a tisket a tasket, pears in a basket…or the tale of misplaced desire

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Epicurus


(a basket of wild “wood” pears / Julie Cook / 2017)

Late September, here in Georgia, is no more reminiscent of what Fall should be
than that of a palm tree currently living and thriving in Alaska.

It just isn’t happening.

Granted the weather gods are telling us that “it’s going to feel like Fall
come tomorrow, yet they preface that with,
but we are still well above the typical highs and lows this time of year….

Sigh….

Throw in the recent sightings of rabid foxes in our county,
the continued proliferation of the fire ants,
this being the most active time of year for yellow jackets, along with the increased chances of running into a copperhead or rattlesnake while working in the yard and most
sane folks would continue hunkering down indoors hoping that
October may be more of a welcoming month for outdoor adventure.

My husband, I know, would have told me “no, don’t do it.”
He would have said stay out of those woods, especially wearing those sandals,
not unless you want to be covered in ticks and bit by a snake.

But he wasn’t home to say those things so it was an out of sight out of mind sort
of moment.

I had to get outside and start the process of digging up and removing the dead,
dried up remnants of summer.
I had to cut back, dead head, and just rid my visible world of the reminders
of what was once vibrancy and color…all of which is now just hot dried up death.

Living on what was once mostly pasture land surrounded by woods, I usually haul my
“debris,” aka cut back dead things, to the woods….to a “compost” pile that never
composts like it should. My husband calls it a brush pile. I like to be cutting edge…
hence, a compost pile…

I also happen to know that there is a lone pear tree deep in those woods
that, this time of year, usually bears pears…albeit every other year—
but I was pretty certain this was the year.

Leaving the safety of my yellow wheelbarrow perched along the edge of the woods,
I gingerly picked my way into the woods….very conscious of the recent tale of
rabid foxes, active snakes and hungry ticks.
As my shorts, tank top and chaco sandals would be no match for the briars let alone
rabies, deadly venom or Lyme disease.
Did I mention the giant spiders?

Spiders who seem to think fall is the season to built profuse webs spanning the entire
expanse of woods so you can walk right into a web and have a full web and spider
stuck on your face.

The sun was cutting down through the trees, light glaring down upon the wood’s
floor, as I turned my head upward searching the overhead branches.
Squinting with my hand held over my eyes, I scanned the heavens
for the objects of my desire.

And there they were.

Giant heavy brown orbs hanging low amongst the leaves.
The tree was ladened with “wood” pears.

I’ve written about wood pears before.
They are wild pears that grow obviously, in the woods….
hence why I call them wood pears.
That is not a scientific name mind you, just an observational name.
They are as hard as rocks, never ripening like a normal pear would
and even the deer and squirrels won’t eat the wood pears.

I did read once that some folks will stew them down in an attempt to make jam,
but my husband has minced no words when quickly telling me not to bother
because he’s not about to eat something that even the wild animals find
disdain over.

Yet the pears beckoned.

I looked around on the wood’s thick debris covered floor, careful as I pushed aside accumulated leaves with my mostly exposed feet as I searched for any early
fallen pears.
The remnants of an old barbed wire fence sinisterly peeked out here and there as
I was careful to avoid adding tetanus to my list of wood worries.
A few pears had indeed fallen as the ants had also found those pears.

Finding a stick I attempted hitting at some of the lower branches,
knocking a few pears to the ground—being very careful that they didn’t hit me
on the head as they would probably have knocked me out as they are that hard.

I gathered about 10.
But the tree was loaded.

I knew I was going to have to find something else that was both long and tall in which
to knock down those low hanging pears on the branches closest to my reach, yet frustratingly out of reach for my stick.

Obviously not satisfied with a bucket of 10 or so pears,
I trapsed back to the house to gather a long rake.
I kept hearing the admonishment of my husband ringing in my head,
as I was wondering what I would do if a copperhead bit my foot while my cell phone
was back at the house.

But the tree was loaded, beckoning for me to get more.
Decorative purposes only, yet I wanted more pears.

And that’s the thing…

These pears serve absolutely no purpose other than being decorative.
And here I was willing to risk life and limb in order to gather them up.

Yet what of a quest of faith?

What lengths would we go to seek God?

Would we risk life or limb to seek Him who has called us by name?
Would we strategize and scrutinize what was needed in order to procure
Him as our own?

Perhaps it’s time we all rethink our desires….

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.

Amos 8:11

How do we remember

“Well I won’t back down
No I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down”

Tom Petty

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(my son’s 7th grade school picture shortly following 9/11–
the kids all made the small flag pin he has pinned to his shirt—we still have the pin)

How is it that we remember?
How do we mark those important moments in life?
How do we best remember them–both good and bad?

From the perspective of a parent, it is most likely by our children.
how old they were…
where they were…
what they were doing…

My son was in the 7th grade that fateful September day.
It was a warm Georgia, clear blue sky, kind of day.

With razor sharp precision,
we remember exactly where and when,
on those earth shattering days when tragedy strikes…
as life suddenly stands still.

Life stopped in time,
that New York, clear blue sky, fateful Septemeber day.

Life stopped in time,
that warm Pennsylvania September Tuesday morning.

Life stopped in time,
that typical September Tuesday morning in Washington D.C.

For thousands of Americans that September day,
life simply ceased.

Stopping forever for…
young and old,
male and female,
Black,
White,
Latino,
Asian…

For stopping and ceasing does not bother to discriminate nor separate.

Parents were suddenly gone.
Brothers were suddenly gone.
Grandparents were suddenly gone.
Sisters were suddenly gone.
Mothers,
Fathers,
Friends,
Husbands,
Wives,
Children
all suddenly gone.

With the breaking news…
those of us who were parents,
suddenly felt an innate urge to run and find our children.

It mattered not that they were at school, day care or with sitters
and that we were at work, or at school, or on business trips….
We wanted our children.

We wanted to run to them,
gathering them in our arms…
Wanting, needing, yearning to…
see them,
touch them,
hold them…
holding them close and tight in our arms—
reassuring ourselves that our small world was…
still safe,
still real,
still whole…

For thousands of Americans that clear blue sky Tuesday September 11th morning…
their worlds were broken…
forever…
for both those who were gone and for those who remained….

And the fact that those holes still remain in the hearts of those who survived…
or remain in those who simply remained,
left to carry on without those who they loved and still long to hold close…
that is something the rest of us must always remember…

Show us your mercy, O Lord;
And grant us your salvation.
Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
Let your people sing with joy.
Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
For only in you can we live in safety.
Lord, keep this nation under your care;
And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let your way be known upon earth;
Your saving health among all nations.
Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Create in us clean hearts, O God;
And sustain us by your Holy Spirit.

Book of Common Prayer 1979

What the world needs now. . .

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. . .”

Lyrics by Hal David with music by Burt Bacharach

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(a wild weed volunteer under the bird feeder / Julie Cook / 2015)

In 1965 Jackie DeShannon’s rendition of What the World Needs Now hit number 7 on the top 100 play charts.
This was two years before the famous, or infamous depending on who you ask, Summer of Love.
It was a precipitous time in our Nation. . .
For little did any of us fully grasp that at this particular tender time, we were on a oneway collision course with what looked to be a National implosion of epic proportions.

It was a time that was pre Woodstock, pre pill, pre woman’s lib, yet post Cuban Missile Crisis, and post JFK assassination. . .
Growing ominously in the distance were the beating drums of war as this was the same year the first US troops found their way to shores of the Sea of China, just north of Da Nang, Vietnam. . .

Fast forward to September 1st 2015. . .Breaking News. . .a Fox Lake, Illinois police officer is shot by 3 assailants and dies from his wounds. He’s a 32 year law enforcement veteran who leaves behind a wife and four children. The suspects are still at large as the entire community is put on lock down.

This incident comes on the heels of a coldblooded assassination, which took place over the weekend of a Texas Sheriff’s deputy who was shot while simply pumping gas, filling up his police car. A man approached him from behind, shooting him executioner style.
When he fell to the pavement, the gunman stood over the body, emptying his gun into an obviously dead body—an exclamation point of murder.

This incident comes on the heels of a coldblooded assassination, wait, didn’t I just said that. . . of two television journalist in Virginia. . .etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum

There’s been a lot of banter recently about “Black Lives Matter”. . .
However I heard a response from the Sheriff of the deputy who was shot that I think sums up all of this craziness best. . .his response to the press just following the murder of his deputy was, and I’m paraphrasing, . . .’that there has been lots of talk surrounding the Black lives matter conversation but we all need to drop the qualifiers and understand one thing. . .that ALL lives matter—doesn’t matter black, white, brown, yellow. . .ALL lives matter. . .’

For you see, in this one man’s grief over the wasteful loss of life, he gets it–he can actually see to the core of what is yet just one more divisional line to so many divisional lines in this Nation of ours. . .

. . .for in the heart of God, there are no distinctions. . .
there is no line of separation, no color, no status, no sides, no qualifiers. . .all that exists is a Love that is as wide and tall as it is deep. . .as in never ending.
It does not discriminate, nor does it look twice. . . it does not set limits nor does it demand anything in return. . .It is equal, all inclusive, welcoming and offered to each and everyone. . .who so chooses to accept it—and that’s the kicker. . .choosing to accept it–choosing love, forgiveness, surrendering of self, of pride, of ego, of hate, of suspicion in exchange for Love. . .a Love that has been offered from a Father and bought with the ultimate price by a son, so that you and I could stop the madness and live a life that finally lets go of the hate—

Which brings me to what exactly this world of our seems to need. . . NOW. . .

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

Time to expect the unexpected

“There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected:
the expected for which one has refused to prepare.”

Mary Renault

“A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes”
Mark Twain

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(premature fallen acorns / Troup Co. Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

This morning finds us turning the page once more, summoning forth yet another day and another month.
September has rather unceremoniously arrived.
No fanfare.
No gala.
No festive celebration.

Yet September, this 9th month out of 12, is truly a month of the unexpected,
the unpredictable, the unassuming. . .and albeit a bit of the unappreciated.

Obviously no one has told the tired old thermometer that Fall is all but a few short weeks away.
The mercury continues to hover at 90 as the humidity continues to cling to our very being like a sticky, hot, wet towel. . .yet the shift has secretly begun. . .
We sense ourselves sliding into something different, something changing
and something slightly new.

We are creatures of the season you and I.
Delightfully craving the ever changing and ever new which can only be found in the trading of one season for another.

We both yearn and long for what the coming change has in store for us.
We are as giddy as children on a bright Christmas morn as we’ve anxiously waited—waited to finally feast our eyes on what lies under the tree—
Our time has finally drawn nigh.

We find ourselves shifting gears as our likes and dislikes begin, once again, to ebb and flow.
Our taste palettes are now craving the savory as our surrounding palette will soon shift to warmer tones yet cooler nights and crisper days.

Our brains are screaming that the time is here yet the world arounds us seems to be stuck in place. It’s as if life is in slow motion as it appears Mother Nature may need a gentle nudge reminding her that we have had our fill of heat and humidity, bugs and pests.
Like a hungry child anxiously anticipating the hearty simmering fare on the stove, we hold our arms outwardly stretched ready to embrace cooler, crisper, softer.

Will today be the day?
Will it be a day which still thinks of itself as a child of the Summer
or. . .
will it be a day of change. . .
refreshingly clear, cool and full of the unexpected. . .