Thursday, November 16, 2017

How He Saved St. Michael's

So you beg for a story, my darling, brown-eyed Leopold,
And you, Alice, with face like morning and curling locks of gold;
Then come, if you will, and listen-stand close beside my knee-
To a tale of the Southern city, proud Charleston by the sea.

It was long ago, my children, ere ever the signal gun
That blazed above Fort Sumter had awakened the North as one;
Long ere the wondrous pillar of battle cloud and fire
Had marked where unchained millions marched on to their heart's desire.

On the roofs and glittering turrets, that night, as the sun went down,
The mellow glow of the twilight shone like a jeweled crown;
And, bathed in the living glory, as the people lifted their eyes,
They saw the pride of the city, the spire of St. Michael's, rise.

Hung over the lesser steeples, tipped with a golden ball
That hung like a radiant planet caught in its earthward fall-
First glimpse of home to the sailor who made the harbor round,
And last slow-fading vision dear to the outward bound.

The gently gathering shadows shut out the waning light,
The children prayed at their bedsides, as you will pray tonight;
The noise of buyer and seller from the busy mart was gone,
And in dreams of a peaceful morrow the city slumbered on.

But another light than sunrise aroused the sleeping street;
For a cry was heard at midnight, and the rush of tramping feet;
Men stared in each other's faces through mingled fire and smoke,
While the frantic bells went clashing, clamorous stroke on stroke.

By the glare of her blazing rooftree the houseless mother fled,
With the babe she pressed to her bosom shrieking in nameless dread,
While the fire king's wild battalions scaled wall and capstone high,
And planted their flaring banners against an inky sky.

For the death that raged behind them, and the crash of ruin loud,
To the great square of the city were driving the surging crowd;
Where yet, firm in all the tumult unscathed by the fiery flood,
With its heavenward-pointing finger, the Church of St Michael stood.

But, e'en as they gazed upon it, there rose a sudden wail-
A cry of horror blended with the roaring of the gale,
On whose scorching wings updriven, a single flaming brand
Aloft on the towering steeple clung like a bloody hand.

"Will it fall?" The whisper trembled from a thousand whitening lips;
Far out on the lurid harbor they watched it from the ships-
A baleful gleam that brighter and ever brighter shone,
Like a flickering, trembling will-o'-the-wisp to a steady beacon grown.

"Uncounted gold shall be given to the man whose brave right hand,
For the love of the periled city, plucks down yon burning brand."
So cried the mayor of Charleston, that all the people heard;
But they looked each other one at his fellow; and no man spoke a word.

Who is it leans from the belfry with face upturned to the sky,
Clings to a column and measures the dizzy spire with his eye?
Will he dare it, the hero undaunted, that terrible, sickening height?
Or will the hot blood of his courage freeze in his veins at the sight?

But see! He has stepped on the railing; he climbs with his feet and his hands;
And, firm on a narrow projection, with the belfry beneath him, he stands;
Now once, and once only, they cheer him-a single tempestuous breath,
And there falls on the multitude gazing a hush like the stillness of death.

Slow, steadily mounting, unheeded aught save the goal of the fire,
Still higher and higher, an atom, he moves on the face of the spire.
He stops! Will he fall? Lo! for answer, a gleam like a meteor's track,
And, hurled on the stones of the pavement, the red brand lies shattered and black.

Once more the shouts of the people have rent the quivering air;
At the church door Mayor and Council wait with their feet on the stair;
And the eager throng behind them press for a touch of his hand-
The unknown savior, whose daring could compass a deed so grand.

But why does a sudden tremor seize on them while they gaze?
And what meaneth that stifled murmur of wonder and amaze?
He stood in the gate of the temple he had periled his life to save;
And the face of the hero, my children, was the sable face of a slave!

With folded arms he was speaking in tones that were clear, not loud,
And his eyes, ablaze in their sockets, burnt into the eyes of the crowd:
"You may keep your gold; I scorn it! But answer me, ye who can,
If the deed I have done before you be not the deed of a man?"

He stepped but a short space backward; and from all the women and men
There were only sobs for answer; and the Mayor called for a pen,
And the great seal of the city, that he might read who ran:
And the slave who saved St. Michael's went out from its door, a man.

Historic St. Michael's Church is the oldest church building in the city of
Charleston, South Carolina.  In 1865, during the Federal bombardment of
the city, a shell burst near the chancel.  A scar is still to be seen today at
the base of the pulpit.

"How He Saved St. Michael's"
A poem by Mary A. P. Stansbury

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bright Alfarata

"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave."
-American Indian proverb

Wild roved an Indian girl
Bright Alfarata,
Where sweep the waters
of the blue Juniata;
Swift as an antelope,
Through the forest going,
Loose were her jetty locks
In wavy tresses flowing.

Indian Maiden With A Squirrel
R. Atkinson Fox

Gay was the mountain song
Of bright Alfarata,
Where sweep the waters
Of the blue Juniata;
Strong and true my arrows are.
In my painted quiver,
Swift goes my light canoe,
Down the rapid river.

Indian In Canoe
Frank Earle Schoonover

Bold is my warrior good,
The love of Alfarata
Proud waves his snowy plume,
Along the Juniata;
Soft and low he speaks to me,
And then his war-cry sounding
Rings his voice in thunder loud,
From height to height resounding.

Thus sang the Indian girl,
Bright Alfarata,
Where sweep the waters
Of the blue Juniata;
Fleeting years have born away
The voice of Alfarata
Still sweeps the river on
Blue Juniata

The Juniata, Evening
Thomas Moran

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

An Autumn Day

"The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes,
and surely it is in the everyday things around us that
the beauty of life lies."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

Maple Leaf Crow
A painting by Teresa Silvestri

I strolled down a woodland path-
A crow cawed loudly and flew away.
The sky was blue and the clouds were gold
And drifted before me fold on fold;
The leaves were yellow and red and brown
And patter, patter the nuts fell down,
On this beautiful, golden autumn day.
A squirrel was storing his winter hoard,

A Walk Through Indian Summer
A painting by Elizabeth Crabtree

The world was pleasant: I lingered long,
The brown quails rose with a sudden whir
And a little bundle of eyes and fur,
Took shape of a rabbit and leaped away.
A little chipmunk came out to play
And the autumn breeze sang a wonder song.

Autumn in the Ozarks
Rodgersville, Missouri

"An Autumn Day"
 a poem by Laura Ingalls Wilder
 taken from the book,
Little House In The Ozarks
A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler
The Rediscovered Writings
 By Laura Ingalls Wilder
Edited by Stephen Hines
(1991 Guidepost Edition)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Second Sunday Meditation: A Matter Of Faith

"The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
speaks and calls the earth from the rising
of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth."
Psalm 50:1-2

The Hem of His Garment
Wayne Pascall

And a woman who had suffered from a flow of blood 
for twelve years and had spent all her living expenses
upon physicians, and could not be healed by anyone, 
came up behind Him and touched the fringe
 of His garment, and immediately her flow of blood ceased.

And Jesus asked, "Who is it who touched Me?

When all were denying it, Peter and those who
were with Him said:
"Master, the multitudes surround You and press
You on every side!"

But Jesus said, "Someone did touch Me; for I
perceived that healing power has gone forth from Me."

And when the woman saw that she had not escaped His
notice, she came up trembling, and, falling down before Him,
she declared in the presence of all the people,

"I knew that if I could touch just the hem of His garment
I would be healed."

And Jesus, regarding her with tender compassion, said,
"Daughter, your faith in Me has made you well!  Go in peace."

Now, while he was still speaking, a servant from the house 
of Jairus, the director of the synagogue, came and said to him,

"Your daughter is dead; do not weary and trouble the
Teacher any longer."

On hearing this news, Jesus told the grief-stricken Jairus,
"Do not be seized with alarm or struck with fear; simply believe
in Me as able to do this and she shall be made well."

And when He came to the house, He permitted no one
to enter with Him except Peter and John and James, and
the girl's father and mother.

And all were weeping for and bewailing her; but He said,
"Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping."

And the mourners laughed at Him in scorn, knowing
full well that the little girl was dead.

And grasping her hand, Jesus called to her, saying,
"Child, arise from the sleep of death!"

And her spirit returned from death and she awakened
immediately. Jesus then told her parents to give her
something to eat.

Her parents were amazed, but, He charged them to
tell no one what had occurred.
Luke 8:43-56

Jesus Raising The Daughter Of Jarius
Jeremy Winborg

Heal us, Emmanuel, hear our prayer
We wait to feel Thy touch:
Deep wounded souls to Thee repair,
And Savior, we are such.

Our faith is feeble, we confess
We faintly trust Thy Word;
But wilt Thou pity us the less?
Be that far from Thee, Lord!

Remember him who once applied
With trembling for relief
"Lord, I believe," with tears he cried;
"O help my unbelief!"

She, too, who touched Thee in the press
And healing virtue stole,
Was answered, "Daughter, go in peace:
Thy faith has made thee whole."

Concealed amid the gathering throng,
She would have shunned Thy view;
And if her faith was firm and strong,
Had strong misgivings too.

Like her, with hopes and fears we come
To touch Thee if we may;
O send us not despairing home;
Send none unhealed away.

"By His stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5

"Heal Us, Emmanuel"
Lyrics by William Cowper
Music by Johann Cruger

Saturday, November 11, 2017

On The Wilderness Road

Wilderness of Judea

Psalm 63

A Psalm of David
when he was in the Wilderness of Judah

O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You;
my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint
for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.

So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see
Your power and Your glory.

Because Your loving-kindness is better than life,
my lips shall praise You.

So I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my
hands in Your name.

My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and
fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on
You in the night watches.

For You have been my help, and in the shadow of
Your wings will I rejoice.

My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely
to You; Your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek and demand my life to ruin and destroy it shall
themselves be destroyed and go into the lower parts of the earth
into the underworld of the dead.

They shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a prey for foxes and jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God;
everyone who swears by Him, that is, who
binds himself by God's authority, acknowledging His
supremacy, and devoting himself to His glory and service alone;
every such one shall glory, for the mouths of those who
speak lies shall be stopped.

Adullam caves where David hid from Saul

America The Beautiful

US Coins Honoring American Indian Code Talkers

In honor of National American Indian Heritage Month,
here is a beautiful rendition of "America The Beautiful"
  performed by Cherokee mezzo-soprano Barbara McAlister,
  during a Veterans Day ceremony held
at the National Museum of the American Indian
 in Washington DC in 2007.

Ms. McAlister is accompanied in her song by
Comanche composer and classical pianist,
Dr. David Yeagley

America The Beautiful
Barbara McAlister 

O beautiful for spacious skies, 
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountains majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!

America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!

Honoring Our American Heroes

Choctaw Code Talkers during
World War I completely baffled the Germans
with a new kind of American military intelligence:
Their own native language!

During WWII, there were 400 American Indian Code Talkers
from the Navajo, Comanche, Cherokee, Lakota, Meskwaki, and
Choctaw tribes whose unique vocabulary and tribal symbolism 
confounded both the Nazis and the Japanese and help 
America to win the war.

"America The Beautiful"
Lyrics written by Katharine Lee Bates
Music by Will C. MacFarlane

Honoring Our American Heroes Veterans Day 2017

"Above all, we must realize that no arsenal
or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so
formidable as the will and moral courage of 
free men and women."
-President Ronald Reagan

In Memory

Come we again, with music, softly, slowly;
Come we with flow'rs, with blooms of sweetest breath.
Come we with flags, with signs and symbols holy,
Grieving for those whose love was crown'd with death.

Colors and flow'rs, Show they are ours,
Soldiers of ours whose love was crown'd with death.

Come we in grief, and yet in admiration,
Here to the place where silently they lie.
Where can we find a nobler inspiration
Than by the graves of those who dared to die?

Those who are ours, Show they are ours,
Who for the cause of freedom dared to die!

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia

For those who gave their lives for America, 
who for the cause of freedom dared to die,
 although you are gone from this earth,
 you will never be forgotten.

May you rest in eternal peace.

For all who have served in the armed forces of
the United States of America, both past and present,
and might be reading this post today,
Thank you for your service to this nation,
and for my freedom.

God Bless You!

"In Memory"
Denis A. McCarthy