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/

revolution, murder or just a sad day when men forgot God?

“Over half a century ago, while I was still a child,
I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the
great disasters that had befallen Russia:
“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution;
in the process, I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies,
and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away
the rubble left by that upheaval.
But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous
revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people,
I could not put it more accurately than to repeat:
“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


((a sheep gazes out over the Atlantic among the cliffs of County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

When I think of what makes a revolution just that, a revolution,
I often think in terms of those heady days of yon when people were drunk with the
notion of upheaval and change.

Heads often literally rolled, blood was certainly shed as revolutionaries and “the people”
held up clenched fists in solidarity.

Revolution was the upsetting of the proverbial apple cart to the status quo and the deliberate
culling of the old guard.

“Power to the people” was boldly shouted over the din of clashing swords and
the volley of gunfire.

And so when I read the following quote by the Irish prime minister regarding the recent
vote to lift the ban on abortion in Ireland,
I was left wondering who were to be the ultimate victims of this particular “revolution”…

Because if anyone knows their history, there are always victims of a revolution…
many of whom are merely the innocent caught in the crossfire of man’s folly while the
revolutionaries disregard such losses as expendable,
the mere price to be paid for the revolution.

“The Irish prime minister has hailed his country’s “quiet revolution”
as early results point to a “resounding” vote for overturning the abortion ban.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44265492

I think we all know who the victims of this revolution will be…

Those who yet have a voice to speak…

“. . . we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life,
the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”.
We find ourselves not only faced with but necessarily in the midst of this conflict:
we are all involved and we all share in it,
with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”

Pope John Paul II
(Evangelium Vitae)

what is the seed you sow?

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but
by the seeds that you plant.”

― Robert Louis Stevenson


(the tender cap of an emerging toadstool / Julie Cook / 2017)

If you have sown the seeds of discord…
If you have sown the seeds of hate…
If you have sown the seeds of the raging inferno…
If you have sown the seeds of vile speech…
If you have sown the seeds of dissent…
If you have sown the seeds of an ungracious spirit…
If you have sown the seeds of intolerance…
If you have sown the seeds of protest…
If you have sown the seeds of opposition…
If you have sown the seeds of pushing back…
if you have sown the seeds of violence…
If you have sown the seeds of resistance
If you have sown the seeds of revolution
If you have sown the seeds of civil unrest
If you have sown the seeds of contention
If you have sown the seeds of conflict
If you have sown the seeds of hostility
If you have sown the seeds of anarchy
If you have sown the seeds of mistrust
If you have sown the seeds of lawlessness
If you have sown the seeds of collusion
If you have sown the seeds of deceit….

spilt blood is on your hands….

Do not be deceived;
God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption;
but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap,
if we do not lose heart.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:7-9

impossible seperation

“Wherever an altar is found,
there civilization exists.”

Joseph de Maistre


( guillotine located in the Museum of the Basilica of the Holy Blood / Bruges, Belgium / Julie Cook / 2011)

There is nothing like a good ol revolution followed by the feeding frenzy of the lopping off
of heads to turn one’s thoughts to say, a more conventional path to life….
Or so it seems to have been so for the author of today’s quote.

A life, shall we say, consisting of the anchors of morality sprinkled with a steady dose of
conservatism….particularly if one was previously giddy over a life of anarchy and wanton
enlightened liberalism.

Yet it seems that time and time again…
man precariously rides the ever swinging pendulum of time,
swinging both left and right….
as he works to swing himself ever closer to living life simply fast and furious
while claiming to be both footloose and fancy free…

However the pendulum will always come back to the elephant in the room…
that being…. man verses a Divine Creator…

Deny and decry as oft man does….
As ego and pride take center stage as the masters of all that is,
societies will continue going to hell in a hand basket.

All the while as everyone is busying themselves… trying to separate the notion of morality
from Western Civilization’s Christian / Judaeo lynchpin….
which is like trying to separate the moon from the night sky….

It has always seemed to me completely inconsistent that existentialism should deny the
existence of God and then proceed to use the language of theism to persuade men to live right.
The French writer, Jean-Paul Sartre, for instance,
states frankly that he represents atheistic existentialism.
“If God does not exist,” he says, “we find no values or commands to turn to which
legitimize our conduct.
So in the bright realm of values, we have no excuse behind us, nor justification before us.
We are all alone, with no excuses.”
Yet in the next paragraph he states bluntly,
“Man is responsible for his passion,” and further on,
“A coward is responsible for his cowardice.”
And such considerations as these, he says, fill the existentialist with “anguish,
forlornness and despair.”
It seems to me that such reasoning must assume the truth of everything it seeks to deny.
If there were no God there would be no such words as “responsible.”
No criminal need fear a judge who does not exist;
nor would he need to worry about breaking a law that had not been passed.
It is the knowledge that the law and the judge do in fact exist that strikes fear
to the lawbreaker’s heart.
There is someone to whom he is accountable;
otherwise the concept of responsibility could have no meaning.

A.W. Tozer

Friday the 13th, it’s your lucky day

God gave us the gift of life;
it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.

Voltaire

DSCN1233
(a female Mallard preens at the stream that runs through the grounds of Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I suppose a birthday is a day for a true celebration…
A reason for celebrating to the utmost as we only are offered one every 364 days.
A day for getting all gussied up and being able to preen about for a day…
just like the belle of the ball.
Or so that’s how I hear some folks go about a birthday.

And because I was born on a Friday the 13th I was always told that Friday the 13th was a lucky day for those born on such an ominous day of misfortune…hummmmmmm….

I’ve never been much for drawing a bunch of attention to myself.
I’m a bit shy about this whole birthday hoopla.
I usually do better if it’s someone else’s birthday, allowing me to make the fuss over them…
I don’t do well receiving the “fuss” as it makes me feel rather awkward.
I’m not certain as to why that is…
And mind you, it’s not that I don’t like to be remembered, I do— I’m just one who likes to keep it quiet and simple.

And to some degree I do attribute that whole birthday awkwardness to that whole adoption thing.
Not that my adoptive parents didn’t make birthdays marvelous—they did…
And it’s not so much that I am actually Sophia Loren’s love child….
Don’t look so alarmed…If you’ve been a reader here often enough you will see that that little piece of news surfaces every once in a while, but we still must keep that our little secret as Ms Loren isn’t totally aware of that little fact–but I digress…

Yet in all seriousness, as I ask to be indulged today in all matters serious and or celebratory as it is my birthday, it should be known that I am a firm believer in the transference of emotions from mother to child when a woman is pregnant. A woman who is angry, resentful, fretful, neglectful to and of the child she carries certainly conveys those negative feelings, thoughts and actions to that unborn child.

And whereas you may think I’m going off a bit half cocked on this one, I have spent many years having done a good bit of reading, study and research on the topic as it obviously hits close to home.

Imagine a woman who is pregnant…
A woman who did not want to be pregnant…
A woman who is shocked by the pregnancy, angry over the pregnancy, embarrassed by the pregnancy…
A woman who goes to great lengths to hide her pregnancy…so much so that she does not seek prenatal care, does not take care of herself as a pregnant woman should…plots and plans to immediately “get rid” of said baby once “it” is born…or even worse, harbors ill will to the unborn child and even considers ways of doing away with it entirely…

Terrible yes, but sadly it happens.

And now how are we to ever imagine that this little living, breathing human being inside is to develop happily, full of health and vigor, if there is a massive sense of dread and resentment and plotted abandonment looming over its arrival…
No warm and fuzzy nurturing here.
No fun little baby showers.
No bright happy nurseries.
No imagining what a little life’s potential is to be…
No warm daydreams of what will be…
Rather just dread, denial, anger, resentment, loathing…

Therefore pregnancy and parenthood are not to be entered into lightly…The ultimate responsibility for another life is woven into that mystical nine month time period…

So yesterday evening I caught a snippet of a story on the national news about some sort of law suit being filed by a group of women who had become pregnant while taking a particular brand of birth control pill. It seems that the pills had been mislabeled in the box–making the pills less effective on the days they were thought to be more effective.
These 100 plus women, who got pregnant due to the said ineffectiveness of the pills, are now suing the pharmaceutical company for damages and unplanned costs of now having to raise unplanned and unwanted children.

The story stated that 94 of the women continued with the pregnancies, carrying the babies to term.
Yet they are part of a law suit that states that they want to reimbursed for cost of raising a child and educating a child as they hadn’t bargained on doing such…

Hummmm…

Am I the only one left standing here wondering what of this is good?

I wonder how these children, who when old enough to understand, will feel knowing that their moms sued because they really didn’t want them in the first place and didn’t bargain on having to take care of them financially for say the next 25 years or so.

If that just doesn’t scream of warm and fuzzy parental nurturing….

Perhaps the irony of sadness here is lost only on me.

I have never been one to believe in birth control as a green flag for sex. It’s just simply not that easy nor that simple–despite everyone’s desire to make it so.

There is a grave and deep responsibility to having sex that our society, our culture, has apparently lost all sight of…
Even if you remove the Religious component there still exists a huge responsibility to having sex—it should be anything but causal.

Sex in our society has become as common place as buying a Coke.
Sex is sex and that’s that…no one wants it to be anything more–just a moment of self satisfaction reduced to a carnal animalistic level.

It seems as if it has become an unalienable right right up there with voting.
Sex is a huge marketing ploy, it’s huge in advertisement, huge in entertainment, huge in sales, huge in all sorts of venues that make this capitalist county of ours run—any dinnertime commercial espousing the importance of “looking for that just right moment” of Viagra or Cialis can tell you that.

Sex on a first date is as common as buying a pack of gum.
No longer is there commitment, a relationship, a thoughtfulness of both parties, or God forbid there be a marriage before hand as that is just so last century…or maybe even two centuries ago…

Yea yea, I know and I get it—I’m too old fashioned, or I simply don’t understand, or I’m just too uptight, or I’m too naive, or I’m too religious, or I’m too much of a prude, or I’m no saint so shut the hell up, or I’m too old, or I’m too conservative, or I’m too…just fill the blank…

I will simply say that it should behoove all of us to remember that sex comes with a huge responsibility that has a variety of end results and ramifications. Lest anyone one of us forget that nothing is a 100% guarantee to stop said ramifications but for one thing and one thing only—that being abstinence—and we all know that that ain’t happening in this “I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it and how I want to do it… so there” society of ours.

The sexual revolution of the 60’s….
Now there’s a revolution which has had catastrophic reverberations…
Sex for sex sake, we all can now have our cake and eat it too…we’ve rationalized everything, ignoring others, just in order to have our cake and eat it to the point that we legalized abortions by golly, we made morning after pills and we’ll do anything we have to do, even up to sertilizing ourselves, all in the name of having responsible irresponsible sex—causal or otherwise just because we want to so therefore we can—“it’s my body, my party and I won’t be crying”…that’s our liberated selves in a nutshell

Wherever has the importance gone?
The big deal?
The whole overwhelming awe in creating of a new life?
The desire to form a family?
The wonder of being a couple?
The mystical bond between a man and a woman bound in a single union?
The nurturing?
The specialness of the moment?
The sacredness?
Dare I say it, commitment…as in…for life…for Love???…
Where is the Creator who has joined two in the union for all of Creation…

Please know that I say all of this knowing that at the same time…
Life happens..
There are mistakes, accidents…we do things we regret, we didn’t really mean,
Things we’d change if we could…but simply can’t… or… that’s just the way it is and that’s that…

I am very much a believer in Grace…as I am a product of that Grace in and on so many different levels of this life of mine.
I believe that with God, all things can and will work to His Glory…if we turn it all over to Him…it’s just that some things may take the long way ’round getting there due to our not having listened in the first place…but He can and will still make it work in the end.

I realize that some of you just don’t buy any of what I’m saying and perhaps even vehemently oppose such a thought…
and that’s ok too.

But it is indeed my birthday and I think I’ll have my say since I’m shying away from any sort of hoopla.

And why for heaven’s sake should I venture into such heaviness on a day that is meant to be a day of celebrating you ask….Well I will celebrate later, quietly with my family, but as I have lived long enough now to know, as I reflect on this day of another year of living and to what that living of a life well entails, that we as a society, a culture, have got to turn things around and turn them around fast before turning around is, in a word, impossible…

So, on this Friday the 13th…to all those birthday babies out there young and old, legit or not, happy or sad, adopted or in foster care, alone or surrounded by a throng of loving family and friends– I wish you all happiness, joy and love….
Happy Birthday to me and to us….

“you say you want a revolution. . .”

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.
Anne Frank

DSCN4606
(detail of an antique fire bonnet/ Julie Cook / 2014)

Whoa retired art teacher. . .those are some pretty strong words are they not?
I suppose you’re right dear reader, the word “revolution” does evoke all sorts of radical connotations.
Just posting the word on the blog probably has some government top dog out there curious as to the tom-foolery this retired educator is trying to stir up. . .

With the ongoing escalation of tensions between the US, Europe and Russia regarding the state of the free and democratic country of Ukraine, the continuing saga in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel–peace talks on, peace talks off. I’m 54 years old— these “peace” talks have been ongoing and the tension ever present. . .long before I ever entered this world and it has all been going on almost since the beginning of time. Even before Israel became an independent state, the discord has existed, and will continue as the biblically minded among us simply nod in a sad understanding. . .it does seem that the world at large is indeed in need of some sort of Revolution.

And then there were the headlines out of Chicago this past week. . .

I was fortunate to have visited the toddling town this past August, falling in love with life on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city itself is full of delightful green space, attractions for the eyes, the intellect, the tastebuds, the sports minded, as well as for the outdoor enthusiast. We walked to most destinations and took taxis for those out of reach. We felt safe and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

I am also quite familiar with Chicago’s darker past of the bygone days of Speakeasies, Gangland activity and Government corruption. Sadly it seems, however, that the past may never have truly been eradicated and redeemed as news from this midwestern hub of commerce and charm appears most dire and grim.

Over the course of the Easter weekend, there were a reported 45 shootings in the city, out of which there were 45 wounded or dead.
(see the full article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/22/how-chicago-became-chiraq.html)

Many of the victims were children. Reportedly, involving one most disturbing incident, when a car pulled up, at a park were young children had gathered after Easter Church services to play— a passenger in the car points a gun at a group of kids, with the oldest child being age 11, asking if they were members of a gang. Before the children could respond, they were all shot.

I should have suspected something was a rye when, on the morning of our final day in Chicago, I had flipped on the morning news. It was a Monday in mid August, the first day back to school for the kids of Chicago. The lead story was of the neighborhood safety watches, with individuals literally posted along sidewalks, in order for the kids to be to able to walk to school without fear of gun violence. “Wait a minute,” I silently muttered, “we did not see anything like this during our visit!. . .” The teacher and parent in me filed this away as most unsettling.

The city, of which I have recently learned, has the dubious nickname of “Chiraq”—a butchered mixing of the words Chicago and Iraq—and with 45 shot dead or wounded during the course of a single weekend, I can understand the war zone distinction. But I suppose we could say the same for the streets of Compton, Detroit, Atlanta. . .as the list goes on and on.

We can argue that all of this is a direct result of guns or that it’s because of the drugs, or it’s because of the gangs, or it’s because of the broken family unit, or it’s because of welfare, or it’s because of unemployment, or it’s because of race, or it’s because of the social structure, or it’s because all of the above and them some. . . etc, on and on, ad infinitum, as it does go on and on.

We can tout that if we simply eradicate, educate, communicate, placate, eliminate, etc, then we can fix our mess of violence in this country as well as in this world.

Did any of that intellectual rumination matter this week in Kabul, Afghanistan when the man chosen to guard, defend and protect 3 American doctors and medical volunteers, who were in that country to help save the lives of woman and babies, thought it better to shoot and kill these selfless aid workers at point blank range?

How simple was it to understand that their mission was merely one of service and aid, yet even that didn’t seem to matter to one who convinced himself that their death outweighed their service.

Who thinks like that?!
Who thinks it’s ok to shoot kids?
Oh I best not start with the questions, as we’d be here all day. . .

The revolution of which I speak is a not a Revolution of unrest, violence and destruction but rather a Revolution of Love.
Not some dippy hippy, day of yore, let’s make love not war, mubmo jumbo. . .but an actual revolution of Agape.

Agape–ἀγάπη, agápē
Greek for unconditional love.
Not a romantic love, not a sexual love, not an obsessive love, not a self love, but the love of one human begin for another–the same love of the omnipotent God for His creation and in turn, His Creation for Him.

Unconditional, meaning without strings attached–the concern of another human being without regard to self and self’s wellbeing—just like what those doctors in Afghanistan possessed. . .

But Julie, how can one love others when staring down the barrel of a gun, when one is holding a dead or dying loved one in one’s arms, when all one has spent a lifetime working for and building is destroyed and or taken. . .? Does not violence, hatred, death and destruction beget only more of the same?

Examples are indeed all around us—as they have been down through the ages.
Notable examples of such are the Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe who voluntarily gave his life in place of a jewish man in the death camp of Auschwitz. Mother Teresa who spent a lifetime picking up the diseased and dying Hindu and Muslim in the streets of Calcutta. Corrie Ten Boom, the Christian Dutch resistance underground worker whose family spent much of the War hiding Jews in their home, who were all eventually arrested, sent to Ravensbruck Concentration camp, where she alone survived. Her book The Hiding Place documents this harrowing and dark time of the world’s history.

We can also say that individuals such a Mahatmas Ghandi and even Martin Luther King Jr were also shining examples of what peace and the demonstration of Love can accomplish when staring at violence and death head on.

I for one have grown weary of the gangs, the drugs, the wars, the hate, the resentment, the needless killings, the disregard for human life and human dignity.

When will enough ever be enough?

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right!

(Lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)