failures in exaggeration

β€œIt is always the novice who exaggerates.”
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

snow

I saw this chart on another blog the other day and thought it absolutely hilarious…
because as a Southerner,
there’s really not much to exaggerate over where snow and ice are concerned…
Pandemonium does indeed ensue.

Just as we witnessed over the past week leading up to last night’s spitting of ice.

I actually laughed out loud when reading this chart…

I can laugh like that…at us here in the South,
because it is true,
we do get all worked up and in a dither when the “S” word is mentioned.
As our meteorologists fan the flames of sheer panic, destruction and doom.

Yet I’ve noticed that we, as a society,
have gotten quite comfortable with the whole notion of exaggeration.
I think some call that hyperbole…
while other’s simply call it lying.

Yet no matter what we call it, we’ve gotten good at it…
Stretching the truth here and there.
Tweaking reality just a smidge.
And flat out altering the facts…

I think we are currently calling such “fake news”

Others call that padding, inflating and misrepresentation…
as in “oh, you misunderstood, I didn’t really mean that….”

Politicians and pundits do it…think exit polls
Corporations do it…think quarterly numbers.
School Systems do it…think standardized test scores.

Books are cooked,
Records are falsified
And lying has been elevated to a fine art of finesse.

As we’ve all now learned that if you don’t like the truth…
that you can simply…
alter it,
change it,
or merely rewrite it…

And yet in situations that really really matter, such as things like National Security,
we’ve run in the opposite direction.

Take the young man in Anchorage Alaska who was recently discharged from his
service as a military reservist.
He walks into his local FBI office telling them that ISIS is forcing him to
watch propaganda videos as he mumbles on crazily about such.

My first red flag, if I was one of those agents,
would have been that his service record showed that he’d seen
service time in Iraq.
I would have then dug deeper into his service record.
I would have contacted his former commanding officer.
I would have wondered about PTSD.
I would have wondered about radicalization
after hearing him use the key acronym “ISIS”…

He was supposedly in some sort of therapy.
Perhaps I would have contacted his therapist.

Yet, he manages to buy a plane ticket to Florida.
Check his firearm and ammo as baggage.
Makes his way through security without any sort of question
as he’s obviously not on any sort of watch list,
despite rambling to the local FBI about ISIS,
all in order to board a flight south.

But I suppose its never odd for someone form Anchorage, in the dead of winter,
to want to fly to Florida.

Once his plane lands, he disembarks the plane, heads to baggage, grabs his bags,
heads to the men’s room in order to unpack his firearm and ammo, loads the gun
then proceeds to walk back out to the baggage-claim carrousels while he
randomly starts shooting.

Once he empties his clip,
he tosses his gun down and drops face down to the ground, spread eagle
as 5 folks are now dead and countless others are bleeding and wounded.

Yet we don’t want to target anyone,
profile anyone,
watch anyone,
or raise concern over anyone as not to
offend,
insult
or overreact…
lest we be sued or deemed insensitive.

As the ACLU,
the Southern Poverty Law Center,
liberal Washington, etc
would begin chanting racism, xenophobia, ignorance, rednecks….
you name it.

So now let’s try telling any of this to the victims and their family’s…
once again.

Rather now, everyone, the President included, will begin the same mantra that
we have heard over and over and over….
that this is just another incident where the gun is at fault.

This is the fault of having guns available….

Yet should it comes as any surprise that this young former serviceman had a gun, legally?

Maybe the FBI in Anchorage should have maybe considered a former service member,
despite no longer having a service weapon,
most likely owned a personal firearm as most current, as well as former, service members do.
As service members with a firearm is merely synonymous.

Nor should it be a surprise that anyone living in Alaska has a firearm…
most Alaskans do.
So maybe, just maybe the FBI should have wondered about all of this
when this young man showed up at their office babbling nonsense….

But then that would make too much sense.

And once again we’d appear to be profiling
or targeting
or assuming
or dare we say,
being cautious and sensible…

Keep falsehood and lies far from me
Proverbs 30:8

Therapy amongst the mint

“All of earth is crammed with heaven
And every bush aflame with God
But only those who see take off their shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Anne Frank

DSC02644
(a clump of freshly pulled mint mixed in a pile of roots / Julie Cook / 2015)

The air was punctuated with the pungent aroma of mint and basil mingled with a heavy dose of loamy moist dirt.
I had taken pruning shears with me, but put them aside in favor of my two gloved hands.
My intent was to simply cut it all back but instead I opted to hopefully rid my yard and life of the invasive mayhem.

The growing green mass had covered the whole front corner of the bed by the garage and was set to cover up Mimi’s ancient cement bench if something wasn’t done and done soon to stop this almost giddy encroachment.

My heart has felt much the same in recent days, overrun and over burdened with and by the onslaught of the grim global headlines.

The now burgeoning sickly yellowish green patch is usually the first thing in the yard to show its tender new verdant foliage during those sleepy hopeful wee days between winter and spring. It’s what gives me hope that life, rebirth, regrowth and Spring will indeed vanquish Old Man Winter while ushering in welcoming warmer days.

As I wondered about how best to tackle the latest infestation of overgrowth in the shrub bed, my thoughts wandered a world away to what or whom would or could now vanquish the sweeping global sorrows that were entangling both my heart and soul.

Come late Summer. . .when life is dried out and burned out, just as the seasons prepare to knock on the door of Autumn, the leggy gangly masses have become a truly unsightly tangled mess of tired and spent. As in I’m just ready to cut it all away, rid my life of the jumbled mess and happily welcome in some cool crisp colorful order.

I wish I could easily do the same for our hurting planet.

I’ve always found solace in working with my hands.
The more manual the labor the more productive and alive I feel.
There is a cleansing honesty in working with one’s hands.
Never mind that my back has been giving me fits, never mind the heat index is still in the triple digits, I will gladly get down and dirty, as the sun continues to bake the world, for working hard in the yard is good for the soul, the mind and often literally the heart.

Oh that it could be so easy with this greatly burdened world of ours.

As a true Southerner I’ve grown up with mint sprouting from every yard I’ve ever called home. What better accompaniment to one’s tea or julep, depending on your preference, than a sprig of fresh mint? Anyone will tell you mint is easy, as in it grows itself. In fact it’s just a little too easy, as in too eager and way too invasive. It’s more like a weed gone wild then a treasured herb. Plus everyone who does any work in a garden will tell you, any novice can grow mint— it offers instant gratification to the more hesitant would-be gardeners among us.

But my mint patch has been on the run and I had to stop it before things got anymore out of hand. Rather than cut it back, just for it to sprout right back to this same spreading madness within a few days, I took to pulling it up, by the long lanky root full. Even poor ol St Francis had to be laid on his side just so I could get to what was running under my favorite saint’s feet. I don’t think he was much bothered by the intrusion.

As I yanked and pulled, buried just under the top layer of straw and soil, was a criss crossing network of an eerily bone white root system stretching for what seemed to be miles. With each tugged, pulled and unearthed jumble of lanky roots and dirt, earwigs and beetles alike scurried helter skelter, madly seeking a dark cloak of safety in the damp compost soil.

The more my thoughts drifted over the latest mounding national and global turmoils, I pulled harder and deeper. Sweat trickled down my face, pooling at the tip of my nose before dripping and disappearing into the blackened soil. The sweat seemed to reach across the globe mingling with the tears of those thousands of people now walking hundreds of miles in search of asylum and safety.

As the morning turned to afternoon, I had finally pulled up the last of the mint. The piles were now all raked up, the walkway swept and the pine straw smoothed as the shrub bed now had a delightfully clean and fresh look.

I still had no grand revelations as to how to help the ever growing global crises sweeping across our lives nor how to ease the lingering tensions within our own Nation. I was hot, tired and weary of body, but there was oddly a refreshing clarity of thought.
No longer did I feel totally overwhelmed or at a loss.
Still not knowing where to even begin to help, I gratefully no longer felt as defeated as I had.
There’s just something about physical labor, with it’s overwhelming beginning and productive ending, that gives hope to the overwhelming obstacles of life. . . hope that we can indeed tackle and eventually overcome the litany of misery facing our current global family.

I trust we will be able to do so. . .
for only in God, comes hope to the hopeless, and strength to the weak. . .

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:10

“Let me arise and open the gate, to breathe
the wild warm air of the heath,
And to let in Love, and to let out Hate,
And anger at living and scorn of Fate,
To let in Life, and to let out Death.”

Violet Fane