Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


O Wonder of Wonders!

"O wonder of wonders, that Christ's spirit is united to our spirit, his will is one with ours, his flesh becomes our flesh, his blood flows in our veins. What spirit is ours when it is possessed by his, our will when led captive by his, our clay when set on fire by his flame!"

St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ


One Score of Years and Counting

Yesterday was my twentieth birthday. Twenty years ago Mississippi was hot and sweaty; today it's still pretty hot and sweaty. A hurricane was bearing down on the US coast, and hurricanes have come and gone a few more times. Some we remember more than others. Reagan was President; more Presidents have been made and unmade. Wars have been fought and won and lost and left to simmer. Wars and rumours of wars and echoes of the end. Empires have crashed and risen; nations come and gone. The Wall came down; others still remain. Things have been shaken we never thought could be.

Some things I remember from the years in between:

Watching the tanks roll across the sand. Watching them again.

Sledding on cardboard in two-inch deep Alabama snow.

The Gulf angry and grey in the wintertime.

Watching the sun rise over the Appalachians and the mountains burst into golden fire.

Watching the clouds drift in the Chinese mountains and the sun break out and illumine the rice terraces falling down the valley.

Realizing just how wonderful bluegrass sounded.

That first campfire and sandy campsite with my father by the Sipsey Fork.

Discovering Dostoevsky.

Seeing those towers fall and feeling it was all a dream we would wake up from soon.

Realizing how bad people can be- people you know and trusted- and wishing it were all a dream and we would wake up soon.

Listening to the trees shattering and falling in the wind.

My first airplane ride and thinking how beautiful the quilted plains looked from up so high.

Playing bingo with my great-grandmother in her little house at night and traveling into the past with her.

The impeachment trials.

Eating breakfast in a monastery.

The time my father got his shoulders stuck in a narrow little cave passage and I was behind him and he was really badly stuck. (He shoved and pushed until he eventually got free.)

Baptisms in the Sipsey River (a different one) among the tea-orangebrown water and the cypress knees.

Burrowing in the hay piles in the barn with my brother and my grandfather in his red and black plaid watching from the four-wheeler.

Showering under waterfalls.

Walking out of the airport in Kunming.

The sun setting through the pine trees and the wind blowing and it smelling so good it was like some kind of rapture.

I have had a remarkably good life so far. I have seen more and experienced more than I ever dreamed I would when I was young and dreamt my way into far-off places. I have been blessed by God more than I ever could deserve. I hope I can become more grateful. I pray I will not waste whatever further years are given me.


A Great Many Diverse Things

"If you want to become judicious and moderate and no servant of the passion of conceit, always seek in things what is hidden from your knowledge. You will find a great many diverse things which have eluded you, and you will be astonished at your own ignorance and temper your pride. And in knowing yourself you will understand many great and wonderful things, since to think that one knows does not allow one to advance in knowledge."

St. Maximus the Confessor, Four Hundred Chapters on Love, 3.81


Christian Indie Folk Rock Stuff

My evening's happy discovery: sweet Christian indie music (I'm not kidding): Sounds Familyre. Particularly of note is this guy Sufjan Stevens. Hat tip to A Minor.


Springtime in September

Classes resumed Monday and things are returning to normal here. Traffic is the greatest headache common to all now, as there are still many utility and military vehicles around, along with the many people who have removed- perhaps permanently- from the Coast and New Orleans. I am glad to be back in class; our schedule has been modified, of course, but it's quite tolerable. Carey operates on a trimester system, with week long breaks between trimesters, which we will lose this year, leaving Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring breaks intact.

The damage and destruction from the storm is still sharply evident; I suppose much of it will remain for years to come. One thing that has taken by surprise is the response of the natural world to the storm. The heavy winds managed to strip many decidious trees of their leaves, so much that after the storm much of South Mississippi looked like it normally does in the winter (most of our oaks tend to retain their leaves, albiet in a brown whithered form, all through the winter; and quite a few of them held on through the hurricane). But now, nearly a month afterwards, the trees are glowing with fresh new growth. If you were to drive across South Mississippi you would think it was springtime, with so many of the forests aburst with that particular bright fresh green of March and Paril (down here anyway!). The bradford pears, most of which were beaten up pretty badly, are making a second run of blooms. The miles and miles of splintered trees are now softened by a hurricane-wrought second springtime. Beauty from ashes, I suppose.


A Week Later

Our family came back to Jones County yesterday. There is now some power; I'm at my dad's office in town at the moment. Our house is still without power or phone service. It will probably be another week or so before we are back online.

Ellisville has cleaned up some; there are still trees everywhere, just not in the roads anymore. Some powerlines have been put back up; most are still down. The gas stations- when they have gas- have long lines snaking out behind them. My brother and a neighbor went into town to fuel up today; they waited about an hour. Ellisville smells really, really bad: there is garbage piling up in a makeshift dump, garbage in front of people's houses, along with spoiled food from refrigerators which was dumped outside. I can't imagine what the Coast or New Orleans smells like...

Jones County suffered pretty extensive damage; most of the houses and businesses are damaged in some way or another. At least twelve people died in the storm in our county.

The refugee problem is growing more evident all across the state. The county my grandparents live in, Winston, is taking in several hundred, which is going to be quite a task for a rural Mississippi county. This is not a rich state. Most of the economic development in Mississippi is- or was- centered on the southern tier, where the damage is greatest.

Of course, everyone is talking about the relief response and all that; but I am no position to pontificate on it, not having had very good access to information- and the fact that it still a developing story. I do know that what I have seen is not very encouraging, particularly with the gas situation. We are terribly dependent on gasoline; gasoline distribution in the event of a distaster is evidently not very dependable. There are some troubling implications there.