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“And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-37) – Houston and TX

Monday, August 28th, 2017

UPDATE from Sean, 3:30 a.m. Tue Aug 29 – see end of post

UPDATE from Sean, 2:02 p.m. Wed Aug 30: Have had 4 sets of people randomly walk up to help. Two photos of the street today.

Two Photos of Sean’s Houston street today, Aug 30, 2017, from Sean.

Second photo

*

Yesterday was a very pleasant day here. There was some rain, but it was of short duration, and gentle, without thunder and lightning or wind. It has been a good year for rain, here. The temperature was perfectly warm. Everyone who likes flowers, and green, would like it here, now.

I noticed such things as I was sitting, visiting, with our elderly friend, Don, on his deck across the street.

A young girl roller-bladed past us on the street below; a young woman was walking her dog, who “met” a neighbor dog across the street. They apparently were friends, just a dog version of “hi, how are you?”. A few obligatory sniffs, no bark, and back to walking.

Back home, an e-mail from my sister, whose son and family – my nephew – live in the Bellaire section of Houston TX, a few blocks from a major bayou. “M” lives in suburban Rochester NY; her daughter and family live in the San Diego area.

3:47 pm. CDT: “Hi all and thanks for the notes…[son and family] are certainly in the midst of what you see on CNN or FOX or wherever. They are in their home but there is significant flooding with water up to the second step. According to [sons] last note about an hour ago (3:34 pm CDT) they had lost power and so cell phone use is pretty limited and I will not be calling for updates. He has said he will text when he can. They do not plan to evacuate – they really cannot evacuate unless by boat. Ironic because they are in a quiet residential area but of course all are in the same situation. They live … about five long block from the bayou. They just moved from their ranch home to the three story a few months ago and that area, [3xxx] Linkwood [Dr], is much messier because it is closer to the bayou and one of the reasons they moved was because of the flooding. It is still raining there. [Daughter-in-Law] had said they were stocked with water and food but of course we hope for the best with them and with all of the neighboring families. I know that you all will keep … family and your own friends and families in your prayers. It is a mess and likely to get worse – It is a real tragedy. I will keep you updated when I can, tornadoes are also a problem in the area. M

Mary gave me a different address than I had in my address book. I wrote back. She responded at 9:30 p.m.:

Hi all..it is 3xxx Tartan Lane…Houston. If you google you will see the area is very residential. Not much to do but wait for more news but as far as I know, the family is at home on Tartan Lane. Last I heard around 4:30 PM EDT there was no electricity in the area and the cell phones had lost power. And it is still raining very heavily I suspect as soon as they can be evacuated they will try and get to a hotel as it will be very difficult to stay on Tartan Lane. Long night ahead for everyone in the area. It is going to be hot and humid and even though [my son] had said (at last communication) there was no structural damage to the home, it is flooding and of course their cars were not protected and are probably under water. I will send a note as soon as I hear from them again, in the meantime lots of folks need thoughts and prayers. Unfortunately, they had no idea that this catastrophic flooding would occur in their area. More later…unfortunately. M

For a time, I sat transfixed to the Weather Channel, one of whose reporters was in the very area where my nephew and family live. The first smatterings of stories were being told.

I wondered who was living in their former home on Linkwood Drive, which was apparently even more vulnerable than theirs.

For me, as for my sister, and the rest of our family, what was very abstract had become very real…and continues to be real, as I write in the middle of this night in suburban St. Paul.

We live in a connected world. The latest tragedy anywhere is connected to us almost instantly, and, usually, it is some tragedy, somewhere…..

But those other events are abstract. Thankfully it’s not me, in my neighborhood. For most of us, today will be a nice day, with assorted but tolerable variations from one home to another to another.

I thought to myself, “who is my neighbor?”

“Everyone”, I answered.

I will add to this post as I receive updated information. Check back.

UPDATES:
5:15 a.m. Monday from M: Note from [daughter-in-laws] mom last evening. Their home is just outside Austin. “[We] are visiting friends in Solana Beach just south of San Diego! We were to return yesterday but rescheduled for Tuesday due to the hurricane. The last I heard was that they are safe and can go to second floor if needed….no power so don’t want to waste power on cell phone. Another family of five showed up at their door and took shelter with them. The water had not entered the house yet but both cars are flooded. That is about all I know now. I will let you know if I get any updates. So far our place [near Austin] is okay according to our neighbor and we have not lost power.
Pray for all

11:47 a.m. Monday from M (Mary) re son and family (Sean): Hi Dick…you do such a nice job with blogs!

Sean did send a brief text this morning stating they are able to remain at home for now and are staying in place on Tartan Lane and that the waters had receded slightly. It is still raining, of course, and there are likely to be community service issues for quite a long time. I would imagine restoration of electrical power is not on the top of the list! They should be fine but certainly there will be a lot of difficulties in the next few weeks and months. It is ironic that I planned to go down to Houston next week and spend some time with the children while Mom and Dad traveled on business…those plans have changed!

It is so true that the probing fingers of tragedy dig quickly and deeply into wide circles – and in the process draw so much diversity closer together. Have a great day – I will keep you updated. M

from Sean, 3:30 a.m. Tue Aug. 29, 2017: I am just seeing this as power was restored late yesterday for us. The damage is incredible and it is not often you see coast guard helicopters and boats doing rescues from your front steps.

Our house made it through with no water and we only lost power for about 36 hours. We were a refuge for never before met neighbors – seven people and two cats – as they saw 4-5 of water enter their homes. The devastation here is only surpassed by the true feeling of community and outreach for support. There is no shortage of people helping, offering to help or the like.

The storm took many by surprise as it escalated from a TS [Tropical Storm] to slow Cat[egory] 4. Friday at lunch time many people were gregariously laughing. Saturday, [our kids] had a swim play date with two friends. 20 hours later one of those friends was being rescued by smashing a hole through a second floor wall to escape the flood waters. We lost a car and a bunch of ancillary items in the garage but the devastation is real – our old house (we moved in June) which we still own and were going to rent or sell – had four + feet of water in it. I have pictures but they are not connected to this computer.

I cannot stress enough that the unselfish assistance being offered at the drop of a hat with no wish for acknowledgment has been refreshing. Community as it should be – working together – not tearing apart. I will never look at another’s tragedy or disaster the same way again.

Thanks for your notes and messages of support. We had our house blessed the day we moved in and the holy water sits on a shelf in the living room. What if we did not move this year, what if we did not bless the house – a lot of what if’s…but we all know where the answer lies – Above.

God bless,

Sean

Sean included a link to Houston Chronicle website, with this note: “…some good photos about the devastation many of these are a number of these are within a mile of our home. Pull up a map and look at Corpus Christi, to Beaumont, to the Woodlands to Katy. It would take about 9 hours to drive the circumference.”

From Sean, in response to question “how can we help?” 4:28 p.m. Tuesday: It is a great question and frankly one we wrestled with down here amongst members of our church group. There are a lot of volunteers and supplies are coming and then logistics get bad, etc. So what do you do? We walked the neighborhood (my street) this afternoon and just started helping people cart stuff out.

So, how does someone help outside of Houston? Well, the Red Cross will be taxed – so volunteer, donate to local chapters in honor of Houston, have your church find a sister church and send supplies directly to them. Financial to Red Cross, etc. But by helping them in other regional areas it will allow them to draw more supplies. That is the best thing I can think of right now. I will come back with more.

Dick Bernard: Solar Eclipse Day in the U.S.

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Back of U.S. Postal sheet for the Eclipse August 21, 2017


(click to enlarge)

As I write (6 a.m. CDT on August 21, 2017), my son and spouse, Tom and Jennifer, are enroute to the Twin Cities from Denver. They left at 2 a.m., Tom said, so as to reach a particular point in Nebraska to catch the eclipse.

Daughter Lauri and the four kids are probably ready to head out for somewhere in Illinois to do the same thing.

It will be an exciting day, hopefully no cloud cover (odds against that), and even more hopefully, no accidents doing serious damage to eyes, for anyone, anywhere.

Me? I’m off to coffee as usual.

Twenty years ago I would probably be doing the same thing as the kids.

I had some interest in these kinds of occurrences. We all have our own. I still do. But, as the saying goes, “there’s a time and a place for everything”.

My Dad, 20 years gone Nov. 7, described the change well: “now I do my travelling through National Geographic”. And he was adventuresome in his own way. Twenty five years ago he “bussed” from St. Louis to Fargo ND for the ordination of the son of a long-time friend. She is now 91, and she reminded me of this event a couple of evenings ago – one of those calls out of the blue.

Dad was 84 then, and he said he was coming to Fargo for the ordination, and I worried about him taking that long a trip unaccompanied. So I met him in Fargo. He was a bit miffed, I recall. He wanted to prove to himself that he could still “solo”! But we had a nice time.

I am reminded of another celestial event. It would have been sometime in about November, 1957, I was a senior in high school, and it was on the lawn of my grandparents farm home near Berlin ND. It was one of those intensely bright sky evenings, no moon.

Something called “Sputnik” had not long before gone into orbit, and in those days the newspaper gave its readers tracking information of where and when to see Sputnik in the night sky.

Sure enough, came a blinking light coursing across the sky, at exactly the time and place announced in the Fargo Forum. My recollection was that it coursed basically from SSE to NNW (though I might be wrong). It was tumbling through the sky, and the blinking light was reflected sun rays.)

Whatever the case, we saw it.

Have a good day.

The last stamp on the USPS sheet of 16 (see above). I bought 32 stamps and used 31 of them….

POSTNOTE August 23:

The Eclipse is come and gone. Nothing to comment on in suburban St. Paul MN – actually watched it on TV and at the appointed time, about one p.m., there was not much evidence outside our home that it was other than a normal day. A cloud cover was beginning to build, which not too long later would result in some rain. But were we living 100 years ago, we wouldn’t have known anything was happening.

My son reported little luck down in Nebraska either. We’ll get a fuller report this morning.

No word as yet from my daughter about her family experience in, I think, Illinois.

It seems, though, a worthwhile day overall…a good learning experience for anyone interested, or potentially interested.

from Kathy in Oregon Aug 24: My family – [six in all]; drove down from Portland, Oregon to Mt Angel on Sunday in anticipation of the next morning’s Solar Eclipse- the first time to be viewed from the U.S. coast to coast in nearly 100 years. Mt. Angel was in the path of the total solar eclipse and so Grandma’s home -a short 15 min walk to the Abbey hill, would be the perfect place to stay!

Next morning, with much excitement we made our way up to the Abbey (about 9 a.m.), stopping from time to time to view the progress of the moon’s eclipse of the sun through our solar glasses.
We found a great spot to sit on the north slope of this ancient hilltop, situated in the midst of Oregon’s north Willamette Valley. Monks, Scientists/equipment, seminarians back for their first day of school, professors, employees and friends (us) shared in this experience of a lifetime.

At total eclipse, we felt a collective sense of wonder and awe… a mystical oneness with all of God’s creation! At this moment of complete totality, in one voice, a spontaneous cheer erupted! The monks intoned the beautiful Salve Regina. After the brief 1.39 min. of darkness, the sun triumphed once again, spreading it’s warmth as the stars faded and the moon sailed on to the east.

I turned to observe my family next to me and saw tears trickling down [my] granddaughters cheeks beneath her solar eclipse glasses…(tears which in turn prompted more tears from her mom).
Along with the blessing of family- this magnificent display from the heavens, touched us all in a deep, forever, holy place….

PS. I was reminded later, as I observed my grandchildren, and then butterflies in the garden -doves on my patio, that the beauty and majesty of wonder of God’s creation is all around us every day in big and small ways …we need only to notice 🙂

Semper Fi*

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Emblem of United States Marines


(click to enlarge any photos or illustrations)

Monday morning, 8:53 a.m., an odd e-mail from my daughter: “I have very few details and am “on call” today. Spencer is at his MEPS appointment this morning and will, at some point (likely Lester afternoon), swear in. I’ll do my best to keep you posted, but for sure this isn’t a “must attend” if you follow. Keep your phones close and if it works, great…if not, mark your calendars for July 9 which is his ship date!”

July 9 was last month. “MEPS”? “Lester”? We’ve all done rushed e-mails! (More later in this post).

I went on to my morning meeting where six of us were to discuss a film-in-progress about dialogue on how to help promote world peace and justice through suggesting positive changes in the United Nations.

Six people suggesting reforms to a 72 year old institution representing over 190 nations? The idea sounds preposterous, but I’ve been around long enough, and close enough, to know that bottom up ideas can and do make a difference. You just need to be patient, and never expect your name in “lights”. We are a global society, and if there is ever to be peace, it has to begin with all of us in each of our own small and larger ways. Indeed, world society is making positive progress.

Most of our Monday morning group had been at a small dinner the previous evening (below). Joseph Schwartzberg joined us on Saturday; Deb Metke couldn’t.

from left, David Lionel, Ron Glossop, Gail Hughes, Deb Metke, Nancy Dunlavy. Dick Bernard took the photo, and thus is the empty chair.

I stuck around till about 12:30 Monday afternoon, then excused myself.

There was a phone message from my daughter: “Spencer will be sworn in at 2 p.m. at Ft. Snelling. Come if you can.” “Sworn in”? “To what?” He’s just becoming a senior in high school. Once again, what was MEPS?… I called Cathy. “This is all I know. Do you want to come along?” “Sure.”

We were there in time. Seven others had come, on short notice, to be there for Spencer. Spencer was there to be sworn in as a Marine, with a report date of July 9, 2018. Three other young people were sworn in at the same time. MEPS turned out to be the Military Entrance Processing Station. As the blanks were filled in, it wasn’t a great surprise. Spencer, a great kid, has long had an interest in the possibility of military. This was his next step.

I was visibly emotional as he was sworn in. For me the emotion was simply recognizing another passage point for another of my grandkids, growing up. That he was enlisting in the military wasn’t a point of issue for me (a “peacenik”). The person swearing in he and three others, a 22 year veteran, a first class representative of the military, said only one percent of the U.S. population is in the uniformed services. I’d like for there to be no need for these folks. There is.

I’m a veteran myself, from a family full of military veterans, and while I see no good ever coming out of any war, and the young are always those sent off to fight, and die, there is sometimes a need. One can only hope that the current chain of command acts responsibly for Spencer and all of us. (In the entry to MEPS was pictured the Chain of Command as of August 7, 2017.)

August 7, 2017, MEPS, Ft. Snelling MN

Today I’ll be sending Spencer a copy of the orders to report for Army duty that I received back on January 10, 1962. Back then, they bused us to Ft. Carson Colorado. There were 18 of us. We didn’t know, then, that we were going into the Army at the early stages of what came to be known as the Vietnam era. Ten months later was the Cuban Missile Crisis, which I learned about through President Kennedy’s address to the nation on a small television in an Army barracks a few miles from Cheyenne Mountain, a possible ICBM target.

(I looked at the map of military posts in the United States in the reception room, and apparently Ft. Carson is no longer a full-fledged base.)

One can hope that the service will never have to “bulk up” again.

It’s our responsibility to do our part to end war.

Meanwhile, Congratulations, Spencer! And I’d encourage readers to become interested in and possibly involved in my organization, Citizens for Global Solutions MN, whose founders in 1947 were persons who had been deeply affected by WWII, and thought there was a better way than war and killing to solve problems. Some of us were among the ones meeting Monday morning (above).

Spencer, August 7, 2017

POSTNOTE: As Spencer begins his year preparing for active duty, here’s a graphic I gave him within the last couple of years:

(click to enlarge)
.

And as he signed his enlistment papers, the most difficult current hot spot is the Korean Peninsula, where difficult decisions will hopefully be made very, very carefully. In our democracy, we are the ones who select these decision makers….

Personal adaptation of p. 104 of 7th Edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World

These are the kinds of things a grandfather thinks about, when his grandson is about to be a member of America’s military.

Congratulations, and all good wishes, Spence.

* – Semper Fidelis

The Empty Chair

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

September 19, 2013, I was at the North Dakota farm of my Uncle Vincent and my ancestors. It was a place I had been many times before, and this particular day I took the below photos, and 29 more.

I had ridden out to the farm with Uncle Vince, then 88 years of age. We did this every time I came west during the years they’d lived in town, ten miles away.

(click to enlarge)

Sep. 19, 2013

I’m not sure why I made this particular trip. My photo logs around that date show no related trips connected with the specific visit to that home place 320 miles from where I live.

My photos that day were the usual ones of the ever more run-down farm. This day I took this specific photo of the metal shed, showing where Uncle Vince, in recent years, spent most of his time when he visited his life long home. I purposely showed the place exactly as it appeared. There was no staging. At the time of the photo, Uncle Vincent was down by the barn, turning off the water to the garden; preparing for winter, as he always did.

What I do remember about that day, and those snapshots, was that I felt I was documenting the coming end of the then-108 years old Busch farm.

Since 2006 Vincent and his sister, Edithe, lived in town in assisted living; Edithe had, about a year earlier, moved into the Nursing Home down the hall.

As had become normal, Vincent continued to come out to the farm to do something: on this day, turn off the water to the garden.

But something else was becoming more obvious. Once again, he had forgotten why he made the trip to the farm, and I had to remind him more than once about what he had come to do.

He was slipping. He was also more and more depressed. He’d just sit in that old chair at the farm and look towards the nearby house and yard he’d lived almost his entire life, and look beyond in the direction of the old hometown, Berlin ND, elevators easily visible, about five miles from the knoll on which the farm stood. He’d just sit there in his chair and look….

Sep. 19, 2013, Berlin ND from the Busch farmstead

I remember one other particular photo that September day. It is below.

Sep. 19, 2013

I was down by the old garden, and took a photo of the old barn – I’d done that many times before. This particular day, as I noticed the car by the barn. I realized with a start that given Vince’s short term memory problems, it was a real possibility that he might drive home to LaMoure without me, not remembering that I’d come out with him. So I hustled back towards the barn.

Visit over, I made the over 300 mile trip back home.

My photos show that on October 24 I was back in LaMoure, then again on November 10, to do the deed that many of us have to do with an elder loved one.

Vince and Edithe Oct 25, 2013

The folks in assisted living had determined that Vincent could no longer live semi-independently in his apartment, and on November 11, 2013, I had to give him the talk, along with the Director, that he had no real choice but to move to join his sister down the hall in the Nursing Home. I accompanied him on that short trip by wheelchair. It was not easy.

These are things that stick in one’s mind: those Fall days in North Dakota will be among my enduring memories.

Fourteen months later, Feb. 2, 2015, Vincent died, having just achieved age 90.

There was always a melancholy sense with Vince; that he felt he’d failed, somehow, let the family down. It’s easy to fall into that trap.

I know better. He honored his family and his community as well. He was a good man.

We’re all on the same train track called “life”, with all that entails.

Three days ago, I went to the funeral of David, a teaching colleague from 50 years ago. Funerals become regular social event for older folks like me. I sent along to the mailing list announcing David’s death an old Ann Landers column that has always been meaningful to me, and offer it to you, now: The Station001

All best for a good life.

NOTE: Here are the blogposts written about the Busch farm and North Dakota generally over the last few years: Dick Bernard Blog Posts on Buschs and N. Dakota

POSTSCRIPT:

Neither Vince nor Edithe ever married, nor had kids of their own, but there were those 28 of us who called them “Uncle” or “Aunt”, and saw them from time to time. Six of us preceded them in death.

Sometimes you wonder, did you make any difference at all? I’m pretty sure Vince, in particular, wondered about that, though he was close-mouthed about his feelings.

Lately, I’ve had a couple of pieces of “evidence”, among many others, that yes, they/we made a difference.

Earlier this month, daughter Joni, was appointed Principal of a Middle School near here. She’s been a school administrator for 13 years, and the new assignment is a particular challenge/honor: she takes the reins at a 66 year old school, while at the same time supervising the construction of its replacement school a few miles away. She’s earned the promotion to what is a difficult job. Here’s the article announcing her appointment: Joni Hagebock001

Just a week or so ago we got the latest issue of the Catholic Archdiocese newspaper, and the entire back page was devoted to Carrie Berran, who we immediately identified as the daughter of another of Vince’s nieces, Mary Jewett. As the article states, Carrie was honored as the national NBA Jr. Coach of the Year for the United States. Not at all shabby! Carrie Berran Jul 2017003.

Carrie Berran

Dick Bernard: A Matter of the Family of Humankind

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Today is the day before the 4th of July. Three random thoughts on the matter of “family”.

(click to enlarge)

Ste Famille QC, June 2017

1. A few weeks ago, my brother John took a short trip into the Quebec of our French-Canadian ancestors (Dad was 100% French-Canadian). Within Ste. Famille, part of the beautiful Ile d’Orleans, John noted the evocative roadside sculpture shown above. (In the background is the north channel of the St. Lawrence River; just a ways to the right out of eyeshot is the famous Ste. Anne de Beaupre.)

This sculpture and John’s photo interpretation make one of those pictures “worth a thousand words”. I have my thoughts, you have yours.

2. During this same time period the results came for my DNA analysis through, in my case, 23andMe. I’ve done family history for many years, and just hadn’t gotten around to the ancestry piece.

I finally did it. I’m glad I did.

The results were a little surprising, but only a little.

My analysis has me as 99.9% European, primarily (37%) French and German but 22% British and Irish and 26% “broadly Northwestern European”*.

A look at the map (below), and a most cursory knowledge of immigration patterns over thousands of years fills in most blanks, I suppose, for most of us.

(click twice to enlarge more)

In my case, one of my primary root families, the first Collette (as we spell it) ancestor in our French-Canadian bunch came from Brittany more or less between Brest and St. Malo, which area is directly south of westernmost England, and the rest of the French roots were mostly along the western side of what is now France. The British Irish is hardly a surprise.

(A friend whose German ancestors came from the Ukraine, and was by definition a “German from Russia”, took the same DNA test, and told me that her analysis was that she was “mostly French”. It surprised her; it didn’t surprise me. She didn’t look German, and her family name didn’t sound German, but by geographic location (Alsace-Lorraine) her French ancestors had likely been part of the Germanic portion of Europe.)

I am very happy I invested in 23andMe. At the minimum, it is a gift to later generations who might wonder who they are. I recommend the process.

Questions? Feel free to ask. I’ll share what I know: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

3. In the meantime, I continue in the process of really looking carefully at “stuff” from the German ancestors in ND. There continue to be interesting surprises, including this postcard which surfaced recently. (Shown are both sides of the card.)

(click twice to further enlarge the writing)

This “postal” has its own rich story, which must rely on individual interpretation of snippets of facts within. I only know a few of the facts, but here are some pieces I can share:

A. The card was to my grandmother Rosa Busch who, at the time the card was delivered was about 27 years old, had lived on the farm for six years, and had two children, ages 4 and 2. Berlin, her town, had come into being in 1904. She and her spouse came from extreme southwest Wisconsin, near Dubuque IA. It was a time when land was available and a boom of sorts was on, relying on railroad transportation.

B. Eagle Butte, according to Wikipedia, was incorporated in 1911, the same year of the postmark on the card.

C. It is unlikely that the correspondent had ever lived in or near Berlin ND. The towns were far apart in a day before easy access between places.

My guess, and that’s all it is: the two women probably knew each other when they were growing up in southwest Wisconsin. Eagle Butte is a place name I’d never heard of until I saw this card.

What’s your theory?

That’s three very short stories for July 3, 2017.

* – POSTNOTE: The analysis noted that I had more Neanderthal components than 89% of the sample. This, of course, gave an opening to my four younger siblings – payback time for things remembered from our youth! But, Neanderthals were survivors, and it can’t be all bad. Maybe when they were handing out the chromosomes I got most of the good stuff! Anyway, so goes the argument.

We are all part of the human family, and all residents of the same planet which has no boundaries. It would be nice if we remembered that, always.

Have a great 4th.

Remembering on Father’s Day: Grandpa Busch

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

All best wishes on Father’s Day. Today, as our Pastor acknowledged and affirmed at Mass, “Father” is a borderless term.

Today, a few words on my biological Grandpa, Ferdinand W. Busch, who I knew for 27 years of my life. No need for many details. Hopefully I’ll encourage some of your own memories of some Dad in your own life.

(click to enlarge, double click for added enlargement)

Near Dubuque IA Summer of 1941

Grandpa comes to mind because of the above photo, which I came across in a large collection of old farm photos which I have been working on identifying and classifying since my Uncle Vince died.

Grandpa was a farmer in North Dakota from 1905 till his death in 1967.

The photo was taken at a specific farm in southwest Wisconsin in June, 1941. Grandpa is one of the two men at right in the photo. The other is Uncle Vincent, then 16, who (very likely) quite proudly drove the near six hundred miles of this trip. Now, that 1940 Shell Oil road map for Iowa which was in the residue of the old farm desk makes sense to me.

Long trips were not the norm back then.

A short time ago I used the U.S. map in that map in another blog. It seems a good time to use it again.

part of 1940 Shell Oil Co. Road Map for Iowa.

Filling the radiator with water before leaving home.

But, back to the photo. My Grandma Rosa Busch is behind the sad looking lady in the white-fringed dress; next to her is her daughter, my Aunt Edithe. The adult women are all Grandma’s sisters…in her large family of origin there was only one brother, and apparently he was not on this trip.

There were 13 siblings in Grandma’s family of origin. Eleven were girls.

The first four kids for Grandma and Grandpa were girls, six of the nine total.

*

I’ve done family history for years. This is not a festive occasion for a family gathering.

The lady in the white-fringed dress, the likely object of the visit, died about a year later, and, I think, she and all knew that she would be dying a difficult death.

She had been stricken with what they used to call Lou Gehrig’s Disease, what now is commonly referred to as ALS. In this photo she was 59, a year younger than Grandpa.

She had been Maid of Honor for her sister when Grandma and Grandpa got married in 1905. All the girls grew up in the house at the right in the photograph. The lady in the white-fringed dress still lived there.

Grandpa had grown up walking distance across farm fields from this same farm.

This farmyard was very familiar territory for everyone.

*

Life takes its course for all of us, as we know. Personally, I think it best that we don’t know the specific twists and turns ahead – better surprised than worry yourself to death!

All of the elders in the photo are long gone; probably most of those little kids in the picture as well.

We all have our stories. Grandma and Grandpa had theirs. Vince and Edithe (neither ever married) had theirs too, from numerous encounters with we youngsters from their siblings families.

Here’s to you own memories, most of whom are, I hope, good!

Happy Fathers Day – EVERYONE!

COMMENTS
from Annelee: Dick, thanks for the memories of Father’s Day and times past.

I never knew either of my grandpas as you know, both died before I was born.

But I do remember my papa. Wish now that just once I could have said how much I loved him, and could have thanked him for guiding me along to the roads of my youth. The war took him and many young fathers before they could watch their children as they remembered and used what their papas had told them.

It was Papa who taught me about not hating anyone. When I told him that I had heard in school that we should hate the Jews, he said, “Anneliese, I will NOT hear the word hate in our home. And don’t you ever hate anyone. You may not like what he/she does, but don’t ever hate because hate makes you a lesser person than the person you hate. “

About lying he said. “Don’t lie, tell the truth: You see, when you tell one lie, you will always have to tell another lie. Soon the lies own you and only the truth will set you free.”

About making mistakes: “Anneliese, I accept it when you make a mistake, we all do, believe me I have made mistakes too. What is important, is the fact that you must learn from your mistakes and not repeat them..
Otherwise you will have problems. No one will believe or trust you again.”

“Respect is not something you are born with. You must be kind and respect others who may not live like we do. But if they work hard and try to do right, they are good people and they will
in return, respect you.”

“When I questioned why I should have to go to church every Sunday to make it into heaven. Papa said, “Faith in God is not black and white. You may not understand it, but you should believe.”

As I entered school and advanced, PAPA always reminded me, “Anneliese, learn all you can and then some more.”

When I asked him “Why should I learn more than my friends? Why I should travel to Waldsassen on Saturdays to take typing and shorthand?” He patiently explained. “Anneliese, I want to give you a better change than I had. You see, times are getting hard. If you will have to work, and you have better knowledge than someone who applies for the same job, most likely, you will be hired. So you will do as I say, and that is that.”

Because of my knowledge of typing which was Not offered in school, I was hired as a telegraph operator instead of having to join the German Arbeitsdienst.

Oh, how did I get on that, Annelee

from Jermitt: Wonderful Blog. I enjoyed your story and pictures, and Annelee’s message as well.

Marking Times – Some thoughts on Memorial Day 2017

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Have a good Memorial Day. This morning (beginning 9:30 a.m.) I’ll be at the Vietnam Memorial on the MN State Capitol grounds for the annual Vets for Peace Memorial Day observance. Stop over, if you’re in the area. (See end of this post.)

This Memorial Day musing began with an unplanned detour on a north suburban Minneapolis highway on May 18, and concluded with a powerful musical May 26, about a post WWI farm family and community in northern Minnesota.

I hope my musing might bring back to you some memories from days past. All families have legacies which we inherit, and pass on…. (My own family list is at the end of this post.)

(click to enlarge the map, click a second time for greater enlargement, explanation below)

part of 1940 Shell Oil Co. Road Map for Iowa.

*

Some days ago I drove to an annual dinner in my old stomping grounds of Anoka County MN. Road work required a detour, and I found myself on Minnesota Highway 65 in Blaine MN, a route to/from work, which I had traveled daily for three years, 1966-69. The approximate six miles, from about 80th Ave NE in Spring Lake Park (1st Ave is downtown Minneapolis) to what used to be called 125th (Main Street east from Anoka) came on this day to be a reflective trip for me – a time to reminisce.

Hwy 65 at 109th in Blaine MN May 18, 2017

These days, the route is strictly suburban, and middle class; home to the world known National Sports Center. Back then, near 50 years ago, Blaine was just developing. Small tract starter homes were blooming west of the highway, ending about at 109th as I recall. To the east and north were essentially nothing but sod farms, and occasional small businesses and rural homes of the day.

I crossed Clover Leaf Parkway at about 94th Avenue NE, and remembered that back then I saw the large barn of Clover Leaf Farms, then a well known company name in the Twin Cities. The farm is long disappeared, but there remains an interesting history of the place here.

This is how history comes back to mind, unintended. The past is never that far gone.

As I drove up that stretch of “65” (as locals would say), I was listening to Vol IV of a CD collection from the 100th anniversary collection of the Minnesota Orchestra: it had been an impulse purchase at a garage sale a short time earlier. Playing as I drove that stretch was Mozart’s Piano Concerto #25 in C Major – a personal favorite. I stopped at Roosevelt Middle School, the place where I had been a teacher from 1965-72, and looked to see when the selection I was listening to had been recorded. Nov. 15, 1957, it said. I remembered Nov. 1957 in my life: we were at my Grandparents farm in Henrietta Township ND, probably at Thanksgiving, and in the evening we gathered on the lawn to watch Sputnik blink its way across the night sky – in those years, the newspaper printed the track of that first satellite in their areas.

I was a senior in high school.

in 1957, “CDs” were many years from becoming part of our vocabulary; now that same CD is rapidly becoming just another fossil. The computer on which I compose this blog, doesn’t even have a CD player as part of standard equipment.

Bernards, Summer 1956, at Anoka MN roadside park

Ah, Sputnik…it gave fuel to the space race and a real emphasis on science in American schools, and all of the other assorted things, good and bad, that went with the Cold War. Ah, CD’s….

Back home a few days later I was looking through a bag with some remaining items from my Grandfather Ferd and then Uncle Vincent’s desk at that farm, and came across several old road maps I had found there after Uncle Vince died. One of them, a well worn one of Iowa roads and towns in 1940, included the map of the U.S. which leads this post. This was, of course, printed long before the Interstate Highway System, which was designed as America’s autobahns, first and foremost a military defense highway system. I first drove on a section of Interstate in 1958, between Jamestown and Valley City ND. “A million dollars a mile”, they said of its cost, then.

My trip down memory lane, at least this trip, culminated last Friday night when we went to see “Sweet Land, the Musical” at Minnesota History Theatre. We were part of a packed house. Its last show was yesterday, though my guess is that it will be back. But you can still access the movie of the same name, or read Will Weaver’s short story which inspired both film and musical, “A Gravestone Made of Wheat”

Short synopsis: Sweet Land is of the triumphs, trials and tribulations of small farmers in Minnesota, from post WWI when a German war-bride came to marry a Norwegian farmer, when anti-German prejudice was still very high. Years later, the intended husband helped save a neighbors farm, and the community in turn helped them save his own farm. It is story of humanity, about greed and about generosity and the tension between invaluable legacy and valuable land. A further history summary of the era, from the program for Sweet Land, is here: Sweet Land001

The show begins with a for sale sign on the property, whose owners have died; it ends with the land not for sale…. I thought of my own families 110 year old farm which recently has begun a new life in North Dakota.

I thought of all of the inhabitants of that farm, now all but one deceased, and those of the neighbor farm whose owners were brother and sister of my own grandparents.

*

For this Memorial Day, I remember all of those people who lived for all or part of their lives on that land in rural LaMoure County North Dakota. May we be good examples of their raising us up.

The children of Ferdinand and Rosa (Berning) Busch: (born 1907-27) Lucina, Esther, Verena, Mary, George (Lt., U.S. Navy, Pacific Theatre 1943-45), Florence, Edithe, Vincent, Arthur (U.S. Army 1945-46).

The children of August and Christina (Busch) Berning: (born ca 1907-28) Irwin, Irene, Lillian, Cecilia, Rose, August (Captain U.S. Marines, Pacific Theatre WWII), Hyacinth, Ruth, Ruby, Rufina, Anita, Melvin (U.S. Army, Korea).

These families felt the cost of war. The husband of one was killed over Italy near the end of WWII; the son of another committed suicide on return from Korean war – he couldn’t leave the war behind; the brother-in-law of another, my uncle Frank, went down with the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor; a neighbor of the family, Francis Long, was killed in action, hardly a year into active duty in WWII. Everyone is affected by war. This day the tendency is to honor the fallen, who we call “heroes”. But among us are survivors, suffering in assorted ways from the effects of war. War is insane. We need to work very hard to rid ourselves of the impulse of war as a solution to problems.

And there are other true heroes who have committed their lives to finding some ways to seek peace.

Last night we watched the always moving Memorial Day program on PBS. At the end of the program Vanessa Williams and choral group sang the Hymn which captioned my 1982 Christmas greeting. Below is the cover, and here is the text of that card: Vietnam Mem DC 1982001

.

Listen: “Let There Be Peace on Earth, and Let It Begin With Me.”

COMMENTS:
from Donna: Thanks for your inspirational words once again. This Memorial Day I am thinking of my relatives in Germany where my daughter and sister are currently visiting. Rich and I had the opportunity to visit them in southern Germany last October and it is amazing how welcoming they all were. While there I could not imagine leaving the beauty of southern Germany and arriving in North Dakota. It must have been a rude awakening that first winter. I expressed this to one of my cousins from Germany and he said “well if they hadn’t left they would most certainly been part of World War I & II”. Apparently during WWII my relatives would draw around their feet and then send their foot outlines to my dad and he would send back shoes. Growing up in an the all German community of St. Mary’s I am sure that all of our neighbors and friends had family back in Germany that were caught up in the two wars.

from Annelee (who grew up in Nazi Germany): Dick,Thanks for the Peace and Justice memorial Day 2017. I learned a great deal about the past as you took us down along the highways of memory lane. You brought alive the toils and struggles of your ancestral families on the farms. Then they were asked to give their sons. They were called to serve and they gave their lives.

Times have changed, some for better, some for much worse. Young men throughout the world since then have died and are still dying to serve a cause?

I remember my papa: I don’t know where he read, heard or came to the conclusion on his own.

He always said when our young men were called during WWII, and he learned that that many he knew had died — he shook his head and said
“WAR IS INSANITY AND INHUMANITY OF MEN TO HIS FELLOW MEN— I MAY NOT REMEMBER IT EXACTLY.

WAR IS STILL GOING ON, AND IT WILL CONTINUE AS LONG AS WAR AND ITS COST ARE GLORIFIED AND WE NEGLECT LIFE AND ALL ITS BLESSING PEACE COULD BRING.

from Christina: What great thoughts for this Memorial Day!

Veterans for Peace at Vietnam Memorial on MN State Capitol Grounds, May 29, 2017.

It was a chilly, blustery day, but there was a large group who gathered. Below are a few photos from the annual gathering.

May 29, Veterans for Peace gathering.

Ceremonial Bell Ringing remembering those who have died.

May 29, 2017

Anne Dunn: “Keeper of the Hair Bowl”, from her book, “Fire in the Village”

Monday, May 8th, 2017

(click to enlarge)


Note: Anne has honored this space with her work on a number of occasions. With her permission, I present this story from her wonderful book Fire in the Village. Ordering information at end of this post. Regarding the photo, see note at the end of this post.

Grandmother died suddenly, as so many had during those difficult days. For that reason, her eldest granddaughter began to clean th old woman’s small tar-papered house by the big lake.

If Grandmother had sold the valuable lakeshore property she would have been a rich woman. But she’d held on to the land so she could leave something for her surviving children. Eventually, however, the land had been divided and bit by bit, it would be lost.

But today her orphaned granddaughter, Rose, would discover an old mystery carefully wrapped and packed in the bottom of a wooden barrel. The barrel was full of rug rags, colorful yarn and remnants of fabrics the old woman had been saving for quilts.

So it was that Rose found herself holding an exquisite bowl. After turning it around several times to admire the shape and design, she looked inside. She was startled to find a long braid of human hair coiled in the bottom of the bowl. It was an old braid from an old person. The braid had been tied at the ends with faded red ribbons. Rose wondered whose hair it was and what her obligations were now that she had become the keeper of the hair bowl.

Thoughtfully she put the bowl and its mysterious contents into a box of things she would keep for herself. Then she went on sorting the rags and folding the fabrics in neat stacks for the giveaway, which would celebrate Grandmother’s life one year from the day of her death.

After the four-day wake and burial, Rose turned her attention to the hair bowl. She fully recognized her responsibility to the hair and decided to seek counsel on the matter.

On a bright spring morning Rose made a bundle of several carefully chosen items from Grandmother’s possessions, put the hair bowl in a bag and went to visit Maggie Sore Eyes.

After a warm greeting followed by three cups of maple-sweetened wild mint tea and four fig cookies, Rose placed the bundle on the table between them. Maggied opened the bundle and found a tin of tobacco, a pair of blanket slippers, an embroidered apron and three skeins of yarn. She smiled at Rose and thanked her.

When the gift had been accepted, Rose showed her the hair bowl. The elder woman lifted the braid and held it in her hands for several long minutes. Then she laid the hair on the table, opened a nearby chest and removed several items.

She placed a large abalone shell, a bundle of sage and a sweetgrass braid on the table. Prayerfully she prepared and lit a cleansing smudge. The women sat together in silence as the shadows of the tall trees crept across the yard.

At last Maggie spoke. “We will be visited in our dreams. After you dream, you must come to me with the hair bowl. I will be waiting for my dream, too. When we receive instructions we will know what we must do.”

Rose was greatly relieved as she walked home late that afternoon.

That night she had her dream. An elder woman, whom she’d never seen before, came to her and said she wanted to give her a gift. Reaching up, the elder cut off one of her braids with a stone blade and held it out to Rose.

When she woke up she dressed quickly and hurried to Maggie’s small house. After sipping a cup of hot coffee, Rose told her dream. The elder woman listened the told her dream to Rose.

Maggie lit the smudge. Together the women prayed for guidance and understanding. Afterwards, they discussed what must be done. They decided to create a ceremony of compassion, burn the hair in a nearby balsam grove and wait.

It took several days to gather everything they needed for the ceremony. When all was ready they went to the grove, performed the ceremony and waited. At last, another woman joined them. Rose recognized her as the woman in her dream. Her braid had been restored and she was pleased. Now she could continue her journey.

For many years Rose kept her own hair in the bowl. She burned the hair under a full moon several times a year.

Eventually she became the mother of several children and her eldest son was married. Tanya, the young bride, was interested in the ceremonies of women.

But before the newlyweds could celebrate their first anniversary, Tanya became ill and Rose prepared a cleansing ceremony for her healing. She also decided to give Tanya the hair bowl. So she presented the gift with a braid of sweet grass inside. Tanya looked into the bowl for a long time. Then she said, ‘I must tell you my dream.”

The young woman spoke softly: “An elder woman came to me. She said she wanted to give me a gift. Then reaching up, she cut off one of her braids and held it out to me.”

Rose was overcome with emotion and turned toward the window to hide her feelings. Then it was that she saw four women standing in the yard. They were her mother, her grandmother, Mattie and the elder woman she had seen in the balsam grove so many years before. The women smiled at Rose, then looked beyond her at Tanya who smiled back. Slowly the four women faded into another dimension and were gone.

Tanya reached across the table to hold Rose’s hand. They sat together in the gathering darkness and thanked the visitors for coming.

Sharing the same dream would enrich their long relationship. The women would enjoy several good years together and many times they would be asked to make ceremonies for the healing, cleansing and guidance of other women and their children.

POST NOTE FROM DICK BERNARD: Anne, longtime friend, sent Fire in the Village to me as a gift a few months ago. Its contents are 75 stories similar to the above.

“Keeper of the Hair Bowl”, at page 195-97, spoke to me immediately. Anne won’t know, till she reads this post, that in the possessions of my last surviving elder from my mothers side, I found in a trunk at the former family farm in North Dakota the container pictured at the beginning of this story. It was a possession that spoke to me, profoundly, but what does one do with a can full of old hair? It has been safely stored in our garage for the past two years.

I took the photograph, without embellishment, on May 8, 2017. For the first time I disturbed the contents to see what was within.

There are no labels with the various cuttings of human hair.

Almost without any question, they were collected by my grandmother, as her children were born and grew up on the North Dakota prairie. From 1907-27, nine children were born in that farmhouse, and they all grew up there as well. The first five children were girls, then a boy, then two more girls, then two boys. Among them they had 28 children, one of whom was me.

Of course, I have read the story, and it brought tears to my eyes as I read it now.

For any reader who wishes, how would you advise about the future of this can full of hair?

It is one of those treasures without price or money value. Just some old hair…but much, much more than that.

Anne, need I mention my grandmothers name: Rose Busch.

And one of her granddaughters: Tonya….

COMMENTS
from Kathy:
My thoughts about the hair-
Many of us who sew or make quilts, save old scraps in hopes of piecing these remnants together someday. Often these scraps get relegated to the back of a closet or put away into boxes or plastic tubs and are soon forgotten in life’s whirlwind.

The hair scraps made me think of the antique hair wreaths I’ve seen in museums. My friend also has a tatted hair wreath displayed in an ornate frame, passed down in her family from the 1800s – bits of hair from family members…a sort of tapestry of family dna samples.

I suspect that’s why your bucket of hair was being saved – a treasure.

Dick Bernard: A visit to the “Canyon of 60 Abandon”; and music in the country.

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Ross ND Marching Band on Parade in Williston ND, 1954.

My birthday, Thursday, was just as I liked: quiet, the usual morning coffee, then Minnesota Orchestra, and dinner at W.A. Frost in later afternoon. I’m grateful for the many Facebook comments to Thursdays “birthday post.

A gift to me some years ago was a TED talk by Louie Schwartzberg called Gratitude. Here is the link to it, a gift transferred to you.

In my birthday post, I shared a 3 second YouTube of Grandpa Bernard at 77. Yesterday came a three second cut of myself at 2:24 of a 3 minute video from April 29, 2017, at “The World is My Country” (a film in which I’ve been directly involved). See the video here, if you wish.

May 4, at coffee I began to generate a list of elders who have influenced my life since I retired in 2000. To this day, with these folks – the ones still alive – I will remain “just a kid”.

I was remembering a long ago conference of the National Education Association in the far suburbs of Houston TX in November, 1998, where the major workshop, was entitled “The Canyon of 60 Abandon”. It became my Christmas greeting for 2000 which speaks for itself: Canyon of 60 Abandon002.

My list was really quite long, about half women, half men. Most recent of note was our friend Annelee Woodstrom, age 90, who was honored a week or so ago by the arts community in northwest Minnesota. They didn’t know, apparently, till the event, that she is about to complete her third book, to be published perhaps this summer. All of those on my list, in various ways, at various times, have, to borrow the phrase, “touched, moved and inspired” me.

Most noteworthy was Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who seemed to go on and on as conductor emeritus of the Minnesota Orchestra. He conducted his last concert just months before he died Feb. 21, 2017 at 93. We saw him conduct several times in his last years. Here’s more about him, if you wish: Skrowaczewski001

We all have such a list. A good day to remember some of yours!

At the Minnesota Orchestra concert for May 4 – we’re long time subscribers – in the program I saw an essay by the late Minnesota poet and writer Bill Holm, who grew up in the small town of Minneota MN. You can read his Essay here: Bill Holm001.

Holm, in his essay, talks about education and a teacher who played the violin in his small town.

I related to the story, since my entire upbringing was in tiny North Dakota towns – Minneota was a “big city” compared to any of mine and, as many of you know, my parents were the teachers in all of them. (The photo which leads this post was in Williston ND, of the Ross ND marching band, ca summer of 1954 or such.)

Many of our small towns had two or three high school teachers, and perhaps three elementary school instructors. There was no room for specialization. And there were the characters, as Bill Holm describes, though I will defend to the death the value of small town education (while not dismissing its problems).

Music in these small towns was more miss than hit, of course. Only once in awhile was a town lucky enough to have a teacher who’d been in a band somewhere.

In 8th grade, in Ross, I at least learned the scales on a clarinet. Miss Stone, down in Antelope, and Sr. Rose, in Sykeston, attempted to teach me piano (I still see that metronome.). Miss Stone, I learned later, was conservatory trained, somewhere out east. It didn’t help her, with me!

I was told that my brother, Frank, did an amazing job with Taps on Memorial Day in Sykeston ca 1960; sister Flo ruined many an early morning practicing on the snare drums below we boys bedroom. (She was probably doing a good job, but the practice time and venue was not ideal for the older brother upstairs!)

And someone, Mom or Dad or both, liked to listen to live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons.

As Mr. Holm was inspired by the eccentric Mr. Peabody, so did osmosis work its magic on we kids, in assorted ways. For years I’ve loved music (but I never did to learn to play an instrument!)

As age goes on, we learn what we have learned….

All best.

*

POSTNOTE: As with Mr. Holm in Minneota, some of the music bug rubbed off on me. We are longtime subscribers to the Minnesota Orchestra; a week ago grandson Ted and I completed our second Jazz season at Orchestra Hall; Sunday, grandson and granddaughter Ted and Kelly perform at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul as part of the Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs. Come on over, if you’re in the area. It will be very much worth your time. The youth choirs are wonderful.

Shack II – Good Friday at the Basilica of Saint Mary. “God” Among Us.

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

SEE COMMENTS AT THE END OF THIS POST.

In my tradition, today is Easter. Whatever your tradition, this day, all best for a happy one!

(click to enlarge)

At the Stone War Memorial at the Minnesota State Capitol Mall, March 28, 2017. Each Minnesota County contributed a boulder on which part of a single war time letter was inscribed. This one is from Todd County Minnesota.

March 17 at this space, I posted about the film and movie, The Shack. You can revisit it here. At the beginning of that post, I very deliberately mentioned Columbine High School which became memorable April 20, 1999. At the end of that post I have now added my blogpost about The Shack written at the time I read the book in 2009, plus my Amazon review at that time. At the end of this post – postnote 1, below – is my unedited first rough draft thoughts about todays post, saved on March 19.

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It’s been almost eight years since some friend told me about the book, “The Shack”, and now well over a month since I saw the film version in Littleton CO (see postnote 2 below). I have had some very interesting conversations about the book in the past month (including with myself!), and my antennae have been up to observe, as I say in the headline, “God Among Us”.

These are two repetitive thoughts this day:
1) Ours is an individualistic society, with a tendency to create God in our own image and to justify our own action. This is a real dilemma for organized hierarchical religion of all varieties, long accustomed to controlling the flock through one or another view of what God is, or is not.
2) We have great trouble dealing with forgiveness…of others, and of ourselves. The 1916 quotation on the boulder which leads this column merits long and very serious reflection and conversation.

*

Tenebrae on Good Friday evening at Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis – two days ago – seems to bring it all together for me at this moment in my history.

We were in a jam-packed church Friday night.

The stage for Good Friday had been set for me, personally, through a brief back-and-forth between two of us – long-time good friends – earlier in the day.

I’m a regular at Catholic Mass; my friend used to be. He has his reasons.

Some snips:
J: “Happy Easter from the Apostate. I haven’t been to a Good Friday service in ages… do they still pray for the conversion of the Jews?”
D: “Maybe we’ll go tonight and I’ll let you know…we visited Auschwitz, etc., in the spring of 2000, a mixed group of Jews and Catholics from Basilica and Temple Israel. About that time, the big story was the shakeup in the famous Oberammergau (sp?) Passion Play, where the big deal was the guilt of the Jews… But, I think, there is a relatively positive equilibrium at the moment….

Seated, I leafed through the program booklet, and in the section, “Jesus Breathed His Last” on p.6, was this (click to enlarge):

Tenebrae Program booklet at Basilica of St. Mary Minneapolis MN Good Friday April 14, 2017

The powerful service continued, and at page 12 in the booklet, came a prelude: “Remarks (Please be seated.)”

Presider and Basilica Pastor John Bauer began brief remarks by talking about the tragic history of Jewish – Catholic relations, and the strong impetus to change those relationships particularly in the time beginning with Pope John Paul II.

Then he introduced the speaker, Rabbi Sim Glaser of neighboring Temple Israel in Minneapolis.

I have heard Rabbi Glaser before, and we did go to Auschwitz with Temple Israel members in 2000, so what I and the others were about to hear was not a surprise.

I would summarize Rabbi Glaser’s very powerful remarks in this way:
1) There are three major Abrahamic religions: Jews, Christians, Moslems.
2) Jerusalem is important to all these religions.
3) We all live together in this world, and we need to relearn how to communicate with each other, rather than continue isolation and division.

I usher at Basilica often. I am sure that many of these people who Rabbi Glaser was addressing from this Catholic pulpit had not been in Church for a long while. Some may have been surprised.

The Rabbi had been introduced to much applause; when he returned to the pew, seated among all of us, the applause was even greater and sustained. This at a service where the final words in the program are “All depart in complete silence“.

I thought of my earlier conversation with my apostate friend, and about “The Shack”, whose focus (at least to me) is the need for forgiveness, of others, of ourselves.

A few hours earlier, my friend and I had closed our e-mail conversation.
J: “Heck, I go [to Catholic Mass”] fairly often… at least 2 Sundays per month at least, at St Joan… and I don’t even consider myself either Christian or Catholic….
D: “Actually, I like going to church. It’s a good calming place for me. We’re a large diverse place so there’s all sorts of folks who wander in, including me, I guess.
J: “Yep, calming… agree!

The Shack? A novel followed by a movie. By traditional standards, perhaps, a purveyor of bad theology.

But what I witnessed at Basilica of St. Mary on Good Friday 2017 was the very essence of what I had read about and saw in “The Shack”. It may not seem like it, but people are beginning to get it. Let’s leave it at that.

Happy Easter.

*

POSTNOTE 1 – the early draft of this post, March 19, 2017: This post begins with two pages from an 1896 8th grade Geography book, used by my grandmother when she was in 8th grade – the final year she went to school at a Catholic school in Wisconsin, not far from Dubuque IA. It speaks for itself. (Click a second time and you can enlarge both).

The above was 131 years ago, in the United States of America, in a textbook sanctioned by my Church, the Catholic Church. It was the basis of instruction for 8th graders in a Catholic School.

We have changed, and I think very much for the better. But where we started was dismal, and for some what the standard should still be.

POSTNOTE 2: We saw the film, the Shack, literally across the street from “Cross Hill“, overlooking Columbine High School in Littleton CO. By sheer coincidence, I was visiting my family in Littleton five days after the massacre on April 20,1999. We joined the throng of people who slowly moved up that “hill” of construction remnants, to see the crosses that had been planted there by a man from another state for each of the victims killed that terrible day. It was incredibly moving.

It is long ago, now, so I don’t remember precisely, but in my memory, the day we reached the top, two of the crosses in that line had been cut down – the ones erected for the killers, the two students who had killed the others and then themselves. They, too, had perished, but denied standing as having also been killed.

In effect, they had been denied the right to be grieved – two more lost lives on an awful day.

My son and I walked up that same hill little over a month ago, and there is now a permanent monument – presently being reconstructed – remembering those killed 18 years ago.

But the killers seem to appear nowhere in todays monument, at least nowhere I can see. I can see the reasoning. At the same time, how long will it be till we can forgive, to echo that letter in the photo above, written in 1916, about the Civil War 60 years earlier.

In my opinion, unwillingness to forgive others, and ourselves, is the blind-side of forgiveness that affects every one of us. No one need qualify for forgiveness. To me, that seems to be the essence of this day, Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017.

Have a great day, and all which follow.

COMMENTS:
from Flo: Amen.

from Jermitt: Wonderful testimonial, wonderful historical story of your Grandmothers education and great lesson on forgiveness for everyone.

from Larry(wordchipper@gmail.com, with permission): Found your pieces on “The Shack” and Good Friday in your Roman Catholic Church to be thought stimulating. Will watch for the book and/or movie. I’ve bypassed the book several times but your article prompts me to maybe read it or at least look at the movie.

Regarding the Roman Church, I have my problems with this body and not just because I’m a lifelong ELCA Lutheran. I have many dear friends – like you – who are Catholics and when my wife and I have visited places like Mexico and Hawaii, we’ve attended mass at the most prominent landmark in any village, the Catholic cathedral. I find your church’s emphasis on string instruments and piano refreshing. I’m with Garrison Keillor on protesting against overly-enthusiastic organists. We have them in our church and, apparently, they’re also playing loudly in Mr. Keillor’s.

But my concerns today with your church have to do with their heavy-handed role in American politics. Although it raises my blood pressure, I listened to Catholic media, both radio and television, featuring endless praise for Donald Trump because of his stand on “abortion,” although his stance on anything, including abortion, is a bit suspect. The commentators on Catholic media sounded like they took their training from Fox News. Horribly one-sided. I called into one national program and reminded two of the on-air expounders, who were praising Republicans and blasting Democrats, that it was Democrats who put across the Civil Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and fought for working class people, many of whom belonged to unions and were good Catholics. Also, because I’m “pro-choice,” does not mean I’m against life. I believe Republicans and Catholics ought to care as much about babies who are born – through health care, education, and so forth – as they are about getting between a doctor, his or her patient, and the patient’s God, or no religious belief. Our Republican legislators in North Dakota, many of whom are Catholics, cut health care programs for women and others but pass unconstitutional measures that waste tax dollars on wild goose chases that do nothing but please the Roman hierarchy.

Noting the personal morality record of Mr. Trump, multiple divorces, not paying subcontractors, and proposing to cut health care while investing more money with the Daddy Warbucks of the country, I just don’t get it why the Roman Church in the USA is so in love with Trump and expressed such hatred for Mrs. Clinton. They preached their right-wing philosophy so strongly during the Presidential campaign that, I believe, the should have lost their 501-3c tax exemption.

Response from Dick: Larry, it’s a rather daunting task to take on your response. I just googled the words “Catholic census” and the first link was a reputable one, Pew Research, that says there are over a billion Catholics worldwide, half of the Christians. The whole global population is over 7 billion. I usually hear that Minnesota has about 20% Catholics; the U.S. about 25%. That’s lots of folks, and I know from long experience that they aren’t all alike.

I was in college in the transition from the old to the new Church – 1958-61. Generalizing is dangeous, granted, but I think I can fairly say but “authority” took a hit in the post-Vatican II era. This was great for many Catholics; “the pits” for many as well. In one sense or other this battle is joined every day in one way or another.

Personally, I’m on what I’d call the social justice side of the debate within the church. I’m sure the authoritarian side would also say they’re for social justice, but they’re more into control, often played in the assorted debates that you cast concern about in your state (which is a state very familiar to me.)

I choose to stay within the Church. I don’t see it doing much good to drop out and start over in some other denomination. Those I would call “authoritarians” are not comfortable with the current Church, which is fine by me. The Catholic Church, like many Christian churches (and others, doubtless) has a very long history of authoritarianism, going all the way back to Constantine’s embrace of Christianity as essentially the state Church of the Roman Empire about 300 A.D. In general, where the ruler went, the people went. Some places, everybody was Lutheran; other places, something else. in the olden days sense, we’re sort of in the wild west.

I think I’ll leave it at that, except to emphasize once again Rabbi Glaser’s advice at my Catholic Church on Friday: we need to look at and talk with each other. That is risky, but the only way to break the current and very unhealthy stalemate. Just my opinion.

A LETTER: On April 17, I sent a letter to the Denver Post. I almost immediately got a call back that they were interested, and I expected it would be printed. Thus far (Apr 26) I haven’t seen it printed. So here it is:
Last month we were in Denver to visit family. I asked to visit “Cross Hill”, the place above Columbine dating back to just after April 20, 1999. March 11, 2017, we walked to the memorial.

April 25, 1999, I was in Littleton to visit the same family, who then and still, lives little more than a mile from Columbine. In a steady rain, four of us patiently trod up to those new crosses.

At the top were two fewer crosses than originally set in the ground. Those two were those raised for the killers, also students, who also perished that day. Those crosses were cut down.

I know the reasons those crosses came down.

Today I speak to the need, in my opinion, to recognize once again these two students whose personal demons led to the heinous results. They were victims too.

Forgiveness is difficult. Consider it, seriously.