The wings of eagles

(image: blade eagle soaring above the trees on the Pacific Rim trail, Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada / Julie Cook / 2010)

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31
English Standard Version (ESV)

(Eagles perched in a tree somewhere along the Oregon Coastal Hwy between Yachats and Cannon Beach, Oregon / Julie Cook / 2013)

What path are you traveling?

(Photograph: Pacific Rim Trail, Yachats, Oregon, Julie Cook/ 2013)

This-Worldly Life—July 21, 1944

It is the complete this-worldliness of life that we must first learn how to believe. When we have fully renounced making something out of ourselves—be it a saint or a converted sinner or a church man or woman (a so-called priestly figure!) , a righteous or an unrighteous person, a sick or a healthy person—when we have renounced all of that, we fall completely into God’s arms and into what I call this-worldliness, namely, living in an abundance of tasks, questions, successes and failures, experiences, and helplessness. We then take seriously no longer our own suffering, but the suffering of God in the world. We watch with Christ in Gethsemane. This, I think, is faith. This is conversion and in this way we become human beings and Christians (cf. Jer. 45). How can we get carried away with successes or failures if in the life of this world we empathetically suffer the sufferings of God?… I am thankful that I have been able to recognize this and I know that I have been able to do so only on the path that I am now traveling. Therefore, I think gratefully and peacefully about the past and the present.
May God lead us as a friend through these times, but above all, may he lead us to himself.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Letters from Prison

I realize the date on this “letter” from prison is dated actually from yesterday 1944–I thought the message most timely…be it yesterday 1944 or today July 22, 2013….so….On this new day to a new week…will you be taking the right path?

Beautify the place of my Sanctuary

(Photograph: The Pacific Rim Trail, a spruce’s pinecones/ Julie Cook/2013)

The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary;
and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

Isaiah 60:13
Revised Standard Version

I hope that at some point this summer, you will be able to get outside, enjoying the wonders of Nature–it is restorative and soothing to whatever ails the spirit…..even if it’s just out around the yard–or sitting on the front porch…. If only to enjoy watching the birds at the feeder outside the kitchen window or the hummingbirds darting about.

I marvel at our almost seemingly dire need for Nature… as is noted by the rising numbers of urban gardens–the abandoned city lots transformed into agricultural wonders complete with raised beds of vegetables galore, the rooftops of apartment and business buildings transformed into urban oasis, the growing surge in chefs desire to produce garden to table meals providing patrons with that oh so fresh experience—which indeed does make a dramatic palate difference.

It seems to be something almost innate, a prewired component—is that why we see such an insurgence in the number of urban pet owners—the pets that require us to get out for a walk, as we decide to take them with us everywhere we go…are they perhaps a small excuse to head to the dog park, the city park, a drive out of town for some “exercise”… 🙂

No matter—the woods, the park, the shore, the mountains, the pasture, the backyard…are all calling—quit reading this and get going….just I must quite writing in order to get going myself 🙂
Happy Trials to you………

Under the Sea–and a marvel to behold

(Photograph: small portion of a hand blown glass wall mural/ Overleaf Lodge/ Yachats, Oregon/ Julie Cook/2013)

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
Vincent Van Gogh

Isn’t this glass mural beautiful? I saw it, during our trip to Oregon,on a wall overlooking the Overleaf Lodge’s lobby —but only noticing it once I had made my way up to the second floor, never having noticed it when I was downstairs at the front desk. I think the colors, the images, the composition all very pretty. You’ve got to remember, this is the “old” art teacher talking.

Glass art, the blowing of such, has always amazed me. Having seen Dale Chihuly’s sculptural luminous and most often undulating glass creations as well as watching the documentaries on his studio and works in progress, plus having visited the island of Moreno in Italy where those famed “venetian” glass objects originate— I have just always marveled at this type of art….as well as having been a bit weary of it all. The whole molten liquid glass thing, working with furnaces, pipes, tongs, all that terribly unforgiving heat. Notice that Mr. Chihuly is minus an eye…….

I think it may go back to grade school and having watched the 1957 movie Johnny Tremain–based on events during the Revolutionary war. There was a scene when young Johnny was attempting to melt silver, as he was apprenticed to a silversmith (yes the one and only Paul Revere)–there was an accident and the molten silver severely burnt his hand. Ever since seeing that little scene, when I was most young and impressionable, has left me really nervous around “molten” anything….scratching volcanology off the career list early on.

The whole chemistry thing would be another kicker as science and math were never my forte, but with the knowledge of knowing what, which and how much of various chemical compounds must be mixed and heated in order to create the various colors in glass also amazes me. If you haven’t read the post of Vanilla or is Cookie a Lush, may I recommend that to you as it touches on my fascination with pretty shinny glass bottles.

I have two very old glass “goblets”/ canisters that were may grandmothers sitting on my coffee table. One is a combination of red and clear glass–very venetian… that I suspect she picked up in the 50′ or 60’s during a jaunt “across the pond”. The other one is larger, red glass but has a woodland forest scene “etched” around it’s surface that is an opaque white color of glass—I marvel over it several times a day when sitting on the couch—the whole “how in the world did they do that” running through my head.

So when I look at something such a this glass “mural”, I, once again, marvel. Marvel at the skill and craftsmanship—the patience and painstaking time spent making certain everything is just so….

Is it any wonder then that I too should marvel over something equally as exquisitely “hand” made?—“My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;” (New American Standard Version Psalm 139:15)

I think about a loving creator, our loving Creator, gently and tenderly assembling, crafting, securing…especially when things get out of whack with my body, I really think about the “assemblage” known as this body of mine and really marvel over how in the world, or why in the world are things in and about me, about anyone, the way they actually are??!! Think about food that goes in the mouth, then the transformation, the various needs it serves within the body, the nutrients, the fats, the sugars, the fiber that is all distributed, the grinding the pulverizing the breaking down, and finally—the elimination of what isn’t needed—-simply amazing!!

and trust me, when that particular system gets out of whack…it’s a bad bad thing…but let’s not go there shall we…..

I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around the making of any living thing—the complexity, the depth–not merely with what goes into the physical but to the emotional, the mental, the psyche itself—the depth of such is endless and incomprehensible!!!!

How can the skeptics say there is no God?!—did this intricacy that is known as me, even though all parts are no longer working as originally intended, just pop into being??? The whole breathing and processing oxygen? The whole blood thing– the pumping, flowing and coursing through my veins?? The mere fact that all of these “systems” converge in order to function harmoniously, simultaneously and relatively silently is, simply put, amazing.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
(RSV Jeremiah 1:5)

Not that I’m to be any sort of prophet mind you, but just the mere knowledge that He knew me when—that He knew me before–that He knew me, that He knows me, and that He will always know me—that He will always claim me—even though others “down” here may not claim me—-oh to rest in that sweet comfort.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 New International Version)

After the way this week has traversed—I am clinging to that promise—

My soul is in deep anguish

(photograph: Julie Cook/ Yachats, Oregon/ 2013)

Psalm 6
Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

New International Version

this is my prayer–hear me oh Lord……………

Seek out “nature” and all that it represents.

(photograph: Yachats, Oregon, The Pacific Rim trail/ Julie Cook/ 2013)

“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”
Standing Bear

I often find that if I can remove myself slightly from my world–form those things which constitute my world…a city, an interstate, a town, a computer, a cell phone, a house, a school, a television, concrete, wood, metal, plastics, glass, gasoline, oil, synthetics, chemicals, buildings, manmade structures, electronics, stores, malls, strip-malls…on and on the list goes and grows—if I can remove me from all of that or remove all of that from me–or at least from some of it….striping down to the bare bones…stripping down to me and what remains—then it’s pretty much just me and what is not of me and my world…that which is left behind from all of the bravado of man—and that is the simplicity of “nature”—this is when, finally, I can clear my head, my thoughts, my vision….I can gain an entirely new perspective—

Standing Bear is correct in his observation. Man’s heart does become hard in “his” world. We incorrectly take the stance that we are masters of our world. We falsely believe we have conquered the world—as our high rise buildings rise up into the clouds. As our mass transit whisks us here and there…as our planes ascend heavenward taking us with them to new lands and new people…as we bombard our senses with the constant drone of noise—music, television, bells, whistles, engines, sirens, screeching…..on and on it goes…..

But the silence—-the silence of the wind, the lapping or even roaring sea, the swaying rustling trees, the songs of the birds, the rambling, babbling streams and creeks, the small buzz of a bee moving from blossom to bloom…..that is the catalyst for a calming spirit…the ability to finally exhale. To clear the mind. To hear one’s thoughts. To hear one’s heartbeat……….

I need “nature” and all that it entails. I need it to cleanse my spirit and soul as it helps me to be more humane…a better human. It reminds me that I am not master of the universe. That I, and my world may come and go, but that “It” will remain—perhaps battered and bruised in our wake, but it will indeed remain long after I come and go.

If it’s been a while since you’ve gotten to remove yourself from your world and seek that which is not man-made—it is important that you do so—even if it is to make for a city park, taking your shoes off and setting foot in the cool grass. To hear the birds sing, to breathe in something other than exhaust. To slowly meander by the waterways……it immediately has a physical effect on your body as your pulse and heart rate slow—your breathing not as labored…it is refreshing and renewing and essential…..

On this new day to a new week, promise yourself some time to seek that which is not man made—even if it is but a drive out in the country—just being able to change your view to that which is of Nature and not of man is powerful!

Breathe deep whenever possible………

Oh tempestuous Liberty

(Photograph: Sea oats along the Pacific Rim Trail/ Yachats, Oregon/ Julie Cook/2013)

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.”
Thomas Jefferson

Merriam Webster defines Liberty as: the quality or state of being free:
a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint
c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
e : the power of choice

There is a fine line between the liberties of our freedom and the wanton reckless abandon of anarchy —and yes, this desire to live one’s life as one choses, this liberty, this freedom has come at a cost—the highest cost, the highest price humans can offer–their lives. Men and woman have been paying the highest price for this freedom of ours since the late 1700’s–as the road, even prior to a Revolutionary War, was paved in equal peril—all in order to have the choice as to how to live a life as one truly wishes.
Yes there are laws, there are the “within reasons”, the democratic rule, a check and balance within leadership…these things must accompany freedom so that all people of this one nation under God may each experience the sweetness of freedom–equally and justly.
We will do well to remember that we may sometimes not like things or individuals entrusted with the care of managing our “Liberty” yet we still have the freedom of choice, the freedom of voice, the freedom of the word, the freedom of prayer, the freedom of travel… and we must be ever vigilant in maintaining these freedoms. All this as I sit and watch the news of Egypt crumbling—
May we remember our responsibilities to our “freedom” , to our Liberty….. may we also remember our responsibility to a world that looks to us as an example–I fear we are letting our Allies, as well as those who look to us for strength, down–all good things worth having are indeed worth working for and in our case, fighting for—this “working” is not easy—it requires strength, sweat, pain, suffering, and commitment—are you still willing to do what it required—I hope so…I hope and pray that we all are…………..

you can always make a difference

(photograph: Julie Cook/ Yachats, Oregon/ 2013)

The Starfish Story
Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a person going back and forth between the surf’s edge and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.

The man was struck by the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached, the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.

As he came up to the young man he said, “You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The young man looked at him. He then stooped down and picked up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, “It made a difference to that one!”