Bataan Death March. Have you forgotten yet or did you even know?

The Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging march through the high desert terrain of
the White Sands Missile Range. The memorial march is conducted in honor of the
heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II,
sacrificing their freedom, health, and, in many cases, their very lives.

The New Mexican

“A common lament of the World War II generation is the absence today of personal responsibility ”
Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation


(Batan Death March, American Prisoners 1942)

My cousin just got back from a trip to New Mexico.

No, she didn’t go on a ski trip or vacation.

She actually went to participate in a commemorative march.

Big name walks and marches, such as the March of Dimes, the Susan G. Komen march
and even the Relay for Life are marches most of us are familiar with.

They are marching money raisers for various good causes.

But what about a commemorative death march?
What might that benefit?

Perhaps it, like other marches, benefits our future.

Perhaps it is the commemorating of the past which in turn benefits our future…

What a novel idea.

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl shares in his memoir Man’s Search For Meaning that
“it did not really matter what we expected from life,
but rather what life expected from us.”

So what exactly does life expect from us?

Does Life expect that our idiotic politicians run about willy nilly telling children
that life, as we know it, will end in 12 years?

Does it matter that our pathetic politicians keep screaming “the Russians are coming,
the Russians are coming” when they were never coming in the first place?

Does it matter that we have youthful arrogant imbeciles, for the lack of a better word,
in leadership positions trying to play government while running around screaming
that we all need to be embracing Socialism just so we can level life’s playing field.

Yet did anyone catch the memo that life isn’t, nor will it ever be, fair?

Or what about the politicians screaming for some pie in the sky, far fetched,
new green deal that rings in at a price tag of 93 trillion bucks.

Mo Money…

Your money, my money…all God’s little children’s money…

Don’t they know that nothing in Life comes free—as in somebody will have to pay…
and that my friends will be you and me—the thinly stretched middle core of America.

However, one thing they, those far-flung left thinkers, fail to understand is
that life expects more from us than a left or right leaning or the embracing of
some uber new think…

Ben Shapiro in his new book The Right Side of History:
How Reason And Moral Purpose Made The West Great, notes that
without individual moral
purpose granted by a relationship to a Creator,
we seek meaning instead in the collective, or we destroy ourselves on the shoals
of libertinism.
We live lives of amoral hedonism,…

“if we do not pursue that purpose, we pay a price; we serve foreign gods,
which cannot provide us any sort of true fulfillment.
Lasting happiness can only be achieved through cultivation of soul and mind.
And cultivating our souls and minds reqiures us to live with moral purpose.

Something our politics and politicians cannot achieve for us.

My cousin told me that during the course of the commemorations surrounding the
The Death March of Bataan was that she had the opportunity of listening to a
98-year-old veteran who candidly expressed his deepest fear in life…

That being that these current generations and those following generations,
those generations that no longer have members of his generation, will simply forget.
They will forget the sacrifices made on behalf of the betterment of the free world.
They will forget the moral purpose and responsibility that we are all
held to in order to maintain the freedom of man.

That freedom is indeed not free.

Below are two excerpts explaining the Bataan Death March and why it is
so important that we never forget.

Taken from the Bataan Museum information page
bataanmuseum.com

The infamous Bataan Death March was one of the greatest atrocities of
World War II.

Approximately 1,800 men from the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery Regiment deployed
to the Philippines in September 1941. When the Regiment reached the Philippines they
immediately moved to Fort Stotsenberg, 75 miles north of Manila. Over the coming months,
they would train under simulated war conditions. By December things would change drastically.

On December 8, 1941, Japanese bombers made their appearance and the war was on.
It was the 200th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) — the original full Regiment —
who is credited as being the “First to Fire” on December 8, 1941.
That night, the 515th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) was formed from the ranks
of the 200th.
The Japanese landings on Luzon began on December 10, 1941,
with more Japanese forces landing on December 12, 1941.

The 200th and later the 515th could not do much damage as their powder train fuses
only had a range of 20,000 feet and the bombers were flying at 23,000 feet.
The main Japanese invasion forces landed December 22,
1941 and the decision was made to withdraw the forces into Bataan.
The 200th covered the retreat of the Northern Luzon Force into Bataan and the 515th
for the South Luzon Force. They were able to hold the Japanese air and ground
attacks back, thus saving the bridges –
and the North and South Luzon Forces found a clear, safe passage to the Bataan peninsula.

For months the American and Filipino troops fought bravely as the war situation worsened.
By April 3, 1942 the Japanese received sufficient reinforcements and began to drive down
the Bataan peninsula. Four days later, the Japanese broke through allied lines.
After holding off the Japanese from December to April – four long months –
the battle for Bataan ended on April 9th

Following the fall of the Bataan Peninsula, on April 9, 1942 the United States
surrendered to the Japanese and instantly, more than 75,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers
were forced to become Prisoners of War. The POWs were soon forced to make the 65 mile trek –
with no food or water – to confinement camps throughout the Philippines.
Thirsty and exhausted, those who attempted to steal a sip of water from roadside streams or
collapsed along the way – were shot or bayoneted on the spot by their Japanese captors.
In total, 10,000 men – 1,000 American and 9,000 Filipino –
died during the Bataan Death March.

Those that survived the march would spend the next 40 months in horrific conditions in
confinement camps. Most were transported to the Japanese man island aboard “death ships.”
Many did not survive the voyage. Given very little food,
water and even clothing, the men were tortured, malnourished and riddled with disease.
Two-thirds would die from disease, starvation, horrendous conditions,
and beatings or were murdered. More than 11,500 American soldiers died during
the three plus years in confinement.

It wasn’t until late summer of 1945 that these prisoners of war would see freedom.
Survivors were diseased, frail – emaciated, skin and bones, some blind,
others unable to walk. Sadly one third of the former POWs would die of complications
within their first year of freedom.

Of the 1,816 men 200th & 515th Coast Artillery men identified, 829 died in battle,
while prisoners, or immediately after liberation.
There were 987 survivors. See the “Casualty Report” attached.
The attached report is the result of 12 years of research and is a must read.

UNITS

The 200th Coast Artillery was inducted into federal service on January 6, 1941,
for one year of active duty training.
Unit designations and home stations at the time of induction were:

Regimental Headquarters – Deming
Headquarters Battery – Deming
Regimental Band – Albuquerque
Medical Detachment – Albuquerque
HQ & HQ Battery, 1st BN – Albuquerque
Battery A – Albuquerque
Battery B – Albuquerque
Battery C – Santa Fe
Battery D – Gallup
HQ & HQ Battery, 2nd BN – Clovis
Battery E – Clovis
Battery F – Carlsbad
Battery G – Silver City
Battery H – Taos

SURVIVORS

There are currently (69) 200th & 515th Coast Artillery survivors living today.
Not all of the 200th & 515th Coast Artillery men made the Bataan Death March.
At least 100 were sent to Camp O’Donnell by truck; some were immediately assigned
to details throughout the Philippine Islands and did not make the Death March.
A handful of men were patients at one of the field hospitals on Bataan and were
eventually moved to Old Bilibid Prison in Manila, never making the March.
(107) 200th & 515th Coast Artillery men were ordered to evacuate to Corregidor
on April 8, 1942, or made their way to Corregidor by any means possible,
never making the March. Some of these Corregidor men did begin the March,
escaped, and then made their way to Corregidor. At least 14 men are known to have
escaped to fight as Guerrillas with only a few of the 14 beginning the
Death March before making their escape into the mountains

The 200th & 515th Corregidor men’s experience is worth taking notice.
Initially, they endured the hunger and disease on Bataan while in action
against the enemy for several months. When Bataan fell,
the Japanese turned their attention to Corregidor, and the island was subjected
to constant shelling for the next month.
Many of these men were absorbed into other units on Corregidor and continued
the fight until Corregidor was surrendered.
Many soldiers, now prisoners of war, were held as
hostages while the Japanese coerced General Wainwright’s cooperation to convince General Sharp
to surrender on Mindanao. The prisoners of war were held in the open,
exposed to the elements with little water and only the food they could steal from the food
stores the Japanese denied them. Another way the prisoners of war got food was to volunteer
for burial details. After about 10 days, the prisoners were loaded into boats
and taken to a stretch of shoreline south of Manila, near Paranaque,
dumped in the water short of the beach and made to wade ashore.
They were then marched up [then] Dewey Boulevard [now Roxas Boulevard],
past the University Club where General Wainwright and his senior officers were being held.
General Wainwright watched his men in their misery paraded through the streets in
what has come to be known as the “Gloat March” to Old Bilibid Prison.
They were held at Bilibid for about five days, and then marched to the train station,
loaded in to the same 40×8 type boxcars as those who made the Bataan Death March.
These men experienced suffered through the same conditions as those on Bataan:
extreme heat and humidity, filth, and extreme overcrowding with at least
100 prisoners to a car box car meant to hold only forty men or eight cattle.
They were unloaded at Cabanatuan City and then marched about 20km
(or about 12 miles) to Cabanatuan prison camp.

Two 200th Coast Artillery men were awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action on Corregidor.

Nationwide, there are less than 1,000 Bataan & Corregidor survivors.

There are, that we know of, two men who made the Death March, one who was surrendered
on Corregidor, and one who was captured at Java,
who were attached to other units, not the 200th or 515th, living in New Mexico today.
There may be more.

——-

New Mexico survivors fear Bataan Death March will be forgotten
By Robert Nott | The New Mexican

Evans Garcia used to tell his daughter Margaret that freedom is not free.

He and hundreds of other New Mexicans — as well as soldiers from other
states and native Filipinos — learned this lesson 76 years ago as they made a valiant
stand to stave off a superior force of Japanese invaders on the Bataan peninsula
in the Philippines.

Their four-month defense bought America and its allies much-needed time to
organize forces and derail a Japanese plan to invade Australia,
among other places. But it also resulted in one of the most infamous and brutal events
of the early years of World War II: the Bataan Death March.

The Battle of Bataan, the first major military campaign of the Asian theater
in World War II following the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
took a huge toll on New Mexico. Of the 1,800-plus New Mexico soldiers who fought
in that battle, only half survived. Many returned home physically,
mentally and emotionally scarred after surviving the 65-mile Bataan Death March and
subsequent incarceration and inhumanity in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps.

Just over a dozen of those soldiers are believed to be alive today.
As they and their descendants prepare for another annual commemoration of that
campaign in Santa Fe — 11 a.m. Monday, April 9, at the Bataan Memorial Building
on Galisteo Street —
some wonder if their story will eventually be overlooked as those survivors pass away.

“We descendants are often concerned that the legacy and sacrifices our fathers,
uncles and other family members made on Bataan will be forgotten,”
said Margaret Garcia, whose father died in 2011.
“So many people in society today, especially our youth,
do not appreciate what our World War II veterans fought for.”

Consuelo “Connie” DeVargas, wife of Valdemar DeHerrera,
a 98-year-old survivor of the march who lives in Alamogordo, agrees.
Two of her grandchildren came from Colorado to take part in the annual
Bataan Memorial Death March commemoration hike of up to 26 miles
on White Sands Missile Range in late March.

When they returned to their school the following Monday,
replete with stories about the march and materials pertaining to the 1942 campaign,
the other students and teachers “didn’t even know what they were talking about,”
DeVargas said. “I think it will be forgotten.”

But others, including historians and history teachers, disagree.
They say that as long as the story of the “Battling Bastards of Bataan,”
as the defenders were known, remains in the textbooks, they and other
educators will continue telling their story.

“It’s one of the state standards [for education] set by the state’s legislators,
many of whom knew the people who were involved with it, and who see it as an important event,”
said Capital High School teacher Steve Hegmann, who incorporates the story of
the Bataan campaign into his New Mexico history class for ninth-graders.
“It would take a long time for it to be forgotten, at least here [in New Mexico].
Most teachers in the state realize that New Mexicans were involved in the campaign.”

Stephen Martinez, a professor of U.S. and New Mexico history and
Western civilization at Santa Fe Community College, agrees.
“It’s always a sad chapter in the story when we lose the survivors,”
he said. “But New Mexico is very proud of its history,
and it’s a very long history, and because of that,
I think their voices and stories will never be lost, even though they pass on.”

Both Hegmann and Martinez said they blend coverage of the Bataan campaign
with other New Mexico-related events tied to World War II,
including the story of the Navajo Code Talkers and the creation and detonation of the atomic bomb.
In Hegmann’s case, he also uses the Death March and its aftermath as a way to discuss
the issue of war crimes, a still-relevant topic.

“I can tie it to current atrocities … and the idea that there are rules that society
has decided are not acceptable in wartime,” Hegmann said.
“The question my students often ask is,
‘What were the consequences of violating the Geneva Convention code of conduct
[regarding prisoners of war]?’ ”

Jon Hunner, a professor of history at New Mexico State University,
puts the battle of Bataan and the ensuing tragedy into the context of the Japanese Bushido —
or samurai — code of conduct. To a Japanese soldier in World War II, Hunner said,
“If you surrendered, it was so dishonorable that you could not be treated like a human,
so it was perfectly justifiable in that Japanese code of war to treat your
prisoners as less than human.”

He said many historians overlook the actual battle of Bataan and focus on the
Death March and the atrocities “because it is very tragic; it shows the inhumanity of man.”

Capt. Gabriel Peterman, who runs the New Mexico National Guard Museum
in Santa Fe, agrees.

“We always talk about the surrender and the Bataan Death March,
but we don’t talk about the four-month battle that those men fought,” he said.
“They were low on ammunition, low on food, low on supplies. …
They shut down a lot of plans the Japanese had to take over Australia and other islands.
I don’t think it’s too much to say that their defense helped us win World War II.”

He added: “If we don’t maintain the annual Bataan ceremony and the tradition
it was built upon, there is a fear that we will forget Bataan.”

Hunner said he thinks that with the passing of each Bataan veteran,
as well as the passage of time, there is legitimate concern that the
story of Bataan could fall by the wayside.

“As generations get away from the time of any historic event,
they lose sight of it because other historic events that are recent become more
relevant and they can find someone living to talk to about those,” he said.

As such, he said, these history stories “are like a ship sailing over the horizon.”

what lengths are you willing to go so that no one will ever forget?

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.
Malcolm Muggeridge


(Photo: Getty Images/Ellen van Bodegom)

Maybe you’ve fantasized about living out your days in a Mediterranean villa.
You might have even gone so far as to check listings before the reality of your
bank account forced you to give up on the dream.
Well, despair no longer.
One town on the Italian island of Sardinia is offering the real estate deal of a
lifetime, as long as you’re willing to stick around for the long haul.
In Ollolai, one of several hundred historic homes could be yours for just $1.25 (€1).
Yes, really.
Mayor Efisio Arbau successfully petitioned local residents to turn over their
abandoned homes in the town,
which then put them on the market for the attention-grabbing low price.

The aggressive real estate blitz is an effort to prevent a town known for its
successful resistance to the Roman Empire from fading into obscurity.
The village’s population has shrunk from 2,250 to 1,300 over the years,
and the migration of its younger people to larger cities has led to a declining birthrate.
“My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion,”
Arbau told CNN.
“We’ve always been tough people and won’t allow our town to die.”

as seen on Conde Nast Traveler / CNN Travel

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/ollolai-italy-one-euro-homes/index.html

I always love these stories—the ones about the small tranquil village that has witnessed
a tremendous decline in its inhabitants and in turn makes almost outlandish sales offers
in hopes of luring would-be occupants and potential citizens to come own, inhabit and live,
all at very little expense, for a piece of paradise.

And we know that the reasons for these villages slow deaths are for all sorts of troubles…
families move, youth…when grown…move-out and away,
and the Old…well they have simply died…

And so now all these small communities, all over the globe, begin to slowly shrivel up and die…

The young see no growth, no fun, no potential, no reason to stay.
Young families have no real choice in schooling or sound medical care.
Those trying to make a living and livelihood discover that such is nearly nonexistent…
while the Old have hung on for as long as they can, yet are now dying off in large numbers…

It is the visual death knell sounding for small communities worldwide.

And yet there is a real desire that these communities remain for they have existed for eons…
they have been the underpinning, the lynchpins, of our greater society as a whole…

And of course, the catch for the potential buyer is always the caveat of remodeling
and pouring copious amounts of cash into the refurbishing of said piece of paradise.

But I’ll admit, the allure of buying a piece of paradise for all of a buck is pretty darn
appealing…however it’s the copious amounts of cash needed for the remodeling, modernizing
and upkeep that is the killer of the dream.

And so I bring all of this up as I’m still making my way through Andreas Knapp’s book
The Last Christians…Stories of Persecution, Flight, Resilience in the Middle East.

You may remember it was the book that my publishing friend from Plough Publishing House
sent out for my perusal back around Christmas.

It’s not a long book and you’d think I would have finished it ages ago,
but it is a book that demands my full attention—
especially since I take highlighter in hand as I read, along with a notepad
as I make notes while reading.
I cover only a few pages or a chapter a day here and there as time allows…

For meatier stories demand our utmost attention…and this is such a tale because the
subjects of this story deserve nothing less.

And it is not an easy read—it is not easy reading about persecution, murders, terror,
and insanity.

I was struck by what Mayor Efisio Arbauin said in the Conde Nast / CNN article
about why he wants to maintain his dying village in Sardinia.
“the aggressive real estate blitz is an effort to prevent a town known
for its successful resistance to the Roman Empire from fading into obscurity.”

Advertise like crazy as we want to maintain an ancient town that stood up against
an aggressive, mighty, powerful and brutal empire…

And yet I marvel at how the world at large will allow the last remaining true
Aramaic Christians, who trace their lineage, which in turn is our lineage,
back to Jesus himself–a world that will allow, nay is allowing,
these Aramaic Christians to be tortured, murdered,
disbanded, scattered and ultimately totally destroyed and wiped from the face of the Earth.

Read the following excerpt offered by the book’s author Fr Knapp along with a
priest and Bishop Petros Mouche who is the leading prelate of a
dispersed and disparaged people:

“Many people in Western countries, he points out, campaign for the protection of
animal species threatened with extinction.
And yet all appeals to halt the loss of the oldest Christian
Culture and its people and language have been ignored by the Western World”

(Bishop Petros Mouche displaced Syriac Catholic)

A young priest along with the Bishop both relate their tales of horror to the author
Fr. Knapp

“He who says nothing implies consent”
Latin Proverb

“How can we rebuild our trust?”
We can’t simply forget what happened.
And how can there be reconciliation with our Muslim neighbors when they haven’t expressed
the slightest regret?
Indeed will Muslims ever be capable of acknowledging any guilt toward us Christians?
Bishop Petros intervenes quietly at this point: “In times like these, we ourselves
can experience feelings of aggression.
We must overcome them.
It is God’s will that we should love our enemies.

I am silent, left speechless by his stance in the face of such a brutal reality.
He shakes his head thoughtfully.
“We can’t just forget what has happened.
But we will ask God to forgive the offenders
and lead them to think differently.”

Still, the white-haired bishop’s face betrays a deep anguish.
With this last oasis of Iraqi Christianity now under IS control,
and a nearly two-thousand-year-old
local church reduced to rubble, Qaraqosh is like a ghost town.
Bishop Petros is especially troubled by the fate of a three-year-old girl and some
young women abducted from the Christian villages of the Nineveh Plain who–
like the Yazidi women-face sexual abuse, forced marriages with
Islamic fighters and slavery.

Bishop Petros told me of one eighty-year-old man who asked the terrorists why there wouldn’t
spare his family any food for the children;
their response was to hack off his hands and feet.

And yet the Bishop states that “they may have lost everything else,
but they have never lost their faith.”

What will the world be willing to offer in order to save these last Christians?
What will Christians be willing to offer in order to save these ancient brothers and sisters?

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;
and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,
who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5

lest we never forget….

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
Edmund Burke (or George Santayana depending on what sources you read)


(image courtesory the Buffalo News)

I’m pretty much a creature of habit—and I suppose I’ve turned my husband into one as well…
That being for either good or bad…well…the jury is still out on that.

Yet for the majority of our marriage,
we have been pretty much ritualistic in our daily routines.

When I was teaching, I almost always beat my husband home from work.
That was if I wasn’t having to taxi our son someplace following school or stay at meetings
longer than expected.

Once home, hot tea steeping, I’d usually start supper shortly upon arrival home
and we’d eat not long after my husband got home around 7PM or so…

And this was always just in time for the national news.

We’d flip on the news in the den as we’d be having supper in the kitchen—
If something big had happened in the world, we’d then usually balance plates on our laps
as we’d eat while watching the latest world crisis unfold.

I’m not a huge ‘television in every room’ sort of person but growing up,
my dad, on the other hand, was an all-out electronic junkie…
something about being an engineer I suppose.
So growing up, when smaller televisions hit the market, my dad bought one for our kitchen…
along with one in the den and one for everyone’s bedroom…he was overzealous.

So every night while I was growing up, Huntley and Brinkley joined our evening supper table.

This was during the time of the war in Vietnam, so there was always news of the war and the
ensuing protests here at home…and of course,
there were those other stories of life in Washington and news on the president…

News was always current, crucial and informative…delivered by near emotionless professional
individuals who would occasionally smoke on air, as in everyone smoked back then…
including my mom…but that’s another tale for another day.

This was how we learned all about what was going on in the world,
all from the nightly news—as there were no other news outlets other than the newspapers…
None of this current day 24/7 madness.
No breaking alerts emanating from cell phones or computers because there
weren’t any cell phones or home computers…thank the Lord.

And so I offer this little walk down memory lane because my husband and I have happily
given up watching any sort of network national news.
Something about falsehoods and bias….but I digress.

And so the other evening when my husband got in from work,
while I was still putting the finishing touches to supper,
he flipped on the television and there was some sort of war documentary currently airing…
of which was dealing with the war in the Pacific and how we obviously eventually won that fight.
I suppose this was the last channel that the television had been on the night prior.

We opted to keep it on this channel—that being AHC—American Hero Channel—which I
had assumed was just some sort of history type of channel…
that was until I looked up the full name.
Following the show about the War in the Pacific, there was a series of hour-long segments
regarding the war in Europe–with a focus on Stalin and the relationship he had with Churchill,
FDR and later Truman.

The show featured declassified information that wasn’t known, let alone made public,
until after the fall of Communism.
And might I just say, as I’ve said it before, it’s a wonder any of us are even here…
let alone speaking either German or even Russian.

I spent three hours after having finished the dishes watching 3 back to back segments.
Because I was hooked as it was an excellent and thorough history lesson.

I learned more than what I had already known…and I do consider myself well read
when it comes to World War II.

I say all of this because I am once again keenly reminded of the history of what once
was in this fractious world of ours, and where we, as a global community, were back then
once upon a time, and as to where we currently are now and just how hard it was for us
to actually get from there to here…
and I just don’t think this current world of ours, this postmodern, post-Christian
world…gets it.

History, especially that of our Western Civilization history,
is a subject most students will roll their eyes over.
It is also a history that is frighteningly being altered and neutered due to
the current society’s obsession with triggers, homosexual and transgender frenzies,
a fanatically growing feminism, and its distaste for a Nation’s past growing pains
along with the struggles the Nation faces while attempting to find pride in the knowledge
of who that Nation once was.

I worry that our youth will soon forget or cease caring about what was, concentrating instead
on what is or what will be as they have deemed what was as  simply being bad…

And so in reading the story of Edith Fox, I am reminded that I am not alone in wanting
the story of what was, to never be forgotten.

Yet Edith’s story is a horrific story…a story one might imagine anyone who experienced it
would want to forget…
Yet Edith knows that as horrible as her story was, remaining silent and forgetting it would be
even worse…

Edith’s tattooed number on her now 90-year-old arm has long faded, but the memory of her life
spent in Auschwitz is still as startlingly clear as it was when she was taken prisoner
as a young teen.

Please click on the link for her story, as she does not want either you or me to ever forget.

http://buffalonews.com/2018/01/27/holocaust-survivor-breaks-decades-long-silence-to-share-her-horrific-story/

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction,
that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

it takes more than a resolution, it takes a tenacious faith

There is nothing wrong with bringing resolution and courage to the new year,
but life is precarious. And dealing with the death of friends,
tragedy striking unexpectedly and bits of one’s body giving up,
needs more than just well-gritted teeth.

Gavin Ashenden


(a Norwegian wolverine demonstrates tenacity, grit and a fearsomeness)

Life is indeed precarious.
None of us know where it will take us next.
I dare say we all have some sort of notion of where we’d like to go,
even as to how we’d like to get there…but again, there are no guarantees.

Bishop Ashenden, in his wanderings and wonderings over the notion about new years
and their resolutions, has a bit of a lesson for each of us.

Now first we must note that we are a number liking people—-
just consider the fact that we are all about stats and numbers,
especially if we are wanting to justify or clearly define that with is unjust or undefinable.

Statistics show that they, being stats, are stacked against resolutions.
This we know.
Numbers don’t lie right?

Just yesterday I read some headline stating that by February, 80% of every New Year’s
resolution, is simply scattered by the wayside…
discarded and forgotten.

I don’t even bother.
I learned years ago that resolutions are simply short lived—
somewhat feeble attempts of being a better/ healthier person.
It takes more than just a resolution for those two things to take hold.
And when push comes to shove—the resolutions get shoved.
And it is that very reason, the good bishop notes,
a resolution will simply die…
Because Life simply has a different plan.

Life will put up a brick wall and all resolutions not to mention stamina, mindset
and determination quickly head out the back door.

Yet for many of us, a new year becomes some sort of giant reset button.
A time to review, remove, rewrite, renew….
And that certainly has its merit….
that is, up to a point.

Yet what the good Bishop is reminding us of is that as life has a way of
steamrolling over our best of intentions and plans, so much so that when that happens
as it eventually will, it’s going to take a lot more from within to survive
the steamrolling…
much more than a resolution or even gritted teeth that are grinning and bearing
can endure.

Life is hard.

It is not fair nor is it often kind…

And yet….we always seem to think that with some sort of twisted finagling,
we can beat it and actually win.
And we might actually do so but only for a while…for eventually,
Life in the end will have its way and that is when we in turn call it calamity,
sickness and even death.

And so the good Bishop looks to one who has gone on long before us but yet lives
on in her writings….
St Julian of Norwich (1373).

Julian had a tenacious belief in God.
She was what was known as an Anchoress….or one who literally attached
or anchored themselves to a church.

She was literally sealed up into a cell attached to the church of St Julian’s
there in Norwich, hence her name—as we really don’t know her actual name.
(here’s a bit of history lesson concerning this dear woman:
http://www.britainexpress.com/counties/norfolk/norwich/st-julian.htm)

Julian spent a lifetime devoted to God and ministering to those who would come
to the window of her cell seeking solace, prayer or wisdom.

Julian experienced visions and wrote these visions down—
as the writings eventually became a book, Revelations of Divine Love.

Tenacious and unrelenting—the only way Julian would extol that one should or could
best live…and that was to be anchored to the Divinity of the Creator and to the Love
He offered as in the tangible being of His Son…..

Bishop Ashenden notes that “it’s this belief in God that offers the kind of
affirmation for us that equips us best to deal with uncertainty,
and even tragedy, as we face the future remembering the disturbing
uncertainty of the past.”

The good Bishop relays a story of one of the many visions that Julian
was so famous for having–visions of God as Divine Creator.

Delusions of a mad or even physically ill woman some would claim….
but a gift of visions is what the faithful know….

So when Julian witnessed God taking the planet Earth and holding it in
His hand she responds by asking Him about its now seemingly smallness…..

‘It is all that is made.’ (God replied) I marvelled how it might last,
for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness.
And I was answered in my understanding: “It lasts and ever shall,
for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.”
Julian of Norwich

Throughout her visions she was taught that God could and would bring good out
of evil and because of that there was no need for anxiety.
Her motto and mantra became,

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

and perhaps Julian gives us the best of resolutions…to know that all shall indeed be
well when we rest in the Divine Love of God which is found incarnate in Christ, Jesus.

Belief in Christ brings the affirmation needed to strengthen our resolution.

repentance, forgivness and forgetting…..

“If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self,
I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon


(Scrooge and the Spirit of Christmas Past / A Christmas Carol / 1951)

I recently caught a news story this past week coming out of the Vatican,
and thankfully this story had nothing to do with the wording or
re-wording of the Lords’ Prayer.

Pope Francis is criticizing journalists who dredge up old scandals and sensationalize the news, saying it’s a “very serious sin” that hurts all involved.

Francis, who plans to dedicate his upcoming annual communications message to “fake news,” told Catholic media on Saturday that journalists perform a mission that is among the most “fundamental” to democratic societies.

But he reminded them to provide precise, complete and correct information and not to provide one-sided reports.

The pope said: “You shouldn’t fall into the ‘sins of communication:’ disinformation, or giving just one side, calumny that is sensationalized, or defamation, looking for things that are old news and have been dealt with and bringing them to light today.”

He called those actions a “grave sin that hurts the heart of the journalist and hurts others.”
ABC News (ironically enough)

The News media does seem to really enjoy the digging up of the past, particularly if
said past was a sensational sort of past—
heinous, gruesome, odious, or simply grievous.

Never mind that whatever it was has been dealt with and is now left in
the past… as those involved have either healed and or moved on—
The Media must be bored or simply enjoys opening old wounds.
They can’t seem to move on….let alone, dare it be said, forgive and then forget.

Watching one of the most recent episodes of Anglican unscripted,
Bishop Gavin Ashenden was addressing the latest befuddlement plaguing the
Church of England.
It seems that the current powers that be, i.e. the Archbishop of Canturbury,
Justin Welby, has been racing to cast judgement on one of their own, now long dead
yet greatly esteemed, clergy members, The Rt Rev George Bell (1883-1958),
former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The story is playing out that a now elderly woman, who doesn’t exactly have all her ‘remembrances’ in order or even in the right places or buildings, etc seems to
recollect that perhaps a member of the clergy had molested her when she was a
young girl and maybe it was Archbishop George Bell.

Well rather than sorting through the facts and accusations and remembrances….
or questioning the very murky recollections of a now very elderly woman, the current Archbishop and others have raced to cast judgement on this long deceased but highly esteemed clergyman.

And Bishop Ashenden, for one, is crying foul.

Bishop Ashenden, who does have a background and degree in Law, points out that
much of the logic here is all wrong. The handling of all of this by the Church has
been all wrong. And the reaction by the current sitting Archbishop is all wrong.

There is not nor has there been any corroboration to this woman’s story as others who,
now equally as elderly, in the same care of the Archbishop at the time—
as it was during the War and many displaced and refugee children had been taken in by
the Church with Archbishop Bell acting as overseer, do not ever recall any such
instances let alone remember this woman.

So Bishop Ashenden is publicly demanding that Archbishop Welby apologize for racing to
damning the dead while exploiting the troubled “remembrances” of an elderly woman.

The good Bishop notes that as Christians, repentance is such an integral part
of our faith.
“It is what sets us apart form all other religions other than perhaps Judaism.”
Yet to be able to acknowledge a wrong seems to be one of the most difficult things
for human beings to own up to. Just as it is equally difficult to utter
those three little words— “I am sorry.”

But what is “genius” about our faith, the good Bishop extols, is indeed that very fact
of repentance and forgiveness—as that is the very reason Jesus came into the world…
That we should repent and forgive, just as our Father in Heaven forgives us.

Yet how hard it is for us to ever admit that we have erred, that we have made a mistake,
that we were wrong and are heartily sorry…and so in turn, please forgive me.

So where the current Archbishop has not afforded a fair critique of this matter but
rather has raced to the shut and closed condemnation, before even having sorted
fact from fiction,
is incredulous as he now owes everyone on every side of this story,
an apology–

Yet that very act, that very Christian of acts, appears to be far from the
ability of this very prominent vicar of Christ…

If an Archbishop can’t say that he is sorry or that he has perhaps over reacted or not thought something thoroughly through, how on earth can he ever ask the same,
that notion of repentance and forgiveness, from others….

Anglican Unscripted – commentary on Welby’s intransigence on +George Bell – and Dame Sarah Mullally, ‘bishop-to-be’ of London.

And as I had just finished watching the video segment about this story on Anglican Unscripted, I went on to find the following observations by St John Kilmakos—
a commentary of points on that very thing…the remembrance of wrongs and
the ultimate in forgiveness.

2. Remembrance of wrongs is the consummation of anger, the keeper of sins, hatred of righteousness, ruin of virtues, poison of the soul, worm of the mind, shame of prayer, stopping of supplication, estrangement of love, a nail stuck in the soul, pleasureless feeling beloved in the sweetness of bitterness, continuous sin, unsleeping transgression, hourly malice.

3. This dark and hateful passion, I mean remembrance of wrongs, is one of those that are produced but have no offspring. That is why we do not intend to say much about it.

4. He who has put a stop to anger has also destroyed remembrance of wrongs; because childbirth continues only while the father is alive.

5. He who has obtained love has banished revenge; but he who nurses enmities stores up for himself endless sufferings.

6. A banquet of love dispels hatred, and sincere gifts soothe a soul.
But an ill-regulated banquet is the mother of boldness, and through the window of love gluttony leaps in.

—St. John Klimakos
The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

And so it is….we find in our repentance and sincere sense of regret and sorrow
for our misdeeds coupled by our forgiveness—
forgiveness from God which in turn produces forgiveness from one another
as well as from ourselves….and it is here where true Love is really to be found.
That Jesus Christ was born to save us from our constant state of wrongdoing…
otherwise known as sin.
And as we are forgiven, we in turn are to forgive—
and as is with the Father…He forgives and He forgets…..

I thank him who has given me strength,
Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful,
appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor,
and insolent opponent.
But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am the foremost.
But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost,
Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who
were to believe in him for eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:12-16

Sun, moon and the love of a grandfather

“There are fathers who do not love their children;
there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson.”

Victor Hugo


(an older moon shot I’ve used before / Julie Cook / 2016)

I know that yesterday I had given us, or perhaps actually issued is a better word,
a laundry list of “issues” that we were going to need to play catch up with….
all sorts of pressing issues that had come down the pike while I was busy
with all things snow….

And yes, we shall indeed visit those issues…however, I was called into active duty, unbeknownst to my best laid plans, with active duty in my case being
the emergency holiday help at my husband’s store…

So now that I’m finally home, it’s late and I’m trying to prepare some sort of
hot meal of sustenance and get a post ready for tomorrow (which is now today if
you’re reading this), so I think we’ll hold up
on those more pressing topics until I have the proper time to do them justice….

And as life would have it, something interesting arrived in yesterday’s mail
that is now taking precedence.

You may recall that the I have a friend at Plough Publishing House who actually
happened upon my blog about a year ago or so.

That’s how we met.

She has been sending me sample copies of books that she thinks that I will enjoy…
and in turn will perhaps share with others….of which I have as time has allowed.

The small package that arrived in yesterday’s mail was one of those books.

A book that probably has made a bigger impact on my heart than my publisher friend
would have imagined.

Those of you who know me or have been reading this blog since this time last year…
know that I was knee deep in caring for my dad and stepmother.

Dad had an aggressive form of bladder cancer…he was diagnosed in late August and died
in March. Both he and my stepmother had also been diagnosed with varying degrees of
dementia quite sometime before that…
so needless to say we were just all in the middle of a downward spiral is putting it
mildly.

It was a hard road for us all…with dad being an amazing example
quiet acceptance, perseverance and fortitude.

This time last year we already had 24 hour care as well as Hospice care…
plus I was driving over each and every day.

The last time dad had actually gotten out of the bed was on Christmas day when we
wheeled him to the table to enjoy Christmas dinner.
Naturally he didn’t have much of an appetite but he was most keen for the dessert.
So dessert it was.

Dad and my son had a very special bond.
My son was my dad’s only grandchild and Dad was more kid than dad…
so needless to say, they stayed in cahoots most of my son’s growing up.


(Christmas day 2016, Brenton and Dad)

My dad was always graciously generous to his grandson and to say that my son
was dad’s partner in crime was to have been putting it mildly.

I won’t go on as it seems I’ve written about all of this before and if I do go on,
I’ll simply loose focus over my original intent of this post and
cry more than I already am.

The book my friend sent me is actually a children’s book.
And I imagine it came my way because I will become a grandmother soon.
Yet the tale of the book resonated so much with me, not so much because I am
a soon to be grandparent,
but rather because it is a tale about a grandson and his grandfather.

It is a book written by a German author, Andreas Steinhofel and illustrated by a
German artist Nele Palmtag—and yet the tale is quite universal.

Max’s grandfather is in a nursing home because he has what is surmised to be
Alzheimers or some other form of dementia….’forgetting’ being the key word.
And nine year old Max, who adores his grandfather and misses their life together
before the nursing home, formulates a plan to “spring” his grandfather from the
nursing home…
in essence a plan to kidnap his grandfather.

And in so doing another member of the nursing home escapes by accident.
A long and spindly woman who is in search of the sun…as she dances
behind Max and his grandfather on their misadventure.

The tale is not a long read—-
I read it in less than an hour’s time.
Yet it is a deep read by adult standards.
It is funny, it is cute, it is painful, and it is very very real.

I think my 29 year old son would appreciate the story much more than his 9
year old self would have—as he now has the hindsight of understanding
Max’s deep longing.

I know that if my son could have kidnapped his “Pops” from that hospice bed he
would have….and off on one more adventure they would have gone.

But in this tale of last adventures, Max’s grandfather reassures Max, who is now desperately afraid that his grandfather, in his forgetfulness, will forget
he loves Max…explains to Max that he will always be there, loving Max,
even if it appears he has “forgotten.”

He explains to Max that when we look up into the sky we know the moon is there
because we can see it. Yet during those nights that the sky appears to be moonless,
which is only because of how the sun is shining on the opposite side of the moon—
the moon is indeed still there—just as his love will always be there for Max,
even if Max won’t be able to directly see it….

After finishing the story last night, I could not recount the tale to my husband
without crying…finding myself just having to stop talking as I allowed the tears
to wash down my face.

The story as read for a child would be fun, poignant as well as mischievous…
As for any adult touched by the stealing effects of memory loss or just the loss of
a loved one in general, will find the tale heartwarming and very poignant.

Just as I now fondly recall a life that once was…

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8

God does not take a vacation

“Stacking stones claims ordinary moments of life for God and invites those who pass by to
notice the holy ground on which they already stand.”

Jayne Hugo Davis


(a gull sits by a cairn or prayer stone stack found on the shore of Mackinac Island in
Lake Huron, Michigan / Julie Cook / 2017)

During these precious weeks of Summer…
as you make plans to scatter either here, there and yon…

Or if you’re merely daydreaming of doing such….

If you’re eagerly anticipating escaping your hectic pace and grind of an
often monotonous and even overwhelming life…

Simply longing to seek cooler climates, grander vistas, idyllic sandy shores…

Remember one thing as you eagerly unplug, unwind, let go and forget all the
burdens you wish to leave behind…

God never takes a vacation.

He’s always there…wherever you may roam….
always near…
and always reminding you that you’re still His number one priority….

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them:
for it is the Lord your God who goes with you;
he will not fail you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6