And I thought ‘woke’ meant something you did after sleep

In 2020, Americans are going to be forced to choose between two opposing visions:
the pro-American vision of President Abraham Lincoln
and the deeply anti-American vision of the modern left…
The modern left’s outlook is radically different from —
and deeply hostile toward — the classic definitions of
American liberty and history.

Newt Gingrich

Yep, it’s hard to keep up if you’re of a certain age.
And perhaps even harder if you make the conscious decision to abstain from
social media…
Because it appears that social media is THE place to learn all sorts of new words,
both good and bad, and oh so part of our ‘woke’ culture.

According to an article on business2community.com:
The Oxford English Dictionary has added a plethora of new words to their online database.
Those searching their dictionary can now find the definitions of words such
as “woke,” “hygge” and “post-truth,” which they named last year’s Word of the Year.

One of the most notable entries for many on social media was “woke,”
a slang entry that was met with both praise and backlash.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “woke” as:
well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination
and injustice; frequently in stay woke (often used as an exhortation).

In later use perhaps popularized through its association with
African-American civil rights activism
(in recent years particularly the Black Lives Matter movement),
and by the lyrics of the 2008 song Master Teacher by American singer-songwriter Erykah Badu,
in which the words I stay woke serve as a refrain.
In addition to having an original meaning of simply “awake,” the adjectival “woke”
has been around far longer than some may think.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, the earliest use in a figurative sense was
in a 1962 New York Times article.
Titled “If You’re Woke, You Dig It,”
it “describes how white beatniks were appropriating black slang at the time.”
The term is now widely used to challenge others to be more aware of
injustices in the world.

It seems that the folks of all things dictionary, be that Merriam-Webster, Oxford or others,
have actually added 600 new words this past year.

At this rate, my communication skills will no longer be woke but more like asleep…

And I for one find such words stupid…as in dumb, useless and if the truth be told, lazy–
as they are nothing more than slang.

There already exist some pretty great civil descriptors out there–
of which mean very much the same.
Yet I wonder…is it because these existing words are more pointed and
seemingly painfully direct…Because we know this progressive culture of ours is actually
afraid of pointed, direct and painful.

And as a small aside, might I just add that I am sick and tired of hearing,
seeing, reading the ‘F’ word at every turn. We went to the movies last evening
to see the movie 1917 and in the very first preview of coming movies, Will Smith opened
the preview spouting off the F word…sigh…
And despite my having written many a post of the use of vulgar slang as being now
acceptable, I am digressing…

So all this talk of culture, words, and of being woke had me thinking when I caught
the following article by Newt Gingrich.

If anyone out there is woke (please note that my Grammarly correction wants that to read ‘is waking’),
I would think it would be Newt.
As a history professor, author, historian and former Speaker of the House,
Newt knows a thing or two when he looks back while looking forward.

Here are a few tidbits from his latest article followed by a link for the full
story.

Newt Gingrich: In 2020, Abraham Lincoln will be controversial and divisive.
(Yes, Lincoln!) Here’s why

Lincoln clearly admitted that the work of freedom was unfinished and that we owe it to those
who gave their lives to continue the work of extending and improving liberty for all people.
In fact, Lincoln said it is our duty to extend “under God, … a new birth of freedom.”

(Of course, the anti-religious left would scoff at the reference to God.
Yet, both Lincoln and Washington shared a belief that America existed because of
Divine Providence’s benevolence.)

We have moved from government of the people to government of the experts.

The gap between Lincoln’s belief in the people and the contempt elitists such
as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,
have for those who Hillary Clinton called “deplorables” tells you a lot about the gap
between Lincoln’s values and the values of the modern American left.

One of the great challenges for the Trump administration and its allies is
to re-center government on Lincoln’s values and dismantle the elitist
“bureaucrats know best” model that now defines so much of our government.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2020-abraham-lincoln-controversial-newt-gingrich

“A drop of ink may make a million think”—(A rerun)


(image, www)

Yesterday, a fellow blogger and pastor known as Slim Jim,
(https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2019/12/26/what-is-your-favorite-post-that-you-wrote-in-2019/),
asked his fellow bloggers what was their favorite post from the year.

Not which post may have generated the most views or likes or comments…
but rather what post did we enjoy writing the most or felt as if we’d hit the mark the best…?

Maybe it’s because I was in the middle of dismantling the Christmas tree and was feeling
my typical sense of melancholy and discontent or maybe it was because I had not eaten all day
and was feeling somewhat brain dead and hangry, but I just couldn’t bring to mind any one particular post
from the past year that stood out…

However, I did remember a few from the past previous years that stood out.

I’ve also noticed, from time to time when looking over my stats,
what previous posts have received a high number of visits despite their
having been written several years prior.

There was one post in particular that I actually noticed yesterday,
from way back in 2013 which was shortly after I started this blogging business,
had received several views.

I often wonder what brings multiple viewers to a years-old post.
Was it a random search?
Was it the sharing of something found by one, offered to another?
Who knows how people find things…but find they do.

This particular post was one that I actually recall with a sense of satisfaction…
in that I liked it, I felt it said something and I still find it relevant.

I pulled it back up, cut and pasted, added a few grammatical corrections…
and so without further ado… let’s look back to 2013…

The title of today’s post by Lord Byron, albeit a bit poetic,
certainly prompted me to think–as in I imagine that was Lord Byron’s point.

Just mere ink on paper…forming letters then words has, down through the ages,
changed lives,
changed governments, changed nations…
From the Talmud on ancient scrolls, to the Magna Carta, to our own Declaration of Independence,
ink and paper possess tremendous power.

Men and women die defending ink and paper.
We fight one another over ink and paper.
Ink and paper have sadly caused people to take their own lives.
It’s all a rather overwhelming combination when you actually think about the simplicity
of the two as single entities, and yet when combined together,
how staggeringly strong and powerful the two become.

Nathaniel Hawthorn, the early 19th-century American novelist,
reminded those of his day that:
“words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary,
how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

This statement coming from a man who wrote the Scarlet Letter—-
the powerful tale we all read in High School. A tale about a single red letter.
The red letter ‘A’ which was literally forced upon a young woman, as a mark about her life.
She was to wear this scarlet letter for all to see… a visible sign of a private indiscretion
made very public.
A single written letter, worn and changing lives forever.

And when I think of a small rather pitiful man who took pen and paper to write about
his “struggles” in Mein Kampf, and how that combination of letters which formed words,
became a psychotic manifesto of a single disturbed individual which worked an entire nation
into a frenzy of death and murder…I am amazed.

Or what of another angst-ridden man who put ink to paper, forming a doctrine of living
which in turn sent another nation to revolt against it’s ruling czar,
changing the course of history and our own lives forever—

It becomes so overwhelming…
Because it all started out so simple…
It started firstly with ink added to paper, with the forming of letters and finally words…

Sadly today so many of us casually, and even callously, throw words around,
never taking time to ponder the consequences or outcome of those words…
words that are now so easily clicked off on a computer or phone.

From toxic and viral e-mails to emotional ranting tweets—
words and their piercing effects are almost unemotionally thrown out toward individuals,
thrown out with the intentions to hurt, to mock, to belittle–
allowing the offender to hide behind them—

No longer is it really ink on paper.
Letter and words now form on screens—be it the screen of a computer or a screen on a phone.

And so I wonder…
Did we think more clearly, more carefully, when we were actually having to take a pen or pencil
in hand to a sheet of paper?
Thinking more thoughtfully before today’s rapid-fire texting?

Did we consider our words more carefully when we were actually writing slowly,
letter per letter, word built upon word?

Were we kinder, more thoughtful, more determined, more committed?

Perhaps or perhaps not—but what if we were more thoughtful of our words
and of the choice of those words…..what then???

So on this Monday morning, a new day to a new week, consider the words you write…
the words you type—the words you spit out during the course of the week—
Think about how powerful are they.

What is their true intent?
Do you wish to harm or to help?
Do your words represent who you truly think you are?
Be that a kind and benevolent or rather a caustic and trite individual…
My hope is that we may become more mindful when combining letters into forming words—

And thus the question remains…what shall your words be…?

a mayoral day and last words

“As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of
our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relationships
with this best and truest friend of mankind that death’s image is not only no longer
terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


(the mayor awaits Moppie’s arrival / Abby Cook / 2019)


The Mayor out to brunch with the fam /Julie Cook / 2019))

“This God of all goodness has made those things easy which are common and necessary
in the order of nature, such as breathing, eating, and sleeping.
No less necessary in the supernatural order are love and fidelity,
therefore it must needs be that the difficulty of acquiring them is by no means
so great as is generally represented. Review your life.
Is it not composed of innumerable actions of very little importance? Well,
God is quite satisfied with these.
They are the share that the soul must take in the work of its perfection.”

Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p.7
An Excerpt From
Abandonment to Divine Providence

A quick thought on this Monday morning that actually came about on the night prior—
Sunday had been a busy day for us—filled with driving and keeping up with a squirmy worm,
aka the Mayor.

Before the bad storms were to hit Sunday morning, we drove over to Atlanta.
We spent the day with the Mayor and her two close aides, along with the two assistants,
Auntie Sheba and Sister Alice (aka Dad’s cat and our son’s dog) as the storms rolled into
the Atlanta area.

They had actually gotten a new TV and wanted us to see it—
TVs were my Dad’s “thing”…not so much mine but my son seems to have inherited
that from his “Pops”—-so as a family, we watched the movie Hook…
…and that was not lost on my thoughts….once again as a family.

The last time, and the first time, we saw this movie was when our son was a very little boy…
— the tale, at that time, was a heartfelt reminder to my husband,
as well as to most adults—-
for the gist of the lesson of importance from this movie was that of being present
in our children’s lives—
It was a thought that both work and life be damned—for our children so very much needed
us to be “present”—-and that thought has not changed in the 28 years since that movie first
came out.
But that is a post for another day.

And yes, bless Robin Williams

Once the storms had finally past, it was late in the evening and sadly the time had
come for us to bid our farewells to this little family as we headed west—back home.
(I don’t cry nearly as badly as I use to when leaving my beloved Mayor)

Despite the heavy rains having moved out, it was still very misty and drizzling–
the roads were still very wet and coupled with very poor visibility.

My husband and I both remarked how badly the lane lines needed repainting on the interstate
as they were barely visible.

I noted that one car didn’t have their lights on.
Despite being 7:30, it was pitch dark.
The interstate was jam-packed full of both cars and tractor-trailer trucks…
much like a typical late afternoon…
and here was a totally dark car traversing the roadways on a very treacherous night.
Aiyyyiii Ayi!!

“Does anyone ever stay at home any more?!” my husband quips.

We kept driving.

I was amazed at the consistent speed of the traffic mass—
75 was the slow average…with 70 being the speed limit—
I was clocking between 78 and 80 trying to keep up, yet I was being
passed left and right—conditions were terribly poor and yet everyone was driving
like an Indy 500—
with several cars darting in, out and around…
I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.

At one point my husband commented just how trafficky it was.
Amazed that this was a Sunday night while the interstate was a sea of vehicles.

My response was a deadpan “yeah boy”

And that was when it hit me…”yeah boy”…
wonder if a car suddenly jerked over into my lane, wonder if someone slammed on their brakes,
wonder if one of the crazy cars darting in and out, darted without really looking…??

“yeah boy” could have easily been my final words.

Did I want “year boy” to be the last words I uttered to my husband?!

And so I spent the next serval dark wet miles pondering the notion of “last words”

Finally, thankfully, we made it home in one piece.

Tired after a long day…but thankful to be home while still sad that The Mayor was
now over an hour away…yet I was still left thinking about what it is we say…
that which we say so flippantly, so often, without thinking.

We are living in a time within a culture that takes words for granted.
A time in which we change and alter the meaning or the context of our words
to suit our current whims, wants and desires…with a usually costly
consequence for our fellow man…or woman.

We use our words against one another quickly, pointedly and profanely as we use them
to shame, offend, spread falsehoods and to deeply wound our neighbors.

We use them to spread maliciousness, lies, and accusations…most often the
fodder of that which is untrue.

Perhaps it’s time we start thinking about our words…those words offered to
others…offered with little to any real thought…or words offered with
calculating cunningness that are meant to not merely hurt but rather to destroy.

“Yeah boy”…not what I would like to know were the last words uttered to my husband…

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,
Matthew 12:36

***once we got home Sunday night, I read where up to 14 (sadly now 23 and rising) folks had lost their lives
in the storms— a tornado, in Alabama.
May our prayers be for those families who lost their loved ones Sunday evening and for those whose
lives are now turned inside out…

Third term abortions, Absolutely NOT!

‘Abortion’ “[the] anticipated murder to prevent someone from being born”
Tertullian

All this is causing a profound change in the way in which life and relationships between people
are considered. The fact that legislation in many countries,
perhaps even departing from basic principles of their Constitutions,
has determined not to punish these practices against life,
and even to make them altogether legal,
is both a disturbing symptom and a significant cause of grave moral decline

Pope John Paul II
Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)
1995


(a puny pigeon sits at the breaking surf / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019

I am simply beside myself.

So gravely upset.

So much so that the words will not come.

And the words that do come, are not the right words…not for this…not right now.

Third. Term. Abortions.

I need to gather my thoughts, feelings, and words carefully before I can write
the type of post that is deserving of this latest issue of absolute madness.

My initial response is not only absolutely not, but more like, Hell NO, Absolutely NOT!!!

I have never believed in abortion.

It eludes me as to how a civilized society can somehow convince itself that abortion is ok.

The matter of simply a choice.
A yes or a no.
Somewhat reminiscent of a Ceaser offering a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
Simple as that…life or death.

I consider abortion the taking of a life and I think when I last checked, the taking of a life
equated to murder…and murder is a capital offense, plain and simple.

I am adopted.
Not aborted.

In 1995 Pope John II wrote an encyclical entitled Evangelium Vitae, The Gospel of Life—
a treatise regarding the sanctity of human life…all human life…
as well as the responsibility that the Chruch has to protect that sanctity and that of life.

His words address the threats to human life— capital punishment, euthanasia, sterilization, murder,
and abortion.

He begins his encyclical with the scripture from Luke—reminding all of us about the importance of
birth and salvation…it is the proclaiming of the good news and that of great joy which is to
all people…’for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior…”

The Pope is reminding us that our hope comes in the form of a birth of a baby…

Nancy Pelosi, the current Speaker of the House, is Catholic.
Yet she supports abortion.
She knows the teaching of the Chruch and yet her choice is to disregard this teaching
regarding the sanctity of human life.

And now we have the Governor of Virginia and several legislatures thinking full-term
pregnancies..that being the delivering of a living, breathing baby to not be tended to or
cared for but rather to be set aside, like a wet towel after a shower,
while the powers that be in the room decide whether or not the
baby may be “allowed” to live or simply die.

When I went to sleep in 1995 on a night when the Pope was putting his thoughts to paper,
I was a 36-year-old mother of a 6-year-old little boy.
I was also a wife and a teacher.

I had already lost my own mother (adopted) to cancer.
My brother (adopted) to suicide.

I was not a perfect mother or wife let alone a perfect teacher.

I was well aware of my own shortcomings and sinfulness.
I was also aware of the sanctity of life.
As well as the forgiveness of sin as found in a Savior who had come into the
world as an innocent child.

I knew other people who also believed in the sanctity of life.

My church, The Episcopal Chruch, at the time, believed in the sanctity of life.

That is not so much the case these 24 years later.

Politicians, clergy, educators, news personalities, entertainers and just average folks like wives,
husbands, college kids, high school kids…
all these 24 years later…more and more people think abortion is ok…

And now, we have the notion that a full term birth…an actual living and breathing baby may
in turn, be killed if those in that delivery room deem it so.

So until I can put my own thoughts together in some sort of coherent, common sense sort of order,
I will offer the following words from Pope John Paul II, taken from Evangelium Vitae,
with a link following the quote to the full encyclical.

At the dawn of salvation, it is the Birth of a Child which is proclaimed as joyful news:
“I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people;
for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).
The source of this “great joy” is the Birth of the Saviour;
but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth,
and the joy which accompanies the Birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfilment
of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn 16:21).

When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says:
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
In truth, he is referring to that “new” and “eternal” life which consists in communion
with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the
Sanctifying Spirit.
It is precisely in this “life” that all the aspects and stages of human life
achieve their full significance.

The Church knows that this Gospel of life…

58. Among all the crimes which can be committed against life,
procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable.
The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an
“unspeakable crime”.54

But today, in many people’s consciences, the perception of its gravity has become
progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour
and even in law itself,
is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense,
which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil,
even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation,
we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call
things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the
temptation of self-deception. In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is
extremely straightforward:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Is 5:20).
Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology,
such as “interruption of pregnancy”, which tends to hide abortion’s true nature and to
attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a
symptom of an uneasiness of conscience.
But no word has the power to change the reality of things:
procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is
carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence,
extending from conception to birth.

The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize
that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved.
The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life.
No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be
considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor!
He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence
consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby’s cries and tears.
The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman
carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the mother
herself who makes the decision and asks for the child to be eliminated,
and who then goes about having it done.

It is true that the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother,
insofar as the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception is not made for
purely selfish reasons or out of convenience, but out of a desire to protect certain
important values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the
other members of the family. Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live
in such conditions that it would be better if the birth did not take place.
Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic,
can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.

59. As well as the mother, there are often other people too who decide upon the
death of the child in the womb. In the first place, the father of the child may be to blame,
not only when he di- rectly pressures the woman to have an abortion,
but also when he indirectly encourages such a decision on her part by leaving her alone
to face the problems of pregnancy:
55 in this way the family is thus mortally wounded and profaned in its nature as a community
of love and in its vocation to be the “sanctuary of life”.
Nor can one overlook the pressures which sometimes come from the wider family
circle and from friends. Sometimes the woman is subjected to such strong pressure
that she feels psychologically forced to have an abortion: certainly in this case
moral responsibility lies particularly with those who have directly or indirectly obliged
her to have an abortion. Doctors and nurses are also responsible,
when they place at the service of death skills which were acquired for promoting life.

But responsibility likewise falls on the legislators who have promoted and approved
abortion laws, and, to the extent that they have a say in the matter,
on the administrators of the health-care centres where abortions are performed.
A general and no less serious responsibility lies with those who have encouraged
the spread of an attitude of sexual permissiveness and a lack of esteem for motherhood,
and with those who should have ensured-but did not-effective family and social policies
in support of families, especially larger families and those with particular financial
and educational needs. Finally, one cannot overlook the network of complicity which
reaches out to include international institutions, foundations and associations
which systematically campaign for the legalization and spread of abortion in the world.
In this sense abortion goes beyond the responsibility of individuals and beyond the
harm done to them, and takes on a distinctly social dimension.
It is a most serious wound inflicted on society and its culture by the very people
who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders. As I wrote in my Letter to Families,
“we are facing an immense threat to life: not only to the life of
individuals but also to that of civilization itself”.
56 We are facing what can be called a “structure of sin” which opposes human life not yet born.

60. Some people try to justify abortion by claiming that the result of conception,
at least up to a certain number of days, cannot yet be considered a personal human life.
But in fact, “from the time that the ovum is fertilized,
a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother;
it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth.
It would never be made human if it were not human already.
This has always been clear, and … modern genetic science offers clear confirmation.
It has demonstrated that from the first instant there is established the programme
of what this living being will be: a person, this individual person with his characteristic
aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization the adventure of a human life begins,
and each of its capacities requires time-a rather lengthy time-to find its place and to
be in a position to act”.57 Even if the presence of a spiritual soul cannot be
ascertained by empirical data, the results themselves of scientific research on
the human embryo provide “a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason
a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a human life:
how could a human individual not be a human person?”.

http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html

And as we, the pilgrim people, the people of life and for life, make our way in confidence towards
“a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1),
we look to her who is for us “a sign of sure hope and solace”

Pope John Paul II
Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)
1995

Short and sweet

When we sin, we think we are geniuses;
when we confess, we know we are idiots.

Adreinne Von Speyr
from Lumina and New Lumina


(the Mayor attempts to drive herself donning her latest French driving barret /
Julie Cook / 2018)

As I’ve eluded these last past couple of days, I have a great deal I want to share…

For there has been so much gleaned during the past 18 days…
so many observations, so many revelations… but…as life would have it…
my desire for extensive sharing will have to wait just a bit longer.

I’ve been called into active duty…

The Mayor is requiring that her chief aide come to the Atlanta office for a few days
as her mom and dad’s work schedules this week will override the
daycare’s morning hours.

So the chief aide is having to pinch hit.

With that said, the offerings over the bulk of this coming week may be shorter
and sweeter rather than meatier and savory.

Therefore the offerings of thought and observations will have to suffice with a few thoughtful nuggets…little tasty morsels offered in order to tie us over until
time permits for further and more filling expansions…

“Your work—whether it is a chore around the house, a homework assignment,
a sports practice, or a job with an office and a paycheck—isn’t just a means to an economic end.
Nor is it something you need to ‘get over with’ in time for the weekend.
It is an essential part of your sanctification, a share in the divine brotherhood of Christ,
and a means of discovering your true self.
So the next time you are inclined to grumble about how much work you have to do,
try to remember that even this is an honor because it has been redeemed by Jesus.
If it was good enough for Him, it should be good enough for you.”

Fr. Augustine Wetta, OSB
from Humility Rules

gifts, speaking, demonstrations

“You must speak to Jesus, not only with your lips,
but also with your heart; actually, on certain occasions,
you should speak with only your heart.”

— St. Padre Pio


(Jules, black sheep and skellybegs…a collection of sheep / Julie Cook / 2018)

I collect sheep.

No, not real live sheep…but I kind of wish I did.

Think rather more like sheep/lamb figurines, prints, paintings…
And no, it’s not excessive or of the kitschy or silly…think more unique and even antique.

However, the latest acquiring is a bit silly but since we shared the same name, I really
had no choice.

I’ve got several of these sheep sitting on my kitchen counter above my sink.
They sit or stand, depending on the sheep, perched amongst various Icons that also
occupy this now apparently sacred space…the space above the kitchen sink.

And so it just seems natural that this particular space should be scared as it is
a space where I spend a good bit of my time…
in the kitchen and at the sink.

In some regards, I have these things here to help keep my mind on that which is greater than
as well as beyond.
Helping me to redirect my thoughts…
And it was especially important when I was still teaching and was in definite
need of redirecting.

My love of sheep goes back to the line in the confessional prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent;
According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake;
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name.
Amen.

(BCP 1928)

For you see, I am that straying and erring sheep in need of a Shepherd.

And so, sheep have spoken to my heart ever since I first learned of our similarities.

And I keep an eye out for the unique and special during my jaunts.

So when visiting the gift shop at Andrew Jackson’s home The Hermitage, I recently added to the
collection when I picked up a ceramic sheep made by artisans at the Colonial Folk Art guild
in Virginia.
The sheep was named “Jules”…a name that many have called me throughout my
entire life.
So it was a no-brainer.

Jules the sheep now sits by another ceramic sheep.
A black sheep that is more reminiscent of soot than wool.
He is quite round with nails acting as his legs.

A sheep that I suspect is from a raku firing where the pieces are fired to a certain temp then
removed from the kiln and placed into a metal can (metal trash can) that is usually filled with straw.
The ultra hot ceramic piece causes the straw to burn and naturally darkens the clay piece.
This black sheep is stained much like a raku piece.

My aunt picked him up from an artist in North Carolina and it was actually the last gift she
ever gave me.
It was a Christmas gift a year ago this past Christmas.

My thoughts are gravitating to this little black sheep because it was a year ago this month,
on the 12th actually, that my aunt died—dying suddenly while undergoing treatment
for cancer.

Now granted my aunt has “gifted” me with a few other things since her death…”gifts”
that her daughter had given me following my aunt’s death.
Gifts such as a few antique wooden duck decoys, a few of my aunt’s beloved turkey collection
(think me and sheep…well she was that way with turkeys…go figure)
as well as an ancient armless rocking chair that was my grandmothers.
My aunt’s daughter, this cousin of mine, actually passed away 6 months following my aunt’s
death…so we have closed a door on that small bit of family.

All of these thoughts of sheep and gifts came to mind when I read the words offered today
by Padre Pio…

The good friar admonishes us to remember to speak not always with only words but at times,
more importantly, we are to speak with our hearts…of which I suspect is more ‘actionary’…
demonstrative in the actions of a living embodiment of the Spirit within.

A thought which actually makes me think of the importance of what it is that we leave behind…
that which we leave behind to those who follow us…

Do we leave behind merely things..things that sit around collecting dust or simply conjuring
up forlorn memories…
or do we leave behind an example of that which is so much greater than ourselves…
a polestar that points others to the One who is so much greater and everlasting…

Sometimes the heart speaks louder than the mouth…

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

what is prayer

“Why must people kneel down to pray?
If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do.
I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep,
deep woods and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if
there was no end to its blueness.
And then I’d just feel a prayer.”

L.M. Montgomery


(the quince are slowly forthcoming / Julie Cook / 2018)

According to Merriam Webster prayer is:

1. a (1): an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought said a prayer
for the success of the voyage

2. a: set order of words used in praying
b: an earnest request or wish
2: the act or practice of praying to God or a god kneeling in prayer
3: a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers —often used in plural
4: something prayed for
5: a slight chance haven’t got a prayer

Books have been written, lectures have been given and the search engines are endless…
Everyone has an idea, a thought, a notion…
as to what prayer is…
Both personally and publically

For you see prayer can be both.

There are the: ‘what types’, ‘which ways’ and ‘how-tos’…

Gandhi, a Hindu, offers one nice thought on prayer…
“Prayer is not asking.
It is a longing of the soul.
It is the daily admission of one’s weakness.
It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

While Mother Teresa, a modern day saint, offers another thought —
“Prayer is not asking.
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition,
and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

Yet both saint and Hindu offer similar thoughts along a similar line…

Asking or not asking
Longing yet nothingness
Listening versus hearing
Words or silence.
Knees or standing
Thoughts or shouting
Loud versus quiet
Individual versus group
Need or praise
Hope or hopelessness…

We know that Jesus both wept and prayed..much as many of us do to this day.
He also implored…as in an earnestness that almost borders on begging.

Moses prayed and implored
Abraham prayed and implored
Just as every prophet, every apostle and every saint on down the line has done since.

I saw a sign outside of a church not long ago that read ‘to worry is an annoyance to God
As in God tells us not to worry…and yet our prayers are so often overflowing with
the very worry that this sign tells us is an annoyance to God–for it is a manifestation
of our doubt…our lack of faith…
and to some, it is even considered sinful…as in a lack of trust….and did not God state
to us to pray without ceasing, and to trust.

So I suppose I’ve annoyed God considerably over the years.
Sometimes more than others.

Sometimes I’ve known Him to listen, other times I’ve been left to wonder.

This is where the nonbeliever loves to pounce…taking hold of that latter notion with a
sneering “see, I told you so”…”for there is no God.”

But none the less, I pray.

Because none the less,
I believe.

Silence and frustration
Sound or emptiness
Annoy or implore
Wordless or shout
Anger or sorrow…

I pray.

“In the silence of the heart, God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa