Hooey and fraud

“They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft,
and therefore seldom fail to punish it with death;
for they allege, that care and vigilance, with a very common understanding,
may preserve a man’s goods from thieves,
but honesty has no defence against superior cunning; and,
since it is necessary that there should be a perpetual intercourse of buying and selling,
and dealing upon credit, where fraud is permitted and connived at,
or has no law to punish it, the honest dealer is always undone,
and the knave gets the advantage.”

Jonathan Swift

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(I suppose this little screech owl is an example of something that is fraudulent,
for he is a bit of an imposter…I saw him at a taxidermy museum
and he was just too cute to pass by without a picture/ Julie Cook / 2016)

I don’t think that I can ever say it enough…

I hate technology.

Yea, yea, I know,
it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread as it makes our lives…
so much easier,
so much more efficient,
so much better…
because we are all so….connected….

hummmm…connected, yes….

And when it works, and works efficiently, it is easy…
maybe a little too easy…
But easy is not today’s point.

I had this little notification thing put on my credit card that when it is used,
I receive a text and an e-amil… as in an alert.
It tells me that my card, ending in blah blah,
was just used at such and such for x amount transaction.

As in monitoring fraudulent activity with the card…
to alert me that the card was used and if it wasn’t used by me,
then it’s time to panic.

So this morning, as I was hurrying to get ready to head over to dad’s,
because today was the day hospice was delivering the hospital bed…
the bed dad is adamant about not allowing in the house…which is a post for another day…
I hear my phone buzz.

“Who in the heck is texting me this early?!”
I grouse as I’m in a race to get dressed.

It’s a text from my credit card folks informing me that my credit card ending in blah blah
was just declined over a $900 purchase for a plane ticket to São Paulo.

Now granted I am greatly in need of getting away.
As in leaving all my troubles behind…
As in going away…
Far far away…
As in my nerves are almost frazzled…

And I will confess to having contemplated being a bit, shall we say, irrational…
As in calling my aunt and telling her to grab her passport….
As in we’re out of here….

Yet I don’t recall being so spontaneous as to buying a one way ticket to São Paulo…
And if the truth be told, I don’t want to go to São Paulo…
Maybe Paris.
Maybe Rome.
But not São Paulo…

So I call the number on the back of my card and get the nicest young man named Austin.
I explain to Austin about the text and the email and São Paulo as he pulls up my account.
Sure enough he sees where there was a declined purchase at South American Airlines for
a one way trip to São Paulo…
Thank God for declined!!

A far cry from the typical purchase of jeans from LL Bean…
which is more along the lines of a typical card purchase for me.

So sweet young Austin shut down my account and will be issuing me a new card.
He checked the last five purchases…
$8 for a book?
check…mine
$49 bucks for some shorts and a shirt?
check–mine
mine,
mine,
and mine…

With nothing anywhere near a $900 for an airline ticket.

And with this latest adventure to the land of fraud,
I started thinking….

Technology is good…in a great many ways…yet it comes with a tremendous price…
both figuratively and literally…
but again, I digress….

It comes with grave responsibility and vigilance…
both of which most folks half heartily observe,
as they are lulled into a false sense of security.

It comes with pin numbers,
passwords,
alerts,
rapid alerts,
magnetic security strips,
retina detection,
finger print scanners,
voice recognition
and chip readers…

all things that lull us into thinking we are safe….

This as I wonder what will be next as the security attached to our technology
works hard to always stay one step ahead of those nefarious individuals who take a
retired school teacher’s credit card number
and attempt to buy a one way ticket to São Paulo.

For you see, I try to be safe.
I try to do what I can to protect my savings and my identity
But if those nefarious folks out there really want something,
no matter what I do, they will find me…
and they will find you too I’m afraid.

Well not unless I call my aunt, telling her to grab her passport,
cause we are taking life off the grid…
but again, I digress…

We do everything in our power to protect our cards, our phones,
our smart, and not so smart, things
Yet what do we do to protect our souls?
Yes, you read correctly, our very souls.

For you see we have been fed a lot of hooey in the past several decades,
with the hooey only getting more slick with time.

We’ve been told that God is actually spelled with a little g.
We’ve been told that there are way better gods out there…
forget all that mumbo jumbo religious business…
that’s so yesterday…

We’ve been told that any god with a big G should be all accepting and all loving…
no holds barred, doesn’t matter what we’re loving or accepting…
“it” must agree…

And while we’re at it…
“it” isn’t always a “he”, “it” may be a she or just an “it”…
cause “it,” whatever “it” is, is ours and we like “it” how we want “it”…
Because we don’t want a god with a big G who isn’t on our same page.

We want gods that keep us connected 24 / 7
gods that allow us to instantly buy tickets to São Paulo, with or without our own money.
We’re told that these are the gods that we need to have,
yet they need us to spend lots of money…
cause more money means better gods.

gods that will make us like the folks we see on TV,
cause we are told being like the folks on TV is to be really cool and great and godlike.

We’ve been told that we don’t need a god with a big G because we can be our own god.

We can make babies in petrie dishes
We can make new animals from old animal DNA
We can make boys girls, and girls boys…
We can travel to the moon and beyond…as in we’ve messed up this planet enough,
time to set our sights elsewhere….
We can buy tickets to São Paulo without ever having to talk
to a person all without money that’s not our own…

We can take people’s money and go the São Paulo to do whatever we want when we get there..
again, kind of god like in our own little g godlike way….

We don’t want a god with rules or one telling us how to live.
We don’t want a god who claims to be a creator, cause, heck, aren’t we creators!

So yea…
fraud….
hooey…
and we’ve got all kinds of trouble…

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

directions

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.
We all have twenty-four hour days.”

Zig Ziglar

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(path up the mountain side, Glendalough National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

I’m not the best with directions.
I tend to get turned around and a bit confused as to
the lefts and rights, the norths and souths….

Now I do actually love a good map…
yet sadly maps are going the way of the 8 track tape cassette…
And anyway…the truth is that I’m not really that great at using maps.
I get turned around as to whether I’m heading east or west, up or down, or side to side…

However I have always found old antique maps to be beautiful pieces of art—
Especially really old ones that were once done by hand,
with cartographers doubling as artists.

It’s as if maps are the tangible pictures of our city’s, country’s, world’s inner workings…
almost like a scan image of a skeletal system is for the human body,
a map is the picture for our collective spacial lives.

And whereas I am thankful for the modern convenience of GPS…
What with the plugging in of an address, place or coordinates only to then be directed
to wherever it is that we wish to be headed…
turn by turn, step by step…

However I can be as equally ungrateful when said turn by turn step by step is incorrect,
outdated or simply wrong.

Ever thought you were headed to where it was you wanted to go,
with the nice GPS lady finally and triumphantly stating that you have “reached your destination”
as you find yourself in the middle of some desolate road in the middle of nowhere?!

So with all this map talk, I read a most marvelous little story today on the BBC about
a letter being mailed from Reykjavik, Iceland.

It seems that the sender was mailing a letter to a farm
where she had visited but was uncertain of the address—
so she did the only intelligent thing she knew to do…
that when all else fails sort of approach…

she drew a picture, actually a mini map, as to where the letter should be headed…
all the while adding a few little written directions on the envelope to accompany the tiny map…
Just a few small helpful cues to the postal person who would be delivering the letter.

The small remote town’s name was listed,
the fact that the letter was going to a couple with three children…
The fact that the intended recipient worked at a supermarket there in the small town
plus the fact that they lived on a horse farm with lots and lots of sheep…
it was all nicely included with a wonderful plotted picture of a route…

( you can read the story here by clicking on the link:
http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-37233913 )

The letter was actually delivered to the correct place.

Such a story does my heart good.

So…
Whereas the postal system here in the US is, in a nutshell, not often stellar.
Mail seems to get lost, delivered to the wrong address, or damaged so badly in the system
that it is “returned to sender” …
that is, if the return address is still legible.
Or there have even been times when things mailed may have taken weeks,
months or even years before randomly appearing…

Now that’s not to say that it’s all bad or always a lost cause in this
maddening bureaucratic system of US Postal Service…
but sadly it seems there are more horror stories than good these days…

So the fact that a map was drawn out by hand, then someone actually took the time to “study” it,
then correctly followed it…
in this ever technological world of ours…
is indeed a joyous event.

Add to that maddening bureaucracy that we are now all finding ourselves living in this
ever uber modern world of all things technological of ours…
what with our smart devices, our GPS, our self braking, self parking,
and soon to be, self driving cars…
so it seems as if we won’t have much use for our ol noggins
when we’re trying to make our way in this life…as it will actually be already done for us…
Yet the concern should be…will it be in the right direction that we are lead…?

And that’s the thing…
We all need to make our way in this life…
with that way being…
the right way,
the spiritual way,
the way of Life and not the way of death…
to which so many signs sadly point to these days…
We still so desperately need a play by play list of directions.

Yet, I think if I remember correctly, we already have a directional manual…
One that is thousands of years old….having stood the test of time…
One that has recorded the verbal commands of the only One who truly knew
and still knows…
the way…
the truth
and the life…

We just need to remember to always reach for that directional map,
actually taking the time to read it and actually follow it…
for it will never mislead or misdirect us…

Happy travels….

Jesus answered,
“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

desensitized

Depictions of violence often glamorize vicious behavior. They offend the Spirit and make you less able to respond to others in a sensitive, caring way. They contradict the Savior’s message of love for one another.
For the Strength of Youth

These data suggest very strongly that participating in the playing of violent video games by children and youth increase aggressive thought and behavior; increase antisocial behavior and delinquency; engender poor school performance; desensitize the game player to violence.
Leland Yee
former California Senator

Today the data linking violence in the media to violence in society are superior to those linking cancer and tobacco.
David Grossman
Israeli author

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(gargoyle downspout Adare Manor / Adare, Coutny Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Desensitize–a transitive verb—meaning: to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically: to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli that formerly induced it

Two recent articles about children and young people have each catapulted the word desensitization and its meaning to the forefront of my radar leaving me greatly troubled.

As a retired educator articles which showcase the current and various growing concerns for and of our youth certainly catch my eye as I spent a lifetime living out those very concerns on a daily basis. As any educator will tell you, teachers not only “teach” they also nurture, mentor, direct, guide, care for, comfort, coach, discipline, lead, encourage, help…etc.

Teaching is not a one subject fits all sort of job.
In fact teaching is not a job at all but rather a vocation or a calling. You have to care about kids and their well being in order to want to teach. Those in it for either a paycheck or some sort of job security need look elsewhere.

As a veteran classroom teacher, who spent my entire career working at the high school level, I am very much aware of the often fragile and tenuous tightrope our adolescents walk in their daily lives.

Any parent and educator alike can tell you that raising and educating kids is no easy task especially given today’s growing technological pull and social media draw that is blanketing our youth.

The first story I read yesterday.
It was an article examining a link between the alarming rise of teenage suicide and that of social media usage.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/02/11/is-social-media-fueling-national-epidemic-teen-suicide.html

I found the article both disturbing as well as telling— as I forwarded it to several teachers and counselors who are currently still working with various school systems.

It has often been noted that many in this generation of kids have a very difficult time actually talking to people. It is often observed that they do not make eye contact easily or readily nor are they capable of carrying on any sort of lengthy conversation with a free flowing dialog.

They can be in a room filled with their family or friends yet will be more engaged on their phones rather than those sitting by their side. They will actually opt to text a person in the very same room rather than ask a verbal question or make a verbal comment.

There is a frighting and rapidly growing disconnect between reality and virtual…with kids often preferring the virtual.
Maybe because its as if they feel they can control the virtual better than reality.

Yet the correlation between kids, their social media usage and an increase in the suicide rate is something that should have us all concerned…..

The second article, which includes a short video clip, I actually read today having spotted it on the BBC.
It was an interview conducted by a BBC reporter of two young Syrian boys aged 8 and 10.
The boys were only two out of hundreds who have been living in IS occupied areas of Syria.
Luckily for these two boys, they have made it out of Syria and hopefully out of harms way.

The interview begins with the 8 year old aptly demonstrating how to put on a sucicide vest with as much ease as he would have kicking a soccer ball.

He told the reporter how they had often witnessed beheadings. They would be called by loudspeaker to come witness what was taking place as IS members would behead, in the boy’s case, a neighbor.

It is reported that IS is actually rewritng the textbooks used in classrooms…changing dates as well as “current” geographical maps.

The children, yes young children, are put through a variety of physical military type training and obstacles courses while actually being shot at and yelled at as they maneuver the course.
Of which is probably the most disturbing clip in the video.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35552391

Between our own kids who are drowning in a sea of social media, violent video games and a huge Spiritual disconnect and then the children who fall under the harsh and brutal regimes of hate spreading their insidious indoctrination of hate and destruction all around the globe our future as a human race is looking neither hopeful nor promising…
We need, for their sake as well as our own, to take our children back….


All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

Isaiah 54:13

A disclaimer of Wonderment

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

― William Blake

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(beauty found in the wild grasses of a meadow / Julie Cook / 2015)

The beauty and wonder of nature. . .
They stand before us in majesty and splendor
just as they float to us upon a sweet whisper of wind.

Striking and stirring
Humbling and demure.

Perhaps you’ve seen the commercial, a car commercial I think. . .
A dad takes his young son, who is perhaps eight or so, to see the massive
great Sequoias of the Redwood Forest.
The child stands at the foot of one of the oldest and tallest trees on the planet with
little to no sense of acknowledgement other than a passing “thought they’d be bigger”
The dad simply looks at his son with a slight bemused smile of “Really??”

Next scene—-the dad stands with his son on the rim of the Grand Canyon with its sweeping and overwhelming beauty.
The child merely shrugs his shoulders with the unheard sound of an unimpressed “ehhhh”
The dad slowly shakes his head in disbelief–as if to say “you’ve got to be kidding me??”

The last scene is of the dad at the wheel of the car with his son strapped into the back seat. The car is stopped in the middle of a road that one assumes is in Yellowstone Park as a massive Bison has sauntered up to the child’s window and is staring down at a now very impressed young man.
He looks up at the bison then over to his dad with an ear to ear grin across his face, as the dad finally has a sense of satisfaction in having found something in this most majestic world that has left his son speechless. . .

I believe this commercial speaks volumes to our current plight of jadedness.

It seems we’ve become so inwardly involved with our technology, our gizmos and social media overload that we are failing to be impressed, let alone acknowledging, the outward wonders which surround us each and every day.

Are we failing when it comes to our youth who seem to be more impressed by video games, television and gadgets than by the gifts of Nature? Are we failing ourselves when we don’t stop long enough to wonder at a sunset, the blooms of a flower, the majesty of a tree—no longer impressed by blossoms, sprouting, growth or natural wonder?

I stop in on occasion to read various posts by other bloggers.
I am awed and humbled most often by the shared perspectives that are offered–be it thoughts regarding the beautiful gifts of Nature, the joy of creativity found in the Arts, or the teachings and shared delvings into our relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

One Christian site, whose author pretty much tells it like it is, mixes allegory with reality while painting a most colorful observation of the relationship of man to the Holy Word of God.
In so doing he has drawn the ire of a huge crowd of non believers, as well as a few lukewarm believers who find his view a bit much, extreme, or in the thoughts of some, just totally wrong.

I for one think that Christians (of any denomination) shouldn’t dumb things down nor should we sugar coat the Word of God—To the Believer, the word is The Word and to honor that Word it is what we do—I believe we call that worship. . .
To a non believer, however, it is all simply mumbo jumbo hocus pocus.
I therefore applaud this blogger’s approach to what we Christians deem as Truth—but what is Truth to some, speaks of falsehood to another. . .as is sadly, much the way of the world. . .

Unfortunately this particular blogger is besieged with vehement commentary that reeks of on-line bullying.
The teacher and mother in me gets quite upset with the ugly things thrown his way, which are in turn, subsequently thrown to those who respond with supportive comments. It’s one thing to disagree with a fellow blogger while offering a counter thought but to sling ugly names and accusations is something else entirely.

My thought is if you don’t like what you’re reading, for Heaven’s sake, go find what it is you do like reading. And if you find something you consider out in left field, well, seek the field that makes you happy. . .allowing the Christians their right to speak their minds while allowing all the other worldly and varying religions and non religions to speak their minds as well.

The blogging world is truly a vast region to be sure. . .

Why do we attack others and their opinions?
We are all still entitled to opinions are we not?
Good or bad?
Wrong or right?

What does a blog battle of believer verses non-believer have to do with a commercial, the grandeur of nature and of you and I. . .everyone must now be wondering. . .well. . .

I suppose it’s just that I marvel at those who don’t marvel in the created marvels which have us constantly and marvelously surrounded.
How does one stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon, or along the shoreline of an ocean or at the base of a massive tree without feeling awed, wowed, or simply swept up in the greatness by feeling perhaps humbled and small?

Maybe if we turned our sites outward, rather than inward.
Maybe if we found the wonderment in our natural surroundings.
Maybe if we fought less with one another and. . .
wondered more,
wandered more,
marveled more. . .

Yes, I claim the Word of God to be the Word offered to me, and to anyone else for that matter,
who has ear to hear or desire to seek. . .
I in turn offer it here, in small humbled doses, as He offers it to me to share.
I am a vessel,
a vehicle,
a facilitator.

I don’t have all the answers to all the questions.
I stumble and fall most often along this journey known as life.
I make mistakes and screw up royally as I am no poster child for what is Holy and Pure for I know that I am broken and flawed. . .
Yet it is in that brokeness that I find. . .
Hope,
Healing,
Salvation. . .

That’s just . . .
my thought,
my opinion,
my belief—
Something I’m still pretty certain I’m allowed to have. . .
Despite it not falling in-line with that of the World’s. . .

So if you don’t feel much like wondering, wandering or marveling in the marvelous world around you, you are free to leave in order to visit other places. . .
It is here that I hope to offer morsels, crumbs, and tastes of simple Wonderment from that which is truly Divine. . .

Turning point

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.
Franz Kafka

We have come to a turning point in the road. If we turn to the right mayhap our children and our children’s children will go that way; but if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to His Word.
Charles Spurgeon

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(twilight in the western Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(a rising moon in an eastern Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

In the stillness of the in-between time known as twilight,
Sandwiched between sunset and moonrise. . .
Stepping briefly away from the never-ending emotional assault of manmade turmoil,
The otherworldliness found in Nature’s landscape, offers a respite to overwhelmed senses.

There is silence.

In front lay the setting of a December sun, offering a palette of warm and cool hues swiped across the western sky—the day’s final mark of the Master Artist’s dripping brushstrokes.
Behind rises a brilliant white disc shrouded in the purple gauze of a cloudy eastern sky. Each canvas offset with the royal shades of blues and purples as well as a few touches of soft pink whimsy.

Pivoting and turning both ahead and back, as each landscape’s offering is vastly different yet captivatingly mystical, a great sense of calm descends over the Earth.
Greater and more grand then anything made by man with the overstimulating offering of electronics, technology, and artificial this and that, the heavens above leave no doubt as to what is truly important.

The world stands at a crossroads.
Behind, lay the remnants of what was.
There in the shadows hides civility, morality, compassion, understanding, kindness, and the common goals of unity . . .
Ahead, the seemingly sinister rages of anger, anarchy, chaos, violence, looting, hatred, mistrust all coupled with a strong helping of individual self-centered agenda, set about ready for destruction. . .
The tragic results of falling away and turning from God’s word.
Yet many scoff at such simplistic explanations of the sad state gripping our world—
As the concept of an Omnipotent God competes with the more modern theology of Self.
Appeasement and all inclusiveness seem so much nicer than the following of certain tenants as stated in the covenants established between God and man.

. . .as that would require the belief in such a God and the yielding of self to something much greater. . .

The following words spoken by the late exiled dissident Russian author and Noble Prize Laureate, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, given during a speech in the late 1970’s, eerily ring deeply more prophetic for us today than perhaps the writer could have ever known:
“We have become hopelessly enmeshed in our slavish worship of all that is pleasant, all that is comfortable, all that is material — we worship things, we worship products. Will we ever succeed in shaking off this burden, in giving free rein to the spirit that was breathed into us at birth, that spirit which distinguishes us from the animal world.”

Time is of the essence, yet who is listening. . .
as the sun continues to set and the moon continues to rise. . .


Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!
Amen.

2 Peter 3:17-18

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(sunset in a western Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(soon to be full moon / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(a full December moon / Julie Cook / 2014)

Coming and going

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
Maya Angelou

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(a threesome of gulls, Henderson State Park, Destin, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

I don’t know whether it’s like this in other professions nor do I know if others feel as deeply about such issues as say as educators do. . .

One of the most difficult things I discovered early on in my teaching career was how difficult the transition of moves, transfers and retirements of colleagues could all be on one’s heart. Add to that the teaching of high school kids. Those young wards one would receive into one’s class as 9th graders–those awkward young folks perched somewhere between childhood and adulthood. The mission was to teach and nurture these ever-changing individuals for 4 years–watching them grow, learn and then, as life would have it, they would graduate, moving to the next stage of life—most of which would take a huge emotional toll on their teachers as one would have grown quite accustomed to their presence..

Coming and Going.

In teaching, especially working in a specific school, the staff and personnel become much like an extended family—just as such held true in my own community and in the school system in which I spent the majority of my life.
My colleagues becoming my extended family.

We shared the teaching, instructing and guiding of other’s children. We shared the joys, the sorrows, the nurturing of our own children, the comings and goings of spouses, the trials and obstacles of life, crises in health, births of children, losses of parents. . . just like any big family who would live life together day in and day out.

Yet oddly such transitions of life, those of the moves, the graduations and the retirements, no longer seemed to carry the same sense of permeant loss—as we now find ourselves living in an age of vast technology. It seems as if we now have 24/7 access to one another–much more so than ever before. We now have e-mail which can be delivered, read and responded to almost immediately. We can text at any given time, day or night, and we have grown to expect an instantaneous response— growing rather anxious if such does not occur within a reasonable amount of time, say 2 minutes. We have Twitter which allows others to peer into our psyche at any given moment, we have FaceBook which shares the glimpses of our daily lives with the entire world. We are morphing into the transparent while being constantly connected.

And so as it is time, once again, to say good-by to yet another colleague, friend and extended family member—hearts are once again filled with that familiar sense of angst.
No longer will there be the physical and tangible interactions. Different individuals will now fill the roles we all once filled. Life experiences will no longer overlap–as being from the same community will no longer exist. Teams cheered on to victory will no longer be the same. Life’s daily living will now be different.

Yet communication will remain instant and quick. A quick text of “hi, how’s it going?” A quick e-mail or Facebook view will immediately catch one another up to speed as to the big and small events taking place in life.
The distance seemingly not so vast.
A comfort of heart. . .

And yet the physical touch, a hand on a shoulder, a glimpse of eye contact captured when two similar minds and thoughts collide during a conference, a quick Saturday lunch to play catch up all coupled by that beautiful smile will all be deeply felt and now sorely missed.

Whereas we seem so much more connected than ever before with unlimited and instant access, it is still, and will always be, the physical contact which makes all the difference in the world–the other stuff, the technology and instant this and that merely softens the blow. Technology may unite us quickly but it can never replace the physical face to face interactions of daily life. One may see tears when Skyping, but no hand my reach out to wipe them away.

I will miss you Beth.

Have you found what you’re looking for?

“Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable.”
Albert Camus
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(image of a dilapidated abandoned farm house in rural west Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

“But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for”

Lyric refrain from the song “I still haven’t’ found what I’m looking for”
by U2

Certainly not being one to claim some sort of privileged knowledge about the inception of the 1987 song, nor of its meaning,“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” by the Irish rock band, U2– the one thing I do know, however, is how I find the lyrics most applicable to my humble observations of the world in which we live.

My understanding is that the tune/ melody is steeped in the band’s front man Bono and lead guitarist Edge and their equal appreciation for American music genres. Bono supposedly has claimed the song to be a quasi piece of gospel mixed with a smattering of Bob Dylan influence. And who among us, of a particular age, can’t say that there isn’t a little bit of Bob Dylan, with that avant guard philosophical musical view of life of his, hiding deep down in us all?

Not that I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan by any stretch of the imagination, but the older I become, the more I find I have a deep appreciation for the method behind his madness. Bob Dylan can write a mean set of lyrics and he is tremendously musically gifted, despite the fact that I never thought he could sing. That garbled, almost unintelligible, nasal voice of his with his folksy bluesy sound was, when I was younger, not my cup of tea. I was a pure member of Beatle Mania coupled by a love of early Motown. Little did I know, at the time, of the tremendous impact Bob Dylan had had on the lives of those musicians whom I loved!

And so it goes as new generations of music makers continue to tap into and weave the poetic mastery of Bob Dylan into their own current take on music–with the boys from Dublin being no exception.

But back to the song. . .

As I look out upon a landscape, which seems to be more like the song Helter Skelter rather than the peace and tranquility of songs such as What a Wonderful World, I am almost overwhelmed by the madness.
Life is indeed colorful.
Life is indeed loud.

Life is full of the flashy gadgetry of the off the chart growth and hunger for all things electronic with the roots deep in technology, which this brave new world of ours seems to crave. Demand can’t keep up with the insatiable appetite. That new IPhone of yours, the one you just bought last month, its already obsolete as a new one will be out shortly—oh the frustration of keeping up!

We are now living in a country where more people currently live in large urban centers rather than the rural countryside. Songs from distant childhoods such as “This Land is Your Land” once painted a picture of a quilted country with a sweeping landscape which was stitched together by a population of residence spread out far and wide, dotting the land from coast to coast. Today it seems that most of those dots, that population of ours, is crammed in on either coast with a few remaining clusters bridging the gaping empty landscape in-between.

Our news, which is really no longer news but rather extensions of what we consider entertainment, is laced with so many stories of those who have fallen from grace it’s almost difficult to keep up. “Stars,” whose lives are splashed across our eyeballs, often against our will, along with their endeavors and exploits appear on almost every magazine cover in grocery stores, drug stores, television programs, computer screens, commercials, movie screens and even the air waves. We couldn’t escape them if we wanted to. Arrests, heroin overdoses, sex scandals, explosive public temper tantrums, bad boy and bad girl behavior run amuck—the list goes on and on.

My question: why does any of this, of what those folks do, matter to me?

Interlace Hollywood with our politicians and Government officials, whose behavior is proving equally as disturbing from the lurid sexting scandals, numerous affairs, drugs, alcohol, bribery, chronic pleading of the 5th. . .as I suppose we could say it all boils down to a sick sort of entertainment.

I for one, however, find it all terribly sad.

It seems as if Society, as a whole, is the one singing the lyrics of U2’s song— as it is our overall Society which seems to be so empty and in search of something that it just can’t seem to find.

Fulfillment
Contentment
Security
Love
Happiness
Acceptance
Success

Those seem to be the key words in which most people, famous or not, continually seek. And the seeking seems to be at a non stop pace with many of the end results coming up empty.

The drugs don’t work.
The sex doesn’t work.
The arrests don’t help.
The re-hab doesn’t help.
The endless affairs don’t work
The insatiable shopping and buying doesn’t work
The binge eating and drinking doesn’t work
The obsession with weight and looks don’t work.
The constant quest for youth doesn’t work.
The anger, the resentment, the hatred, the denial, the isolation. . .none of it works.

So everyone goes on singing.
“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”

There is but one thing that works.
It will, however, require a great deal from an individual.
It requires a death.
It is not a physical death per se.
But it is a dying of self.

Giving up me in order to gain a life lived with the Creator of the Universe.
Giving up me to have a relationship with an only Son who died so I could have that relationship.
Giving up me to receive a mystical gift of Grace known as the Holy Spirit.
That is the only thing that will work.

But nobody seems too interested in hearing that.
Dying unto self just doesn’t seem nearly as exciting as the news these days.

My favorite psalm—Psalm 139: 1-18– Words which humble me, reassure me, touch me deeply— especially as an adopted child who knows not form whence I come. . .

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.