dining partner

“Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus,
contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful.
A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren,
participates in the great work of saving souls.”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich


(the Sheriff with that hair of his, borrowing his sister’s old ride / Julie Cook / 2019)

So this is a picture of my dining partner last night.

Well, actually this is a pre-dining picture…
And no, we are not trying to be gender-neutral people by having him ride around in a pink walker…
he’s simply using his sister’s old walker until Santa brings him his very own boy walker at Christmas.

I like the notion of boys being boys and girls being girls…girls use pink, boys use blue…
but that’s another story for another day.

This is actually the dining picture—as in, I was eating while he was sleeping.


(The Sheriff the perfect dining partner / Julie Cook / 2019)

Here is a picture of who my dining partner is 99.9% of the time—
it is a pre-dining picture as well:


(The Mayor enjoys the kitchen cabinets / Julie Cook / 2019)

I would offer you a dining picture of the Mayor but her mother had to take her outside
while we were waiting for our dinner to arrive as her behavior was not dining acceptable…
Not by us, and I’m certain, not by any neighboring tables.

Think lassoing a bull who is hell-bent on independence but is in dire and immediate need of
help in maneuvering silverware, glassware, drinks with straws and ice along with very hot food
all the while refusing to sit in a booster seat or highchair because no one else in the party
is doing so and therefore the bull, I mean Mayor, demands to sit in a chair or booth
like everyone else and thus the dining experience becomes more of a wrestling match
interspersed with a few shrieks of defiance.

Whew!

This all from a child who is long accustomed to dining out and who has been no bother,
that is, up until the last couple of months of which she has become the independent
nearly impossible handful.

We are a family that believes in removing unruly children from the surrounding
environment as it is terribly unfair to those in near proximity seeking to have
a “nice” evening out.

We did so with our son ages ago and we are doing so with his offspring.

Booths in the back of a dark restaurant or closest to the bar with music blaring
loudly has become good for us.
Both distraction and cover for and from our defiant one.

I suppose I should have taken a picture of the empty booth across from me while the
sleeping Sheriff beside me allowed me to eat unincumbered.
Once the Mayor and her mother returned, I took over with the Mayor,
as the Mayor happily decided that the perfectly cooked hand-cut french fries made for
a delightful spoon for the homemade accompanying ketchup.

This way, the Mayor’s mother did get to eat…but then the Sheriff woke,
needed a bottle, so it was still eating with one hand.

Good food and good drink, gobbled down, one-handedly with a bull sitting,
not to be confused with Sitting Bull, in one’s lap is usually the course
these days.

And so you say, stay home…don’t go out…especially with the Mayor.
And that would make sense.
But sometimes the Mayor’s mother needs to be out in the real world and I want
that for her.
So we hope, pray and go forth.

My motto as a young mother was ‘have baby will travel’…that now-grown baby
is keeping the same motto with his own kids.

And I will say that not all outings are disasters or nerve-wracking as we take
the calm behavior with the bad.

Such is life with a 22-month-old.

And so when it’s just the four of us, the Mayor, the Sheriff, their mom and me—
we’ll out we go…someplace good but still casual enough that the noise level is up.
Yet when Da and DaDa are along—things do tend to go smoother and thus nicer restaurants
may be chosen.

So why all this talk about dining out with unruly ones?

Well I was reminded the other day, when I caught a news clip, of the images of the more
liberal lawmakers out there calling for the minions of liberalism to do what they can
to make life miserable when seeing a member of the opposing party out and about.

As in derail and disrupt and make miserable.

I think it was Maxine Waters who I saw loudly announcing at a rally a few months back,
and this is a paraphrased quote of her rally speech…
“If they (they being Republicans, Conservative lawmakers, and the same
like-minded news folks) are out eating at a restaurant or are out in public doing what
folks out in public do…
go up to that table, or wherever it is they are, make them miserable until they
get up and leave.”

And so I was pondering that very notion the other night while I was eating
with my small sleeping partner and the Mayor was out strolling with her mom,
calming down—
that we, as a family, go out of our way to ensure that those around us,
no matter their political leanings or life leanings are not disturbed in any sort of way.
They are paying good money hoping to have a nice evening out amongst themselves,
the last thing they want is a screaming baby or toddler interrupting their cherished time.

It matters not that their life’s choices, thoughts and or beliefs differ from mine…
what matters is that they are people who deserve nothing more nor nothing less than
me and my family.

Maxine Waters could be sitting next to us and if our kids started acting up,
out they’d go.

So maybe that’s the difference.

Maybe that’s the difference that lies at the center of the divide of this nation.

We believe that everyone deserves our courtesy and kindness…matters not who they are
or what they have or don’t have, believe or don’t believe.

And so perhaps it’s the whole ‘doing unto others as we would want done unto us’
mentality that is at the core of all of this…

As we sit at the waning of one year and the soon to be start of a new year…
maybe the idea of both courtesy and kindness could begin to make a healing difference
helping to mend some of this divide of ours…

Stop and think about those others around you…
you would certainly want them to treat you with kindness…
so treat them as you would want to be treated…with courtsey and kindness…no matter who
your are or who they are.

“Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few cross-bearers.
Many desire His consolation, but few His tribulation.
Many will sit down with Him at table, but few will share His fast.
All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer for Him.
Many will follow Him to the breaking of the bread,
but few will drink the bitter cup of His Passion.
Many revere His miracles, but few follow the shame of His cross.
Many love Jesus when all goes well with them, and praise Him when He does them a favor;
but if Jesus conceals Himself and leaves them for a little while,
they fall to complaining or become depressed.
They who love Jesus purely for Himself and not for their own sake bless Him
in all trouble and anguish as well as in time of consolation.
Even if He never sent them consolation, they would still praise Him and give thanks.
Oh how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, when not mixed with self-interest or self-love!”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 88-89
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

the night before the storm

“Faith and love are like the blind man’s guides.
They will lead you along a path unknown to you, to the place where God is hidden.”

St. John of the Cross


(the evening sky before the arrival of a tropical storm…no sailors delight…
Julie Cook / 2019)

“Therefore, when God gives spiritual comfort, receive it with thanksgiving,
but know that it is the bounty of God, not thy merit.
Be not puffed up, be not overjoyed, nor vainly presume,
but rather be the more humble for this gift and the more cautious and fearful in all thine actions;
for this hour will pass away and temptation will follow.
When comfort shall be taken away from thee, do not presently despair;
but wait with humility and patience for the heavenly visit,
for God is able to restore thee a greater consolation.
This is no new thing, nor strange to those who have experienced the ways of God:
for the great saints and ancient prophets have often felt this kind of variety.”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 64
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ


(evening sky before a tropical storm arrives / Julie Cook / 2019)

the contemplation found in nighttime shadows

“If then we have angels, let us be sober,
as though we were in the presence of tutors;
for there is a demon present also.”

St. John Chrysostom


(a little evening, pre-bath, walk with the mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)


(a screech owl watches our little evening walk / Julie Cook / 2019)

“I never found anyone so religious and devout as not to have sometimes a subtraction of grace,
or feel a diminution of fervor.
No saint was ever so highly rapt and illuminated as not to be tempted sooner or later.
For he is not worthy of the high contemplation of God who has not,
for God’s sake, been exercised with some tribulation.
For temptation going before is usually a sign of ensuing consolation.
For heavenly comfort is promised to such as have been proved by temptation.
To him that overcometh, saith our Lord, I will give to eat of the tree of life.”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 65
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

the wisdom of a child

“One just soul can obtain pardon for a thousand sinners.”
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque


(a contemplative little Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

So I must make a confession on this Holy Saturday…

Whereas in years past my posts were reflective of this time of year…
starting with Ash Wednesday, those dark heavy 40 days of Lent leading up to the
Holy Week of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday—
as we culminate all of this on a triumphant Easter.

I’d pray earnestly.
I’d fast regularly.
I’d be diligent in my observance.
I would have even gotten some purposeful Lenten reading.
I would focus on the cross and that of an empty tomb.

However, this week has passed in a blur.
In fact, Lent passed in a blur.
As much of the year has passed in a blur.

I hardly even noted that yesterday was Good Friday as I was on the road in
torrential rains and horrendous traffic as my thoughts were elsewhere.

There was a time I would attend the 3 hours long Good Friday service while
purposely fasting this highest of Holy days.
I would go to the Great Easter Vigil…clutching my candle with deep intent.

However, this year has been different.
For lots of reasons I suppose.

Whereas there were both sorrow and loss in years past, I none the less managed to keep
the tires in the middle of the road.

This year, sadly, I pretty much simply fell off the tracks.

There are some distracting extenuating circumstances that will most likely be written
about when there is finally a bit of clarity…
But in a nutshell, my time and my focus have been pulled into a thousand different degrees…

And speaking of degrees—
I have been suffering through some sort of flu bug this past week that has left me hot
to the touch yet cold and shivery to the body.

Add in the Mayor visiting her satellite office and the walking dead comes to mind…
not in the zombie kind, but rather literally feeling dead while still walking.

There’s been little sleep, lots of heavy thoughts, as well as thoughts of anticipation with
a new little sheriff set to arrive any day now.

And having spent the past two days trying to keep an ever-growing, rambunctious, newly walking
borderline toddler out of harm’s way while trying to keep up at the same energy level has
been no easy task.

And yet I often find myself sitting back and simply marveling at her intense gaze.
I watch her little wheels turning while wondering what are her thoughts.

Her love, excitement, and openness to each and all she meets.
Be it animal or human or a stuffed animal or even an interesting plant.
Each one is met with a raised hand and a resounding “HI”

There is such an open innocence and trust that we adults,
who love her and are entrusted with her care, wish to warn her of the dangers
as we work to protect and keep her from harm.

Any parent or grandparent will tell you that that is a life long task that can,
in this current angry world’s day and age, leave anyone who loves a little one
both anxious and nervous.

Because we adults know that there is bad, there is danger and there is evil.

My husband noted this morning at breakfast,
as she gobbled up some bits of maple syrup-soaked waffles,
that if the world possed the same sort of sweetness and same refreshing innocence…
oh, how the world could be so different.

And so on this Holy Saturday, I am reminded that God is reminding me…
He is calling me to return to that same trusting spirit…
return to an openness…allowing Him to pour out His sweet balm
within this weary soul of mine.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!


(the Mayor in such a pondering pose / Julie Cook / 2019)

“No one who follows Me will ever walk in darkness (Jn 8:12).
These words of our Lord counsel all to walk in His footsteps.
If you want to see clearly and avoid blindness of heart,
it is His virtues you must imitate.
Make it your aim to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s teachings surpasses that of all the Saints.
But to find this spiritual nourishment you must seek to have the Spirit of Christ.
It is because we lack this Spirit that so often we listen to the Gospel without really hearing it.
Those who fully understand Christ’s words must labor to make their lives conform to His.”

Thomas á Kempis, p.15
An Excerpt From
The Imitation of Christ

By the Grace of God

For the sake of the world, for our own sakes, and for the sake of God,
we desperately need, as individuals and as a Church,
not to behave as if what we have in the way of spiritual or material goods is due
to our own merit or a result of our own will or strength.
Rather, it is the pure grace of God

Ralph Martin
from Fulfillment of All Desire


(a bumble bee buzzing the new blossoms of the blueberry blooms / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man?
Today he is, and tomorrow he appears no more. Fear God, and thou shalt have no need of
being afraid of man. What can anyone do against thee by his words or injuries?
He rather hurts himself than thee, nor can he escape the judgment of God whoever he be.
See thou have God before thine eyes and do not contend with complaining words.
And if at present thou seem to be overcome,
and to suffer a confusion which thou has not deserved,
do not repine at this and do not lessen thy crown by impatience.”

Thomas á Kempis, p.148
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

temporal or eternal and what name do you claim

“It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian,
but to actually be one.
Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name.”

St. Ignatius of Antioch


(sculpture found in a shop window in the small Swiss town of Bremgarten / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Wait a little while, my soul, await the promise of God,
and you will have the fullness of all that is good in heaven.
If you yearn inordinately for the good things of this life,
you will lose those which are heavenly and eternal.
Use temporal things properly, but always desire what is eternal.
Temporal things can never fully satisfy you,
for you were not created to enjoy them alone . . .
for your blessedness and happiness lie only in God, who has made all things from nothing.”

Thomas a’ Kempis, p. 133-34
An Excerpt From
The Imitation of Christ

The gift Giver who allows you to set the world on fire

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena


(plover along the surf /Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cool / 2019)

“Love is a strong force — a great good in every way;
it alone can make our burdens light, and alone it bears in equal balance what is pleasing and displeasing.
It carries a burden and does not feel it; it makes all that is bitter taste sweet. …
Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing higher, nothing stronger, nothing larger, nothing more joyful,
nothing fuller, nothing better in heaven or on earth;
for love is born of God and can find its rest only in God above all He has created.
Such lovers fly high, run swiftly and rejoice.
Their souls are free; they give all for all and have all in all.
For they rest in One supreme Goodness above all things, from Whom all other good flows and proceeds.
They look not only at the gifts, but at the Giver, Who is above all gifts.”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 108
An Excerpt From
The Imitation of Christ