By the Grace of God

For the sake of the world, for our own sakes, and for the sake of God,
we desperately need, as individuals and as a Church,
not to behave as if what we have in the way of spiritual or material goods is due
to our own merit or a result of our own will or strength.
Rather, it is the pure grace of God

Ralph Martin
from Fulfillment of All Desire


(a bumble bee buzzing the new blossoms of the blueberry blooms / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man?
Today he is, and tomorrow he appears no more. Fear God, and thou shalt have no need of
being afraid of man. What can anyone do against thee by his words or injuries?
He rather hurts himself than thee, nor can he escape the judgment of God whoever he be.
See thou have God before thine eyes and do not contend with complaining words.
And if at present thou seem to be overcome,
and to suffer a confusion which thou has not deserved,
do not repine at this and do not lessen thy crown by impatience.”

Thomas á Kempis, p.148
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

calling turkeys

The life of a Christian is to be different than the life of the unbeliever.
Like all human beings, Christians need certain things of this world to live,
but Jesus calls us to be primarily occupied with living for the kingdom.
If we do this, He promises that the things we need for life on this earth
will be given as well.

Ralph Martin
from Fulfillment of All Desire


(Cades Cove, wild turkeys /Julie Cook/ 2015)

I may have mentioned this before but my husband is an avid outdoorsman.
He’s been this way ever since he was a young boy.

Such is the predisposition of anyone having grown up in a more rural
area of the state.

And despite my having been born to a city a dwelling family, I too love the outdoors.

Now my husband has hunted and fished his whole life—
and I must say that one of the more colorful seasons of hunting is that of turkey hunting.

The other morning we were outside on the back deck, grabbing our first cup of coffee
for the day, when I heard that unmistakeable wobbling echoing from deep within the woods…

Gobblegobblegobble…

If you’ve never heard a real turkey gobbling–do a quick youtube search in order to hear
that worbbly gobbling because it really is quite humorously unique.

Being the ever-ready hunter, my husband had his turkey call mouthpiece within arms reach.

With a glint in his eye and turkey call ready to pop in his mouth, he tells
me to “listen and watch”…

My husband then proceeded to make that lovely musical sound for any and
all male turkeys…that chirping sound of a female hen looking for amore.

Sure enough—there was an echoing return, a gobbling that was louder—
and I could tell the sound was closing in.

My husband “putted” again (that’s what you call a female’s response).

The responding male, or tom turkey, was now louder and much closer.

Turkeys crack me up.

They aren’t the smartest birds in the wild.

The male gobbler, or tom, will literally come in running, puffed up, tail unfurled,
strutting his stuff, in an attempt to look as attractive as possible
for his “lady”, when he hears the call.


(a tom turkey’s tail / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sadly however during hunting season, that ‘lady’ is often a hunter looking
to put a turkey dinner on the table.

And so it is with this thought of calling in turkeys that my thoughts have turned toward
Washington D.C as our capital seems to be rife with its fair share of turkeys…
both toms and hens.
A rafter of turkeys—with a rafter being what we call a flock of turkeys.

Washington is plumb full.

It’s kind of how I feel when I see a certain youthful and prideful politician wag her finger at
the camera all the while extolling the issues as to why the opposition dislikes her.

Despite being a female, this particular politician puffs up for the camera much
like a tom turkey, with a most youthful and prideful zeal, much like that of
the tom turkey—
all the while acting more like a jake…a jake being a young male turkey who
lacks that old tom wizened wisdom.

She’s too young and too inexperienced to understand what makes wisdom what it is…
She falls prey to what she has perceived as real but in actuality is false.
Something that an old and wiser turkey would know to be false.

The older birds are not lured in as readily to an initial call as
are those younger more eogtistical birds.

Falsehoods such as a farce of some far fetched expensive new Green Deal—
or that of polarizing Socialism.

She has temper tantrums, screaming as loud as possible, popping her head back and forth
in an effort to silence what is Truth…a display indicative of a younger,
more inexperienced turkey.

The Henny Penny, the sky is falling lunacy that now besieges us…
The world will end in 12 years.
The Republicans amended the constitution to end FDR’s run.
The methane resulting from a cow’s excessive flatulence will kill us.

On and on she rants…puffing up ever grander and larger while feeling her oats
in hopes of luring in the unexpected.

But what of the other turkeys…what of those who now demand that convicted felons
should be allowed to vote–when a key component to breaking the law is to lose that
same right to vote…
a repercussion, a consequence, of not following the rules…

Yet turkeys find repercussions passe…

Just like allowing illegal aliens the right to vote in a country of which they are not citizens..

May the dead now recast their votes.

Or what of all the chatter over reparations?

What of those turkeys…turkeys who puff up all feathery for those unseen voters promising that
slave owners and businesses that profited from such, albeit it now 200 years past, must
repay those of some sort of slave heritage…

How might that ever work???

Turkey’s don’t care care how things work… not as long as they look puffy and pretty
for those luring calls

And what all turkeys must remember…someone is always patiently waiting
in the wings, waiting on having a naive turkey over for dinner.


(a poor tom turkey who was looking for love in all the wrong places / Julie Cook / 2014)

Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him, actions are weighed.

1 Samuel l2:3

Where do we rest?

“We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place for those who love us.”
St. Bernard of Clairvaux


(Rosemary Beach, Julie Cook / 2019)

“Since all our love for God is ultimately a response to His love for us, we can never
love Him in the same way He loves us, namely, gratuitously.
Since we are fundamentally dependent on God and in His debt for our creation and redemption,
our love is always owed to Him, a duty, a response to His love.
But we can love our neighbor in the same way that He loves us,
gratuitously—not because of anything the neighbor has done for us or because of anything that we owe him,
but simply because love has been freely given to us.
We thereby greatly please the Father.
God the Father tells Catherine [of Siena]:
This is why I have put you among your neighbors:
so that you can do for them what you cannot do for me—that is,
love them without any concern for thanks and without looking for any profit for yourself.
And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me.”

Ralph Martin, p. 261
An Excerpt From
Fulfillment of all Desire

Live Jesus, nothing more

“Francis [de Sales] insists that true devotion must touch every
area of our life.
True devotion is not just a matter of spiritual practices but of bringing all
our life under the lordship of Christ.
Francis is known for his slogan: ‘Live, Jesus! Live, Jesus!’
What he means by this is an invitation to Jesus to ‘live and reign in our hearts
forever and ever’…
In other words, for Francis, to live the devout life is to reach the point
in our love for God and neighbor that we eagerly
(‘carefully, frequently, and promptly’)
desire to do His will in all the various ways in which it is communicated to us:
in the duties of our state in life, in the objective teaching of God’s Word,
in opportunities and occasions presented to us, in response to our interior inspirations.”

Ralph Martin, p. 107
An Excerpt From
Fulfillment of All Desire

There is never coincidence, not even in the dark of night

“And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck,
but everything by God’s wise providence …
for matters that have been in God’s foreseeing wisdom,
since before time began, befall us suddenly,
all unawares; and so in our blindness and ignorance we say that this is accident or luck,
but to our Lord God it is not so.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(Pieta in The Cathedral of Notre Dame / Paris, France /Julie Cook / 20118)

“Many of the saints tell us that these times of God-ordained ‘desolation’ or dryness
are very important times of growth if we persevere through them by exercising a deeper
faith, hope, and love.
It is particularly important, they tell us,
not to give up our spiritual practices but to remain faithful.
God in His wisdom knows how long and how deeply we must be tried in order to come closer to Him,
and we should patiently trust Him during the trial while persevering in our practices.”

Ralph Martin, p.174
An Except From
Fulfillment of all Desire

With God, there are no accidents.
Never.

Even when, in our thinking, a near-irreparable tragedy, of which is a true accident and is
nonetheless horrific and simply unbearable…leaves both our lives and bodies shattered…

We are reminded that God is still very much present.

Yet such a reminder, to those who are living in and with the aftermath,
rings often empty and even bitterly insulting.

Our pain and our anger are both agonizingly palpable.

Yet such moments, more often than not, send even the most staunch religious
and spiritual among us into the depths of deep darkness.
A wasteland of sorrow, loneliness, bitterness and yes, a gnawing and seething anger…

The wasteland can last, for what can seem, an eternity.

Or…on the other hand…perhaps there was no accident…no tragedy…

There was no particular impetus for a sudden wandering into the wasteland of an empty soul…

We simply find ourselves, our souls, suddenly and oddly empty and cold.

At best, our faith remains shallow…
At worst, our faith seems lost forever…

However, we are reminded to hold fast.

To hold on.

Words, which to the hurting, the lost, the lonely, more often than not,
echo of emptiness and even the trite.

It will take a conscious act of totally emptying oneself to all that is.
It will take a complete letting go of all that we know and hold dear.
It will take a blind leap of faith.
It will take a willingness to trust in that which we cannot see while we cling to
a promise given to each of us long ago.

We have a choice…
we can choose to remain lost, bitter or angry.
Or we can cling to the one promise we have…

Be not afraid…

The tragedy, the accident, the sorrow which could not, cannot be prevented…
nor that of the painful results, while one seems to remain caught in the vicious cycle
of pain both physical and spiritual, that results from such situations…
is ours to either keep and hold on to or to let go of while we figure out how to find our way back…home

That is our choice, our conscious decision.

There are no accidents with God, no coincidence.
And when in the desert, He remains steadfast despite a perceived silence.

I say all of this as I am in the midst of reading a book that is a tale
of the horrific, the unthinkable, the unimaginable and yet a tale
of the hope, the healing, and the Saving Grace…
of which far outweighs that of the Evil.

More on this story as time allows.

It does indeed seem empty to say to those who suffer the unimaginable that they must simply
hold on and hold tight…
but that is exactly what we all must be willing to do…
and to “will” ourselves takes a conscious act…

Something Beautiful Happened
A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil
by Yvette Manessis Corporon

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
“All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Isaiah 41:10-13

what matters most…

“In order to be an image of God, the spirit must turn to what is eternal,
hold it in spirit, keep it in memory, and by loving it, embrace it in the will.”

St. Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

“Listen with the ear of your heart.”
– St. Benedict of Nursia


(the Gulf of Mexico as seen from Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2018)

There’s so much we could be chatting about.
So much to be talking about…
So much I’ve been thinking about.
Because if we just check in on the world, just the mere checking in swings wide the doors
of conversation both vast and far…

Yet today that all seems to be of little consequence.

However we do continue to get caught up in all of that, don’t we?

The ‘he said, she said’ of all things political, entertainment or merely worldly.
As we allow it to fuel our wrath, our angst, our sick perversions as we jump
on the neighboring soap boxes of others, prepared to pick up a sword and duel it out.

Such duels are done publically each and every day on the news just as duels are
done here in the blogosphere.
We trade jabs back and forth, parlaying a thrust here and an attack there to those we perceive
to be our enemies…

I’ve not watched much news this week–it’s been kind of nice missing out…
Yet I did catch a snippet of the breaking news out of Kentucky and of the high school shooting
which took place this past week—
a shooting that took the lives of two teenagers—while 12 others, I think, are now
suffering from their wounds…
All the while, a teenage gunman has been taken into custody—
As no motive has yet been shared.

I taught high school for over half my adult life…
After Columbine, I knew what it was like to always hold in the back of my mind the notion
that one day ‘one of ours’ could go off the deep end, or worse, someone from outside could go off
the deep end, coming inside to our world with that empty lostness,
that personification of evil, bringing that unseemingly senseless havoc into our world.

There is an utter helplessness when such happens.
Life stands still for the never-ending seconds while lives change forever.

And now that those seconds of change have passed, as lives are once again lost and changed,
the rest of us prepare to jump up on those boxes of ours with swords held high,
as we once again prepare to go to battle over mental health, gun control, safety,
security… on and on goes the list of ills…

But the bottom line is that lives are gone and lives are changed and people are hurting.

That’s the bottom line.

I was moved reading the tale today of the dad whose son was one of the two victims who lost
their young lives in that high school in Kentucky…

That dad raced to the high school and knew that the body on the stretcher being rushed from
the building was that of his son’s because he recognized the socks on the feet of the body
on the stretcher—because they were the socks he’d laid out the night before for his son
to put on the following morning.

I always made certain my son had his clothes laid out too—all through high school,
as I’d remind him, as he’d found himself too old for me to continue laying them out for him,
all so he wouldn’t have to rush around figuring out what to wear the next morning.

I wept for this father who was miraculously given the time to tell his dying son how much
he loved him.

I wept for the first responder mom who made her way to the school only to discover that her’s
was the son who was the shooter.

I wept for the family of the young lady also killed, just as I weep for the other victims in the
various hospitals.

I weep for all those who no longer have a sense of innocence or a sense of safety
or a sense of faith–as those things become victims as well.

I weep for all of us, for humankind, as we forget and are jolted back to reality as we
grapple with the understanding that we live in a broken and fallen world.

I weep because we have become so jaded by such stories that we can no longer weep but prefer rather
to immediately jump on the soapbox of battle.

Never mind the necessary mourning.
Never mind our pain, our sorrow, our brokenness…
For we have long decided that to deal with our mourning is to ignore our pain,
to ignore the hurt…

And maybe it will just go away.

There will be those rallying cries from those soapboxes,
that is if they haven’t already started crying—
that if we could just gather up every gun, identify every person before they are pushed one
step too far, if we could just do this or just do that…

But what we fail to grasp, is that life will always remain precarious.
Trgeday and Death will never leave us alone.
And none of us are exempt from the tears of sorrow…

I can only hope that in all of the sorrow, in all of the tragedies,
in all of the loss, be it public or private, that we will remember to find our compassion
at such times and not our hate.
That we can find our prayers and not our accusations and that we can remember to be the
the tangible and physical embodiment of God’s love offered freely to those who now hurt…

Since all our love for God is ultimately a response to His love for us, we can never love Him,
in the same way, He loves us, namely, gratuitously.
Since we are fundamentally dependent on God and in His debt for our creation and redemption,
our love is always owed to Him, a duty,
a response to His love. But we can love our neighbor in the same way that He loves us,
gratuitously—not because of anything the neighbor has done for us or because of anything
that we owe him, but simply because love has been freely given to us.
We thereby greatly please the Father.
God the Father tells Catherine [of Siena]: This is why I have put you among your neighbors:
so that you can do for them what you cannot do for me—that is,
love them without any concern for thanks and without looking for any profit for yourself.
And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me.”

– Ralph Martin, p. 261
An Excerpt From
Fulfillment of all Desire

“Prayer is, as it were, being alone with God.
A soul prays only when it is turned toward God, and for so long as it remains so.
As soon as it turns away, it stops praying.
The preparation for prayer is thus the movement of turning to God and away from all
that is not God.
That is why we are so right when we define prayer as this movement.
Prayer is essentially a ‘raising up’, an elevation.
We begin to pray when we detach ourselves from created objects and raise
ourselves up to the Creator.”

Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 91
An Excerpt From
The Prayer of the Presence of God

“We find rest in those we love,
and we provide a resting place for those who love us.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux