grits and magnolias

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces,
I would still plant my apple tree.”

Martin Luther

“Dripping water hollows out stone,
not through force but through persistence.”

Ovid


(a bloom from the magnolia tree my grandmother and mother planted when I was a little girl/
Julie Cook / 2016)

Driving home late this afternoon from Dad’s I passed a car that was sporting a bumper sticker.
I enjoy reading most of the stickers that either I pass or those that pass me…
stickers which are stuck on the various vehicles throughout my commute…
Some of them are cute and clever,
some are benign and boring and some are flat out truthful and or offensive.

One in particular caught my eye as I barreled out of Atlanta late today.

“GRITS”

I for one am not a huge grits enthusiast…
although my Dad has always loved his grits each morning as a part of his breakfast regimen.
If the truth be told, I actually prefer the more northern fare of home fries rather than the
southern ground corn with my eggs and bacon…
I also love some good hash browns…not smothered or covered mind you—just a little salt is good.
Grits are just so so….despite being doctored up with salt and butter…I still prefer potatoes.

I do however love a nice cheese grits casserole or a hearty bowl of polenta with fresh parmesan cheese grated on top…but as far as breakfast, I happily forgo the grits.

Dad actually use to question my being a true Southerner as due in part to my less then
enthusiastic desire of grits with breakfast…
loving watermelon however did help me save face as well as my heritage…

So back to today’s bumper sticker…
GRITS is short for
Girls Raised In The South….

I like it….
as in there’s a little grit in that craw sort of thing going on.
As true southern girls are not all lace and petticoats contrary to popular belief.
I think more of Scarlet O’Hara’s raised fist stating that she will never go hungry again
sort of tenacity verses that demure “well shut my mouth fiddle dee dee”
cloyingly sweet honey dripping sentiment.

For Southern girls are fierce and tenacious….
much like my beloved Georgia Bulldogs—
cute and sweet to look at, even appearing a bit lackadaisical or slow,
yet mean and fierce, just like a junk yard dog when necessary.

Which brings me to magnolias.
Another true southern staple…
but in my case, I’m thinking more like a Steel Magnolia…

A magnolia bloom is a quintessential fragrant flower of the deep south.
Lilly white when unfurled to its full glory…and full of heady aroma…
Yet a magnolia tree is no demure little tree.
Supposedly they are trees that are older than bees.
How that all works, I’m not sure, but after looking at some of trees whose roots
have grown upwards out of the ground as in the trees are now sporting “knees”…
…I have also known a few of these trees that are well past the 150 year mark…
Well, I suppose I liken them to cockroaches….
in that they would most likely survive a nuclear event and simply keep on keeping on….

I say all of this as I’ve been reading recently a lot about the continuing business
of all things feminist…female militancy at its worst, raising its ugly head….
As in the latest being some boycott and march, yes another drole protest…as in how novel,
is to take place Wednesday….

Haven’t we marched and protested a bit much as of late…??
surpassing our quota for say…maybe the next 10 decades?!

Feminism.
Despite being of the female persuasion I’ve never cared for “feminism.”
The Gloria Steinem, bra burning, Hellen Reddy I Am Woman Hear Me Roar,
contraceptive swallowing, in your face militant feminism.

And whereas much of that may sound of a former time,
today’s feminists are not much different in their militant banter, male emasculating,
in your face nastiness, band of hidden agenda sisterhood, sign waving, fist raised,
unappealing anger group of gals.

I have grown weary hearing women chant that most males are misogynists.
Just as I am tired of hearing about gender choices, vagina hats, abortion rights,
reproductive issues, inequality…
yada, yada, yada…

If memory serves, there is but One who ordained gender, ordained equality
ordained roles, ordained all of life but I digress….

I grew up when good ol boy networks were very much alive and well.
I grew up in the work force where I was sexually harassed over and over long
before it was a popular catch phrase.
I endured and persevered…because here in the South, that’s what we all do…
male or female…
we persevere.
We don’t whine and most often, we don’t complain, not publicly anyway.
Yet we have been known to get a bit even when necessary….

For we Southerners have a determination and a steeliness that gets us through much of what
life throws at us.

Black or white, red or yellow…we preserve.
As we’ve often had to make do with less while equally sharing any of our abundance.

And respect has always been a big part of being raised in the South.

Many folks have always equated the South with being backwards, backwoods, ignorant and redneck.
Think Deliverance, while hearing dueling banjos, and that’s what other’s have mostly
thought of us.

Our speech pattern may be a bit drawn out but that certainly doesn’t mean that our brains,
nor are our hearts, are anything but quick and large….

I am proud of being a woman, and a southern woman at that,
because it means that I have a strength that many men do not.
No matter our point of origin, the strength of a woman is found in the heart of a fiercely
protective mother, yet one who knows that letting go is simply part of life.
Think Mary….

I am proud of being a woman who can appear perhaps a bit simple, unassumingly sweet
but who can be complicated, deeply profound and hell on wheels when necessary.
Think Mother Teresa

A woman who loves and appreciates men—men who are masculine…
and whose mothers imparted upon them a sense of decency and compassion.
Because I know real men can and do cry.
Just as I know real men can stand alongside a woman while defending their nation…
all the while never blinking an eye…
Think Joan of Arc

I like what it means to be a woman—
to be nurturing while strong, sentimental while determined,
and tender while tenacious….
Think Clare of Assisi

This isn’t intended to be a complicated or political discourse on women’s rights,
gender equality, or the importance of the solidarity of women….
for I have neither time nor strength for that never-ending debate…

This is merely the observation of women by a woman…a southern woman.

A woman who has more in life to worry over than protesting and marching.
A woman who has been busy being a wife, mother, daughter and caretaker.
A woman who was so busy working that she never selfishly thought that
demonstrating or picketing was ever a priority during the forging, caring,
teaching and living of life.

No….there is no real place for the militancy of feminism when a woman
is busy living her life…as she cares and works for all those around her…
it’s what real women do—
fiercely and tenaciously caring, raising, nurturing, honoring and protecting…

Here’s to real women everywhere…those too busy to protest and march….
Those women who are strong of body, spirit and soul…
those who understand the true importance of what God has entrusted upon
them….
that of living a life of a woman…..

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Sure foundation or shifting sands

He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.

Psalm 104:4

“God laid the foundations of the earth with perfect thoroughness (104, 5). He has made everything firm and permanent and imposed boundaries which limit each things operation.”
― C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

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(the lovely legs of a great blue heron / Perdido Key / Julie Cook / 2015

What is the base of your foundation, your strength, your bedrock of existence?

Firm and steady. . .
or
loose and shifting?

To what are you bound, fettered, tethered?
What is it that keeps you grounded, secure, rooted?

Is it something solid and strong
or
Is it something soft and unreliable?

Earthly kingdoms rise and fall.
Man soars then quickly descends.
Bigger, better, faster, farther in the constant continuum.
Until there is no more. . .

Where will you put your trust?
Where will you look for permanence and continuity?
What shall be your everlasting?

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

The Solid Rock
Avalon

Gentle, soft and sweet

“Oh! that gentleness! how far more potent is it than force!”
― Charlotte Brontë

Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God.
Soren Kierkegaard

“You might say, ‘Can’t we have a more human Christianity, without the cross, without Jesus, without stripping ourselves?’ In this way we’d become pastry-shop Christians, like a pretty cake and nice sweet things. Pretty, but not true Christians.”
Pope Francis

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(the tender sweet flowers emerging from what was overtly pruned brown barren sticks / Julie Cook / 2014)

In this often brash, over the top, garish and loud life of ours, it is ever important to still seek the gentle, the soft and the sweet of life. Sometimes it as if we forget that there is anything other than the glaring din of heaviness which wraps itself around us like a thick woolen blanket–itchy and scratchy and nearly suffocating.

That which is tender and gentle often seems bound to be crushed by life’s heavy boot.
That which is soft fearfully may soon grow coarse and worn by life’s rough ride.
That which is sweet is in jeopardy of being drowned out by life’s harsh constant whir.
Transforming our bright eyes and light step to a lifeless glaze and mindless trudge through a joyless journey.

Yet. . .
Take courage you who grow weary of life’s heaviness.
That which speaks to your soul must be sought.
Serenity is not found in bravado.
Peace is not found in chaos.
Ode to the tender and gentle souls who move mountains

Be mindful that in the sweet soft gentleness lies the depth of strength and tenacity.
For it was a mere boy who slew a giant and grew to be a king.
For it was a 5 foot little nun who tended to the sick and dying only to become a saint.
For it was a pacifist hindu who turned an entire world upside down.
For it was a newborn infant who made kings quake with fear.

Gentle, soft and sweet reach inward, lifting upward.
Soothing and comforting sweeps toward the hardened heart.
Bending the will until it succumbs to Grace.