What separates Christians from the rest of the pack…

“Life [had] replaced logic.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


(a soon to bloom peony / Julie Cook /2018)

The image of the bloom used in today’s post is that of a peony.
I call this peony my resurrection plant because I bought it two summers ago, in July.
It was a very expensive plant.
Yet anyone living in the deep South knows you don’t sink a lot of money into a
plant, dig a hole in the hot dry ground, plop in said expensive plant and expect it to live…
especially in July and especially in a summer experiencing a full-blown drought.

I wrote about this plant last spring and the reason as to why I call it a resurrection plant—
of which you can read from the following link…
but that is not the true gist of today’s post

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/resurrections/

Today’s post is a reminder of what the Resurrection is all about…
and if you are a Chrisitan, it’s a reminder of what that exactly means to you.

The reminder rests in the fact that we’ve just celebrated Easter…

Easter being holiest celebration, besides the birth of Christ, within the Christian Chruch…
Some would argue that it is the sole holiest celebration…but I suppose we can’t have a
resurrection of our Savior without his immaculate conception and birth…
all of which supersedes the ability of man’s small mind to grasp and process…
hence so much of the consternation in mankind since that very first miraculous morning.

After watching the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted featuring our favorite
rouge Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gavin Ashenden, I’ve come to realize that
there are many in our fold who really don’t know what they think about
the Ressurection…
And what is even more startling, many members of the clergy don’t quite
know what to make of it either…

In a nutshell, it is the what which separates Christianity from every other religion.

How in the world can you offer anyone, let alone speak of such things as
Hope, Salvation, Grace, if you can’t find the words to say that you believe, without
a doubt, in the Ressurection of Jesus?

You can’t.

Because the Resurrection is the defining key to our faith.
It is the impetus to faith…the belief in that which is a mystery, undefinable,
and greater than oneself.

Without the Resurrection,
Christianity is nothing… nor is it any different from a myriad of other belief systems.

C.S. Lewis explained this very point in 1950

I heard a man say,
“The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival,
evidence that the human personality survives death.”
On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men,
the difference being that in Christ’s ease we were privileged to see it happening.
This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought.
Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened.
Christ had defeated death.
The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open.
This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival.
I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival.
On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion,
Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost.
The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection
as something totally different and new.
The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death;
they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe.
Something new had appeared in the universe:
as new as the first coming of organic life.
This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”.
A new mode of being has arisen.
That is the story.
What are we going to make of it?
The question is, I suppose,
whether any hypothesis covers the facts so well as the Christian hypothesis.
That hypothesis is that God has come down into the created universe,
down to manhood—and come up again, pulling it up with Him.
The alternative hypothesis is not legend, nor exaggeration, nor the apparitions of a ghost.
It is either lunacy or lies.
Unless one can take the second alternative (and I can’t) one turns to the Christian theory.

C.S. Lewis,
“What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” (1950)

So if you claim to be a Chrisitan and yet find yourself unable to acknowledge the mystery
and the might behind the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you need to rethink your allegiance.
And if you are a member of the clergy and find the words and concept uncomfortable,
you need a new profession because the calling, was not for you….

between darkness and light


(sunset at Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2018)

****Firstly, may our hearts and prayers be with the students, parents, faculty, staff
and entire community of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward Co. Florida.
Our hearts break for those families whose lives will never be the same.

Secondly, I read an updated post offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden on Tuesday
that he was going in for emergency surgery Wednesday due to a detached retina—
this being the second and unforeseen such surgery. He asked for our prayers…
and pray we shall.

With this past Sunday marking the Christian observation of the Transfiguration, the
event in which Jesus is “transfigured” before his friends who had accompanied him to a
mountain to pray…one might find that such an event is perhaps odd fitting falling on
Sunday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent…
because here we have a significant moment
of light versus a significant time of difficulty and darkness.

As this seems to be one more example of the juxtaposition of our faith as Christians…
Darkness versus Light….Light versus Darkness.

Bishop Ashenden notes this event in his Sunday homily taking place on the last Sunday
before Lent.
He opens his homily with the reading from Mark regarding the event we Christians
know as the Transfiguration of our Lord.

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a
high mountain, where they were all alone.
There he was transfigured before them.
His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.
And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.
Let us put up three shelters (some say altars)—one for you, one for Moses and
one for Elijah.”
(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud:
“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain,
Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man
had risen from the dead.
They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things.
Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected?
But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished,
just as it is written about him.”

Mark 9:2-11

I personally have always found the timing, or rather revealing, of Jesus’ Transfiguration
being remembered on the Sunday before Lent as a bit odd as it seems somewhat out of sync.
Here we have the Church calendar making its way toward Ash Wednesday and the
beginning of Lent, a time of solemness and yet we are given a story of Light and Glory.

Lent is a hard time for Christians–it is a 40 day lead up to the walking of the Via Dolorosa–
or the Way of Sorrows…
There is such a seriousness and heaviness and yet here we have a moment of shared and
exposed Glory with the marking of Blinding Light.

And of course, the voice of God telling those disciples present that
“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.”

I can only imagine how those three disciples must have felt.
First and suddenly, Jesus is consumed by blinding light.
Then just as suddenly they are seeing men that needed no introduction or explanation
as to who they were, the disciples just seem to know…
the prophet Elijah (who according to Wikipedia as in The Book of Malachi prophesies Elijah’s
return “before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD”,
making him a harbinger of the Messiah and of the eschaton in
various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible) and also Moses,
the man chosen by God to continue the lineage of mankind and all of Creation
following the near world-ending flood.

Pretty mind-blowing and unbelievable stuff.

And yet they seem to take it all in stride.

That’s the thing about the Bible—we are given specifics with very little in the way
of emotions.
“so afraid”, “trembling”, “sorrow”… descriptive words but not much in the way of
“hey!!! What just happened here??!!”

Yet Bishop Ashenden reminds us that their breath, that of Peter, James, and John,
must have been taken away by Glory…

For these three disciples suddenly found themselves out of the concept of both
space and time.

Both being humanly grounding concepts simply disappearing in the blink of an eye.

We aren’t told of the duration of this event—and I would suspect,
much like a dream that seems to last an entire night yet in actuality is but a minute
or so at best, this moment of absence yet consumingness must also be brief.

The good bishop states that time and space…of which is infused with Glory, simply melts…
Just as it does so later for both Paul and Stephen…
Just as we know that they, and eventually us, must melt ourselves in order to
truly see this Spiritual reality.
Because we can not be of either space nor time in order to be in the presence of God—
because God is not and cannot be, contained by either.

And so the Transfiguration is our moment when both space and time melt away, affording us
a Light cast just before we enter into the darkness.

For “Hope and the promise of Glory–pierces the darkness.
And we need this encouragement found in Christ’s transfiguration to feel the encouragement
in our perseverance through our own Via Dolorosa.

For we live our earthly lives caught up in darkness…
The recent shooting yesterday at the high school in Florida startingly jerks us back
to the knowledge that we live in a fallen world caught in the power play of
Light and Darkness.

As we will soon one day hear those long-awaited words…
“Behold I am with you always—until the end of time…

When both space and time and even ourselves will melt away and
we will find ourselves in the Light.

Hope is Springing

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest.
The soul, uneasy, and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

Alexander Pope


(cue the Lenten Rose / Julie Cook / 2018)

We still have so much to talk about…
So many pressing issues of the soul and the salvation of man.

That being our salvation.

There is so much history that we need to recall, lest we be doomed to repeat it all.

Discussing those things of true importance while discarding those unimportant things
vying for control.

There has been such a wearisome heaviness pressing down on us…
The cold.
The snow.
The political circus of both country and globe.
The helter-skelter stock market.
The flu.
The sheer burdens of our individual lives…
The uncertainty of the uncertainness.

The list seems endless.

I have felt as if I have not been outside, really outside, taking stock
of a winter barren waste-laid landscape in a string of seemingly nonending months of time.

Its just been too cold, too wet, too grey…
just too, too…

Until Tuesday.

I actually went outside and filled up the birdfeeders.
The sun was shining and it wasn’t freezing.
In fact, I could feel the sun’s warmth.
An unfamiliar yet most welcomed sensation.

I cleaned out the bird boxes, ridding them of the old nests…
making ready for new residents who will soon be out house hunting.

I trimmed away a few dead and broken branches from plants, bushes, and trees—
all who had suffered under the weight of the snow and ice—
trimming wich I had simply not felt called yet to tackle.

To be honest, I think I’ve just not felt like doing much of any of it, period.
I’ve not felt motivated or excited to do so…
both of which are not me.

I chalk such lack of motivation, lack of get-up-and-go, to life’s wicked blows,
to the winter blues and to just the never-ending chill which
has delighted in reaching down to my very bones.

The good news is that I do not have the full blown hemochromatosis I spoke of
about a week or so ago.
I am however a carrier…only half mutant.
Yet it’s off for the nuclear stress test come Monday…
all to figure out the reason for a sedentary blood pressure for a non-sedentary individual…
of which probably points to another mutant gene…

My son made me watch the X-Men cartoons with him when he was a little boy—
I always did have a soft spot in my heart for Beast—
I mean, who doesn’t love a soft-spoken, Shakespearian reading
manly man who happens to be blue?

Yet I suspect some might simply call my winter languidness, age.

However my little outdoor excursion Tuesday offered up a marvelous surprise.

Tucked away in what is usually a dark tiny tree ladened little nook,
an unsuspecting patch of pine straw nestled between two small boxwoods…
rests 4 nearly hidden reminders that there is indeed life lurking, waiting and
really ready to get busy.

And as if right on cue, just in time for the beginning of this week’s coming Lenten season…
a time which happens to be bringing both Valentine’s day and a certain grandbaby’s
due date…
a reflective time of death, Ressurection, and life…
the Lenten Roses are in full blooming regalia.

Hope does Spring eternal does it not?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,” declares the Lord,

Jeremiah 29:11-14

A beating heart

What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like.

St Augustine


(sunrise as soon peeking through the trees / Julie Cook / 2018)

Consider the heart.
A muscle that beats, according to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 60 to 100 beats per minute.

That’s every minute of every hour, of every day,
of every year over the course of one’s lifetime…

According to Gizmodo:
Humans and chickens are outliers in that we get 2.21 billion and chicken
gets 2.17 billion beats (I wonder how many actually see that much).
But a lot of other animals teeter the 1 billion line:
horses, pigs, rabbits, elephants, cats, whales, etc.
Animals big or small, fat or strong,
fast or slow—it seems like there is a magic number for us all.
Other than small dogs. They got the short end of the stick.

According to Runner’s World
First of all, for the record, let’s just do some simple math.
Let’s say you’re a sedentary dude with a resting pulse of 60.
Each day, your heart beats 24*60*60 = 86,400 times.
Now let’s say you’re a real nut who takes up running and works up until you can go
for an hour every day with a pulse of 160
(which is likely an overestimate).
As you get fitter, your resting pulse drops to 50.
Now, in any given day, your heart beats 23*60*50 + 60*160 = 78,600 times.
So in fact, by running, you’re saving 7,800 beats every day!

I say all of this today about hearts as I’m off for a stress test.
I’ve never thought much about something that is actually working nonstop 24/7
never skipping a beat.
Like most everyone else, I take things like beating hearts, breathing lungs, digesting guts
all for granted until something goes awry.
Then suddenly their amazingness comes flooding to the forefront of consciousness as we
are immediately awed, annoyed and panicked all at once in the span of a split second.

Well, I have a thing called premature atrial contractions, so sometimes my heart gets
a little erratic…but I’ve had it for oh so many years and have gotten pretty much use to
the occasional catching of breath and fluttering deep within.
My doctor hasn’t fretted, nor have I…
More nuisance than worry.

And that’s not the reason for the stress test, but we’ll talk about that little reason later once
I get the good word following the results.

Seeing the sun peeking, glowing and pulsating through the trees the other morning made
me immediately think of that most sacred heart of Jesus…

The image of the Sacred Heart came racing to clarity in my mind.

An amazing image captured by man of a beating heart in a man, yet beating
for the Divine.

A crushingly humbling yet overwhelmingly moving image that leaves me awed…
remembering that in each of us remains a tiny piece of that very divine organ…

No matter our purposeful or flippant life choices…
our willingness or our refusal
our kindness or our selfishness
our openness or our disagreement
our love or our hate…

We each have a tiny beating pulsating piece of the Divine deep within our being–
a remaining, functioning and existing saving piece of Grace…

May our life’s prayer, our life’s purpose, be that we not only yearn to feel His heart beating
within us—much like a mother-to-be can hear the heartbeat of her unborn child via an ultrasound—
but that we will allow it to inspire our approach to a purposeful and Divinely inspired
Grace-filled living of life…

The Latin phrase at the bottom of this 18th-century painting by an unknown artist
is a verse from John–
For God So Loved The World…..
John 3:16

And so we are saved by the loving Grace found within that heart…
A heart that we, in turn, must act as a living example to and for a world in need.

“Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of its very nature,
is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us,
and at the same time,
an exercise of our own love by which we are related to God and to other men.”

Pope Pius XII

the darkness shall not overcome….

“In order for the light to shine so brightly,
the darkness must be present.”

Francis Bacon

A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism,
but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.

Francis Bacon


(a partial solar eclipse caught in mid eclipse courtesy the web)

See this image of an eclipse?
Even when the moon passes completely between the sun and the Earth,
creating a total solar eclipse…as the day turns into an eerie twilight…the
sun is still seen as if glowing from behind the moon…

It’s as if the moon cannot hide nor contain the Sun’s radiating light
for the sun and all of her all encompassing power and might will not be denied

It is such that her light cannot and will not be hidden, contained, nor denied….

I think of Jesus and of his victory over Death—
His far reaching and everlasting Light, like that of the sun, cannot and will not
be hidden, contained nor denied …nor will the light that shines
upon the heirs of his Glory….for His Light will perpetually shine upon
all those who confess His name….

Epiphany—a shining forth….

Our good friend Bishop Ashenden offered a lovely homily for the Feast of the
Epiphany which was this past Sunday—
And as I keep explaining….my time is not, nor has it been, my own as of late
as it continues getting further and further away from me–
Hence why a past Sunday’s homily is being presently posted on a following Wednesday….

Yet no matter—I’ve added the video clip—it is all of about 15 minutes—
and well worth the time spent as the good Bishop offers a thought provoking look at the Epiphany as he asks us each the question,
‘what gift is it that we will lay before
Jesus as homage to his birth?”

And of course that gift is to be our entire being…especially
that of our complete and uncompromised time….
While at the same time we must remain mindful that our ancient Enemy will do
everything in his power to keep us from offering Jesus much of anything,
especially our time….

The good Bishop explains that what we know of the Magi, who were most likely
kings and if not kings of earthly kingdoms…they were certainly kings of
the realms of theology and science….
And it is clear that they were certainly not Jews….

Yet they came from far away places, converging simultaneously, in order to
see for themselves this baby that the heavens foretold…
A baby that was certainly no ordinary Jewish baby…
but rather a great and mighty future king…

And as they were not Jews, we have the first nod to the fact that this king-to-be
had actually come for all men and not just for the Jews.
As we actually see the leading thinkers and scientists of the day,
kneeling before the Christ.

Men of great, knowledge, thinking and wisdom…
yet humbled by the birth of a seemingly random Jewish child…
in what was considered a far flung dessert outcropping in the middle of
a barren land.
Men of great study and stature being humbled by the birth of a mere foreign child.

An event and scenario that would be highly unlikely to be acknowledged by our
current day’s community of academics and scientists.

For our dear Bishop explains that over time, the age of Enlightenment brought with
it a tremendous sense of hubris. With the current intellectual high priests
of all things scientific and academic possessing their fair share of self importance.

As our current age’s thinkers have been wounded by apostasy, unbelief,
schism and capitulation…
all the while as society is currently being sold a progressive theology
and the selling out to the spirit of the age…

And yet we are reminded of not merely a single birth of a small child
far away and long ago, we are reminded of the emergence of a Great Light…
A Light that called out the brightest and the greatest as well as the smallest
and the least….
for in this Light, not even the darkness itself can nor will contain it….

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5

Sun, moon and the love of a grandfather

“There are fathers who do not love their children;
there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson.”

Victor Hugo


(an older moon shot I’ve used before / Julie Cook / 2016)

I know that yesterday I had given us, or perhaps actually issued is a better word,
a laundry list of “issues” that we were going to need to play catch up with….
all sorts of pressing issues that had come down the pike while I was busy
with all things snow….

And yes, we shall indeed visit those issues…however, I was called into active duty, unbeknownst to my best laid plans, with active duty in my case being
the emergency holiday help at my husband’s store…

So now that I’m finally home, it’s late and I’m trying to prepare some sort of
hot meal of sustenance and get a post ready for tomorrow (which is now today if
you’re reading this), so I think we’ll hold up
on those more pressing topics until I have the proper time to do them justice….

And as life would have it, something interesting arrived in yesterday’s mail
that is now taking precedence.

You may recall that the I have a friend at Plough Publishing House who actually
happened upon my blog about a year ago or so.

That’s how we met.

She has been sending me sample copies of books that she thinks that I will enjoy…
and in turn will perhaps share with others….of which I have as time has allowed.

The small package that arrived in yesterday’s mail was one of those books.

A book that probably has made a bigger impact on my heart than my publisher friend
would have imagined.

Those of you who know me or have been reading this blog since this time last year…
know that I was knee deep in caring for my dad and stepmother.

Dad had an aggressive form of bladder cancer…he was diagnosed in late August and died
in March. Both he and my stepmother had also been diagnosed with varying degrees of
dementia quite sometime before that…
so needless to say we were just all in the middle of a downward spiral is putting it
mildly.

It was a hard road for us all…with dad being an amazing example
quiet acceptance, perseverance and fortitude.

This time last year we already had 24 hour care as well as Hospice care…
plus I was driving over each and every day.

The last time dad had actually gotten out of the bed was on Christmas day when we
wheeled him to the table to enjoy Christmas dinner.
Naturally he didn’t have much of an appetite but he was most keen for the dessert.
So dessert it was.

Dad and my son had a very special bond.
My son was my dad’s only grandchild and Dad was more kid than dad…
so needless to say, they stayed in cahoots most of my son’s growing up.


(Christmas day 2016, Brenton and Dad)

My dad was always graciously generous to his grandson and to say that my son
was dad’s partner in crime was to have been putting it mildly.

I won’t go on as it seems I’ve written about all of this before and if I do go on,
I’ll simply loose focus over my original intent of this post and
cry more than I already am.

The book my friend sent me is actually a children’s book.
And I imagine it came my way because I will become a grandmother soon.
Yet the tale of the book resonated so much with me, not so much because I am
a soon to be grandparent,
but rather because it is a tale about a grandson and his grandfather.

It is a book written by a German author, Andreas Steinhofel and illustrated by a
German artist Nele Palmtag—and yet the tale is quite universal.

Max’s grandfather is in a nursing home because he has what is surmised to be
Alzheimers or some other form of dementia….’forgetting’ being the key word.
And nine year old Max, who adores his grandfather and misses their life together
before the nursing home, formulates a plan to “spring” his grandfather from the
nursing home…
in essence a plan to kidnap his grandfather.

And in so doing another member of the nursing home escapes by accident.
A long and spindly woman who is in search of the sun…as she dances
behind Max and his grandfather on their misadventure.

The tale is not a long read—-
I read it in less than an hour’s time.
Yet it is a deep read by adult standards.
It is funny, it is cute, it is painful, and it is very very real.

I think my 29 year old son would appreciate the story much more than his 9
year old self would have—as he now has the hindsight of understanding
Max’s deep longing.

I know that if my son could have kidnapped his “Pops” from that hospice bed he
would have….and off on one more adventure they would have gone.

But in this tale of last adventures, Max’s grandfather reassures Max, who is now desperately afraid that his grandfather, in his forgetfulness, will forget
he loves Max…explains to Max that he will always be there, loving Max,
even if it appears he has “forgotten.”

He explains to Max that when we look up into the sky we know the moon is there
because we can see it. Yet during those nights that the sky appears to be moonless,
which is only because of how the sun is shining on the opposite side of the moon—
the moon is indeed still there—just as his love will always be there for Max,
even if Max won’t be able to directly see it….

After finishing the story last night, I could not recount the tale to my husband
without crying…finding myself just having to stop talking as I allowed the tears
to wash down my face.

The story as read for a child would be fun, poignant as well as mischievous…
As for any adult touched by the stealing effects of memory loss or just the loss of
a loved one in general, will find the tale heartwarming and very poignant.

Just as I now fondly recall a life that once was…

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8

speaking wisdom

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world;
there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.
He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.
We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel,
that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart,
and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal
the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words,
‘Wait and Hope.”

Alexandre Dumas


(late afternoon in Northwest Georgia / Julie Cook / 2017)

Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.

I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?

No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.

For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.

Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.

Psalm 49:1-14