that had left
and indelible mark upon my heart, soul and on the person who I would grow to be.

My former boss and dear friend, the camp’s director, had passed away several years away,
leaving the camp to now be run by two of his sons.

I had been very close to the older of the two boys.

At the time, he was instrumental in the growth of my Christian faith.

He was one of those individuals who you knew had a relationship with
Christ that transcended both time and space.
There was a depth not normally seen in “normal” Christians.
There was a mysticism.
There was a sense that He was privy to something that was not experienced by many others.
It was so much greater than…

There was a diligence to his faith.
A detachment from the world, yet done so graciously and most willingly.
It was a relationship that had been tried in a furnace…
a furnace so hot that it had burned away all the dross.

It was a relationship that I marveled over from afar.
A relationship that I wanted yet always felt as if it was just beyond my reach.

During that time, I had also become close friends with another counselor.
She and I both were attending the same college,
however, we had not met until our summers working at camp.

She was a hungry and joyous Christian..strong and uncompromising in her faith.

The three of us became quite the trio.
I earned the name slugly…the questioning one who always seemed to be
lagging a step behind.
The one who still had the one foot in the world.

Despite my now almost manic positive spin on life,
I carried a heavy black cloud.

Most often my friend and I both felt like students sitting at
the feet of a master teacher as we learned so very much from our older and wiser friend.

His had once been a hard and rough life.
We were fortunate to have met him long after the darkness.
We were the grateful recipients of the light now shining through him.

Yet as life would have it, we remained as close as we could,
as our lives simply took us each on different journeys.
I married first, followed by our friend then finally my fellow counselor friend,
found her true love.

Three different states, jobs, children, and life, made the years race past with less and less contact.

What might I find after 40 years?

I felt a sense of heaviness and nervousness…a journey of trepidation.
The excitement of what might be was shadowed by both what was and what
had passed.

I knew that the camp had grown and even changed.
A boys camp and also a climbing adventure camp has become spin-offs of the
original girls camp. Things were much larger and not as intimate.

Billy Graham was the camp’s neighbor, living on the neighboring mountain top
and Montreat College was less than a mile up the road.

Graham was now gone but the college was still there having, like everything else,
grown and expanded.

We drove up from the what was once a sleepy mountain town that has since boomed
into a buzzing home to artists, breweries and eclectic eateries–
a top NC mountain must-see travel destination crowned by all things southern
and travel, Southern Living…crowned as one of America’s most charming small towns.

I pulled into the familiar hemlock lined gravel drive leading up to the main house…
and that’s when I stopped the car for the briefest of moments before quickly deciding to turn around…
simply driving back to town.

Just like that.

With all that growing anticipation and wonderment I felt during our drive from home…
in the end, I knew that the girl who had spent her summers in this small part of the world
had, in the end, moved on.

I decided to drive back leaving what was.. simply to be.

Later that evening, once back in town,
we started walking the couple of blocks from our Inn to the trendy new restaurant
that had been recommended to us.

While walking rather briskly, shielding ourselves against the bitter cold,
a group of college-age young folks fell in line behind us on the sidewalk.

All we could hear was ‘F’ this and ‘F’ that as they weren’t but
a few steps behind.
There were no filters, no restraints, no consideration for our obvious older ears,
that was for sure

They were loud and raucous, cursing as if uttering simple words in conversation.
I turned and smiled while giving that knowing look of
“hey, consider the other folks in your surroundings
as your language just might not be suitable let alone appreciated
by those in such close earshot.”

The loudest gal in the group just looked at me, not missing a beat
with her profanity-laced chatter.

Thankfully they veered off to head into one of the local watering holes
while we kept walking.

Aggravated by the thought that the one place I had always held somewhat sacred
and somewhat protected,
as it had been just that for me all these years ago, was now just like any other place invaded by
a youthful, progressive left-leaning, mindset as I saw many a Bernie, pro-choice, coexist, and all
things feminist stickers stuck on the cars parked along the sidewalks.

With the crisp mountain air now laced with cigarette smoke, the sweet scent of weed and stale beer,
I could feel my shoulders slump just a tad.

There was now a heavy dose of melancholy and irony found in being just the other side of
Ashville…the home to the great writer, Thomas Wolfe…

Wolfe was right you know…we can’t go home again.
Home is never the same.
The then is no longer as it is simply the now.

I was clearly reminded that our home is truly not of this earth.
Our peace will not ever be found here despite our constant searching.

For we are indeed strangers in a strange land…
We seek a home where we know our hearts will finally be at rest…
it is our life’s innate quest really.
Seeking a home that is beyond that which we have known…a home
that is eternal and somewhere just beyond those mountains I once
considered my haven of peace.

I think that’s what my friend had known all those years ago…it just took
me forty years to figure it out.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh,
which wage war against your soul.
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable,
so that when they speak against you as evildoers,
they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:11-12

blame it on the rain

Go on and blame it on the rain…
‘Cause the rain don’t mind
And the rain don’t care
You got to blame it on something

Lyrics from the infamous Milli Vanilli


(a single raindrop /Julie Cook / 2015)

Well, last week there was a brief impromptu road trip.
It was a last-minute, throw some stuff in a bag, head out the door sort of road trip.

I simply blame it on the rain.

I gleaned some important life lessons during this little adventure of which I planned on sharing…
lessons that came about, in part, to my blaming it on the snow rather than the rain…

However, before I could properly put a suitcase of dirty clothes into the wash,
and write a reflective post, I was called into quick duty.

The poor Mayor and Sheriff were both stricken by an unrelenting stomach bug…

Let’s just say that both mouths and bottoms were working overtime, simultaneously…
It wasn’t a pretty picture.

Pedialyte popsicles were about the only means of sustenance which remained where they were supposed
to remain, inside the tummies vs outside of said tummies.


(The Sheriff enoyed a pedialyte popsicle until experiencing his first brain freeze / Julie Cook / 2020)


(The Mayor holding onto to only thing that stayed on her stomach all day / Julie Cook / 2020)

And thankfully there have been a few moments of peace and calm…


(still sleeping before I had to race soiled babies to the bath / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a new roost ruler in Woobooville/ Julie Cook / 2020)


(just before the morning’s cranberry juice reared it’s ugly head/ Julie Cook / 2020)


(the Mayor looking wise beyond her years / Julie Cook / 2020)

So barring my chances of catching this vicious bug plaguing these children,
I plan on getting back to the story at hand hopefully tomorrow…

However, for now, I’ll just blame all of this on the rain…as well as a nasty stomach bug…

“I will attempt day by day to break my will into pieces.
I want to do God’s Holy Will, not my own.”

St. Gabriel Possenti

using our time to the fullest

“I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those
who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.”

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


(tufted titmouse sits on budding blueberries in the rain / Julie Cook / 20120)

“In truth, if the earth and all it contains must one day disappear by fire,
the goods of this world are no more to be esteemed than wood and straw.
What point is there, then, in making them the object of our desires and cares?
Why seek to build and leave marks of our genius and power where we have no permanent abode,
and where the form of this world will be removed,
like a tent that has no travelers to shelter?
It may be said that it will be a thousand years before this frightening cataclysm takes place;
but Christ has said that a thousand years are but an instant compared with eternity,
and when the moment comes—-when, from the land of the future life,
we are the witnesses and actors in that supreme drama—the whole span of humanity
will seem so short to us that we shall scarcely consider it to have lasted a single day…
Christ tells us to meditate upon these great teachings,
for it is certain that we shall be taken by surprise, and that the time will
come sooner than we think.”

Father Charles Arminjon, p. 28
An Excerpt From
The End of the Present World

The Church at Angoville

(another re-post D-Day tribute…
May we always remember that the success at the invasion of Normandy,
and the eventual ending of WWII in Europe and later in the Pacific,
was not so much a matter of great men doing certain things great nor of making
great decisions but rather it was the matter of ordinary men and women doing
ordinary things that would become,
in the end, great things that continue to affect us today—
and we are the better for it and are a free people to this day because of those ordinary folks!)

“All my life I made it a matter of principle to tend all soldiers
equally whatever their uniforms could be. I could not say to the Germans:
“You sit there and if you are bleeding to death. I don’t care”

Army Medic Robert Wright


(Église Saint-Côme-et-Saint-Damien d’Angoville-au-Plain..
the humble church at Angonville / Julie Cook / 2018)

Despite it being September 22 it was an unusually cold and blustery day…
or so it seemed for our little group of four from both Georgia and Florida.
However, this was Northern France, just inward from the North Atlantic coast.

The rain came in spurts…sometimes blowing sideways, sometimes merely misting.
The temperature was in the low 50’s but the howling 35 mph gusts made it seem much colder.

Somber weather for a somber day.

Our driver turned the van we were calling home for the day around a sharp corner along
a quiet narrow street as we came to a stop on a gravel drive just aside a large
ancient oak.

We exited the van, with umbrellas in hand, huddling together, as a small group of 5—
the four from Georgia and Florida and one from Holland who now made
Normandy, France his home as we readied ourselves for something that we all
sensed was going to be so much greater than ourselves.

The guide’s name was Mike.
Mike Van Den Dobbelsteen with Bayeux Shuttle Service.
Mike is a Dutchman who has a nearly perfect British accent…
but of course, this particular day was his 12th wedding anniversary…
his wife hails from England which helped to explain his heavy British accent.

His enthusiasm and depth of knowledge regarding history…in particular this history
was immense.

It was still early in our day’s adventure,
although having just come from the German Cemetary in Normandy,
we now found ourselves standing outside the doors of an extremely humble
little stone church.

A church that would be easily overlooked by passerbys.
A church that harkened back to a different time.
A church that was named for two martyrs who had actually been medical doctors.
An odd coincidence given the role this church played during a day that changed
our world’s history.

The beginning of this tiny church dates back to the 11th century, to 1088 to be exact…
but it was what happened in the middle of the 20th century, 9 centuries following the
inception of this church, that actually puts this church on the map of modern history.

As we stood gathered under the large tree shielding us from the cold pelting rain,
my eyes immediately gravitated to the dark granite cross-like marker standing stoically
on the grounds of this seemingly humble French church.

Toccoa.

My uncle and aunt had made Toccoa, Georgia their home for nearly 50 years.
It was in that small northeast Georgia town in which my cousins had spent their
childhood growing up…
Was there some sort of a connection between this tiny town in northwestern France and that
of the North Georgia town bearing that stone cross’s inscription?

Yes.

Yes, there was indeed a connection.

In the early 1940s, Toccoa, Georgia found itself home to the World War II
“Screaming Eagles” paratrooper corps.
E Company to be exact.
E Company was based at Camp Toccoa, a rustic training base located in
northeast Georgia that operated from 1942 through 1945.

It was that same E Company which trained in Toccoa, Georgia that would find itself
falling from the sky on June 6, 1944, into and around the tiny French Village of
Angonville-Au-Plain. A far cry from the north Georgia skies where they had practiced
for this very moment.

The French Village Angoville-au-Plain lies between St-Côme-du-Mont and Vierville,
at the D 913 in Normandy. It is a small village with at its center a small church.
The village was part of DZ (drop zone) D in June the 6th 1944.
Drop zone D was the most southern drop zone of the 1st and 2nd Battalion,
501st PIR (Klondikes) of the 101st Airborne Division.
The first 48 hours after the jump heavy clashes found a place between American
paratroopers and German Fallschirmjäger, which are rather elite German airborne infantry.

By Guido Wilmes
Translation Thijs Groot Kormelink

Mike offered us a briefing regarding the Nazis who had hunkered down in and
around this tiny village as well as the allied airdrop of paratroopers who had
floated out of the sky behind enemy lines…

This was to be the first line of a hoped-for offensive.

“Serg. Jim Cox was fighting at Angoville with 52 Paratroopers.
The shelling by mortars and 88 mm guns were so violent that they decided to rejoin
the command post of Bob Sink.

The area of the church at Angoville changed hands several times.
When the Germans arrived in the village they saw the Red Cross flag at the door of the church.
Noticing that German casualties [that] were lying on the pews together with the paratroopers
[so] they left.
The church protected by the Red Cross remained a heaven [haven] of peace
in the middle of a battle.

(excerpt from a brochure provided by the city of Angoville-Au-Plain/
brackets are my corrections)

The impromptu medical clinic was manned by two American airmen, members of the Toccoa
Screaming Eagles, who had only a month’s worth of medical training between them.
75 badly wounded men, both American and German, were under the care of these two haphazard
medics—
Medic Robert Wright and Private Kenneth Moore.

“Robert Wright and I, said private Kenneth Moore, a stretcher bearer,
were the only once to look after the casualties in the church of Angoville.
In the evening we had got 75 of them.
Our own folk had come to tell us that they could not stay any longer.
So we were left alone with the wounded soldiers.
A German officer soon arrived.
He asked me if I could tend the Germans as well.
We accepted.
During the night the churchyard was the scene of a battle.
Two of our casualties died.
But among those I could tend, none lost their lives.
I tended all sorts of wounds, some were skin-deep but others were more serious
abdominal cases.”

The blood stains, stains that soaked deep into the wooden pews,
remain clearly visible all these 74 years later.

It is said that the two medics would move the more critically wounded to the front of
the church in order to be near the altar of as they wanted these men to
find a sense of peace should this be their last night on earth.

At one point two German soldiers, who had been hiding in the loft of the church, came down a
side set of stairs holding arms high in the air as they attempted to surrender
to these two bewildered American medics.
They told the German soldiers that there was no time for surrender…they needed them to go
out and fetch some fresh water as they needed their help tending to the wounded men.
The German soldiers willingly obliged.

As I type my recollection of this emotional visit with its surreal story,
I feel the warm tears filling my eyes.

There are so many links to a wide array of sites (some I’ve listed below) that can tell
the story of Angoville with greater detail than I can.
Those who are much more knowledgeable than I…

I wish I could somehow convey the tremendous emotions…emotions from humility to gratitude
that now fill me as I try to share and convey this individual tale…an individual story of
duty and humanity that is but one out of thousands of tales during this particular time of madness.

It makes me feel very very small…and given our current days and time…
I think we might all benefit from feeling small.

The fact that two men who fell woefully short in medical training saved all but two
of the men who were entrusted to their care…men from both sides of battle,
all the while behind enemy lines is short of miraculous.

As miraculous was the fact that a mortar came crashing down through the roof of this tiny church’s
ceiling landing in the middle of and sticking with a thud smack dab in the center of
the ancient slate floor…

A mortar that did not explode.

Had it exploded, as it should have, the church would have been leveled and all the men killed…
leaving the village of Angoville as just another forgotten causality of war.

Some say it was the saints Côme and Damien who watched over this motley crew of wounded
soldiers and hapless caregivers.

“What allowed that medic to hold for 72 hours without food and rest?
Wright later explained…”The simple concern of helping other people.
When you do something that is worth doing you don’t think of your own life.”

In 1999 Robert Wright made a pilgrimage back to this tiny church.
He noted that “the church at Angoville will never be on the list of the important
churches to be visited in Europe. Yet however small the building is,
it does not prevent God understanding where hearts and prayer are.
They were many in this place.”

Robert Wright passed away at the age of 89.
His wish was to be buried in the cemetery of the same small church where he
had worked alongside Kenneth Moore to save the lives of 80 men.

His grave is simple and yet speaks volumes in its simplicity.

Today there are only 53 people who remain living in Angoville-Au-Plain.
The local mayor asks those who visit to please remember the importance of this
special place.
I will be sending them a donation…the euros I brought home along with a US monetary donation.

I want to do so because places like Angoville are too important for us to simply allow them to
succumb to the fickleness of time…
because time has an odd way of making us forget what once was while we busy ourselves
so as to not see what will be but rather we allow ourselves to wallow in the current moment
which only hopes to swallow us whole.

There are two stain-glass windows which were installed not long ago which commemorate
the importance of this church.

</a

This will be the first of several tales that I’ll be sharing regarding the big retirement
adventure trip which focuses on the real reason for the trip…that being the visit to
Normandy, France, and the D-Day Memorials…

https://www.rockdalenewtoncitizen.com/news/local/a-veteran-s-story-the-little-church-that-could/article_47f87fc0-5330-554b-8326-4b8cb975a3d9.html

501st Aid Station in the church of Angoville-au-Plain

https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2018/august/28/toccoa-georgia