Trembling joy

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

(Hymn Imortal, Ivisible
Welsh Melody 1839 John Roberts / Lyrics Walter C. Smith 1876

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(Birth of Jesus, Francesco di Giorgio Martini 1460)

So far we have been reminded that we have entered a new season.
A season of waiting and watching.

And somehow, somewhere within our trepidation of the arrival of this unknown,
we sense that as we wait and watch, we are to remain hopeful…
Because curiously we are inwardly reassured that what we are waiting for
and watching for…
is good.

And not only is it to be good,
it is to be actually grand.
As in life changing, world altering…
GRAND.

And almost within the same breath of waiting and watching,
we are reminded that what we wait for and watch for
is actually something quite intimate.
Something dear and something even tenderly precious.

Perplexed we wonder, how can this trepidation, which is so full of anticipation
and perceived to be not only good but Grand,
how can it be sweetly intimate, tender and close…?

So many good Christians are dumbfounded or tremble in fear when something of Christ’s
future is told to them.

As Christoph Blumhardt notes in his essay The Wise Men’s Star…

If we would only look forward to the Last Day with a trembling joy, as the Savior said:
“When these things begin to take place,
stand up and lift up your heads because your redemption
is drawing near (Luke 21:28)

But now, when people hear of it, they are afraid and shake and tremble.
They fail to rejoice in the reality that redemption is drawing near.

And so we are left to we wait,
and watch…
Watching and waiting for a most intimate moment…
Yet we are now told to be ready…
Ready to rejoice…
While at the same time, being filled with
trembling joy…

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zachariah 9:9

Opportunistic

“He had learned the rare secret that you must
take happiness when you find it–
that there is no use in marking the place and coming back to it
at a more convenient season,
because it will not be there then.”

L.M. Montgomery

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(a spider making the most of what flies to the light in the night / Julie Cook / 2016)

The spider, not caring whether the web is elaborate, elegant or showy,
chooses the path of least resistance.

Why toil elsewhere when what you want comes
easily your way with little to no exertion on your part?

How quickly we make ourselves available…
to him who is lurks in the shadows, waiting.

Waiting like the spider who sits and watches,
waiting as we begin to circle the lights.

Drawn in by the allure of all that is,
yet it is caution which must be exercised.

The mindless moth or bug is mesmerized by the light
flittering and jittering precariously near a waiting web..

A trap has been set.
Yet no one seems the wiser…

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I have come here from God.
I have not come on my own; God sent me.
Why is my language not clear to you?
Because you are unable to hear what I say.
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.
He was a murderer from the beginning,
not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.
When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!
Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?
If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?
Whoever belongs to God hears what God says.
The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

John 8 42-48

the pace now quickens

Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold…

Provers 8:10

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
1 Timothy 1:7

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(St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Anxious, hurried and apprehensive they race along with nervous urgency
as the pace to the journey suddenly quickens.
The moment has drawn nigh and there is no more time to tarry.
The waiting and watching is over.
The benign prosaic observation is no longer available for causal inspection–
As the air is now heavy with the seriousness of what is soon to take place.

The collision of two opposing forces is eminent.
They had seen it foretold in the star.
Only a few will truly understand the overwhelming magnitude of what is to transpire…
For gravity is laced within the expectation.
Two cosmic energies will collide with such tremendous force that the powerful reverberations will spiral outward, affecting all generations across the chasm of time…

There will be a time for joy to be had…as well as heartfelt offerings, homage and gifts.
The time for merrymaking will be at hand as the celebration and toasting will commence.
Yet the excited announcement of these glad tidings brings with it both joy and heavy consequence…

There will be a time of thankfulness, reverence and tenderness
as Hopefulness joyously arrives.
All the while as radiant Light fiercely pierces the blackened veil.
Yet there will also be lingering repercussions for each and everyone,
as the Prince of Darkness will no longer rest,
not while the baby slumbers sweetly unaware.

So hurry on we all must go with urgency in each and every step.
We travel far and wide this day in haste to meet a King.
Yet with this yearly marking of such a grand and festive event,
as mankind is blindly busy making merry within the merriment,
young and old are naively unaware that Time is almost spent.

So sing your glad tidings this grand and hopeful December day…
hurry your way to the manger bare laying down your peace and praise,
for unto you is born this day a child, a Savior and a King
Yet mindful we must all remain…
for there is one who chooses curses rather than to sing

For he waits in the shadows knowing his time is drawing nigh…
as he plots and he schemes for a “A voice was heard in Ramah
of painful crying and deep sadness:
Rachel crying for her children.
She refused to be comforted,
because her children are dead.”

Jeremiah 31:15

For within the innocence of our heartfelt joy lies a fight for every soul…
as the pace for Mankind’s salvation has quickened as one is now born to carry our load.

“an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, because Herod is starting to look for the child so he can kill him. Stay in Egypt until I tell you to return.”
Matthew 2:13

The advent of Advent

The Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, come into nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up with Him. It is precisely one great miracle. If you take that away there is nothing specifically Christian left.
~ C.S. Lewis

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(a golden red carpet / Cades Cove, TN / The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Advent—the season of waiting, watching and expectancy…

As in waiting and watching with expectant anticipation.

With the anticipation being so wonderful, so indescribable, so over the top…you can barely contain yourself.

This is not the worrisome dreading sort of waiting.
Not the “oh no we’ll never make it” gloom and doom of the negative waiting.
Not the looking constantly over your shoulder with fear rising up from the pit of your stomach while you fret waiting for the other shoe to drop sort of the anxious dreading type of waiting, watching, looking, fretting and worrying…

This is rather the so great and so grand magnificent, I can’t wait, I’m so excited, as this is going to be really really good and really really big…full of sheer giddiness that I’m about to explode sort of joyful waiting and watching…

As in I can’t wait because there is going to be such wonder, relief and good things that all thoughts of bad, negative, dread and woe are simply nonexistent…

Yet is this the season that you’re all excited and giddy over because of the getting and receiving of more stuff? The I can’t wait to go to the mall and bask in the holiday specialness and magic of mega retail savviness sort of excited…??
Is it because this is the season you’ve long waited for because of the gathering and the getting of those gifts and presents and all manner of things that you’ve decided you just can’t live without sort of season…??

Is it the season that you’ve been long waiting and watching for as your calendar will now be filling up with all manner of parties, gatherings, galas and events offering the excuse of buying shiny and sparkly outfits with the expectancy of seeing and being seen while you imagine all the goodies to be sampled and savored…??

Is your watchfulness, your waiting, your expectancy over those things of this planet, this world, this generation’s idea of a good time?

Or is your watchfulness, your waiting, your expectancy over something else?
Something that is much bigger, more awesome, more unimaginable and more over the top than any of things of this life…those things and events which pale in comparison as they are simply fleeting and merely passing by…

For there is something really big and really monumental that is soon to be taking place
and those of us who wait, who watch, who look, who anticipate, who are full of expectancy, wonder and awe…. are not to be disappointed…

“God travels wonderful ways with human beings, but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people. God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather, his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof. Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels, where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be. There he confounds the reason of the reasonable; there he aggravates our nature, our piety—that is where he wants to be, and no one can keep him from it. Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

The gift of a peach

“The nectarine, and curious peach,
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons, as I pass,
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.”

Andrew Marvell

Dwell not upon thy weariness,
thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire.

Arab Proverb

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(my very own little peaches / Julie Cook / 2015)

I watched you today.
I knew you didn’t feel well.
You were quiet.
Not yourself.

I saw the worry on your face and heard it in your voice.
I could feel your preoccupation with the heaviness and grief.
I watched you take the last couple of pills out of the bottle
to help soothe your stomach.

Yet I knew you were still keenly aware of your surroundings.

I heard you mention how deep blue the sky was today as it was
accented by the new green growth of all the towering trees.

I watched as you ambled up and down the aisles of the garden shop,
snapping pictures of the blankets of new blooms exploding on every young plant.

I saw you plant the new little lime tree,
watching as you hoisted sack after sack of dirt in order to fill the pot.
I noticed how you forgot to put on the gloves,
growing agitated that the dirt got under your nails.

I watched your excitement when you noticed the tiny peaches sprouting out on the equally
tiny peach tree.

I’ve watched you labor with the tiny tree, ever since you brought it home two years ago.
It was a sad stick of a tree sitting in that hardware store.
You’d asked your husband if you could buy two of them hoping to eventually have your
own peach trees.

I felt your frustration when you unwrapped them and one of them was already dead.
I marveled as you planted the sole remaining little tree anyway,
offering it your care and your hope.

I watched as you watered it.
Fertilized it.
Moved it in and out as each season dictated.
You’ve defended it from the spider mites.

I’ve watched you over the years relish in the peaches you’d bring home from market.
Gently feeling each one for ripeness.
Placing your nose to each peach, breathing in deeply for that distinct scent.
I’ve watched you as a little girl bite into a ripened peach,
as the juice dribbled down your chin and the fuzzy skin tickled your tongue.

I had hoped you’d see the buds.
I wanted them to fill you with anticipation and excitement.
I’ve known things haven’t been easy and that you’ve felt lonely and overwhelmed.

I wanted you to know, through the tiny bud of a peach, that I am here. . .
That I do see you,
hear you,
feel you,
Love you. . .


“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18

“For He looks to the ends of the earth
And sees everything under the heavens.

Job 28:24

A consuming light

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

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(rain clouds linger in the late afternoon mid west Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2014

Our days grow dark and worry abounds
When a deafening crescendo of exploding bombs breaks the tired silence
Wary souls now tremble in the shadows

As the planes fall strangely from the sky,
We know that Madness wanders the eroding land
Bleeding children lie stretched out in pleading arms,

Lessons learned long ago are easily now forgotten
We were warned but no one listened
Right and wrong collide madly into one. . .
Hell is happy here today.

20 lives
200 lives
300 lives
Each new day brings a sad new number
As the question begs–why?

We watch
We wait
We plead
We hope

And as we wonder when is enough enough,
with the last ray of faith growing helplessly dim,
a brilliant light victoriously pierces the blackened sky

As the battles wage onward across a sad weary land,
and with smoke circling like vultures over our trembling heads,
Courage and Strength rally the faithful few

For despite this unending march of Death,
as tears are shed and blood is spilled
Peace and Calm unite in Hope
for this bloody War is already won. . .

This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Isaiah 42:5-7