The Giver has a memorable moment!

The Giver by Lois Lowery grew on me.

When I first read The Giver, I did not like the book. I deemed it weird. After teaching the book, I developed an appreciation of it. At the ceremony for twelves, students are assigned their adult jobs. One student, Asher, was thanked for his childhood. I think all our children should hear this. The joy of watching young children find delight in so many things never ends. Finding a sparkly rock, catching a lightning bug and licking icing from a beater are all memory moments from a childhood. Since this is graduation season, I know many have memories of their young person’s youth and perhaps will thank the graduate for the happiness they brought.

The controlled community in The Giver does not allow color. People don’t see color and they don’t have music. They also don’t birth their own children. I said it was a weird society, but it’s truly awful. The government took away the people’s freedom to an unimaginable degree. Fortunately, the main character, Jonas, escaped with a little one and found a community where they saw color and heard music.

Today there is a lot of discussion and fear about what the government is doing. There is fear of losing our basic freedoms. We just remembered those who died fighting for our freedom and I pray that we won’t lose ours to government officials who think they know better than the people who elected them. I continue to pray for America and encourage others to do so too.

Why Good Friday?

I used to think Good Friday was misnamed until I understood.

Growing up Good Friday was a day off school. We went to church the night before on Maundy Thursday and colored eggs on Good Friday. We aren’t Catholic, but we didn’t eat meat on Good Friday and I still don’t. Mom bought hot cross buns to eat on Good Friday and we weren’t allowed to color eggs until after the holy hours (12:00 to 3:00) ended. Those three hours were to be spent doing something quiet and prayer was supposed to be at least a part of it. This isn’t very holy, but I remember being happy that I didn’t have to do any chores during that time. I probably thanked God for that!

I remember asking why it was called Good Friday when Jesus suffered so much that day. Being told he died for all our sins made me feel worse. He didn’t do anything wrong, but he received the punishment? I just couldn’t understand. As an adult, I get it, but it still makes me weep.

My own children were taken to church on Maundy Thursday, and we too decorated eggs on Good Friday. We also listened to the music from Godspell that day. I still do. (I gave up the hot cross buns because no one liked them. They wanted doughnuts!)

The song Day by Day is a prayer I should sing every day. The lyrics are short and meaningful: day by day, these things I pray: to see thee more clearly, to love thee more dearly , to follow thee more nearly day by day. What more can be said other than to give thanks to God for his son Jesus who died and was resurrected on Easter Sunday. He appeared to his Disciples and they saw his wounds, so there was no doubt he arose from the dead. A simple song sung every day can bring such peace to me. I am thankful. Wishing you all a blessed Easter!

Snow won’t keep me from Blooming!

People’s words can feel like icy cold snow.

My daffodils get snowed on every year so I consider them tough enough to withstand it, but young people today are experiencing icy cold words for the first time.

A teenager was working in one of our local small grocery stores wearing a Star of David. A man entered the store and noticed her. He walked up to here and asked if she was Jewish. When she answered, “Yes”, he turned and left the store.

A high school student in Canada was suspended for saying there are only two genders. This is a Catholic high school. According to the Toronto Sun article, Josh stated there are only two genders and that gender doesn’t trump biology. He was told he couldn’t return to class until he recanted his comment. When he did return to school he was arrested for trespassing. The article went on to say there were two transgender students who disapprove of Josh’s religious beliefs and therefore he wasn’t to attend the classes he shared with them if he did return. This is a Catholic School and students object to religious beliefs?

An Arizona school board member opposed a contract with a Christian University because she did not agree with their Christian beliefs. She said their beliefs were in opposition to the beliefs of the LBGT community which she and two other board members were members. The school board did not renew the contract with the Christian University in fear of student teachers teaching Christian values.

Apparently having religious beliefs is not allowed any more. Socialist countries desire obedience to the government, not God. Churches around the globe in 32 countries have been torched over a two year period. Churches have now been closed in the Ukraine and priests and pastors have been arrested.

The world has changed and that includes America. Our churches and synagogues are open but too many are trying to quiet the voices of those who believe. Believers are going to have to stand firm like my daffodils and defend the right of religious beliefs.

Fat Tuesday Celebration and Food!

Parades, customs and food are all enjoyed before the fasting begins.

Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday which is the day before Ash Wednesday and the first day of lent. Lent is 40 days (not including Sundays) before Easter and a time for prayer and repentance. Lent is not mentioned in the Bible and not all Christian denominations commemorate it. It began in the Catholic churches but in the 1960s and 70s some Protestant churches added this day to their church calendars.

The idea of fasting was and is a part of Lent. In Medieval Europe, people were told they had to eliminate eggs, fats, meat and dairy by the local priests. This was based on the 40 days Jesus fasted before he began his ministry. Today people will eliminate food from their diet or add a healthy practice such as exercise. Many pastors encourage spending more time in prayer and reading the Bible.

In the minds of many, Tuesday is their last chance to have fun and perhaps devour a pan of chocolate brownies. (Not that I can relate to that!) Pancakes and crepes were the first food to become a traditional Shrove Tuesday treat because people had to use the ingredients before Lent began. The German traditional food is Fastnachts which are doughnuts and Paczkis are a Polish jelly filled doughnut. The King Cake is a traditional Mardi Gras treat. It is made in early January to be eaten on Epiphany (January 6) in celebration of the three kings arriving in Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. It is made up until Lent. A small plastic baby is placed inside the cake and whoever gets it in their piece of cake will have prosperity. The cakes all are covered with sprinkles. The purple represents power, yellow-justice and green faith.

I was in Germany as a teacher chaperone several years ago and was shown pictures of people in costumes. I asked if this was Halloween. I was told not many people celebrated Halloween and this was their Mardi Gras. Costumes, parades and lots of food. It sure looked like Halloween!

There is so much unrest in the world but religious traditions unite us. Churches will be filled on Ash Wednesday and people will receive ashes on their foreheads. Ashes were used as a sign of repentance in the Old Testament. People wore sack cloth and covered themselves with ashes and asked for God’s forgiveness. People will try to grow closer to God during Lent and will give up unhealthy habits. I usually struggle the first two weeks with my Lenten choices, but then it becomes easier. Good luck to all of you who plan on doing something special during lent. I think God must look forward to this time when so many find time for Him.

Candlemas Celebrates Light

Candlemas is celebrated around the world on February 2.

I learned of Candlemas a few years ago, but didn’t really understand what it represented until I did a little research. It occurs 40 days after Christmas according to Jewish law found in Leviticus. Luke 2:22 tells us that Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate him to the Lord and for Mary to be purified. Following the law, Jesus was circumcised when he was eight days old and 33 days later presented to God in the temple. It is also known as the Feast of Presentation or the Purification of the Virgin Mary. People bring candles to church to be blessed by the priests and in some countries the candles are then placed in the windows of people’s homes. Jesus is the light of the world and the light is believed to protect the home.

Two people received God’s blessing the day Jesus was brought to the temple. Simeon was a devout man of God and had had been told he would see the Messiah before he died. When he saw the baby he knew Jesus was the promised Messiah and held him in his arms. He praised God and he also told Mary that a sword would pierce her soul. The prophet Anna lived in the temple and she too realized this was the Messiah. She gave thanks to God and told the people who the child was.

Like most celebrations food is involved. In France crepes are eaten and in Mexico tamales are enjoyed. Christians in Puerto Rico light bonfires at the end of Candlemas Day. I don’t know if it is celebrated anywhere in America, but it was first celebrated in Jerusalem in 4th century AD and has continued since.

Our world needs the light of hope and love. For Christians Jesus is the light and he gives us hope and strength during these difficult times. I like the idea of placing candles in the window on February 2. Mine are electric but I think that will work. The days are beginning to get shorter and in some countries they consider this day to signify the end of winter. Those of us in Ohio know we have weeks to go before we see spring. It doesn’t matter if the groundhog sees his shadow or not on Candlemas Day.

The spring bulbs have pushed through the soil so I know they are eager for the sun’s warmth. I’m going to accept that February 2 is the first step to spring. I wish you a sunny Candlemas Day and perhaps you’ll light a candle remembering the significance of this day.

Confederate Soldiers Remembered

Camp Chase is a Confederate Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio.

I’ve lived in Columbus, Ohio, most of my life and had never been to Camp Chase until this past December. I was part of a group who laid wreaths on the soldiers’ graves. There are over 2000 men buried there. Not every grave received a wreath but many did. At each grave the man’s name was said aloud and then we were asked to say something just for the person. I said a prayer. It was a very meaningful experience.

Camp Chase was a park that became a recruiting station and training grounds. It then became a prisoner of war camp that was over crowded and filled with disease. At one time it held 8,00 prisoners. After the war some soldiers bodies were taken home but most were left. The federal government bought the land in 1886 and built a wall around the two acres to protect the graves. In 1893, a former union soldier, William Knauss, saw the condition of the graves and went to work cleaning the cemetery and held a memorial service in 1895. In 1908, the wooden headboards were replaced with marble headstones.

You’ll notice the headstones come to a point. I read this was because the Confederate soldiers didn’t want a Yankee to sit on their grave. It could also be it was a way to distinguish the Confederate graves from the Yankees.

The word Americans is written on the top of the arch in the top photo. That is significant in that these men were not treated as the enemy or as traitors. They were honored as Americans. It is also significant that a Union soldier spearheaded the project to maintain a Confederate cemetery. I remember going to a little country cemetery as a little girl and was shown the graves of two family members who had died in the Civil War. One had fought for the North and the other the South. They were buried together in the family plot. They were family and those who fought against each other were all Americans.

Sin Eaters

Sin Eaters were believed to be able to receive the sin of the deceased.

From the 1600’s to the early 1900’s in the British Isles Sin Eaters were paid to attend a funeral and eat bread that was placed on the deceased and then ingest the person’s sins. Immigrants carried this practice to America and it is believed to have continued until the 1930s in Appalachia. The question one might ask is why?

The Catholic Church had taught the people that sin was absolved after a person confessed and asked for forgiveness. If someone died before having the opportunity to confess his/her sins, the family hired a Sin Eater to accept the deceased’s sins. However, the Catholic Church called these people (both those who did the hiring and the Sin Eater) heretics and blasphemers. The crime of sin eating was punishable by death. The practice comforted the living and it grew to include those whose deaths were not sudden. It also continued because it was believed that the Sin Eaters prevented souls from lingering on earth as ghosts.

Sin Eaters were useful society outcasts. No one would associate with them and they lived outside the villages. People believed they worked for Satan. After all, they willingly accepted the sins of many so they were overflowing with sin.

We are approaching Halloween and remember that people wore masks at this time so evil spirits wouldn’t recognize them or maybe be scared away. People also gave treats to those who promised to pray for a family’s deceased loved ones on Beggar’s Night. Going to heaven was very important to the people. I’m not sure how many people are concerned with that today.

Granny Witch to Role Model!

Mother’s day has been celebrated in America since 1914.

Every time I smell fried chicken I think of my grandmother. She was a hard working farmer’s wife who cooked a huge noon meal every day for my grandfather and uncles who worked the farm. Endless chores filled her day and I believe my work ethic was influenced by her. “Take time to do it right. If it’s worth doing, do it right. Finish one job before starting another.” These are all sayings I grew up hearing.

A friend of ours asked his university freshmen students who their role model was growing up. He said that 20% of the students said their grandmother and that was followed by a parent or a teacher. That led me to doing a little research on grandmas.

I had never heard of Granny Witches, but am familiar with herbal medicine. Appalachian grandmas became known as Granny Witches because they used plants, prayer, and wisdom in treating people. German, Scottish and Irish traditions for healing came to America with the first settlers and they learned more about plants from the Native Americans. This knowledge was needed since doctors were scarce. Religion came with the settlers and Bibles were regularly read and church was attended. Superstitions about the grannies’ abilities were not erased by attending church. Grannies believed in prayer and superstitions.

A part of a girl’s education was identifying plants. Women passed their knowledge from one generation to the next and were able to find water with a forked stick, treat ailments with herbs and deliver babies. Grannies quoted scripture, read tea leaves, and gave advice. The importance of the Granny Witches in the communities can’t be emphasized enough.

Today many grandmas receive gifts and cards. I recently taught my 13 year old granddaughter how to make a lemon meringue pie. She appreciated the help, but she gave me a gift by asking me to teach her.

Happy Mother’s Day!

May Celebrations and Beauty

Lilacs are one of May’s flowers and irises, peonies, and poppies will soon follow.

The month of May announces that summer is on its way. The flowers are glorious and proud as they blow in the warm breezes. However, I need to show what my last April surprise was.

Deer ate all the tulips in my front yard. There were almost 150. This is the first year they enjoyed a tulip buffet. I’m used to them eating my lilies but this was a shock.

These tulips are in the back of the house and were not bothered. Deer did leave me their calling card of poop though.

May Day was yesterday so April surprises are now in the past. I remember delivering May baskets of flowers to neighbors as a little girl and even dancing around a maypole one year. The maypole was a tradition in both England and Germany. The ancient Romans celebrated the flower goddess Flora and the goddess Maia on May 1. I can’t imagine keeping track of all these different gods and goddesses and all the celebrations. This was a fertility celebration for crops and people.

The Puritans did not approve the dancing and drinking that occurred on May Day and we can assume what else occurred, so Parliament banned maypoles in 1644. It didn’t take long for the new king, Charles II, to restore the tradition. Since this was a fertility celebration, many soon changed the tradition of young men and women dancing around the maypole to having children dance instead. I wonder if that solved the problem.

Wishing you all a happy May and I hope you are blessed with blooming flowers. And…a little dancing is good for the body and the soul!

April Foolery!

April in Ohio makes the entire month subject to unwanted surprises.

This picture was from April 21, 2021, so it wasn’t nature playing an April Fools’ Day joke. In Ohio, any day in April can reveal a joke played by nature. I remember one Good Friday in April when my children made a giant Easter Bunny from the snow. I wish nature would agree with me and not allow snow after March 1. I’m perfectly happy with it December through February, but when March arrives I want spring.

Historians aren’t sure of the origin of April’s Fools’, but some suggest it began in 1582 when the calendar was switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. It took awhile for people to hear that the new year was to begin on January 1 instead of April 1. These poor uninformed people were called April Fools.

I have never been a fan of practical jokes which are performed on April 1. I remember both as a child and as a teacher seeing signs stuck on someone’s back. These were not words of praise. There were many acts of meanness performed and it made the day miserable. What would have been nice was to see people surprising others with a compliment, a candy bar, an invitation or for me a flower.

The other problem I have with this day was the person humiliated or hurt wasn’t allowed to be upset because it was just an April Fool’s joke and that was expected on this day. They were to laugh it off. I don’t agree. There is no day that should encourage people to embarrass or harm another.

I have come to accept nature’s jokes, but I can’t accept cruel acts. Why ruin a person’s day when you could do something to make them happy?