So a funny thing happened on the way to my Blog Entry…not so funny actually but true. I wrote a couple of paragraphs and once I read them I crumbled them up and tossed them into the trash. That’s not such an easy task when the crumpled paragraphs are on a monitor screen. This time I am committed to staying with it and the words will come out as they come out.
The truth is that I have been wallowing in the throes of depression and have just barely kept my head above water. One thing right out of the gate…I want to be able to say what I just said without feeling like someone is showing pity towards my situation. It is just healthy for me to say it and get it off my chest.
Now that I have done that I will do this…the following is a short excerpt from my book entitled “The Migration”. I hope you enjoy it and whether it is thumbs up or thumbs down I would love to hear your feedback.
Until next time, stay safe, healthy and happy.
1. The Beauty of Emptiness
Thursday November 5, 1959
Sometimes the heart won’t let you go where the body wants…and sometimes the body refuses to go where the heart wants.
You taught me that.
Today is the first time in years you and I have not sat down together on the fifth day of the month to talk about migration. Sure, for the past several years I told the story while you sat staring blankly at me, holding a wrinkled black-and-white photograph.
I remember you often said, “Gideon, I would have thought that when folks looked at this picture, they would have realized black-and-white looks mighty good together. Son, this is something to remember; a time and place when your mom and I were black and white in a photograph but your grandparents were black and white in everything they did. This picture always reminded me of that. ”
That photograph was a mess, crumbled in your hands, but that’s exactly where it belonged. I always wondered if you gripped the photograph so tightly because you were still choking out the bigotry and prejudice of those who tried to ruin your father’s life. Finally, it was okay to let go of the picture, okay to let go of the memories.
I suppose I will always hope for one more day with you. How did it happen that you were here and then gone so suddenly? Thanksgiving is only a few days away and again this year there will be a wild turkey in the oven, stuffed with freshly picked apples to create an ever-familiar aroma that will paint the November air with thick memories that would be sweet smelling but are made bittersweet by the absence of your laughter.
Well, I suppose that’s all for now. See you in December, Saturday the fifth.
Gideon closed the tan leather book after his entry was made. He knew that time—at least to some extent—would heal the wound of his father’s passing. He also knew that he had a huge void in his heart, one that could never be completely filled. There was silence at his father’s grave site now, different from the sounds of sobbing—quietly and not so quietly—a few days earlier.
Looking out over the snow-laden branches of lofty pine trees, he reminisced about how years seemed to repel down life’s mountains and become months, then weeks and finally days—until they folded, sometimes collapsed, into minutes. His were good memories for the most part, and he was genuinely thankful for that.
He held a second book, tattered and worn, and this one promised so many answers to his questions about migration and about his family’s history. He clutched it tightly, and then gingerly opened it to read the scribbled writing from his father’s hand. Throughout his lifetime, as long as he was able, Benjamin Daniels had kept an exact journal; his assurance that ‘the story’ would remain intact.
Gideon read one of the first pages of his father’s journal. It was smudged by rain and tears, but somehow the way the ink trailed and twisted it looked more appealing, more engaging, and more artistic.
Gideon read a few sentences at a time and decided he would devour his father’s writing like a delicious home-cooked meal. “I traced our family’s history back to my grandfather, Jonathan Arthur Daniels, a Confederate soldier from Gastonia, North Carolina. He served under Major General Robert Frederick Hoke and fought in the Battle of Bentonville.
Private Jonathan Daniels had seen enough of the fighting that dragged on for four years. He refused to call it the Civil War, saying, ‘There ain’t nothin’ civil ‘bout a man shootin’ his neighbor; stabbin’ him in th’ back and stickin’ him in th’ ground he used to be welcome to walk on.’
In April 1865, shutting the door on the war, my grandfather was able to purchase the farm where we now live.”
Gideon closed his father’s book as gently as he had opened it. He had never heard about his great-grandfather, Jonathan Arthur Daniels, but he was thankful for the family farm.
It goes without saying that my father took great pride in handing down the story of migration year after year, and through the story I learned that migration does not depend upon planning, it just happens instinctively. My father always started with one seemingly simple question: “Gideon, why do you suppose birds migrate?”
His father, Benjamin, always explained things simply and quietly. “One reason is that they are able to soar to such majestic heights with liberty and freedom. In that case, I suppose they migrate because they can. With this passage comes a sense of community, a sense of belonging, yet also a feeling of independence. Migration is so simple, yet in its simplicity there is woven a fabric so complex we will never fully understand it.”
I learned these truths from my father. This is how he taught me about life and about the importance of family and the cohesiveness of relationships with one another and about communion with God. To my father all answers were found in creation, in nature and the way animals learned to survive and live amongst one another. All things created were born and explained in God’s developed pattern of migration.
So with that question it started, ‘why do birds migrate?’
Of course, I knew that birds are able to soar to majestic heights because my father pointed it out to me when I was five. I knew that birds experienced liberty and freedom because those are the words he used to teach me when I was quite young. Later, I would learn about independence, majesty and sovereignty in new ways; ways that pertained to our family and were explained through our journeys.
Of course, there are other reasons for migration, and he taught me about those too. Most folks know that birds migrate because of the food and water supply or more favorable weather conditions; even so, I learned from my father that there are reasons much deeper and more meaningful than these behind the secrets of relocation…though maybe not all of them are scientific.
Discussions about migration were frequent occurrences when my father and I sat on the front porch and talked about life. When something new was discovered about the wonders of migratory habits, it always provoked conversations about how our everyday lives were affected. My father said, “…there is no new thing under the sun.” He oftentimes quoted scripture to prove his point so when a ‘new’ discovery was made about the mysteries of the movement within the animal kingdom he pointed out that in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes we learn that there was already enough wisdom to know we really don’t know much in the grander scheme of things. My father had an instinctive understanding about these matters, and somehow I knew it was similar to the intuition he spoke of when he marveled at the seasonal flight of birds.
Just a few short paragraphs…hope you enjoyed. Let me know if you would like me to post more.