wisdom found in the obscure

“My mission, to make God loved—will begin after my death.
I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.
I will let fall a shower of roses.”

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux


(the cover of an 1881 edition of a book by Fr. Charles Arminjon)

I’ve written in recent weeks about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux–known as the Little Flower.
She possessed a great depth of Spiritual knowledge and vision despite dying at the tender
age of 24.

A sickly, quiet, servant of God who, despite her frailty and age, became a giant for
the Christian Faith.
Her devotion to loving and serving Jesus was undeniable.

Yet I am always curious as to the backstory behind such “gentle giants”

Knowing that the work of the Holy Spirit is a mystery beyond our comprehension,
I marvel over the factors that are at work…mysteries which direct an obscure young
French girl to devote her life to God…entering a convent,
living a short life of service yet such a life that it influenced the path of another
tiny giant…Mother Teresa

31 years following the death of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, an equally young Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu
(Agnes), left home in Albania, at the age of 18, taking herself to an Irish convent…
eventually choosing the Little Flower’s name as her own as she professed her vows as a nun…
a nun who also chose service and charity…
eventually becoming known as Mother Teresa…

A domino effect of Spiritual guidance and grace.

So my curiosity was pricked when I read about an obscure book written in 1881 by an
elderly French priest, Father Charles Arminjon…

It was a book which became the impetus for a young Thérèse…
a book prompting her to seek more…

It was a long forgotten book, hiding in obscurity yet was recently sought out,
rediscovered and translated into English.

The following excerpt from the book comes blowing in across the winds of time,
speaking equally as clearly to us today…

“Although Christ chose to leave us ignorant of
the exact time of the end of the world, He deemed
it fitting to give us detailed information on the
matter and circumstances of this great event…”

“…The end of the world, Christ says, will come at
a time when the human race, sunk in the outermost
depths of indifference, will be far from thinking about
punishment and justice. It will be as in the days of Noah,
when men lived without a care, built luxurious houses,
and mocked Noah as he built his ark.
‘Madman!
Dreamer!’
they cried.
Then the flood came and engulfed the whole earth.”

“So,” writes Fr. Arminjon,
“Christ warns us that the final catastrophe will take place when the
world is at its most secure:
civilization will be at its zenith, markets will be overflowing with money,
and government stocks will never have been higher.

“Mankind, wallowing in an unprecedented
material prosperity, will have ceased to hope
for heaven.
Crudely attached to the pleasures
of life, man, like the miser in the gospel, will
say ‘My soul, you possess goods to last for
many years.
Eat, drink and be merry.'”

Fr. Arminjon reminds us that “the present world,
precisely because it was created, necessarily
tends toward its conclusion and end.”

Perhaps we should be as mindful, just as a young Thérèse became mindful
when she first read the words of Fr Arminjon,
that the world will eventually cease and we will either perish
with the world or we will have chosen to be bound up in the Saving Grace of
Jesus Christ.

A timely choice indeed.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today,
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.
Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

Deuteronomy 30:19

God ain’t no fool

A fool thinks himself to be wise,
but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.

William Shakespeare


(the wee one two months ago wearing a “trash” onsie given to her by “uncle Lele / Brenton Cook/ 2018)

Every time you begin to think you know it all or that you are the king/queen of the universe…
stop…stop for just a moment and realize that God ain’t no fool.

There are reasons for everything.
Yes, everything.

No, not some happenstance cataclysmic big bang evolution, up from the primordial gook
of life sort of mumbo-jumbo but actually a real rational and reasonable plan.
All meticulously thought out and figured out nice and neat eons ago.

Put your ego aside for a minute and hear me out.

There are reasons why the more youthful among were meant to have babies.

Brigitte Nielsen case in point.
Brigitte Nielsen is an idiot.

I can’t say that from actually a personal acquaintance but from observations from afar.

And that may sound a bit harsh but I can say that after babysitting a teething 5.5-month-old
baby day and night now for merely two days!

For you see I am just shy of 59 and I am exhausted.

And no Brigitte Nielsen is not some sort of hero for having a baby at the tender age of 55…
rather she’s absolutely crazy.

She’s been married five times, had numerous affairs and has 4 grown children
along with now a newborn.

And I can guarantee you she isn’t up and down all night while shuffling through the day
in a fog doing what all was needed doing during the night…of which is now being done
during the day… all by herself…
As in feeding, changing diapers, washing clothes, tending to a home, cooking and cleaning all
while rocking a newborn…and God forbid there would be other small children who would
also need tending to.
I”m sure she has a nice helpful staff.

Forget being tired, forget hurting while recovering from delivery…

Crazy I say…

And so for all those uber feminist out there who are singing her praises…
as in “great for her, she’s having her cake and eating it to after having done it 4 times
previous many years ago…” well you’re equally nuts.

Those of us who are parents to grown children can vaguely remember those sleep
deprived nights, those fog filled days, those nerve shattering times of walking the floor
all the while holding inconsolable babies…
sick with worry as to is it colic, teething or something far worse…

I reread my post from yesterday.

The one I wrote while attempting to hold a very fussy 5.5-month-old baby who is
teething and cannot be placated or soothed.
No amount of children’s motrin or tylenol, no cold teethers, no nothing…
seems to ease the discomfort but to be held and move about constantly.
All the while I’d grab everything she grabs in an attempt to put it in her mouth.
Be it the telephone, the computer, the silverware, the cat…

There were copious typos, a gross lack of clarity, a rambling on about leaving my
phone behind in Atlanta…
the creative process gets put on hold while playing the grandmother who is filling in
as the mother momentarily.

I’m having to sleep upstairs in the guest bedroom with this wild little rabbit because
she won’t go down in a pack and play…
she wants the bed and she wants me in it too.

I never knew how many odd sounds our house makes at 3AM when I’m being kicked in the
stomach by one who wishes to sleep horizontally in a vertically positioned bed.

So often we parents of now grown kids, secretly find a bit a glee in the notion of
thinking that one day, as our children become parents, they will know…
they will know and even understand what we had put up with while trying to raise them…

And so I ask myself why…why is it that I’m simply reliving it all over again.

My daughter-n-law says that dressing or changing a diaper for the wee one is like wrestling
an alligator. Think death roll. Think a naked gator with a greased butt ready to
be diapered rolling and rolling and requiring two grown adults to wrestle her still long
enough to get diapered.

I remember all too well sleeping vertically with one who preferred being horizontal.
I remember barely being on the bed as I scooted as far over as I could while praying
my husband realized that someone had gotten in the bed while he was snoring and wouldn’t roll over.


(a wise moppie knows to get out of the water while the getting is good while
holding a baby)/ Gregory Cook / 2018)

Paying for your raising…
Something we often say to our now grown children.

I’m still waiting for my reimbursement…

So yes, God figured it out long ago…the younger ones are to ones to have children,
the old ones are to act as guides…anyone who thinks otherwise is, as I say, crazy!

And two parents, essential..as in it takes two…a man and a woman.
Yet as in our broken world, it often takes one…
with the help of the old ones acting as guides and helpers.
And in some cases, it takes a lot more than one or two…

Here’s to God knowing how it’s all supposed to work…

The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the Lord.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Psalm 14

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.

dizziness, spectacles and extravaganzas

“This is quite a fight.
Orthodox Christians believe that we are caught up in a very serious struggle between Good and evil,
and evil tries to trick us and hide the good from us;
usually by dressing up something corrupt which pretends to be goodness itself.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden

“It seems to me that there is ‘a spirit of dizziness’,
not only in the hysteria of the mob culture we live in,
not only amongst the liberal anti-Gospel leaders in the Church (such as Bishop Curry);
but now sadly even amongst good and faithful evangelical leaders,
who seemed to swallow the Bishop’s hook, line and sinker.”

David Robertson


(a curious jackdaw watches from the crumbling walls at The Rock of Cashel,
County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I am amazed more and more each day the way in which Satan is at work.

Yet here’s the thing…
most of us don’t like to acknowledge Satan because if we do, we scare ourselves.

Or if we do acknowledge him, we try to make him very small…for that same very reason…
that we tend to scare ourselves with such thoughts.

However we should know, he likes that.

The smaller the better…
An out of sight out of mind sort of approach.

Christians and most folks in general, don’t like being reminded of things
like Satan…that whole ying-yang business of Christianity, faith and a belief in God
countered by an acknowledgment of darkenss, evil, sin and Satan.

For where there is God, there is the polar opposite of God.
But we aren’t keen on the polar opposite of anything other than good, happy
or feel good.

So instead of filling our minds with the negative of bad things,
we prefer to just go about our daily business with little to no thought
of a devil, or evil, or names such as Lucifer or Satan.

That is until something really bad happens, forcing us to take notice…
But then we will, just as abruptly and quickly, turn away as a child with our fingers thrust
in our ears refusing to hear or acknowledge the truth for what it is.

So it is those quiet little day to day advances that Satan takes great pride in…
a stealthy approach to our demise.

I use to always remind my students to be careful about leaving the back door open…

That being the back door of their lives.

I would remind them that Satan does not like to use the front door…
because he does not like to be so obvious nor readily announced.
Rather he prefers using the back door.
A door that is most often overlooked, most often unlocked,
and if the truth be told, left propped open for easy comings and goings.

Elder Paisios, who was a well known Eastern Orthodox ascetic monk who spent the majority of his
life living in a monastery on the holy island of Mt Athos just off the coast of Greece,
once wrote that
“The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware,
those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict
them with self-assurance, logic, thinking criticism.
Therefore we should not trust our logical minds.”

And it is indeed along the lines of this spiritual affliction of ours,
or more aptly, this insidious spiritual warfare which is currently besieging Christianity,
that both our friends the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson, and our favorite rogue Anglican
bishop have each addressed in separate posts offered in just so many days apart.

In the last 48 hours, both clerics have been asked and have offered a few thoughts regarding
the gala which took place this past weekend in the UK.

And in case you missed it…the gala in question was a small wedding that transpired between
one of the Queen’s grandson’s and an American bi-racial, once divorced, actress.

It has been quite the fodder for the tabloids as well as all things news.

Let all of that sink in.
A British Royal former bad boy playboy and a divorced, bi-racial American actress.
Oh the cultural kumbiya found in such a union! Why then shouldn’t the Archbishop
opt to use a wedding as a commentary for the progressive culture wars?!

And whereas the spectacle itself was enough to send all of the entertainment industry,
Hollywood’s ilk and kin, as well as all things newsy into a royal dither, the Archbishop
of Canterbury had to add his own special touch by inviting an American Episcopal cleric,
an invitation mind you that was unbeknownst to the happy soon to wed couple, to come
participate in the ceremony and whip up the already salivating participants and the news
anchors into a higher level of a spinning tizzy then whence they previously were.

Bishop Ashenden notes that “The dear couple had no idea who was being asked to
preach at their wedding.
It was an idea that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
had suggested to them.
They were hardly in a position to know or refuse…

So when Justin Welby suggested Michael Curry as the preacher on this astonishing
world-wide stage, he was also signing up one of the most effective street fighters
for progressive, distorted Christianity who – with great charm and verve –
presents his own preferred version of Jesus to the real one we find in the Gospels.

And yet many folks will have missed the full impact of such a speaker at such an event.
The good bishop reminds us that by having such a speaker as a Bishop Curry this
“matters very much.”

Curry spoke of fire, love, slavery, sex and yes, Jesus in a very lively, entertaining and
most animated fashion.
In other words, he was the entertainment.
However entertainment that many mistakenly thought to be great Gospel teaching…
but the problem was that his “teaching” was anything but that of Holy.

Bishop Ashenden observes that “Curry’s Jesus is preoccupied with social Justice and the
celebration of romance and sexual love wherever it finds you.
The real Jesus warned that social justice would never happen in this world,
that heterosexual marriage was to be between a man and a woman,
and that equality had nothing to do with the Kingdom of Heaven.

Curry twists that round and turns it upside down. He says Jesus likes homosexual marriage
and favours the quest for equality that left-wing politicians have made their life’s work.
Curry says wherever you find ‘love’ you have found God.
But when Jesus defines love it sounds very different from Curry.

Love for Jesus starts with honouring and obeying the Father who created us and
renouncing anything that displeases Him and pollutes his holiness.

Jesus warned his followers time and time again against people who would come in
His name and teach different things.

What we have in the Anglican world at the moment is a struggle for the soul of the Church
and a struggle to tell the truth about God and present the real Jesus.

There is a wonderful saying from Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity,
that our aim ought to be ‘to stand before the real God with the real self with our mind
in our heart’.”

And so what we have is just another back door we’ve left open.
The back door to a very worldly and cultural event in which we’ve allowed to become
something it is not…that being a sanctioned and ordained act of God.

And whereas I am not inferring that an Archbishop nor a Bishop are of the devil, I do
believe however that their own personal backdoors have been left wide open as they
work very hard to twist and rewrite the Gospel to suit today’s most progressive
agenda-

Could we, in our wildest imagination and dreams, think that those who wear collars or
those who stand in pulpits or those who hold bibles could ever be capable of a
distorting, twisting or even changing the very doctrine of our faith,
our beliefs or rewrite the very words of God???
Surely not.

Yet were we not warned that even the devil’s own can easily quote scripture?

“In truth there is only one freedom – the holy freedom of Christ, whereby He freed us from sin,
from evil, from the devil.
It binds us to God. All other freedoms are illusory, false, that is to say, they are all,
in fact, slavery.”

St. Justin Popovich

Links to both posts here:

The struggle to tell the truth about Jesus. Welby, Curry and the integrity of the Gospel.

Right Royal Preaching

Apostasy and being something different

“There is no broader way to apostasy than to reject God’s sovereignty in
all things concerning the revelation of himself and our obedience…”

John Owen


(the viloas will soon perish in the southern heat / Julie Cook / 2018)

Well since we’d brought it up the other day…
that being the whole notion of apostacy vs apostolic,
the funny thing is…the Wee Flea brought it up again.

And well, you know me enough to know that I don’t believe in coincidences in this life,
only the moving of The Spirit.

John Owen, (1616-1684) according to Wikipedia, was an English Nonconformist church leader,
theologian and academic administrator at the University of Oxford and even a member of Parliment.

A jack of all trades it seems.

Later in life, after a lofty and long public career, John wrote several books
“the chief of these were On Apostasy (1676), a sad account of religion under the Restoration;”

After having read several books on his life, as well as several of his books,
our friend the Wee Flea has written about John before.
For it seems that despite nearly 350 years, as much as things change, they oddly
seem to stay the same.

John was concerned about the Chruch during his day and time,
much as I worry about the Chruch in my day and time.

And when I say Chruch, I speak of the universal Chrisitan family—denominations and all.
Latin West, Eastern Orthodox and all that has splintered and spiraled outward ever since…

And in his latest posting, David, our Wee Flea friend, reminds us,
while channeling John’s own prior reflections of the 17th-century church
as compared to our own 21st-century church.:

Jesus warns us that churches will turn away.

Owen’s observation is that the churches are in such a state because they have
apostatized from the holiness of the gospel (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
There is an outward profession of the gospel,
yet people give themselves to the pursuit of the vilest lusts and the practice of
the most abominable sins.
But rather than be surprised at this, we should realise that it is what the Lord warned
us would happen.

The Apostate Free Church?

A theme of thought seems to be building…coming to us from all sorts of directions.
And the “we’ here means you and me, the faithful…
An in this family of Believers, you and me, need to sit up and pay attention.

And so once again our dear sister in Christ and friend Shara over on https://scasefamily.com/
leaves us with a pearl of wisdom…

She responded to my post yesterday with a true gem…“I keep telling my kids,
“you have to be different, if you call yourself a Christian,
something has got to stick out about you

That one statement made me sit up and take notice.

Ok, so I call myself a Christian… what is it that sticks out about that in me???
What do others see in that claim of mine…what makes me stick out?

Since I wish to choose Apostolic as opposed to Apostacy, it seems I might just
have some work to be about.

What about you…what are others seeing in this time of appeasement and apostasy?
As a Christian, what is it about you that sticks out?

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from
the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

1 Timothy 4:1

the unbreakable appointment

Death is not an accident –
it is an appointment which only God can change or cancel.

It is because of death that life is so precious.
It is because life is so precious that death is such an evil

David Robertson


(cemetary at St Kevin’s Monastary / Glendalough National Park / Co Wicklow, Ireland /
Julie Cook/ 2015)

Maybe it’s because I’ve read and written a good bit recently concerning the life and death
of the young child Alfie.
Maybe it’s because the shadowed dark veil still occasionally longs to blow across my heart,
or maybe…
it’s just because I’m tired…

I saw a really sad story yesterday about an elderly Chinese man who is afraid of dying
alone…so he’s put himself up for adoption.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/05/04/lonely-chinese-old-man-puts-himself-up-for-adoption.html

Being adopted myself, this story caught my attention for all sorts of reasons.

Our Asian brothers and sisters have always done such a fine job with their elderly.
They don’t neglect them.
They don’t ship them off to homes as we do here in the West.
They don’t turn their backs on them when they become infirmed, sick or simply
too old.
And they don’t decide to simply kill them because they’ve apparently run their course of
contribution and no longer serve a viable purpose.
Nor have they ever been viewed as a burden to society.

Our Asian kin have always taken their elderly into their homes,
caring for them as these now old ones once cared for the
younger others.

Yet sadly, that might be changing.

It seems that this particular man was a widower and was estranged from his sons.
The story noted that there is a growing shift in Asian culture these days
that the idea of a family caring for the elderly is not the given as it once was.

So this gentleman, who posted he is a retired scientist and is still in good
physical condition, just wants a family to spend his final years with.
He wants to contribute to the family by helping to shop, cook, pay bills…
but when the time comes, he wants to be cared for then properly buried by those who
in turn care for him.

He is doing this as he is gravely opposed to having to go to “a home.”

So all this talk of death and dying, life and living…the juxtaposition of
the whole bloody lot just keeps falling flat and heavy in front of my feet.

There’s just no getting around either one.
Because you can’t have one without the other.
There must be life if there is to be death…
That’s just the way it is.

I am not a morse person.
Not obsessive.
Not negative.
Not a fatalist.
I do however believe I am very much realist mixed in with a hardy dose of pragmatism.

When reading David Robertson’s latest post, which was actually an article written
for Christian Today, there I was again meeting death, or actually the notion of death
was meeting me at my door….or actually in my kitchen on my computer screen.

David was writing about death and life and destiny all based on the writings of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes.

But it was really the one line that jumped off the page, or shall we say screen, that
hit me squarely between the eyes…

Death is not an accident –
it is an appointment which only God can change or cancel.

Like most folks, I don’t much care for the whole death and dying business.
I don’t like much to talk about it.
I don’t like to acknowledge it…because that way, maybe it will just go away and leave
me alone.
And I certainly don’t like to think about it.
Not many of us living do.
Because the whole death thing really just tears me out of the frame.

Yes I will say it…despite being a Christian and despite knowing my Redeemer lives and
despite the knowledge that there is life after death…death still bothers me.

Life is for the living is it not?
Not for the dying…

Yet I think it is really a fear of the unknown that is what troubles us most.
Or at least it is for me.

As a planner, a teacher…I kind of like things all neatly mapped out.
Whereas spontaneity sounds glamourous…I’m not one for throwing caution to the wind.
I’m pretty set on point A to point B with no deviations in between.

However, I think it is that big black hole in our lives..the hole of separation
that’s the real kicker.
We are not a separating lot.

It’s the being cut off from and away from those we love that makes death so hard.
Going on living… without…
That is the burden…the burden of the living without.

So maybe that’s why our society is so fixated on trying to control both…
We want to be the masters of our own destinies…our entrances and our exits.
We want to call the shots.
And so we wrap it up in a fancy word and call it euthanasia.
A fancy way for us to call the shots…not God.
Nothing random there..no loss of control.
We, in essence, become our own god.

But it was that line of David’s that’s kept nagging at me…
“it’s not an accident–it’s an appointment which only God can change or cancel.”

David notes in his reflection from King Solomon’s words that
“He is saying that death comes to all, indiscriminately, good or bad:
‘Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…
‘(Hebrews 9:27). Death is not an accident –
it is an appointment which only God can change or cancel.
He is not saying that we are to live passively or that we are not to prepare.
But he is saying that it is only God who knows the future.

So there is both power and assurance in that statement.
An appointment that only God and change or cancel.

Not me, not you, no man…only God.

A burden becomes lifted.
It’s not my call.
Not my responsibility to say yay or nay…it’s there when God says its there.
It’s no longer my worry, our worry…my call, our call or truly my schedule or our schedule.
It’s God’s schedule.

And I need to be reminded, I was with that one line that I am small and He is not…

God’s power over death…so much greater than anything man could ever attempt to counter.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-9 – Death, Life and Destiny

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

A place where everybody knows your name

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart,
and all they can do is stare blankly.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald


( the wall inside the Bull and Finch Pub in Boston that was the inspriation to the television
hit series Cheers / Julie Cook / 2014)

I’ve always considered myself a rather independent individual,
as well as one who relishes in the quiet of being”alone”…
yet for the notion of loneliness, I am, like most folks, not a fan.

I’ve spent most of my married life on my own—not so much because I wanted to
or because my husband was always traveling or in the military but rather because he’s
owned and run a smalltown family retail business for right at 50 years.

He has worked 6 days a week, often 12 or more hours a day, for most of his life…
and he was working in the family business long before I came along.
The Christmas holiday season saw that time of working up to 7 days a week
at 14 or more hours a day.

At first, this wasn’t an easy adjustment.

My dad, for most of my growing up, worked for the County–a 9 to 5 sort of dad.
At one point early in his life, he had been a traveling salesman for my
Grandfather’s company, but Dad had hated it.
Dad was more lazy than not, so the idea of being on the road 24 /7 was less than appealing.
So as soon as my Grandfather died at the young age of 67 in 1967,
my dad and his brother sold the family business and dad went to work as an engineer
for the Fulton County Health Department.

So I was used to a dad who got home at a reasonable hour for supper
and who was always home on weekends.

That was not the case for the man I married.
For he has worked more than he’s been home.

He carries a great deal of regret with all of this as far as our son’s growing up was
concerned–but I continue to reassure him that he did the best he could and managed to
squeeze in good quality time with our son when it was most needed.

And I too have rendered my time to the store, especially during the holidays—
but as a career educator and eventually both teacher and a mom, my own time was
equally filled. Yet it seems that the two of us have, more or less,
been more apart then together…

So I was intrigued this morning when I caught the title of our friend the Wee Flea,
Pastor David Robertson’s title to his latest blog post—
Loneliness-the cord of three strands- Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

The Cure for Loneliness – the Cord of Three Strands – (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12)

It seems that the idea of loneliness, as a rife problem, was recently noted in
a commissioned report produced regarding life in the UK…
and it is now seen as such a real problem that the UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May,
has just appointed a minister to be in charge of the UK’s problem of loneliness, having
named Tracey Crouch as the new Minister of Loneliness.

A rather interesting title…and I imagine there’s a song in there someplace…
such as the song ‘One is the Loneliest Number’ by the 70’s rock group, Three Dog Night,
which suddenly comes racing back into present-day focus.

Our Wee Flea friend notes that “according to the aforementioned Jo Cox report there are
9 million people in the UK who always, or mostly, feel lonely.
It’s a problem recognised in our media.
The long-running Australian soap reminds us of the importance of ‘good neighbours’
who become ‘good friends’.
Yet how many of us live in streets when we don’t even know the names of our neighbours
(other than when the Amazon parcel arrives),
never mind identify them as friends?
Likewise, Netflix has just introduced a new generation to the ever popular
Friends with its instantly recognisable theme tune, ‘I’ll be there for you’.
How many of us have friends who will be there for us?
How many of us have substituted the handful of friends that come from deep and
committed relationships, with the hundreds of online friends who mean virtually nothing?”

The long-running comedy series, Cheers was the show that first popped into
my mind when thinking of the notion of loneliness along with friends and family
being found is the some of the oddest of places.


(yours truly, along with the ever working husband who, on a business trip, found time
to go visit that place where everyone knows your name / 2014)

The story, if you recall, was set in Boston at a fictions pub named Cheers.
The actual real-life pub that was the inspiration for the TV show is named the
Bull and Finch; a Bostonian pub dating back merely to 1969.
The Bull and Finch is a much smaller place than the television version’s pub
known as Cheers–yet is set up in a rather similar fashion.

One does indeed descend down a small set of stairs from the street level while walking
into a more cramped, low ceilinged sort of tightly configured quasi-tavern.
The bar, however, is long and somewhat spacious. There is a bronze plaque screwed
to the end of the bar, commemorating the iconic seat reserved for the character Norm who
always appeared arriving at the bar after work.
He’d take his usual place at the end of the bar where he would receive his usual,
an icy cold mug of beer while he was often heard to lament about life with his wife who
was obviously home…alone.


(a plaque on the bar at the Bull and Finch Pub commemorating where Norm always
would sit / Julie Cook / 2014)

There is also a back set of stairs similar to the stairs in the TV show, that does lead up
to another restaurant, along with, of course, a Cheers gift shop.

This was a show about the lives of the hodgepodge mix of folks who were each connected
to the pub. From the bar owner, bartenders, barmaids down to the patrons–
and how they had all developed their own sort of close-knit family despite having lives
outside of the bar.

The bar was a place where regular patrons could come, having their very own seat…a place
where the bartenders knew what to serve without the patron ever having to say a word—
simply coming and sitting down said it all…as strangers each gravitated to
this nondescript little pub while eventually becoming most important one to another…
much like an extended family.

A place where everyone knew your name…your likes, your dislikes, your history,
your story, your ups, and your downs…

And whereas our friend the Wee Flee was drawn to the book of Ecclesiastes and the
pinning of a now wizened old king found in Solomon…

Ecclesiastes 4 deals with the oppressed having no comforter, a man without
the companionship of family and friends and a lonely king.
The early church had some quite fanciful interpretations of this passage.
Jerome, for example, saw in the three-fold cord the faith, hope, and love of 1 Corinthians.
Ambrose was more interesting – in speaking of Christ as the friend who sticks closer
than a brother he sees him as the one who lifts up the companion when he falls,
the one who warms, and the one who went from the prison to be a king.
He points us to the real solution for loneliness.

I myself seem to find much more comfort in those words and thoughts
offered by our friend St Ambrose rather than that wisdom uttered by the aging King Solomon.

That being the notion of Christ being closer to us than that of our very kin…

The fraternity of Christ, is closer than the fraternity of blood.”
He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.

And thus we find that it is in our very relationship with Christ in which our loneliness
dissipates as He and His very essence of being seeps in turn, into our very being,
filling every void and crack within often lonely lives.
Thus being truly the One who knows our name, our ups, our downs, our dislikes, our likes,
our best and our worst—staying right by our side despite what He knows about us
and sees—because He is us and we are Him…

Abide in me, and I in you.
John 15:4