fading

“Those of the Elven-race that lived still in Middle-earth waned and faded, and Men usurped the sunlight. Then the Quendi wandered in the lonely places of the great lands and the isles, and took to the moonlight and the starlight, and to the woods and caves, becoming as shadows and memories, save those who ever and anon set sail into the West and vanished from Middle-earth.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien


(faded grave marker, Colonial Cemetary, Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2018)

And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.
But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

Dear children, the last hour is here.
You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared.
From this we know that the last hour has come.
These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us;
otherwise they would have stayed with us.
When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.
But you are not like that,
for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth.
So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know
the difference between truth and lies.
And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ.
Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist.
Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either.
But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning.
If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father.
And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.
I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray.
But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you,
so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you
everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie.
So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

1 John 2:17-27

These four grave markers are but a few of the hundreds of markers that are scattered
throughout the Colonial Cemetary in the heart of Savannah, Georgia.
Graves of the famous and not so famous.
From signers of the Declaration of Independence to Revolutionary and Confederate
Generals to Yellow fever victims.

Names, dates and any semblance of recognition are all but gone.
Families who once came to linger and to mourn…come no more.

Faded markers that are the testament that our lives on this earth are but
fleeting whisps floating on the winds of time…

And yet it is our souls that are woven into the fabric of the Creator…
Whereas we may no longer be known to man, we are forever linked to
a gracious and redeeming Father…a Father who has bound us to His only begotten Son,
Jesus Christ.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Humble

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God.
A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course,
as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


(Normandy, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

“The true reason for which God bestows so many graces upon the humble is this,
that the humble are faithful to these graces and make good use of them.
They receive them from God and use them in a manner pleasing to God,
giving all the glory to Him,
without reserving any for themselves.
It is certainly true that he who is humble is also faithful to God,
because the humble man is also just in giving to all their due,
and above all, in rendering to God the things that are God’s;
that is, in giving Him the glory for all the good that he is,
all the good that he has and for all the good that he does;

As the Venerable Bede says:
‘Whatever good we see in ourselves,
let us ascribe it to God and not to ourselves.’

To give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received and
are continually receiving is an excellent means of exercising humility,
because by thanksgiving we learn to acknowledge the Supreme Giver of every good.
And for this reason it is necessary for us always to be humble before God.
St. Paul exhorts us to render thanks for all things and at all times:
‘In all things give thanks.’ (1 Thess. 5:18).
‘Giving thanks always for all things.’ (Eph. 5:20).
But that our thanksgiving may be an act of humility it must not only come from the
lips but from the heart,
with a firm conviction that all good comes to us through the infinite mercy of God.”

Rev. Cajetan da Bergamo,
p. 87-8
An Excerpt From
Humility Of Heart

Do you know this man? (a revised re-posting)

This is a post I wrote almost four years ago.
Since that time my father has passed away and in such,
I have lost one more person who could help with a few of the pieces of the puzzle.
Also in that time since passed, I had put this quest on the back burner
as I spent all my energies caring for Dad…
However in light of the 4th of July celebration and our Nation’s observation of our Independence,
I thought it appropriate to rerun this particular story about a lost soldier who offered
the ultimate sacrifice to this great Nation of ours….

Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into
the deepest valleys;
look on them as your own beloved sons,
and they will stand by you even unto death.

Sun Tzu

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(Capt. Frank F. Crenshaw)

No, of course you don’t.
I wouldn’t think that you would know the man looking
out from a grainy ancient photocopied image, but if you do…
I’d love to talk with you as I have a bit of a mystery on my hands.

This is Captain Frank F. Crenshaw, my great-grandfather.
I always knew that he was heroic in battle during the Philippines Insurrection;
a fallout from the Spanish American War, in which he was gravely wounded
as he lead his men against an ambush attack in a battle known as the Battle of Puttol.
He eventually died from his wounds….
But that’s about all I’ve know of this enigmatic figure.

I always knew that he was buried in a historic cemetery in the west Georgia city of
LaGrange, about an hour south from where I live now.
I’ve driven passed this cemetery for years,
always vowing to stop one day to find his grave.

And that’s exactly what my husband and I decided to do one Sunday afternoon
last summer (2012).
I just knew his was one of the old historic graves with the elaborate decorative headstones.
No problem—I’d find it right off the bat…

Two hours later, having wandered all over an old historic cemetery,
in the heat of day on a hot summer afternoon,
watching for copperhead snakes hiding amongst the rubble of an old cemetery,
and sweating like a dog…I was frustrated like nobody’s business.
“Where in the heck is he?” I lamented to my husband.
Capt. Crenshaw was nowhere to be found.
Ugh!

He had come from a rather well to do family of the area.
He had received a war hero’s funeral but as to where his grave was currently located
was suddenly a huge mystery.
This made absolutely no sense.
“I will follow up tomorrow with a call to the city, to the county,
to someone who knows this cemetery!”
I declare to my husband once we get back in the car headed home.

I called Dad once I got home.
This is his grandfather, his mother’s father.
He had no idea as to why I couldn’t find the grave and was not as up in arms over
the ordeal as I was—and that may have to do with the fact that he never knew the man.
I never knew the man either, but you didn’t see that stopping me!
I was now bound and determined to find him!!

I called my dad’s cousin, his 88 year old cousin,
who is also a grandson to this war veteran.
This cousin is also a bit of the remaining family’s resident historian.
He too was stumped to the lack of a grave.
But I was getting the feeling there was more to be known about the other side,
this long lost soldier’s wife’s side of the family than his—-
which I’m sure is due in part to the fact that he died at such a young age and she went on,
albeit it as a widow for the rest of her life, to live a long life well into old age.

This actually all started really a few weekends prior as I was accompanying my husband
while he was on a quest looking for some recreational property as an investment thought.
We were in the vicinity of the small middle Georgia town in which my grandmother
was born and raised.
I talked my husband into to driving to the town so I could find the city cemetery
and look for the Crenshaw family plot.

I called Dad on my cell phone and he told me where the cemetery was located—-
sure enough we found it.
The town is so small, that finding a city cemetery is not too hard as it just
can’t be missed sitting in the middle of town.
I bound out of the car and within 2 minutes, I spot the Crenshaw’s—
my great-grandmother is buried here but her war hero husband is buried in LaGrange—
“that’s odd” I muse but I’m so taken with this moment of lineage discovery that I simply
file that thought away for later.

My great aunt and her husband, my great uncle and his wife,
another great uncle who died as a child, plus their mom, my great-grandmother are all here.
I take pictures of the graves and markers while feeling a sense of melancholy resignation.
History, family and mystery all buried in the ground before me….
some of whom I knew and others I had never known…
and yet these people were connected to me, as I was to them—
and that connection is in part as to who I am to this day.
Funny how that all works.

Now lets fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.

I had let the whole grave marker search fall by the wayside during the winter months
as it seems other things just took over life.
I’d not thought much of it at all until a couple of weeks ago.
I had actually stumbled upon a number for the Troup Co Clerk of Courts which prompted me
to call inquiring as to how I could go about locating information about burial sites
in the city cemetery.
I was given a number to the city cemetery which I immediately called.

The man who answered probably regrets to this day having answered the phone after
I finish my story.
However he kindly takes my name and number and tells me he’ll “do a little research”
and will call me back the next day.
A week passes with no word.
I give it another go calling the cemetery office.
This time I get a machine.
I briefly recap my story, leaving my name and number.
Within just a few minutes the phone rings.
“Mrs. Cook, I apologize for not calling you back, but I’ve been doing a little research.
It seems your great-grandfather is indeed buried here, but…”
long pause…
“he doesn’t seem to have a marker.”
What!!” I practically scream.
“Well, for some reason, the family didn’t provide a marker.
Perhaps they were not in a position to do so.”
“Oh no sir,” I almost indignity respond,
“they could afford it if that’s what you mean.”

He proceeds to give me another number to the city archive museum of which
I immediately call and, once again, leave a message.
I later get a call from the city historian–a retired history teacher… of course.
I give him my story and he basically reiterates the story I know.
He has some old county local Domesday tome complete with deaths and burials.
Sure enough, Capt. Crenshaw is there,
or so states the book of books,
but as to exactly where, well that’s still up for discussion.
The million dollar question of the hour is–
where is he and secondly– why no marker– given his astonishing story…

And speaking of, here is his story…

My great grandfather, Capt. Frank Frost Crenshaw severed in the 28th Infantry, A Company.
He was a resident of LaGrange, Georgia.
He was first stationed in Guantanamo, Cuba, fighting in the Spanish American War,
with the rank of First Lt.
He was a member of Ray’s Immunes;
a regiment of southern men chosen specifically to serve in Cuba during the
Spanish American War.
It was thought that due to their being from the deep south,
they may be more “immune” to yellow fever
(what a comfort is the logic of our Government, but once again, I digress…).
His regiment was sent to Cuba where many of the men contracted “Cuban” fever,
what I am assuming to be Malaria.
At the end of the war, his unit returned to Georgia.
38 men from the unit died from the fever; my great-grandfather contracted the illness
but fortunately survived.
At the end of the war, his unit was mustered out.

The following year President McKinley appointed him to the rank of Captain
(which I am assuming was incentive for him to “re-enlist” in the then volunteer
branch of the US Army).
He was given command of A Company of the 28th Infantry stationed at Camp Mead in Pennsylvania.
His unit was immediately ordered to Payapa, Batagas Island, the Philippines,
where they were to take command of that particular Island as it had fallen to the control
of guerrilla insurgents.

On June 5, 1900, Captain Crenshaw led his men,
who had been ambushed during a surprise attack by guerilla fighters in the area of Puttol,
the Philippines.
This was a counter attack in order to quell the entrenched militia,
as it seems that one of the trusted local scouts, who was working with the American unit,
deceived the Americans leading them into an ambush.

The American forces fought off the attack, with Captain Crenshaw leading the counter attack.
Captain Crenshaw had his men to take cover but as he rose to lead the charge,
his horse being shot out from under him, he was shot in the head.
Gravely wounded, he continued leading the battalion until the insurgents were defeated,
at which time Capt. Crenshaw lost consciousness.
Only two of the men received wounds, with Capt. Crenshaw’s being the gravest.

He was now paralyzed on his left side and blind in one eye and had lost a considerable
amount of blood.
Evacuated to Manila, he was eventually placed on a transport ship for home,
but due to rough seas in the South China Sea,
the ship had to head to a Chinese harbor to wait out the storms.
Capt. Crenshaw reported of the deplorable conditions,
while aboard the ship, to which he was subjected.
He had received no proper medical care, no surgeries but rather placed
in the cargo hold in the engine room with the men who were held there as having been
labeled as “insane”.
Being paralyzed and in considerable pain, he was unable to care for himself.
He bribed a ship’s steward to help tend to his wounds.

Once docked in China, he again did not receive adequate medical attention.
Almost 2.5 months after being shot in the head, with the musket ball still lodged in his skull,
both blind and partially paralyzed,
the ship eventually docked in San Francisco.
Captain Crenshaw’s uncle had made the journey form Georgia to await the arrival of his nephew
and to procure him proper medical care.
For reasons I do not understand, he did not receive medical attention in San Francisco.
He was placed on a train where he made the journey across country and was immediately
taken to an Atlanta area hospital for emergency surgery.

Sadly Capt. Crenshaw died on the operating table almost 3 months after having been wounded and not properly cared for, yet while fighting to defend his country’s foreign interests.
Captain Crenshaw was only 28 years old.
He left a young widow of 24 with 4 small children to raise alone
(my grandmother being on of the 4 children).

He is recorded as having been the only non-political figure to have ever lain in
state in the rotunda of the State Capital of Georgia.
There was a full military train cortege that escorted the body,
which was led by General John B. Gordon,
taking Capt. Crenshaw from Atlanta to the final destination of LaGrange, Georgia.
Upon his death,
Captain Crenshaw was awarded the title of both Major and Lt. Colonel,
as was put forth by the President of the United States …
and yet he is in an unmarked grave.

The story is a re-cap from the letter I have just sent to the current commander of the 28th Infantry.
It seems The Office of Veteran’s Affairs will provide any war veteran,
who is currently buried in an unmarked grave, a headstone.
I called Washington inquiring into the grave markers but was told I would need to document
his years of service or either document his pension.
“Are you kidding me? 1900 is a long time ago”
hence my letter to the Commander,
as well as copies to both of my senators.
As I told all of them:

It is my desire to be able to provide a marker for this fallen war hero.
It is also my desire to inquire into his being awarded a medal of honor,
posthumously, for his service, leadership and eventual ultimate sacrifice for his Country.
My father told me that his grandmother, who was 24 at the time of the death of her husband,
who was tasked with raising the 4 children alone,
had to actually sue the US Government in order to receive his pension.

So as you can see, I have a mystery and a mission.

Maybe this all matters so much to me because I am adopted
and the concept of “family” is of keen importance to me.
Maybe it’s because this family of mine is disappearing—
only my dad and his two cousins remain of this once older numerous clan—
I sadly feel time is not on my side.
Dad can’t even remember from day to day what I keep telling him about all of this.

And maybe, just maybe, this all matters so much to me because this was a young man,
not even 30, who gave his life for his country who left behind a young 24 year old wife
who had to raise 4 small children all alone–
with only 3 surviving to adulthood.
His widow never remarried as she considered marriage to be so sacred that it was a one
time deal– how I admire that commitment.

It was this young soldier,
not so different from today’s soldiers,
who was a leader of a band of men who fought so very far away from home,
the furtherest fighting of any American soldier to date as we had yet to be involved
in either World War.
It is this now forgotten wartime hero who was laid to rest in an unmarked grave exactly
113 years ago today who I now owe…as I owe him, his wife, his children (my grandmother) the decency of the proper recognition for his sacrifice to this country.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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time being a relevant thought

To be a Christian who is willing to travel with Christ on his downward road requires being willing to detach oneself constantly from any need to be relevant, and to trust ever more deeply the Word of God.
Fr.Henri Nouwen

Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new… but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its design?
Paracelsus

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(grave markers found in the cemetery at the Sligo Abbey, County Sligo / Julie Cook / 2015)

The hour grows late and it appears as if I have run out of time…

There once was a time when these markers, these words, these remembrances were thought well of—for they marked the lives lived of those who once mattered to someone else.
They mattered to those in a certain time who thought well enough to remember, to mark and to recall the lives, the times and the deaths of others who mattered…

For there once was a time to celebrate, a time to mourn and a time to remember…

It also appears that there has been a time to forget…

For Time has simply had his way…sweeping gently away the physical reminders of that which once was…as the names, the lives and the times of those once thought well enough of… have slowly faded…as time has now long passed since the days of remembrance for the lives and times of those who now lie buried here…as they, their lives, their times are now forgotten and simply abandoned to the ravages and march of Time…

For some of us Time will be quickly passing…
While for others it will be a time slowly to depart.
Yet all of our time will surely wane…
Making way for a new time…

As the questions hang heavy…when did those who had taken the time to recall and remember, take the time to simply walk away, disappear and forget…?

For it seems that at some point in time each and everyone of us will indeed have our day and our time… yet…
Just as quickly, our days and time will surely pass…as we too will simply be a name, a date, a time of a life and time that once was…leaving others in a different time to wander and wonder..
Which in turn leaves only just one question….before our time has waned and is to be forgotten…

… how shall we then pass those days and that time…?

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice”
John 5:28

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Glendalough, boardwalks and getting lost in Ireland

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord:
His going forth is prepared as the morning”

Hosea 6:3

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(a stand of beautiful ash trees, Glendalough in the Wicklow National Park / County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Walk up to the monastery, take a little look around then head left past the church, going on up to the trail head…take the first right…this will lead you to the boardwalk.
The boardwalk will take you to the upper lake where you’ll be greeted with quite the view—it’ll be about a 20 minute easy walk up then 20 minutes back…”

“Will you be coming with us?”

“No, no, I’ll be right here waiting on you when you get back…
Now off you go…”

Meandering through the tiny pig trails which crisscross through the overgrown knee high grass and brambles, all of which offer any casual observer a sense that a fuzzy patchwork blanket had recently been spread across the land, a seemingly long forgotten cemetery sits frozen in time. This once sacred site, littered with ancient and not so ancient graves, beckon to both pilgrim and tourist to come lose oneself in the mystery of time.

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(graves litter the ground of St Kevin’s monastery / Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

Stones worn by rain and time now stand as lonely sentinels to what once was. Many are in disrepair, dangerously listing to either left or right and terribly skewed off balance.
Despite the overcast skies, the honey bees busily buzz around the flowering and ripening blackberries reminding all that life indeed continues even amongst the departed.

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(rippening blackberries / Julie Cook / 2015)

After wandering through the long lost stone remnants of the 6th century celtic monastery founded by St Cóemgen or better known to the Anglican speaker as St. Kevin, we made our way to the trail head which, after a short jaunt by the lower lake, would take us gently upward for a spectacular view of the two lakes for which Glendalough is so named.

Walking past the lower lake we are greeted by the serene sight of deer grazing on the opposite side of the lake…and something even more amazing…
a joyous and peaceful silence.
Blessed beautiful peaceful silence.
No planes, no cars, no motorcycles—just the wind rustling through the leaves and the sounds of birds chattering overhead.

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(a group of fallow deer grazing / Glendalough / Julie Cook /2015)

Continuing on our way we come upon a fork in the trail. Stopping at a sign which points right for a 1.6 km hike upward along the lower lake or straight for a 1.4 km hike upward through a lush canopied forest…we ponder our choice.

Rationalizing our limited time and desire to see as much as possible, we opt for the best of both worlds…it made perfect sense, or so it seemed–we’d take the path leading into the forest, straight up for the journey upward and hit the boardwalk tail for the decent downward.

A no brainer.

As we began our upward journey, we soon noticed that the terrain was changing. No longer was the walking trail smooth–it was now narrowing and littered with meandering roots and stones. Stumbling a bit and tripping over the roots, we pressed onward.

“I’m not dressed for this. . .” one in our party grouses.

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(the beginning of an upward journey / Julie Cook / 2015)

Up and up we wander, suddenly realizing that we’re very much alone, as in the other hikers and tourists seem to be now long gone or have mysteriously disappeared. It’s just the three of us and a vast forest reaching ever upward.

Hummm….

“Isn’t it odd that nobody else is around…?”

“What time is it?”

“Well past the 20 minutes it was suppose to take us to the top”

Now huffing and puffing it appears as if the trail has begun to switchback rather sharply indicating we were heading up quite the mountain trail… oddly we had noticed a sign a bit of a ways back pointing to what must be an abandoned mine…
“Lead mine this way”

“Where’s the lake???” we simultaneously ask

“Where’s the view??

“What’s a lead mine?”

“Where they mine lead, duh”

“Way up here?!”

HUMMMMMM…

“I wish I’d brought my bottle of water.”

“It’s well past 20 minutes.”

“Reckon we ought to keep going?”

“He’s going to kill us if we don’t find the lake!”

“Who cares, I’m tired and I don’t have on the right kind of shoes for this.”

“Is that rain I feel?”

“I need to go to the bathroom”

“I think you can pick a tree for that”

“Did anyone bring a Kleenex?”

“I just thought this was a quick little stop to see a lake!”

Ya’ll stay here and I’ll go on up to the next turn to see if there’s any sort of clearing, lake or view. I’ll holler for ya’ll to come on up if I see something, otherwise I’ll come back and we’ll just go back down the way we came.

“Deal” the other two offer in unison as the relief of a brief respite is lost on no one.

Heading up the now very narrow tail, all I can see is switchback after switchback with trees still looming overhead. Certainly nowhere near the top and with nary a view in sight.

Part of me longed to keep going, straight to the top, proper shoes or not, as I’ve lived long enough to know of the sorts of rewards that await those who persevere upward…
yet my two traveling companions were having none of it and were more than ready to head downward…after all this was just our first day on this amazing journey and we’d certainly not built up any sort of traveling stamina just quite yet…and anyway, lunchtime seemed to be calling.

Slowly we began our decent while little by little the trail opened up.
Tiny waterfalls trickled down the hills as lush vegetation greeted us each step of the way

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(Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(Irish clover / Julie Cook / 2015)

Catching a view of the lower lake only added an exclamation point to the moniker “the Emerald Isle, as a delightful peace descended over three weary souls…

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(Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

Finally back down to the part of the trail that thankfully looked familiar, we glance the now infamous boardwalk to our left.

“Guess we should have just taken the boardwalk in the first place huh?”

” Oh I don’t know…I think what we’ve seen has been pretty darn great!”

“And doesn’t the air just feel so good? So much cooler and better than home…!”

Finally catching a familiar glimpse of St Kevin’s tower, we breathe a gentle sigh of relief as we can rest knowing the safety of the parking area and our van is happily close at hand.

“I guess we need to confess we missed the boardwalk and the lake…”

“Reckon he’s going to be worried, it’s been like what, two hours since we left…?”

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(the remains of St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Oh I don’t know, maybe that’s the point…just to let go and to lose ourselves…”

Lose ourselves or not, I’ve still got to go to the bathroom!…”

And thus began a marvelous adventure…or perhaps more aptly put, a marvelous misadventure of a lifetime….

…Time and nature have both joined together, allowing all who traverse this area a rare gift—one does not have to ponder long as to why St. Kevin chose this particular place in which to seekout God—anyone stopping long enough, to simply bask in the peace while listening to the engulfing silence, will actually hear the whispers of a Creator’s magnificent joy. . .

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(the grounds of St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

***Glendalough, meaning “the valley of the two lakes” is a beautifully serene area nestled within the Wiclow Mountains National Park, County Wiclow, Ireland. Only about 1 to 2 hours south of Dublin.
Glendalough was home to a once thriving celtic monastic community founded by St Kevin in the 6th century.