You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘freedom’ tag.

The scene was overwhelming: Herringboned clouds bleached blueness, overhead; centuries-old oaks, freshly leafed, shaded the rolling hills, the grass resembling grown-out buzz cuts of new recruits; asphalt roads serpentined among clearly marked plots filled with the remains of women and men who had served our country in combat or peacetime. Thousands of American flags cast a pink glow upon the white oval faces of the headstones, resembling gothic doorways of ancient monks.

Cars inched around turns with tent-covered lemonade stands, with groundskeepers welcoming visitors and helping with directions. Children in T-shirts and shorts walked Indian-style behind their parents, holding pots of flowers. A heavyset lone senior leaned on her cane while scanning the row of headstones for her loved one.

It was Memorial Day, the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery outside of St. Louis, Missouri, and my first visit to this historic site.

I weep with those who weep.

At 5:45 A.M., I awoke with this big dream:

Two black stallions, bejeweled and sleek, find their way into my backyard.

Rarely do I remember dreams from this depth of my unconscious as discovered by the Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung in the early 1900s. Called the collective unconscious, it includes genetically inherited material in symbolic form, not shaped by personal experience. The personal unconscious deals with repressed material from consciousness from whence most of my dream emanate.

So it’s the gift of two black stallions, bejeweled and sleek, to reflect upon this morning—I still remember how they looked at me, their deep souls enticing me into their world, nurturing and warm: I was content to remain there. But their adornment intrigued me—halters crafted with rich gem stones. Indeed, these horses were from another realm and I was to learn from them.

It was a question of listening, moment by moment.

Because my physical waning creates more limits, narrows my outer world, and tempers my attitude, I must remain with this morning’s gift of the two black stallions. Let them fortify my psyche with masculine energy, beauty, affection, speed, and grace, all symbolic traits of stallions that will guide me toward my ultimate destiny of unending joy.  

Perhaps in that realm, more black stallions, bejeweled and sleek, will play.How Creator God will smile…

A closer look at the language, used in John McCline’s narrative, Slavery in the Clover Bottoms (Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press, 1998), warrants a deeper look than yesterday’s blog. True, his beginnings at the Clover Bottom Plantation, near Nashville, Tennessee, and his two-and-a half years with the Thirteenth Michigan Volunteers supply readers with his adventures. But what about their written expression: so crimped and cleaned up?

That slavery shrunk-wrapped the psyche of John McCline seems to be the issue. Early on, he bore significant scars: his mother’s death, his father sold to another plantation, pervasive fears of the Mistress’s cowhide whip, the overseer’s brutal beating, the killing of the shoemaker, hunger, and extremes of weather. John never let on that there was something very wrong, never questioned about unwiped tears as he lay upon his mat, though he must have felt deeply. Only his love for animals, especially mules, afforded him release from disconnectedness that scored his innards and released joy.

As new friendships evolved among his Union pals—even teaching them the game of marbles—his quick, some say photogenic mind, began loosening the shrink-wrap of his psyche. Battlefield horrors, foraging edibles from passing plantations, rigors of handling his team of six mules through dense forests and soggy creek beds—all, and so much more, he dismissed as freedom’s price, that he would readily pay with his last ounce of blood. 

His two years of schooling at the Nashville Institute, established to train black ministers and teachers after the war, found him seeking more words to describe his world of work in order to participate more fully. An avid reader of newspapers and the English novels of M. E. Braddon, his vocabulary in Slavery in the Clover Bottom is surprisingly limited—with nothing to offend anyone, in my perception.

Should you pick up this telling narrative, remove the outer lens and look more deeply at John McCline’s character. Such a treasure you’ll discover …

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: