transcendence

Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence:
it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense
“destined” to go beyond himself,
and he is called to this in a mysterious way.

APOSTOLIC LETTER
SALVIFICI DOLORIS
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II 1984


(Cades Cove / TN/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Maybe it’s the grey skies.
Maybe it’s the deluge of rain.
Maybe it’s age.
Maybe it’s not feeling 100%
Maybe it’s life’s circumstances.
Maybe it’s just our current times..

It seems as if I’ve had a weighted heaviness sitting on my spirit
for quite sometime now…and this “heaviness” seems
much like a festering splinter that is attempting
to work its way to the surface…

What I know about such a type of splinter is that it is
being worked to the surface by a body wanting to rid itself
of an infecting foreign entity.

So maybe this heaviness will be worked up and out as well.
Maybe, just maybe, the heaviness is only a symptom.
But a symptom of what is not exactly clear.

Recently I’ve found myself ruminating on idea of the
transcendence of time.

Vocabulary.com tells us that
transcendence comes from the Latin prefix trans-,
meaning “beyond,” and the word scandare, meaning “to climb.”
When you achieve transcendence, you have gone beyond ordinary limitations.
The word is often used to describe a spiritual or religious state,
or a condition of moving beyond physical needs and realities.
One way to achieve transcendence spiritually might be to fast
for a long time.
If you have trouble letting go of material needs,
then you will have a difficult time achieving transcendence.

As a Christian, I believe, that on this earth, we live in a
constant state of transcendence or perhaps that is transcending…
meaning we are constantly trying to climb beyond.

Gravity and time each keeps us bound to this earth, yet our spirits long
to go to a place beyond and unknown.
There is a longing in our beings for that which we cannot see
but yet we feel is calling us.

Over the years I’ve often written about my “godpoppa”–
He was an Episcopal priest.
Adopted like me.
And he bore the bulk of my teenage angst and
later my often tumultuous choices of life, both good and bad.

He died in December of 2016 only a few months prior to my dad’s death
and even that of my aunt’s.
Loss, let alone back to back losses, is/ are never easy.

And yet this one man’s influence on my life remains just as it
always has–both strong and robust.

It matters not that he is not here physically, because in my reality
he continues on in my soul–day in and day out.
His influence and teachings continue to positively impact all
that I do.

I was fortunate to have had such a person come into my life
when he did, but I do not believe it was by fate, chance or some
random encounter.
I know without a doubt God places folks within our life’s journeys
at just the right time and place.

I do think, however, we’d all agree that it is the physical that
we miss the most when we lose someone we love.
Not so much their words, not at first anyway.

We want to be able to see them, hear them, feel them.
Just as a child who has fallen and skinned a knee, we want to be held
and comforted in our sorrow.
And despite our knowledge of what the separation means when speaking
of death, we still want this now ‘lost’ person to hold us.

And yet their love, the love we shared, transcends both space and time.

What I gratefully remember is the man whose eyes smiled at me…
and yet those same smiling eyes could and would always penetrate past all
my thick protective walls.

He taught me that walls must be broken if true healing is to take place.
He taught me that I had to risk all things earthly in order to find my true
peace and well being.
He taught me that I had to be broken before I could be built back up.

And so I suppose that journey of brokenness to transcendence continues
as I write.
Hence the oft felt heaviness.

God continues to push, or maybe that should be pulls, us along…
as we put one hand over the other, rung after rung…climbing
ever upward and ever forward to that which we cannot see yet knows
waits for us just beyond…

And do you know what makes this journey all that more mystical and
otherworldly??

It is the single fact that along this journey, we might be fortunate
enough to find someone who we thought we’d previously lost forever.

And that’s when it suddenly dawns on us…this most beloved person had
never been lost at all…they were simply waiting for us…
despite neither of us realizing it at the time…
and it is in that single moment of reconnection that we
find our greatest blessing…

So here’s to transcendence, time, space and to the one constant that
always binds—that being love.
(thank you Patti)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant 5 or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never ends.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues,
they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

discernment, obedience and wandering…

“A man must go through a long and great conflict in himself before
he can learn fully to overcome himself,
and to draw his whole affection towards God.
When a man stands upon himself he is easily drawn aside
after human comforts.
But a true lover of Christ, and a diligent pursuer of virtue,
does not hunt after comforts, nor seek such sensible sweetnesses,
but is rather willing to bear strong trials and hard labors for Christ.”

Thomas a’ Kempis, p. 64
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ


(a lone willet wanders in the surf / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook /2021)

Long ago and far away in a lifetime other than this current one, I was
a young, rather naive
no, make that a stubborn and hard headed 20 something.

20 something seems to be the age in which we tend to make
some of our more major decisions…be that college majors,
career paths, relationship choices, moving, staying, coming
or going…the ground work of life seems to really get serious
when we are in our early 20’s.

I have always been one who has tried desperately to listen to that
still small voice found within.

It’s just that the majority of my life, that voice has been more or less,
inaudible.
As in I really need, want, prefer to be hit in the head as I can’t ever
hear that resounding yes or no.

It just seems that I have had to guess throughout so much of my life,
feeling my way blindly in the dark.

For me, I have always believed that that still small voice is
not my own. It is to be the voice of God…
or simply put, the urgings of the Holy Spirit.

This is where the notion of discernment enters into the picture.
We listen, hear and prayerfully discern…God’s will for our lives

So what exactly is discernment you ask?
Well Merriam Webster tells us that discernment is the quality of being able
to grasp and comprehend what is obscure

Grasping and comprehending the obscure.

I think one’s future can certainly be the stuff of the obscure.

And since I’m recalling a past tale concerning an obscure future…
let me continue with said tale.
.
So yes…many lifetimes ago as a young 20 something,
I made a major life decision…hoping I had discerned correctly God’s
desired choice for my life.

The problem, however, was that I had never heard God’s audible yay or nay.
I was rather going on some sort of rote autopilot…following that
which I thought I was supposed to do.

And so, once I had made such a decision, I was set.
There was no turning back.

Obedience or stubbornness—that is yet to be seen.
But when I commit, I tend to do so with both feet.
It’s all in or nothing.
No waffling here.
It’s for better or worse.
Wise or stupid.

And so it was, at this point of my life, I can remember that my godmother
had gotten wind of this particular major decision of mine.

My godmother was a very Godly woman.
Wise yet doggedly determined…as in, her feet were firmly planted
and there was no straying…because she had prayed, heard, discerned
and was now firmly set.

She just always seemed to have a direct line to God and was always lead
by that very resounding direct line.

So when I went to tell my godmother of this particular decision of mine
on this particular day in time, a debate most severe ensued.

She did not think my decision was made with prayerful discernment
but was more of a youthful whim.

A 3 hour roller coaster of back and forth filled the afternoon.

Eventually, I left mad and more determined than when I had arrived
and she, I know, was frustrated and equally defiant.

She had time on her side…a lifetime of experience.
I had only but the gut feeling of a young person still
finding her way.

So where is all of this going you ask.

Well, the other day, our dear friend Oneta, over on Sweet Aroma
(https://onetahayes.com), made mention of this same sort of notion.

She wrote of decision making.
Decisions made inside and outside of God’s will.

Oneta spoke of discernment vs having to wander in a desert.
Meaning that if decisions are made outside of God’s will,
there will be consequences…as in wandering in deserts.
Meaning that God will allow us to wander…
allowing us to go nowhere no time fast.

That is until…

So back to my little story.

At this particular time in my life, I had a good friend who
was about 12 years older than me.
She had watched me grow over the years, often lending a guiding hand or
word.
She too got wind of my decision…plus she got wind of the rift
between godmother and goddaughter.

Unbeknownst to me this wise friend of mine went to my
equally wise godmother.

She told my godmother, as she later told me, that whether or not
my decision was, at the time, within God’s will or not…was not
my friend’s worry because what she knew was that regardless,
God would eventually, in His perfect time,
work that decision of mine to be within His perfect will.

My wise godmother yielded to the wisdom of another…
adding more wisdom to the arsenal.

Now how all that works is beyond my mere mortal’s brain, but I am grateful
that is does work.

The lesson here…
an oft decision can indeed become God’s will because of God’s will.

Not to say there won’t be struggles, frustration, or suffering.
God, however, works all things to His good…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

but wait…you want to know if I wandered or not right??

Well, I’m not certain.
If I’m like the Israelites, I might have two more years to figure that out.

But just know, there has been a lot of other wanderings I
been walking…

nuggets

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world;
there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.
He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.
We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
“Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget,
that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man,
all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”

Alexandre Dumas

(image from the series Oak Island on the History Channel)

Nuggets, and no, I’m not talking about chicken nuggets.

Rather I am talking about those tiny morsels of wisdom that often
push their way up to the surface along our life’s path…
just like a tiny treasured object emerging from the scattered debris underfoot.

Something shiny catching our eye… something that magically captures a ray of sun,
redirecting that glimmer upward which grabs us by the shoulders and shouts
“hey, look…I’m here!!”

I have to admit that for the past couple of months, I have been consumed by this move
of ours.
The culling, the packing, the schlepping, the hauling, the unpacking, the cleaning, the painting,
the repairing…on and on it’s been going—so much so that my senses have been void of
almost all and any news as well as being rather barren here in blogland.

Sparse on news is not a bad thing.
Sparse on blogland is more frustrating as I so enjoy reading posts.
I learn when I do so.
However unfortunately, skimming has been my recent MO.

So there have been a couple of things that have stuck with me throughout this
recent journey I’m currently traversing.

The first little nugget was the advice “trust the process”

Sounds simple enough…but is it really??

This was said to me when we first began toying with the notion of selling
and buying homes.
I had no idea whether the selling and buying process was truly the right thing
for us to do.

Remember, we were taking this on in full pandemic stride.

There were pros and cons on both sides of the aisle.

The cons often stood tall against the pros.
Then suddenly, that would all flip.

Hopes would both rise and fall…
there was excitement, trepidation, exhilaration, remorse…over and over
this roller coaster would fly.

But yet the voice of a friend kept ringing in my head…“trust the process
Over the course of days, weeks, months…it became a sort of mantra.
A leaning onto and into something else other than myself,
something greater, grander and beyond my mere limitations.
Something without limits or boundaries.

Job had to trust his process.

He may not have had much peace throughout his process…but he knew that the source leading
him to the end of the process was the only thing he could trust—
Omnipotence laced within a process.

And so, in turn, we trusted.

The next little nugget that was offered…
“this may not have been the house you needed, but this house needed you”

meaning– we always tend to think that we are the ones needing and wanting—
it’s the typical egocentric approach to life.
We think that we are at the center of the universe while everything else gravitates
around or to us.

But in actuality, we might just be on the outskirts circling around
something greater than ourselves…something where we are an input and not
the recipient.

So as things continue to literally fall into some semblance of place…
God keeps speaking…the question is…am I listening…

For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

where you can find all the answers

“Only in Christ can men and women find answers to the ultimate questions
that trouble them.
Only in Christ can they fully understand their dignity as persons created
and loved by God.”

Pope St. John Paul II


(shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2020)

“There is nothing to be dreaded in human ills except sin—not poverty,
or disease, or insult, or ill-treatment, or dishonor, or death,
which people call the worst of evils. To those who love spiritual wisdom,
these things are only the names of disasters, names that have no substance.
No, the true disaster is to offend God, to do anything that displeases him.”

St. John Chrysostom, p. 334
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

when did respect die???

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself.
The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he
cannot distinguish the truth within him,
or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.
And having no respect he ceases to love.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world,
to explain and despise it.
But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it,
not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves
and all beings with love, admiration and respect.”

Hermann Hesse

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!”

Edwin Markham

This quote by Edwin Markham…it was one of my favorite quotes… or better yet,
it actually became a sort of life rule that I kept close to my heart when I was in high school…
way back in the mid 70’s when I first found it.

It is a quote by Edwin Markham (April 23, 1852 – March 7, 1940)
He was a poet, as well as an American poet laureate, hailing from Oregan.
He was a prolific writer with most of his work coming from the years between 1923-1931.

This quote came racing back to my thoughts yesterday after a little incident I witnessed
at my local grocery store.

Let’s think of where I live.

I live in what is considered to be a small town.
We are about an hour west of Atlanta, give or take the traffic.
Yet we are a college town.
And we are what some might consider to be a sleeper community of Atlanta.
Meaning, folks drive back and forth to the big city in order to work.

We have big businesses but we still have a cattle sale barn that operates every Monday.
It’s where the local farmers bring their animals each week to show and sell…
So yes, we have pastures, cows, goats, sheep, bulls and yet we also have
global industry, a major hospital, a Division II college, and two nationally
recognized school systems…

Our town is a good town.
A small town with rural charm along with a comfortable modern feel.

So yesterday afternoon, I ran to the grocery store, our local Publix.
As I made my way to the door, pulling my mask over my face, I saw an older woman,
in her 80’s pushing her cart out of the store.
She was sporting a Trump 2020 t-shirt along with a black Trump 2020 face mask…
smartly accenting her jean skirt and sneakers.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye an elderly gentleman approaching us pushing another
grocery cart…he was bent over with age and I surmised he was her husband.

She told me she wanted to tell me something.

As she was an older woman and I have a deep respect for older folks,
I knew I needed to pay attention to what she wanted to tell me.

I don’t care what race, creed, or religion an older person might be,
they will always have my respect.
That’s how I was raised.

I might be almost 61 myself but I will always respect those who are older than I am.

No matter who they may be or where they may come from…be they humble
beings or more well do to…our elderly population are our treasures.
They have lived through so much, be it good or bad, and they have so much to
teach each one of us.

So when one of that generation tells me they have something to tell me,
I’m all ears.

This very southern gentile woman begins to tell me that a young man…
she told me his race, but to be honest I couldn’t make out exactly what she said
given the muffled voice coming from under her mask,
I could have easily assumed she was referring to a black male, but I’m just sticking with
young male…

This young male saw her shirt and mask and told her to her face that she was a
“fucking racist.”

Suddenly I felt a sick feeling hitting my stomach like a brick.

That could have once been my grandmother.
For some punk to call my own grandmother a “fucking” anything would have
sent me reeling.
For all I know, my grandmother probably never had heard of such a word!
She was that much a southern lady…much like this woman

By this time, her hunched-over husband chimed in telling me that had he heard
this young man say that to his wife, he would have hit him but he was
not nearby as he was just trying to get a cart to help him walk.

Here was a feeble elderly man feeling that his wife has been terribly insulted
and he wasn’t there to defend her—and that tore my heart to pieces.

I apologized to this couple that such should have happened to them on this humid September
Thursday afternoon at their local grocery store in small-town USA.

I felt so hurt.
So much so that tears came to my eyes.

I could have just as easily seen an elderly black man or woman wearing a BLM shirt
at the store and I would never have ever considered saying a word.
I might have disagreed, but I would respect their choice, their right,
to wear such because that is indeed their, our, right as Americans.
I don’t have to agree, but I do have to have respect.

Why?

Because that is how I was raised.

And so that one little word, that one little issue, is, in a nutshell,
the answer to all of this idiocy taking place across this Nation of ours…
respect has died.

May she rest in peace.
And may God have mercy.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

this will all make sense….

“Hands down, this is the best day of my life.
And quite possibly the last.”

Olaf (Disney’s Frozen character)

Over the past near three months, keeping watch of the wee ones, I have become
totally and completely ingrained, as well as a downright expert on “selsa” and
the movies of Frozen.

Olaf the snowman seems to have spoken to me…day in and day out…
over and over…

And so during these odd times of which we now find ourselves living,
I think Olaf’s song, “This will all make sense when I am older”
is more than appropriate as well as applicable.

Ode to the wisdom of a made-up and utterly odd little snowman.

it’s all in the translation–mi vida di por ti

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only
but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:2


(Christ Crucified, VELÁZQUEZ, DIEGO RODRÍGUEZ DE SILVA Y/ 1632/ Museo Del Prado)

There is an Evangelical Hispanic Chruch that I pass by on almost a daily basis.
There has been a sign in front of the church with the same lettering, sentence, for the better
part of a year.

Now you should know, I love church signs—
they are the quick little lessons I glean during my travels.
Some or cute.
Some are funny.
Some are thought-provoking.
And it matters not the denomination or size of the church—
for God has certainly spoken to me over the years via the signs I’ve passed.

I have found that church signs tend to be found in smaller towns or more rural areas.
Growing up in Atlanta, the churches didn’t really have signs that made statements
or offered tidbits of wisdom…they were more or less signs with simply the name
of the church.

So the signs in these smaller towns and more rural areas really speak in greater ways
than what their congregations may even realize.

The sentence that I’ve passed by now for so very long reads:

mi vida di por ti

So with my limited understanding of foreign languages, I was pretty certain I
was reading it, every day to and fro, with the correct meaning.

I had known enough ‘spanglish’ to get by with my students when I was still teaching,
so I figured I had this.

But those of you who know me or read this site know that I struggle enough with my own
native tongue—throw in another tongue and there’s no telling how that will go.

And to think, I had had French in school from the 4th grade all the way to my sophomore year
in high school–
Yet I think I’m still good with merely ‘Je ne sais pas’—as in ‘I don’t know’–
as in, I really don’t know.

So while driving past this sign, with my infinite wisdom intact, I deduced that ‘por ti’ must mean
door, as in portal.
So I was convinced that the sign read, ‘I am the door’.
Made sense to me.

Yet given my lack of depth with language, I knew it was best to doubt myself.

So I made a mental note to look it up when I got home.

And to say that I was wrong is an understatement.

‘Mi vida di por ti’ translates to ‘I gave my life for you’

Now a well understood and powerful daily reminder that puts a smile on my face each day
I pass this church…
No wonder they’ve left it up so long as that pretty much says it all…

“A dead Christ I must do everything for;
a living Christ does everything for me.”

Andrew Murray, Jesus Himself

false or not… prophets there be…

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.'”

Jeremiah 6:16


(painting of the prophet Jeremiah by Rembrandt 1630)

A few months back, our long lost and very busy friend Wally offered a piece from
Bogard Press regarding prophets…in particular, that of false prophets…

by Mark Clements
Wednesday, October 2

False Prophets Have Always Been Present
2 Peter 2:1-3
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be
false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies,
even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves
swift destruction,” 2 Peter 2:1.

Counterfeit spiritual authorities have been in existence since the time
of Adam and Eve. One of the hallmarks of God’s creation is man’s tendency to reject
the sovereign rule of its Creator. From the Fall of Lucifer to the Fall of Adam
and the consequent depravity found in every human since, it has always been
easy to find examples of people who mislead others into theological error.
In an effort to warn his readers, Peter reminded his readers that false teachers
have been among God’s people from the beginning.
What could they expect from counterfeit spiritual authorities?
Peter wrote that false teachers would begin by introducing heresy that denies the
lordship of Jesus Christ, they would show evidence of fleshly living,
including sensuality, blasphemy and greed.
They would seek also to exploit God’s people for their own gain.

We can be sure such heretics persist among God’s people today.
Satan would love nothing more than to convince would-be believers into thinking
that they are following Jesus when they are really following him.
These false teachers offer a counterfeit to Christianity and fool many people.
Remember, these false teachers are condemned by God and will reap destruction.
We must not only remain vigilant in adherence to God’s truth,
but also we have a duty to protect those who would be exploited by the greed
and sensuality of those caught up in man-made religion.
We will be able to recognize false religion by studying the beautiful truth of
God’s Word and hiding it deep in our hearts.

JUST A THOUGHT
Not everyone who calls himself Christian follows Christ

I too have written a few posts over the years regarding prophets…with some of those
posts being more of a lamentation as to where have those voices gone…or better yet,
where are those voices today?

Where are those who speak loudly and boldly of God’s word?
That voice of the one crying out in the wilderness…
“Repent and seek ye the way of the Lord…”

Where are those voices of Godly and spiritual authority…

Voices speaking in tune with the will of the Great I AM??

I think that they are still here living amongst us…
it might be that the false voices are simply crying out even louder.

For sadly today, we seem to have a din of voices that are crying out but are
crying out far from anything Godly…
as in they, and even their lesser minions, are readily claiming the authority of
some new world order…an order that is far from the Omnipotent Creator of all.

One of the latest voices swirling around in the mire of our crazy culture is that
of a young lady from Sweden named Greta Thunberg.
A 16-year-old young woman and environmental activist.

Greta is just a kid but is a very fast-rising rock star who is a globally vocal
spokesperson for all things climate change.

Now I don’t doubt climate change for a minute nor of man’s impact on the demise
of our environment, etc. but I also don’t buy the planet’s demise is to occur in the next
11 years or so–as claimed by many members of the climate change bandwagon.

The notion of prudence comes to mind when such Henny penny the sky is falling
claims are made…just saying.

I’ve not followed much of the news of Greta.
But I’ve been unable to help but notice that her face is plastered all over
the place.

Every time I turn on the computer or see some headline, this young woman is there.
Even Time Magazine has made her their person of the year— or is that month, or week or day
as they seem to be naming folks faster than I feel years pass…but that’s probably
just me and my age.

She seems like a bit of a radical child and an often angry young woman who
is appearing to be somewhat of an opportunist or perhaps sadly, a pawn…

Yet none the less, she is being highly touted by many as the new climate prophetess.

Does she have parents, a family?
Does she go to school?
I never seem to hear of them or see much about a home life.
But perhaps, like I say, I’ve not followed her enough to know.

The latest picture I caught was of her sitting in a German train station surrounded
by a slew of bags and sleeping bags, looking like a kid backpacking across Europe,
but in actuality, she was extolling and grousing over her ill-treatment by the
train authorities.

However, it appears that her grousing and poor lonely image was misleading
as she and her party had actually traveled first class and were all treated very kindly
by the German train personnel…so say the train folks.

Greta later backtracked about the grousing…

Hummm…

She has addressed world leaders while being highly disrespectful regarding the US President…
but hey, that’s not unusual as everyone seems disrespectful of the US President.

But in a recent interview without her usual angst-ridden and oddly
conjectured scientific script, she could not answer, nor did she appear to understand,
reporters questions put before her.

I’ve even caught an odd story that seems to have gone quite viral—
that being the notion of Greta being a time traveler.

Now I had no idea that there were such things as time travelers,
other than maybe Star Trek and getting beamed up…
but it seems to be a real thing with lots of folks on board.
So when lots of folks are on board, things are real right?
Or so that’s what this culture of ours seems to believe—just
look at places like twitter…they’ll tell you.

So here is a picture of a group of kids in the Yukon in 1898 looking for gold…

How in the heck someone thought to go looking for some old picture because
it appears Greta was in the picture is beyond my soul but look they did
look and they did find it.

And thus folks have decided that Greta is indeed in that 150-year-old picture
and is one who has traveled from there and then to here and now in order to warn us…
to warn of us of what is happening to our climate.

Is a time traveler like a shapeshifter?
And what exactly does the child of a Gold Rush settler in 1898 in the middle of
the Yukon understand about climate change?

Yet it appears that there are folks out there who consider Greta to be such a prophet,
or is that prophetess?
They believe she has been sent to warn us.
Sent by whom, they’re not saying, but she’s been sent none the less…
or is that, she’s traveled here to warn us.

Hummmm…

I often think stories like this come down to one thing…that of truth vs Truth.

The little t vs the big T.

Man vs his Creator.

Awareness is one thing.
Raising awareness is indeed important.
Doing our part for the world around us is crucial…
but…
when we turn activists into prophets, or even superhuman time travelers,
well, we raise the human to a level that is beyond human…
we begin taking human word as being otherworldly, promoting them to demigod status.

We want them to be a voice from on high telling us of our errors or our needs.
We think they have all the facts.
We become mesmerized, hanging on their words and supposed wisdom—
which is most often more observation and conjecture than gospel.

We yearn for that all-knowing, all-seeing “wizard” who, when all is said and done,
is just a mere mortal man, woman, or in this case, child,
hiding behind a curtain shrouded in smoke, pulling on a bunch of knobs and levers.

Yet we seem to yearn for something, for someone who great and grand…
who is in authority, who is without doubt—we yearn for God—-
but in our zealous yearning, we’ve turned small false voices into small little gods.

Little voices and little gods who, like shooting stars, quickly burn out and fade
from memory until the next bright light passes our yearning path.

So perhaps it would behoove this off the rail culture of ours to consider where
to put our yearning…our faith and trust.

Maybe its time for a good testing of these modern-day prophets and prophetesses.
Some much-needed introspection as to why we seem to keep throwing such
individuals up on the altars of our worship.
Why do we feel they deserve our “worship”–our attention, our noteriety…

So it would be best that we simply remain watchful while being wary—
the prophets have spoken and time is of the essence.

Blow the trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the LORD is coming,
For it is at hand:
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.
A people come, great and strong,
The like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such after them,
Even for many successive generations.

Joel 2:1-2

let me tell you…

It is the characteristic excellence of the strong man that he can bring
momentous issues to the fore and make a decision about them.
The weak are always forced to decide between alternatives they have not chosen themselves.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


(our son and his daughter, the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

Let me tell you a little bit about our son…

He turns 31 later this year and would absolutely die if he knew his mother was
sharing anything about him on her blog.

Oh well.

I’ve written about him before, several times…it’s just that I don’t tell him that I do.

I’ve written about him not because he’s simply my son nor because he’s famous, infamous
or terminally ill…thank the Lord he’s none of those things but just our son.

I write rather because his growing up was not an easy journey…

It was a journey that seems oh so long ago and yet the memories of the difficulties
remain.

Despite that long and often difficult journey, we, his parents, are so exceedingly
proud of the man, husband, and father he’s grown into.

And that is what I want to write about.

But I also want to write, not so much about our son,
but rather about the very surreal time in history in which we are now
finding ourselves living in.

We are living in a dystopian culture that is playing fast and loose with
something so straightforward and simple as the obvious fact of biology and gender…
that being the exacting fact of male and female.

It is a culture that is trying its best to demasculate any and all males.
A culture that is shaming boys, young men, and adult men…for being just that, male.
A culture that allows children to “choose” a gender, with gender being
a fluid notion.

I, for one, believe in and very much want strong men.

I want strong men in my life.
I want strong male role models who know what it means to be a man…
I want men who know what it means to be a Godly man.
Mature men.
Men who understand God’s intention for them as husbands, leaders,
role models, fathers…

And these desires of mine do not equate me with being weak, dominated,
overrun, demure, belittled or abused.

Just shy of 40 years ago, my late godfather, an Episcopal priest,
sat me down right before I got married in order to share a few important
thoughts with me.
As my priest, but more importantly, as my Godpoppa, he felt compelled to tell me that
marriage was not going to be easy.

I think we all know that an engaged bride-to-be lives in a bit of an unrealistic fairytale
of fantasy.
There is a whirlwind of activities, details, and parties to attend to;
reality is not often found in the fanfare.

My Godpoppa told me that I was marrying a good man but a man who had been abused
both physically and emotionally as a child by a hardcore alcoholic father.
He told me that my husband-to-be had not had a positive role model of
what it meant to be a loving husband and father.

He wanted me to keep this all in mind as we prepared to embark on
a life together.
He knew all too well that there would be difficult times.

He already knew, up close and personal, of my own issues with adoption and
dysfunction within my adopted family— but in his wisdom, he knew that
two broken people were about to be joined as one…
as in two becoming one big broken person.

Not only did I have to learn how to be a loving, supportive, forgiving wife and later
a mother–of whom was also working and tending to the house…
but my husband had to learn how to be a good husband, provider,
and an eventual positive father—
the type of father he desperately wanted to be for our son.


(our son and my husband many moons ago / Julie Cook / 1995ish)

And my Godfather was right—marriage was and is hard—add work, bills,
life and parenthood to that and things can become dangerously complicated fast!

I read the following quote this morning from the author Tom Hoops:
People think of “the family that prays together stays together” as a quaint old saying.
But it was a favorite saying of Saint John Paul II and Saint Teresa of Calcutta,
and the daily practice of Pope Benedict XVI’s family, according to his brother’s biographer.

I had to learn the hard way the importance of seeking God first and foremost when
it comes to one’s most intimate relationships.
It is imperative that He be in the middle of all we do because if He is not and
we substitute ourselves in the center, then we have a toxic equation for
stress and disaster.

It is Satan’s desire that the family fails.
If the family fails, Satan gains a greater foothold in our world…as all binding institutions
begin to crumble.

But I suppose I’ve deviated a tad from my original intention with this post…

Yet we need to understand that parenthood, like marriage, is often a learn
as you go experience.

And so it was with us—especially when our 5-year-old son was diagnosed
with a rather severe learning disability and a year later with ADD.

Life suddenly took a difficult turn.

He didn’t learn to read until he was entering the 3rd grade.
We spent the previous summer driving back and forth every day to a
specialized private school in Atlanta that focused on teaching kids with
dyslexia how to read.

We spent our afternoons fighting over homework and driving from tutor to tutor.

It all sounds so matter of fact now…but at the time it was anything but.

There was a father who was gone working 16 hour days, 6 days a week, a wife who
was teaching and commuting 30 minutes to and from work to home while shuttling a
child from school to tutoring to home, to homework, to Scouts, then back home again…

Throw in making supper, tending to the house, washing, cleaning, preparing
lessons for the next day…and life just seemed to get more and more difficult.

There was enough exhaustion, frustration, resentment, tears, fears and worry
circulating in our young lives to last a lifetime.
And there were many times I angrily raised a fist and questioned God.

Yet our son wanted nothing more than to be “normal” and of course we
wanted that for him.

But what was normal?

For him to be “normal” meant that there was going to have to be a great deal of
commitment, time invested, assistance, sacrifice and lots and lots of work.

But of course, you can read about all of that in the following linked posts written years back…
because today is not a day to dwell on what was but rather today is a day to look at what is:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/the-journey/
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/a-large-collective-sigh/

I actually had colleagues who openly voiced their skepticism over our son ever
going to college let alone being successful.

It wasn’t easy.
There were hurdles.
There were setbacks.
There were mistakes.
There were injustices.
And there was simply dumb rotten luck.

Then there came a girl.
And then came love.
And then came marriage.
And eventually, there came a degree.

Some very tough jobs followed—they came complete with low pay, poor hours,
dangerous conditions, a lack of appreciation, pounded pavement,
all the way to a shuttered company, a lost job, and then news of a baby.

When things were looking their lowest, a ray of light shone through.

Out of the blue came a new job.
New promises from a prominent company.
A new start.
Along with that new baby.

Yet hours remained frustratingly poor, pay remained minimal and frustration remained high
as the promises kept being pushed aside.

However in all of that remained something more important, something more instrumental,
something more exacting…that being…perseverance.

It was a desire and a will ‘to do’, not only for himself but more importantly the
desire to do, to be and to provide for his young family.

He wanted to be that man he saw in his father.

A man who made years of sacrifices of self for the betterment of his wife and child.
A man who was just that, a man who possessed both determination and a respect
for responsibility.

There was work, there was a growing family as baby number two appeared…
added to all of that was more college work for an additional degree add-on.
A balance of living life while looking ahead.

And just when life was looking overwhelming and growth was looking stymied and stagnant…
along came an opportunity for something different, something new and something that
seemed improbable, unattainable and most unlikely…and yet it came none the less.

After gaining a toehold in the door and with nearly two months of
interviews and scrutiny, the new job offer came last week.

I know I’ll be writing more about all of this change in the coming weeks…
but first, there are the necessary two weeks of finishing up one job before
starting another.

There will be the training, learning the adjusting…for not only our son
but for his entire small family.

Change is good, but it is also hard.

Yet the one thing in all of this that I know to be true is that our son did this on his own.
He earned the opportunity and sold himself as the best asset he could be…

There is God’s hand and timing in all of this.
And I can say this as I’m now looking back.

On the front end, things can look overwhelming and impossible…

Yet my husband toiled to become that man, that father, he so yearned to be…
and now his son is following suit…

Living the life as the man God intended for him to be.

A strong focused man who loves his family.
A man who works to lead his family and honor his wife.
A strong role model for both his young son and daughter.
A man who continues to make us, his mom and dad, so very proud.

Correct your son, and he will give you comfort;
He will also delight your soul.

Proverbs 29:17

seek, vision, trust

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


(zebra swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2019)

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

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