which creature say you?

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(Green darner dragonfly / Julie Cook / 2019)

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says,
‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’
I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.

I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you,
the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.
And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices,
all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or
into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God,
and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God,
and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.

To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power.
To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness.
Each of us at this moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 92
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

reward

“True happiness is not found in any other reward than that of being united with God.
If I seek some other reward besides God Himself,
I may get my reward but I cannot be happy.”

Thomas Merton

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(changing colors / Troup Co. GA / Julie Cook / 2016)

One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”

Psalm 65:12-13

Party like it’s….

I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin’, could’ve sworn it was judgment day
The sky was all purple, there were people runnin’ everywhere
Tryin’ to run from the destruction, you know I didn’t even care
Say say two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine

Lyrics to the song 1999 by Prince

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(a retired copper pot (still) on the grounds of the Jameson Distillery, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland, Julie Cook / 2015)

You know the song…
That turn of the century, energy popping, everyone up on their feet, dancing fever crazy song that we shouted out with reckless abandon on New Year’s Eve 1999…

You know how us humans get on the eve on any sort of major potential earth altering event….
What with the turning of the century, and even better yet, the turn of the millennium…
Some of us were carrying the plackets “Repent the End is near”
while others of us were, well, throwing caution to the wind and partying hardy…
like it was 999, 1999…
you get the picture.

With the mindset having been that if this is indeed the proverbial “it,” as in the end of life as we know it, we might as well let out all the stoppers, no hold’s barred and live, literally, like there’s no tomorrow….

Well, guess what…?
Tomorrow came.
We actually survived the turn of the century, the turn of the millennium and even Y2K…
Yet some of us are still carrying on like it’s still 1999…

Our culture seems to be obsessed with the mindset of living and living large in the moment.
As each and every minute we spend waking should be pleasure absorbing—and if it’s not, life is simply less than.

Get, gather, have, possess, and enjoy.

Acquire as many goodies and toys as possible.
Live the good life.
Materialism.
Extravagance.
Glamorous
Rubbing elbows
The who’s who….

Live on the edge, throw your head back, smile, laugh, eat, drink and be merry… and let loose.

Cause this here life is one big party and if you ain’t enjoying and having fun,
then you ani’t living….
…and if you’re not living large, then you’ve got problems…

Or that’s what the world of entertainment and the big marketers of all those goodies would have us believe.

And there are even those of faith who would add to all of that by reminding us that our days are indeed numbered. Because hadn’t God not said that we have been promised but the one day we open our eyes…and even the full day isn’t a guarantee…
So yes, live life to the fullest because you are not promised tomorrow…

Yet that, living life so large that we block everything else out, was never the intent…
despite what the world would have any of us to believe.

Life is not one big party—and I know many of you don’t want to hear that.
“Debbie downer” is such a current quip slapped on anyone attempting to rain on the parade of all things grand.

And Christians get a bum wrap as the deadbeats of any party.
Throughout history those glum and dire faces that seem to exude nothing but sacrifice, denial and misery have not done much to further the faith as it were.
The world standing on one side all festive and shiny, while Christians stand on the other looking all stiff in their hair shirts are viewed as terribly uninviting…

No wonder so many observers are flummoxed over the whole opposing polar opposites of the world vs Christianity.
Who doesn’t want to be happy and have fun?
And who wants to put on a less than fashionable hair shirt…?

But there’s more to it than all of that surface business.
It goes much much deeper.

For you see, this whole world, with all it’s fancy smancy trappings, is but an illusion–
an illusion of both space and time…and the master of this realm works very hard to make you
feel quite at home and “comfortable”…in the illusion.
This world as we know it, is passing all away before our very eyes.
However most of us have been deluded into thinking otherwise…

Yet at the mere mention of such there are those of you who bristle.
You’re in charge of your own thinking, your own observations, and you will think what you choose.
Who wants to hear mumbo jumbo of the what ifs, the stifling Christian dribble…
for you see nothing of merit to the words I speak…

Yet there is something much more serious at the root of all of this…
There are underlying reasons to your unabashedly intense drive and desire for all that glitters..

There’s that disturbing little matter of one’s soul.
The what happens when this little party is indeed finally all over worry…the thing you never want to spend much time fretting over…
It’s the “what then” that is often the missing piece to the puzzle….

Do you really think that when it’s all over, when your life is over, that you just simply cease to be?
That the dearly departed just fall into the abyss of some black hole—the void of pure nothingness?
Is that what bothers you?
As in there is no more and that’s that?
Is it those nagging questions that you prefer not thinking about, is that what this living fast and furious is all about?

Or perhaps you think that it’s ok because you rationalized that if you’re good, you haven’t killed any one, you haven’t really been all “that” bad, as you’ve just wanted to live happy and have certainly done such,
so you think that that’s all ok with God as He’ll obviously let all the good people go to heaven….

What then of Jesus…?
What of His words…“if you love me…”
What of that….?
That nagging question?
There was also a “you will keep my commandments” which followed….
As in “do as I have commanded you.”
“If you love me”

Just like when he said…
“I am going now, leaving you here. But don’t worry, I’m sending a helper.
The Holy Spirit.
He will help guide you.
Don’t fret, I’ve given you what you need…and now it’s your turn…
You’ve got to go forth and share my words…my commands…all to a hurting world.
It won’t be easy.
You will be ridiculed.
You will be beaten.
You will be isolated
You will be thrown out.
You will be separated…
You won’t be believed.
You won’t be welcomed.
You will meet obstacles.
You will face perils.
It won’t be easy…

Yet rich will be your reward…

As in the reward which will follow after this party hardy world is finally quiet and all said and done…

Rich, welcoming, loving, inviting, arms open wide, fall into this love, sort of reward…

So yeah…
When the party is over in this short lived realm, the next party is going to pretty unbelievable and certainly out of this world…
The question…
Will you be invited?
and should you care if you aren’t….?

There is indeed so much more…

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
Revelation 22:12

Stormy Weather

“I like to hear a storm at night. It is so cosy to snuggle down among the blankets and feel that it can’t get at you.”
― L.M. Montgomery

Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you’re aboard, there’s nothing you can do.
Golda Meir

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(ominous clouds as tornado sirens howl on a stormy Sunday Georgia morning / Julie Cook / 2015)

“. . .Life is bare
gloom and misery every where
Stormy weather
Just can’t get my poor self together
I’m weary all the time
The time
So weary all the time”

2nd stanza / Stormy Weather

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There’s nothing like listening to that beautifully melodic and mesmerizing voice of the one and only Lena Horne.
I loved / love Lena. . .
Ms Horne was born to a generation of singers who sadly have come and gone.
Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James. . .
Soulful storytellers whose beauty and life’s trials, as well as their gift of song, could stir the deepest of emotions in even the most casual of listeners.

Lena Horne defined both class and grace.
Although being born in Brooklyn and spending most of her life in New York and Pennsylvania, Ms Horne spent a good bit of her childhood living in Fort Valley, Georgia—of which I suppose lead her to acquire that markedly distinct sultry southernesque drawl she’d call upon for wooing audiences and movie producers alike.

Today’s weather is a fitting tribute to the woeful lament Ms. Horne made famous, Stormy Weather.
First performed at the famous New York Cotton Club in 1933 yet a song made immortal when performed by Ms Horne in 1943 in the movie of the same name. . .

“. . .don’t know why, there’s no sun up in the sky. . .
Stormy Weather. . .”

I didn’t need Ms Horne however, to remind me of the current weather condition as the early morning wail of the tornado sirens was sign enough.
The sirens wailed, the phones buzzed with alerts and the television was rife with the warnings of impending doom. . .as in “SEEK SHELTER NOW!!!”

Luckily the “rotation” the doppler radar was indicating was remanning up in the clouds and thankfully had not descended to the ground.

It was to be on this tumultuous Sunday morning, as it is on many Sunday mornings, my husband was to treat me to breakfast out. As in I wasn’t going to have to cook it. It’s the only morning he’s not at work. As in he’s actually home. And of all the little treats in life. . . it’s breakfast out that I enjoy most. There’s just something special about heading out on a lazy stress free morning to some inviting little restaurant or tiny cafe, as the heady scent of bacon mingling with fresh coffee greets all at the door.

And so it was on this stormy, springtime morning I was to be treated to a nice breakfast out. The only problem was that an impending tornado was in the middle of my path to bacon and pancakes.
UGH!

The weatherman on the news was zooming in on a fierce looking storm hovering about 5 miles south down the road from our house. It’s amazing how they can pinpoint storms with such vivid accuracy. A Tornado Warning had been issued, the sirens were wailing and my stomach was growling.
We waited.
I peered out the windows.
The rain beat down.
No lightning thank goodness.
I hate lightning.
No winds.
Just black skies with torrential rains.

All of which got me thinking. . .
How often in life are we excited, full of anticipation, looking forward to something special, when suddenly, out of the blue, we get blindsided, we’re thrown a curve ball, we hit the proverbial bump in the road, we hit the wall? There’s a glitch that rears its ugly head in our best laid plans. Our assumptions for a complete follow-through are not what we had expected or anticipated.

Rather than savoring the smooth sailing toward a treat, a reward, a trip, a special event, a magnanimous moment we’re faced with an impending storm, a train wreck, a disaster, a detour. Our attentions shift, our guard gets up, plan B must be implemented, and we hunker down.
We wait.

And as it so happens with the worst of storms–the rains fall, the clouds lighten, the winds shift, the energies exhaust and the dangers pass.
With or without repercussions.
At which time we emerge bleary eyed, nerves shaken, but resolve in tact.
We’re ready to proceed, to continue, forward.
Maybe we have to pick up a few pieces along the way, maybe our plans are delayed. . .
yet nevertheless our eyes remain fixed. . .fixed on our hopes and dreams which remain down the road where we had yearned to travel in the first place.

So on this new morning to this new week, may you keep your eyes on the prize. . .
whatever that prize may be for you. . .
May you remain prepared for what life may throw in the middle of your travels
And may you remember that we all have stormy weather at some point in our lives
but that the storms will always, eventually, pass. . .