we didn’t start the fire

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Billy Joel


(image courtesy ABC News / Santa Clarita fire of 2016)

I agree we didn’t start the fire,
but…..
I’m not so certain that I agree with Billy Joel that we’ve really tried to fight it.

I see the current images of protesters, marchers, demonstrators…
full of contempt and vile discord.
I see the looting, the vandalism, the cars overturned,
the broken glass, the fires started…
once again, in the name of cause.

I hear the rhetoric of anti this and anti that…
the blaming, the finger pointing,the divisive dismissal of one human to another…

Maybe your mindset is that none of this is your fault.
You didn’t cause any of this to happen.
For better of worse you and me, we’ve merely inherited this mess….
right?

As each generation bemoans the generation before it while present generations
opine about the future…

Rather than igniting new fires, fueling fires or fanning fires…
all of which this country has gotten really good at doing,
perhaps it would behoove all of us to simply start extinguishing the fires…..

The one who sins is the one who will die.
The child will not share the guilt of the parent,
nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.
The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them,
and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

Ezekiel 18:20

Sacred

Love is a sacred reserve of energy;
it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


(generations of sacred texts / Julie Cook / 2017)

What makes something sacred?

Something that is to be held in reverence,
passed from one generation to another?
What is it that makes something so dear, so esteemed, so important,
albeit within the confines of a family,
that it becomes a treasure and a life line linking one individual to another?

Deep and heavy thoughts as I slowly begin to purge, pack, relocate
sort, discard, save and add to my own niche of life those things that
were once others as I labors to merge them now as mine.

A frayed small ribbon peeks out from atop a long ago repaired cloth bound,
oh so frail, little black book.
The homemade cover tenderly stitched in order to preserve and protect someone’s
sacred treasure

A hymnal whose first page is now page 7.

As to whose hymnal, which denomination, how old…
Who knows…
But in the family, on someone’s side, it has obviously weathered.

Hymn 527 sounds very much like my beloved 345
A hymn that is as soothing as a beloved’s rhythmic cadence of breath.

“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” has been described as perhaps the most beautiful
of all the countless versions of the 23rd Psalm.

The Tune St. Columba is named for the Irish saint who
“carried the torch of Irish Christianity to Scotland”
(and who has the dubious distinction of being the first to report a sighting of
the Loch Ness monster, in 546).
The tune is one of the Irish melodies collected by George Petrie (1789-1866)
and given in Charles Villers Stanford’s
“Complete Collection of Irish Music as noted by George Petrie,” in 1902.
There it is said to have been sung at the dedication of a chapel in the county
of Londonderry.
The association of the tune with this text,
and also its harmonization, are from “The English Hymnal,” 1906.

Excerpt: “Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worhip”

In a time of grave uncertainties..
both personally and globally…
A time of unprecedented growing rage and division.
May we each rest in the knowledge that we remain bound always to the Sacred….

Please enjoy this beautiful video…

Merry Christmas to one and all….

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:14

God is not an idiot

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all…

Lyrics by Joni Mitchell

IMG_1672
(Killarney National Park, Lady’s View, Muckrose, Co Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Now that’s a header you don’t see everyday…
About God not being an idiot that is…

Yet somewhere lost along the way,
we, as in you and I, as well as the proverbial them, decided that we knew more than Him…
We knew better,
we were wiser,
we were superior
and we were much much smarter.

We went about things our own way.
We gave Him little to no regard when embarking on something new or different
We didn’t opt to seek His counsel, except when we got into some sort of jam or pickle,
When our backs were up against a wall and we felt small and helpless…
then and only then did we seek His wisdom, His help, His advice, His support.

And just as soon as we emerged unscathed from said predicament,
as we marched forward blazing a new trail,
we pushed Him back over to the side, back in the darkened corner,
ignoring that He was…
there,
wiser,
smarter,
greater…

As I stand staring out, surveying the lay of the land,
I don’t care much for what I see.

We’ve made quite the mess of things it seems, both you and I and the proverbial them.
It seems as if most folks are too consumed, too busy, too absorbed
to actually see how messy things have truly become.

It makes one want to stand upon the highest pinnacle shouting outward for all the world to hear…
“Hey you out there…”
“Yes…you….and me and even them…those way over there…”
“STOP!!!!…”
“STOP IT ALL RIGHT NOW!!!”
“Can’t you see what you’re doing, what you’re not doing, what you’ve done???!!!
“This isn’t what He had in mind…none of this….”
“It’s not what He commanded, what He told us to do…”
“That’s why it’s all such a mess…”

Yet sadly it seems no one really is listening or cares to listen because the illusion of what we think we know has sadly become our reality…

Maybe Joni Mitchell realized a glimpse of this back in 1969….

Dali and Age…odd? Yes.

“Let the labyrinth of wrinkles be furrowed in my brow with the red-hot iron of my own life, let my hair whiten and my step become vacillating, on condition that I can save the intelligence of my soul – let my unformed childhood soul, as it ages, assume the rational and esthetic forms of an architecture, let me learn just everything that others cannot teach me, what only life would be capable of marking deeply in my skin!”
― Salvador Dalí

DSC01242
(photograph: a bowl of nicely aged peppers)

Salvador Dali, to some art lovers (and my former students), is considered indeed one of the “great” artists of modern time. He help heralded the Surrealist movement to the forefront of the art world during the mid 20th century. Dali, however, is not credited with necessarily birthing Surrealism, but was rather the artist who seems best remembered for the role he played in it’s advancements.

Surrealism was actually born in Zurich in the early 20th century at the onset of World War I, under the blanket of the DaDa movement. A basic escape from conventional art, literature and thought–with a step into the world of the absurd– all full of youthful angst, disillusionment, a world war, political unrest and creative unhappiness. It was tongue and cheek, a youthful flight from the tried and true norm of the time. I am not a fan, but my students were always drawn to the allure of the DaDa and Surrealist movements– as to Dali in particular.

There is a certain curiosity to Dali’s work. It certainly draws the viewer into the canvas. Be it his bizarre combinations or the odd placement of subject matter, the exaggerations of human or animal forms, or his peculiar take on a historical event–all of which are portrayed in his paintings– to his even more bizarre and eccentric behavior during his lifetime— my kids love(d) Dali. He was always a favorite to imitate, explore and study. They even enjoyed the old black and white Youtube clips of Mike Wallace’s 1958 interview with Dali. Of which I find ridiculous, as he (Dali) appears simply daft–poor Mike Wallace.

I did stumble upon this Dali quote today. I am also feeling a bit ancient of body as I am still dragging around this blasted air-boot cast on my leg. Noticing the dried peppers as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I decided I was feeling pretty much how they looked, wrinkled and worn out. I remembered the quote and thought it aptly summed up my current mood. But in pairing Dali with my mood, perhaps all is not lost as there is truly a bit of the absurd involved—giving way to Dali’s ability of not taking things (or in my case, myself) too seriously. One thing I will give him credit for–even if I think him more of a nutcase, his ability to not take life too seriously—sometimes I just need reminding…Thank you Señor Dali.