A coach teaches a profound lesson

“[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them.
They remember what you are.”

Jim Henson

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As any educator worth their salts will tell you…

No…

wait….

let’s not make this just a teacher thing…

As any person who has ever worked with young people, will tell you…
a visible and physical lesson will go further in making a profound impression
and lasting remembrance than any lecture, paper or book.

Currently it appears as if there are many of us who are dumbfounded, flummoxed, sad
and down right angry as to the widespread level of disrespect currently rippling though
this country as far as our flag, our national anthem, the office of the president,
etc, etc, etc…
are each concerned.

Why don’t they get it???!!
we shout at the television when each new “protest” is broadcast.

Well today I saw a teachable moment about this very issue that should be shared.

My husband and I had gone to Home Depot in search of some sort of downspout
water thing…
There we were in the cavernous building,
wandering far off to some lone aisle searching deep within the bowels
of all things home improvement…
my husband seeking as I wandered behind a few steps pondering
if I should go find some plants that might need a new home….
when I was jolted back to the current moment as I heard
the alert on my phone informing me that I had
just received an email.

It was one of those forward things from my cousin.
Some of those things are interesting and good,
while some of those are utterly stupid or trash.

Curious, I clicked on it.
A couple of moments in,
I hollered out to my husband to halt in his tracks and come look at this.

There we stood, the two of us alone on a mostly forgotten aisle,
in a massive home improvement store,
on a Sunday afternoon,
staring at my phone with tears now streaming down our faces….

For you see…in this forwarded video clip we see a coach who is living and teaching
by example to each one of his players…

He offers a profound teaching moment to a group of young men as to why they are to
spend those early 2 minutes prior to each of their ball games giving their flag, their
National Anthem and their Country their full attention and respect….

It’s all relative

“No culture in history has ever embraced moral relativism and survived.
Our own culture, therefore, will either
(1) be the first, and disprove history’s clearest lesson,
or
(2) persist in its relativism and die,
or
(3) repent of its relativism and live.
There is no other option.”

Peter Kreeft

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(my stepmother is so proud of her pumpkin display…)

Relative or relative…
Hummmm…

They say that learning the english language is one of the hardest languages to learn…
and maybe that’s because of our penchant to use one word in multiple ways,
with each particular way having it’s own meaning and even distinct pronunciation…

Thankfully however we are not like the French what with all their le and la business…
I never could figure out why one thing had to masculine while something else had to be feminine…
why can’t it just be…neutral…as in just a word…..??

But I digress as I am too weary to rattle on about the English language,
or mes amis à travers l’étang,
or that of the Queen’s, the King’s,
or even the colonies now turned states, english….

And while I’m thinking about it, maybe we should have kept that whole colony notion,
having stayed with that crazy King George…
because that way we wouldn’t be living in the current land of sensory deprivation
with all things in life now being only Hillary or the Donald…

But then the fourth of July wouldn’t be nearly as festive and we’d be dealing
with Brexit…

sigh…

But I’m way too weary for all of that garbage today as well…

Today has just been one of those days…
you know the ones…
you wake up after an awful night of fitful sleep with ‘sleep’ being a relative term
as you only got one hour…
let alone the 7 or 8 or whatever is currently being required
for waking perky and refreshed.

I can’t remember when I last felt perky…
maybe its the inflamed nerves…

It was then a day for relatives…
as in Dad and my stepmother and the day’s current caregiver.

There are days I am strong…as I have to be strong for everybody right now…
especially Dad…
But then there are days like today when strength is a relative term…

My stepmother was in a good mood thankfully…but the caregiver was not…
And with my stepmother, each day is a mystery as to who will wake up…
Dr. Jekyll or Mr Hyde…

Upon my arrival, I was happy to see Dr. Jekyll,
who actually wanted me to go buy her a new trashcan…
the kind with the step-on latch to open the top…
And it had to be small and stainless…

After gathering the trashcan, which thankfully she loved…yet tomorrow that could change,
and gathering the groceries and their lunch…
it was time to schlepp things up from the basement all in order for her to
“decorate” for any trick or treaters that may come their way.

My dad is the sole remaining original resident of the cul-de-sac…
as all the other neighbors have sadly faded away.
The quaint neighborhood of 10 houses, that were built in the mid 1950’s, once overflowed with
the sounds of children…
Yet those children, of which I was once one, have all grown up and moved away…
leaving those once joyful sounds of play, sadly now silent.

I am happy however to report that young couples are currently moving back in
with their own band of gleeful little ones who will once again romp up and down
the relatively safe little street…claiming it, just as we had,
as their own tiny little realm of the mighty cul-de-sac.

So today, in giddy anticipation, my stepmother wanted to ready things for a few
hopeful customers for candy come Monday evening…

Yet as is often the case, dealing with those with dementia,
my stepmother was giddy and excited today,
wanting me to buy candy for Halloween….but come Monday,
which in Dad and my stepmom’s limited world, the passage of time is indeed relative,
she may completely forget, by tomorrow, what all the candy is for…

And then there was Dad…
still holding his own but gravely weak and now bleeding a great deal
as the doctors have told us the tumor would ebb and flow.
The tumor is now causing a good bit of pressure so dad feels the urgent urge
to urinate yet with little to nothing to show for the effort…
…and now there is more blood than anything else…
so the constant up and down is taking a toll.

He did however request, that when I went to buy their groceries, that I buy some ice-cream…
and I did…lots and lots of ice-cream.

By the time I was finally on my way home late afternoon,
the caregiver called me,
alarmed that dad is so weak that he almost fell getting in the bathroom…
She wanted to let me know that she was calling the hospice nurse,
who will be out tomorrow morning, sharing the latest worries.

So I will go see what she thinks…

Some days are good,
and some days are not so good…
and that, I suppose, is simply life…
Of which,
I believe,
is simply being relative…

So as I was driving home, with hot stinging tears welling up in my eyes…
wondering where my mom was when I needed her…
an old song I use to love a million years ago came flooding into
the forefront of my brain…
thankfully…
mercifully…
miraculously…
flooding…
and washing…
into my brain…

Reminding me…
swiftly,
quickly
and powerfully
that not all things in this life are merely relative…

That there is one thing and one thing only that is totally separate,
independent and irrespective of this innocuous life..

and that would be…
the Lamb of God…
the blessed lamb of God….

The song is The Lamb of God by Twila Paris
and this is a moving You Tube video clip I found reflecting her beautiful song…

Bad, Sad and bittersweet

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(Glendalough National Park, Co Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Another long hard day.

Today promises to be much the same as there are to be more tests and scans
in the early hours of the day.

We sat side by side in an exam room at the Oncologist’s office.
The pleasantries all neatly said and done,
the facts were placed before us in not so easily digested wording.

Dad sat slummed in the wheelchair as he wrung his hands nervously round and round.
Frail and feeble I thought I was looking at my grandmother 30 years prior.
I wonder when his skin became so thin and translucent…

The doctor excuses himself to go check on the latest scan reports…
The air now thick and heavy in the exam room as we wait,
with the unspoken words of what will be…

Dad turns to me and asks…

“Reckon where we go when we die”

Sirens go off in my head as this question of skepticism is
percolating up from somewhere deep inside a Baptist turned Episcopalian…
as a lump forms heavy in my throat…

“We go to heaven Dad”

“How do you know?”

“Because He said so Dad.

“Who”

“God…Jesus…”

“Where do you think we go Dad?”

“Maybe it’s like you were never born…
you just aren’t any more…”

“No Dad, we go to Heaven,
Cause He said so”

“Well….I guess I can see Ed…”
(my brother who committed suicide almost 25 years ago…

“And I guess I can see MaryAnn
(my mom who died from cancer 30 years ago, today would have been her 83rd birthday)”

“Yes Dad, you can…
(and here’s where I know we need to lighten this train of thought)
but I think Mother may ask you what’s up with this Gloria business…”

“Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have done that should I?”

“No Dad, probably not but it’s a little late to think about that now…”

And so went the course of the day…
Heavy thoughts hanging over our heads…

We went from one doctor today to another…
Then I cried the whole way…
driving back home as I sat in and out of a sea of cars…

And I have to be back at 8:30 taking him for more testing.

It’s all bad and yet it’s all good.
It could be worse, yet it could certainly be better…
It’s hard and will not be easy…

Yet as hard as it is,
I know…
without a doubt
He knows
and He hears,
and He sees…
And He is in our midsts….
and that a better place and time awaits….

For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith—
and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God…

Ephesians 2:8

The depravity of craziness

I don’t think that you can let the storms of life overwhelm you.
When you do that,
you are no better than the craziness that caused you to be under attack.

T. D. Jakes

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(blooming Japanese maple / Julie Cook / 2016)

Who among us, who is alive, breathing and kicking…
Isn’t scratching their heads in pure wonderment over
this growing maelstrom,
otherwise known to the world as…
the US Presidential Race…???

Firstly the word embarrassment comes to mind…

From the hateful exchanges between candidates…
(the he said, she said, you said, they said…no they didn’ts)

From the loss of civility among educated adults…
(who actually says this kind of stuff…in private let alone in public…
and is actually proud of it??)

From the loss of civility among adults…
(just look at any campaign rally to see grownups, and not so grownups, behaving badly…
very, very badly)

From the hateful remarks by the candidates about the voters…
(last I checked people were voting and voting in a big way for these people so that alone should stand by
itself as some sort of testament to the condition, perceived or real, by the voters of this country—or have we and the candidates forgotten that the voters do matter and should not be perceived as idiots…
as the candidates and the news media assume us all to be…)

From the ridiculous questions asked by the news media of the candidates…
(“did you have an affair…” Not rather the more pressing or pertinent or real questions
such as “what will you do for the economy, what will you do about ISIS, how will you help heal this hurting Nation…
Sadly it is rather the gossipy and salacious…
that scintillating dribble of questions worthy only of tabloid fodder)

From the globally wide laughing joke we’ve become…
(the world now sits dumbfounded, as do I, watching this mockery of our nation’s highest office…)

From the endless sea of mindless freak show spectacles debates…
(how many times and or ways can a person say the same thing??
Or perhaps it’s really just a way to watch them all slowly continuing putting their shoes
and high heels into their mouthes….)

To the frightening reality that one of these 4 individuals (the 5th is just hanging around,
or so we are told) will be the next President of the United States of America—
(As we may note that the word “united” is becoming a bit iffy)

Becoming the President of the United States is a big deal.
It is a VERY big deal.
Yet I fear these 4 (or 5 if you’re still counting) get it.
I don’t think the news media gets it.
I don’t think this country gets it…

Or maybe that’s it…
Maybe the Country no longer cares…
As in it has all merely swirled into a giant mess of pure political anarchy—
as if politics hadn’t been bad enough,
it’s now turned sadly into more of a circus then an organized process.

A free for all…
An all out, knock down, drag out…
fists flying…
name calling…
every dirty trick in the book…
MESS…

All the while as our media, our entertainment industry and our economic machines wrangle with every sneaky hook and crook maneuver to steer the election into their own personal favored corner…
forget the vote of the democratic little person that makes this country what it is…

I realize that politics and voting and governments have never been as they should be–
On the up and up,
models of decorum
the pinnacle of civility
a seamless process
a one size fits all sort of business…

People are people…sadly
And they have been known to beg, borrow and steal…
Plus throw in a little bit of lying, demoralizing, swindling and scandalizing of one another…

But this year, I think most of us would sadly agree, it has fallen to an all time low—on all sides of the spectrum….

Such that I have very real and very grave concerns for this Nation as a whole…
Most folks my age and older do as well…
I think we call that hindsight.

Yet a fellow blogger and brother in Christ, Wally over on Truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com posted a wonderful little placard yesterday that stated:
No matter who is president, Jesus is King…

I find great comfort in knowing that as the world around me oozes away, lost unto itself and to its own depraved craziness…
Jesus Christ remains the Resurrected Lord of All….

All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
ye ransomed from the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace,
and crown him Lord of all.
Hail him who saves you by his grace,
and crown him Lord of all.

Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget
the wormwood and the gall,
go spread your trophies at his feet,
and crown him Lord of all.
Go spread your trophies at his feet,
and crown him Lord of all.

Let every kindred, every tribe
on this terrestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all.
To him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all.

Crown him, ye martyrs of your God,
who from his altar call;
extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod,
and crown him Lord of all.
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod,
and crown him Lord of all.

O that with yonder sacred throng
we at his feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song,
and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song,
and crown him Lord of all.

All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name
words by Edward Perronet (1780)
Tune Coronation by Oliver Holden

It’s all good…

Even if I know I shall never change the masses, never transform anything permanent, all I ask is that the good things also have their place, their refuge.
Richard Wagner

God will bestow on you the good and eternal rewards which are laid up for those who keep His commandments.
St. Columba (Columcille)

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(an afternoon of refreshments, Adare Manor / Adare, County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook/ 2015)

There are those moments in life in which time seems to stand still…

In a good way…

The outside world is far removed as it is unconsciously, yet blissfully, forgotten…
Events and circumstances that, just a minute prior spun heavily around your head,
are now oddly light years away…
You feel yourself drifting lightly away to elsewhere…
Somewhere else that is much like that place between sleeping and waking…
that time and place where all is still, quiet, peaceful and good.

It is to a place where there are…
No worries
No pulling of this way and that
No demands
No places to be, no people to see, no fires to put out…
No looming deadlines, tests, procedures, appointments…
No screaming headlines of the bad, the sad, the scary…

For your bad, sad and scary are momentarily and mercifully put on hold.

It’s not that you pretend it’s not all there.
Not that you’ve turned a blind eye…
Not that you are foolishly disregarding the obvious and apparent…
It’s not that you have turned callous, empty or too consumed to notice…

Or…. maybe it is because you have been consumed, overwhelmed and nearly beaten down…
Because you have nearly reached your breaking point…
the point of the almost and alarmingly place of no return…

You have been spared for just the slightest and briefest of moments.
It’s as if your brain has been clicked off, and rather than churning out a litany of thoughts, frets, worries…you are still, quiet…and actually dare it be said, content.

It is a place and time of quiet reflection spent with or without company…
It is a place that is elsewhere, that is other…and for right now, all you know is that other…is good.

It is a taste, a small minuscule taste dancing across a tastebud, momentary yet distinctly detected…a taste of the very Divine…
A moment frozen in time when you have fallen into the arms of Love itself.
And yet you don’t even comprehend nor realize that’s what it actually is…
For it is so delicious, so intoxicating, so welcomed yet equally foreign and so very alien that you just can’t put your finger on what it is or from whence it came…

For all you know, with any sort of certainty, is that you’ve been granted what feels to be a momentary reprieve, a respite, a miracle of a mystical embrace….
all of which has you yearning for more….with the knowledge that you had been transported to a moment of the Holy and for that one tiny moment, everything is all good….

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A shot of yours truly in one of those happy good places, munching on a handful of dried cranberries, sitting on a giant rock, in the middle of quiet mountain stream, thankful that for a brief moment in time, life is indeed… all good.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Therapy amongst the mint

“All of earth is crammed with heaven
And every bush aflame with God
But only those who see take off their shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Anne Frank

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(a clump of freshly pulled mint mixed in a pile of roots / Julie Cook / 2015)

The air was punctuated with the pungent aroma of mint and basil mingled with a heavy dose of loamy moist dirt.
I had taken pruning shears with me, but put them aside in favor of my two gloved hands.
My intent was to simply cut it all back but instead I opted to hopefully rid my yard and life of the invasive mayhem.

The growing green mass had covered the whole front corner of the bed by the garage and was set to cover up Mimi’s ancient cement bench if something wasn’t done and done soon to stop this almost giddy encroachment.

My heart has felt much the same in recent days, overrun and over burdened with and by the onslaught of the grim global headlines.

The now burgeoning sickly yellowish green patch is usually the first thing in the yard to show its tender new verdant foliage during those sleepy hopeful wee days between winter and spring. It’s what gives me hope that life, rebirth, regrowth and Spring will indeed vanquish Old Man Winter while ushering in welcoming warmer days.

As I wondered about how best to tackle the latest infestation of overgrowth in the shrub bed, my thoughts wandered a world away to what or whom would or could now vanquish the sweeping global sorrows that were entangling both my heart and soul.

Come late Summer. . .when life is dried out and burned out, just as the seasons prepare to knock on the door of Autumn, the leggy gangly masses have become a truly unsightly tangled mess of tired and spent. As in I’m just ready to cut it all away, rid my life of the jumbled mess and happily welcome in some cool crisp colorful order.

I wish I could easily do the same for our hurting planet.

I’ve always found solace in working with my hands.
The more manual the labor the more productive and alive I feel.
There is a cleansing honesty in working with one’s hands.
Never mind that my back has been giving me fits, never mind the heat index is still in the triple digits, I will gladly get down and dirty, as the sun continues to bake the world, for working hard in the yard is good for the soul, the mind and often literally the heart.

Oh that it could be so easy with this greatly burdened world of ours.

As a true Southerner I’ve grown up with mint sprouting from every yard I’ve ever called home. What better accompaniment to one’s tea or julep, depending on your preference, than a sprig of fresh mint? Anyone will tell you mint is easy, as in it grows itself. In fact it’s just a little too easy, as in too eager and way too invasive. It’s more like a weed gone wild then a treasured herb. Plus everyone who does any work in a garden will tell you, any novice can grow mint— it offers instant gratification to the more hesitant would-be gardeners among us.

But my mint patch has been on the run and I had to stop it before things got anymore out of hand. Rather than cut it back, just for it to sprout right back to this same spreading madness within a few days, I took to pulling it up, by the long lanky root full. Even poor ol St Francis had to be laid on his side just so I could get to what was running under my favorite saint’s feet. I don’t think he was much bothered by the intrusion.

As I yanked and pulled, buried just under the top layer of straw and soil, was a criss crossing network of an eerily bone white root system stretching for what seemed to be miles. With each tugged, pulled and unearthed jumble of lanky roots and dirt, earwigs and beetles alike scurried helter skelter, madly seeking a dark cloak of safety in the damp compost soil.

The more my thoughts drifted over the latest mounding national and global turmoils, I pulled harder and deeper. Sweat trickled down my face, pooling at the tip of my nose before dripping and disappearing into the blackened soil. The sweat seemed to reach across the globe mingling with the tears of those thousands of people now walking hundreds of miles in search of asylum and safety.

As the morning turned to afternoon, I had finally pulled up the last of the mint. The piles were now all raked up, the walkway swept and the pine straw smoothed as the shrub bed now had a delightfully clean and fresh look.

I still had no grand revelations as to how to help the ever growing global crises sweeping across our lives nor how to ease the lingering tensions within our own Nation. I was hot, tired and weary of body, but there was oddly a refreshing clarity of thought.
No longer did I feel totally overwhelmed or at a loss.
Still not knowing where to even begin to help, I gratefully no longer felt as defeated as I had.
There’s just something about physical labor, with it’s overwhelming beginning and productive ending, that gives hope to the overwhelming obstacles of life. . . hope that we can indeed tackle and eventually overcome the litany of misery facing our current global family.

I trust we will be able to do so. . .
for only in God, comes hope to the hopeless, and strength to the weak. . .

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:10

“Let me arise and open the gate, to breathe
the wild warm air of the heath,
And to let in Love, and to let out Hate,
And anger at living and scorn of Fate,
To let in Life, and to let out Death.”

Violet Fane

Good to the last drop

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.
But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Mother Teresa

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(a fiery skipper works his charms on a butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(a fiery skipper works his charms on a butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2015)

I’m off to Dad’s today, a day which is now known as a Dad’s day. . .
We’re heading back to the doctor, again.
Just a follow up however or so says the doctor. . .with Dad asking if leaving the house is really necessary—
“Vitamin D dad, you know. . .as in the sun. . . that big hot yellow ball in the sky. . .
it might like to see you every once in a while. . .
You know those folks who suffer in the winter from SAD, that seasonal affective disorder which effects moods due to a lack of exposure to the sun, well. . .I think Dad has had a permeant very pale case. . .

I thought it would be nice to have happy thoughts today as one (in this case moi) never knows what one will find on the other end of the highway (aka at Dad’s). . .
The end of last week was not good—but things seem to be leveling back into place for the time being. . .hence the need for happy thoughts!!!

I just wanted to leave you today with the happy images of a little fiery skipper working hard at getting every last drop of nectar out of the butterfly bush. . .

Here’s to a happy Thursday to all!!!

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(a skipper works his charms on a butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2015)