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This quote from Arundhati Roy, an Indian author, actress, and political activist, prompted me to share it with others:

“What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and of itself, it holds no moral brief. But it is definitely more than a virus.

“It has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to normalcy, trying to stitch our future with our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists.

“And in the midst of this terrible despair it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normalcy. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew.

“This one is no different. It is a porthole, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoking skies behind us.

“Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage and ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

Spring’s whispers continue leafing out maples and oaks and casting lacy patterns of shade upon the road in front of us; within its transient beauty, we pause. A gossamer breeze tickles the overhanging branches and shimmers the shade into splinters of direction. A few steps further—sunlight squints our eyes until moseying within yet another shade-splotch and catching our breath before moving on.

A fitting analogy for the Sacred who gives light to those in dark places, to those in the shade of death, so that our feet may be guided into the way of peace. Luke 1: 79

For this, I yearn …

“Come with us, Johnny, and go with us up North, and we will set you free,” said the soldier, his blue uniform cap tilted over his right eye, his knapsack on his back, his long musket over his shoulder. The ten-year-old, astride the mule Nell, thought it wondrous that he knew his name. For almost two years he’d marveled at the troops marching along the road skirting the Clover Bottom plantation near Nashville, Tennessee, where he lived. And now they wanted him to join them. Without a thought, he slipped off Nell’s back. It was done, the year, 1862.

Such changed the direction of John McCline’s life, narrator of Slavery in the Clover Bottoms (Knoxville, University Press, 1998). The Thirteenth Michigan Volunteers became his new home for the rest of the Civil War. A quick learner, affable, willingness, friend with suffering: such childhood traits he continued developing during years of serving others in the white world until his death in 1948.

One of his employers requested him to write his story, given the keen memory of his past. McCline set to work, but for whatever reason, only took it through the war’s end; a six-page addendum touched upon his remaining years. Unfortunately, his feelings or observations of the conflicted history swirling around him are not referenced.

However, for Civil War buffs this narrative provides rich information about Sherman’s march through Georgia and the Carolinas and the conclusion of the war. From still another perspective, we evidence the life of a simple honest man, John McCline, among the lowly ones that Jesus so loved.

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