Sacred

Love is a sacred reserve of energy;
it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


(generations of sacred texts / Julie Cook / 2017)

What makes something sacred?

Something that is to be held in reverence,
passed from one generation to another?
What is it that makes something so dear, so esteemed, so important,
albeit within the confines of a family,
that it becomes a treasure and a life line linking one individual to another?

Deep and heavy thoughts as I slowly begin to purge, pack, relocate
sort, discard, save and add to my own niche of life those things that
were once others as I labors to merge them now as mine.

A frayed small ribbon peeks out from atop a long ago repaired cloth bound,
oh so frail, little black book.
The homemade cover tenderly stitched in order to preserve and protect someone’s
sacred treasure

A hymnal whose first page is now page 7.

As to whose hymnal, which denomination, how old…
Who knows…
But in the family, on someone’s side, it has obviously weathered.

Hymn 527 sounds very much like my beloved 345
A hymn that is as soothing as a beloved’s rhythmic cadence of breath.

“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” has been described as perhaps the most beautiful
of all the countless versions of the 23rd Psalm.

The Tune St. Columba is named for the Irish saint who
“carried the torch of Irish Christianity to Scotland”
(and who has the dubious distinction of being the first to report a sighting of
the Loch Ness monster, in 546).
The tune is one of the Irish melodies collected by George Petrie (1789-1866)
and given in Charles Villers Stanford’s
“Complete Collection of Irish Music as noted by George Petrie,” in 1902.
There it is said to have been sung at the dedication of a chapel in the county
of Londonderry.
The association of the tune with this text,
and also its harmonization, are from “The English Hymnal,” 1906.

Excerpt: “Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worhip”

In a time of grave uncertainties..
both personally and globally…
A time of unprecedented growing rage and division.
May we each rest in the knowledge that we remain bound always to the Sacred….

Please enjoy this beautiful video…

Tiny treasures

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.
Golda Meir

True life is lived when tiny changes occur.
Leo Tolstoy

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(a tiny Gray Hairstreak tiptoes on the sedum / Julie Cook / 2015)

In all truth, it is in the tiny, the small and the demure where we are to find real strength and value.
It is not to be found in the grand, the exquisite, the large or the garish for that is too easily recognized and assumed.

Contrary to popular thought, the tiny and small will never be lacking–for within those often hidden tiny treasures is a wealth of wonder and joy. . .

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(a tiny Gray Hairstreak tiptoes on the sedum / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(fiery skipper amongst the heather / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(a thread-waisted wasp visits the heather / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(fiery skipper amongst the heather / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(a most welcomed visitor to the heather, a honey bee / Julie Cook / 2015)

“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? “Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living. “The deep says, ‘It is not in me’; And the sea says, ‘It is not with me.”Pure gold cannot be given in exchange for it, Nor can silver be weighed as its price. “It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, In precious onyx, or sapphire. “Gold or glass cannot equal it, Nor can it be exchanged for articles of fine gold. “Coral and crystal are not to be mentioned; And the acquisition of wisdom is above that of pearls. “The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, Nor can it be valued in pure gold.
Job 28:12-19

Reminders and Remembrance

“There are moments when we have real fun because, just for the moment, we don’t think about things and then–we remember–and the remembering is worse than thinking of it all the time would have been.”
― L.M. Montgomery

“What you remember saves you.”
― W.S. Merwin

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(a collection of shells found at Orange Beach, Al / Julie Cook / 2015)

I have two small, rather faded and mostly brittle, sea shells riding
along on the console of my dash—actually along the outcropping for my car’s navigation screen.
The shells slide from one side to the other should I ever make a sudden turn or swerve.
They bother my husband.
He’s afraid they’re going to scratch the Nav’s screen.
They aren’t.
Every time he gets in my car to ride with me, he always asks the same question:
“Why do you have those shells up there?”
Followed by “They’re going to scratch the glass.”

I always answer the same. . .
“Those were two shells I found in the car when I was cleaning it out, after our long weekend trip back in September, to the beach.”
Which means they have been riding in my car now for 8 months.
Back and forth during the change of seasons, in the depths of winter’s chill. . .Halloween, Christmas, Easter—over to Atlanta, to the airport, to the mall, to the grocery store, to meetings, to the lawyer’s office, to the hospital, to the doctor’s office, to the dentist’s office, to the church, to a myriad of places to eat, to the beach again, to the home of friends, to wedding’s, to funerals, to parties, to Dad’s–
For miles and miles, and even more miles. . . those little shells have been my tiny passengers. . .

I put them on the dash as a reminder. . .

Reminding me of those more peaceful carefree moments spent simply basking in the wonderment of creation, as in my case, at the ocean’s shores.
Reminders of treasured moments when one affords oneself the luxury of enjoyment, contentment and release.
When one slows down long enough, stoping while bending over,
to pick up a small piece of Creation. . . marveling in or at something that is intriguing,
eye catching, simple, plain, pretty, interesting, unusual—pocketing the minuscule as a treasured keepsake. . .a wee reminder that nothingness, and yet everything,
can be treasured, special, sacred. . .

Reminders of a time when nothing pulled at, called upon, pressed down on, worried, frightened or troubled mind, body or soul.

It’s important that I can hold on to the reminders and the memories of such. . .

We all have similar little mementoes tucked away someplace. . .those tiny scrapes of paper, pretty little rocks, bits of glass, old buttons, frayed ribbons, tattered photos, long forgotten keys all the tiny tangible pieces of our peace, our happiness, our treasured moments of time savored and found in a long forgotten little pieces of this or that. . .

For me, many of those tiny treasures are natural items that I pick up along my journeys outward. . .
Walks along the beach, a trek into the woods, a hike in the mountains, the precarious forging of a creek or stream. . .bits and pieces, tangible particles, of the natural wonders. . .the tiny parts offered to the created by the Master Creator Himself. . .

I pocket them, holding on to them, putting them where I can see them. . .in order to recall, to remember, to reclaim, to hold on to. . .the fact that God has given me a tiny token of Himself and His wonderment, in order for me to carry, to actually touch, to feel and to hold. . .reminding me that He is greater than myself and my various little journeys to here and there—I am reminded of the one significant fact—that when life is overwhelming and I’m feeling as if I’ve reached a breaking point. . .I’m sweetly, gently reminded that He is bigger, greater, grander. . .while at the same time and most poignantly reminded that He can be both gently thoughtful and touching. . .simply reminding me always of His presence in my often frantic and manic world. . .

Woven, yet freaking me out just a bit

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
Chief Seattle

The only faith that wears well and holds its color in all weathers is that which is woven of conviction and set with the sharp mordant of experience.

James Russell Lowell

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(image taken last April while out in the yard / Julie Cook / 2013)

Okay, I’ve written about this before.
Simple fact number 1—
I can’t stand spiders.

Yeah, I get it, you’re tying to tell me how beneficial they can be. . .they’re great out in the yard. . .they eat other bugs. . .yada, yada, yada. . .
You think good and I think black widows, brown recluse. . .you get the picture.

Lest I remind you that a couple of years ago, while at school, I was sitting at my desk in my office during my planning block— I turned around in my chair, reaching for something in the filing cabinet, suddenly sensing a bit of movement just out of the corner of my eye. .
Do you have any idea how large things can grow in a 51 year old school building which has dust bunnies as big as, well, real rabbits?!

Slowly and quite controlled, a couple of legs, yep, I said a couple,—long spindly legs, more like large antenna, come creeping out from the corner of the filing cabinet.
“OH DEAR GOD!!!” is the immediate scream in my head.

Very cautiously I ease myself up from my chair, leaning over as far as I dare, making certain I’m not seeing things.
“OH DEAR GOD AAAAGGGGGHHHHHH”

This time– the in my head scream is now quite audible.
I run out of the office, out into the empty hall.
I scan left, then right. . .
“S – P – I – D – E – R ”
The word haltingly spills from out of my mouth as I search in vain for a passerby. However, this is 2nd block, no one from the neighboring classrooms are on planning and no one is in the hall—just what an administrator dreams for. . . an empty hall— a panicked individual wants / needs people.

No matter.

I boldly open the door to the math teacher’s room across the hall, interrupting Algebra I (I never did understand the big deal about Algebra anyway, but my disdain for math is for another day), I calmly ask if I could please speak with the teacher out in the hall.
All 35 sets of eyes sense something serious was taking place as my eyes were as big a saucers, my teeth were clenched and I’m certain those on the front row could see the sweat beading on my forehead. . .

My friend and colleague steps out into the hall with me, closing the classroom door behind him. I’m sure he must have thought the worst considering my hands were shaking.
“s – p – i – d – e – r” barley lifts from my voice. By now I think I must be very pale as I think I may faint.

“What?!” my friend asks most concerned.
SPIDER” I now mange to pull the word out of my mouth.

Long story short, my friend, who I suddenly deemed mad and daft, proceeds to march into my office, grabbing the nearest ruler he can find.
“What are you doing?” I stammer, “Measuring it?!”
To my dismay, he gently coaxes the spider, web and all, out of the tight corner and proceeds to make his way outside to “save” it.
The spider is a wolf spider and is as big as a freaking golf ball!

“ARE YOU CRAZY?!” I scream.
“KILL IT!!!!”
By now, my former friend and colleague, has done his good deed by releasing, back into the wilds, a giant spider who I imagine was chomping at the bit to get back inside and back into his cubby spot in my office. . .

I tell you all of this as I am in a state of potentially freaking out as I type.

Breathe in, exhale, repeat. . .
Ok, here goes the real story. . .

A couple of months back, Michael, over on michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com, wrote a tale concerning his son as a little boy. Michael recalled how his son had found an abandoned bird’s nest out in a bush bringing it in to the house. He kept his prize find in his room. Long story short, as the nest warmed in the house, the eggs of hundreds of baby praying mantis sprung into action—all over his son’s room.
Michael’s moral to the story was to always spray anything such as a nest, etc, for insects, otherwise an unwelcome infestation could be, literally, hatching.

I’ve picked up nests for years, as well as feathers, the occasional animal bone, shaded deer antler, etc, during my escapades out in the woods. I use to keep these things in my classroom as they made for wonderful artistic subject matter. I never worried about bugs as they all looked perfectly fine to me and I had never had an incident. . .until. . .

I like to think I keep a rather clean house. Being pretty particular as to tidiness, order as well as cleanliness. Now let’s remember that I was out of town for a few days recently. I naturally cleaned the house quite thoroughly before departing on the trip, as I have this fear that if, let’s say, something, God forbid, were to happen while I’m away and I don’t, er, come back, and my house had been left a mess—- People would come into my house thinking, “Oh my gosh Julie was such a slob.”
No, I won’t have that.
If people have to come into my house, should something unfortunate transpire during a time away, then they may remark “my goodness, what an immaculate house Julie has, imagine that, she has two cats and it looks and smells amazing. . .” I digress.
You get the picture.

So the other evening, once we finally arrived home from our very long day of flying and driving, I immediately plopped down on the couch– having been too tired to unpack–I simply plunked down the bags as soon as we walked in the door.
Sitting down, basking in the fact that I was no longer in some sort of perpetual motion, I notice, at the far end of the couch just by the lamp on the table, what appeared to be about three tiny little gnats of sorts or perhaps it was merely a piece of fuzz suspended from the lamp shade.

Mental note, “check out that lamp and dust that table tomorrow.”
I get up, dragging myself down the hall to take a shower before hitting the hay, when I feel like I just walked into the strand of a cobweb. Ugh. “Is the dust that bad on the door jam” I wonder.
Another mental note to self–dust door jams tomorrow.

The following morning, as the sun rose and I was now prepared to unpack and re-clean an already clean house, I spy what I thought to have been the fuzz the night before.
Horrors!
It’s some sort of little web with some tiny baby spiders.
OH DEAR GOD!
Upon further investigation, that cobweb dust business in the hall was actually a web, the entire banister was sheeted with a fine mesh web with hundreds of baby spiders

AAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I am living the Twilight Zone—OH DEAR GOD!!!

This story could go on for days, but let’s wrap this up shall we because this is all creeping me out just reliving the nightmare. I saw that horrible B movie from the 60’s— you know the one—- the story of the giant spider that lived in a cave wrapping people up in a cocoon type web sucking out their blood. There are reasons why children should never see certain things and may it be known that a 1960’s B movie can , does leave lasting scars.

My we just say that I have since attacked the house– with the target area being where I first saw this initial massive spider nursery.
I’ve vacuumed, dusted, wiped everything down with poison, yes poision—the more the better—I might die from cancer due do the absorption of poison into my system as I’ve wiped down banisters, door jams, lamp shades, but by God, there will be no spiders within 100 miles.

In my sheer state of panic, my mind wandered to the question. . .
“Where in the heck did these things come from?
Is there some sort of giant spider mother living in my attic waiting to wrap me in a cocoon as I sleep, poised to suck out my blood?!”
—when it dawned on me. . .
The basket.
The basket under the antique secretary in the hallway.
What is in that freaking basket?!”

I get down on my hands and knees pulling out the basket. I note some more of that sheer webbing and a few more of the hundreds of the freaking spider babies.
Poison, quick, where’s the poison?!

The basket holds a few of my treasures from my adventures in the woods. The turkey, hawk and owl feathers, the shed antlers I’ve found, even a few intact skulls of a raccoon, an armadillo, and even a small deer complete with horns—my treasures from my time spent wandering in the woods. I always bring them home, leaving them outside for a few days checking for any sort of stow away creature. Perhaps the temperatures having been so cold, caused any and all life to lie dormant—just waiting for me to bring it in to the incubator, aka, my house.

Update: The basket, complete with woodland treasures, is currently sitting outside, sprayed down heavily with poison. The house is re-dusted, poisoned, vacuumed, re-dusted some more, re-poisoned and vacuumed again. I now sit nervously on the couch, eyes constantly scanning the horizon, as if I am on the ready for the hidden enemy, finger poised on the trigger, of poison that is—-I have declared WAR on spider babies and spider mothers, and spider fathers. . . arachnids, be warned!

Functional or Decorative or both. . .

It is the mission of art to remind man from time to time that he is human, and the time is ripe, just now, today, for such a reminder.
Ben Shahn

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(one of Michael’s beautiful wooden cheese/ cutting boards with a couple of my kumquats)

When I was in the classroom, early during each term I always had the same discussion with my kids by posing this question. . . “what makes art Art? What is it that constitutes “art” as being what we perceive and define Art to actually be? Was it merely something pretty to look at, something aesthetically pleasing, something worth a lot of money, etc? Which would eventually lead to the discussion of decorative verses functional—eye pleasing verses utilitarian.

The kids and I would then examine the Arts and Crafts Movement sorting out the relationship the Crafts industry has with the Art world and of the role “functional art” plays in the bigger picture known as the World of Art. And just so you know, in this retired art teacher’s humble opinion–it has everything to do with “Art”

So imagine my joy upon discovering that a fellow blogger friend, who I met not long ago, is a woodworker—meaning he creates beauty from pieces of wood—and his beautiful pieces are of a high functional practicality. His name is Michael Laico of Michael’s Woodcrafts
http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com

I have typically been more of a painter of sorts throughout my life as painting, drawing, even printmaking, have been more along the lines of my strengths. I have always admired and envied those who are the 3D artists among us—those who sculpt and form material such as clay, tubes and sheets of metals, as well as scrapes and pieces of wood, into not only visual but tactile treasures. Michael is of the aforementioned category.

I love finding such treasures, especially in time for the holidays as giving gifts, those which are made by hand, possess both beauty and functionality—which in turn are the best gifts to give as well as to receive. They are both personal and useful, which makes them some of the more treasured gifts as they may be passed down from one generation to the next and in turn develop into family heirlooms.

Michael has a great blog where he not only showcases his woodworking talents but his aptitude for photography as well as his strengths in the kitchen as he offers a wealth of tasty recipes. But it is his gift with a lathe that sparks my eye.

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From cutting boards, to cheese boards, to rolling pins, to ice-cream scoops to even birdhouses, Michael offers a wonderful selection of pieces each individually crafted into not only functional pieces of rich beautiful wood but into pieces that are truly aesthetically and tactilely pleasing.

Of course I had to order a few items as Christmas gifts, but let’s keep that as our little secret shall we as I don’t want anyone finding that out too early ..

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So as I focus this week on the things of which I am most thankful for, I add Michael and his talents, as well as his desire to share those talents with someone such as myself, to my list of gratitude..as well as for the other very dear folks I have met and now consider to be wonderful fiends via this world of blogging.
Grace and peace to you all. . .