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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert Lampros | 19 comments http://wordslightandsound.blogspot.com

Perhaps the worst thing about living in Missouri is the distance from the ocean. A thousand miles to the Atlantic and two thousand to the Pacific, the city of St. Louis sits securely landlocked in the middle of the Midwest. You start to feel it too when summer begins, when the rising temperatures, blinding sun, and boiling air start prompting visions of crisp blue waves and white sand beaches, of running and diving into the surf, then stretching out and relaxing in the shade. There are plenty of swimming pools around but it’s not the same, pools are crowded and boring compared to the sea, like playing with Hot Wheels instead of driving an actual car. And the only way to get to the coast would be to fly there for a week and who has time for that? So here I am, in a coffee shop in a mall, watching people drink iced coffee while I write a pointless essay about wanting to be somewhere else.

The last time I swam in the ocean was over fifteen years ago, my tenth grade spring break in Destin, Florida. My friend’s grandparents had a house down the beach a couple miles from the hotels. It was quiet, and at night if you walked down to the water and listened to the waves rushing over the sand you felt alone and content in a universe as infinite as the ocean is mysterious, the moonlit waves drawing back and back and back into rolling darkness. One night at 3am or so I awoke and went down to sit by the water, and for no reason at all jumped up and ran figure eights in the sand, as fast as I could, until I couldn’t breathe and collapsed on the beach with burning lungs. Not sure why I did that—I think it had something to do with freedom.

Another memory from the trip took place a hundred yards out from shore, nothing tragic, no shark attack or near-death drowning, just a feeling of staring out at the horizon, faintly sinking and rising, melting with the sky, and feeling close to God. Moments like those rarely happened to me back then and I didn’t recognize what it was at the time, but now I know it was Christ reaching down to bless me, to let me know as a kind of bread crumb that He loves me, that God watches over us, even when we don’t believe, and with Him is complete and radiant joy. Everything fused in that second on a raft off the coast of Destin, and since then there’s been nowhere else I’d rather go to get away for a while, away from dry land, from routine, and from real life.

Walt Whitman wrote a poem entitled, “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life,” about walking the edge of Long Island and feeling humbled and inadequate. The poem begins: “As I ebb’d with the ocean of life/As I wended the shores I know/As I walk’d where the ripples continually wash you Paumanok/Where they rustle up hoarse and sibilant/Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her castaways/I musing late in the autumn day, gazing off southward/Held by this electric self out of the pride of which I utter poems/Was seiz’d by the spirit that trails in the lines underfoot/The rim, the sediment that stands for all the water and all the land of the globe.”

Whitman uses the Native American name, Paumanok, for Long Island, the place of his birth. I wonder if the Native Americans had a name for St. Louis. If they did it probably had something to do with rivers.


message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert Lampros | 19 comments Stars and Stripes

Just over two years into the War of 1812, on September 3, 1814, Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner left Baltimore on the HMS Minden in order to negotiate a prisoner exchange with British soldiers. They succeeded in convincing Major General Robert Ross and Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane to release the Americans, after which Key and Skinner were held captive until the attack on Baltimore had concluded. During the battle at Fort McHenry, Key watched as the British gunships fired on his countrymen, the sight of the fort’s storm flag as proof that the battle wasn’t lost. When morning came on September 14, the storm flag had been lowered and the 15-star, 15-stripe, “Star-Spangled Banner,” was flying in its place. This flag, made by Mary Young Pickersgill and other Baltimore residents, inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem, the first stanza of which provided the lyrics for America’s national anthem.


The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert Lampros | 19 comments Here are the first three parts of my new essay collection--not the most thrilling reading in the universe, but someone might be interested.

Intended Consequences is a collection of short essays about faith, life, and Christianity in America. The range of topics includes charity, art, patriotism, addiction, and Bruce Lee.

Blog Link and PDFs: http://wordslightandsound.blogspot.co...


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