storms will rage

“I know well that the greater and more beautiful the work is,
the more terrible will be the storms that rage against it.”

St. Faustina


(early signs of change / Julie Cook / 2018)

March enters like a lion and exits like a lamb…
while April showers bring May flowers…

or so we are reminded.

Spring is a tumultuous time here in the South.
It might snow one day while tornados wreak havoc the next.
A good two months of a seasonal roller coaster ride.

I’m beginning to feel much the same with regard to our Christian faith.
Our lives have become a roller coaster ride of ups and downs of attacks and assaults—
physically, verbally, mentally, and of course, spiritually.

It is the season of our times as Believers as we are reminded:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms

Ephesians 6:10-12

That we may be ready, come what may…

“Throughout Sacred Scripture, we find that when God’s people fast,
the power of their prayers is increased, especially when they are engaged in spiritual warfare.
In the Old Testament, the Lord told Isaiah that a fast properly undertaken would
‘loose the bonds of wickedness … undo the thongs of the yoke…
let the oppressed go free’ (Is. 58:6)…
In the New Testament, we find that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the
wilderness in preparation for His battle with Satan,
who came to tempt Him (see Lk 4:1-2)…
If prayer is a spiritual weapon, fasting is the spiritual whetstone on which it is sharpened.
It’s the spiritual muscle that,
when exercised regularly,
strengthens the thrust of that weapon to pierce the Enemy and drive him away.”

Paul Thigpen,
Manual for Spiritual Warfare p. 42

I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

a family’s erosion

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton,
you may as well make it dance.”

George Bernard Shaw


(should not the day a new baby comes home be one of joy? Try telling the little girl on the
right / 1964)

It seems that even at the tender age of 5 I was gifted with intuition…
as in knowing something is a bad idea from the get go.

Just look at that all-knowing face captured on the day the new little brother was
adopted and brought home.
The younger me must have had a premonition that none of this was going to end very well…

and I was correct, it did not.

As most of you who know me recall—
I have written at length in past posts about both my adoption as well as the
dysfunctional life my family suffered at the hands of the mental illness that
engulfed and eroded my brother…

In his erosion, my family eroded.

Today it is not my desire to rewrite any of those posts but maybe today’s post can be a
bit of an addendum…

(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/
and
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/mr-mole-continued-forgiveness-and-grace/ )

The reason for this heavy revisiting is due in part because I happened upon a letter
that I’d found in a box that has been buried deep within dad’s basement for many years.
It was in a box tucked away in a forgotten back corner, under a table,
left to the spiders and whatever else lurks in a dark 65 year old basement.

The letter was written, or more accurately typed, in 1986.
It was a letter from my dad to my brother.
Wednesday was the first day I had ever seen the letter.

I want to share the letter with you and I’ll explain why after you read the letter:

September 2,1986

Dear Ed,
As you know, your mother is seriously ill and will probably die within the very
near future.
Because of that I am under probably as much stress as I have ever felt.
At the same time, it seems that our past problems have come to a head and are causing
me more stress than I can handle.
I had hoped that we could continue to relate as father and son, and to live in the
same household.
That has become impossible, so I have had to ask you to move out.
I hope you understand that I take no enjoyment from all of this.

I realize that you have some personal property in the house and will make it
available to you if you will just call me and set up a time to pick it up.
I cannot, however, consent to you coming and going if I am not present,
so please do not come to the house without calling.
If you don’t have any place to store your things I will help you with a mini
storage warehouse for a couple of months.

I want you to have the bank account your mother and I set up for your education,
and hope you will use it accordingly.

When we talked last Tuesday you said I couldn’t make you leave, and you refused to return
your house key: so I checked with my lawyer to see just what our respective right are.
He said that technically I could ask you to leave the house, or not return, and have
you arrested if you come back. I sincerely hope this never happens, but you must understand
that I will do whatever is necessary to preserve my sanity and to be sure I can be supportive
of your mother during her illness.
I hope you can understand how I feel and that I still want to help you to whatever
extent I can and feel justified, but cannot have you living at the house any longer.

Please let me hear from you and let me know what you want to do about your belongings.

Love, Dad
(the typed letter was signed personally)

And now a little background if you are new to this history of mine…

My brother and I were 5 years a part in age, with me being the oldest.
We were both adopted and not biologically related.
Even in the beginning Ed was different from me, mother and dad.

He was very fair complected, burning easily rather than tanning and he was covered
in freckles where we were not.
His hair was much lighter than our darker hair.
Despite my not being biologically related to mom and dad, no one could
tell it by just looking at us..
Ed however was different….and he always sensed it.

Even his head was more elongated than ours.
He cried incessantly as a baby.
He wet the bed long past when such was considered “normal”
He was considered hyper in school long before there was ADHD.
He struggled academically but soared in the area of physics.
He loved music, didn’t play sports and had a difficult time “fitting in”
He ran away when he was a senior in high school and was found in Texas,
driving Mother’s car, on his merry way to California, “to watch the moon and the stars.”
He fought dreadfully with all of us as his temper was dangerously violent.
He had threatened each of us at different times by promising “to blow our brains out”
Dad tried to get counseling but it was to no avail.

He eventually attended Ga Tech where he excelled in science with a keen interest
in aerospace engineering.

During this time Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer at the tender age of 53, only
to die within a 9 week window from the initial diagnosis.

I know without a doubt that death was mother’s blessed release as she had lived 15 years
of abusive hell at the hands of my brother—
who was especially vindictive to her despite her unending kindness.
He succeeded in eventually breaking her spirit.
Cancer and death were her ticket out.

I know now that his “abuse” to her was the misplaced anger he had so wanted to direct
to his own biological mother.
He was full of rage and simply could not live with that initial rejection.

During all of this time, my brother had actually begun a quest into his adoption and to
finding his birth parents.

I had long since gone off to college, graduated, moved to what I hoped would be far
enough away from the madness, and eventually married.
I had promised myself to “get out” and out I did.

My brother was the first case in the state of Georgia to have an adoption annulled—
my dad wanted to do whatever he could to help this troubled son of his find the peace
he so desperately sought…as is evidenced in his letter written prior to the court case.

This was a story of two loving people who simply wanted to have a family and because they
were unable to do that on their own, they turned to adoption.
And this is a story of a family member who suffered for years without
understanding what was wrong with him.
Life in a family where one member has a severe undiagnosed mental illness….

For those of you who don’t buy into the fact that much is happening in utero with a
fetus except for the physical development….
Let me tell you that there is also a great deal happening as far as mental,
emotional and cognitive development is concerned.
I am a firm believer in the transference of both positive and negative emotions
from mother to forming baby…
that there is much in the way of a lasting impact from mental and emotional miscues
just as there is with the physical miscue.

The long story is that my brother was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and he
did eventually locate his birth mother…moving states to be near her…
However she resoundingly rejected him again.

The adult rejection was more than he could bear, and so in his rejection he found no
alternative but to end his life.
He shot himself.
He was only 30.

I don’t write about this to make you sad or upset or to discourage anyone hoping to
adopt a child…
I share this story because I want to hopefully bring awareness…

I am the sole surviving member of my little family of four.
I am an ardent advocate for adoption as I am gravely opposed to abortion.

Yet there are those who would callously argue that had my brother’s birth mother sought
an abortion or had it been in a time when an abortion was legal and “acceptable”
perhaps years and lives suffered in misery, with an eventual suicide,
could have all been avoided.

Yet murder is never truly justifiable now is it?

I also know that despite the tragedy, the heartache and sheer madness—
God’s hand was alway there for me…guiding, steadying, leading….
but I also know that He is not a manipulator and will not
stop folks from doing what seems to be on their inevitable radar…

Yet He can bring goodness and light from both the bad and the dark.

I believe this, because I know this.

I simply write this because I want others to know that there is now help more readily
available for those who suffer mental illness than there was even 30 years ago.

Sadly my dad had also became broken in the loss of his son—
for he lost this boy he had loved on so many different levels,
only to find the loss unbearable.

For my dad was not a strong man who could bear up under tragedy.

He went to his grave just two months ago still feeling guilty over ever having to have
written that letter, for “kicking Ed out of the house”
He had rationalized, unjustly so, that somehow he too had contributed to my brother’s
rejection—
and no matter how hard professionals and loved ones tried to convince him over the years
that he did what he had to do in order to perserve the safety and sanity of his
remaining family, he carried that painful guilt with him to the day he died.

So this little story which is all about adoption, rejection, mental illness, suicide
and even survival is just as much a story about Grace…

For I have seen and lived both the dark and the bad and had it not been for God’s healing Grace…
this sole survivor of 4 might not have been here today to share her story.

So everyone who has ever been touched by tragedy, sorrow, heartache, darkness, cancer, suicide,
mental illness…must know that even in the darkest dark, there is always HOPE!!!
Because there is help…on so many different levels!!
And no matter how bad things often seem…God is always God and He has overcome the darkness
so that we may find our way to the Light….

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5

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

heightened senses….

“Memory believes before knowing remembers.
William Faulkner

23f7b44700000578-2869918-image-a-218_1418300218540
(Victorian Christmas Greeting card)

Every memory seems more keen.
Every sight seems more bright.
Every tear seems more heavy.
Every scent seems more strong.
Every sound seems more bold.
Every heartache seems more piercing.
Every loss seems more painful.
Every joy seems more complete.
Every touch seems more dear…

Each year, finding ourselves standing before what makes Christmas just that,
Christmas…
Our senses,
our thoughts,
our tastes,
our recollections…
seem hopelessly more intense, more sharp, more profound…

Be that a blessing
or
be that a curse.

Pain is greater.
Suffering is more fierce.
Joy is more contagious.
While satisfaction hangs precariously in the balance.

There are those who gravitate toward this more mystical and magical time
full of giddiness and glee…
while others wish to close their eyes,
not openning them again until mid January.

The sensory overload can be overtly overwhelming or palpably underwhelming.

And yet it is in that overload, be it over or under,
that we actually become more….
raw…
more open…
and even more vulnerable.

And it is in that vulnerability that the ego slightly abates….
the guard slips ever so quietly,
While pretense evaporates as the dew in first light…
As we are splayed wide open.

And it is in that moment of pure raw vulnerability that
the heart finally realigns,
beating rhythmically for the first time since the tragic Fall,
as it is once again, albeit briefly, in sync with all of Creation…

For no word from God will ever fail.”
Luke 1:37

tenacity

“Courage is not having the strength to go on;
it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”

Theodore Roosevelt

gwtwset4
(Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, wearing her mother’s curtains)

Think Scarlet O’Hara, Julia Sugarbaker and Steel Magnolias all rolled into one.
Who else would think to turn their mother’s prized curtains into
a matter of getting what they need…but a Southerner.

That’s because we in the South understand the significance of
desperate times requiring drastic measures…

For we are a resourceful lot when we need be,
especially during the thick of battle..
We are kudzu and honey all rolled into one..
Barbed wire and sugar spun together…

Because that’s just what we are down here in the South,
tenacious as a bulldog when needed,
soft as a cotton ball when called for….

We are also sweet and charming.
We are cordial.
We are warm.
We are hospitable.
We are not dumb, deplorable or rednecks…contrary to what some would have you believe.
We are educated.
Well educated.
We have great schools, colleges and universities.
People like our weather, well, maybe not in August…
I don’t like our weather in August, or even now, but I digress…

People like our food..think fired this or that, as in chicken and okra.
People like our drinks…think bourbon.
We are mannerly…for if we are not, our grandmothers are obviously not watching.
We believe in morality, decorum and being polite.

But none of that should never lead you to believe that we are
pushovers,
ignorant,
easy,
or lazy.

We are a strong kind people.

And I keep finding that I have to continually remind myself of such…

I have seen more of my poor father than any daughter should ever see of her father
and it is enough to last me a life time.
Bless him.
He can’t help it.
And sadly I can’t avoid it.

We got the water balloon dad unclogged today.
Mr nonchalant doctor was his typical rude, arrogant and non southern self during our visit…
He didn’t want to initially believe, let alone admit,
that there was any scar tissue from August’s surgery…
Well guess what…
there was.

No wonder poor dad was becoming a human water balloon,
a toxic human water balloon.
But mr nonchalant doctor assumed it was the tumor growing; the one we had opted not,
against his suggestion, to spend 8 weeks radiating on a daily basis.

“Has he looked at dad in that wheelchair of his” I wonder…

Quickly and without fanfare or even words, Mr nonchalant doctor performs a little procedure
then quickly leaves the room with us eventually leaving
with now a new sort of water balloon,
a catheter.
And thankfully free-flowing once again!!
No spreading cancer as dad was fearing…
just a little scar tissue fouling up the works…

Dad was having to get up literally 18 times a day and 9 times throughout the night living
like a human water balloon…filling up, but not flowing out.

The doctor walked out with nary a word….
No words of kindness, no words of encouragement,
no words of care nor words of what we might need to do…

Kind of like a wham bam thank you mam sort of moment.

Leaving me with the young nurse to attach everything…
getting everything in, on, up and poor dad back into his chair.

Where I come from a gentleman assesses the situation and lends a hand where
he sees the need.
We call that being a man…patient, kind, gallant and thoughtful.

When we finally walked out, me walking, dad rolling…
Mr nonchalant doctor was sitting at his computer in his office, directly across from us,
as we exited the exam room.

I was sincere and gracious in my thanks and gratitude for helping dad.
As I was always taught to offer thanks for a service rendered and I was genuinely
grateful that dad would now be functioning and flowing.
Plus there I was wheeling my cancer ridden, feeble, 88 year old father
who has just bared everything to everyone…did he not deserve a word?

There was a very long pause of silence before acknowledging that I had spoken…
without glancing from the computer came an “ah huh”…
and with that, dad and I were on our way.

At the elevator dad leans his head back in my direction as I push the button for down…
“he doesn’t have much personality does he?”
“I think he’s a jerk dad.”
“I just think he doesn’t have a beside manner” dad counters…

And that my friends is the response of a gentleman.

A man who just bore his feeble sickly body for violation and he merely chalks up
being ignored to a lack of personality.
Where I see a sorry SOB…

Had I not been wheeling dad, who was now hurting and asked for something for pain,
as mr nonchalant non caring doctor quips over his shoulder, “take some tylenol'”…
I think I would have marched in that office of his, slaping my hands down on his desk,
asking or rather telling him to do the polite thing by
looking me in the face when I’m speaking
and to acknowledge my father as an elder as well as a hurting human being….

Because that’s what we do here in the South, we acknowledge our fellow human beings as
what they are, fellow human beings….

And don’t forget, we also came up with iced tea…..
thank you very much…

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Luke 6:27-28

Innocence and wonderment…

“In any case, you must remember, my dearest,
that the main strength of innocence is innocence itself.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
Albert Einstein

DSCN3849
(an alert fawn in the backyard / Julie Cook / 2016)

It is now time that we all just stop for a moment.

Time to stop with all the…
malice and ill intent.

It is time to stop the…
polarization,
the divisions,
the anger,
the lies,
the slandering,
the accusatory nonsense…

It is time we stop just long enough….
Just long enough to remember…
to remember and recall that there is still a world…
a world where we can find…
innocence,
joy,
wonderment,
rapture,

A world still full of the…
amazing
miraculous
mystifying
and the loving…

A world where God’s Grace still remains…

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 8-10

limp or love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

DSCN3431
(placard that hangs by my backdoor / Julie Cook / 2016)

Anyone old enough to remember the 1960’s knows that that decade was known as the decade of peace and love…
It was also the decade of war and unrest.
With much of that unrest running rampant on American streets.

The decade began with a dashing new young President who was tragically cut down prematurely in the prime of his life.
Death loomed heavily over the United States as the war in Vietnam continued on and on….
Tensions grew exponentially on our college campuses.
Draft cards were defiantly burned, young men ran away to Canada as wooden coffins continued flying home.

The war was murky and deadly…
As a new type of warfare had been unleashed.
Guerrilla fighters lurked in the jungle and rice patties as Napalm was unleashed on entire villages.
The end goal had gotten lost in Washington and no one really understood why we lingered…
If we couldn’t finish successfully what had been started, then why remain buried in all the carnage.
The country definitely exclaimed that enough was enough.

As the decade wore on, other hopeful voices were silenced…
Bobby Kennedy then Martin Luther King were each snatched away just before the turning point.

Even the Catholic Church was not exempt from the decade of turmoil as the groundwork for the first Vatican Council held in over 100 years, better known as Vatican II, saw sweeping doctrinal change–some welcomed the change, some continue to curse the change to this day.

As the bras burned and the peace signs were hoisted high, as the hair grew longer and the season of love saw a brand new dawn…some wondered if life had simply spun out of control…

In 1966 a parish priest at an inner city church, on Chicago’s south side, needed a song for his youth choir to perform.
However nothing seemed fitting for the kids nor for the times in which they were barley holding on…
Peter Scholtes penned a quick tune he felt appropriate…
It was based on verse 35 of John 13…

Almost two thousand years prior, on a warm Jerusalem evening, the night of the Passover, what we now refer to as the Last Supper, was being observed by a rag tag group of friends.
Jesus had just admonished Judas that if he was to go, to do what he had destined himself to do, he must go quickly in order to get on with it…
The air was heavy as an odd tremendous sense of sorrow hung over those gathered.
This was no ordinary Passover and the disciples all sensed it.

Jesus tells those gathered that in just a short while, he will no longer be with them.
This sends a frantic pulse racing through the group.
A heightened sense of panic now replaces the somber melancholy.

Jesus quickly tamps down the nervous chatter…his words send a powerful calm throughout the room.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus knew what was soon to take place, the disciples had not a clue.
Yet He wanted to leave them with a powerful and clear path once he was gone.

The lasting legacy that Jesus offered that solitary night so long ago for not only those remaining 11 friends gathered around that table is also a continuum offered to us to this day…a continuum of love

That Love, which was culminated on a lone wooden cross, is more than an offering or gift, it is a charge.
A charge that came at a tremendous cost.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us of what that cost actually means…“It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

Many believe, and wrongly so, that the love Christians were charged with so long ago is a passively weak sort of oozing emotional goo. A surface sort of feeling that cannot weather the impending storms of life.
And for those who do not truly grasp the depth, the demands and the drive of this said Love…
they are left lost in its wake…for they underestimated its cost and expectation…

Yet in actuality this Love is a hard love and a tough love.

It is a love that demands not a piece or part, but rather the whole…the entirety of self

It is a love that casts out both doubt and fear.

It stands in the wake of pain and suffering as it is the only thing remaining once the dust of the
battlefield of this life has settled.

The love offered by Jesus that night to his disciples, which is the same love offered to both you and me on Calvary, cost not only Jesus his life but it cost God the life of his only son….it was a life sold for 30 pieces of silver… for both you and I…
And it was paid for, for our salvation, which in turn means that we were bought and paid with Love…

So will you be recognized for the Love of Christ which radiates as your guiding force through the minefield of this most turbulent early portion of the 21st millennium or will you be recognized by your limp…

For they will know us by our Love for we are One in the Spirit….

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 14:16-18