we didn’t start the fire

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Billy Joel


(image courtesy ABC News / Santa Clarita fire of 2016)

I agree we didn’t start the fire,
but…..
I’m not so certain that I agree with Billy Joel that we’ve really tried to fight it.

I see the current images of protesters, marchers, demonstrators…
full of contempt and vile discord.
I see the looting, the vandalism, the cars overturned,
the broken glass, the fires started…
once again, in the name of cause.

I hear the rhetoric of anti this and anti that…
the blaming, the finger pointing,the divisive dismissal of one human to another…

Maybe your mindset is that none of this is your fault.
You didn’t cause any of this to happen.
For better of worse you and me, we’ve merely inherited this mess….
right?

As each generation bemoans the generation before it while present generations
opine about the future…

Rather than igniting new fires, fueling fires or fanning fires…
all of which this country has gotten really good at doing,
perhaps it would behoove all of us to simply start extinguishing the fires…..

The one who sins is the one who will die.
The child will not share the guilt of the parent,
nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.
The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them,
and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

Ezekiel 18:20

“Who will save your soul?”

“To save all we must risk all.”
Friedrich Schiller

“poor boy! I never knew you, Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you”
― Walt Whitman

‘You are no saint,’ says the devil. Well, if I am not, I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Sink or swim, I go to Him; other hope, I have none.
Charles Spurgeon

DSCN0801
(Timoleague Friary / County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Who will save your soul…..?”

A lyric trapped inside one’s head, playing over and over and over…
Had it been the background song at the grocery store?
Newly imposed on some uptick television commercial?
Something playing in the distance of one’s small world….?
As it appears to have been picked up at some point during one’s day…
and is now forever stuck on constant replay, deep inside the recesses of the subconscious.

The same line running around and around inside the brain.
Unconsciously hummed, muttered, softly sung…
When suddenly, unable to remain on the periphery…the words come crashing into focus.

More than a simple lyric to an older song.
More than a folksy balard offered up by a young woman long ago
More than a simple soulful melody caught inside your head…

“Who will save your soul…?

It is not merely a lyric, a song or a random musing…
It is rather one of the most deeply profound questions ever to be asked, pondered or entertained.

It is a question that spans the very inception of both time and space.
A question queried for both life as well as death.

If it is to be agreed that each being, each life, does indeed have a soul…
then the question certainly begs to be asked, who or what will save each and every soul?
When all is said and done…who is the savior?
When life, as it is currently known, has come to its conclusion and ceases to be…
be it suddenly and unexpected, stolen simply by time… or be it slow and simply accepted…
What then of the soul?
Does it extinguish itself with the last living breath?
Will it simply be left to float upon the whispers of others?

Will this soul be claimed
Or
Is it all mere nothingness?
A fabrication?
A myth?
A fable?

The question is being asked…Who will save your soul?

Yet the answer, this answer of both life and death, remains for many something oddly to be ignored, left uncomfortably unanswered….

So….
What say you then my friend….
Who will save your soul….?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast
Ephesians 2:8-9

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

DSC02631
(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

Praise the Lord and pass the Chocolate. . .

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”
Victor Hugo

IMG_1437
(blooming beauty coneflowers / Julie Cook / 2015)

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. . .!!!
That’s me bursting into song. . .
And for whatever reason, whenever I’m heard to mutter the phrase “Praise the Lord” it is instinctively followed with another phrase. . . “pass the ammunition. . .
Which, I might add, is actually the lyrics to a real song—so don’t think I’m daft or crazy.

Praise the Lord And Pass The Ammunition was a song written in 1942 in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. . .now as to why that phrase flows forth as part of my singing repertoire, I couldn’t say- – -maybe it’s because of some sort of deep-seated Broadwayesque hidden desire on my part—or maybe it’s more aptly because I am now very tried and perhaps a bit slap happy. . . either way, I’m bursting forth in song as well as praise. . .

Dad came through the anesthesia like a champ.
For a shriveled up 87 year old, pale, bone thin individual, Dad is like the energizer bunny who just keeps taking licking after licking but keeps on thankfully ticking!
Inflammation and colitis sure beats what it was thought to have been!!

He’s barely eaten in 3 weeks. No sustenance nor nourishment to speak of nor nutriments staying in.
Weak and frail has been the name of the game.

After waking up, with the doctor telling him there is no cancer, Dad immediately wants to know what he can and can’t eat. He keys in on the doctor saying, ” Well I don’t think we need to starve him. . .”

Fast forward to our trek back home.

“Dad, would you like for me to stop by Chick-fil-A so I can order you a little bowl of their chicken noodle soup?”
This on a day that it’s 91 degrees outside.
“Well, that sounds good, but I’d really rather have one of their chocolate brownies”

“DAD, YOU CAN’T EAT CHOCOLATE BROWNIES, NOT YET!”
I practically scream as I then rationally try explaining that he’s barely eaten anything in 3 weeks and that his guts are still irritated and inflamed—he needs to go slow as he now needs meds to help bring a healing. . . needing to gradually build back up to eating “real” food.
Chicken noodle soup is a good start. . .

“Well”, Dad counters. . .”I’d still prefer a chocolate brownie—they’ll keep. . .just get me one for later”
Knowing good and well that his idea of later is in later this evening when he knows I’m good and gone, headed back out of town. . .I do not order the brownie. . .”Maybe for Father’s Day you can have chocolate. . .” I counter, much to his chagrin. . .

Yet despite ailments and chocolate requests, I want to offer my heartfelt “thank you” to each of you for your good wishes, thoughts, love and prayers.
Hopefully the meds will bring a healing and he’ll slowly get to add back real food, gain some strength and get back to what he enjoys most in life. . .sitting in his chair, watching Buck Rogers (yep, they still replay the 1930’s childhood favorite) all while eating, noshing, snacking and savoring on all things chocolate. . .
Praise the Lord indeed!!!

life is a highway

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I wanna drive it all night long

Chorus from Life is a Highway
Rascal Flats

IMG_1380
(sitting on Atlanta’s infamous 285 / Julie Cook / 2015)

It was a beautiful blue sky, polka dotted popcorn cloud, kind of day.
The kind of day one should be on a road trip to the beach. . .
Not the kind of day to be racing the 70 miles over to Dads. . .

I get a call Saturday afternoon from the care giver. . .
The only thing I can understand and make out is
“911,
can’t breathe,
Ms Gloria. . .”

I immediately call Gloria’s son telling him the ambulance is on its way
as I’m grabbing my keys, racing out the door.

One would think that a Saturday’s drive to the city would be a piece of cake.
Idyllic,
Quick,
Easy,
Just a carefree sort of blue sky kind of day,
A beautiful day for a drive. . .

Suddenly there is an odd sound coming from somewhere in my car or my head, or. . .
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Atlanta does all of its interstate roadwork on weekends.
Upon my approach to the Perimeter, aka 285, I notice that traffic is backed up and at a dead stop.
Hummmmmmm. . .
Quickly deciding I’ll be smart. . .
I’ll just head straight, going straight through town, hitting the connector.
You know, downtown,
As in downtown. . .
As in Petula Clark now singing in my head. . .

So go downtown
Where all the lights are bright, downtown
Waiting for you tonight, downtown
You’re gonna be alright now, downtown

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
Hysterical laughter is again raining down from what I have determined to be the mystical traffic gods.

It’s a stop and go drive the entire way. . .
Are you freaking kidding me!!!!!???
It’s Saturday for heaven’s sake!!!!!!!

Here’s the question—
If I drive on the emergency outside lane, bypassing the madness, would a state patrolman
cut me any slack if I told him I’m trying to get to my dad’s as my 87 stepmother may be having
a heart attack?
Do I take the chance. . .
Hummmmmmm

Long story short—-
Thankfully Gloria checks out fine.
With a few non threatening concerns to be addressed at a later date.
Dad is now much calmer
And life is back to its normal level of surrealism at 4825

As the sun begins to set, with everyone settled back into place,
it’s time to make the trek back home.
Traffic should be better, right?
It should be a breeze getting home. . .right?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
The traffic gods are laughing again.

Stop and go.
45 minutes sitting on 285 when I should have been long gone,
It takes me an hour just to get on to I20 in order to head out of town.
Stop and go the entire way home. . .
It’s Saturday. . .
Are you freaking kidding me????

Does anyone ever go home, or get to where they want to go???

Oh. . .and should I be concerned when a storm chaser van, changing lanes, pulls in front of me
exiting onto my same exit?

IMG_1384

I scan the blue sky and popcorn clouds.

I follow the storm chasers. . .
wondering, what’s in store for me further down the road. . .
when suddenly, I burst into song. . .

“Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There’s a world outside ev’ry darkened door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won’t hesitate
To break down the garden gate
There’s not much time left today”

Life is a Highway
Rascal Flats

Lemony stars

For my part I know nothing with any certainty,
but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

Vincent Van Gogh

If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years–
how man would marvel and stare.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

DSC01268

DSC01270
(bright yellow from the yard / Julie Cook / 2015

Twinkle twinkle little star
tell me, tell me what you are

Fiery ball up in the sky
or tiny flower oh so spry. . .

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveller in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny sparks;
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye
‘Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark
Lights the traveller in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Twinkle Twinkle little star, the beloved children’s nursery rhyme, was an English poem first published in London in 1806. It was written by Jane Taylor, who along with her sister Ann, first published the rhyme in a periodical entitled Rhymes for the Nursery.
It wan’t until 1838 that the familiar tune was added which is actually based on the French melody Ah! vows dirai-je, maman, which was published in 1761. Several composers, including Mozart, had a hand at arranging the cheery melody.

Stormy Weather

“I like to hear a storm at night. It is so cosy to snuggle down among the blankets and feel that it can’t get at you.”
― L.M. Montgomery

Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you’re aboard, there’s nothing you can do.
Golda Meir

DSC01044
(ominous clouds as tornado sirens howl on a stormy Sunday Georgia morning / Julie Cook / 2015)

“. . .Life is bare
gloom and misery every where
Stormy weather
Just can’t get my poor self together
I’m weary all the time
The time
So weary all the time”

2nd stanza / Stormy Weather

DSC01039

There’s nothing like listening to that beautifully melodic and mesmerizing voice of the one and only Lena Horne.
I loved / love Lena. . .
Ms Horne was born to a generation of singers who sadly have come and gone.
Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James. . .
Soulful storytellers whose beauty and life’s trials, as well as their gift of song, could stir the deepest of emotions in even the most casual of listeners.

Lena Horne defined both class and grace.
Although being born in Brooklyn and spending most of her life in New York and Pennsylvania, Ms Horne spent a good bit of her childhood living in Fort Valley, Georgia—of which I suppose lead her to acquire that markedly distinct sultry southernesque drawl she’d call upon for wooing audiences and movie producers alike.

Today’s weather is a fitting tribute to the woeful lament Ms. Horne made famous, Stormy Weather.
First performed at the famous New York Cotton Club in 1933 yet a song made immortal when performed by Ms Horne in 1943 in the movie of the same name. . .

“. . .don’t know why, there’s no sun up in the sky. . .
Stormy Weather. . .”

I didn’t need Ms Horne however, to remind me of the current weather condition as the early morning wail of the tornado sirens was sign enough.
The sirens wailed, the phones buzzed with alerts and the television was rife with the warnings of impending doom. . .as in “SEEK SHELTER NOW!!!”

Luckily the “rotation” the doppler radar was indicating was remanning up in the clouds and thankfully had not descended to the ground.

It was to be on this tumultuous Sunday morning, as it is on many Sunday mornings, my husband was to treat me to breakfast out. As in I wasn’t going to have to cook it. It’s the only morning he’s not at work. As in he’s actually home. And of all the little treats in life. . . it’s breakfast out that I enjoy most. There’s just something special about heading out on a lazy stress free morning to some inviting little restaurant or tiny cafe, as the heady scent of bacon mingling with fresh coffee greets all at the door.

And so it was on this stormy, springtime morning I was to be treated to a nice breakfast out. The only problem was that an impending tornado was in the middle of my path to bacon and pancakes.
UGH!

The weatherman on the news was zooming in on a fierce looking storm hovering about 5 miles south down the road from our house. It’s amazing how they can pinpoint storms with such vivid accuracy. A Tornado Warning had been issued, the sirens were wailing and my stomach was growling.
We waited.
I peered out the windows.
The rain beat down.
No lightning thank goodness.
I hate lightning.
No winds.
Just black skies with torrential rains.

All of which got me thinking. . .
How often in life are we excited, full of anticipation, looking forward to something special, when suddenly, out of the blue, we get blindsided, we’re thrown a curve ball, we hit the proverbial bump in the road, we hit the wall? There’s a glitch that rears its ugly head in our best laid plans. Our assumptions for a complete follow-through are not what we had expected or anticipated.

Rather than savoring the smooth sailing toward a treat, a reward, a trip, a special event, a magnanimous moment we’re faced with an impending storm, a train wreck, a disaster, a detour. Our attentions shift, our guard gets up, plan B must be implemented, and we hunker down.
We wait.

And as it so happens with the worst of storms–the rains fall, the clouds lighten, the winds shift, the energies exhaust and the dangers pass.
With or without repercussions.
At which time we emerge bleary eyed, nerves shaken, but resolve in tact.
We’re ready to proceed, to continue, forward.
Maybe we have to pick up a few pieces along the way, maybe our plans are delayed. . .
yet nevertheless our eyes remain fixed. . .fixed on our hopes and dreams which remain down the road where we had yearned to travel in the first place.

So on this new morning to this new week, may you keep your eyes on the prize. . .
whatever that prize may be for you. . .
May you remain prepared for what life may throw in the middle of your travels
And may you remember that we all have stormy weather at some point in our lives
but that the storms will always, eventually, pass. . .