Song of Triumph

“We thank Him less by words than by the serene happiness of silent acceptance. It is our emptiness in the presence of His reality, our silence in the presence of His infinitely rich silence, our joy in the bosom of the serene darkness in which His light holds us absorbed, it is all this that praises Him.”
― Thomas Merton

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou – Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

Emily Bronte

Eternal truth, eternal righteousness, eternal love; these only can triumph, for these only can endure.
Joseph Barber Lightfoot

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(the first butterfly of the new season, a Tiger swallowtail amongst the quince / Julie Cook / 2015)

We greet this brand new morning not as we normally would every other morning of every other day. . .
But rather, this new morning, this new day, is greeted with great expectancy. . .
We greet this morning not simply as a new day through old cloudily lenses but rather we greet this morning with the clarity of new sight.
For today marks the beginning of a day of transformation.

It is as if we, you and I, have emerged under the wing of the Victor from deep within the sealed dark and dusty tomb of Death
Eyes now clear, wide opened and focused are anxious to behold the brilliance of a new dawn.

And we greet this new morning with a song. . .
We sing our song in the face of all that was broken, damaged and dying.
For ours is the song of hope, of life and of Love

For what was fragmented, splintered, lost and laid in a tomb to rot has been found, recovered, repaired and made brilliantly whole.
For this new morning has been paved with wholeness. . .
Life indeed is now transformed
As we triumphantly sing this new morning’s song of a clear and brilliant Alleluia

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed:
let shout of holy joy outburst.
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The three sad days are quickly sped,
he rises glorious from the dead:
all glory to our risen Head!
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
He closed the yawning gates of hell,
the bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumphs tell!
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live and sing to thee.
Alleluia!

Words Symphonia Sirenum Selectarum, 1695
first three lines adapted from Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestria, 1525-1594
arranged by William Henry Monk, 1823-1889

On your mark, get set, GO!

Never confuse movement with action.
Ernest Hemingway

“I am like a book, with pages that have stuck together for want of use: my mind needs unpacking and the truths stored within must be turned over from time to time, to be ready when occasion demands”
Seneca

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(Tiger swallowtail in Julie’s yard / Julie Cook / 2014)

It is time to get ready.
Ready for what you ask.
Simply to be ready, is the reply.
But ready for what you press.

Ready for moving forward.

Out from the shadows.
Out from the past.
Out from the bondage.
Out from the guilt.
Out from the weight of sin.
Out toward the light.
Out toward the freedom.
Out toward the forgiveness.
Out toward the person you / me are meant to be

This is a week of deep reflection for those of the Christian faith.
It is Holy week.
The most sacred time in all of Christendom.
A time of profound sadness and loss ending in a heavenly crescendo of Joy and Life.

It is also the beginning of Passover.
A sacred time in Judaism.
A time for the deep reflection of G_d’s* merciful Grace.
(* may it be noted that those of the Jewish faith, those who are most devout, believe that it is sinful to speak or even write the name of God, as it is considered the ultimate in sacred and Holy—I wonder how we Christians have missed that same sense of deep reverence associated with the name of the Most Holy, The Omnipotent, The Redeemer, the Creator, Yahweh, Jehovah. . .)

This week a converging of two sacred religions collide, melding into one, as two monumental and pivotal moments for each faith mirror and reflect one another.
The Jews and Christians are each reminded of a liberation.
The Jews are reminded of being liberated from the bondage of slavery in Egypt as the Christians are reminded of the liberation from the bondage of sin as procured by the cross.

Our two faiths, whether either group is willing to truly acknowledge the fact or not, are inextricably linked. . .since the beginning of time—woven intricately together. . .for good and for bad.

Those who blame the Jews for the death of Jesus are tragically misinformed.
To look in any mirror is the simple reminder, for those who’s image is reflected, as to who is actually culpable for that death.
For Christians to mount some campaign of a holier than thou sanctity is to have never fully grasped the encompassing scope and bottomless depth of that lone and ultimate death.

For in that lone death, we have all been liberated and are now made free.
Free to go forward in forgiveness and love.

Yet sadly how difficult those steps seem to be.

Just as Lazarus came forth from the tomb and shroud of his death, back to the warm radiant light of life. . .we too are being called—out of our tombs and shrouds of death, into the radiant light, moving forward in freedom and forgiveness.

As the sad events of the past week continue to unfold in the Kansas City area, with the unexplainable taking of 3 innocent lives at a Jewish Community Center and at a Jewish Assisted Living, the irony for the killer’s sick and twisted mind, is that he had not murdered Jews as he had hoped, but rather he murdered three Christians. We mere mortals cannot explain away the whys of this tragedy nor may we rationalize the raw pain of loss. It is unfair, it is wrong, it is maddening, it is to what shakes the core of all of our faiths. . .

It is so difficult for the moral and just, in our society, to wrap their brains around these hate groups which litter this world. The sickly twisted rationale these groups spawn, in order to justify their manifesto of evil, is beyond comprehension. . .and yet, it and they remain, morphing into more insidious groups intent on havoc, hate and death.

We must not allow ourselves to bend to their damnable acts in the name of their hate. We must not meet them at their level of banal emptiness. We must not repay hatred for hatred. For we are commanded to love. We are commanded to forgive–over and over and over until the end of time.
As the words of this week echo in our ears . . .

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. . .”
as the heel of the Holy One crushes the head of the serpent.

Splendor and Joy

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man, And skill a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world will be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts his beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good he undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And with every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try his splendor out
— God knows what he’s about.

Angela Morgan

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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(images from Julie’s yard, Tiger Swallowtail butterfly and coral flowering quince / Julie Cook / 2014)

Houston we have a problem

Do you remember the other day when I was aghast over the marauding group of tiger swallowtail caterpillars that were invading my dill? Well it wasn’t too long before the fat little moochers turned themselves into cocoons. I’ve watched with great expectation. I noticed one cocoon wiggling yesterday but thought that we still had weeks to go. Yesterday morning the cocoon looked a bit ashen and I feared that perhaps it had perished.
As I rounded the corner of the yard yesterday afternoon, I beheld quite a sight—a beautiful butterfly dangling precariously by one wing from the vacated cocoon. His wing was stuck. I gently put my finger out in order for the butterfly to take hold and we both gently freed the wing. Sadly it stayed shriveled most of the afternoon. I fear he was born with a bum wing.
But as miraculous as this metamorphosis is, I hold out hope that perhaps, somehow, he will make it….

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“In this world you’ve just got to hope for the best and prepare for the worst and take whatever God sends.”
Lucy Maud Montgomery

AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

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I suppose everyone heard my scream–my cry of panic and alarm this morning as I went outside to water my containers of herbs– as my gaze settled in on these voracious, uninvited, “guests”!!
“Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars”….I run inside the house screaming. My husband thinks I’m being attacked by killer bees as I tell him that my dill is about to be eaten to the bone.

“Just kill them” he tells me, none too concerned over the plight of my herbs “No, you don’t understand! You can’t kill butterflies to be!!”
I had this problem last year, as they decimated my dill and parsley overnight. I thought surly I wouldn’t have to worry about them coming back until late Summer, early Fall. OOOOHHHHH Me–oh woe is me. They will just have to finish my plants off, hopefully by then they will want to become full and fat cocoons. When they do their cocoon thing, I’ll just have to plant some more herbs–perhaps I need to look into how long a caterpillar stays a caterpillar.

Right now there are but two. Last year there were 12. Maybe may odds are increasing….but I think I failed to mention the mole holes I’ve found…..
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This Monday has a New Beginning

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“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, For I have redeemed you.”
Isaiah 44:22
(photo Great Smokey Mountains National Forest/ Julie Cook 2011
When this picture was taken, it had been a dry Spring, unlike this year. These Tiger Swallowtail butterflies, along with the three honey bees seen in the picture, had gathered at a “wet” spot in the woods seeking moisture)