altars

“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator
as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You.
Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.”

Augustine of Hippo

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(altar tomb in the Rock of Cashel, the Cathedral of St Patrick / Co Tipperary, Ireland/
Julie Cook / 2015)

A thick blanket of smoke hangs heavy in the air.
It’s not the result of burning effigies or burning communities
but rather from the woods of North Carolina and northern Georgia which are on fire…
and the winds have shifted…

The sinking grey smoke is a somber reminder that there is a dangerously severe drought…
and the parched land is now beyond thirsty…

Yet there is more to this current drought than simply a lack of rain…
for there is more that is dry than mere vegetation and brush…
And there is more to this endless thirst than a need for water….

Vehemence and anger are filling the air, accented by vile and profane sentiment.
As the mobs march toward the altars of self indulgence and guile.
Immaturity laced with ignorance stokes the fires of rage as the hate filled
smoke fills the nostrils of a nation.

Self absorption and egocentric worshipers have taken to the streets.
They have taken to their computers and to their phones…their current altars of choice.
All the while they shout vile rhetoric as they stomp their spoiled bored feet.

If you must…
Protest against atrocities,
demonstrate against hunger,
fight against killing…
but not because you’ve simply forgotten, or have never known, how to lose.

Young dismayed parents now publicly lament how are they to console their
confused children who cry in fear from the big bad what ifs of hysteria…
simply because democracy has been at work–once again…

Nay, answer with truth…
the truth that one person lost while another person won…
For that is how this game is played…one person wins while one person loses…

Yet ours is a culture currently obsessed with the win win…
because we’ve grown moralistically soft while deciding everyone should be a winner…
We cannot live with the sad notion of losing…
Never mind old adages of always trying again…

There are those who are falling at the altar of womanly feminism…
which is currently shored up by gender neutrality, resentment and anger.
Marching not for policy or real equality but rather for the notion that
the wrong sex was the victor…as the votes which were cast are ignored….

Tears are being shed not because freedom has been lost
or because lives have been lost,
nor because a nation has lost all hope…
No…
rather tears are flowing because an election was lost…

And now we no longer want to play…
Because reality is simply no longer considered fun.
While we have found ourselves kneeling before all the wrong altars…

Ours are the empty altars of hero worship and of self…
the altars of gadgetry, boredom, appeasement and ignorance.
Altars of fear, anger, hostility, emptiness and divisiveness…

For what or whom has become our idol, our god?
Who or what are those hungry deities which have left us empty, sad,
frustrated, angry and resentful…
as we turn upon one another in the feeding frenzy of resentment?

We have gathered before all the wrong altars for far too long…
These altars have left us shallow and empty while also full of loathing and contempt…
We continue to march without leadership and direction…
lost and wandering…all the while lashing out at those we assume to be our enemy…
never realizing that we are all actually one.
One people…one nation…

And all the while hidden deep within the suffocating smoke of our thirst
lies the only One true proven path in which we need march…

Yet we have decided it’s far easier to wander angrily in the parched darkness
while hiding behind the vitriol sputum which oozes forth from our mouths…
spewing out upon our fellow human beings…

As it seems we’d rather choose…
paranoia to Grace
greed to Offering
ignorane to Enlightenment
darkness to Light
death to Salvation
egregiousness to Gentleness
hate to Love…

May we all fall at the foot of the one true altar,
the cross of Resurrection, Salvation, Hope and Life.

The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son,
whom he gave to us and who was born for us,
should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross.
This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made,
but for our sins.

Francis of Assisi

the diversion of a feeding frenzy

“If our condition were truly happy,
we would not seek diversion from it in order to make ourselves happy”

Blaise Pascal

“The news media is in a feeding frenzy”
George Bush

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(the butterfly bushes are rife with those feeding / Julie Cook / 2016)

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Ok, so you thought you were going to see some images of ravenous sharks, wildly thrashing about,
tearing apart some poor fish…

Sorry, it’s not shark week.

However…
rest assured…
A feeding frenzy is indeed under way…
With both you and me front and center on the main menu.

For it is now open season on the average citizen.

We are currently under assault, you and me, by all the news media outlets, as well as all things political.
I hate to say it, but the season is open and in full swing until November.
And unfortunately it looks as if it won’t truly be over until most likely sometime after the
first of the new year…or so.
And depending on the results, it may never be over…

The thing is….
we are all currently dealing with our individual lives….

We don’t have time to spare for things other than our manic lives….
It is simply to the everyday nitty gritty of living that has us consummed.
Time is not ours to give away to those who are now chomping at the bit for pieces of it.

For me…it’s dad who has developed a gravely concerning malady…
that is proving troublesome to pinpoint, let alone resolve…
as a few grim scenarios are waiting in the wings.

I’m driving back and forth to this doctor and that, to this test and that, all the while reassuring Dad that he is a okay…despite the alarming physical symptoms.

Do I have the time or energy to be bothered every time I just want some quiet down time…???
Flipping on the telly, seeking some mindless light diversion, yearning for a little football,
yet instead I am met by the likes of every TV personality and new anchor bashing Trump, touting Hillary, telling me only one kind of life matters, yada yada yada…????!!!!

Do I want to see ad after ad about why I should vote this way or that—???
Ads both dark and ominous of what will happen if I vote this way or that????
Do I want to see ads filled with a whole lot of malarky and bull crap????
All the while finding myself sadly yearning for the days of those cheeky little toilet paper ads…

And it seems that I am not the only one needing a diversion from the feeding frenzy of this season.

The odd phenomena of the Pokemon craze has become a global obsession.
Even as poor dad frets and waits to see the latest doctor in a string of doctors,
look what my son spies sitting by his grandfather…sigh…

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And whereas I am actually gravely concerned over this current trend and need
by this ailing world of ours…
This ravenous desire of seeking such an obsessive diversion…
Wondering why we don’t or can’t actually see what our true need actually is…
What it is that we yearn for…
What it is that we ache for…

That being satiated by the balm of the Resurrected Christ…

Yet reluctantly I can understand the need of escape from all this misery,
mayhem and feeding frenzy that is currently besieging us…

For it is in this desperation that the masses now seek the diversion of a virtual game…
sigh….

So…
With that being said…
and that being that,
it’s time to put down the remote,
close the laptop,
turn off the freaking phone…
and head outside for a real life diversion…

One that is actually Heaven sent….

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Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Psalm 119:23-24

fruits and umbrage

“Whenever anyone has offended me,
I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.”

René Descartes

The Bible, that powerful book, has many effects:
it comforts, counsels, instructs, and brings us into the presence of God.
But trying to erase offense as one of its functions is a fundamentally misguided task.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

The first and most essential means of making peace with those who offend and
persecute us is to pray for them,
according to the commandment of Christ.

–Saint Leo of Optina

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(my first fig from my small tree / Julie Cook / 2016)

We are known by our fruits, just as we may know others by theirs…

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Matthew 7:16-20

Meaning…
It is to the goodness and the positive…those good deeds, exploits and actions we do for
which we will be remembered and recognized…

And yet sadly on the opposite side of all of this, many of us are actually recognized by the bad fruits and the negative things that we do.

As we are more likely to remember one bad offense while forgetting the 99 good—

All of which is human nature I suppose…

And as I have stood watching all of this election business of ours..
the good, the bad and the very ugly…
Just as I have watched this racial unrest or ours,
This polarization of ours,
This ever deepening and widening chasm of ours…
splitting this Nation of ours in half…
All with both amusement and alarm,
sorrow and bewilderment,
disdain and even wonder…
I am left to ponder as to the fruits that we are to recognize in our fellow man / woman
That of which we shall see and be drawn to and remember….

I’ve never seen anything like all of this growing spectacle of ours.
This debacle of democracy.
It’s grown into something so laughable and so ridiculous,
that I want to stop everything and just ask one simple question…
can we simply start all over??

As we are about to have to decide between the two people who are currently
seeking the highest office in our Nation…

One has proven herself to be a liar who…
has spent a lifetime covering up so very much…
conveniently forgotting so much…
all the while…
living with spilt blood on her hands…

The other one lacks tact, decorum, civility and often decency of thought and word…
all the while forgetting to shut his mouth lest he shoves both feet in for a snack.

And yet I am being chided into voting for the woman of this pair for the mere reason that I too am a woman…

As when Madeleine Albright so ridiculously and even threateningly stated that “there is a special place in hell for women who will not for vote for a woman…”
It was shades of Dante’s Inferno…
however her motives were not nearly as pure or just as our dear Dante…

Is that not just another way of saying vote white because you’re white,
vote male because you’re male,
vote black because you’re black,
vote latino because you’re latino….

As ludicrous as that all is–that is exactly how many out there are coaching fellow
voters to in turn vote….

And yes, I have taken grave umbrage with such…

Why?

Because I am a woman and I can vote…
that is in itself the very reason why I can vote for someone other than a woman…

And at this rate, Charlie Brown is looking pretty darn good….

We’ve definitely got a mess on our hands and there is, I’m fairly certain,
neither divide nor doubt about that from either party or side.

So here’s the thing…
We can either honor God and His covenant to us, His children.
We can either honor the Nation of Israel, the land of God’s chosen inheritance
We can either turn back around from our wicked, yes wicked, ways…

or…

We can continue down our path of destruction…

So what are we to do?
Who are we to vote for….????

We pray……..

The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me;
his word is on my tongue.
The God of Israel has spoken;
the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
ruling in the fear of God,
he dawns on them like the morning light,
like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.
“For does not my house stand so with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.
For will he not cause to prosper
all my help and my desire?

2 Samuel 23: 1-5

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should we go or should we stay….

“And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too.”
Elizabeth I

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(leftovers from the great wedding of two years ago / Julie Cook / 2014)

The votes have been cast and the people have spoken–much to the disbelief of many other people on this planet of ours…

BREXIT has become reality.

And why pray tell, is this yank daring to wade into the fray across the pond, in the land of over there, you may wonder…

Well, as I’ve stated to a few of my British comrades in arms…. that whereas it would appear that as an American I have no dog in the Brexit fight…it is for that very reason, that I am an American and my closet allies are those of the United Kingdom, that on the contrary, I think we all have a dog in the fight—
as do the other EU countries who are now set for divorce.

It is, however, not for me to ever state how I think those in GB should vote, just as I don’t enjoy being told who I should for for president. But as an outside observer, who is keen on this particular observation, as GB’s decisions do have an effect on this land of their first cousins….I have watched, read, waited and now marvel over the outcome.

The world powers-that-be have each waded deeply into the fray’s waters by telling the people of Great Britain how to vote.
With our President sadly leading the pack.
I apologize on his behalf…that an American president should tell the people of the United Kingdom how to vote on a very in-house sort of referendum…it’s not a very proper thing to do to be sure.

When I was a young new teacher, we had a long standing and powerful superintendent who was considered to be an entrenched member of the good ol boy system within our state’s educational, as well as political, systems.
He and I were not on the same sides of a political fence and I greatly resented each time an election would roll around and he’d make the rounds to each school, calling for a faculty meeting, just in order to tell “his” teachers how to vote…and that was to always cast a vote for his “friend.”

Now I could understand if there had been some sound educational reasons as to why we should be voting for his person of choice…
But for this superintendent, it was strictly a party vote of friends voting for friends—and I for one am not keen to vote for someone just because they are in cahoots with the boss…
especially when I don’t think them worthy of my vote…

I think I was also leery of voting for the entrenched politicians who had made a career out of their office.
For we know what they say…”complacency or familiarity breeds contempt”….
maybe that should read “breeds lethargy and corruption…”

Of recent weeks, I’ve read a great deal concerning the global financial powers-that-be bemoaning or gloating, depending on which side of the fence they line their pockets, what a Brexit would do to the global economy. The likes of George Soros, a man who has profited, or make that made a killing, on the downward slopes of markets before (mainly the Bank of England), is set to cash in once again.
And cash in big—but yet no one really knows how big he cashes in as he doesn’t disclose much…
This man parlays deeply and dangerously into American politics as he gives and gives graciously to the Clintons and their campaigns…He plays his hand in global economies and seems to try to muscle the outcomes of elections as well as markets worldwide—all to his benefit—

The rich and powerful trouble me.
Rich and powerful politicians trouble me.
Even our self-centered, anything and everything goes, millennials trouble me.

I have grown tired, vexed and weary of our political leaders telling us what’s good for us when they haven’t brought about any good themselves…
I am tired of those of the younger generations who whine and complain about those who vote for things such as leaving the EU or vote for politicians that don’t cater to the whims of youth, those young ones whose rallying cry is that “they” have stolen, or are in the process of stealing, our future…”
Yet they are either too preoccupied to be bothered with voting or don’t educate themselves on the bigger picture…

And granted the markets have gone tumbling today…
but it’s that analogy I keep hearing—that the markets are so volatile and actually so unstable that if someone sneezes in one section of the world, every other global market quickly reaches for a tissue lest the sneezing becomes a catastrophic epidemic —sending everyone scrambling for cover…
all of which we are seeing today.
That simply just doesn’t seem very secure in the first place…

So votes like Brexit, which send shock waves into the seemingly untouchable circles of the rich and powerful, the young and the unversed,
as well as for those of us of more average stature,
actually offer a bit of fresh air—
that the people–the average people, still matter.
For good or bad, they still can make a difference.
Their voice, for good or bad, can still be heard…
and that the vote of the everyday person does indeed still matter…

I think Brexit is just one more example of the average, dare I say middle aged and older person, being tired of how this world is being run…

So here’s to adjusting our sails…

The pessimist complains about the wind;
the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward