absolute

“In passing we should note this curious mark of our age:
The only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute”

Francis A. Schaeffer


(the upside down gills of a spent mushroom / Julie Cook / 2017)

Death…
the one true absolute…
and yet,
there are those who would even argue the definitive nature of death….

What is it about man and absolutes??

On the one hand man riles against those who espouse in absolutes…
“be damned you fools” he will shout, “for I will not live by such pronouncements…”

While on the other hand he will test and retest in order to hold triumphantly
a handful of litmus papers of absolute proof…
that being the definitive definer…
as he will now forever hold those stained papers sacred.

Thou, oh ancient man, shall have no other gods but the Lord your God…

Absolute…

Yet man hordes a thousand other gods.
Clinging and clutching tightly to the fading fancies of his whims.

Thou shall take one woman as your wife and have no others besides her…

Absolute…

Yet man will alter and amend each law and sacrament in order to appease his current
fickled and twisted lust.

Thou shall honor and cherish your wife just as Christ honors and cherishes his own bride…

Absolute.

Yet man will opt not to have and to hold until death do part as he will grow weary
and seek that which is constantly fresh and new as he opts for the easier throwaway
mindset of the fleeting.

Thou shall cherish and love life and thou shall honor and love one unto another just
as you would wish to be cherished, honored and loved.

Absolute

Yet man will prefer to fight, hurt, murder, slander, defile, maim and destroy not
only others, but himself as well, as life and the living have lost all holiness…

For man has proclaimed himself his own god…

And thus it is man who extols that which is right and that which is wrong.

And since he is never satisfied with his choices for very long,
he will just as quickly turn each proclamation upside down,
in order to suit the latest craving or longing…
because nothing remains scared,
nothing remains holy
and nothing remains true…

for the only absolute in the mind of man is that there are no absolutes….

Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven,
with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth,
to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
and he said with a loud voice,
“Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come;
and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water.”

Revelation 14:6-7

Sacred

Love is a sacred reserve of energy;
it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


(generations of sacred texts / Julie Cook / 2017)

What makes something sacred?

Something that is to be held in reverence,
passed from one generation to another?
What is it that makes something so dear, so esteemed, so important,
albeit within the confines of a family,
that it becomes a treasure and a life line linking one individual to another?

Deep and heavy thoughts as I slowly begin to purge, pack, relocate
sort, discard, save and add to my own niche of life those things that
were once others as I labors to merge them now as mine.

A frayed small ribbon peeks out from atop a long ago repaired cloth bound,
oh so frail, little black book.
The homemade cover tenderly stitched in order to preserve and protect someone’s
sacred treasure

A hymnal whose first page is now page 7.

As to whose hymnal, which denomination, how old…
Who knows…
But in the family, on someone’s side, it has obviously weathered.

Hymn 527 sounds very much like my beloved 345
A hymn that is as soothing as a beloved’s rhythmic cadence of breath.

“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” has been described as perhaps the most beautiful
of all the countless versions of the 23rd Psalm.

The Tune St. Columba is named for the Irish saint who
“carried the torch of Irish Christianity to Scotland”
(and who has the dubious distinction of being the first to report a sighting of
the Loch Ness monster, in 546).
The tune is one of the Irish melodies collected by George Petrie (1789-1866)
and given in Charles Villers Stanford’s
“Complete Collection of Irish Music as noted by George Petrie,” in 1902.
There it is said to have been sung at the dedication of a chapel in the county
of Londonderry.
The association of the tune with this text,
and also its harmonization, are from “The English Hymnal,” 1906.

Excerpt: “Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worhip”

In a time of grave uncertainties..
both personally and globally…
A time of unprecedented growing rage and division.
May we each rest in the knowledge that we remain bound always to the Sacred….

Please enjoy this beautiful video…

a need for prayer

“The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God,
at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

― Mother Teresa

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(broken sand dollar/ Santa Rosa, Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

I’m a huge believer in prayer and the power found in this sacred and mystical transcending form of communication.

I’ve lived long enough to know that not all prayers are answered as we often hope or even expect.
But I know that there are indeed answers—
I know that there is a powerfully innate connection that takes place when we earnestly seek the presence of the Creator…

We are told …
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for,
it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:19-20

So I come before you this evening to ask for your payers…

Our niece, my husband’s younger sister’s middle child, was rushed to the ER yesterday morning and remains in ICU.
Her potassium levels are deathly bottoming out for reasons yet discovered.
She is not responding to the emergency treatments.

Her father, a physician, told us this morning that “they” were being cautiously optimistic but his face told us otherwise.

Her name is Chrissy…she’s a 44 year old wife and mom.

The obvious prayer is that Chrissy be made well…
but I know that there is more to just praying for a “miraculous healing”

I know that prayers must also be said over and for her husband Bill and 14 year old son Eli.
Prayers for her brother, sister and their respective families…
As well as for my sister-n-law and her husband…

Prayers are offered for the nursing staff and the doctors…those charged with solving the mysteries and saving lives.

I believe that many hearts and voices raised in unison create a powerful force.

I ask if you will please join me in this time of needed prayer….

Thank you….

Where is the Sacred?

“There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places and desecrated places.”

― Wendell Berry

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(St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough, County Wicklow / Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Where is the Sacred,
the Holy,
the Hallowed?

Where has it gone?

Has man lost his connection to the Divine
and what it means to be
reverent,
quiet,
observant….

Oh how it so seems…

Does the mocking of a drowned two year old child, off the coast of Turkey,
make anyone else uncomfortable, distressed or disturbed…
or is it just me?

Does Charlie Hebdo and others who make light over everything and anything,
who use the satirical to…
malgin,
berate,
and draw attention to…

Do they, the magazines, the papers, the comics.. try to make us…
better,
wiser,
more insightful…?

Do they make us think, laugh or simply feel numb?

All with their mocking, ridiculing and disrespect…?

Freedom of speech…
it is the rallying cry is in not…
The defensive call to arms.
Yet whose word is free and whose words are not?

What of….
what of the respect found within that freedom…
what of the cost of human sanctity found within that freedom
what of the spilled blood found within that freedom

Was respect not rooted in the foundation?
Civility?
Courtesy?
Fairness?

What of the respect for…
for life,
for death,
for the living,
for the dying,
for the less than,
for the maligned,
for the young,
the old,
all found within that freedom…

What of the honor to be afforded to all human beings regardless of…
stature,
class,
race,
age,
belief,
Does none of that matter…
Is it all just fodder now for our obsession with the biting satire of our own contagious dark humor?

Oh laugh and chuckle if you will.
That nervous sort of ridiculing and jaded scoffing…
Join the masses of those who have grown numb, cold, closed, shallow, empty…
and so over the top that there is no longer room for the kind, the compassionate, the soul…
the Hallowed,
the Holy
or
the Sacred…

Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
Exodus 3:5

these absurd times of our surreal lives

“I have nothing but respect for you — and not much of that.”
― Groucho Marx

“Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable.”
― Albert Camus

Surrealism: An archaic term. Formerly an art movement. No longer distinguishable from everyday life.
Brad Holland

DSCN0201
(an early marketing advert used by Guinness Beer / the Guinness Factory Museum / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

It’s not easy knowing what to say….
It’s difficult figuring out what to do…
It’s a challenge understanding how we actually should be feeling…

It’s no longer easy nor comfortable figuring out what we are to say, how we are to react, or to whom we are to speak candidly and clearly to…
All of which is a reflection of the sad state of affairs of our current trials and tribulations.

We currently have crazy Islamic extremists running around the globe attempting to kill as many people as possible who are not a part of their “movement”…

And because the crazy Islamist extremists claim that their movement is a “defense” of their extreme branch of their religion, everyone out there has now decided that all religions are bad.

As now so many people, even the President who made mention of such in a recent speech, seems to think that had those Christians just not gone on those crusades almost 1000 years ago, none of this would be happening…uh hummmmm

We have planes blowing up, cars blowing up, people blowing up….

As we have people strapping bombs to themselves in order to blow themselves up, as well as anyone and everyone within close proximity–not even children or infants are considered hands off or scared…

We have Christians still being crucified.

We have people cutting off the heads of other people.

We have crazy Islamic extremists parading around in the desert blowing up ancient historical monuments just for fun, while they strap a few innocent souls to these monuments just for kicks, as they blow everything and everyone up to smithereens.

We have people who can’t wrap their heads around the crazy Islamic extremists who in turn don’t give a damn that nobody can understand what they’re all about, as if death, murder and mayhem leaves much to understand. So everyone just kind of stands around scratching their heads.

We have satirical magazines being just that, satirical…as well as irreverent–as they spread the love for each and all– it’s as if they think that it makes it all ok if they ridicule, belittle and make fun of everyone equally as nothing, I mean nothing, remains “sacred”…but it’s all good and its all ok cause they make fun equally and we’re all about some fun…

We have thousands of people displaced and on the move on a global scale because no one seems to be able to stop the bad guys in these peoples home countries–with everyone left wondering whose going to take care of all these displaced folks.

We have bad guys mixed in with all the displaced roaming global people…
all the while as the world Governments think they can weed out the bad from the good, as places like Paris must now think otherwise with Germany, who was leading the charge of come one come all, now closing their borders.

We have a president along with his fellow world leaders who are either too afraid, too arrogant or to ignorant to call the mass murders of the crazy Islamic extremists what they are, mass murders carried out by crazy Islamic extremists, as they fear they might just hurt somebody’s feelings…I wonder how the families of all those killed thus far by these crazy Islamic extremists are feeling about hurting the feelings of others as their entire beings now hurt and ache in the deep abyss of loss…

We have young black college students all over this county now fighting the powers that be, screaming “black lives matter”…when I thought all lives mattered–of who now dare to say that the terror attacks in Paris have stolen their thunder….

We have policemen who are afraid to be policeman because we have had some bad policemen doing bad jobs and the lack of leadership to do anything about it.

We have violent crime, tragically deadly home invasions, carjackings, smash and grabs, child molesters running amuck and ruining lives because our legal systems seems to favor the bad guys.

We have too many people living their too busy, self consumed, self obsessed, rule free lives who won’t stop, can’t stop, long enough to actually see what’s taking place

We have a bunch of people who want to be president so they spend millions of dollars as they wine, dine, schmooze and waste countless hours debating with a tit for tat mentality of fussing children all the while as people are dying by the hands of crazy Islamic extremists.

We have folks all over the Globe wondering what’s going on.

We have Muslims afraid to say or do anything to or with the crazy Islamic extremists because they are afraid of what will happen if they do.

We have the leader of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, sounding the alarm but he is maligned and ignored by world leaders as an extremist bully himself.

We have a divided Jewish nation who haggle over their religion verses their heir apparent nationality.

We have people who now think we’d never be in all of this mess if it hadn’t been for religion in the first place so they want to do away with religion as they see Christians as the main ones at fault…so it makes sense just to crush the Christians.

We have people who don’t understand that we have basically turned a blind eye to God and that maybe, just maybe, we have not lived our lives as He would have had us to live…

We have Christians afraid to say anything about everything because they are just that, afraid…afraid of offending others, afraid of retribution, afraid that maybe their beliefs are wrong, afraid that their faith is not as strong as it should be…Christians who are depressed, frustrated, simply too nice, too kind, too naive, too passive, too distracted—forgetting that God decreed some very powerful tenants for living all the while as the powers that be within the “Church” have watered down the Word of God, tweaked and rewritten it all to appease desired lifestyles of those wishing to have their cake and eat it too–never mind that we choose sin over His Word or that His Word just seems to interfere too much with how we want to live… as in lets all hold hands and sing kum-ba-ya while we continue to make God little…all the while as we turn our God, Creator, Savior into just another friend rather than the Absolute God of all that was and is and will be, who desires, as well as deserves, our utmost homage…

As each new day brings a new piece to the surreal puzzle we now call our absurd lives…

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And…

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

1 Peter 4:3-19

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)

DSC02147
(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 )