It is a Time to Mourn when hearts are broken. In the last few weeks, folks we love have died, Hurricanes have taken the lives of those on our American soil and hundreds have died in Haiti. It is a Time to Mourn. A Candlelight Vigil was held in our county to honor those who lost their lives at the hands of someone who had said ‘I love you’ but whose anger went unchecked in domestic abuse and violence. It is a Time to Mourn. Two notable Alabamians, our friend Lucy Baxley, former Lieutenant Governor of Alabama and Mary Jo McMichael, the friend of Fanny Flagg- Mary Jo fried green tomatoes for decades at the Irondale Café. It is a Time to Mourn as wise King Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes 3:4. It seemed appropriate to show respect and honor for these who have left us- with the beautiful hymn, ‘Nearer My God to Thee’- performed by Andre Rieu’s amazing musicians. Please pay particular attention to how the musicians surround the audience. If you have lost a loved one recently, we honor your loss and mourn with you. We pray that you are surrounded by the loving Presence of God. Love y’all, Camellia
Photograph of Candlelight Vigil by Scottie Vickery, Communication Director of YWCA of Central Alabama – also *please note that yesterday, October 15 was a day for remembrance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Today is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service!I feel blessed to have been a visitor at several of America’s National Parks- they are breathtaking! Yellowstone in winter looks like a movie set, when the sun shines on the snow it looks like glitter in a snowglobe! And Yosemite is so massive it is like seeing the Hand of God.
Did you know that ground where the Statue of Liberty stands is a National Park? The Statue, Liberty Island and Ellis Island were placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1966, even though it had been in the care of the National Park Service for over 30 years. The Statue depicts the Roman goddess of Libertas- her torch has been a source of strength and comfort to immigrants ‘yearning to breathe free’ since 1886- 130 years ago.
TwoItalian immigrants who came through Ellis Island became parents to a little boy who would become legendary only 9 months before the National Park Service began- his name is Frank Sinatra. Sinatra inspired Andre Rieu. The famous conductor offered a beautiful Tribute to Sinatra at Radio City Music Hall. The photographs of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island are so moving about half way into the video- it brings me to tears…I hope you will be inspired and thankful for the National Park Service, whose job it is to preserve and protect these areas of astounding significance and natural beauty in America. And please pray for the victims of the earthquake in Central Italy– after all she has shared some of her best with our nation.
On the day of our departure from New York City, last spring- the morning was dreary and damp- our hotel was a mere half block from St. Patrick’s Cathedral- I peered out the window facing the great Rockefeller Center and could see that our block had been cordoned off by New York City Police Officers- a crowd huddled under umbrellas was forming…I heard a solitary bass drum and then the bagpipes. I motioned for my husband to come to the window. We watched as a funeral procession came solemnly down the street- right in front of our hotel. We could see the bagpipers and the drummers in dark coats with frilled shirts and dark watch plaid kilts followed by a crowd of mourners…one spot was missing in the line of bagpipers… Amazing Grace was being played solemnly and mournfully- but with an haunting beauty. Silently awed, we watched them go by, mourners oblivious to the dreary damp weather. The processional was for a fallen New York City Policeman. The Power of the Song, Amazing Grace never fails…
My husband is a guitarist, for many years he has gone to nursing homes to play for the residents. Instrumentally, he gently plays this great song- Amazing Grace. The first time he was asked to play for an Alzheimer’s Unit, he decided to do his regular list of songs…the residents sat still and unresponsive, until… softly he began to play Amazing Grace. One by one- the residents stirred, became alert and some began to sing. I want to cry every time I think of it- minds that have grown dim and dark are enlightened for a few brief moments by Amazing Grace. Down through these many years now- my husband has continued to play for these units- and every. single. time- Amazing Grace has had the same effect.
Where bitterness is shed abroad in this poor bleeding world, hardened by hatred, stumbling from blunder to blunder, the earth is punctured with even more graves this week. We grieve and we wonder how to recover common sense, much less common courtesy. As hatred rears it’s ugly head, when evil seems to triumph- when events beyond human comprehension happen- the one thing that seems to shine through the broken shards of humanity- is the beautiful stained glass of God’s Love and Amazing Grace.
I have no answers, no wisdom to bestow- all I know for sure, is that we must lift up our hands as the spires of cathedrals toward heaven– find a way to be ministers of peaceful mercy and ambassadors of His Amazing Grace. If each of us will do what we can to live together as people who have been forgiven a great debt- if we will walk gently among those who have suffered; resolve within ourselves- not to add one more ounce of suffering or cause one needless tear to flow, perhaps, the world will rest a little easier. Will you listen with me to Andre Rieu’s dramatic, awe inspiring rendition of Amazing Grace, in honor of the injured and fallen police officers in Dallas? May God have mercy on us and strengthen our resolve to bring His Grace, Mercy and Peace to a suffering world.