No east nor west

Oh, East is East, and West is West,
and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently
at God’s great Judgment Seat;

But there is neither East nor West,
Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
though they come from the ends of the earth!

Rudyard Kipling “The Ballad of East and West

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(a tiny skipper and honey bee share the same patch of sedum / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(a tiny skipper and honey bee share the same patch of sedum / Julie Cook / 2015)

Having been raised in the Episcopal Church, attending a very large
southern gothic Cathedral, I relished in the rich hymns which would
echo off the seemingly cold limestone walls each Sunday morning.
Resoundingly joyous, as well as seriously solemn, proclamations
of faith carried aloft by both grand organ, choir and congregation would
ring out triumphantly each Sunday all those many years ago—
just as they do to this day.

It’s just that I no longer hear those hymns as I once did as I have long since moved away from my childhood home and church–having long since drifted away from the Episcopal Church.
Yet I know those hymns still ring true as that’s just a part of the strong tie that binds the faithful to the services of the various denominations of the Christian Church, most of which are steeped in rich traditional sacred music—despite the divisions and doctrinal changes, some things such as hymns, stand up to the rigorous test of time.

Every once in a while, for whatever reason, one of those beautiful melodies comes gently gliding back to the forefront of my thoughts and memories.
Oddly such was the case today.
I found myself mindlessly, or so it seemed, humming a vaguely familiar tune when it suddenly dawned on me what it was I was actually humming. . .In Christ there is no east or west, in Him no north or south, but one great fellowship throughout the whole wide earth. . .

A rather apt hymn given the current state of this overtly divided Nation, or rather make that World, of ours. . .

I did a bit of digging regarding the origin of the hymn—was there some sort of lesson God had to offer me as it seemed He graciously brought the tune and memory into focus this oh so average summer day.

The hymn was written in 1908 by William J. Dunkerly, aka John Oxenham, an English businessman turned poet, journalist and author. The poem / hymn was roughly based off of a story written by Rudyard Kipling nine years prior–The Ballad of East and West. A story steeped in the clashes and division of cultures found in Colonial India.

Oxenham’s hymn speaks not to the divisions and clashes of mankind and culture but rather to the unity—the unity of all humankind which can only be found in Jesus Christ.

And that’s the thing. . .there will be no unity of north and south nor east and west nor all that which falls within, not until man (and that word is a collective word which represents all humankind) can put himself (and yes that includes herself) under the authority of Jesus Christ.

Sadly ego, pride and that of personal agendas take precedence in the heart of man, and woman, as mankind decides to be his or her own god. Selfishly putting self, personal agendas and anything else for that matter ahead of a God who asks for a heart of submission–for all He asks is that we follow Him (Matthew 4:19)—yet as human beings stubbornly demonstrate time and time again they prefer to lead rather than follow.

The irony found in this need for submission is that so many folks view it as yielding to a state of being “less than” or of being held a prisoner by a grand puppet master. What they don’t understand is that within that submission, yielding, bending of self comes the gift of freedom and life eternal.
It is not a yielding to the dogmatic power of control exerted by some maniacal psychopath or deranged dictator, but rather to that of a benevolent and loving Creator who longs to gather His children close. Such following leads to the offering of self, not to self, but rather to the betterment of all mankind. . .

However I suppose the majority of this squabbling world of ours just prefers the agenda of self which simply leads to a twain that shall never meet and the inevitable silence of death. . .

In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.

In Him shall true hearts everywhere
Their high communion find;
His service is the golden cord,
Close binding humankind.

Join hands, then, members of the faith,
Whatever your race may be!
Who serves my Father as His child
Is surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both East and West,
In Him meet North and South;
All Christly souls are one in Him
Throughout the whole wide earth.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28

(and for anyone who is interested in hymns, their origins, their history, their usage. . .there happens to be a fellow blogger, Robert Cottrill, who has a site dedicated to just that very thing–
http://wordwisehymns.com )

The importance of keeping one’s head

Never bend your head. Always hold it high.
Look the world straight in the eye.

Helen Keller

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(a preening gull /Henderson State Park, Florida / Julie Cook / 2015

We can hang our heads,
cover our heads,
hide our heads
or. . .
we can keep our heads,
raise our heads
and hold our heads high. . .

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

If. . .

Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.
Jawaharlal Nehru

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(white heron, Troup Co, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

If”
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son.

Rudyard Kipling

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No wimps or chickens here

“I hate and fear snakes, because if you look into the eyes of any snake you will see that it knows all and more of the mystery of man’s fall, and that it feels all the contempt that the Devil felt when Adam was evicted from Eden. Besides which its bite is generally fatal, and it twists up trouser legs.”
― Rudyard Kipling

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(a garter snake / Julie Cook / 2014)

“There’s a snake lurking in the grass.”
Virgil

I am certainly no wimp nor chicken when it comes to the things one finds lurking, crawling, slithering, digging, hiding, burrowing, perching, out in the wilds of one’s yard.
However, I think I’ve previously shared with you that I do not care for spiders.
Not the large varieties nor the shiny spindly legged ones.
None of those wolf spiders, black widows, brown recluses, and certainly no tarantulas—which thankfully for me, do not live in this neck of the woods!!

Oh, and I don’t do scorpions. Despite being, what those into astrology would call, a Scorpio, I’m not a fan. They look too much like a wicked spider of sorts. And while I’m thinking about it, have you ever noticed an odd resemblance between scorpions, and say, lobsters?? I really can’t ponder over that thought very long as I love love lobster. Yet if I look at them long enough, I begin to get terribly creeped out. Oh, and what about king crabs, which I also love love, resembling gigantic spiders. . .? Really a meal breaker if you think about it too long! Nope, mustn’t ponder over such or my seafood loving days could be short lived!

Now snakes, on the other hand, don’t bother me. Granted I have a very healthy respect for snakes, I just don’t feel the need to go whack off their heads when I happen upon one, say, cruising by in my yard. It is indeed, however, the poisonous ones which give me great cause for concern—especially the rattlesnakes which do indeed call this area home, as do cottonmouths and copperheads—and I will say that the scene in Indiana Jones, when he fell into that pit full of snakes, was most disconcerting–one or two out in the yard is ok, a den of them would be a different story. . .but luckily that situation is highly unlikely here.

And yet I don’t feel the need to whack off the heads of the poisonous ones either.
I simply stay out of their way.
I try not to go looking for trouble.

So on this oh so hot and humid afternoon, as I spied the mailman out by the mailbox, I quickly bound out the door, making my way down the front steps when suddenly something stopped me dead in my tracks. What resembled about a 2 foot long cord of black and yellow rope was shooting down the walkway right in front of me.

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And just a quickly as I saw it, it vanished.
Hummmm. . .
Just as quickly, I peer over the flower pot it shot past, expecting to find perhaps a small hole in the ground.
Nothing.
I gently tilt back the cement planter only to discover the black and yellow cord now balled up with a red rapid fire tongue quickly gauging the air. Lowering the planter gently back down, I bound back inside the house in search of the camera. The camera is never in tow when needed.

Back outside I again gently lift the planter allowing myself to get a few quick shots before leaving my little visitor alone to resume making his way to wherever it was he was going when I unintentionally interrupted his journey.

Calling my husband and describing the snake, my woodsman spouse tells me it’s probably a small king or garter snake but he’ll need to look at the pictures I took. He continues to explain that a King Snake will and can kill a rattlesnake. Which I suppose earns him the name of King. On the other hand a Garter snake will eat slugs, frogs, toads, bugs, roadkill, etc. —a bit of a patrolman of the yard I suppose.

And as it would turn out, my black and yellow cord looking friend is indeed an Eastern Garter Snake.
And whereas he is certainly harmless to me and the cats, he may not be so to some of my other little critters that call my yard home. All of which may mean that I’ll need to keep an eye out for our friend Mr. Toad. . .
otherwise, watching where one steps while barefoot may be in order—don’t want to accidently step on any black and yellow slithering cords!