a time of signs

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him
to show them a sign from heaven.

Matthew 16:1

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death,
and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations,
and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:9-14

signposts

Today I found myself once again on the interstate, a place that I am more times then not…
As the sun was headed toward the west, I was finally heading home form Dad’s…
who by the way is hanging on and still in the game….but just barely….
Merging onto the interstate, it suddenly dawns on me that the ratio of big rigs to cars
was not in the favor of the cars.

Some days are like that as I suppose as there are certain days that are considered
more or less “travel days” for those transporters of all things commerce.

Those “travel days” tend to make me a bit more nervous as I don’t especially enjoy
barreling down the interstate sandwiched in-between 5 lanes of tractor trailer
trucks and little ol me….

Focusing on keeping up with the flow while my mind drifts back and forth over to Dad
and to the things I need to be taking care of for them, my eyes and mind begin to focus
on the truck in front of me…
“The World’s most award winning Tequila”

Hummmm…I think I’ve had it in a margarita once….

Changing lanes, as I was working my way over to merge onto the next interstate, I
found myself behind another truck boasting the “2013 Award Winning Whiskey Bourbon, Roses”

Hummmm…I’d never heard of it before…yet found myself wondering if it hails
from Kentucky or Tennessee as only Kentucky whiskeys may be labeled bourbon…

As I exit onto the entrance ramp to the next interstate, I’m precariously passed by
a massive Little Debbie’s truck….

Hummmmm…Now I begin wondering if someone isn’t trying to tell me something…
as in…am I suppose to be heading to the nearest bar or to grab some
not so healthy snack cakes….???

Signs were all over the place it seems…
vying for me to remember, to consider, to seek, to find…????

So as I was finally on the home stretch of highway, eventually taking me home,
the whole notion of signs and their meaning flooded my mind,
shadowed by the significant and current visit taking place in Washington of Israel’s
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu….

I ruminated over the importance of the renewed support offered by our
new administration to Israel…
and to what that now may means for a nation who returns her support to the chosen
of God….

As some would flippantly quip that it means nothing,
while others would bemoan it just means more trouble,
while still others see great significance being found in this renewed support.

I have always believed in the importance of the United State and her relationship with
the Jewish state…

Yesterday we heard in his greeting to President Trump,
along with those gathered in the East Room,
Prime Minister Netanyahu offering an explanation as to why Jews are called Jews.

“Well, the Chinese are called Chinese because they come from China.
The Japanese are called Japanese because they come from Japan.
Well, Jews are called Jews because they come from Judea.
This is our ancestral homeland.
Jews are not foreign colonialists in Judea.”

The age long quest for the acknowledgement of existence.

Yet that acknowledgement continues being met with resistance…

The Middle East is a vast and formidable land..
It has always been shrouded in mystery, hostility, and suspicion.
With the seeming epicenter to be found in the obscure city of Jerusalem…

A city that is the knot in the bow tying and binding the three
greatest monotheistic religions together…
whether they like it or not…bound they are.
Yet it is a city that has been fractured and divided since its very formation…

The hostilities between Jews and Muslims is age old, dating back most notably to
the time of Abraham.
The Christians are really the upstarts in the mix, having entered the fray 2000
years ago.

So say what you will…
be it coincidence, myth, lore, legend, history, the Divine…or a combination of
each component…
The land of Judea is for the chosen of God…and peace will come…but…..

The prophet Zechariah reminds us with his words:
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples,
when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.
And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all
peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces,
though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3)

It seems that conflict will always be found in this epicenter…
only until such time comes that there is a final
collision between both Light and Darkness….

In Psalm 37 we hear David proclaiming that “the meek shall inherit the earth,
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace”
(Psalm 37:11).
And in Leviticus we are told, “I will give peace in the land, and you shall
lie down, and none will make you afraid”
(Leviticus 26:6)

We are reminded, told, and shown that there will indeed be a day of peace in
this land that has only known dispute, war, hatred and suspicion.

So until that day of peace and reconciliation is upon us…
It may behoove each of us to consider the signs we are offered as we
look, wonder and wait…..

With Christ—“the Prince of Peace”—ruling the earth,
“there will be no end” to the peace that will envelop our planet (Isaiah 9:6-7).
As Isaiah hopefully noted,
“LORD, You will establish peace for us” (Isaiah 26:12).
And as each individual obeys God, he or she will enjoy peace.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You” (verse 3).

(Life Hope & Truth)

failures in exaggeration

“It 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

St Stephen

You desire that which exceeds my humble powers,
but I trust in the compassion and mercy of the All-powerful God.

Saint Stephen

lapidazione-di-santo-stefano
(The Stoning of St Stephen by Giorgio Vasari / Pisa, Italy / 1573)

“But he [Stephen], filled with the holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’
But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’
Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice,
‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’;
and when he said this, he fell asleep.”

(Acts of the Apostles, 7:55-60)

Saint Stephen was one of the first ordained deacons of the Church.
He was also the first Christian martyr.
The Greek word from which we derive the English word martyr literally means witness.
In that sense, every Christian is called to bear witness to Jesus Christ,
in both their words and their actions.
Not all are asked to shed their blood.

His behavior,
even forgiving those who were taking his life while he was being stoned to death,
was a beautiful reflection of how conformed he truly was to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Like most of the early Christian leaders, he was Jewish, but may have come came from among the Greek speaking or Hellenistic believers, the ones feeling slighted in the distribution of alms.

Great preaching and miracles were attributed to Stephen.
The Bible records that Stephen “full of grace and power,
did great wonders and signs among the people.”
Stephen s popularity created enemies among some Jews,
members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen. They debated with him,
to generate evidence against him in furtherance of their persecution of the early Church.

They accused him of blasphemy, of speaking against God and Moses.
The charges inflamed the local populace which demanded he be tried and punished.
When Stephen was put on trial,
several false witnesses were brought forward by the Sanhedrin to testify
that he was guilty of blasphemy.
He was charged with predicting that Jesus would destroy the Temple
and for preaching against Mosaic law.

Stephen was filled with wisdom from heaven.
He responded by detailing the history of Israel and outlining the blessings God had
bestowed upon his chosen people.
He also explained how disobedient Israel had become,
despite the goodness and mercy of the Lord.
Stephen explained that Jesus had come to fulfil the law of Moses,
not destroy it. He quoted extensively from the Hebrew scriptures to prove his case.

Finally, he admonished the Sanhedrin, saying,
“You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears.
You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do.
Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted?
They killed those who foretold the coming of the Upright One,
and now you have become his betrayers,
his murderers. In spite of being given the Law through angels,
you have not kept it.” (Acts 7:51-53)

As Stephen concluded his defense,
he looked up and saw a vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
He said,
“Look, I can see heaven thrown open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
That vision was taken as the final proof of blasphemy to the Jews who did not believe
Jesus was the Messiah or Son of God.
For them, Jesus could not possibly be beside the Father in Heaven.
The crowd rushed upon Stephen and carried him outside of the city to stone him to death.

As Stephen was being brutally stoned,
he spoke his last words,
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Words which echoed the very words of Jesus on the Cross.
Following those words, Stephen died, in the Lord.

Watching the trial and execution was a Rabbi named Saul of Tarsus,
a virulent persecutor of the early Church.
Shortly thereafter, that Rabbi would himself encounter the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus
and be dramatically converted.
His encounter is recorded in the 9th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
He took the name Paul as a sign of his new life in Jesus Christ and went on to
become the great apostle to the Gentiles.

Stephen was buried by Christians, but the location of his tomb is not specified in the
New Testament and may have been forgotten for a time.
In 415 a Christian priest claimed he had a vision of the tomb and located Stephen’s remains.
A name inside the tomb confirmed the find

St Stephens’ Day is remembered each year on December 26th

(information Catholic.org)

in need of prayers…again

dscn1189
(if you can’t tell, Martha is the one in the middle / Adare Manor County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Three years ago I came here and asked you all for your prayers…
prayers for my aunt…
otherwise known as my partner in crime…
Or to most folks, it is simply Martha….

If you are from the South, that is pronounced Mothaaa
like a moth with a bunch of a’s tacked on.

Three years ago and very much out of the blue, doctors discovered a malignant mass
in my aunt’s left kidney. It all happened so very suddenly and quickly,
catching us all off guard.
The doctors immediately decided the kidney had to be removed and so naturally,
I did the only thing I knew to do,
I asked you for your prayers…

Prayers of good wishes,
healing,
surgical success
and for the continuation of healing and good health.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/martha-my-aunt-my-partner-in-crime-and-one-who-is-in-great-need-of-your-prayers/

Life has rocked along these past three years, since Martha had her kidney removed,
with nary a blip on her radar…
as all the scans and tests since that day have showed only a full and complete picture of health.
Three years allowing us to add to our numerous mis-ques and harrowing adventures.
With last year’s trip to Ireland being one of our most magical and marvelous journeys thus far.

A couple of weeks ago the routine scans came back with worrisome news.
Spots now on the remaining kidney, pancreas and liver.

She is to have the liver biopsied today…and depending on the outcome–
the other organs may or may not be biopsied, leaving us to deal with the results…

I’d offer you a good picture of Martha…just so you’d know who it is you’re exactly praying for
but both Martha and our traveling buddy Melissa love for me to take all the pictures my
little heart desires…
just as long as they are not pictures of them—
so I usually catch them when they least expect it…
only to have such pictures followed by death threats and destruction of my camera…

I thought to throw a couple of them in, but valued my life and the life of my camera…..

img_1681-1
(Martha waiting for dinner at Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

dscn0827
(Martha wandering with her back to me, which is very common, at Timoleague Friary /
County Cork / Julie Cook / September 2015)

Martha and I each believe very strongly in the power of prayer…

So just know that I thank you for joining with us as prayer warriors during
this worrisome time…

dscn1019
(Martha in rapt awe watching the youngest Daly boy cutting crystal in the family’s workshop in Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / Sept 2015)

dscn0112
(see what I mean…Temple Bar district, Dublin, Co Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

a year ago

Old Time, in whose banks we deposit our notes
Is a miser who always wants guineas for groats;
He keeps all his customers still in arrears
By lending them minutes and charging them years.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

img_1646
(image from Gallagher’s Boxty in Temple Bar / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Exactly one year ago today….
I fell in love with something new…
yet oh so familiar.

I fell in love with a city.
I fell in love with a country.
I fell in love with my own heritage.
I fell in love with the comfort of a chicken boxty
and a delightfully crisp, soothingly dry beverage…
Stonewells Cider…

dscn0097

img_1644

And just because I was busy falling in love, didn’t mean that the rest of life
wasn’t busy being just that…
busy….
while at the same time, it was pretty much staying the same…

Yet…

unbeknownst to anyone in particular, life was secretly gearing up for change….

I was holding life together by a very fine thread.
Just enough in order to get by and get gone…

And it worked for a while.

Yet during these 365 days which have come and gone,
all since eating a chicken boxty,
there have been great changes,
both good and bad.

Life changing as well as life altering.

And as it always is, it all began before I even came back home from being away…
and it’s been that way ever since.

For there have been actual lives which have come and gone…
while others remain hanging in the balance.

Life has that way about it…
that way of never sitting still.
And it doesn’t much matter whether we like it or not…

Within a day,
a week,
a month,
a year…
heck, even within just a mere hour…
our lives change,
for both good and bad.

There is simply no avoiding the changing…
No matter how hard we try to hold onto all the sameness…
change will always be greater, stronger, and ever more relentless…

So as I reminisce about comfort food and comfort places…
I know that time and life and change are each busy at work…
Working hard at changing me..
my time and my life.

But the one constant that I cling to….
the one thing that is not held by either time nor space…
not held by change nor even life itself…

Is the love of an omnipotent Father….

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine
or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-38

seeking solace

The sea is his,
for he made it…

Psalm 95:5

dscn3331
(Gulf of Mexico, Santa Rosa Beach / Julie Cook / 2016)

There are those who have Lourdes…
Others have Fatima
For some it is Medjugorje
and for others still, it is Guadeloupe.

There are places all around this world of ours that pilgrims have traveled
for centuries in hopes of…
a healing,
a miracle,
or merely peace…

for me…it is the sea…
It is to and for the sea that I yearn…
when I feel most in need of soothing…

Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.
“Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
they may roar, but they cannot cross it.

Jeremiah 5:22

Prayers for Italy

“Love, which quickly arrests the gentle heart,
Seized him with my beautiful form
That was taken from me, in a manner which still grieves me.

Love, which pardons no beloved from loving,
took me so strongly with delight in him
That, as you see, it still abandons me not…”

Dante Alighieri, Inferno

CIMG0430
(Santa Maria Nuova / Cortona, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

Our hearts, thoughts and prayers reach across the oceans and lands to the people of Italy…
especially those hardest hit by Wednesday’s early morning quakes centered in the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche.

Italy is an ancient land with a rich and storied past that is clearly evident today—
For all one must do is to look at the land, the ancient architecture and to the
warm faces of her loving people.

From its varied geography—
from the hilltop fortified towns to the colorful villas by the sea…
Italy is both mountainous, think Alps and Apennine, as well as coastal as it is surround by
the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, the Tyrrhenian, and the Ionian seas.

The villages, towns and cities are a rich mix of the centuries of man’s very existence.
From the Caesars to the Fashion runways,
from the birth of Christianity to her decadent gastronomic delights…
Italy herself is so much a part of the history of mankind.

We rejoice when Italy is at her best and we mourn when tragedy strikes….

CIMG0434
(one of the many alley ways, nook and crannies filling this country of mazes / Cortona, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

CIMG0505
(Assisi, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

With the past weaving itself into the present, upon observation, it is not difficult for the casual observer to understand how easy it is for a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, to have devastating results…

CIMG0495

CIMG0496
(part of the roof line of Assisi, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

CIMG0586
(Looking across Rome / Julie Cook / 2007)

As Italy percolates upwards from her past, with layers upon layers, being built upon itself….
Even the clay tiles from region to region offer a glimpse to the volcanic soil composition…
as some area tiles offer rich red colors while other regions are full lot more earthy brown tones….

Italy is home to both dormant and active volcanoes…
Just more evidence of the constantly changing and ever evolving ground beneath the feet of both
her myriad sea of tourists and her enchanting residents….

Here is a small offering from the BBC explaining why Italy is so prone to earthquakes…

Why is Italy at risk of earthquakes?
By Jonathan Amos
Quakes are an ever-present danger for those who live along the Apennine mountain range in Italy.
Through the centuries thousands have died as a result of tremors equal to, or not much bigger than,
the event that struck in the early hours of Wednesday.
The modern response, thankfully, has been more robust building and better preparation.
Mediterranean seismicity is driven by the great collision between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates; but when it comes down to the specifics of this latest quake, the details are far more complicated.
The Tyrrhenian Basin, or Sea, which lies to the west of Italy,
between the mainland and Sardinia/Corsica, is slowly opening up.
Scientists say this is contributing to extension, or “pull-apart”, along the Apennines.
This stress is compounded by movement in the east, in the Adriatic.
The result is a major fault system that runs the length of the mountain range with
a series of smaller faults that fan off to the sides.
The foundations of cities like Perugia and L’Aquila stand on top of it all.

(excerpt from the BBC)

CIMG0531

CIMG0524

CIMG0533
(images of and beyond Assisi / Julie Cook / 2007)

May we pray for those who now find themselves without home, without city, without family,
without hope….may we be their hope….

From one man he made all the nations,
that they should inhabit the whole earth;
and he marked out their appointed times in history
and the boundaries of their lands.

Acts 17:26

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Deuteronomy 31:8-9

it’s high time we all suck it up

“Life is not a problem to be solved,
but a reality to be experienced.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

DSCN1211
(medival painting of St Christopher and the Christ Child / artist unknown but it looks like a Bosch contemporary if you ask me / Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The painting above, along with it’s beautiful ornate frame,
is really quite lovely is it not?

It is a piece that belongs to a private country manor estate in Ireland…
an estate that has been turned into an exquisite hotel and golf resort.

I, the average guest, would not have been able to enjoy seeing the piece had the hotel
thought to place the painting in storage,
hide it in some backroom office…
or carte it off to the attic as it depicts the image of
St Christopher carrying the Christ Child.

There is debate as to whether or not St Christopher ever existed.
There are even some circles that have decided to “un” saint this said Christopher…
Add to that, that here is a display of an image of the Christ child–
would we want non-believing guests to be offended by its presence?

So perhaps St Christopher’s painting should be altogether removed……

But before you begin to cry foul,
we will return to that thought in a minute…
However… let’s first chat about a little current event article shall we….

The following article, which I read yesterday on Fox News, got this art teacher’s knickers in a huge twist.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/08/11/historic-paintings-moved-to-controlled-campus-rooms-after-university-finds-them-harmful.html

In a nutshell, the article tells the tale about a college in Wisconsin that has been home to several paintings, 80 years old or older, that depict white fur traders / trappers (most likely French Canadian trappers) alongside a group of Native American Indians.

These paintings are indicative of a time in which the northern regions of this country, all along the Canadian border, were rife with white European fur traders, trapping, buying and selling furs as they encountered both hostile and hospitable Indian tribes who happened to call that area home.

It seems that a student diversity group has taken offense to the paintings…
paintings that have hung rather ambiguously on display at this college for many decades.
The issue being…
that the paintings show the Native American Indians in a subservient role to the white trappers.

“The controversy over the artwork began when the school’s Diversity Leadership Team complained the paintings were offensive to Native American students and promoted acts of “domination and oppression.”

They have demanded that the paintings be removed.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??????!!!!!!

The College President, doing the dance of all things politically correct thinks he’s struck
a win / win by removing the pictures from public view, moving them to a private office
while noting that anyone wishing to see the paintings, may make an appointment.

Again, Are You Freaking Kidding Me????!!!!

How would one know to make an appointment if one did not know the paintings existed in the first place?

Hence why we hang art….
to share with the public.

I would think a public institution can and should hang its art publicly for the tax paying public to enjoy…..

Sigh…

This is about the most asinine thing I thing I think I’ve finally read, heard and seen in this on-going madness of our overtly PC now loving world.

We have birthed a nation of now the thinnest skinned people on the planet.

Our Millennials and Generation X kids need to learn to suck it up.

Just as we, the older generations, need to do the same by putting our collective feet down to say—
“hold up there…
You wait just one minute now before you have a temper tantrum over things you consider
to be poor taste…
as that’s not poor taste…
that is simply put, history…

As in…
that was then,
that’s how it was…

Like it or not.

You need to get over it…
Take it for what it was…
Learn from it…
And see it for what it was…
NOT for what it is through your current lenses of today…

As in…
That’s what and how it was in that particular time and place…
Let’s look rather at how far we’ve come!…
How far we’ve come to today,
THIS time and place….
Rejoice that we have come this far…
So far that we now have the descendants of those “subservient Native American’s”
currently enrolled in school, right alongside you!…”

History, our history as a people, is as fabulous as it is sinister.
There is both good and bad.
And that is that.

And just because we have what some wish to consider to be a most open minded society…
one that is all about all things tolerant…
on the flip side of that overt tolerance is the fact that we can’t seem to tolerate our less then stellar moments of the past.

How’s that for your 21st century ying and yang?

If you want to get mad about how Native American Indians have been treated as a whole by this great Nation of ours, you may just want to read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.
That 1970 published tale that explores the systematic decline of Native Americans at the hands of a growing nation comprised of white European settlers alongside their black African slaves…

As it actually starts with the germ warfare introduced by Christopher Columbus and company…

But oh, forgive me, let me be correct…. Christopher Columbus is his anglicized name,
since he was Italian we should us his Italian name, Cristoforo Colombo…
but since he sailed under the Spanish flag, then maybe we should use his Spanish pronunciation
as we do wish to be oh so correct….Cristóbal Colón

See how stupid this can all become….???

And we just keep letting it get more and more stupid by the minute.

Rather than turn from our history, those parts that can make our modern learned skin crawl,
or turn our history into some watered down bland and benign mush,
we need to see it for what it is, what it was—a time of then..
not a time of now.

I’ve said this before, our 21st century lenses cannot wipe away those events,
those times and moments that would not and could not happen today
because we now consider ourselves too smart,
too educated,
too tolerant to have ever allowed such to take place….

We cannot ignore what happened,
what was wrong,
what should not have been…
For we cannot strike it from our past by ignoring it,
hiding it,
removing it,
pretending that it has nothing to do with us…
because that’s exactly what it was…
It was us!

That was us then…
it is not us now….

We cannot hide what we were.
Because what we were, has made us who were are today..
And we have learned to be better by our grievous mistakes and injustices.

We learn by our past.
If you sterilize your past,
white wash it,
sugar coat it,
distance yourself so far from it—
you are opening a vacuum for repetition.
Mark my words…

So, back to the painting of St Christopher ….
Or should we say, Ágios Christóforos which is the Greek wording…
as debates rage at to where St Christopher, or Christ Bearer as Christopher means in Latin,
was born–some say it was Canaan, but he is first mentioned as being in Greece and assumed Grecian…
but some say he was originally known as Reprobus…
He was martyred by either one of the Roman Emperors Decius or Maximus II Dacian…
And he may actually be the martyred Egyptian Saint Menas…
…confused yet?

The story of whoever Christopher may or may not have been is not the important issue…
The important component is that he had an encounter with Christ and from that moment,
he was never the same…
just as others who encounter Christ are never the same…
It was from that encounter that he then traveled to minister those who were being martyred
for their faith—bringing encouragement and comfort…
as he too would be eventually martyred…

And so we have history–
martyrs of faith then
and
martyrs of faith now…
History we can’t seem to easily erase away

History on a continum…
both good and bad…
and the question is, are we learning…

still

“I Was In Great Need of a Pilgrimage,
So I Sat Still for Three Days.
And the Creator Came To Me.”

Kabir of India

DSCN4153
( a zoomed up shot of a ruby throated hummingbird in need of a little rest / Julie Cook / 2016

About two or so weeks ago, I did something to my back.
I don’t remember exactly where or when or even what…
yet I do know it was about two weeks ago when it started bothering me.

At first I figured, it would go away.
Pop a few Motrin, rub some of that Australian Dream cream on it, a little Tiger balm…
I’d smell to high heaven, but I’d be good to go.

Well none of that helped.

Time for the heating pad….

I was uncomfortable sleeping, sitting, riding, driving, moving…
however standing helped a little.
That was then…standing is now in the negative column.

It’s only been in the lower left flank area.
So I ruled out muscular while considering things a bit more ominous.

As I’ve had issues with osteo-arthritis and issues with a bad disk in my neck.
I quickly chalked it up to that…
More motrin…

It’s ebbed and flowed.
It’d ease off and I’d think, “yay, today is the day it doesn’t hurt,”
then I’d get up, stand or move…
back to tiger balm and a heating pad….

I began to ponder kidney stones, although I’ve never suffered with such.
But it didn’t seem to be my back really, more left flank at the hip area.
Maybe it’s scar tissue from an almost 25 year old hysterectomy….
More motrin.

In the middle of the night last night, when I got up to head to the bathroom…
of which seems to plague both babies and us older people…
I discovered that my husband had left that proverbial lid up—
after 34 years of marriage, you’d think he’d have had that whole up and down business figured out….
while I was trying to lower the lid, making certain I did not go for an in the dark dunking, something torqued… and not in a good way.

After lying in pain for the next 4 hours,
I finally decided to call the doctor’s office when they opened at 9AM

“She’s had a cancelation, can you be here by 10:45?” the receptionist asks.

I was there at 10:30.

I got called back at noon.

This is why I don’t call the doctor for appointments.

While I was sitting in the exam room, grimacing and waiting…
I spied a calendar pinned to the wall.
It was a normal calendar, not some sterile medical job…
The picture was a colorful painting of some comical chickens with the quote:

“I Was In Great Need of a Pilgrimage,
So I Sat Still for Three Days.
And the Creator Came To Me.”

Kabir of India

Hummmm….

How novel…
that the idea of needing a pilgrimage would / could in turn necessitate the thought of merely sitting.

Who knew?!

I managed an automatic smile, even in my state of pain filled delirium, at the marvelous simplicity.

Who among us, in this western hurry up and go culture of ours, thinks that
a retreat, a pilgrimage or a spiritual journey is all about simply sitting??

We’d all be busy immediately looking into travel plans…
Looking, googling, researching and booking on trivago, travelocity, kayak…
we’d scour social media in search of that most magical and marvelous place…
only the best and most spiritual of places to go…
Cause isn’t that what a pilgrimage is all about, going someplace?
As in seeking out peace, enlightenment and /or nirvana….???

Yet there in plain site, in that little cold waiting room, was the answer
to our culture’s constant questing for all things greater than ourselves…

A marvelous revelation sitting on that comical little chicken calendar…

“Be still and know that I am God”

RSCN4120

RSCN4157

Beware the gators

“Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion”
Egyptian Proverb

Z-nmg4ohtaPTJzNtpVn_ABo5G7GItu8y
(image borrowed from web of a gator crossing an interstate near Naples, FL)

Maybe you’ve heard about them…
or
maybe you haven’t…

Interstate alligators…

And no, I’m not talking about actual alligators crossing the road as in the image above…
Rather I’m talking about something that is equally as dangerous and equally as deadly…
The only caveat is that it’s just not a living creature.

So now that your interest is piqued and you understand that we are not discussing reptiles…
I will explain what exactly an interstate alligator is all about.

An interstate alligator is the dubious moniker for the remnants of the shredded tires from tractor trailer trucks.

shredded_tire_roadside

More times than not, those big rigs, which are driving on very worn tires, will lose the most worn tires off their rigs to the rigors of constant wear and tear…all while driving on car infested roadways.
As they race up and down the highways, freeways and interstates across this grand country of ours, these worn steel belted tires will basically begin to disintegrate and shred while the truck is clocking 70 to 80 mph.

semi-tire-blowout
(image courtesy Real Truck Driver Blog)

Add to that the heat of summer, as the pavement reaches deadly hot temperatures…
With worn tires riding along an inferno of cement and asphalt, we’ve all got troubles!

Imagine huge chunks of tire being slung off a spinning rim, most often unbeknownst to the driver, as the driver isn’t about to be slowing down or moving over to the far right lane in order to exit or move to the emergency lane in order to stop…

Next imagine being the cars behind and beside these big truck as the tire is shredding.

Needless to say there have been many a damaged vehicle as there have been many a fatality as a result of these shredding tires.

The alligator part comes into play when the remnants of these tires are left where they fly then fall—that being the middle of lanes, along the shoulder of the road…just anywhere they finally lose the momentum of flight—as they now lay in wait, lurking and waiting for those poor unsuspecting drivers who are on top of them before being able to slow down or swerve safely out of the way while attempting not to ram into a fellow driver…

Today’s journey to Atlanta, on its infamous perimeter, was like navigating a backwater bayou at full speed while trying to dodge and miss a plethora of both big and small gators all before it being too late before an impending collision.

Cars were slamming on their brakes, erratically changing lanes, hoping the cars beside and behind could get stopped in time.

Holding on for dear life as I made my way through the cement minefield,
I smelled it before I saw it as the air was rife with the acrid smell of burning rubber.
Dodging debris big and small, I soon road past the culprit. A big rig’s second to the back tire was disintegrating faster than he could move over and slow down.
Tire was slinging left and right as cars did their darnedest to dodge the deadly shrapnel.

As I miraculously made my way past the truck and the sea of tire parts without being hit, without running over anything and without being hit by my fellow dodging drivers, I was struck (not literally thank God) by the sheer magnitude of how things can change in one’s life from good to disastrous in literally the blink of an eye.
A ‘now you don’t see it, yet now you suddenly do’ sort of life’s scenario..

Yet we don’t much like thinking of life in that regard.

We don’t like to dwell on the possible and potential negatives of life…
those ‘could be’s’ or those ‘what if’s’ in life…
but what of the sudden and sheer catastrophic…??

We don’t want to live life constantly fretting and worrying.

Yet we do need to always be ready…
Ready for those very instantaneous what if’s.

As in…what if I’m taken out by this interstate monster right here, right now—am I ready for that?
Am I ready if my life is snuffed out just like that?

There’s no time to think,
No time to suddenly and quickly introduce yourself to a God you’ve just kind of always kept in the back of your head…
Kind of like a Santa Claus—
calling on Him in a pinch or when you really need or want something….

This isn’t like the “oh please God don’t let me get caught by that red light again” sort of thing…
Rather this is…there’s a big black chunk of rubber and steal, that’s just come up out of nowhere, hurdling through both time and space with lightning speed right for your windshield and face sort of thing, leaving you nowhere to turn, nowhere to run, leaving you nowhere to duck and cover….

Your relationship with God cannot wait.
It’s that dire, that urgent.

Not because you need to be saved from flying projectiles or hungry debris alligators who are lurking and waiting for when you lest expect it…but because time will not always afford you the luxury of waiting, pondering and deciding, if you want your soul to be lost or to be found…

There is true comfort in knowing that no matter what happens in this life…no matter the dangerous and deadly perils that await us…the catastrophes, the accidents, the random horrible things …
that in and through it all…God is yours and you are His…forever and ever…Amen!!

May you travel in safety my friends…

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9