“Pray . . .”

Happy Monday, All!

Yes, the weekend was decent for me, chock full of a lot of challenges. Yet, I am willing to acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses, as well as others. There was a commercial on quite a bit during the Olympic Games 2012 in London that had a song that I used to listen to a lot called, “I’m Only Human!” It was pretty interesting, the commercial that is, as well as the memories it conjured up for me.

At one point this weekend, I had begun to worry a lot about things and situations that I face that seem insurmountable. Now the only thing I can say, for sure, is that I am alive today. A good friend of mine and his girlfriend apparently got into an argument at work. I have never really liked working where I have a girlfriend or significant other because everything spills over from home to the job and back again. We need some time to NOT be with loved ones whom we live with … just to breathe … or pray. So rumor has it that this caused a problem to the point where my friend quit his job! I was in shock. I can’t remember the last time I quit a job. So, I pray for them.

Saturday morning, I kind of slept in as I am still getting over the last traces of this cold/flu type thing that left me unable to go to the gym last week. Maybe I will try some yoga tonight. I got off of I-95 after getting an “el cheapo” car wash and had pulled over near the Main Library on Broward Blvd. to dry off some remaining water and clean the tires a bit more. I looked up and saw multiple fire rescue trucks parked near the library and, upon scanning the area, noticed a plethora of apparently homeless people scattered across the library lawn and even across the street from the library. Then, I heard someone yell out, “Pizza”! It was hot and a pick up truck pulled up and opened the back gate and began to pull slices of pizzas out of a box and give them to the people that approached the vehicle . . . I looked around, remembering having gone to soup kitchens and feeding locations myself and said quietly, “Thank God!”

It was a prayer for them . . . and a prayer for me. So I tried to enjoy the rest of my Saturday evening and coming home that night, I got stopped by a very rude police officer maybe two blocks from my flat. He started questioning me, and since I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, waited for the “speeding” accusation. I was going 40 mph in a 30 mph zone but one can travel 10 mph’s over the limit, especially since there was no traffic and only the officer and his partner and I were on the road. It didn’t go so well, he told me I was speeding, I told him I wasn’t and to do what he had to do. While waiting for the ticket which stated I was going 45 mph, his partner came to my vehicle and began to shine her flashlight through out the vehicle at every place except my face. She had an expression on her face like from a horror movie. I was the only chocolate chip in the cookie again . . .

When I finally got home, I checked some bills, laid down and prayed some more … Sunday was a day where I stayed home, streamed church service and watched Olympic games, chatted with a few friends by phone and computer . . . and prayed.

Have a peaceful week, y’all!

John I. Cook, Director

“I Want You Back!”

Happy Friday, All!

Of course, for me, perhaps for you … but T.G.I.F.!

Here’s another weekend at hand … hopefully filled with “Summer Madness”! Well, perhaps, I should just suggest a bit of a “Summer Breeze” or just “Summer Time” to name a few tunes that were popular when I was growing up! Will Smith’s remake of “Summer Time” is probably one of the most appropriate for this time since we’ve had enough “madness” this summer to last a life time, right!?

In light of all of the music that Michael Jackson left for us to enjoy, I’d like to wish and encourage (not that they’ll listen to me!) The Jackson Family to get their stuff together. I mean, drama is drama but this whole thing with Katherine Jackson and the kids has gotten a bit eerie, if I may say so myself. Suddenly, grandma is whisked away to a resort and loses all contact with Michael’s kids, whom she is responsible for as legal guardian. Then, all the talk about Michael’s will being phony just goes to show how greedy family can be over the money of a deceased member. Now, if you ask me, he left enough to go around but rumor has it that his will indicated his three kids and Mrs. Jackson to be the sole recipients of his money and estate. That might make the siblings a bit jealous but that was his wish!

So in thinking back to Michael’s soft voice when speaking, and, his dynamic powerhouse “dance” voice when he was singing, wouldn’t it be nice to hear them sing “I Want You Back!” just one more time to quell these questions of his will?

Have a great weekend and remember, “We Are Family!” and, all in all, it is “A Family Affair!”

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot . . . “

Happy Hump Day, All …

And still probably not the happiest for the families and loved ones of those killed in the Aurora, CO movie massacre. If any of you are like me, you’d want to get to the bottom of this, so to speak. All the “whys” must be answered as well as the “hows”. Then of course most of us want to know, “Didn’t anybody else know about this character, James Holmes?”

While loved ones grieve and law enforcement seeks to put together a case to incarcerate and perhaps have punishment as stringent as the death penalty imposed, the intelligence community seems to have the answers to the question if anybody knew about this young man and who his affiliations were. Every day I live in this country, I am often shocked at how much “undercover” activities are being conducted right in front of our very noses. It could be stuff like UFO’s and the government’s knowledge of events surrounding Roswell, or, experiments conducted on soldiers and others back in the 1960’s with LSD and other laboratory drugs. How true is this stuff? Does somebody else REALLY know? Is it our government? Does the president know about, let alone, control the activities of these secretive intelligence components of the USA’s government?

It seems that, according to Wayne Madsen, investigative journalist, that the Holmes kid and family have ties to DARPA, Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, and the shooter himself had links to government-funded research centers like DARPA. Madsen feels or suggests that not only was Holmes one of six recipients of a National Institutes of Health Neuroscience Training Grant at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver, but he may have been part of a “fictional top-secret CIA project” which dealt with some form of behaviour modification.

So, at this point, I will stop my postulations and simply say that if this was part of a secret project gone bad, some other people need to step up to the plate and be held accountable as well. Behaviour modification is not a joke, and, in my opinion, when it becomes secretive, it becomes dangerous.

As for the wounded and dead and their loved ones, I offer up the old “Negro Spiritual” lyric, “Swing low, sweet chariot … comin’ forth to carry me home! Swing low, sweet chariot … comin’ forth to carry me home …”

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

The Mourning After . . .

It’s Monday . . . can I say “Happy Monday”? Well, here it goes . . . Happy Monday . . .

We who are reading this are still here. Hopefully, those you love and may be in part responsible for the fact that you ARE still here, also are still here. Peace be still . . .

I don’t know about you, but the relatively small office where I work in Boca Raton, FL was all abuzz Thursday, when that night was to be the first run of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises”. Everybody was all excited as we talked about where one could go to see the midnight showing! Now, I grew up on Batman and Robin and they are timeless superheroes in my book. What about you? So what happened in Aurora, CO with this young man whose obsession went beyond seeing the Batman movie? At what point, do you think, did his thought pattern differ from those people in my office who were excited to SEE the movie? Who did he think he really was? Had he created an image of himself as an “anti-Dark Knight” or something? To dress up in all black with a mask and armor, as well as to booby-trap his own apartment unbeknownst to neighbors and people at the shooting range as well as the location where he purchased these type of assault firearms without even a question, since he had no criminal record, and then buy a ticket to a movie theatre and prop the door open to the exit so he could re-enter and mass murder innocent people . . . is beyond my thought process’s comprehension.

In watching all the news coverage of this incident and, in particular, in watching “Dateline” last night, I was brought to tears . . . several times. I just couldn’t imagine what had happened, not to mention, WHERE it had happened nor WHY this kid did this horrific near satanic act! People go to the movies, as one woman said who was caught in the attack yet lived, because it is a safe place to relax and enjoy some time with friends, family and loved ones to kind of ” … get away from it all …” with NO inhibitions or fears of dangers that might be lurking at some back door! Where was this kid “wired” differently?

I was also very proud of the manner in which our president handled the movie massacre as he chose to visit families of those who lost loved ones, not as president, he said, but as a husband and a father who represented the entire country and shared on behalf of the entire country in mourning and remembering those who were injured and foremost those who lost their lives. Amongst those stories on the news and Dateline, there were many many heroes. Pres. Obama mentioned a story about the 21 year old girl who helped her girlfriend who was shot in a main vein in her neck, held the vain and simultaneously called “911” with the other hand, and … even helped to carry her across two parking lots to the waiting ambulance. Her girlfriend lived.

I know you have your own “moral of the story” because like me, you all weren’t born yesterday. So … reach out to your loved ones, your not so loved ones, even people you’ve had problems with in the past who might mean something to you.

In peace I come, and, in peace I hope to go …

John I. Cook, Director

“Is There Something In The Water?”

Happy Friday, All!

I will take a chance at saying this today … just because … T.G.I.F.!

Another warm summer weekend is upon us here in South Florida and other parts of the country, and, perhaps, the world! It is customary to always look on the bright side of things for me although it seems rather difficult in a world so full of fear and distrust. May we still seek and acknowledge positive elements in our lives today.

In the aftermath of the Josie Lou Ratley case, the jury has found young Treacy not insane, but guilty of attempted murder. I believe, rightfully so. Yet, the defense still argues that the initial interview of Treacy was withheld from the jury in which Treacy says he doesn’t remember what happened in his own brutal “boot kicking” attack on a defenseless Josie Lou. How could the defense seek to hang their hat on such a detail given the premeditated behavior that this kid displayed from a text? Is there something in the water?

Well, next to that, comes the incredible interview of George Zimmerman. I mean, talk about news sensationalism nowadays!? Though there are varied opinions still surrounding the OJ Trial, to me, this is in the same genre. Can a grown man actually state that he feels it was God’s will that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin? His interview disturbed me not only for that point but the tremendous acting job he did, obviously coached by his attorney, in depicting Trayvon as the one who threatened his life, punched and broke his nose, and, as he yelled for help with a 9 millimeter pistol on his waist, got his head banged on the ground by Trayvon, which, according to him prompted him to retrieve the pistol and shoot Trayvon in the heart? Believe this banter and I’ve got a bridge for sale! May we ask for a fair trial and still pray for peace for Trayvon’s parents in light of this ridiculous claim by Zimmerman.

Horrifying enough? Well, I just read that in Colorado, there was an attack by still another gunman …. at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie!! What the (expletive)! It will probably be another story of insanity or bath salts …. can we blame this one on God, too …. or is there something in the water?!

Try, if you will, to have a nice weekend!

Still … in peace,

John I. Cook, Director

“When You Wish Upon A Star . . . .”

Happy Hump Day, All!

How’s the week been treating you? So far, so good, I hope! We live in some tremendous times, for sure. Do you think it is the first time in “human history”? May we not flatter ourselves, since many of us may have parents or grandparents who MADE it through the “Great Depression” here in the U.S.A. in the early part of last century. When it is put that way, is sounds like it was a long time ago. In reality, it was less than 100 years ago.

How do people make it through tough times? What is the attitude that one must adopt in order to …. not jump off of a building? How does one handle a break up with a loved one, be it due to someone’s desire to move on or an actual physical loss or death? One quote I like a lot by Woody Allen was: “Sit loosely in the saddle of life!” This quote also follows the stream of consciousness that many comics embrace which involves making absurd jokes about life’s absurdities, rather than getting so wrapped up in them that they (absurdities) destroy us! For me, it is at this time that spirituality, which may be unique to each one of us, comes a knockin’ at my door.

Have you ever had a dream, you know, and some character was in it that you really didn’t like nor know where it came from? Were you able to wake up and abandon that dream? Or did this unknown character continue in your dream to make it near horrifying for you?! I remember those moments. Sometimes, it is important for us to fashion our dreams while awake. When in Rochambeau Elementary School in White Plains, NY, we often did major plays. I may have mentioned this in an e-mail a year or two ago, regarding the play, “Pinocchio”, in which Paul Collins, a young black guy from our neighborhood, played that part at our school. Watching him perform inspired me to play “The Tin Man” a year later when the staff there had us put on “The Wizard of Oz”. We were kids and the staff at that predominantly “black” school not only taught us “readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic”, they also taught us music and dance …. and acting!

So when you’ve an occasion, mostly while youthful, though I’ve a few current dreams of my own, be sure to dream a bit. “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are . . . . your dreams come true!” May we have a dream filled day!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Checkin’ In …


Happy Monday, All!

Yes, here’s to hoping your weekends went well. I, personally, could not have asked for a better weekend. We all know that the bills keep coming, and I for one, try very hard NOT to spend what I don’t have. Yet, this weekend was one where many many friends wished me a happy birthday, some I hadn’t heard from in years and others I see almost every day and most weekends. On my end, a great time was had by all. It culminated yesterday when I attended service at Calvary and the content for the sermon was the 23rd Psalm. The associate pastor at Calvary did such a great job of bringing passages of that scripture to life today, that I was very humbled and touched, as it is a scripture that my mother taught me … literally verbally … when I embraced living a spiritual life … out of necessity. Finally, courtesy of Brian Saraceno, promoter at Capone’s who gifted me two tickets to see Yolanda Adams, an exceptional gospel singer, I went to “Hard Rock Live!” at 4pm yesterday to enjoy an unexpected power-filled and spiritual show! God is good …

One of the things that has intrigued me for so many years living in Florida, which I really enjoy, is how corrupt things have gotten, in particular in politics. Now you all know that I try to stay away from things that I don’t know details about; yet, I am not shy from stating my gut reactions to “people, places, and things” … politics included. So, two things have caught my attention lately here in what Ponce de Leon, Spanish explorer who “discovered” this land and named it “La Florida”. The first one is that the president of the Broward County Teacher’s Credit Union, Pat Santeramo, was arrested and accused of stealing funds from the teachers here in Broward County. There is a paper trail that leads right back to him . . .

The second situation is the scenario surrounding the political climate as the Republicans seek to smear the Democrats here in Florida in regards to “Obamacare” and the “stand your ground law”. In listening to Congressional Rep. Frederica Wilson for Florida’s 17th congressional district on “Face the Nation” yesterday, it became clear that she, who actually voted for the “stand your ground” law feels it was a mistake. It was not intended to be used in defense of people like Zimmerman, who, in her words: ” … stalked a young black man, followed him in his vehicle and chased him on foot to finally put a bullet in his heart …”, and feels it should be repealed for THAT reason. She also spoke passionately about how people here in Florida, not only in her congressional district, suffer tragically from NOT having health insurance of any sort, including the elderly and the poor.

While I have a lot to be grateful for, it is apparent that there are many many changes still needed in our society today, especially in sunny Florida.

Have a great week!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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