don’t be comfortable with the status quo

Perfect holiness is the purpose for which we were created,
so we can’t allow ourselves to be comfortable with the status quo.

Fr. J. Augustine Wetta, OSB
from his book Humility Rules


(2017 / Julie Cook)

“It is undoubtedly true that each of us, men and women,
irresponsible and thoughtless as we often are,
hold within our hands the happiness and sorrows of others.
We cannot help it or escape from it.
The power is in us inalienably almost from birth to death—in us,
because we are persons—and we are responsible for the use we make of it.
Indeed, so mysterious is this power that the very presence of a person
who does not realize his responsibility is often the source of the keenest pain of all..
The failure to exercise the power to give happiness to others is
not merely negative in its results;
it is the source of the most positive suffering of all.
Thus there is no escape from the responsibility involved in the
possession of this power.
Not to use it where it is due is to destroy all happiness.
Strange power, indeed, to be committed to such weak and unworthy hands;
yet there could be but one thing worse:
that none could interfere with the joys and sorrows of others.
We might envy their happiness and pity their sorrows,
but we could not help them.
It would be a world of isolated individuals wrapped in inviolable selfishness;
each must take care of himself and the world must go its way.”

Fr. Basil W. Maturin, p. 149

A short story

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren
is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life,
but rather a legacy of character and faith.

Billy Graham


(early 19th century tombstone / Colonial Cemetery / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2014)

****Once again I’ve found myself looking back and re-reading previous posts–
posts that might need to be re-shared…this little story popped out from
all those posts and asked to be re-shared as I’ve gone back and tweaked it a bit.)

Hushed voices whispered across the back porch…whispering from under a
sweltering blanket of an oppressive late August evening.

It was almost 10 PM and the old galvanized thermometer was reading 86—-
It was a most welcomed drop from the triple digits which had only added
insult to injury earlier that day, as a grieving family gathered in a tiny
crowded church.

Her thinning frail hand was now working harder than it should,
waving the paper program back and forth as she hoped to stir up the
stifling night air…or were her hands simply nervous and in need of some
sort of distraction?

The screen door creaked to life, breaking the unbearable silence as
familiar steps began tp echo cross the well-worn wooden planks.

“I thought I told you to oil that door last week”
her words now taking more effort than she had strength to offer.

“Has anyone seen Ellington?”

“Not since lunch” was the whispered response.
Ellington was named for the legendary Duke Ellington.

He had always loved listening to the Big Band orchestras.
This love began during that most surreal time, back in ’44,
when he and the others waited on their orders.
Orders for when the offensive assault would begin.
Orders that would mark that fateful June day for all of eternity and
perhaps change the lives of his small world forever.

The days leading up to the invasion were passed nervously while everyone
just sat fidgeting, waiting and wondering.
Like the darkening clouds of an impending storm,
the cigarette smoke hung heavy in the air.

There were the endless games of cards, letters written and rewritten home
all the while those same familiar bands were playing over and over..
playing on the only record player aboard ship.
If he ever made it back home, he promised himself,
he’d get himself a dog and name it Ellington.

“I haven’t seen him since we got back from the Church.”
“You know how that dog loved your daddy.”
“How old is he now, 12?
“Yeah, I bet he’s sitting down by the gate still waiting on Daddy to
come driving up the road in that stupid old pick up.

“It isn’t a stupid pick-up!” she shot over her shoulder
at her brother– sounding angrier then she had intended.

“Mama, can I get you some more tea?” she asks as she stands
and stretches muscles now stiff from sitting in the ‘old man’s’ rocking chair.

“It’s not as comfortable as your Daddy would have made you think, is it?”
“No mam, it’s not.
How in the world did Daddy sit out here every night reading that paper of his?
I’d rather sit on a fence post. . .”

Catherine mutters the statement as she gently rubs a weary behind.

“Your Daddy had a bit more padding back there than you do sweetie.”

At 92 she was a woman still full of warmth and grace.
They had been married almost 70 years.
He had actually asked her to marry him in a letter, written from France,
once he knew he had survived the worst part of the war.

It took the letter 6 weeks to make it home.
Six weeks of her not knowing if he was dead or alive.
When her father brought the mail in the house that evening
and once everyone had sat down to supper…
he silently slipped the letter across the dinning room table.

She looked nervously at both her mother and father, and then slowly
opened the thin airmail post, hands trembling over what
this long awaited letter might say.

Suddenly, sending her chair crashing on the floor as she jumped to her feet..
she shouted, apparently to no one present in the room,
“Yes, Yes Yes. . .”

That was August 1944.

It would be two more years before they would marry,
once the war was finally over and he made his way home with several citations,
a silver star and an honorable discharge.

It had not always been an easy life, but it had been a good life.
They had raised 4 decent and caring children on that small farm–
managing to always pay the bills while keeping everyone feed,
especially the three boys.
They even made certain that the kids would have the option of going to college
if they so chose.
And choose they did.

As Catherine made her way inside to the familiar kitchen, pulling open the faded door
to the old Frigidaire, relishing the blast of fresh cool air,
she hunted for the pitcher of tea.

“I thought we were all going in together to buy them a new one
of these last Christmas?!”
–Catherine mumbles while lingering in the
coolness of the refrigerator’s contents.

She knew her younger brother had followed her inside.

Gathering the courage to speak his mind, with her back now sufficiently turned
in his direction, her younger brother boldly begins to blurt out his
quasi-rehearsed speech.

“I think you ought to take mom back with you and I’ll take Ellington back with me.
It’s not like she. . .”

This younger brother doesn’t even have time to finish his first thought
before Catherine slams the door to the refrigerator and whips around so fast
that it catches James off guard.

“WHAT?!” she hisses through clenched teeth as she fights back the
angry stinging tears.

She always did have Daddy’s quick temper.

“Are you crazy!? she practically screams as she proceeds to unleash
the full wrath of fury laced with the pain and frustration built from
the past few days..
unleashed all upon an unsuspecting yet well meaning,
if not clueless, younger brother.

“I’m not taking her anywhere and you’re certainly not taking that dog back to Boston.
You want to just kill both of them right now?
Taking them from here, especially now, would certainly do it.”

James, now a bit frightened, doesn’t recognize the ranting woman
standing across from him.

“Oh I get it”…Catherine continues.
“Robert knew you were coming in here didn’t he?

James nervously twists his wedding band.

“I bet you both have been planning all of this when Daddy first got sick.”
“He’s out there right now ready to tell Mama ya’ll’s plan isn’t he?”
“And Paul???”
“What about Paul?”
“He’s not even here for Christ’s sake.”
“He can’t even get a plane out of Venezuela for the funeral and you two
have already moved her and that dog!
How dare you James!”

Catherine is now seething in a mix of anger, pain and sorrow.

And just as quickly as the furious storm is unleashed upon a hapless younger sibling,
the rage thankfully subsides.

Catherine suddenly feels as if all the energy, all the anger,
all that once was is now mingled with a terrible heaviness of  immense sorrow.
Any remaining energy has now simply evaporated from her very tired body—all the while
a tempest wind has suddenly and thankfully vanished…
taking all of the energy from the raging storm with it.

Her brother, her younger brother,
is no longer looking at her but rather standing with both hands stretched
out on the counter, his arms are painfully straining to hold up his now
very weary lanky frame–with his head cast downward, he mumbles
“I just thought the boys would like having the dog.”

Catherine, reading the pain in his words, reaches her hand to cover her brother’s.
She’s amazed by how much James looks like a much younger version of the man
she lost only yesterday.

She begins slowly…
“It’s not like Daddy owed any money on this place.
He paid it off 10 years back when he sold off the cows.
Mr. Johnson has been paying them for the hay—
and Randal and Wilton pay Daddy for renting the fields,
plus they’re giving them a percentage of the corn.
They can now simply pay Mama.”

Catherine is now looking at James with the compassion that can only be found in that
of a protective older sister while she begins her stance of conviction.

“I know you think Richard and I never can agree on much…
but the one thing we do agree on is Mama and Daddy.
I know how much Richard loved Daddy and he in turn has only wanted the best
for both of them.”

We’ve talked about it.
I’ve got enough years in at work.
I sent in my letter of resignation last month.
I’m going to stay with Mama for as long as she needs me or wants me.”

“With the girls now gone, the house is really more than Richard and I need.
We’ve talked about letting Robert list the house and we’ll just come back
here to the farm until we find something smaller.”

“Richard can commute to the college.
I can stay a month, six months, a year…”

“And you can go back to Alice and the boys…
buy the boys a dog, but Ellington has got to stay here with Mama!”

“Robert is less than two hours away in Des Moines,
he can be here when and if I need him.”

By now a wealth of tears has finally come to both weary faces.

Whoever would have thought this pair of once rough and tough siblings
would be standing at the counter of the kitchen,
the same kitchen that had once witnessed a myriad of mud covered frogs
swimming in the brand new porcelain sink.
Or a lethargic lizard placed in the freezer for safe keeping.
Or one too many missing cherry pies from a lone windowsill
And what of those late night secret ins and outs of restless teens,
teens who were now sadly finding themselves, all these many years later,
deciding the fate of an aging mother and dog.

“Look at it this way” Catherine interjects attempting to put a much
needed smile back on her younger brother’s face..
“this will finally give Mama the chance to teach me how to make that
famous gooseberry jam of hers.
You know how much she always resented Daddy for turning her only daughter
into a 4th farm hand, dashing all her hopes for a little feminism
on this male dominated farm.”

James lifts his tear-streaked face to meet his sister’s glance.

“You know how I hated that crap” he sheepishly replies.
“Yeah, I know, just as much as Daddy did.”
Catherine now gently squeezes her brother’s hand.

James is now wide eyed as he stares in disbelief at his sister.

“Yep”, Catherine states matter of factly, “he hated it”

Catherine continues, “he said it reminded him of eyeballs covered in sugar,
but he’d eat it any way cause he knew how hard she had worked on it”

By now that captivating yet distinctive boyish grin was slowly returning
the face of a man whose heart was breaking.

“I suppose that’s what happens when you love someone for 70 years”
sighs a very tired Catherine who is now smiling back at her equally
tired kid brother.
“You’d eat anything they cooked and in turn love an
old hound dog named Ellington.”

so thin a line

“Solitude has soft, silky hands,
but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.
Solitude is the ally of sorry as well as a companion of spiritual exaltation.”

Kahlil Gibran


(Julie Cook / 2015)

There is a thin line.

It is so thin a line that it is not visible to the human eye.

It is so thin a line that even the web of a spider appears heavy
and large in comparison.

And dare I say that such a line is not even visible by means of the
strongest electron microscope.

It is a line that cannot be detected by sound waves or any sort
of visible imagery.

No doctor, scientist, engineer or even artist has ever seen such a line…
because this line is impossible to see…

And yet there are those who know far too well that this line exists.

There are but a few hardy souls who, for both better and worse, know
that this line is very much active in our daily existence.

For those who know that this line exists…
also understand that this line is not visible to the eye but rather
visible to one thing and one thing only.

And thus knowing that this line exists…as in not through
a visual ability but one that is rather more visceral than not,
those who know, know that this is a line that can only be felt.

For this is a line that is only experienced within the human heart.

The line exists somewhere between love and sorrow…
Sweet and bittersweet….
Gain and loss….
For it is composed of both complete joy and utter despair.

One side of this line is marked by love while the other side is marked
by sorrow…
with nary a space or gap in between.

Man has long since accepted the fact that to love does indeed,
more often than not, guarantee sorrow.
The degree of that sorrow is only dependent upon each particular individual.

But what is known is that to have loved and to have ever lost that love,
that is indeed the line of which we speak.

The cognizant mind knows that to love means that there is indeed a real
possibility of hurt, loss and pain, but it is not until that love is removed…
that anyone can fully understand the endless depth of such a loss
and such a love.

For it is in that loss and separation that one can finally grasp the full
spectrum and depth of that very love.

So the question we must ask…are we willing to suffer in order to love?
Or maybe that question should be…are we willing to love, knowing that
we very well may suffer.

I for one think the answer is a resounding yes.

So here is to the thin line of love.

But because of his great love for us,
God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—
it is by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2:4-5

the journey of deconstruction

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.
Who looks outside, dreams;
who looks inside, awakes.”

C.G. Jung

“There is a spiritual loneliness, an inner loneliness,
an inner place where God brings the seeker,
where he is as lonely as if there were not another member of the Church
anywhere in the world.
Ah, when you come there, there is a darkness of mind,
and emptiness of heart, a loneliness of soul,
but it is preliminary to the daybreak.
O God, Bring us, somehow to the daybreak!”

A.W. Tozer excerpts from various sermons…How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit

So it has been brought to my attention, over the last week or so,
that perhaps some of my recent posts…
posts that I’ve offered as reposts, along with those penned as recently as this week,
seem to be skirting around a central theme…
a theme of the forlorn or even that of the melancholy.
Some have even asked “are you ok?”

Well…I think I’m ok.
And I think the posts have been timely…as perhaps it is
the times in which we are finding ourselves which is rendering
that underlying sense of the forlorn and melancholy.

But I suppose I should confess that I have been spending a great deal
of time recently thinking about loving and being loved.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about breaking and being broken.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the implications of giving while receiving.

And I’ve fiercely been wrestling with the whole notion of Grace.

Do you know that giving Grace is one thing…while
feeling worthy of receiving such is something else entirely?
Or so I’m learning.

And so I’m faced with the nagging question of how can we freely offer others
such if we find our own selves feeling less-than when needing to
receive the same in like turn?

It is indeed a conundrum.
A conundrum of self.

And thus I have actually been finding myself looking backwards.

Not so much because I’m afraid of going forward, or that I wish to be morose…
rather I’m looking back in an attempt to better understand the now.
Or maybe I should say “my” now.

And no, I’m not talking about looking back through the lens of some sort of
historical context, a political context or a cultural context.
Heck, I’ve purposefully been distancing myself from my obsession
with all things news…avoiding the latest barrage of current events
all of which leaves me more depressed than hopeful.

I am finding that I need to declutter from the world for just a bit
in order to make some sense of the bare bones of this thing we call life…

I’m finding that an interior life issue is far greater than the Border Crisis,
a Pandemic, Dr.Fauci, President Biden, a broken chain of supply and demand,
inflation, vaccines…the list is endless….
and the list is a massive distraction and not the real issue at hand.

For the real issue is that which lies within.

And maybe that’s part of the point.
Avoid the real issue by being distracted by the world’s issues and madness.
And what good am I to myself or others if I am consumed by a world’s madness?

Introspection is a fine line when walking through one’s memories.
We must tiptoe through the effects that those memories have had on our lives
as well as the lives of those we’ve carried along the way.

We must balance such with both clarity and wisdom.
Depression, regret and sorrow are never far behind…dark specters who
nip at our heels while we embark on such a journey.

Such a journey that often becomes an endless void, much like a black hole
that pulls all energy and light into its darkness.

So we must be careful that we are not consumed.

One thing I know about God is that He is often a deconstructionist.
Meaning, He is one to break apart before rebuilding what was into
what needs to be.

I think I’m in the middle of some much needed deconstructing.
Deconstruction, like breaking, is an often hard fraught process.
It can be painful yet oh so necessary if one ever hopes to be whole.

Yet we must remember there is a difference between being broken
as in left in pieces vs being taken apart, dissembled, in order
to be rebuilt anew.

For what God opts to take apart, in order to piece back together
as only He sees best, is indeed to be made more perfect.

It is a journey…and not an easy journey…
but if you ever want to find peace and truth, it is
a journey that must be taken.

So here’s to the journey!
For the bad and then the good!

An excerpt from a post written March 4, 2016

When excavating the locked chambers of the soul…
that quest for the missing piece to wholeness…
The path is narrow, fraught with both emptiness and loneliness
And the darkness will be exacting.

It is a journey few care to traverse…
Isolation is a key requirement…
The striping away of all exterior noise and distractions…
leaves exposed the innermost secrets of one’s very being.

God is exacting.
He is a selfish God, who wants all and will not settle for any less.
He wants not that which is freely offered, willingly given…
He wants, nay demands, that which is desperately held back.

The re-union of created and Creator is inevitable.
There are those who eagerly seek the synthesis, the rejoining…
While others vehemently fear it…
The fragility will shatter…into a million fractured shards…

Out of the mire, the sucking and suffocating quicksand of death…
The spirit longs to reach upward, yearning for home…
Yet it is in the depth of death’s vast darkness that the fractured soul searches…
While the Creator waits…

Bring us home oh Lord
Strip us of that which prevents us from being with you..
Deliver us out of…
the brokenness,
the loneliness,
the emptiness,
the isolation…
of self
Bringing us to the daybreak of You…

can a grape break your heart…maybe it’s time for Grace

“Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together
the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken.
Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?”

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


(red grapes /Julie Cook / 2021)

What causes a heart to break?

What causes that overwhelming suffocating pressure inside
your chest when you realize that your heart is actually breaking?

Is it sorrow?
Is it loss?
Is it absence?

What is it that causes that deafening pounding inside one’s brain
while an unending flow of tears leaves an etched trail cascading
down cheeks?

Is it fatigue?
Is it distance?
Is it emptiness?

Could a grape break your heart?

The fact that the bag stated seedless grapes and yet they were full of seeds…
can that break your heart?

Grapes most likely will never break your heart…

But maybe it’s who was last eating those grapes…
Maybe, just maybe, that’s who can break that heart.

What about a can of diet Dr. Pepper?
Can a soft drink break you heart?

Doctors might agree that caffeine isn’t necessarily good for your heart
as it might just make your heart race, however the chances are that
that drink won’t leave your heart broken…

But maybe, just maybe, it’s the person who was last drinking that soda
who might break your heart.

So what about an endlessly hungry, bottomless pit, of a cat…can such a cat break your heart?

The incessant meowing of one who wants feeding at each and every turn,
might break your nerves, but most likely a hungry cat won’t break your heart…

Yet maybe, just maybe it’s the thought of who last fed the cat which
can break your heart.

And what of a stack of wine corks…
Can a random stack of wine corks break your heart?

Some agree that drinking wine might actually be good for your heart, it is however
doubtful that an idle stack of leftover corks would ever break your heart…

But maybe, just maybe, it’s the creator of that idle stack that might just
break your heart.

And so what of scent?

What of the lingering scent that remains from one who was, only moments
prior, holding you in their arms?
Does that remaining presence which is now woven into the fibers of your own clothing–
does that scent of that person who is now no longer physically present…can that
remaining scent break your heart?

Maybe.

It might just  break your heart because you find yourself holding on tightly to your
own piece of clothing…burying your face deeply into that shirt while breathing
in as if your very life depended on it…trying desperately to catch a last lingering reminder
that love was indeed present despite a now empty and silent distance.

And so what about homework?
Can homework break your heart?

Homework…
There was a time when certain types of homework nearly broke my will…
but school work never broke my heart.

Yet what I am discovering however, is that the homework of learning how to accept Grace, allowing Grace to penetrate
into what was once perceived to be an undeserving soul…Grace that yearns to pry open and
break down one’s ancient walls…walls built to be impenetrable…yet walls that must succumb to Grace that is now being offered freely and graciously from one to another…is a lifeline that I never knew how badly I needed.

And so it now seems that that simple act of an offering of Grace can indeed break one’s heart…and more often than not, that breaking is agonizingly painful, yet it is also something most necessary if one hopes to push through this thing we call life.

And so my hope for you is that you too may also be fortunate—fortunate to find and to receive this gift known as Grace…

Yes, it might just break your heart, but that breaking just might be the only way you can find it and hold on to it.

“I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”
Hermann Hesse

an adopted path to Grace

“All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by
laws analogous to those of physical gravity.
Grace is the only exception. Grace fills empty spaces,
but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it,
and it is grace itself which makes this void.
The imagination is continually at work filling up all
the fissures through which grace might pass.”

Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace


(Rosemary Beach during Hurricane Sally / Julie Cook / 2020)

Tossed within the surf of a sea churning with tumultuous emotions…
joy, sorrow and even regret now vie for prominence within my heart.

An engulfing crescendo of deep abiding love is gently offered…
yet is is overshadowed by the inward naysaying whispers of a past
that speaks of unworthiness.

Grace and Graciousness, along with open forgiveness,
have each been tenderly extended…
freely extended by the hands of unconditional love.

The very word unconditional has always made these eyes fill with tears.

Humbled by such a love leaves this heart feeling only more unworthy
and even trembling.

Ode to a child of adoption…the child who finds the unconditional
a foreign gift.

Condition most often becomes the wiring of the adopted one.
And thus the thought of such worthiness is oh so far away from anything
the adopted individual finds possible…
for the single sense unworthiness clings for dominance.

If you’ve ever visited this little corner of the blogosphere of mine very often,
then you know I’ve written at length about such feelings and that of
my own adoption over these many years.

The highs and lows, the battles and the healings.

With adoption, the notion of healing and that of worthiness each become
a lifelong quest.

For the one who was given up and given away…to be able to ever feel worthy
of accepting such a precious offering of true and abiding love…a gift given from one
freely to another, feels as a near impossibility.

And so a battle ensues…

The adult who has lived life and attained hindsight now fights with the
ever present child who was born of rejection.

Logic wrestles with raw emotion.

Yet what we know, is that in the end, love does indeed win.

Because we know that anyone who calls
themself a Christian, is adopted by Grace.

I am a child of Grace and I am a person who is so ever grateful
to that of the unconditional…

to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!”
So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Galatians 4:5-7

all that remains is Silence (a timely repeat)

Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts:
secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.”

James Joyce

In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa


(Julie Cook / 2014)

****Yesterday, while I was searching through some older posts,
I came across a post that I wrote back in April of 2014.
I am assuming it was written as a lenten /Good Friday post.
While rereading it, there was something in it that I couldn’t quite
put my finger on, yet I knew something, very strongly, was speaking
to something deep inside of me.
It speaks these seven years later as I find myself in a different
space and time.

It’s that transcendence notion again.
That of going beyond to that which is calling us home.

And so perhaps it is Nicodemus who I can relate to at this particular
moment in time.
Perhaps I too feel the weight of a deafening, defining yet empty Silence…

Yet blessedly, what I do know, despite coming these many centuries after Nicodemus,
is that the Silence will not remain silent for long.

It has only been a few hours.
There is. . .
no rush of wind,
no gossip or chatter,
no signing birds
no barking dogs
no children at play
no rumble of thunder
no toil of labor.
Nothing.

The only thing which remains is the Silence,

And yet there is a sound to Silence.
It is the sound of a heartbeat pulsing through tired worn out ears.
The heaviness of a labored sigh expelling through a dry open mouth.
The sound of hunger wrestling through an empty gut.
The popping of tired old joints.

He had asked them to bring the body here.
To the cold Silence of a bought grave.
Emptiness fills the Silence.
A lingering sweet scent of myrrh and aloe now fills the cold empty space.
With the women all gone, as well as for all the others, he silently holds a solitary vigil.
Two laborers wait nervously by the trees ready to seal the tomb.

He stands alone staring, for what seems to be an eternity,
at the now lifeless shrouded mass.
A surreal moment for a tired old man who has seen far too much of
a life that he cares not to recall.
What was it his old friend had told him of the conversation he
had had with the Teacher that night which now seemed so long ago…
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven:
the Son of Man.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes
will in Him have eternal life. . .

What does any of that now mean at this particular moment in time?
Does the Son of Man now die as any other man?
Everything he thought he knew is now turned upside down.
He silently wrangles with these thoughts of life and death,
when suddenly he is reminded of how very tired he feels.
He had raised his hand, without thought, resting it against the
cold massive stone in order to steady himself.
It has been a terribly long and pain filled day.
He is no longer a young man.
He is old and tired, but the events of today have aged him further.

There are no more tears, for they have long since fallen.
He shutters slightly, pulling the tallit, the prayer shawl,
closer over his aged body, as an empty coldness now envelopes the dark tomb.
Silently the sun begins a slow descent below the horizon,
as he notices an odd coloring to the sky.
It is now time he takes his leave for the Sabbath is soon to begin.

Sabbath.
How odd that suddenly seems.
He slowly turns towards the two men waiting in the shadows.
No words are spoken.
He offers a silent nod as he walks away.
The workmen wait until he is gone before bracing the long pole under
the massive stone.
It is done.

And now Silence fills the World.
Not even a whisper remains.

Yet oddly, vibrations faintly rumble underfoot.
An expectancy fills the air.
A small flock of birds chaotically flutter in the night sky.
Something in the dark has sent them into motion.
The animals sense it first.
They always sense change before any human.
Mankind doesn’t yet take notice.

Within the Silence, the Earth begins to tremble.
Birth pangs fight viciously against Death’s motionless hold.
Transcendence is at hand,
as blinding light seeps up through cracks in the ground.
Tremors roll over a planet as waves crash against distant shores.
The Earth now shifts ever so slightly on its axis, as cosmic explosions mysteriously shimmer in the night sky.
All in Hell begin to quake.

The Silence is no longer so silent.

transcendence

Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence:
it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense
“destined” to go beyond himself,
and he is called to this in a mysterious way.

APOSTOLIC LETTER
SALVIFICI DOLORIS
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II 1984


(Cades Cove / TN/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Maybe it’s the grey skies.
Maybe it’s the deluge of rain.
Maybe it’s age.
Maybe it’s not feeling 100%
Maybe it’s life’s circumstances.
Maybe it’s just our current times..

It seems as if I’ve had a weighted heaviness sitting on my spirit
for quite sometime now…and this “heaviness” seems
much like a festering splinter that is attempting
to work its way to the surface…

What I know about such a type of splinter is that it is
being worked to the surface by a body wanting to rid itself
of an infecting foreign entity.

So maybe this heaviness will be worked up and out as well.
Maybe, just maybe, the heaviness is only a symptom.
But a symptom of what is not exactly clear.

Recently I’ve found myself ruminating on idea of the
transcendence of time.

Vocabulary.com tells us that
transcendence comes from the Latin prefix trans-,
meaning “beyond,” and the word scandare, meaning “to climb.”
When you achieve transcendence, you have gone beyond ordinary limitations.
The word is often used to describe a spiritual or religious state,
or a condition of moving beyond physical needs and realities.
One way to achieve transcendence spiritually might be to fast
for a long time.
If you have trouble letting go of material needs,
then you will have a difficult time achieving transcendence.

As a Christian, I believe, that on this earth, we live in a
constant state of transcendence or perhaps that is transcending…
meaning we are constantly trying to climb beyond.

Gravity and time each keeps us bound to this earth, yet our spirits long
to go to a place beyond and unknown.
There is a longing in our beings for that which we cannot see
but yet we feel is calling us.

Over the years I’ve often written about my “godpoppa”–
He was an Episcopal priest.
Adopted like me.
And he bore the bulk of my teenage angst and
later my often tumultuous choices of life, both good and bad.

He died in December of 2016 only a few months prior to my dad’s death
and even that of my aunt’s.
Loss, let alone back to back losses, is/ are never easy.

And yet this one man’s influence on my life remains just as it
always has–both strong and robust.

It matters not that he is not here physically, because in my reality
he continues on in my soul–day in and day out.
His influence and teachings continue to positively impact all
that I do.

I was fortunate to have had such a person come into my life
when he did, but I do not believe it was by fate, chance or some
random encounter.
I know without a doubt God places folks within our life’s journeys
at just the right time and place.

I do think, however, we’d all agree that it is the physical that
we miss the most when we lose someone we love.
Not so much their words, not at first anyway.

We want to be able to see them, hear them, feel them.
Just as a child who has fallen and skinned a knee, we want to be held
and comforted in our sorrow.
And despite our knowledge of what the separation means when speaking
of death, we still want this now ‘lost’ person to hold us.

And yet their love, the love we shared, transcends both space and time.

What I gratefully remember is the man whose eyes smiled at me…
and yet those same smiling eyes could and would always penetrate past all
my thick protective walls.

He taught me that walls must be broken if true healing is to take place.
He taught me that I had to risk all things earthly in order to find my true
peace and well being.
He taught me that I had to be broken before I could be built back up.

And so I suppose that journey of brokenness to transcendence continues
as I write.
Hence the oft felt heaviness.

God continues to push, or maybe that should be pulls, us along…
as we put one hand over the other, rung after rung…climbing
ever upward and ever forward to that which we cannot see yet knows
waits for us just beyond…

And do you know what makes this journey all that more mystical and
otherworldly??

It is the single fact that along this journey, we might be fortunate
enough to find someone who we thought we’d previously lost forever.

And that’s when it suddenly dawns on us…this most beloved person had
never been lost at all…they were simply waiting for us…
despite neither of us realizing it at the time…
and it is in that single moment of reconnection that we
find our greatest blessing…

So here’s to transcendence, time, space and to the one constant that
always binds—that being love.
(thank you Patti)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant 5 or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never ends.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues,
they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

down the slippery slope –off we go…time for a revolution?

“To join two things together there must be nothing between
them or there cannot be a perfect fusion.
Now realize that this is how God wants our soul to be,
without any selfish love of ourselves or of others in between,
just as God loves us without anything in between.”

St. Catherine of Siena

‘He that deceives me once, its his fault;
but if twice, its my fault.’”

“The Italians having a Proverb,

Bumbling, stumbling, fumbling, miscues, incompetence, misguided,
bloodied guilt, laughter, foolishness, ignorance, blindness, calculating,
arrogance, ineptitude, stupidity, mismanagement, hapless, clueless,
blatant defiance, wrong, hurtful, deceitful, cold, uncaring, blame…

Shock, anger, resentment, betrayal, loss, sorrow, bereft, bewildered,
now rage…

Tumbling, falling, rolling, sliding— lost..into an abyss

Hear us oh Lord…

He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“You are the salt of the earth.
But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out
and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world.
A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone
in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify
your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:3-16

And Jesus said…I am here for a revolution.
Not a revolt, but a revolution.
Believer…are you ready?

living in the midst of Chaos

“Either we are adrift in chaos or we are individuals, created,
loved, upheld and placed purposefully, exactly where we are.
Can you believe that?
Can you trust God for that?”

Elisabeth Elliot


(image from Parsons.com—chaos engineering)

According to Merriam Webster the word chaos
is a noun meaning a state of utter confusion.

And so I think we can go ahead and safely add a 51st star to our nation’s flag—
not the likes of a D.C. or Puerto Rico but rather because of our living in
the state of Chaos…
For chaos is seemingly alive and well…

Now as to where exactly this 51st state should be located might be
up for a bit of debate but I think it pretty much exists from sea to shining sea—
so therefore it’s really just one big massive state holding all 50 of the rest of us
‘states’ as bit of a hostage.

So rather than making it a state…let’s just make it a new continent….
bringing our 7 to a nice even 8.
Because it’s not simply the US that is living in and with chaos,
but pretty much most of the globe.

In case you need some clarification…a bit of reminding of what it is that
I’m talking about…let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane…

We started with a lab leak that ensued into a global pandemic
in what seemed like the course of a single day…

We locked down, masked up, shuttered our lives and livelihoods
all the while battling one another over the correct course
of treatment.

To vaccine or not to vaccine, that is the question.

We hoarded toilet paper.

We bought up all sorts of food items to freeze while waiting for the
apocalypse.

And now we fight over a thing called a vaccine passport—
Consider it a modern day matter of the haves and have nots—
think class warfare…
think paranoia, persecution, exclusion, and delineation in the most
sinister and divisive of manners.

Moving on…

Next we had an election.

I use the term ‘election’ very loosely and there’s not enough time
in the day to chat about all of that so just know…there was a
quote unquote election.

This little election situation has left us with a person in charge
who is publicly struggling under the weight of dementia while calling himself
the President of the United States.

My uncle has dementia and oddly claims to be the governor of South Carolina
despite having been born and raised in Georgia and having lived in
both Virginia and Florida.
Go figure.

This dementia / presidential thing is a bad thing but again,
there is not enough time to chat about such.
Just know that a president with dementia means the inmates are running
the asylum and things are not going well at all in that little department.

Think the Border.
Think immigrants.
Think Covid.
Think Afghanistan.
Think Socialism.
Think lawlessness.
Think trillions of your tax dollars itching to go piss in the wind
for the lack of a better example.
Think Big Brother.
Think defunding police.
Think CRT
Think the approving of transgenderism for little girls and boys as young as 4.
Think Judaeo / Christian persecution
Think the rewriting or total erasing of history
Think desecration.
Think division.
Think a nation run amuck.

Throw in mother nature with her earthquakes, hurricanes,
fires, tornados along with the mantra of climate change…
and well we’ve got a huge mess on our hands.

Don’t think you’re affected?

Well, if you are breathing, then you too are living in the midst of chaos.

It’s all just downright unsettling.
It’s frightening.
It’s depressing.
It’s a feeling of helplessness.
And it is so utterly surreal that it hurts the brain.

But just when I was screaming in my head, TAKE ME NOW LORD…
I stopped in order to play a little bogland catch-up—-
In doing so, I saw where our good friend IB posted an interesting tale…

Bitter Pills and Pharmakeia

https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2021/08/16/bitter-pills-and-pharmakeia/

Now where I found her post interesting for a myriad of reasons…it was
something else in her post that actually brought me to a beautiful sense of hope.

It’s really easy to quickly fall into the pit of despair these days.
IB lamented much the same.

All you have to do is to pop back up a couple of paragraphs of this post
and read about life under a president with dementia.
Read about Mother Nature.
Read about the decline of Western Civilization….
but I digress…

IB wrote toward the end of her post,
“I am sad and concerned about many things, the earthquake in Haiti,
the manmade humanitarian disaster unfolding in Afghanistan,
and the tyranny building here in the US.
And the Lord is like, Nope!
What matters first and foremost is your unmet emotional needs,
your well being, our relationship. God is a great multitasker,
He has the whole world in His hands, and still the time to give
me His undivided attention.
My being “shocked and sad” about what is going on in the world doesn’t
really help anyone anyway.”

And that’s what hit me deeply about her post—no matter what storm is raging,
God, who is always omnipresent, is in the midst of it all…
with me remaining at the center of his concern and love—
just as you are…deeply held in the center of His concern and love

The Master multitasker, who has the world constantly in His sight, keeps
each of us in His tender embrace. He will not fail us.
Our earthly leadership will come and go…human beings will continue
to fail one another…but our God will never waiver.

And it is that single thought that is what allows me to get up each morning as we
all prepare to face what this sorrowful world has in store for us—
Remember…in the end He wins and therefore, we win!

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples,
“Let us go over to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.
There were also other boats with him.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat,
so that it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.
The disciples woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
“Quiet! Be still!”
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples,
“Why are you so afraid?
Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other,
“Who is this?
Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:35-41