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Category: Reflections

Listening to Black voices

Listening to Black voices

Dr. Mildred Jefferson, the first black woman to graduate from the Harvard Medical School, was a profound and prophetic woman. She is famous for addressing congress, her own medical profession, and culture at large. In one visit to congress, she laid out her feelings quite clearly:

I am at once a physician, a citizen and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged and the planned have the right to live.

Who were these expendable human lives? The unborn – and as time has shown – especially African American unborn. When Roe v. Wade was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1973, Dr. Jefferson was outraged. She saw the decision not only as a direct assault upon the unborn, but also upon the ethics of her profession. She later told the U.S. Congress that the decision “gave my profession an almost unlimited license to kill.”

Her words have proved prophetic – especially for African Americans. The CDC reports that 619,591 abortions occured in 2018 (most recent data) and has a breakdown that has stayed fairly consistent year over year:

WhiteBlackHispanicOther
Abortions135,328117,62670,19526,975
Abortion rate (per 1000 women of same ethnic group)110335158213
Latest CDC data

This means that Black women are 3 times more likely to have their children aborted than whites, double that of hispanic women, and around 30% higher than all other minorities. Not only that, but these numbers mean that abortion deaths for African Americans far exceeds those via cancer, violent crime, heart disease, AIDS, police, and accidents. This is an astounding number – and is so bad in some areas of the US (such more black children are aborted than born alive. This data isn’t disputed nor are they anomalies, they’ve been consistently true for decades now.

This is also true even after you control for income and compare with all other ethnic minorities that experience discrimination – but still have much lower abortion rates. A fact that even the press struggles to find answers for, and some groups try to hide by saying the overall percentage of black abortions is less than white women (completely ignoring the fact that the black population in the US is more than 3 times smaller).

So, if you are interested in saving black lives – then the biggest silencer of their voices is abortion. This should make us want to ask some hard questions about policy, players, and the groups, that appear to be targeting unborn black lives – more than any other minority.

Catholic teaching on end of life matters

Catholic teaching on end of life matters

I recently have been updating my estate planning – something that I firmly believe everyone should do at some point. Not only does this make things easier on your loved ones, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to get educated about very serious end-of-life matters.

Estate planning involves setting up documents, trusts, and systems that make your wishes clear. This is done as simply, or complex, as needed. Creating a will, appointing decisionmakers for medical and/or financial matters, evaluating your insurance coverage, setting up legal entities (trusts) to take care of your assets, and even purchasing and planning your own funeral arrangements are all matters you should address. This removes the terrible burden of your loved ones having to make those decisions and sort out the insurance and legal issues while also dealing with your possible death. It’s really a gift to your living relatives and can be a powerful tool to avoid family fights and animosity that can come up when dealing with end of life and estate issues.

Even more importantly than dealing with physical possessions is establishing a medical directive and decision maker. For that, you need to know what you want yourself. Many people, however, are often overwhelmed by these choices – and they bring up a tremendous amount of ethical questions that many people have never thought about.

Ethical questions

What are some of these situations that you should think about when writing a medical directive? Here are just some:

  • Euthanasia/Assisted suicide
  • Nutrition and hydration at end of life
  • Palliative care
  • Vegetative state
  • Resuscitation orders
  • Use of painkillers to point of sedation

This is often a moment in which many people find themselves relying on simplistic forms that many states provide. Unfortunately, as almost all lawyers will tell you, these medical directive forms are terrible. They are often written so bad they do not even do the things they claim. Long legal battles have been fought over the terrible wording in these directives.

Catholic educational resources:

So where is one to turn? Many parishes have regular legal session and legal help for parishioners to set up estate plans and directives. You could certainly contact your pastor who can likely get you materials and connected to an ethical estate planner.

Finding authentic Catholic teaching can also be hard, but one document can give you a great start: Samaritanus Bonus (The Good Samaritan) It deals with the difficult topics listed above from a pastoral, historical, and scriptural perspective.

Give it a read along with recently updated instruction on Catholic burial and cremation.

1950 teen tells her parents they are wack

1950 teen tells her parents they are wack

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Listen to this 1950’s era teen throws shade are her parents. I think she has some good points that parents and kids today probably feel.

And for teens/parents out there, least you think it is so much worse today, listen to the wisdom of the ages. But then again, all of these civilizations did collapse – so there’s that…

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”― Socrates (5th century BC)

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” – Plato (4th century BC)

“We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self control” Inscription in Egyptian tomb from 4000BC

Reflection: “I would have done better” and other lies we tell ourselves

Reflection: “I would have done better” and other lies we tell ourselves

As part of my new year’s activities, I decided to reflect a bit on last year’s personal lessons. Maybe they’ll help others.

2020 will go down in the history books. It was astounding how quickly our modern world was rendered helpless and then teetered into civil unrest multiple times. We saw shortages of sanitizers, toilet paper and food, saw the crippling of whole economic sectors (dining, travel, live performances, etc), a new shift to working remotely, the end of most air travel, and governments that have struggled to develop and implement policy. Civil unrest in various places reached dangerous levels. In Oregon, we had over 100 straight nights of riots and record severe forest fires.

The human costs are also tremendous. People across the world have been quarantined in their homes and dealt with the stresses of isolation, remote work, job losses, home schooling, and the stress of constant contact locked in with family members. We have spent holidays alone, seen the end of social gatherings, parties, sporting events, concerts, church services, and other social outlets. Many of us have experienced the death of a loved one on top of all this. Substance abuse, mental health issues, domestic abuse have all gone up by dangerous levels. The full human impact will likely only be known years from now.

Self-care to the rescue – partly

From the beginning, experts recommended a lot of great self-care ideas that were extremely helpful: maintaining regular work and sleep schedules, daily exercise, eating well, creating separate work/home spaces, regular social connections, practicing self-kindness, focusing on daily goals, and maintaining covid-safe behaviors. Having separate work/home spaces was particularly helpful for me.

As a person without a spouse, children, or family nearby – isolation turned out to be the most difficult part. I could tell my mental health was suffering after a few months – the monotony of working in my house every day with minimal in-person interaction and few weekend opportunities to decompress began to wear on me. As I experimented with self-care methods, I quickly discovered things that worked and didn’t. Some lessons I learned:

  • “Drive” to work each day: I quickly found that staying in my house every hour of every day was driving me batty. I started getting ready for work each morning at the same time, quickly checked emails/important updates, grab my morning tea, then went out in the car and ‘drove’ to work. I usually drove a set route with morning mass then returned home. I would go directly to my work space at home and go to work. It really helped me separate home/work time mentally.
  • Weekend plans: Hope is fostered and monotony is broken up by plans you look forward too. I would try and make plans to hike a trail or do something each weekend to look forward too. I did a lot of hikes of Hamilton mountain, trips to sit and read on isolated sections of the Oregon beach, and visit the significant other’s ranch in 2020.
  • Limit social media and news: How much time during the day are you spending mental energy on some interaction, share, post, or discussion you had on social media? You only have so much time and emotional energy to spend in a day. What are you spending your energy on?
    Studies have continually demonstrated that social media is largely not healthy for you. News sources have also increasingly become far more interested in clicks than the truth, promoting extremism, and are regularly incorrect and manipulated by both domestic and foreign interests.
    To that end, I pretty much got off of my social media accounts and limited myself to 5 minutes on news sites, one login a week on others, and no commenting or up/down voting. I helped myself by setting up browser rules to block me from places like Facebook, most Reddit forums, and most domestic news sources that fail the sniff test. I continually culled the websites I visited until only high quality, constructive, educational content remained.

These are solid practical lessons, but we are spiritual beings as well. What did I learn there?

Faith seeking understanding

As I struggled through the effects of the pandemic and lockdown, I found myself turning more and more to prayer to ground me. I was definitely coping, but it sure didn’t feel great. My soul ached, so I turned more and more to prayer – and morning streamed mass became the cornerstone of my day. It was a year-long journey of learning:

  1. “I would have done better”
    One characteristic of our current society is to look at history and brag about how much better or differently we would have done things. This is not new, people did this even in Jesus time:

    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.” – Matthew 23:29-31

    During a series of masses, the daily readings were about the Israelites in the desert (Exodus). This year, however, those stories really rang much closer to home. We look back at the stories of the early Israelites in the Old Testament and condemn them for their rebellions in the desert, their straying from God time and again. “Surely we would have done better!” we tell ourselves.

    In praying about the hardships of the lockdown, my own pride and selfishness was called on the carpet. I struggled to deal with the shortages of foods, toilet paper, and the inability to go out or enjoy previous activates. Yet, these were really problems of mere convenience, not life and death or hunger as many are facing. The Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years – eating the same manna and water they trusted to come each morning. When they were near death without water, springs were open for them in rocks. They were constantly homeless, wandering in a harsh desert, eating the same food every day, for years and years – completely dependent on God who often threw them curve balls. I struggled after 2 months. Others were suffering far more than me.
    Sisters and monks that live in community give up all their possessions and live together – working towards the good of all under a vow of obedience. Some orders never leave their monasteries for the rest of their lives – living with whomever joins. Eating, wearing, and enjoying only what is provided. Living together every day, as one monk I know put it, until your rough edges get rubbed off. Just like the Israelites in the desert. Much like many families are experiencing now locked in together today.
    All of this made me consider the lessons of Exodus and the Christian journey through life. We are simply travelers in this world. Our hope and trust must lie in God to provide all we need. Yet, what is provided is rarely what we expect, would choose, or even on time – but it is what we truly need. We often long for the flesh pots of our own desires, choose our own ways, and rarely see living on manna and wandering a desert as preferable.
    So, if you want to really know how you’d have done in religious life or as an Israelite – ask yourself how well you did with lockdown. I for one realized a LOT of my shortcomings and how much more about love I need to learn.
  2. Thankfulness: Perfect love casts out all fear
    As the pandemic went on, national news grew steadily worse and local unrest/forest fires just kept going week after week. I increasingly noticed interactions (both in person and online) becoming more and more negative – to the point I often felt worse after talking with many people than before. Hope was being replaced by anger and fear – and growing isolation.
    In recognizing my own growing negativity, a centuries old method came to mind – turn to the opposite virtue of the vice. Here, John tells us what is the opposite of fear.

    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

    How do you find love in the middle of so much negativity? There is only one perfect love – and that is God’s love for us. So, despite the world falling apart all around, how do I focus on that love? How can I take stock of the love shown me?
    Going to mass was a great way for me to hear those stories of Jesus’ love for me. Reading another. Prayer and thankfulness are excellent personal ways to do exactly this. They allow a profound personal connecting and recognition of love in your life and remind me of my mission to become love for others.
    I would often pause the stream of morning mass at the prayers of the faithful. I started thanking God for every good thing that I could think of – since that is the part of the mass in which our gifts are brought forward in thanksgiving. I realized how much I had to be thankful for. I was healthy. I had a place to live, friends, a job, and the list went on. I started to feel rather selfish knowing others were suffering far more than me, and here I was complaining instead of helping. It turned me from focus on my issues to wanting to help those that were suffering far more than me.
    This, in turn, led me to acts of charity and grace for others. Instead of railing about all that was wrong, I made donations to charities I knew were helping. I went through my house and spent time sorting things for donation. I contacted friends doing good things to support them.
    In interactions, I changed the tone of conversations by asking friends to share one thing we were thankful for that day.
    Finally, I stopped exposing myself to endlessly negative streams of news and social media. It wasn’t about ignoring the world – but curating out the consistently negative sources.
  3. Truth: Let your ‘yes’ mean yes, and ‘no’ mean no.
    This was the hardest and most embarrassing lesson for me. In all the social and political unrest – it was easy to get wrapped up in arguments and sides forming on the news, social media, and with friends. Sadly, I admit I got myself wrapped up in it – and nothing good came from it. Instead of being a conduit of sharing Christ through me, I got wrapped in the same war of words, insults, divisive memes, put-downs, dehumanization of others, insults, and spreading of half-truths that was becoming rampant from all quarters.
    I started to recognize something was wrong by noticing how much emotional energy and raw time each day I was spending on having arguments in my head, with others, and ensuring I was posting and arguing with the other sides. As hard as this is to admit, I finally realized the depths when I started playing one side against itself on one social media interaction – and recognizing others were doing the exact same things. When I prayed during my reflection on the day – it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt Jesus powerfully speak directly to me via the reading:

    “Let your ‘yes’ mean yes, and your ‘no’ mean no. Anything more than this is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37

    As Christians, we profess to believe that our hope is in Truth – the one truth that is Christ. We put our whole hope in knowing that if we love as Jesus taught us – we ultimately will be victors over this world. Do I truly believe that I should respond with love, even when others do not, that this is the way? Even when it seems more clever to ‘play politics’?
    Jesus came to this world and transformed it by offering love, forgiveness, and speaking the truth always. In every instance and with every person. He lost his life because of it – dying like a common criminal – but that truth has endured for over 2000 years in spite of every effort to destroy it.
    If I truly believe this, then I must put all my trust in following the way of Christ. To love my enemies. Pray for those that persecute me. To ignore the rhetoric and spend my time seeking out the lost, the orphan, the widow, the imprisoned, the downtrodden, the forgotten and love them. To love as Christ loved me, and above all, to always speak the truth. Anything else is based in evil.
  4. We are citizens of heaven
    Here in the US and Portland, civil unrest and forces are attacking our Democracy via the use of violence and intimidation. Extremist who have abandoned Democratic ideals are coming out of the woodwork to attack elected officials, public buildings, and core democratic principles.
    As a good priest friend reminded me, in this life, we are all sitting in an airport. We all have a ticket with a date and time when we will depart for our final destination in eternity. While we work ever for the best world we can create – our ultimate hope is not here but on that which is to come. Jesus has given us the criteria for our final exam, it is only for us to carry it out. How well did I love today – especially my enemies and the needy?

Final thoughts

This has been a brutal year. I encourage everyone to spend time reflecting on what this last year has brought you through. For believers, there are countless lessons that can be learned from this time of difficulty and new ways to connect our suffering with Jesus for healing and to find comfort in our grief. Times of trial can be times of great growth – if we let them and invite Christ into the wounds.

Never has there been a greater need for compassion, forgiveness, and love. Spend some time each day in silence and listen to how God is trying to knock at the door of your heart.

$2.4 Trillion went where?

$2.4 Trillion went where?

This website has been created to report on where pandemic stimulus money is going, and allow anyone to file waste complaints they might witness.

Anyone else find it interesting it cost $82 BILLION dollars just to oversee the spending of $2.4 trillion? That’s almost 6 times what is going in assistance to schools.

Cool Runnings: Self worth

Cool Runnings: Self worth

Irv (John Candy) is a disgraced Olympian that was caught cheating. Asked by  Darice why he did it, Irv gives a beautiful answer:

Irv: “I HAD to win. You see Darice, I’d made winning my whole life. And when you make winning your whole life – you have to keep on winning – no matter what. Do you understand that?”

Darice: “No, I don’t understand that coach. You had two gold medals, you had it all!”

Irv: “ Darice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”

Like Rings in a tree

Like Rings in a tree

Future historians will use the date+timed comments in youtube videos (and other social media) like rings in a tree. There’s clearly a ‘Covid-19’ ring being formed on social media right now.

Procrastination is about managing emotions, not time

Procrastination is about managing emotions, not time

I, along with my fellow procrastinators, have a time management problem. By this view, I haven’t fully appreciated how long my assignment is going to take and I’m not paying enough attention to how much time I’m currently wasting on ‘cyberloafing’. With better scheduling and a better grip on time, so the logic goes, I will stop procrastinating and get on with my work.

This has long been the accepted view on procrastination. It leads to the idea that procrastination is simply a matter of planning and willpower – that one simply needs to buckle down and do it. This often leads to people taking extreme behaviors of forcing themselves to study/work in unhealthy and unhelpful ways – then beating ourselves up with guilt, fear, anxiety, depression, and unhealthy coping mechanisms when we fail to stay on task.

Instead, what if procrastination was more of an emotional regulation problem? Studies are showing that often if a task makes us feel bad – perhaps it’s boring, too difficult, or we’re worried about failing – we make ourselves feel better in the moment by doing something else. While somewhat intuitive, this view is getting some confirmation by empirical studies. If true, it means procrastination is not so much a question of poor willpower as much as it’s a question of poor emotional regulation skills.

This leads to some very interesting treatment techniques that have been developed by cognitive behavior therapy for emotional intelligence and emotional regulation. What are some of those methods?

Just get start

ACT/Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (a part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is a treatment method that helps patients to tolerate uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, staying in the present moment in spite of them, and prioritize choices and actions that help them get closer to what they most value in life.

Tim Pychyl of Carleton University says, ” When someone finally recognizes that procrastination isn’t a time management problem but is instead an emotion regulation problem, then they are ready to embrace my favorite tip: The next time you’re tempted to procrastinate, “make your focus as simple as ‘What’s the next action – a simple next step – I would take on this task if I were to get started on it now?’” Doing this, he says, takes your mind off your feelings and onto easily achievable action. “Our research and lived experience show very clearly that once we get started, we’re typically able to keep going. Getting started is everything.”

This takes your mind off the feelings and into an easily achievable action. Research shows that once you get started, we’re typically able to keep going. Getting started is everything.

Read the article from BBC here.

Other resources from the article:

…and it made all the difference.

…and it made all the difference.

I am grateful to my family for giving me the gift of faith. After graduating from college, I served the Church full time for 11 years. But gradually, in the quiet intimacy of adoring Jesus in the most blessed sacrament, he revealed the difference between doing God’s work – and fulfilling his will.

The Lord was inviting me to be exclusively his own, he was inviting me to embrace a contemplative vocation at [the] monastery.

Sister John-Mark Maria of the Poor Clares in Tonopah, AZ

This is a profound realization – one that many in ministry work should heed. There is a difference between doing the corporal and good works we are called to do (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, educating the ignorant, defending widows, orphans, and the outcast, etc) and doing God’s will.

I think almost all issues and divisions arise in our church and faith lives because we’re more interested in doing the good works we believe should be done, and not to truly abandoning ourselves to do God’s will. If we all truly believe we’re aligning ourselves to the same, one, true God – then there should not be division.

Often this is done from ignorance. We want to go good, but we do not know what ‘good’ is. The road to hell is often paved with good intentions. Even worse are the sins of vainglory and pride – when the person is doing the good works simply because they like being respected and seen as an upright/good person by others – not because of their love of God. My experience is that this is most pronounced in many self-styled advocate leaders and academics that are more focused on an intellectual/political agenda than the will of God. The surest way to know if a leader falls in this category is to see how they react to having their pride pricked, authority questioned or intellectually confronted. Do they refer to their credentials and authority, list of accolades – or do they respond as a humble servant simply following the will of God with compassion and love?

This is not easy – because it requires the abandonment of ourselves and our perception of way things should be done. It requires us to abandon the idea we know the best way. It requires humility under the ultimate authority of a divine master. Sound ridiculous in our modern era of valuing self promotion and self empowerment?

Consider Jesus during his last days. He had arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover feast. He was greeted by the crowds with palm branches and shouts of acclimation. The crowds were ready to crown him king and let him lead them to victory over the occupying Romans. With his own disciples, he had just instituted the Eucharist at the last supper. He knew well he was about to be betrayed and handed over. It would have been nothing at all for him to have avoided arrest, he could have performed miracles to astound the chief priests and Pontius Pilate and easily become a leader or king of Israel. Yet he did not.

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” 39 He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
40 When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.* The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”

Matthew 26

As sister Maria mentions, the only real way to learn God’s specific will for you is to spend time in quiet prayer. I’ve often found that the easiest way to tell if someone is really representing God is to observe how dedicated the person is to their prayer life. Daily prayer that consists of extended periods (30-60 min) prayer – preferably in front of the blessed sacrament. Prayer that is not just reading a book, full of distraction, but is a quiet opening of yourself to listening TO god instead of speaking AT him.

This is critical because I believe almost all divisions and arguments between believers are caused by people that are doing more of their own will vs abandoning and trusting in God to direct each person to their chosen path. This is critical for each of us, because Jesus himself told us:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Matthew 7:21-23

We simply do not write this way anymore

We simply do not write this way anymore

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure – and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows – when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children – is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death — and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar — that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night — amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours – always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

-Sullivan