Captian’s log, day 3…bartering, laughing, crying…empty shelves…what then?

If I had my life to live over again,
I would elect to be a trader of goods rather than a student of science.
I think barter is a noble thing.

Albert Einstein

Ok, so I don’t have any Lysol wipes let alone packs of toilet paper.
And I’m hanging onto the less than 10 rolls we’ve got.
But I would love to trade, say, some frozen blueberries from this past summer
if you’re still interested…

I have not wipes nor toilet paper– for this is what specter greeted me this morning
at my grocery store…
The ghost of stores shelves past.

My past or long past you muse…
long past…for our time has been one of amplitude and plenty.


(my store’s shelves / Julie Cook / 2020)

I came, this morning, however, for diapers, waters, fresh fruits, and vegetables
along with some kid and adult-friendly snacks.
I would have liked to have gotten some more chicken and pork chops—but there were none.
I was fortunate in that I got the last pot roast.

The egg shelves were no better.


(Julie Cook / 2020)

I managed to snag the far left top dozen.

And sugar…..
Well forget it….there wasn’t a sack of sugar to be had in the entire store and cooking oil
wasn’t much better.

The milk you ask.
Ha!

I was met at the door with the managers wiping down all carts before they handed them over
one by one to each entering customer.

Walking in I was met by a flurry of mostly older shoppers, many decked out in full masks and gloves.
Eyes darting intently here and there over the top of the blue sterile masks.

Yet the gal in the floral department was busying herself with her flowers and for the
briefest of moments, I felt a sense of what was…normal.

The carts now whizzing past me with nervous eyes peering over masks jolted me back to
a frightening new world I’d woken up to.

And what world is this I’ve woken to?

My dentist has canceled my appointment for next week since they’re closing their office.
The shopping center, where our grocery store is located, was much less full given
that the Belks store is closed, as are some of the smaller retail shops.
Just Publix and Target were open—and now their hours are limited.

I watch the cars driving up and down our street and I wonder where they are going.

Our daughter-n-law and the Sheriff are coming down this afternoon to join us and the
Mayor—leaving our son, the dog, and cat at home while he works from home.
Our daughter-n-law will be teaching “remotely’ during the day while we watch the kids…
for how long, is any one’s guess.

If the sun comes back out and things begin to dry out…
life with a rambunctious two-year-old might smooth itself out.

And I am cooking…a lot– but nothing over the top fun as I’ve got to
manage the eggs, milk, sugar, and oil that we currently have.

So as I pushed my cart up and down aisles more empty than full, with fellow
shoppers looking more suspicious at one another than kindly…
I felt warm tears welling up in my eyes.
I felt a sense of deep melancholy wash over me—but I quickly pushed it
away.
I had to be a normal person with a positive outlook for tomorrow.
Not one of the blue masked, darting eyes people!

By the time I got home, my husband wanted to know if I had gotten any frozen foods
or canned goods.
He’s our resident Eeyore with a black cloud over his head.
He also has a friend he’s known since they were kids who has become a
sort of gloom and doom prepper.
He’s watching way too much news.

“Buy up all the cans of beef stew you can find” he lectures my husband.

I told my sweet Eeyore that I had gotten some boxed chicken broth, frozen tater tots
(for the Mayor) since all the frozen mac-n-cheese was gone. I wanted to buy fresh things…
he then warily chides me…what happens when all the fresh is eventually gone
and the shelves remain empty…what then?

And in the back of my mind…I pondered…what then??

What does the face of panic look like? It isn’t pretty…but…

“[Pope] Clement waved his hands in irritation as if to dismiss the very idea.
“The world is crumbling into ruin. Armies are marching.
Men and women are dying everywhere, in huge numbers.
Fields are abandoned and towns deserted.
The wrath of the Lord is upon us and He may be intending to destroy the whole of creation.
People are without leaders and direction.
They want to be given a reason for this, so they can be reassured,
so they will return to their prayers and their obediences.
All this is going on, and you are concerned about the safety of two Jews?”

Iain Pears, The Dream of Scipio


(a photo of empty shelves at a Publix in Fla. courtesy Twitter)

The photo up above is not my own, but it very much could have been because the same image greeted
me at my own Publix this morning—barren emptiness.

I had gone to the grocery store on Monday…I had even posted a little tongue in cheek post
regarding the extent of my “survival” supplies consisting of Oreo cookies and a bottle of Clorox.

My grocery store’s shelves were fully stocked and there was the average number of folks
milling about doing their regular Monday morning grocery shopping.
No big deal.

That all changed over the course of three days.

Thursday night, my daughter-in-law called in a bit of a panic.

They live in Atlanta and their store’s shelves were now all barren.
She wanted to know if I could find any disinfectant wipes, some Lysol spray and some of the
Halo/ cuties for the Mayor as their stores had none.

No problem I proclaimed.
I was on it.
I’d head out in the morning.

“Oh and by the way”, she said, “I looked on Amazon for some Lysol spray…
one can was going for $114 but was currently out of stock.”

Hummmm, I inwardly mused as I felt my brow furrow just a bit.

I flipped on the 10 o’clock news.
On and on went the stories about viruses, pandemics, events being canceled…
all the while my phone kept beeping with the latest alerts and breaking news warnings,
I felt my nerves increasing with each word and alert.

Later, as I readied for bed, I considered actually going on the grocery store
but it was past closing time at my regular store and I really didn’t see any need to
head out to 24-hour stores such as Kroger or Walmart.
I’d just wait until morning before making my run…

Yet I still felt an odd sense of unease.
I knew the schools were going to closed and that meant more
folks heading to the stores.

I spent a fitful night of waking and dreaming.
Restless while dreaming crazy dreams.

By morning, I blamed it all on an underlying sense of heaviness.
Heaviness in part due to the new’s Henny penny nature along
with the real truths playing out before us.

When I got up, I grabbed my phone.
I had to reach over in the night, putting it on silence
when the alerts kept coming in practically non-stop.
I dressed and headed out the door.

When I finally made my way to the major intersection leading into the shopping center, I could already see
that the parking lot was reminiscent of something like an impending storm or
perhaps Christmas.
Cars were everywhere.

I grabbed a cart left out near where I parked–I actually had some sanitizer wipes
in my purse so I wiped that puppy down as there were no carts in the store.
Plus they were smack dab out of their wipes for the carts.

The store was bustling with folks dashing around as if they were on some
grocery dash game show.
A few folks, mostly the men shoppers, looked like deer in headlights.
Some shoppers scoured over lists, others simply grabbed.

Gone were those idyllic days of studying which was the freshest piece of fruit
or vegetable. It was now a matter of grabbing before there was nothing left to grab.

Some women pushed bulging carts as some of their things actually spilled
out over the top onto the floor.

There were no baking potatoes nor bags of red or white potatoes.

There were very few fresh bread loaves remaining.

There were several folks deep at the chicken counter while others hovered
nearby waiting to reach in and grab one of the few remaining packs.
The pork chops and cutlets were almost all gone.
Gone was the frozen cod and salmon from Alaska.
Yet no one stood waiting at the fresh seafood counter.

As I made my way further into the depths of the store, while attempting
to navigate my away around those folks who were more like salmon swimming
upstream, I was met with more and more shelves with less than rather than more.

The water aisle was cleaned out.
The eggs and milk shelves were sparse and growing more and more empty
with each passing cart.

Forget Lysol spray.
But I did find some antibacterial hand soap and canisters of Lysol wipes.

I asked one of the managers,
who was taking stock of what remained on the shelves,
about whether or not they’d be getting in any cans of Lysol spray
as I told him about the $114 can on Amazon.

He said he wasn’t certain as they were having to redistribute some
items to their larger stores in other cities around the state.

I did manage however to grab the Mayor’s clementine oranges.
I grabbed some more Oreos of course, as well as some more cans of cat food.
The cat litter shelves were oddly sparse, so I got one of the remaining boxes.

At this point, I cut down the ice cream aisle in order to reach the butter section and
it dawned on me that there was not a single person or cart on this aisle.
Plus the ice cream shelves were all stocked to the hilt.

Granted winter is not the most robust time of year for the purchase of ice cream or
frozen treats…
and in turn, it would now appear that during times of crisis…
ice cream is not high on the list of the more robust selling items…
items like potatoes and toilet paper.

So let’s think sustainability in the face of necessity vs treats and goodies.

Finally, with now a bulging cart of my own, I maneuvered over to the checkout lines…
as each lane was brimming with 6 or 7 carts deep of folks just waiting to check out.

An older lady came up behind me with only a handheld basket of a few items.
The express lanes were no longer for 10 or fewer items as they were now fully busting buggy lanes.
I told the woman to please go ahead of me.
She told me, no, but I insisted, telling her I was hunkered down for the long haul
as we both laughed.

She told me that it was just her and her husband and that they didn’t need much.
I explained that I was getting some things to carry to our son’s family in Atlanta
as their stores were practically empty.

We each marveled at the surrealness of all of this.

I’ve since seen the clips, both on-line and from the news,
of folks around the country getting into all-out, knockdown drag outs
in various stores over things such as water and toilet paper.
There are stories of one person’s cart accidentally bumping into another’s cart,
of which caused already raw nerves to spew into a full-blown fury.

So it seems that both panic, along with the unseen and unknown, each tend to bring out some
of the uglier aspects of human beings.

We hoard.
We mistrust.
We obsess.
We become selfish and self-centered.
All the while we move into survival mode.

But history teaches us that such times can also bring out our goodness.

We’ll take a look back tomorrow at one of the darkest days of our Nation…
A time when the Nation’s economy had all but collapsed.
A time when the Nation’s workforce was suddenly without work as factories closed from coast to coast
A time when the Nation’s heartland was decimated by soil erosion and a devastating Dust Bowl.

No economy, little to no fresh or readily available foods, a workforce with little to no work,
all the while, the drumbeat of war was growing closer…
and then the unthinkable…an unmitigated and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor.

Those were frightening dark days.
There was paranoia.
There was fear.
There was hunger.
There was rationing.

And yet, there was hope, there was unity and there was neighbor helping neighbor.
And there remained a deep and abiding faith in something far greater than one’s self.

The past has a great deal to teach us about our future.
It teaches how we can best respond to a crisis…
and how we respond will be key to how we recover…or not—
and in the end, that will be our choice.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

ailments, maladies and anomalies

Do you suppose there is any living man so unreasonable that if he found himself
stricken with a dangerous ailment he would not anxiously desire to regain
the blessing of health?

Petrarch

Ailments–illness, typically minor.
Maladies– a disease or ailment.
Anomalies–a deviation from the expected or standard

If we live, we will live to experience all three…
be it an ailment, a malady or even an anomaly…
Perhaps we will experience all three.

Some of us will have more than others.
And if fortunate, some of us will have them less and very few.

Ailments are more or less just aggravating…
a sore shoulder, a bruised knee, a cut, a slight headache…
things that don’t bring us to our knees but rather just slow us down.

Maladies, however, usually show up at some point or other, unannounced and
tend to be a bit fierce.

They may sneak up on us in the middle of the night or while on vacation.

They most often cause a disruption to our life’s flow and rhythm…
They come in as a cold, the chickenpox, a sore throat, a broken bone, the flu, a stomach bug…
They are annoyances to health and our time but they are things that are usually
rectified with some attention, a few meds and rest.

At other times, maladies can become a full-blown crisis…

They can come on quickly and out of the blue…
be it something like the physical results from an accident, a case of acute appendicitis,
a heart attack or some ruptured or blocked this or that or the dreaded “C” word…

Perhaps it’s a spiked and dangerously high fever for no apparent reason.
A signal from within that something is terribly wrong.

We tend to worry most when these things happen to children.
Often times their systems just aren’t old enough, immune enough, or tough enough
to fight for themselves.

We tend to go into crisis mode when the malady is within a child.

Yet maladies, be they minute or major, more times than not, happen to all of us
and most need our immediate attention…
or either we may suffer from the consequences of the ‘or elses’ in life.

Some maladies are things we have to learn to live with as it seems that our bodies
and/ or our systems are just the lucky bodies and systems that have inherited something
via DNA or just because we’ve become the lucky recipient of whatever has come our way.

Various long term maladies come to mind such as diabetes, chronic pain issues,
glaucoma, arthritis, and even some cancers…

They are annoying, somewhat debilitating, but we learn to carry on.
That is when many of these issues move from being a malady to the
category of an anomaly.

I know about all of these issues…but no more so than that of anomalies.

I have written before about having to live with IBS…
Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
When I was young, they told my mom I had a nervous stomach.

Today it’s more of a case that I hate my guts because my guts hate me.
It’s a great relationship.

I’ve also written about living with a bum thyroid as I have Hashimoto’s disease–
It steals your eyebrows along with your energy and gives you weight,
whether you wanted the weight or not…
and just as suddenly, it takes that weight away but it will not give back eyebrows.
It is a living yo-yo.

I’ve also written about living with hemochromatosis—living with a body
and a liver that absorbs iron and seems to store it as if the Apocolypse is coming…
as in holding on to it till it builds up to a dangerous level and then
you become known as Ironman or Ironwoman—not so bad if you’re into Marvel comics.

All of which are maladies, but if the truth be told, they are seemingly more like odd
anomalies…deviations from the expected and venturing off into the surreal.

Yet be they maladies or anomalies, they are most often things one learns to live with—
because as we age, we seem to acquire more and more anomalies—
anomalies that we just learn to live with.
Aggravating but we know the only choice is to carry on.

Remember what Churchill said…”If you’re going through hell, keep going!!!”

Yet within the recent past year, my anomalies have spiked.
I was left feeling simply bad, all the time.
Achy, tired and just almost flu-like constantly.
But who had time for such?
If you looked at me, you knew no difference…but I did…hence the anomaly.

I am the type of person who likes to have definitive answers in my neat and
tidy little world.
I like to know why certain things are and if I don’t like those certain things,
I want to know what can I do, on my end, to fix them or at least alleviate them.
I’m a doer and a fixer.
I was simply prewired as such.

It seems that my general practitioner, internal med doctor, feels much the same.

Let’s get all the answers and then determine what we need to do.
What is our plan of attack?
I like that, it’s like a good general in battle.

So with a spike in anomalies, which has only lead to exacerbating the current maladies,
I’ve had a bunch of blood work.
I’ve had a few ultrasounds as well.
And the call for a few other tests that I just let pass as time has not been on my side.

My doctor was left with more questions rather than conclusions…

So what does a doctor do when they have more questions than answers???
They send you to another doctor.

I was referred to a rheumatologist.
I was pretty certain I had Lupus.
I just knew it!
I was sure of my answer because finally, I would have some vindication.
I could look a few former doctors, who thought that I was nuts, in the face
and let then know I was not nuts after all!

I’ve thought I’ve had Lupus for most of my adult life.
Too many quirks that couldn’t be readily answered and many of those quirks were
immune-deficient related.

It made perfect sense in my non-medical practicing brain.
Heck, I was adopted, I had no history markers.
I was pulling rabbits out of hats!

It took me two months to get into see this new doctor.
She was backed up that long.
Two months of waiting and feeling like crap but living on…

Then it took almost as long to get the labs and bloodwork back…
One round would come back sketchy so she’d call for more and more vials of blood—
I was beginning to wonder if I wasn’t visiting a vampire or the good old fashion
leech loving doctor.
Heck, why don’t we just chop a hole in my head and let the bad vapors pour on out!

So Wednesday, when we finally met again face to face, she was very apologetic about the length
for which we’ve had to wait…the bloodwork was sent to both California and Michigan.
Am I sure I want to trust what conclusions come out of California and Michigan?!

“Good news,” she tells me, “it is not lupus.”

“Hummmmm” I muse in my head.

“But it is Sjögren’s,” she announces—“another type of immune disease but
the better of the two out of Lupus.”

“Yes well, at least I could pronounce Lupus” I inwardly grumble.

“Sjögren’s can accompany Lupus or stand on its own—
for now; it seems yours is standing on its own.”

“It does much the same as Lupus…it affects your joints, your muscles,
it causes fatigue, causes Reynauds in your fingers and it can affect your organs—
but it primarily attacks your salivary glands and tear ducts as in it affects
the teeth, gums, swallowing, and the eyes.
Oh, and it can lead to Lymphoma so we will need to do regular labs”

I’m going to prescribe an immunosuppressant drug that has been around since WWII.
It was a drug used to treat Malaria in soldiers but then the disease grew resistant so they
discovered that it aided in joint pain…so…

Huh???
I thought she said this was the better of the two autoimmune diseases???!!!
And so now I am a mosquito repellant…sigh.

However, she added, your liver enzymes are just way too high and your
ferritin is way too high plus your kidney functions are way off…
so…..”

And so now it’s off to the Gastrointeroligist for a liver biopsy and to the
Urologists to check on perhaps kidney stones or something else.

I’m the type of person who is a one-stop-shop kind of person.
I don’t like a hodgepodge of the unknown nor a hodgepodge of doctors.
Yet hence the life of an anomaly.

So I’ll keep you posted on this life of an anomaly, malady, and ailment.
Sorting out the three and figuring out which is what.

But in the long run of all of this random mess, I know that God
is well aware of what is what, which is which and why it all is.
It is that knowledge that helps to lead a malady to a mere anomaly…
something perhaps aggravating, yet tolerable…
because all things are used for His glory…
sometimes we don’t see or understand that glory…
but never the less, that Glory remains…

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1 ESV

And today’s irony…
the Verse of the Day:
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you,
even as your soul is getting along well.

3 John 1:2

the saga continues and the irony of grocery store music

I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be
I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?

Lyrics by Paula Cole

I was in a bit of a daze, lost deep in my thoughts as I pushed my
shopping cart up and down the aisles of the grocery store.
A familiar song, that was playing over the store’s intercom system, pierced
my melancholy mood with a bolt of searing heat.

Suddenly I was very conscious of my attempting to blink back stinging tears.

“I don’t want to wait…for our lives to be over…”

And just as suddenly, I had to stop myself from shouting it out loud, lest everyone look at
me like some sort of nut was now loose on the cereal aisle.

NO!
No, I don’t want to wait.
I’ve already waited for 60 years.
And in many ways, it is too late.

Most of you probably recall my recent posts regarding my quest to find my birth mother
along with how that abruptly ended via the response of an attorney to a social worker.

“You are in the past, and the past is where you will remain…”

However, biology teaches us that there are two parents involved in the
making of a baby.

A mother ‘and’ a father.

Yes, yes, I know… we are living in odd times when the father may simply
come frozen via a sperm bank…but nonetheless—there is a female and a male involved.

And to me, that female remains the biological mother and that male, the biological father.

The door was obviously gut punched shut regarding my birth mother but the social worker
followed that slamming of a door with a question…
“would you like for us to now search for your father?”

Now let’s back up this story a tad.

You may remember me telling you how, at the first of the year, I opted to
participate in the growing DNA puzzle quest…23 & Me

And thus searching for my past, I sent in a vile of spit.

But if the truth be told, that was in part because my doctor suggested that I do so
in order to learn some of my medical history.

Odd things continue creeping up and my doctor didn’t want my son and grandchildren to
have the same sort of out of the blue surprises.

Once the specific DNA company sends you your breakdown, as part of the information
you receive, DNA matches are automatically shared.

And it just so happened that there was a very strong DNA match with a person
who was marked as a first cousin.

Out of the tens of thousands of “relatives”, I had but one close relative match
and that was of a first cousin.

As more tests continue being processed, more matches come your way.
And nearly 6 months after the fact, I still have but one close match.

There is a messaging option on the DNA site so when I saw the numerical link,
knowing this might be my only opening for some sort of answers,
I immediately knee jerked and excitedly reached out to this man.

His smile in the provided thumbnail picture was warm and genuine.

I explained who I was and provided an abbreviated version of my story of adoption,
an adoption of which eventually lead me to look for answers in a DNA test.

I’m sure it is no doubt a surreal feeling to find sitting in one’s inbox
a new and unknown relative has, out of the blue, reached out.

But I was fortunate—he messaged me back.

We exchanged e-mails and began corresponding.
I shared the redacted information from my original adoption file
regarding my birth father and he shared his family’s history.

I told him my father was…
28 years old
A Lt. in a southern state’s State’s patrol
Romantically involved with a 23 yr old nurse in Georgia…

He later shared this story with his two brothers.

Following a few days, he emailed back that both his dad and his dad’s cousin were
28 in 1959 and were lieutenants in their state’s State Patrol…
but that it was the cousin who had dated a nurse in Georgia.

And given our DNA percentage as only cousins and not high enough to be siblings,
he was pretty certain, the cousin was my father.

Sadly both men are now deceased.

There is, however, a daughter, now grown and two years younger than myself.
This cousin of mine has now encouraged her to do the DNA testing.

So when the social worker had asked about searching for my biological father,
I had shared with her about the DNA testing and the connection with this cousin.
She asked if I had a last name.
I did.

Yet the surreal thing throughout all of this process has been the fact that my complete file,
a file full of all the answers to all my questions,
has been sitting right in front of this social worker all along— a person who knows
the names, the states and the dates to my entire life but due to the laws, she
can not share a word.

It’s as if I’m telling her everything she already knows…things I’ve labored and toiled
over discovering yet information that is readily sitting in a dusty old file on the desk
of the person I find myself spilling my guts to.

Well… she called yesterday.

“Julie, do you have a few minutes?”

She begins by telling me that since her office has determined that my birth father is deceased,
they could release his name…

of which she did…

and he is indeed the state patrol cousin.

This story is obviously fluid and on-going.

I have once again reached out to “my cousin” with
this latest information.

I now wait as both he and his family must process this information…

There is a half-sister who must decide whether or not she is ready for
a half-sister she never knew existed.

How they will respond is yet to be determined.

One half of my life’s puzzle is now known.

Yet, I wonder if this will be welcomed news to this unsuspecting family
or will it be just too much?

I went from feeling a euphoric sense of joy following the news the social worker shared
to that of a guarded sense of trepidation.

And in all of this, the irony came flooding over the intercom system of
a grocery store with its choice of song.

And I couldn’t help but notice…

So open up your morning light
And say a little prayer for I
You know that if we are to stay alive
Then see the peace in every eye
She had two babies, one was six months, one was three
In the war of ’44
Every telephone ring, every heartbeat stinging
When she thought it was God calling her
Oh, would her son grow to know his father?
I don’t want to to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be
I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?
He showed up all wet on the rainy front step
Wearing shrapnel in his skin
And the war he saw lives inside him still
It’s so hard to be gentle and warm
The years pass by and now he has granddaughters
I don’t want to to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be
I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?
You look at me from across the room
You’re wearing your anguish again
Believe me I know the feeling
It sucks you into the jaws of anger
So breathe a little more deeply my love
All we have is this very moment
And I don’t want to do what his father
And his father, and his father did
I want to be here now
So open up your morning light
And say a little prayer for I
You know that if we are to stay alive
Then see the love in every eye
I don’t want to to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be
I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?

Paula Cole

alas, life is now a living satire

Dennis: Come and see the violence inherent in the system.
Help! Help! I’m being repressed!
King Arthur: Bloody peasant!
Dennis: Oh, what a giveaway!
Did you hear that?
Did you hear that, eh?
That’s what I’m on about!
Did you see him repressing me?
You saw him, didn’t you?
(lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail)


(Monty Python and the Holy Grail / the killer rabbit scene)

Way back in 1975 I can remember going to the theater to see a rather bizarre movie.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

At the time I was not up on my British comedies and was unfamiliar with Monty Python
let alone their often avant garde and most irreverent humor

As a young girl, I was always more serious than silly so the often blatant silly
comedic humor was lost on me as I found it just too…well, silly.

Having a keen interest in history…
which first started out with a love of history of heritage…
of which took me back to roots found buried deep in the soil of the British
and Irish Isles, coupled with my often vivid imagination…
well, I could envision myself mucking about with a metal detector trying to locate Excalibur, believing Arthur to have been once a living breathing king, I would then
be claiming that mythical sword in the name of some long lost relative.

So when I first watched Monty Python’s take on Arthur and the quest of the Holy Grail..
well I wasn’t sure how I felt about it or what to make of it.

But one thing was certain, I did develop a life long enjoyment from watching
John Cleese in action.

Yet what brought Monty Python to the forefront of thought today was not some fun or
amusing sketch I glanced while perusing the web but rather it came from the latest blog offering by the Scottish Pastor David Robertson.

Perhaps an odd coupling….

His most recent posting is actually an article written for Premiere Christianity
and is written in response to an article about a troubling incident where a church school there in the UK has deemed a Christian organization of being, well, too Christian to be
permitted in a church school.

And so here is where we que the insulting French knight who sadly is not showing up.

As in here is where the overt satire of the likes of Monty Python deviates to reality…
A sort of surrealism that just happens to be real….
In such that one just can’t make this kind of stuff up….
as in it is just so over the top and so so sad and so so troubling and ridiculous
all rolled into one, that one is left standing mouth agape.

A Christian group has been banned from a Church school because a few parents have complained that Christian teaching is extremist. Premier Christianity asked me to write a response – you can get the original here – (some of the comments afterwards from people who profess to be Christian are quite chilling – not least the two professing Christians arguing that to ask for a Christian group to be able to speak at a Christian school is intolerant, discriminatory and against the teaching of Jesus!)

As a retired educator this story certainly had my attention.
Now whereas I spent my career in the often anemic sector of public education that
basks in its secularization and the separation of church and state–
so much so that there are districts who have told their educators that they may not
have a Bible in the classroom but an Islamic prayer rug is ok….
if that makes any sense….
so I understand the raised eyebrows over religious groups coming in
to address the students….
But when an actual church school claims a Christian organization is just too Christian..
well we’ve got bigger troubles then I ever imagined…

3) There is a patronising and dangerous ideology that is being used to teach our children.

Education used to be about teaching children how to think. Now it is about teaching them what to think. And nothing must be allowed to deviate from that. Instead of education our schools are being turned into centres of social engineering where the secular Brave New World is indoctrinated into our children. Our children are being taught that marriage has nothing to do with gender. And now they are being taught Queer theory; that gender either doesn’t exist, or has nothing to do with biology, or is ‘fluid’. Now there’s a really harmful and dangerous ideology!

And the good Pastor goes on to then offer the following points…
(you’ll have to click the link below in order to read the commentary for
each of the points)

4) Those of us who warned that the introduction of Same Sex Marriage would quickly move from being a permissive to being a prohibitive decree have been proven right.

5) The Church only has itself to blame –

Jesus wept.

Christ wept over Jerusalem.
We must weep at the insanity that is gripping the UK, *[and might I add the US]
of which this incident is only the tip of the iceberg.
Christ’s sternest warning was for those who would harm any of “these little ones”.
Maybe its time for the Church to reflect the priorities of the Christ who said
“let the little children come to me,
and do not forbid them”?
Maybe for the sake of the children we should come out of our own comfort
zones and challenge the new State-imposed fundamentalist doctrines that
cause so much harm. If we are to be accused of extremism,
then let’s make sure that it is the kind of extreme and courageous love
that Jesus showed.
Whatever the cost.

* my little input

So just when we thought the likes of Monty Python to be just a mere comedic group
of both stage and theater, we see that they are actually becoming quite real…
quite real indeed….

Now teaching Christian doctrine at a church school is ‘extremist’. Move over Monty Python.

You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!…
You are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful,
but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.

Matt. 23:24, 27

Illusion

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
T.S. Eliot

the-water-the-water-1563-64
(The Water The Water / Giuseppe Arcimboldo / 1563-64 / Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria)

Few people have the imagination for reality.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Matters of both Life and Death march to their own drum.
Their timing has very little to do with the futile timing of humankind.
No matter how we plot or plan, prepare, arrange or rearrange…
both Life and Death will have the last word.

Think babies being born in the backseats of cars that have been
frantically pulled to the side of the road…
Think of the scenario of one minute being alive and kicking, then suddenly BAM,
a car comes out of no where and now you’re not….

The other day as I was quickly scanning an on-line news sight,
that currently alludes me at this moment,
when one of the listed story’s headline caught my eye.

It was something about life not really being real…as in more illusion then the actual.

I began to feel the eyes inside my head beginning to roll as I hastily moved on
to whatever pressing issue was calling.
I did however make a mental note to go back at some later date and actually read the full
story.

However, life being what it is, I never could find the story,
as it most likely was shortly archived,
and I wasn’t all that keen to dig.

I did however google the words life, illusion and reality and I must say
that I was amazed by the list of news articles over the past several years
that actually dealt with the whole concept of our life’s reality being
something all together different…

Take a small gander at the list of just a few of the latest headlines dealing with such…

Is life an ILLUSION? Researchers prove ‘reality doesn’t exist if you’re not looking at it’
Express UK / December 2016

Is reality an ILLUSION? Scientist says we may be living in a computer simulation
controlled by an evil genius

Daily Mail / August 2016

The Case Against Reality
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the
one we experience through our senses.

The Atlantic / April 2016

Free will, could all be an illusion,
scientists suggest after study shows choice
may just be brain tricking itself

Independent / April 2016

Scientists Confirm Reality An Illusion, Quantum Physics Show Einstein Wrong
YourNewsWire.com / April 2015

Is Life an Illusion?
The Huffington Post / October 2014

Your Reality Is an Illusion
The Huffington Post / July 2011

This all seems so very Matrixish to me.
I was never a fan of the movie despite my son loving it as it appealed to
his youthful adolescent male imagination coupled with cool special effects.

All of that “what if” business of dimensional realities, simulated realities and
parallel existence.
The notion that maybe we’re just all the creation of some other being’s fantasies…
programed verses created…
as in how some folks believe that “God” is actually some grand game master and we
are merely the helpless game pieces.

For good or bad, I am a realist….
However mind you, a positive and hopeful realist verses a naysaying fatalist.

Think Pooh verse Eeyore.

I take black and white and live with it.
The grey has too many holes.

All of this “reality, illusion or other” mumbo jumbo just seems to fall flat
when it meets both Life and Death.

I say this as Dad is now hanging precariously in the balance.
I saw this when Mother hung in the balance at the tender age of 53.

Life and Death march forth despite our best laid plans or wildest imaginations…
We can neither stop nor prevent either one…
despite our feeble attempts or hopes of at least delaying them.

But here’s the kicker…
in my reality, there is Life as well as Death…
and then,
wait for it…
there is Life everlasting.

Now how’s that for reality..
or not…..

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and blameless before him.
He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ,
according to the purpose of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.
For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will,
according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fulness of time,
to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to
the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been
destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,
to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:3-14

News

“I think those are very wrong who say that schoolboys should be encouraged
to read the newspapers.
Nearly all that a boy reads there in his teens will be known
before he is twenty to have been false in emphasis and interpretation,
if not in fact as well, and most of it will have lost all importance.
Most of what he remembers he will therefore have to unlearn;
and he will probably have acquired an incurable taste for vulgarity and sensationalism
and the fatal habit of fluttering from paragraph to paragraph to learn
how an actress has been divorced in California, a train derailed in France,
and quadruplets born in New Zealand.”

C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

63905_n_21-11-13-22-50-48
(C.S.Lewis busy at his desk / The New York C.S.Lewis Society)

Had I not known that Mr. Lewis had penned these observational words in 1955,
I would have thought they were but a mere reflection of our own current times and condition.

However Mr Lewis may actually have been more soothsayer than mere observer,
as it seems as if our current crisis of all things “news”…fake or real,
is actually what Mr Lewis opines..albeit these 50 years later…
that we have succumbed to believing that our news must smell of the vulgar
and the sensational…
while being heavily accented with that of the unreal, surreal and the fake.

Yet man is so caught up with himself,
spinning about in his tiny world of chaos,
that he has failed to see the real breaking news of the day…
A story that in all truth has the makings of sheer sensationalism, sans the vulgarity.
A story offering both life and death with high stakes drama involved.
A story that is so far beyond us that it seems to be more fiction than fact…

But…that is where the glory is to be found…
in the mere fact that it is a story that seems more impossible then possible…

In 1945, a young Jesuit priest sat in a foreboding jail cell, condemned to death.

Enduring beatings and torture, as he awaited execution, this young priest,
whose hands were shackled both day and night,
began writing profusely about a news story of which he was all too familiar…

One might only imagine that the small dank cell and the overwhelming isolation of
solitary confinement, along with the added weight of certain death hanging over
his head, would diminish any sense or need, let alone excitement or utter joy,
that actually engulfed this young priest who felt compelled to relay this particular news story…
Yet it was to be to the contrary, for the darkness of his current situation only heightened his
sense of wonderment and the urgent burning desire that he share this story at any and all costs.

So each day, with shackled hands, this young priest would write and each day his writings,
one by one,
were secretly smuggled out of the prison.

The news that this young priest felt so compelled to share,
the news which was not of death and passing
but was rather a story of hope and salvation…
is still as relevant and news worthy today as it was during those dark days of 1945…

“The horror of these times would be unendurable unless we kept being
cheered and set upright again by the promises that are spoken.
The angels of annunciation, speaking their message of blessing into the midst of anguish,
scattering their seed of blessing that will one day spring up amid the night,
call us to hope.”

“Let us ask for clear eyes that are able to see God’s messengers of annunciation;
for awakened hearts with the wisdom to hear the words of promise.
Let us ask for faith in the motherly consecration of life as shown in the figure of
the blessed woman of Nazareth.
Let us be patient and wait, wait with Advent readiness for the omen when
it pleases God to appear in our night too, as the fruit and mystery of this time.
And let us ask for the openness and willingness to hear God’s warning messengers
and to conquer life’s wilderness through repentant hearts.”

“Let us then live in today’s Advent, for it is the time of promise.”

web-alfred-delp-ullstein-bild-gettyimages-544308673
(Father Alfred Delp)

Alfred Delp
excerpt:
The Shaking Reality of Advent / 1945
Watch For the Light
Readings for Advent and Christmas
Plough Publishing House.