looking up and being reminded


(a pigeon rests on a statue placed above the ridge of the Assumption chapel at the corner
of Garancière street and Palatine street, behind the Saint-Sulpice church. / Julie Cook / 2018)

Back in the summer, back when the beach was consuming so many of our minds,
I offered a post featuring some shots I’d taken of some pelicans I’d seen while enjoying
our summer trip to the panhandle of Florida.

Nothing says beach and ocean like seeing a brown pelican sitting on an old weathered pier or that
of a formation of these gangly birds gliding effortlessly just above the surf…

Days such as today…days that are damp, windy, overcast and grey quickly push our thoughts
to warmer sunnier days. This as we are just entering into our darker colder days of the year.

I noted in that previous post how much, for reasons unknown, that I love pelicans…
They are my favorite birds oddly enough.

Birds that eat whole fish and hold them in their gullets for later…
my husband calls them nasty birds while I call them resourceful.

My previous post touched on the seemingly odd relationship pelicans have had in Christian lore
and tradition.

I did a little research and offered a bit of teaching from the information that I had gleaned…
The premise was that during times of famine, mother pelicans have been known to pluck their own
breasts until they bled in order to offer their own blood to their hungry babies…
offering life-giving sustenance.

A direct reference to Christ who offers His own blood for our spiritual hunger and
our own salvation.

So recently when visiting Paris, we were staying at a small hotel just outside of
the Luxembourg Gardens.


(just a tiny area of the Luxembourg Gardens with a shot of the Senate building behind/
Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

This boutique hotel sits in the shadow of the second largest church in Paris,
Eglise Saint-Sulpice.


(Eglise Saint-Sulpice / Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

I happen to really love this church as it is not Notre Dame.


(Notre Dame / Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

It is not consumed by crowds and tourists.

It was the anchor to the neighborhood my aunt and I called home for a couple of
days about 8 years ago and the same anchor to the same neighborhood my husband and I called
home more recently….the Germain-des-Prés, Odéon of the 6th arrondissement.

Entering this historic building is definitly otherworldly.

It’s like walking into an ancient, silent and dark crevasse…as well as
stepping back into a far removed time…think pre-Revolution and pre-Bonaparte.
Yet the Revolution did hinder the finishing of the facade.

The original church was constructed in the 13th century but the building we see
today dates to the early 1600’s—finally being completed in the late 18th century.
Yet it suffered, as did so many in Paris, during the Revolution.

There are some famous paintings by Eugene Delacroix…

Along with some masterful statues and some simple but lovely stain glass…

Along with the scars from living through the days of a revolution down to
simple neglect and decay…

Add of course the massive and impressive organ

And yet there is reverence…
There is a deep and mystical yearning by many who come here…
those who come curious or those who come seeking.

They come to sit,
to pray,
to sleep,
to hide,
to rest,
to wander,
to wonder…

And so it was when I was actually outside on a side street…
walking alongside the perimeter of this massive hulking building that I looked up
and actually saw it…
the mother pelican sitting atop a spire of a side chapel.

The same imagery that came to mind back in July…and here it was again in September.
Found not at the beach and not in some warm tropical locale but rather in the midst
of a massively large city whose people are often too busy to glance upward albeit toward
their rather famous tower…

And yet here it was…as always, a powerful reminder of sacrifice.
Life, death, redemption, and salvation…


(all photos by Julie Cook / Paris, France / 2018)

Remember to always stop long enough to look up…

And may we now offer our prayers for our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh
as well for all the first responders…

Lord have mercy…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/pelicans/

one more word…

America is the only country ever founded on a creed.
G.K. Chesterton


(images of the flag flying over the American Cemetery in Normandy / Julie Cook / 2018)

I want to offer one last reflection regarding our visit to the Amercian Cemetery in Normandy
before moving on to other thoughts.

When we arrived at the US cemetery after a day of exploring battlefields, the “enemy’s” cemetery
as well as occupied villages and towns, it was now shortly before 4PM.

Each afternoon at 4PM an honor guard makes its way to the American flag flying watch over the
thousands of perfectly aligned crosses and stars.

Taps is played as the flag is lowered and folded.
The flag is lowered each and every day just as it has been lowered now for the past 74 years
that the cemetery has been an official US cemetery on foreign soil.

We had been wandering about the graves overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of graves—
almost unaware that we were now carrying a heavy sense of deep sorrow.

We were told that it was the state of West Virginia that suffered the greatest number of
losses during the invasion, so we looked for the names of the states whose young men are
resting under the rows of crosses and stars.

We saw names hailing from states such as Kansas, Arizona, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania…
and yes West Virginia.

Just like in most cemeteries, there is a solemn quiet that carries itself throughout
the air.
Whispers or simple silence is the unspoken rule of etiquette.

As the clock struck 4 PM, as the honor guard approached the flag,
all the wandering visitors stopped wandering.

Next, all present turned toward the flag and were suddenly very still
as ball caps were removed from heads, despite the rain…
as now both young and old automatically lifted hands to either place over hearts or
lift to the head in salute.

Something very powerful was taking place.

Reverence and respect were taking place…
laced with humility as well as gratitude.

Oh how far this land of ours has fallen from those hallowed ideals.

I pray we find them again…soon.

If we ever forget that we are one nation under God,
then we will be a nation gone under.

Ronald Reagan

friends and mates

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.
I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

―Jane Austen

DSCN4298
(the latest friend in the dammit family / Julie Cook / 2016)

Over the course of the past weekend, my son and his wife moved into their new apartment.
They did so with the help of group of friends.
Going from a house in the suburbs to a smaller apartment in the city will naturally take some adjusting,
however I think their level of excitement is far exceeding any need for adjustment.

I mention that they had a group of friends helping because that got me thinking.
Whereas my dear friends, or better yet mates, in the UK would naturally say
that it was my son’s mates who helped him out…
with mates referring to his friends,
I simply use the word friends…

All variances of semantics I suppose.

Yet when hearing the word friends referred to as mates,
I find that I actually prefer using the word mates as opposed to friends.

Friends come in all sorts of varying degrees of difference.
Close friends,
dear friends,
intimate friends,
partner,
buddy,
pal,
associates,
acquaintances,
roommates,
co-workers,
colleagues…
all of which constitute falling under the one umbrella of the collective word friends.
Some close, some really close, some not so close…

In my opinion however, the word mate, or the plural form mates, seems to refer to a tighter knit connection.
A closer level of familiarity and knowledge.

And when it comes to moving house—
especially with moving from a larger house to a smaller apartment almost 70 miles away,
it takes a really tight knit group of “friends,” hence mates,
volunteering their precious weekend time to drive back and forth,
hauling, lifting, toting, dissembling, reassembling the possessions of another….

As perhaps one’s mates come with a certain level of deeper commitment,
whereas ones friends fluctuate.

And of course in this country we refer to a spouse as a mate.
As in a pair.
As in a help mate.
As in soul mate.
As in a union of two becoming one.

So once again, mate having a tighter connection than just that of friend.

And as we so often refer to our Savior as our friend…
having the relationship with Jesus, as Lord and Savior is anything but that of a friend…
Despite hymns singing to the contrary and many who reference Him as their best friend…
there is difference between friend and God….

For the Xristósis, the Christos, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ…
is far greater than that of friend.
He and His relationship with us, those who claim Him as God,
exceeds the confine of friendship..

Being both God and Spirit, as He is of the Triune Godhead,
He commands so much more than our mere friendship…

Rather He commands our awe and wonderment…
And our reverence and our homage.

For He is not a mere friend,
not even a mate…
but rather a Sovereign God…

A God who cares about both our physical and emotional wants and needs,
yet deserves our reverence, our wonderment, our praise, our worship…

It is good to have friends, even better to have great mates…
but most importantly it behooves us to have a Savior, who gave His very life
for each and every last one of us…..

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Reverence, Revered and Respect

“Let parents then bequeath to their children not riches but the spirit of reverence.”
― Plato

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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(how pure is white / Julie Cook / 2015)

I was driving to town today when the cars in front of me suddenly began pulling over to the side of the road.
I wondered if an ambulance was approaching as I also began rapidly slowing down while making my way to the edge of the road.

The lead car of the approaching procession was one of the local police.
Following close behind was a solemn black hearse and behind that was a long line of cars with their hazard lights all flashing.

Those of us on the opposite side of the road, the now growing yet stopped line of on-coming traffic, waited patiently and respectfully until the funeral procession passed us by.

I am always greatly moved when I happen to find myself on the road when such a sad and somber processional of cars rambles by—well wishes and prayers are silently sent to those passerby’s on their way to a rite of passage full of difficult farewells.

Incidents like the one this morning always bring to mind a memory I hold of a similar time of respectful observance. It was several years ago when I was visiting Cortona, Italy. My aunt and I had wandered into the local Pharmacia. Italian pharmacies are truly experiences steeped in decorum and order. . .which is such a contrast in a country known for its unexplainably chaotic traffic as well as its passionate and unrestrained emotions.

As we were wandering about the store, looking at a display of the cutest sandals of all things, the lights in the store were suddenly turned off as the sales lady reverently crossed herself as she moved toward the door in order to shut it. She held her finger up to her lips, hushing the now curious patrons inside, before turning her attention back to what was soon to be passing by the store.
And that’s when we all saw it.
Along the ancient cobbled stone road a white hearse slowly made it’s way through the small medieval town followed by a long line of mourners who were marching silently behind.

As soon as the funeral caravan had passed, the door was reopened, the lights popped back on and it was business as usual.

When it comes to our dead and dearly departed, it appears that both respect and reverence are deeply rooted and widely universal.
And yet I am bewildered by the lack of such which we woefully fail to show, demonstrate or deliver to the living, our fellow human beings.

Sitting on the side of a small town’s road, as a local funeral procession snakes its way to a countryside cemetery, my thoughts turn from this current scene of respect and reverence to one of tragic disrespect. . .to the very real and raw emotions, coupled with the agonizing questions now swirling around a signal sinister act, in a sister state’s colonial coastal city. . .

A gunman walks into a church in Charleston
A gunman walks into an elementary school in Connecticut
A gunman walks into a youth camp in Norway
A gunman walks into a museum in Tunsia
A gunman walks into a classroom at Virginia Tech
A gunman walks into a publishing office in France
A gunman walks into a synagogue in Denmark
A gunman walks into a mosque in Wisconsin
A gunman walks into a hospital in Germany
A gunman walks into a school in Colorado

On and on and on it goes.
The disrespect of the lives of those who are innocent, fall away one by one.
Lives disregarded as easily as discarded trash, taken for granted and considered expendable.
Lost in the chaos of twisted, broken, evil and hate filled minds. . .

Sterile
Immune
Safe
Exempt
Sacred
Off limits
Protected

Nothing seems to remain as it appears we have lost all respect for the sacred, the holy, the young, the old. . .even losing our reverence for both life and death. . .

Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:17

Give to everyone what you owe: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:7

Reverence

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:28-29 (RSV)

DSCN2784
(shot of the delightful long lost sun, looking west form Julie’s driveway / 2013)

Circumstances during the past several days have lead me to a great deal of reflection and pondering.

I suppose various situations and individuals I have both experienced and met, within the last week or so, have lead me to revaluate my place in this life and of my being dependent on the Creator of all life—as I have become painfully aware of my insignificance in the universe after so falsely feeling a puffed up sense of importance.

I must say that I am most grateful that, after such a long period of grey wet days, we have been most fortunate seeing the brilliant blue of a winter’s sky and the brilliance of a full and most healthy sun. I am humbled by the power Nature plays on the emotional psych of we mere mortals. It is amazing watching the lighter step of folks out and about running their errands, dashing here and there, once the sun and its warmth finally returned after days of hiding.

I must say that I am taken aback however by the lack of reverence I have been observing, usually during my daily routines, from many of the folks I simply pass by, here and there, during the journeys of a single day. I am troubled by how people often treat “Life”—be it the immediate environment with the littering which accumulates on the streets, the sidewalks, the parking lots. . . or of how people often treat one another— abrupt, curt, dismissive, or as less than.

There was the woman who was loading groceries into her very expensive car from her shopping cart just as I was doing the same, as I had parked next to her. She was dressed very smartly and was maybe 10 years older than I am. I finished unloading, she finished unloading. I pushed my cart back to the “buggy corral” in the parking lot, walked back to my car, only to discover that the woman had already driven off— leaving her cart merely sitting in the middle of the vacant parking spot which was between us. No car could have gotten into the space due to her abandoned cart. . . I had to move her cart out of the way, back to the corral, lest someone unknowingly hit the cart while trying to pull into the space. Really?

Or how about the myriad of people who stay on their cell phone throughout their entire time while standing in line at the ___________ store (fill in the blank), who finally get up to the check out counter without ever acknowledging the cashier as a human being who is providing a service– instead opting to stay on the phone, never acknowledging anyone around them. It blows my mind. There is a live breathing human-being standing directly in front of them, and yet they are too busy talking on the phone to a voice, that is who knows where, to be kind, courteous or simply human. Unbelievable. .

Or how about waiting on a person, as I have done in my husband’s store, whose phone suddenly rings. With no acknowledgment, they quickly, in mid sale, sentence, question, transaction, answer the phone and walk off leaving you or me simply hanging with a line of people now waiting for them to come back to finish up what they had originally intended on doing. Really?

Have we all become so clueless to our immediate surroundings or have we simply reached a point where we don’t care about those around us, vying rather for the affections of a voice emanating from a small little box we hold to our ear?! Have we lost our humanness, our compassion, our ability to communicate with real people verses voices in small boxes? I am troubled by our lack of patience with one another, our lack of empathy for one another, as well as our lack of respect for our living and breathing world. I think it simply boils down to a lack of reverence for not only the Sacred, but for merely life in general. When we lose our humanness, we lose ourselves.

May this time of year, especially this time of year, regardless of religious persuasion, allow us to reclaim our humanness, our concern for both our fellow man (yes that means women as well—I don’t feel the need to clarify as the word usage is all inclusive) as well as for our immediate environment. May we stop long enough to acknowledge those who are all around us—who is to say that by the offering of a smile, a small conversation or brief interaction isn’t what that person opposite us at the counter, next to us in line, or who is delivering packages and mail to our door, is not in desperate need of just such in order to get through their day. . .the opportunity is just waiting for us to be the right person in the right place for whoever may be in need. . .

Reverence for life, for the planet, for the Sacred, for one another–that is partly what this time of year, especially this time of year, should draw us all close to—to our planet and to our fellow man–or woman—or child. Common sense, kindness, compassion, acknowledgment, are all such simple acts which sadly seem to be more and more difficult to preform. Has our obsession with technology dulled those components within our very being which give us our “humanness”? I hope not.

May we take the challenge during the next couple of weeks to be ever mindful of those around us—those who we pass at the store, the post office, in the parking lot, at the day care, at work, at school, at the mall, etc—wherever we interact with people— by putting down our phones, our “tablets,” our earphones, our e-readers, etc–allowing for kind interaction and acknowledgment of our fellow man. For by doing so over the course of the next couple of weeks, we may develop a delightful happy pattern of interaction that will carry on throughout the entire year.

Here is to a smile and a warm hello. . .