TAKE THEM EARTH FOR CHERISHING

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Cemetery

Take them, earth, for cherishing,
To thy tender breast receive them.
Bodies of men and women we bring thee,
Noble even in their ruin.

Once were these a spirit’s dwelling
By the breath of God created.
High the heart that here was beating,
Christ the Prince of all their living.

Guard them well, the dead we give thee,
Not unmindful of God’s creature
Shall God ask it, God who made it
Symbol of God’s mystery.

Take them, earth, for cherishing.  .  .
Comes the hour God hath appointed
To fulfill the hope of all:
Then, must thou, in a very fashion,
What I give, return again.

Take them, earth, for cherishing.  .  .
Not though ancient time decaying
Wear away these bones to sand,
Ashes that we might measure
In the hollow of a hand.

Not, though wandering winds and idle
Drifting through the empty sky,
Scatter dust was nerve and sinew,
Is it given to us to die.

Once again the shining road
Leads to ample Paradise;
Open are the woods again,
That the serpent lost for men

Take, oh take them, mighty Leader
Take again thy servants’ souls
Grave their name and pour the fragrant
Balm upon the icy stone.

Take them, earth, for cherishing,
To thy tender breast receive them,
Bodies of men and women we bring thee,
Noble even in their ruin.

By the breath of god created
Christ the Prince of all their living.
Take them, earth, for cherishing.

~~Adaptation of “Take Him Earth For Cherishing”
By Prudentius (348-413) Christian Roman Poet
Translated by  Helen Waddell.
Adapted by Sarah Buxton-Smith, November 2001
(at that time Chaplain, House of Bishops Spouses)

This poem was set to music in the 1960s by Herbert Howells for a dual American-Canadian memorial service, held in Washington, to mark the first anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death.  It’s been very popular in churches and concerts since.  Howells’s commission specified he could choose the text, and this is the poem he chose (in its original translated form “Take Him Earth for Cherishing”).  Howells had been aware of this poem at least since the death of his own (Howells’) son in the 1930s.  You can hear it here: Take Them Earth for Cherishing

The Run For the Roses

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TRFTR1

In 1970 (yes, I know, I’m dating myself), in the midst of my horse crazy years, my father gave me this little booklet prior to the Kentucky Derby that year. I remember we were houseboating that weekend and I had to listen to the Derby on my little electric blue transistor radio. Apparently, the booklet was an extra that came with the alcohol he had purchased:

TRFTR2

Honestly, I’m not sure I was aware of that until I retrieved this booklet from my bookshelf earlier this week after hearing that Secretariat had won the virtual Kentucky Derby on May 2. I remember watching Secretariat win his Triple Crown back in 1973, and I believe he still holds the record winning race time of 1 minute, 59.4 seconds.

After I confirmed that I’d dutifully noted his win that year:

TRFTR3

As I had every year through 1979 when I finally realized it was getting ridiculous and added some paper to make it all a little neater:

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And then never noted another win. Why? Probably college, first job, marriage, childbirth, etc., etc. By 1979, I had carried The Run for the Roses with me from California to Mississippi and then to Georgia, Hawaii and back to Georgia. Since then, it has traveled with me through at least 15 more moves.

So, looking at it this week, I had to wonder–why? With the internet, I can now easily look up who is winning the Derbies if I haven’t had a chance to see any. And now with digital photos and a blog post, I have access to this little bit of my history for the foreseeable future. The booklet has now been placed in the so-called “circular file” and that is one less object that will have to be dealt with upon my death.

And that is definitely one of the bright sides of this pandemic–it has helped me to refocus on what is really important to me.

A Prayer for Our Uncertain Times

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Jesuscovid-19

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

And during this time when we may not be able to physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.  Amen.

~~Fr. Michael Graham, S.J.

Magnolia Springs

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MSSP-Lime Sink Trail

Lime Sink Trail

After a week spent neck deep in editing a book for my cousin on top of dealing with the idiocy of our governor who decided it was time to open up hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys, I really needed to “get away” Saturday morning.

So, my husband and I took my little Turbo Abarth and motored up to Magnolia Springs State Park where we had the Lime Sink Trail all to ourselves.

Magnolia Springs has always had a special place in my heart as we often drove there with my grandparents when I was a child and picnicked next to one of the springs, cooled off in the swimming holes in the torrid southern heat, and toured the little aquarium with its native snakes, fish, and turtles.

According to its history: Magnolia Springs State Park encompasses over 1,000 acres between Perkins and Millen, Georgia. The park is named after, and built around, the crystal-clear spring water that flows through the area.

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The biggest of the springs.

During the Civil War, the area now encompassed by the park, was known as Camp Lawton. A stockade held Union soldiers captured as prisoners of war. The site was selected due to the abundant water supply. Between August and November 1864, Camp Lawton was planned, built, operated, and eventually abandoned. Despite its brief tenure, the prison held over 10,000 soldiers and was said to be the largest prison in the world at the time. The stockade was closed in November 1864, and its prisoners routed to other camps as General William T. Sherman’s army closed in during his infamous “March to the Sea.”

In 2010, archaeology teams from nearby Georgia Southern University uncovered parts of the stockade wall and artifacts from prisoners. Several of these artifacts are interpreted at the Magnolia Springs History Center located inside the park. Presently, archaeologists and historians continue to study this historic property to uncover more details about the camp and its occupants.

After the Civil War, The springs became a popular recreation destination long before the park was established. This area was used for picnics, church gatherings, reunions, and swimming for local citizens. These same citizens pushed for the development of the area for years until the park was officially created in 1939.

Like many early Georgia state parks, much of the infrastructure of Magnolia Springs was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, also known as the “CCC.” The CCC was responsible for damming the spring-fed stream to create a large swimming area for visitors, as well as building roads, a bathhouse, and other park buildings.

The land adjacent to Magnolia Springs State Park is the site of what was once the Millen National Fish Hatchery, later renamed the Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery. The fish hatchery used water from Magnolia Springs to supply 25 ponds that raised sport and endangered fish. The fish hatchery was also home to a popular aquarium where visitors could observe native and raised fish. The hatchery operated until 2010, when it was closed by the Federal Government.

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Spring side water plants

These days, I would be hesitant to swim there as there are a number of alligators and water moccasins that call the swimming area their home!

To Fly Heavenward

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AngelLaurelGrove

Laurel Grove Cemetery

This is Love: to fly heavenward,

To rend, every instant, a hundred veils.

The first moment, to renounce life;

The last step, to fare without feet.

To regard this world as invisible,

Not to see what appears to oneself.”

~~Jalalu ’d Din, “Selected Poems from the Divan”

Alleluia!

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Easter2020

In the midst of Death there is Life.

This sermon is read at the Paschal Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Resurrection in Orthodox churches throughout the world. It was written circa 400 AD by Saint John Chrysostom and we feature it in our book, A Spring in the Desert on Easter Sunday.

Are there any who are devout lovers of God?

Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary from fasting? Let them now receive their due!

If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their reward. If any have come after the third hour, let them with gratitude join in the feast! Those who arrived after the sixth hour, let them not doubt; for they shall not be shortchanged. Those who have tarried until the ninth hour, let them not hesitate; but let them come too. And those who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let them not be afraid by reason of their delay. For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. The Lord gives rest to those who come at the eleventh hour, even as to those who toiled from the beginning.

To one and all the Lord gives generously. The Lord accepts the offering of every work. The Lord honors every deed and commends their intention. Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike, receive your reward. Rich and poor, rejoice together! Conscientious and lazy, celebrate the day!

You who have kept the fast, and you who have not, rejoice, this day, for the table is bountifully spread! Feast royally, for the calf is fatted. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the banquet of faith.

Enjoy the bounty of the Lord’s goodness!

Let no one grieve being poor, for the universal reign has been revealed.

Let no one lament persistent failings, for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free.

The Lord has destroyed death by enduring it.
The Lord has vanquished hell when he descended into it.

The Lord put hell in turmoil even as it tasted of his flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, were placed in turmoil when he encountering you below.”

Hell was in turmoil having been eclipsed.
Hell was in turmoil having been mocked.
Hell was in turmoil having been destroyed. Hell was in turmoil having been abolished. Hell was in turmoil having been made captive. Hell grasped a corpse, and met God.

Hell seized earth, and encountered heaven.
Hell took what it saw, and was overcome by what it could not see.

O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are cast down!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life is set free!
Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead.