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Around 4 A.M., I awoke with this loud dream:

It was 1429, a sun-filled afternoon in the town square at Orleans, France, resounding with jubilant hoots of victory. The French army, under the command of Joan of Arc, had just defeated the British and restored the Dauphin to his rightful place on the throne. She looked stunning, armored, and astride her white horse, her victory more of God’s work than her own.

The deafening noise of the dream hurt so much that I scrambled awake to the quiet of my bedroom where I sat up and caught my bearings. In 1977, I had spent an afternoon in the Old City, at Orleans, France, marveled at the equestrian statue of the Maid of Orleans, but it had little resemblance to the dream’s image.

The Joan of Arc in my psyche heartens me—yet another spirit guide to lead me through the pitfalls of my terminal illness, at times like a pus-filled enemy beset with fears and setbacks. The British enemies Joan contended with pale in comparison.

Indeed, in my depths wage intermittent 24/7 wars. Vigilance to prevent these intrusions from scabbing old wounds augments my chronic exhaustion and weakness. Each day’s challenge is to remain steadfast in faith to Creator God who has companioned me for over eighty-five years. That’s a long time to be around, I often tell Him.

Back lit translucent white lit candle with melting wax

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Such is promised those who enter the sanctuary of their hearts and listen and obey. The guidance is there. We’ve only to follow it.

Atop fourteen-thousand-foot Pikes Peak, Colorado, summer, 1893, a Wellesley English professor and her colleagues rested following their climb, helped by a prairie schooner and mules. The magnificent vista compelled one of them, Katharine Lee Bates (1859 – 1929) to scribble “America The Beautiful” upon scrap paper, a four-stanza metered poem, each stanza with eight lines.

Only the first verse is usually sung, with the music later composed in 1910 by church organist Samuel A. Ward and popularized as a patriotic anthem.

The other three stanzas of “America the Beautiful” allude to Bates’s experience with our then, country’s dark side: the failure of the South’s Reconstruction, the evils of the Industrial Revolution, squalid tenements, crime, disease and deaths that could have been prevented, plight of the native Americans, hunger, prejudice toward Irish and Chinese emigrants, political entanglements, and the Spanish America War she covered as a correspondent for the New York Times.

Incisive assessments of our country’s ills led to her demand as a public speaker, and scores studied her published works. Fueling her zeal was her Congregationalist’s faith—how passionately she wished everyone live in harmony. In the second verse, Bates wrote:

God mend thine ev’ry flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law.

Because she lived close to her vision, Katharine Lee Bates relied upon God, the bestower of beauty, to correct the aberrations of the human family, still at war with each other. I share this vision for our country today.

Happy Fourth of July!

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