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We give thanks for the daily gift of Warming and pray to remain open to its life-bestowing nurturance—Within it we thrive and share with others.

Happy Thanksgiving

At 7:30 A.M., I awoke with this surprising dream:

I’m sitting in my living room, still wearing my gown and robe, my morning care interrupted by Tootsie who wears a T-shirt and shorts and sits on the sofa across from me. She laughs deeply as she explains her knee-length cast, its back attached to a board with large wheels that helps her walk.

The dream’s surprise visitor, Tootsie, was a nun like myself, with whom I had lived in New Orleans in the 1960s. Long deceased, I’d not thought of her in years, but her hilarity still hangs out in my psyche. In the work of Dr. Carl G. Jung, she becomes my extraverted shadow: a reminder not to take myself so seriously, given my nagging symptoms.

There is laughter, merriment, long hidden beneath years of diminishing health and my efforts to keep up with my interests. Not always strong enough to give them expression, I’m still tickled within.

In my psyche, a lightness of spirit delves into the God-care that surrounds us. As the Tootsie in my dream, I’m nudged toward an even deeper surrender to my eternal destiny, beyond all imagining, no more living within the constraints of time. It will happen; that said, the Inner Vanquisher has no business with me.

Poverty with its multi-faceted violence scours psyches of survivors eking out a living—but not all are left in dust-pommeled gangways—throughways for rats—as recounted in Vivian Gibson’s memoir, The Last Children of Mill Creek (2020).

As a pre-teen, she witnessed the 1959 demolition of the historic four-hundred-square-foot neighborhood of twenty thousand underpaid African American workers in St. Louis, Missouri; its benign neglect, for decades, had contributed to the Mill Creek’s “blightedness” that green-lighted government funding for another Interstate for suburban workers, needing faster access to their city jobs. After the quick work of the medicine balls and tractors, Mill Creek’s bombed-out landscape became known as “Hiroshima Flats.”

What could have been a scorching account of disrupted families, churches, and businesses—a viable through invisible community to the world around it—it was told with honesty, humor, replete with wisdom. Life inside those cold-water flats, heated by coal and wood-burning stoves, many with no indoor plumbing, was not without its rules and consequences. Unique patterns of communication developed among families, bonding them for life.

Such experiences had unfolded within the Ross’s 800-square-foot flat in the 2600 block of Bernard Avenue where lived the author’s seven siblings and her parents, their teachers of positive self-regard, resourcefulness, and the value of education and hard work. All moved through daunting hardships—at times—with ease. Detailed accounts jumped off the pages: their Saturday morning “shopping” at Soulard Market, returning home on the streetcar with bags of bruised fruits and vegetables, left on the ground by the farmers. No one was ever hungry in the Ross household.

Vivian Gibson’s unflinching acceptance of her hardscrabble beginnings contributed to the accomplished woman she has become: author, fashion designer, cook, wife, and mother. She has much to teach us in her memoir, The Last Children of Mill Creek.

Available on Amazon

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