It’s all relative

“No culture in history has ever embraced moral relativism and survived.
Our own culture, therefore, will either
(1) be the first, and disprove history’s clearest lesson,
or
(2) persist in its relativism and die,
or
(3) repent of its relativism and live.
There is no other option.”

Peter Kreeft

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(my stepmother is so proud of her pumpkin display…)

Relative or relative…
Hummmm…

They say that learning the english language is one of the hardest languages to learn…
and maybe that’s because of our penchant to use one word in multiple ways,
with each particular way having it’s own meaning and even distinct pronunciation…

Thankfully however we are not like the French what with all their le and la business…
I never could figure out why one thing had to masculine while something else had to be feminine…
why can’t it just be…neutral…as in just a word…..??

But I digress as I am too weary to rattle on about the English language,
or mes amis à travers l’étang,
or that of the Queen’s, the King’s,
or even the colonies now turned states, english….

And while I’m thinking about it, maybe we should have kept that whole colony notion,
having stayed with that crazy King George…
because that way we wouldn’t be living in the current land of sensory deprivation
with all things in life now being only Hillary or the Donald…

But then the fourth of July wouldn’t be nearly as festive and we’d be dealing
with Brexit…

sigh…

But I’m way too weary for all of that garbage today as well…

Today has just been one of those days…
you know the ones…
you wake up after an awful night of fitful sleep with ‘sleep’ being a relative term
as you only got one hour…
let alone the 7 or 8 or whatever is currently being required
for waking perky and refreshed.

I can’t remember when I last felt perky…
maybe its the inflamed nerves…

It was then a day for relatives…
as in Dad and my stepmother and the day’s current caregiver.

There are days I am strong…as I have to be strong for everybody right now…
especially Dad…
But then there are days like today when strength is a relative term…

My stepmother was in a good mood thankfully…but the caregiver was not…
And with my stepmother, each day is a mystery as to who will wake up…
Dr. Jekyll or Mr Hyde…

Upon my arrival, I was happy to see Dr. Jekyll,
who actually wanted me to go buy her a new trashcan…
the kind with the step-on latch to open the top…
And it had to be small and stainless…

After gathering the trashcan, which thankfully she loved…yet tomorrow that could change,
and gathering the groceries and their lunch…
it was time to schlepp things up from the basement all in order for her to
“decorate” for any trick or treaters that may come their way.

My dad is the sole remaining original resident of the cul-de-sac…
as all the other neighbors have sadly faded away.
The quaint neighborhood of 10 houses, that were built in the mid 1950’s, once overflowed with
the sounds of children…
Yet those children, of which I was once one, have all grown up and moved away…
leaving those once joyful sounds of play, sadly now silent.

I am happy however to report that young couples are currently moving back in
with their own band of gleeful little ones who will once again romp up and down
the relatively safe little street…claiming it, just as we had,
as their own tiny little realm of the mighty cul-de-sac.

So today, in giddy anticipation, my stepmother wanted to ready things for a few
hopeful customers for candy come Monday evening…

Yet as is often the case, dealing with those with dementia,
my stepmother was giddy and excited today,
wanting me to buy candy for Halloween….but come Monday,
which in Dad and my stepmom’s limited world, the passage of time is indeed relative,
she may completely forget, by tomorrow, what all the candy is for…

And then there was Dad…
still holding his own but gravely weak and now bleeding a great deal
as the doctors have told us the tumor would ebb and flow.
The tumor is now causing a good bit of pressure so dad feels the urgent urge
to urinate yet with little to nothing to show for the effort…
…and now there is more blood than anything else…
so the constant up and down is taking a toll.

He did however request, that when I went to buy their groceries, that I buy some ice-cream…
and I did…lots and lots of ice-cream.

By the time I was finally on my way home late afternoon,
the caregiver called me,
alarmed that dad is so weak that he almost fell getting in the bathroom…
She wanted to let me know that she was calling the hospice nurse,
who will be out tomorrow morning, sharing the latest worries.

So I will go see what she thinks…

Some days are good,
and some days are not so good…
and that, I suppose, is simply life…
Of which,
I believe,
is simply being relative…

So as I was driving home, with hot stinging tears welling up in my eyes…
wondering where my mom was when I needed her…
an old song I use to love a million years ago came flooding into
the forefront of my brain…
thankfully…
mercifully…
miraculously…
flooding…
and washing…
into my brain…

Reminding me…
swiftly,
quickly
and powerfully
that not all things in this life are merely relative…

That there is one thing and one thing only that is totally separate,
independent and irrespective of this innocuous life..

and that would be…
the Lamb of God…
the blessed lamb of God….

The song is The Lamb of God by Twila Paris
and this is a moving You Tube video clip I found reflecting her beautiful song…

Clowns to the left, jokers to the right…

“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.”

Lyrics from Stuck in the Middle with You
Stealers Wheel

“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.”

Martin Luther

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(an abandoned gristmill stone, Cables Mill, Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Townsend, TN / Julie Cook / 2015)

A two front war…it’s what Churchill longed for and what Hitler loathed.

As soon as the US threw her hat into the ring, following the attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler had set his sights on Russia, Churchill at long last knew that it was now only a matter of time before Hitler would crumble as the result of fighting a two front war.

History tells us that a two front war is a very difficult prospect for any warring nation as it requires a vast wealth of fresh troops, endless resources, new equipment, ample food, unending ammunition and free flowing cash in order to keep the fighting machine well fed.

It is exhausting and vastly draining on multiple national levels.

It is the ultimate squeeze play…a forcing of the hand…with all cards having to be be played at the same time as there is no longer the luxury of hiding anything…it’s now or never.

And that’s exactly how our ancient adversary enjoys plaguing us most…
Squeezing us on multiple fronts, diverting all of our energies, our attentions, our resources, our nerves, our health, all as we battle multiple opponents on multiple levels simultaneously.

It is disheartening, physically and emotionally exhausting, depressing, and very near crushing.
Defeat almost inevitably appears to be galloping toward us on the horizon as the specter of Death raises his scythe for the final blow….

And it is at that exact moment when we gratefully hear the rallying cry…

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Hymn A Mighty Fortress is our God
words and music by Martin Luther

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46: 1-3,7

(****whereas to many Martin Luther’s name cries of derision, division and contempt, these ancient words speak to all Christians…Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant alike as we, the collective followers of Christ, continue finding ourselves pitted against an ancient foe who neither tires nor grows weary of making our lives miserable—it behooves us to always remember that we never go into battle alone)

Hidden support along one’s way…

“If then we have angels, let us be sober, as though we were in the presence of tutors; for there is a demon present also.”
― John Chrysostom

Human beings, when confronted with the strange and inexplicable, have an immediate instinct to get back to the accustomed and the normal. We do not hug our miracles close; we put them hastily away, preferring the commonplace to live with it. It is as if some compulsive hand wipes clean the wall on which the handwriting appeared.” Fulton Oursler

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(Cherub relief found within St Colmcille Church, Dumcliff / County Sligo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The journey has been long as you now find yourself winded,
growing more and more weary with the setting of each day’s sun…
Thoughts of tomorrow and one more day are almost more than you can bear.
The energy and the strength, which were once easily called upon at will…
simply no longer available.

Maligned
Belittled
Mocked
Forgotten
Tired
Weary
Empty

Yet pressing on is really the only option…
Business as usual as you wade through the motions of the routine
Can you bear to manage one more season?

The joy has faded into the common
The noise of the worldly drowns out the sublime
Too much, too little, too late, too soon

The secular now shines the brightest
With your frustration overshadowed by the Darkness.
Hopefulness waits at the window staring out onto the confusion

An unseen hand is offered when most needed
A smile appears to fend off the cold
The chill is thwarted by the inviting fire
Encouragement offers a welcoming blanket

This journey has long been previously traveled,
As comfort resides in the familiar.
There are no surprises to the unseen…
No hurdles that haven’t been previously crossed.
There are those who have gone before you…
and those who will continue to come from behind.
The journey is never really lonely

As we never travel truly alone…

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

1 Peter 4:12-19

Rest for the weary

The scorched land will become a pool
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the haunt of jackals, its resting place,
Grass becomes reeds and rushes.

Isaiah 35:7

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(Dried thistle along the banks of the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I was weary…
dry and brittle of body, heart and soul…
Yet you Oh Lord have heard me in my distress.
You have seen to my weariness…
to the dryness and brittle spirit which as clung to me like an ashen paste.
You have refreshed and soothed a parched and thirsty heart

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(the wild Atlantic somewhere along the Dingle Peninsula / County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

You have attended to a wounded soul…
My offering to you is a simple thankfulness that reaches to the depths of the sea
And the width of an endless sky…

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(somewhere along the road in County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”

Isaiah 58:11

Song for the innocents

A clear and innocent conscience fears nothing.
Elizabeth I

The Righteous person must suffer many things; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34

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(field sparrow / Julie Cook / 2015)

Broken hearted,
like a bird’s broken wing,
a soul far too weary, before its time,
longs to lift its voice. . .

Tears freely flow for the innocents,
those who are not so free,
savagely taken in a dark world
now grown callous and cold. . .

Who are these people who gleefully seek
the spilt blood of the Lamb?
Who relish in death and scorn life,
Who long to take rather than give. . .

What is the point in this latest battle?
Consuming each and every life until
there are no more lives to give?
This, as the parents weep
and the Nations grieve. . .

You and You alone hear our anguish,
and You see the captive’s pain.
You stand beside the brokenhearted mothers and fathers,
as the news is delivered. . .
Where does the savagery stop?

Our hope, Oh Lord, is in You and You alone,
as we dwell within a dark and fallen world. . .
Battered minds seek nothing more than to be numb,
burying themselves in things other than the actual,
Thinking that what is not seen or acknowledged,
will all simply disappear. . .

Those with purpose are quickly called. . .
The innocent and clear of conscious,
who ready themselves to do battle. . .
to offer compassion where there is none
To offer hope to the hopeless. . .

When will the just say no to injustice?
When will the children be saved?
When will the captives be set free?
When will the darkness scatter?
When will this madness end?

Our trust is found in Christ, Jesus
The One who overcame death.
The body may perish,
Yet the soul will not be silenced.
As the battles wage on
and evil rejoices,
while the faithful exclaim. . .
“O death where is thy sting”

Repay not evil with evil or railing with railing, but rather bless, and know that you are called to do this, so that you should inherit the blessing.
1 Peter 3:9

****Here is a link to the BBC story featuring the single letter Kayla Mueller, the young kidnapped American, wrote her parents regarding her time in captivity as a prisoner of IS (ISIS). She sent the letter out with fellow prisoners who were released as she was the lone female prisoner kept behind. Kayla turned 26 while in captivity. Kayla had gone to Syria, working with the humanitarian organization Hayata Destek, Support To Life, in order to help the refugee orphaned children in Syria whose lives had been displaced and shattered by the ongoing fighting. Kayla conducted art therapy projects with the kids, as children can often express themselves in drawings when words cannot be found. She noted that when the children asked her” where was her world” –then telling them, they asked why had her people not come to help them. . .her response was simply to cry along with and for the children. . .Prayers for the Mueller family and all the families globally who have been affected by IS —her family noted that Kayla “lived life with purpose”—may we all live with such purpose. . .
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31376933

Very soon

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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(faded, frozen and spent crepe myrtle and loropetalum buds and blooms / Julie Cook / 2015

Somewhere ’round a corner, in the secret garden of my mind
I thought I caught of glimpse of things that now are hard to find.

What stands before me now is simply lifeless browns and greys
Yet soon this empty landscape will bask in sunny rays.

Lifelessness and emptiness will soon be long departed
As hopefulness and happiness are finally getting started. . .

Here’s to the secret garden within all our winter weary hearts and minds. . .

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(hyacinth and tiny garden buds / Julie Cook / 2015)

En Masse

Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself.
Carl Jung

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(an October Georgia evening as a flock of starlings seek a place to roost for the night / Julie Cook / 2014)

Their numbers are limitless.
Their sound is deafening.
Their precision is inspiring.
They are just a bunch of birds,
and yet. . .they represent so much more. . .

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Upon first glance, it appears as if there is a giant moving, living, breathing black cloud undulating overhead.
It glides across the sky to and fro, with no particular rhyme nor reason.
It is not following the current of the wind as it sets its own course.
It defies any law of gravity as it goes where it chooses, when it chooses.
The cloud descends, en masse, onto power lines or within the tops of trees with a deafening din of chatter.
It is as masterful as it is precise.
It is greater and more artfully versed than any human could ever hope to choreograph.

To watch a flock of birds in flight, especially a large mass of birds such as starlings and / or blackbirds, is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of birds in one maddening swarm move in and out, up and down, shifting and weaving with such precision, it’s simply difficult to comprehend.

These birds, although individuals, combine to make what appears to be a single living and breathing mass or entity which for all apparent purposes appears to have a mind of its own.
They, these individual birds, must interact with such agility and precision as not to fly into one another as well as avoid colliding with trees and / or power poles. Their ability to work effortlessly in tandem is nothing short of humbling.

As I stand staring, as if in a hypnotic trance, gazing skyward–listening and watching the ethereal ariel spectacle, my mind fumbles for words. I think of the verse in Matthew, Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

That the omnipotent one true God of all of Creation knows the birds.
That He knows each bird. . .
Each bird in this massive, confusing swarm of precise madness, and yet. . .
I am told that He also knows me.
He knows me even more so then He knows these birds.
Knows, as in an intimate relationship. . .
as in everything known and hidden, good and bad. . .as He is said to have formed me (knit me together) in my mother’s womb. . .
the same mother I never knew, yet it is He who knew me. . .even before I was formed, He knew me. . .
I am also told He cares for me more so than these birds.
These birds who are able to dance across the sky with grace and magic, soaring and diving in grand unison.
And yet, He is aware of me.
More than aware. . .He has a deep abiding knowledge which goes beyond acquaintance.
He knows, He sees, He loves.

And as I continue staring at a black cloud dancing across the horizon, a tremendous sense of well being engulfs a weary soul. . .