Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Sad Life and Times of Reverend Stephen Foreman and Other Humans

A sad rainy day in our nation with tornadoes killing a seven-year-old girl in Missouri and striking a high school in Alabama with young people still trapped there at dusk. While I did not watch TV a lot today, when I did, I usually ended up in tears.

Gerald was away from the farm all day as he had an appointment in Carbondale to receive a replacement for his new hearing aid that evidently fell out of his ear while on a walk all over the farm and into the woods a few Sundays ago. He also had his eyes checked and made the trip to Union County (where people just west of Jonesboro on the Berryville Road had awful wind damage) to figure out taxes with Doug Hileman. He lunched at the Kroger store in Anna with his brother Keith and nephew Tim. That was a new one to me--that you could sit down and eat a meal at the grocery store.

Here at the farm, it was rainy and overcast all day. I cheered myself up by starting the day sending brightly colored greeting cards to some shut-ins. And I paid a couple of bills. I walked down to the mailbox in pleasant weather to mail them even though puddles were abundant and the air was heavy with the morning’s earlier rain.

Next I went to the office and did some filing--with 20 or 30 more days of it, I would be caught up on my filing. Then I would need to start going through all the old stuff in the filing drawers and pitching out. Ah well.

I read through a couple of magazines in the afternoon and was able to start a give-away pile of them. Again, in 20 or 30 days, I could get ride of all the old magazines in the house.

I did a mite of writing on some small projects already started--thus, managing to avoid the hard stuff that I should really be concentrating on. I tell myself that the minute I get the large table in my office cleared off, I will be ready to go to work. And I think I will be.

I haven’t been completely off track. I have been doing some review reading and have also finished three books about Cherokee--two of them children’s books. One of the children's book was about the TOT but the other about a Cherokee boy in Tennessee in the 1930s. Since it was written by a white writer, who pretended to be part Cherokee, it is perhaps more accurate about a white child living in the mountains than about a Cherokee child. (I may want to review it sometime, but I am still contemplating this book.)

The new The Life and Times of Reverend Stephen Foreman by his great granddaughter Cooleela Faulkner was fascinating. I learned many new things from it and am still digesting what I learned. I find it impossible to understand how this man could accept human slavery with seemingly no fretfulness. At least he expressed no concerns in his dairy about slavery. Because the Cherokee census of 1835 did not show his owning slaves, I had not known he owned slaves, so he is less a hero to me than he once was.

Although his journal about the Trail was burned in a fire of his home, Faulkner’s book publishes his journal writing during the Civil War era in Oklahoma. Of course, I need the early journal for my work. Yet I am very glad to have read this revealing book with the valuable writings of this respected Cherokee leader.

The material in the book was originally submitted by Faulkner to the University of Oklahoma as her thesis for her masters degree in history. Fortunately, the work has finally been published in beautiful hard back book by the Cherokee Heritage Press, a division of the Cherokee National Historical Society. It can be ordered from the Cherokee Heritage Center, P.O. Box 515, Tahlequah, OK 74465. Their phone number is (918) 456-6007.

No one could have had a more difficult life than Foreman--and many other Cherokee. Yet the people in Enterprise, Alabama, tonight know the same human misery. And the people in Iraq and Afgahanistan and so many other places in our world including Walter Reed Hospital filled with brave young men trying to regain a semblance of normal life. There is no escaping the tragedies that cause grief to the human heart. I can keep the TV off, but I still know the misery is there. It is there everyday in many places. I do not want to be uncaring about the misery. Nor do I want to dwell on it so much that I become depressed and a burden to others with self-created misery. Learning to handle one's own pain and the pain of others and yet continue to be aware of all the beauty and goodness also all around us is one of the greatest challenges of human life.

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