trying my soul

Leaves without flowers:
these are they which have words without works.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


(a soon to be blooming vine / Julie Cook / 2021)

Is it a coincidence that this week of all weeks, Holy Week, a week of the trying souls,
that WP is once again trying to make the new block editor the the only option for posting??
That the classic editor is becoming more and more elusive?
Perhaps my beloved classic editor is to be eliminated all together?
Is it not just a small microcosm, a random example of our current times?

The canceling, the exclusion, the elimination of the what was…
all for that ‘something’ that the powers that be deem to be so much other than
as well as better than…
something deemed to be more inclusive, and in turn, better?

But is all of that truly better?

Elusive and difficult, at best, is not better.

Does it matter that a portion of the population prefers what was???
Preferring that ‘what was’ is something that works best and better for others??
Or is it that ‘they’ and ‘it’ are both simply obsolete?

My husband and I ran to Home Depot today…a trip we make almost three times a week,
while we head to Lowes the other days of the week—
either way, we are in search of things needed for this new old home we’ve “inherited”
via purchase.
But let’s not go there today.

So I opted to sit in the car while my husband ran into the store.

While I sat in the car I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a notice that
The Chosen was offering their new trailer for the soon to be released Season 2.

The Chosen–that marvelous crowd funded show about the life of Jesus…via the
backstories of those who came in contact with the son of a carpenter…

I clicked on the trailer.

Isn’t it funny how God often desires to “speak” to us, His children, in places and in ways
we’d never imagine?
It matters not when nor where God opts to speak out loud to us–He will speak no matter
what or when!

He spoke to me today in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Athens, Ga.

I heard a resounding word—“your world is small, MY world is all encompassing.”

I looked at all the cars, all the folks pushing carts all around me…
Everyone was busy.
Life was on the move…and yet…
I had a resounding sense that all that I was seeing and experiencing was oh so small
and insignificant.

There was a true sense of peace in all of that.

All the news, all the mayhem, all the politics, all the legalities, all the pandemic..
all the madness taking place..none of it mattered…I felt a sudden sense of being
small and insignificant.

And in that insignificance, in that smallness…there was a release.
A peace found in the small…
No news
No storms
No politics
No laws
No division
No defunding police
No lawmakers
No masks
No vaccines
No trials
No hate
No death…

All bits and pieces of insignificance.

Our God…your God, my God..
Greater than anything of this world…
Greater than our own thoughts and imagination…
Thank goodness!!!

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son.
Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will,
because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—
that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—
you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why
I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

our journey

“Who except God can give you peace?
Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?”

St. Gerard Majella


(two little cousins on their own little journey / Savannah, Ga, 2020)

“This is the difference between a journey on earth, and that which leads to Heaven.
For in the former, not only may we stop without fear of going backward,
but rest is necessary that we may sustain our strength to the journey’s end;
however, in the latter journey which leads to perfection,
our growth in strength is proportionate to our advance,
inasmuch as the inferior appetites which throw all possible obstacles in our path to Heaven,
grow gradually weaker while our good inclinations acquire new strength.
Thus as we advance in piety, our early difficulties fade into the background,
and a certain delight, with which God sweetens the bitterness of this life,
increases in our souls.
Going cheerfully on from virtue to virtue,
we finally reach the summit of the mountain.”

Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, pp. 117-18
An Excerpt From
The Spiritual Combat

humility as viewed through the lens of football

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God.
A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course,
as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”

C.S. Lewis

What is humility?
And why does it matter?

Here are several definitions I found online:

A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

A disposition to be humble; a lack of false pride

Freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble

I really like the last definition…

The first definition has a bit of a ring of self-martyrdom to it.
The second one seems to be left to one’s birth personality leanings…
meaning you’re either born with it or not.

But that last one…
that last one speaks of ‘a freedom from’…

There is a great sense of release in that notion for sure.

For there’s almost a sense of ‘a lifting’ or ‘a removing of’
along with a ‘healing from’.

For to be free of something is liberating…it means you are no longer bound,
as in nothing is binding.
And there is certainly tremendous gratitude found in that!

So it seems that no matter how one slices it, humility is a lacking of arrogance
and false pride….it is also very low key.
All of which is both freeing and liberating…

Humble people tend to be low key and quiet.
They tend to shy away from the limelight…as in they have no use for such.
They prefer to stay quiet in the background.

They don’t tout themselves as this or that but rather yield to the others around them.
They eschew the spotlight…or really any sort of attention for that matter.

This notion of humility has come to the front of my thoughts recently
in part because Atlanta’s news has been all abuzz all weekend over the former
NFL football player Colin Kaepernick’s very much publicized staged workout in town…

From all outward appearances, this seems to be a staged last-ditch effort by a
young man and “his people” to draw the attention of the League’s teams,
owners and coaches to the fact that he is still very much ready to play…
playing for anyone who might ask.
He wants everyone to know he’s still viable and marketable.

But is he really?
And is this the true impetus behind this latest media-driven public spectacle?
Is he sincere?

I can’t remember a single player ever going to such extreme efforts
to get teams to reconsider him as a potential player.

And if this media spectacle wasn’t surreal enough, at the last minute,
Kaepernick changed the location just prior to the scheduled event leading
to confusion rather than the simplicity of simply showcasing his physical talents.

Was it just another issue of who is and who is not in control?

There are plenty of disappointed players out there who have been cut,
let go or who have gone undrafted for a myriad of reasons…

Professional sports are a fickled business.
As cutthroat comes to mind.

There are tons of players who continue working out, attending open practices, etc,
all in hopes of getting just one more shot.

Even big-name players such as Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel obviously come to mind—
Two very different players who were let go and yet did not want to be let go.

Tebow never seemed to get a fair shake…of which I suspect his
very open Christian faith might have had a lot to do with that…
And Manziel, well he simply burned his bridges with his continued drug use and
bad-boy behavior.

Bad-boy behavior becomes a liability in a business dominated by fans.
As in the fans are the ultimate bosses.
When fans pay to come and support a team…money flows.
When fans don’t pay to come and opt not to support a team, the money stops.
Ratings drop, players, opt to leave, as a team then becomes toxic.

No money, no revenue…
No revenue, no pay for salaries.
Maybe if salaries weren’t in the millions, this might not be such a problem.
Liabilities don’t generate revenue.
Arrogant players tend to become liabilities.

Former Steelers and Raiders player Antonio Brown comes to mind.

I just can’t seem to recall any player who has ever created their own media circus
in an attempt to force the hand of the League with the ‘hire me or else’ tactic other
than Colin Kaepernick.

I never cared for Johnny Manziel, even when he was a college player,
all because of his blatant self-destructive arrogance.

He quickly found out that the League didn’t care for it either.
The Canadian League gave him a chance but he still wants back in the NFL.

Tebow, well, he remains a bit of an anomaly regarding his playing.
Once he figured out his football days were seemingly over, as no one really wanted
to give him a real chance, he opted for baseball…
but he didn’t seem to fare any better there.

So yes, there are tons of former players, well known as well as unknown,
who would love to be able to afford their own personal very public media-hyped workouts
in an attempt to strong-arm a League,
but either they can’t or more importantly, won’t.

And maybe humility has something to do with some of that.

Some might argue that tooting one’s own horn is a must in professional sports.

Yet when you’re a sports figure who uses your job (because that’s just what it is, a job)
as a platform for your own personal political views and personal agendas…well then
that is a case of exploitation…
exploiting your work platform for your own personal desires…
Forcing a captive audience, the fans, to endure your selfish antics.

You are no longer a team player but rather a self-centered individual
allowing your on-field antics rather than performance to become an extension to a soapbox
for something so much other than what you are there for…
for athleticism and finesse on a playing field.

A humbled person might see such and reconsider how best to promote a personal agenda…
An arrogant person, on the other hand, is so self-absorbed that they have quickly lost touch.

We see this constantly with our politicians as well as with our entertainers…
just as we now see such in our professional athletes.
No area of our lives seems free of hubris.

It would be so nice to have some places in our lives that remain a-political.
Places of quiet that remain low key.
Places where we can just enjoy a game for the game’s sake… or a concert or even a simple
trip to the mall without being victimized by those who push their envelopes in our faces.

Our souls are so thirsty for the humble.

We hunger for places where there are no spotlights, no news media,
no glaring social media blitzes.
No one screaming “look at me”–

Arrogance and self-absorption dominate our lives.
Yet we readily feed into this very trend every time we feel the need to post our latest images
of ourselves doing whatever it is we do, thinking the world needs to see what we do.
The question however is, does the world really care or is it rather ourselves who are
the ones who care?

It would behoove us to seek the humble, the quiet and the lowly.
Our souls are in dire need of such.
For our souls are parched and need refreshing…

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles
himself will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11 ESV

Deus absconditus

“Three things are necessary for the salvation of man:
to know what he ought to believe;
to know what he ought to desire;
and to know what he ought to do.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(a fallen leaf hangs in the balance by the thread of a spider / Julie Cook / 2019)

“One of the most formidable obstacles to the conversion of a soul is the fact that
God is a hidden God: Deus absconditus.
But God, in His goodness, reveals Himself, in a certain manner, through His saints,
and even through fervent souls.
In this way, the supernatural filters through and becomes visible to the faithful,
who are thus able to apprehend something of the mystery of God…
make no mistake, there is a sort of instinct by which souls,
without clearly defining what it is they sense,
are aware of this radiation of the supernatural.”

Dom Jean-Baptist Chautard, p. 124-5
An Excerpt From
Soul of the Apostolate

degree of separation

“We cannot live only for ourselves.
A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men;
and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes,
and they come back to us as effects.”

Herman Melville


(the fist pickings from the 3 container tomato plants / Julie Cook / 2017)

It has been said that the citizens of planet earth are separated, one from another,
by a mere 6 degrees…
or what some researches refer to as “the small world phenomenon”

“If you just take a look at the numbers,
the six degrees of separation idea seems pretty plausible.
Assuming everyone knows at least 44 people,
and that each of those people knows an entirely new 44 people, and so on,
the maths shows that in just six steps everyone could be connected
to 44^6, or 7.26 billion people—more than are alive on Earth today.”

(excerpt from an article by Fiona McDonald for Science Alert / sciencealert.com)

full article link here:
http://www.sciencealert.com/are-we-all-really-connected-by-just-six-degrees-of-separation

We’ve seen the notion of this “phenomena”,
and it’s original test of theory dating back to the 1960’s…
as it has morphed over the years into a movie, a college drinking game and even to a
broadway play…as it appears that the notion that we are all so closely connected,
seems to hold a deep fascination with the citizens of the globe.

And yet we wonder as to the responsibility that might come with such a
close connection of kinship…..

The idea that we actually know one another by some interwoven intertwined web of
acquaintances apparently holds us captivated.
The notion that we are each one connected soul, connected to other souls,
souls of which we hold on to tightly in our own little circle of souls,
is seen as eerily soothing.
Just one big happy globally dysfunctional family.

And yet the irony found in our desire for unity is that we also clammer for separation.
We want everything about our lives compartmentalized…separated….
while at the same time we painstakingly seek a global connectivity while also
demanding equality for all and a toleration of every
imaginable choice out there…
except for those who choose the Omnipotent.

So our connectivity and toleration and inclusiveness is actually limited despite
the lies we continue telling ourselves to the contrary.

We vie to find our connectedness…one to another…
while at the same time we vehemently fight to sever our, and everyone else’s,
ties to the Creator…

We fight tooth and nail to separate Him from every aspect of our very
independent secular lives..
While at the same time patting ourselves on our backs for an overt
pride found in the general connectivity and the false unity we think we’ve created…
For we claim inclusiveness in our broad reaching connectivity while at the same time
demanding that any notion of a connection to God be erased from thought.

This fickleness of ours will indeed be our undoing….
for we cannot be connected to everything and everyone while pretending
to disconnect our being, our soul, our own, our all from the very One
who knitted us in our mother’s womb….

For we cannot run nor hide from His knowledge and omnipotent presence,
no matter how far we go or how hard we try….
and until we are able to see and understand and acknowledge that He is a part
of even the very air we breathe,
then we will simply continue this petty exertion of our energies while
puffing up and inflating our trite egos of self,
in this endless ongoing emptiness we find so very fascinating and captivating….

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For thou didst form my inward parts,
thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:7-13

For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Hungry?

There is a spiritual hunger in the world today –
and it cannot be satisfied by better cars on longer credit terms.

Adlai E. Stevenson

DSCN0731
(a disgusted jackdaw surveys a tossed aside apple core / Blarney Woolen Mills / Co Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2016)

God will fill the hungry because He Himself has stirred up the hunger.
As in the case of prayer, when God prepares the heart to pray,
He prepares His ear to hear (Ps. 10:17).
So in the case of spiritual hunger,
when God prepares the heart to hunger,
He will prepare His hand to fill.

Thomas Watson

If you saw someone who was hungry,
would you in turn offer them a piece of rubbish or rotting trash?
Would you hand them something discarded and already eaten upon?
Would you toss them a mere rind or core?
Some sort of afterthought, something less than…?

Chances are that you would not.

You wouldn’t feed a hungry person with trash or previously eaten and picked over food.
Rather you would most likely offer them something fresh, preferably warm and cooked.
Something that you yourself would wish to be offered…something you yourself would enjoy.

So we can safely assume that if someone stood before you physically hungry,
you would most certainly feed them or help provide a means for them to be fed…right?

So now, if someone was standing before you spiritually hungry, lost, angry with their life’s lot,
searching for that elusive satisfaction and happiness…
Why then would you not share the word of God?…
offering them the bread of life, the endless waters of salvation,
the body and blood of the only One who can satiate the real and true hunger of man?

For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:9

a few hearty souls

“When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
Billy Graham

RSCN8436
(a tall standing Gerber daisy braves a sunny November day while an impending cold front fast approaches / Julie Cook / 2014)

The lines have been drawn as two opposing forces prepare to collide.
A line of division stares at the unsuspecting.
The assault will be coming, whether anyone is ready or not.
However, time is of the essence.
It is now or never.
Prepare or pack.
The choice is to stand and fight, or to run for cover.
But will there be any cover in which to seek?
Only a few have stayed behind, relishing and lingering in what little warm comfort remains.
When the first small wave of change appeared, the masses had already fled.
It is all now left to only the few brave souls, those who dared to claim what the others discarded.
Truth has mixed with the lies of disbelief and only the hearty few who remain can sort it out.
The shift will be seismic.
The consequence, life or death. . .
as the lone query is posed, this is about flowers and cold fronts, right?
Maybe comes the dry reply.