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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Faith - Have Some

Religion is nothing more to me than a means to organizing my faith.  What faith?  I have faith.  I've always had faith.  Faith is probably the most important life line I have.  In times of trouble, I have faith.  In times of need, I have faith.  Lately, I've become increasingly aware of my faith in times of joy, prosperity, health.
Faith enables me to pray.  Prayer enables me to release concerns.  Prayer enables me to offer thanks.
Prayer enables me to remain faithful. 

I attend a church.  An Anglican Episcopal church.  A "high" church.  One with candles, incense upon occasion, blessings, holy water.  I cross myself.  I started doing that one day when I felt particularly blessed by a benediction.  Since that time, crossing myself is a way I focus on the Trinity.  Father, Son, Holy Ghost.
Three in One.  I pray to all.  Sometimes I pray to Saints.  God is pretty busy.  I know He hears me but having my prayers held and repeated by a trusted Saint can't be a bad thing.  I've prayed to St. Anthony.
Tony and I have a close relationship.  Particularly as I've aged, my memory is not as good as it used to be and Tony has helped out more than once.  Anthony is the patron saint of lost things.  I lose things all the time.
Most everyone knows of St. Francis.  He watches over animals, children and those that are helpless.
My church provides blessings for all of God's creatures on St. Francis' Feast day.  I've never felt that taking my pets for a blessing has been a mistake.  I have faith that St. Francis will watch over them just as the medallion I am offered to put on their collars says he will do. 

Anne is another friend.  Saint Anne is the patron saint of grandmothers.  I'm not one yet but I hope to be someday.  Anne is looking after that for me.  Anne is said to have been the grandmother of Christ.  I like to believe that Anne is watching over and helping to protect, comfort and preserve my own grandmothers; Rose, Elsie, Anna Marie, Mary and Elizabeth.  And that she'll do the same for me some day.

Gerard.  He's a new one.  I didn't know about St. Gerard until my daughter in law told me about him.
We've talked, Gerard and I.  A lot.  Gerard looks after those who hope for a pregnancy.  His job on earth was to provide comfort and solace to those women who were seemingly infertile.  He's been working hard lately and for that I'm grateful. 

I am updating this in the summer of 2013.  I have become familiar now with St. Peregrine.  He has been called the Patron Saint of Cancer Patients.  Since my daughter in law is struggling with this disease, he and I have become partners of sorts.  When I was visiting my other son in California, I toured Capistrano and ventured innocently enough into the Chapel that Capistrano is known for.  I was surprised and taken aback to learn a small chapel had been carved out of the larger one and was solely for those struggling with or praying for someone with cancer.  Of course, Allen and I entered in, lit candles and prayed.  Called St. Peregrines Chapel, we placed our faith in him.

There's a country song by Lee Ann Womack that is popular today.  It has to do with last words that a mother gives to her child.  One of her wishes is that the child promise to give faith a fighting chance. 
It can't be said better than that.  And not just because one would want the child to become religious. 
No, more because with age does come wisdom - some at least.  I've learned that without faith, you can become lost.  When I have nowhere else to turn, no one to turn to, I can lean on my faith.  I can lean on my belief that there is a plan.  I am comforted by my belief that things will work according to that plan.  It helps me to accept what comes and believe me, sometimes that acceptance is hard. 

I can pray anywhere.  I drive down the road and pray.  I talk to God all the time.  We have little conversations in which He doesn't say much, but He listens well.  I wish I were more like Him....talking less, listening more.  I'm trying to thank Him more.  I have so many things to be thankful for.  I try to remember to thank Him whenever I notice something He's done.....especially when it concerns a prayer being answered.
I don't always get what I pray for but I always get an answer to my prayer.  Sometimes my prayers don't get the answers I am praying for.  That's where faith comes in again.  Faith that the answer is just that....The Answer.  That even when it's not what I expected, it's what I need to have for the plan to unfold. 

So, it's not religion that is the focus.  It's faith.  There are many religions.  I'm not sure it matters which one you might ascribe yourself to.  Faith is what is important.  Faith that there is a plan.  Faith that you are not alone.  Faith that you are loved.  A religious belief might further your faith, deepen it, foster it.  Or it may not.
Identifying with a religion and attending a place of worship might assist you in keeping your faith, in exercising it, in sharing it with others.  Or it may not.  

Faith.....have some.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Diary of an Expedition - Genealogy Style - Part Five - Journey to Roseland Park

It took some time to find this gem, not that this resting place for souls is hidden, it's not - it is on a "main drag" in Northwest Detroit.  What took the time is the research, the letters and phone calls to what seemed like every church and cemetery in Wayne County.  At last, about three weeks before we were to leave on our excursion, a phone call from a kind gentleman at the Hamilton Funeral Home directed me to Roseland Park. .
My grandmothers death certificate listed the Hamilton brothers as providing services to the family after her death.  Hidden deep in some old filing cabinets in the cellar of their main office were records that included the "place of interment".  Mr. Hamilton, Sr. himself called to share this information with me.   Located in the small suburb of Berkely, Michigan, Roseland is actually located in Oakley County but still a short drive from Detroit

So now, three weeks later, with Emily at my side, I'm driving through the imposing gates of Roseland.  A quick stop to register in the office, some questions and yes, Mary is indeed entombed here....in a mausoleum some few 100 yards away.  "Are there any others?" we asked.  Some hesitation on her part but "Wait a minute and I'll check".  Yes, not only Mary, but also her mother, Elizabeth and two of her brothers, Albert and possibly George.  And with this news, a letter from Walter, Mary's youngest brother who in 1950 was paying for maintenance at the site and asking that fresh geraniums be planted each spring.  Walter, was by that time, president of a bank in Holly, Michigan.  The youngest child, once a bank clerk, now president of a bank and manager of his familys final resting place. 

Why was Mary entombed while the rest of her family were elsewhere on the grounds?  Presumably, her burial was provided and paid for by W.C., her ex-spouse who had left her and the boys on their own in Detroit several years before her death.  He had tried to provide for their housing but according to letters, Mary refused his help.  Possibly Mary's family were willing to accept an offer to provide for the final resting place of his ex-wife and mother of his two sons, William and Robert.  Located on the last column and next to the window, her vault is in the top row, its door void of all information save for her name, year of birth and year of death.  Em and I left a bouquet of babies breath in the only place we could - the floor in the corner below the niche which has probably not seen a visitor since 1950.
Outside, a short distance away, we found what one might call a "family plot".  One headstone with one word - Lentz near which were two markers again with simple engraving;  Elizabeth 1857-1942  and Albert 1895-1921.
No words of remembrance or solace, just a name and a date.  Was this for lack of funds or for humility?  We'll most likely never know.  The large headstone seemed newer - perhaps erected by Walter years after when he had become successful.  Emily cleaned the weeds and dirt away from the markers and placed a butterfly on Elizabeths marker.....Emily - Elizabeth's great, great grand-child.

Elizabeth died in 1942.  Mary died in 1934.  They were my great grandmother and grandmother and I never knew them.  What is it that causes families to fall apart?  What is the secret that enables some to endure turmoil and others to shatter?  How is it that one generation has so much impact over generations yet to come?
What are the precedents set by such actions?  How can it be so easy to turn away from those we once loved?  Why did W.C. leave Mary and his boys?  Mary who must have struggled to raise her two sons while battling tuberculosis.  Did he take her "in sickness and in health"?  Or was infidelity to blame?  Why was Mary in Detroit while W.C. worked in Wisconsin?  Did she want to be closer to her mother, did she not like the icy landscape of Wisconsin, did she need more help with her young boys than W.C. could provide?  So many unanswered questions.