I remember being glued to the television for five nights in a row back in September, 1990, watching Ken Burns The Civil War. Through words and pictures he brought that terrible time in our history even more to life for me than it had been before. I had corresponded with some descendants of Civil War soldiers from the time I was in the sixth grade through high school, after placing an ad in Good Old Times magazine saying I was looking for more information on the Civil War. The letters had poured in! It was fairly overwhelming for a twelve year old. They shared memories and sent copies of letters and diaries. But it wasn't until I was an adult, maybe because as we age we begin to grasp the brevity of life, that the Civil War became even more real to me.
I was captivated, as was the rest of the country, when Sullivan Ballou's letter to his young wife Sarah was read as the haunting Ashokan Farwell was heard in the background.
It seems fitting to share it again this weekend as we remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion for our country.
July the 14th, 1861
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.
Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night—amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.
As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.
You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.
He intends to come and live in it Himself.
The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said."
Today was World Down Syndrome Day. This video was posted on Facebook yesterday and I made the mistake of watching it at work. I had a very difficult time keeping my sobs quiet.
My niece Amy did not have Down Syndrome but Rett Syndrome. She could not talk verbally as these young people can. She spoke with her eyes, her smiles, and her laugh. She went home to be with the Lord about this time last year.
I hope the expectant mother received comfort and encouragement from their answers. I know my sister, Cheryl, would tell her that every moment of Amy's 31 years, the hard times and the jubilant ones, were worth it.
Cheryl has been sharing her journey since Amy's passing in her own blog, Amy's Story. She is still grieving the loss of her daughter, but her faith shines through each post.
We miss you Amy but know you are singing and dancing with Jesus and the angels.
As some of my readers may know, I got married at the end of December in Edinburgh, Scotland. What a special and precious time. My husband is English and we are hoping he will be able to join me soon so we can start our married life together.
Most of my non-working time (other than sleeping) has been spent with him on Skype and in the process I have neglected my blog.
Probably no one even really noticed that I haven't been posting. So maybe absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder as far as this blog goes. As for being absent from my husband, it is definitely making my heart grow fonder -- and stronger.
I made a discovery recently: QuizUp It finally became available for Android! (A pet peeve of mine is that we Android users always have to wait for the apps to make it into our world, but I digress). QuizUp is heaven for trivia lovers! You are able to pick from a wide variety of topics and you play against people from all over the world. I have played with people from over 25 other countries thus far and I've only been doing this for a little over a week.
When do I find time to do this? I usually play right before going to bed. As it's timed, this is probably not a great idea. The category I'm excelling in is History, but one is creeping up on it -- The Hobbit! I couldn't sleep last night and my insomnia was rewarded:
What do you do when you can't sleep? Maybe you can join me in QuizUp and try to beat my scores! See you there!
"Games! Oh, we loves games! Doesn't we, Precious?
Does it like games? Does it, does it, does it like to play?"
I have been enjoying Meg's cats for several years. She writes from their point of view and she makes me laugh right out loud and sometimes cry. Her blog, Housecat Confidential was the first pet blog I had ever read. Up until then I didn't even know pet blogs existed!
When my older sister passed away in 1994 I adopted her Maine Coon, Cody, so I was immediately drawn to her Maine Coon, Fin. When Fin crossed over the bridge a while back I sobbed like a baby. Meg and her husband now have two adorable Maine Coons, Quill and Grayson, that keep me entertained.
Check it out: Housecat ConfidentialYou'll soon feel like you're part of the family. I know I am (even though they don't know I exist!).
Today The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theaters world-wide including Bangor. I've had my ticket for over a week and I'm counting the hours until I can sit back and drink it all in.
My day started with one of those messy adventures that always make you late for supper, I mean, work. It was 11 degrees F when I left for work. I stopped for my daily large, unsweetened iced tea and as I left the drive-thru I attempted to close the car window to no avail. It was a rather chilly ride to the garage but they managed to get it back up. I just can't use it until the window motor is replaced. Who knew the window had a motor?
But that's the thing about adventures...more often than not, they end up rather well.
With my wedding coming up in two weeks, I have not been able to follow (as much as I would like, i.e glued to the computer) all of the hoopla surrounding the new hobbit movie. EEK -- it's this Friday! And yes, I do have my ticket.
I was delighted when the newest post from Crispin's Eclipse graced my inbox this afternoon. I so enjoyed reading Inge's take on take on all things Richard and The Hobbit. I hope you enjoy reading it too: