Archive for February, 2009

I was doing a bit of research on something else, and came across this wonderful true story out of World War II, as recorded at The Righteous Among the Nations “Featured Stories” section at Yad Vashem’s website. This particular story begins:

Assisi is the home of Francesco di Bernardone – St. Francis of Assisi – the founder of the Roman Catholics’ Franciscan and St. Clare (Poor Clares) Orders. As such it is a most meaningful place for Roman Catholics. No Jewish community was ever known to exist in Assisi. Paradoxically however, the only time in history when there is record of Jews living in Assisi is during the Holocaust, when the town and its churches, monasteries and convents became a safe haven for several hundred Jews.

Shortly after the Germans occupation, when the man-hunt for Jews began, the Bishop of Asssisi, Monsignor Giuseppe Placido Nicolini, ordered Father Aldo Brunacci to head the rescue operation of Jews and to arrange sheltering places in some 26 monasteries and convents. The Bishop went as far as to authorize the hiding of Jews in such places that were regularly closed to outsiders by the monastic regulations of the “clausura”. The Committee of Assistance Monsignor Niclolini had put in place and that he presided transformed Assisi into a shelter for many Jews; others who were passing through the town were provided with false papers enabling them to survive in other places.

After the war Father Brunacci described the Bishop’s resolution in face of danger: “I will never forget how insistent those threats were, yet how determined the Bishop remained. He would not let anyone intimidate him from performing what he, as a pastor, was required to do. I recall very well the strength Monsignor Nicolini showed in the face of repeated alarms of the ‘big shots’ who felt it was their duty to suggest prudence and moderation. There are times in everyone’s life in which it is easy to confuse prudence with a calm life; there are times when heroism is required. Monsignor Nicolini took the path of heroism.”

Read the rest

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Last week, midweek, at a study group at church, when the pastor asked if anyone had any prayer requests, one of the women asked if we would pray for her son. She fought for her words as she made her request, ‘… he made it through Iraq, and… our new president (she couldn’t seem to say his name)…  who said that he was bringing them home… (long pause, a battle not to crumple)… but there aren’t enough troops, or… anyway, my son’s been told he’s going to be deployed to Afghanistan… he’s been in the National Guard for seven years… he’s just finishing up his one year of reserve… he’s married now… he’s on the short list for a job he really wants… and… God got him through Iraq and I guess… but… he’s married now, and… it’s all so different now… and…”

As she talked, she looked twenty years older than I’d ever seen her. I didn’t ask, but I’ll bet anything that she voted for President Obama, convinced he’d keep her son stateside. Ours is a denomination that stresses respect for government leaders, and she stayed respectful, I’ll give her that. Her soldier son needn’t worry that his mother was talking down his commander in chief. But what struck me was how confused and disbelieving she was that her son, standing on the brink of civilian life, was being jerked back into action, to drive Humvees through bomb infested areas and past snipers.

Whatever Mr. Obama meant to tell her during his campaign, what she heard, I guess, was that he was promising to bring the troops home. And now she’s quite reasonably having trouble coming to grips with the fact that her son, who has been risking his life for years, who is months from discharge, is being sent into yet another country.

This morning, at the bank, one of the women who worked there, when she answered the phone, asked her caller ‘How are you?’. After a pause, during which the customer must have asked her the same question, the banker said, with a trace of bitterness,  “I just found out this morning that my son is being deployed to a particularly horrid part of Iraq, so I’m pretty upset, but… well… ” and then she worked the conversation over to business.

This is a part of the country that has many families with sons and/or daughters in the military. There has always been worry amongst friends and family, but there has also been pride, and a sense that the war was worth the risks and sacrifice. I’m not used to hearing what I’ve been hearing lately, the words and tones suggesting a sense of betrayal, and the agony of dashed hopes.

I was talking to a friend about it, and he said that a whole lot of military families voted for President Obama. I’m wondering how many of them are finding out that it’s not going to get them what they thought it would. I can’t imagine how much that would hurt, considering what’s at stake.

Sunday, the lady from my study group seemed to have recovered her equilibrium. She was pretty much her usual, cheerful, bubbly self, even though she’s also dealing with the recent death of a friend in a car wreck. We are a tough and persevering people, and trust that this life isn’t all there is, and we have friends and God to lean on to get us through the griefs of this life. But, still. I cannot get over how old she was last Wednesday, and how hard it was for her to talk about “our new president” and how impossible it was for her to say his name.

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One of the stray cats that I’ve semi-adopted (as far as feeding and petting goes) must be in heat, because she has two toms harassing her. The female is a puny thing, about three-quarters size compared to most cats around here, and she has at least one screw loose in her head. The toms are, if I might say so, not stellar specimens either. The steely gray one is oddly built, with an oversize head, too many toes, odd proportions, a tail that seems a bit ratlike, and on top of that he’s so old he moves slowly and stiffly. (We’re pretty sure he fathered last year’s sole kitten, which, as it happens, has turned out to be a classy-looking cat, one of the most handsome around. Go figure.) The other tom is a black cat, also a bit old, but not as elderly, that has wheezed and sneezed his way through the two or three years I’ve known him. (‘Survival of the fittest’, I’ve found, is more common in textbooks than in real life.)

At any rate, this weekend I decided to try to make the gray tom hungry enough to at least go somewhere else for a while (a person can dream of a yowl-less life, can’t she?), so when I fed the cats I took a cup of hot tea with me, and sat on the back porch while the inner circle ate. (The inner circle includes the black tom. When he first showed up in our back yard, he was half dead and three quarters starved, and eyed me with with a look that suggested that he expected me to kick him but he didn’t care, because he was past caring. I made it a project to teach him that not all people are monsters. We are now quite the friends, thank you very much.)

It was a warmish day, for this time of year, and I sallied forth to guard duty without a coat. As I sat on the deck, and drank my tea, a few things became apparent. One was that it wasn’t quite warm enough to be sitting out there in a sweatshirt but no jacket. Another was that, without doubt, my allergies to cats are getting more severe. When the cats decided to abandon eating to come rub against me, I got up to walk around the yard. To my surprise, the apple tree has hints of ragged pale green on some tips. It’s not what I would call buds, but it’s getting there.

Some robins came by, and the air was alive with birdsong from all quarters.

We sometimes have one or two robins in deep winter, but there have been more coming in lately, to where they are a daily sight. The birdsong has changed over the last few weeks, too. In winter, I hear mostly bird calls of the ‘I’m here, where are you?’ variety, and other such utilitarian messages, with the occasional scold at predators. Now, mixed in with those, sometimes drowning them out, are actual songs, from birds of many types declaring that they’re just busting out with life.

The air, although it hardly smells like spring, no longer smells entirely of winter.

Yay! Not that I don’t like winter, but I am ready for spring. It’s a few weeks off yet, I know, but there are signs it’s moving closer, which is good enough for me, for February. (I know February is shorter than other months, and I know the days are getting longer, but it doesn’t generally feel that way. The trees have been bare too long, or something, and the skies too gray, or something.)

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Author Lisa Harris shares some of what she’s learned about book publishing. Newbie or wannabe authors might want to take a look. (She also recommends a freelance editor she’s worked with, if you’re looking for an editor.)

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This article is mostly about how threats to gun ownership convinced an ex-leftist-radical couple to join the NRA and get a gun (in that order), but it also has a nice vignette of a feminist-pacifist-minded mother coming to grips with raising boys.

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The folks at CatholicVote.com have my thanks for making this ad.

As of post time, it’s had 1,447,445 views at YouTube.

hat tip: The CatholicVote.com blog

(Cross-posted at Ladies for Life and Judson’s Corral.)

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… I met my husband. Every year since then he’s made a big point of wishing me a Happy Anniversary of The Day We Met. (We also celebrate our wedding anniversary, like most folks.)

No, ladies, you can’t have him. He’s taken.

Happy 20th Anniversary, D. You bless me more than you can possibly know.

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Sherry at Semicolon is asking for recommendations for books about Texas to assign to sixth graders. She’s already got a pretty good list of a wide variety of books, fiction and nonfiction both, if you’re looking for kidlit recommendations yourself.

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Still kicking…

So, I finally have a computer connected to the Internet, after a few weeks off. But, I find that I still have some technical problems. We might have to scrap this one and start over, for all I know.

On the upside, losing the distraction of surfing and blogging helped me tackle, and even finish, quite a few projects I’d been putting off. I’ve been reading and researching and participating in study groups and have been settling into a new church home. On that last subject, I would like to officially take back everything I ever thought about people who talked about how hard it was for them to find a church home. I worked my way through seven other churches before I found this one. More on that someday, maybe. (Or maybe not. I think C.S. Lewis might have had a point when he said that public quibbling by Christians probably kept more unbelievers away from the Kingdom than it drew to any one denomination.) For the record, there was not one church along the way where the people in the congregation weren’t wonderful and welcoming. The main trouble was finding a church service that didn’t aim to be entertainment. (Sigh.)

I have two books published now – just self-published, but they’re selling pretty well, thank goodness (our area has been hit pretty hard by the recession, and we are glad of the added income) – and I’ve got a few more books in the ‘final edits’ stage. (This is an inside joke, by the way. Once a book gets placed in a ‘final edits’ folder, I usually work on it for another couple of years or so. I like to think that as I get more experienced, I won’t do this. But I have my doubts. I really, really like to rewrite.)

Well, my hubby and I both have been down with what is politely called the stomach flu, and I’m ready to go get a nice cup of tea or something. We’re definitely on the mend, but I’m definitely not well yet, either. (Yawn.)

Thanks to the downtime, I have several hundred emails to wade through, and a backlog of work to catch up on, and news to catch up on, and all this while I’m in a book-writing jag. But I’ll try to get this blog back up and running fairly soon.

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