doves, hawks and the passage of time…

I guess my biggest failure was not getting re-elected.
And I learned two things; one is that you ought not to ever let
American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them.
I did the best I could, but I failed.

Jimmy Carter


(Prime Minister Chamberlain, upon his return to England on September 30, 1938,
holding the Munich agreement bearing his own and Adolf Hitler’s signatures.)

Are we the same world we were 82 years ago?

Obviously not.

Is that a bad thing?

Not at all.

Did we learn anything from Neville Chamberlain’s pipedream of brokering peace with Hitler?
When voices, such as Winston Churchill, were those proverbial lone voices in the desert,
calling out and proclaiming the actual truth.
The world chose to ignore such truthful warnings…and the results were disastrous.

Neville Chamberlain was what some would call a dove—a person who would rather
negotiate or bargain before ever considering conflict or war.

Churchill is what some would call a hawk.
They thought him to be a rable-rouser and one to beat the drums of war.

Yet perhaps most preferred wearing the rose-colored glasses of the doves.
We wanted to ignore trouble.
We wanted to think others thought like us.
We wanted to believe that the words of other people mirrored our own.

Yet in the end, we learned the hard way.

What of 1979?

Are we the same America we were 41 years ago?

No.

But is that a bad thing you ask?

In many ways, I think that perhaps it is.

In 1976 we celebrated our bicentennial.
American pride and patriotism were both at their highest since WWII.

We had come out from under the heaviness of the Civil Rights movement as well
as the angst produced by the Vietnam war.
The Summer of Love had come and gone and people seemed to
be regaining their senses.

I was soon headed off to college.

I was a news junkie even back then, so that hasn’t changed.
My dad and his older brother were both news junkies up to the day they each died.
My memories of my grandfather, their father, is of his constantly reading the newspaper–
even when the family was gathered for weekend retreats at the family farm in North Georgia.

Current events, world happenings, foreign policy…have always been in my blood.


(political cartoon from 1979)

The above political cartoon, which is rather crass, is one I actually had in a
scrape book saved from college.
It was a current event of the times.
I also have several news articles and political photos in that scrape book…
Images of Menachem Begin, President Carter and Anwar Sadat all locking arms following
the longed awaited peace accord, as well as articles regarding the later assassination
of President Sadat.

I had deeply admired Sadat—

I had known how he had cut his teeth as a young Muslim soldier,
having been on an opposing side of the Allies during WWII.
Later he was a chief military leader bent on fighting Israel.
As the ranking Egyptian general turned President, he called for
the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

None of that should be things that would ever endear such a world leader
to the likes of someone like me but it was because of
those very things that mixed with the actions of his later life that
would indeed leave a lasting impression upon me.

He began what appeared to be odd strides to reach out to Christians—
both Evangelical and Catholic.
He had a vision and seemed to know what he had to do to make it work.

When he had come to visit the US in late 1975, he personally asked Billy Graham to come
meet with him. Later he reached out to the Vatican, inviting Pope Paul VI to visit Egypt.
He seemed to understand the importance of having Christian support when considering
making peace with Israel.

And it was that vision and desire for peace that eventually got him killed.

Back then in those late years of the ’70s, even my art produced in my classes focused on
what was happening in the Middle East.
It seems that way back then, I knew the importance of the West’s relationship
with the Middle East.

Being a history major for more than half of my college life,
I was more than aware of the importance of the Middle East dating back to the time
of the Crusades and as a Christian…well we all know about that link.

Last week, I wrote a post where I recalled the Iran Embassy Hostage Crisis.
It cost Jimmy Carter his re-election.

Iran seems to remain a thorn in our side.

Recently we’ve been witness to a rising crescendo, in oh so many months, from Iran—
They have been personally responsible for a multitude of US military deaths.
They have been very vocal in the rankling of anti-US rhetoric—
And now we have the recent attack by Iran on an embassy that was actually sitting in a
neighboring nation.
We have a precarious and deeply troubling relationship with what was once
considered the land of Persia.

And so I found it most interesting that just the other day, our friend the Wee Flea,
made an interesting prediction on his blog regarding the US and Iran…

Quantum 75 – Predictions for 2020

In the past, David’s Quantum 75 predictions have been pretty much on the money…
I somehow fear this one will also come to fruition.

In the link that David provides to the BBC article regarding US / Iranian relations,
I found the following quote telling given that it was offered days before the bomb strike
killing the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani—

President Trump has threatened Iran after blaming it for Tuesday’s attack,
in which no US personnel were injured. Mr. Trump tweeted that Iran “will pay a very big price”
for any damage or loss of life. “This is not a warning, it is a threat,” he said.
But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded by saying the US “can’t do a damn thing”.
Anti-American sentiment was widespread in Iraq, he added.

The President later offered the following tweet after the storming of our
Embassy in Iraq by Iranian interlopers:

Replying to @realDonaldTrump
….Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost,
or damage incurred, at any of our facilities.
They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.
Happy New Year!

It appears the President kept good on his word.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50966958

The previous President and his administration paid what was, in essence, a ransom–
millions of dollars paid in cash money–primarily under wraps and done quickly.
It was an ill attempt at brokering, or more accurately buying, what was thought
to be peace.

And so we saw, and have now lived with the aftermath, of how futile that all was.

Thus we now have a President who has repeated his warnings.

He first opted for the usual route.

He applied sanctions.
He reached out.
He stated what would be acceptable and what would not.

Then there was an Embassy attack.

It was noted that one of the individuals pictured in the crowd of attackers
had actually visited the White House as a guest of the previous president, Barak Obama.

Since there was very credible intelligence gleaned for future attacks,
President Trump acted…turning his words into actions.
No more payments, no more appeasement.

It was now known that America will no longer play games at the cost of American lives…
despite many now arguing to the contrary.
They have on the rose-colored glasses.

Be you a dove or be you a hawk, you have a president who makes good on his promises.
He puts American interests first and foremost and he also understands that appeasement
does not work.
But that doesn’t mean things will be any less precarious or any less perilous.
For there will always be nations who will hate our ideologies.
Nations who will hate who we are.
Nations who hate what it is that we stand for

And the sad thing, or rather make that the frightening thing, is
that there are now many within our own nation who now join the hatred.

As Abraham Lincoln reminds us, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

And so our prayers continue for the coming days, weeks, months and years.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors
you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Genesis 12:2-3

“the ocean of God’s infinite vision”

“Consider God’s charity.
Where else have we ever seen someone who has been offended voluntarily paying out
his life for those who have offended him?”

St. Catherine of Siena


(A pack of plentiful piping plovers /Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook /2019)

In every contemplation, this double movement occurs:
the longing for God is fulfilled and at the same time enlarged to more consuming longing.
Any word of the Lord is sufficient to kindle in us this fire.
And this fire is the form in which human contemplation hands itself over to the Lord’s contemplation;
the small vision pours itself out into the ocean of God’s infinite vision.

Adrienne von Speyr
from Water and Spirit

seek, vision, trust

“He who seeks not the Cross of Christ seeks not the glory of Christ.”
St. John of the Cross


(zebra swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2019)

“We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business.
He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it.
We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as
he does unless the remedy were necessary, and we must rely on his skill.
Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way!
It looks as if we do not trust His wisdom and are afraid He cannot do His job properly.
We allow ourselves to be operated on by a man who may easily make a mistake—–
a mistake which may cost us our life—–
and protest when God sets to work on us.
If we could see all He sees we would unhesitatingly wish all He wishes.”

Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, p. 90
An Excerpt From
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

the royal Mayor is in residence

“A King will have his way in his own hall, be it folly or wisdom.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

(the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

I suppose we should raise the royal standard announcing to all the local constituents
that their Mayor, her royal highness, is now in residence in the
satellite office of Woobooville…

However, since the constituents consist of her grandfather, her grandmother and the two cats…
one of whom is not happy at all to see her, I think the standard shall remain unfurled.

The Mayor, however, did set about business immediately by meeting with a disgruntled neighbor.
It seems this “neighbor” is very opposed to one of the cats sitting on the front porch and
made a very vocal opposition of such—all the while the Mayor listened to the complaints
very intently and naturally full of curiosity and compassion…


(the mockingbird mere feet from the Mayor complaining about the proxiemity of the 13 year old car/
Julie Cook / 2019)


(the Mayor listening to the mockingbird’s complaints / Julie Cook / 2019)

And then there was the important task of watering—of which the Mayor takes very seriously…
that was until a wasp was unpleased and let the Mayor know in a most painful manner.

The Mayor’s first bee sting.

A slight hiccup to duty, but after about a 10-minute meltdown, and some chief aide’s offering of TLC,
it was business as usual.


(the Mayor before the wasp found her / Julie Cook / 2019)

Now the Mayor is in the midst of a transition—that would be a transition of hairstyles.

As her hair is now growing out and covering her eyes,
there is the matter of how to best remove it from said vision.

For the time being she is opting for a throw-back of the 60’s headband…hoping to bring back
an old stylish trend.

Stay tuned for the latest headlines from this field reporter regarding the Mayor’s official
visit to the satellite office of Woobooville…

Wees, Fleas and Viruses

Freedom is the most contagious virus known to man.
Hubert H. Humphrey


(David Roberston’s Wee Flea)

Well, our wee one has been quite sickly this past week with a nasty virus.
Yet the doctors have requested some tests run…so…we shall see.
With that said, know that I am back up in Atlanta on “moppie” duty.

And since I’ve not had time to create a new offering for today…
I’m going to share what I read two days back on the blog our friend the Wee Flea.

I found his words a great reflection on one of the latest idiocies racing around
these United States.
And as there are perhaps too many circuses running around this great land of ours…
perhaps it takes the vision of a Scotsman, one who sees things for what they truly are,
to open our eyes to our own pitiful state of affairs…and as he so pointedly reminds us
that in the end…it is only one thing we all need…the need we each have for the
one true Savior…

Enjoy the link below based on a tale of
Sermons, weddings, and funerals…

A Tale of Two Sermons – The Wedding One and the Funeral One

the wisdom of Francesco

“Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it
under foot and deny it.
Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it,
for in those days JESUS CHRIST WILL SEND THEM NOT A TRUE PASTOR,
BUT A DESTROYER.”

Saint Francis to his followers upon his deathbed


(art work by Julie Cook / 2011)

I was offered a link yesterday to a rather obscure little book…
Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis Of Assisi
which was published in London in 1882 by R. Washbourne

Long out of print, digital copies are the best way if one actually wants
to read the book.

The book is basically a collection of the writings and words offered by
Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226).
It is a collection of wisdom that was more or less written and spoken to those of
Francis’ order, the Franciscans, as well as to the sisters of The Poor Clares–
an order of likeminded women founded by Francis’ longtime friend Clare of Assisi.
They were more or less the female version of the Franciscans.

Toward the end of the book, there is a recounting of when Francis was on his deathbed.
Francis had called the Brother Minors
(those men who followed Francis and the Franciscan Order) to his side.

Francis had lived long enough to actually witness the splintering of his
own order as it spiraled out and away from the original intent of which Francis
had envisioned when he founded the order…

And so he spoke to his brothers with a Divine sense of what we today would call
speaking with a spirit of prophecy…
he was foretelling a time of great crisis in the Chruch.

During Francis’ lifetime, the Chruch was the Catholic Chruch,
but today, when I hear the word Chruch, I actually consider that to be the entire
the Chruch of the collective Christian community, the bride of Christ, the universal Chruch.

I also believe Francis’ words transcend that of both space and time as they
speak deeply to us today…

Those who preserve in their fervor and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth,
will suffer injuries and, persecutions as rebels and schismatics;
for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits,
will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men
from the face of the earth.

But the Lord will be the refuge of the afflicted,
and will save all who trust in Him.

And in order to be like their Head,[Christ] these, the elect,
will act with confidence, and by their death will purchase for themselves eternal life;
choosing to obey God rather than man, they will fear nothing,
and they will prefer to perish rather than consent to falsehood and perfidy.

the precarious balance of life

Regardless of the outcome,
God can bring about eternal good from every trial.

In a hundred years, the eternal good that comes from our trial will be the
only thing that matters.
Bill Sweeney
Unshakeable Hope


(the gardinas are in bloom / Julie Cook / 2018)

I have to confess that I am about to have a broken heart.

Not a literal broken heart mind you but rather more figuratively…
yet broken none the less.

For as much as I know that God’s word has always taught me that I am not to worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will take care of itself…I can’t help but think about tomorrow…or truthfully
it’s the day after tomorrow I’m thinking about.

Those of you who know me know that my daughter-n-law and new young granddaughter came to stay
with us almost two months ago when our daughter-n-law had to go back to finish out the school year following her maternity leave.

Someone had to care for the baby…
My hand went up.

Since they actually live in Atlanta, while the school where our daughter-n-law teaches
is in our area which is a good hour or so away from their home—with a new baby,
commuting was out of the question.

And as our course of prayer has been that she can find a school and school system closer to their
world rather than our world–we learned late yesterday afternoon that that prayer has
actually been fulfilled.

She has been offered a wonderful position at a private Catholic school in Atlanta.
Our son has finally gotten a good job with a large Atlanta based company so moving, again,
was simply not an option….nor was living life in two different places.

So for these nearly two months, I’ve been chief cook and bottle washer…literally.
Throw in diaper changer, entertainer, errand runner and grandmother…the list goes on.
And whereas my body reminds me daily why God intended younger folks to have babies versus us
older folks, I have been dutiful to my labor of love.

Starting late last week, as the thoughts of their departure came looming to the forefront of
my senses and as I’d feel the hot tears bubbling upwards, I’d push it all back down..trying
not to think about it while just living in the moment of now.

And that’s the thing, I’ve never been good about living in the moment
as I’ve always been one to fret about tomorrow.

I know in my head what is the best and the right thing…and that is for mom, dad, and baby
to be all together, as they should be under one roof, as this has been a difficult time for my son.
He misses them terribly.

And with a baby…missing those little day to day changes and milestones is to any new parent,
gut-wrenching.

They have been together on weekends, as time has afforded…but the weeks have been long for
all of them…especially Alice, their black lab.

And so yes, I will be sad.

Very very sad.

All of which I will address later… because today, I don’t want to talk about it…
because, tears remember, are bubbling upward all the while as I’m being mindful that enjoying
the moment is the true importance rather than dreading the future.

So it was with this all in mind and on heart that I happened upon a most timely post
from my friend Tricia over on Truth Through Empowerment
(https://freedomthroughempowerment.wordpress.com)

Tricia was actually sharing the post from another blogger.
A post from a fellow named Bill Sweeney over on Unshakable Hope.

Bill has ALS…a disease that he has lived with now since 1996.
Of which is pretty amazing if you know anything about ALS.
To most folks diagnosed with such, it is an immediate sort of torturous death sentence.

At the time of diagnosis, Bill was given only 2 to 5 years to live.
Bill lost all movement and speech shortly following his diagnosis but he has pressed
forward since.

Bill is also an ardent Christian.

Bill could have chosen to rile at an unseen God in rage…living his remaining life in
constant anger and resentment…
rather Bill has chosen to live this life he has been given by looking through the lens
of a great and powerful God.

It was something Bill wrote yesterday in his post “Unshakable Hope” that really hit a chord
in me…

“Regardless of the outcome,
God can bring about eternal good from every trial.

In a hundred years, the eternal good that comes from our trial will be the
only thing that matters.”

The eternal Good…

And so obviously, I get that my broken heart pales in comparison to the struggles Bill
and others face on a daily basis while living with debilitating illnesses or uncurable
disease—not to mention the trials faced by the loved ones and caregivers who work to support,
love and provide for those with such overwhelming circumstances.

Yet that’s the thing…
we all have our trials…be they physical, emotional, mental, spiritual…
and those trials will ebb and flow throughout our lives…
And during the course of a life, those trials will vary in intensity and severity.

But the key will always be found in our ability to look at said trials as events
far greater than ourselves.

We, humans, tend to be narrow in our scope of vision…
with that vision being through the lens of self.

Selfish, egotistically, self-indulgent, self-wallowing, self-pity…the me-first mentality that
life and the world pretty much evolves around us and us alone.

Much how my 3-month-old granddaughter thinks and feels…it’s all about needs, wants and comfort…
but at 58, such thoughts are not as cute, attractive nor inviting but are rather toxic.

So it’s always good to be reminded that life is bigger than ourselves.
It’s also good to be reminded that God is so much bigger than we are…
and that life is an extension of His greatness.

And that the eternal good from the trials we currently experience will bear
needed fruit long after we are gone…and that’s what truly matters…

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may
be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Please read Bill’s offering:

https://unshakablehope.com

the waiting found in unction

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’…
I am grateful that Jesus cried out those words, because it means that I need never fear to
cry them out myself.
I need never fear, nor feel any sense of guilt, during the inevitable moments of forsakenness.
They come to us all.
They are part of the soul’s growth.”

Madeleine L’Engle

dscn1087
((Killarney National Park / County Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

Sometimes it’s difficult seeing that which waits ahead…
or that which is just beyond our focus…

For the roadblocks, pitfalls, snarls and snares that seem to be directly blocking our path…
loom ever so large impeding our field of vision…
they are so demanding and are so draining that we lose sight of what will be
further down the road, beyond where we are now….

They vie for our full attention making us temporarily blind to everything and anything else.
Life is lived as if in a dark tunnel with only a tiny snippet of light which seems
so terribly far away.

Maybe it’s the heavy baggage from the past…
that which seems to frustratingly and relentlessly hold us prisoner….
Tied as a dead weight… hanging stubbornly from our necks.

Or maybe it’s something else….

It was a long weekend…which is now giving way to what will most likely be a long week,
for and with Dad….for me…for us all….

I go daily because he asks me to come.
Yet on the rare day that I stay behind in order to pick up my own life’s pieces,
my thoughts, worries, concerns are there…with him.

I stay later and later because he asks me why must I go so soon….
as if my sitting for hours on end by his bed should be so soon….

His wife no longer knows that she is his wife…
as dementia now erases that later part of her life.

Decisions, hard decisions, will soon be made.

I battle a long and often harrowing drive to and from…
Sitting and waiting…watching… Dad…
as all he can do is to lay there and wait.

Weakly and barely audible, I hear an odd question…
“Do people think I’m nice?”
Where did that come from I wonder….
“Of course people think you’re nice Dad, why wouldn’t they?”
“I don’t know”…as his words trail off as the heavy lids fight to stay open…

Yep, it’s going to be long…as it continues being hard…as it only seems to grow harder and more difficult with each passing day…

The priest came Sunday to anoint Dad and to pray the prayer of extreme unction…

And so now,
in the mystery of that prayer of transition,
we find ourselves now resting and waiting….
As Dad and God work things out….

“As you are outwardly anointed with this holy oil,
so may our heavenly Father grant you the inward anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Of his great mercy, may he forgive you your sins, release you from suffering,
and restore you to wholeness and strength.
May he deliver you from all evil, preserve you in all goodness,
and bring you to everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

layers

“Wherever you come near the human race
there’s layers and layers of nonsense.”

Thornton Wilder

DSCN3520 (1)
(cliff wall at Little River Canyon State Park / Alabama / Julie Cook / 2015)

Upon first glance the casual observer is greeted by an unassuming rock cliff,
gently embraced by summer’s lush growth…
The rich sensuous greens of life enveloping the hard unmoving foundation of a planet.

But upon closer inspection one is met with the…
complexity of striation,
the melding of coloration,
the confusion of abstraction
and the frustration of complication.

DSCN3520

And then after scrutinizing what was initially the obvious,
which has now emerged into something more along the lines of the miraculous…
we see the wonderment of the unique individual fingerprints of an Omnipotent Creator…

And yet sadly…
some observers simply continue to see a bunch of rocks…..

DSCN3521

“I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God I will gird you, though you have not known Me; That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other…
Isaiah 45:5-6

lost between the lines

DSCN0711
(leaded bullseye glass, Cobh, Co Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

My glasses broke.
In more places than one….
They are unrepairable and I am in desperate need of being able to see…clearly.

I did however finally manage to find time for an appointment,
which has come none too soon as
I have considered resorting to adding some super glue and or a little duct tape…
My husband, the jeweler who fixes all types of glasses all the time,
has flatly observed that mine are beyond his help…

In about a week I should have a new pair…
A new pair that will not be hanging on by a prayer.
A pair that will free me from tilting my head and listing dangerously too far to the right…
Plus I’m hoping that everything will be much more clear and focused….

If seeing clearly was only so simple for this world of ours…

If this misguided, skewed, and oh so lost world in which we live…
could simply slap on a pair of super corrected glasses…
then maybe, just maybe, things would come into focus…
And that which has become grey, fuzzy and blurred beyond recognition, would be readily and easily discerned.

Instead we are living in a world, a society and a culture that is confused…
As it knows not as to whether it is coming or going…
for we use to know…
right from wrong…
good from bad…
boys from girls…
girls from boys…
light from dark…
up from down…
too much from too little
respect from disrespect
moderate from extreme
kindness from hate
Hope from despair
Truth from lies
God’s word from no word…

for in this blurry, fuzzy, lack of clarity world…
the word of God has been lost between the lines….

“‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
Leviticus 26:40-42