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Inside the dying die with the state of
their souls on frozen faces
.* And the living
lie with their feet in the air.

Outside the clouds are gray,
the brownish grass looks lifeless
and barren, not like the beach,
where the churning sea pounds
an innocent shore, where both land
and water are teeming with life.

I know people whose boats are tossed,
who tumble the furling ocean waves,
where the sun fails to grace the darkness.

But far and away in dusk’s purple tint,
where forlorn quail break a similar silence,
a lone deer enters the thicket.
Near the ruins of a burned-out cabin,
one purple crocus continues to grow.
Is this where my prayer should begin—

about how the rough sea might be calmed,
each tiny skiff moored, the dawn shine
in orange rays, the light fall onto those who still float,
and onto the deer and the quail and the cabin?
We need blessing and healing and love,
understanding and forgiveness, absolution.

But what good is confession, if it does not
thaw the heaven-bound, apply dentistry, teeth
being integral to the face

I believe in heaven, with each new body,
even the grimace of pain will vanish,
make us like water, not like ice.


* Thanks to Father Joe and his Tattered Journal

** Thanks to Jilly Dybka (scroll to bottom of entry)


Margaret Garner (called Peggy) was an enslaved African American woman in pre-Civil War America who was notorious – or celebrated – for killing her own daughter rather than see the child returned to slavery. Her story was the inspiration for the novel Beloved by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, as well as for her libretto for the early 21st century opera Margaret Garner, composed by Richard Danielpour.

Garner was born on a farm called Maplewood in Kentucky, probably the daughter of the plantation owner. When both were 15, Margaret married Robert Garner from a neighboring plantation and had one son, Thomas, described as dark-skinned. Robert was frequently hired out to work on distant farms and Margaret’s three other children (Samuel, Mary, and Priscilla) would each be born a few months after the plantation owner’s own children. These light skinned children were likely the children of Margaret and her current owner, the brother of the man who had owned the plantation when she was born. Levi Coffin described Margaret Garner, at the time of her arrest, as “a mulato, about five feet high … she appeared to be about twenty-one or twenty-three years old.” She also had an old scar on the left side of her forehead and cheek, which she said had been caused when a “White man struck me.” Her two boys were about four and six years old, Mary, 2 and a half, and Priscilla, an infant.

On January 28, 1856, a pregnant Margaret and her husband Robert, together with family members, escaped and fled along with several other slave families. Robert had stolen his master’s horses and sleigh along with his gun. Seventeen people were reported to have been in their party. . . . .Robert, his father Simon and wife Mary, together with Margaret and their four children, made their way to the home of a former slave named Kite, an in-law of the Garners, living along Mill Creek, below Cincinnati. The other nine slaves in their party made it to safe houses in Cincinnati and eventually escaped via the Underground Railroad into Canada. . . . . Slave catchers and police found the Garners barricaded inside Kite’s house before he returned. They surrounded the property, then stormed the house. As they pursued the fugitive slaves, Robert Garner fired several shots and wounded at least one deputy marshal. Margaret killed her two-year-old daughter with a butcher knife rather than see the child returned to slavery. She had injured her other children, preparing to kill them and herself, when she was subdued by the posse. (see more)

Oh, Freedom



further information about Margaret Garner

I, Yahweh, search the heart,
test the motives,
to give each person what his motives
and actions deserve.

Jeremiah 17:10

“It is not so difficult to see that, in our particular world, we all have particular desires to accomplish something. . . . Practically all of think about ourselves in terms of our contribution to life. . . . When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one big scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth. . . We become what the world makes us, . . . worthwhile because we have successes. To live a Christian life means to live in the world without being of it. It is in solitude that this inner freedom can grow. . . . A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center, easily becomes destructive. . . . In solitude we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.”

to read the rest of this devotional see Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings by Henri Nouwen

February 2008