The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
Published 9:10 am Thursday, March 24, 2022
The Onion Seeds
By Linda H. Barnette
I am proudly descended from long line of farmers. Before modern times, most families owned land in varying sizes where they raised crops to feed their families. Farm life was hard work, but that was just the way it was. While the men grew the crops, the women raised their children, often several of them, and did all of the housework and cooking.
Many memories of my dad’s father revolve around him as a farmer. He wore overalls every day except Sunday, and, along with his faithful white dog, Fluffy, went to the fields daily to plant, harvest, and get rid of bugs and weeds. He and Mama lived close to the Yakin River off Cherry Hill Road, and their lives were self-sustaining. They rarely went anywhere except for church on Sundays, so the farm was the entire scope of their lives.
My dad was the first generation to leave the farm for the big city life of Cooleemee and Mocksville. After he and mother built our house on Church Street in 1948, he had a huge garden on the lot where my house is now. When I was growing up, I did not realize that he did that for any other reason beside the produce. Later I realized that he had a deep and abiding love for the earth itself. By planting he was carrying on the tradition of his forebears.
One time after I was grown, I remember being in the garden watching him plant spring onions, always my favorite. He stopped long enough to share with me that the onion seeds were over 100 years old and had been in the family for at least that long. I wish that I knew the whole story, but we often don’t become interested in things until it is too late and the moment has passed. However, I know how proud he was of those seeds and the legacy of his ancestors. By planting the seeds, he must have felt a connection to his dad and all the others who came before him. The truth of the seeds is that if you had them, you would not go hungry!!
By E. Bishop
While watching the Paralympics recently and reading about Women’s History Month, I am reminded of a dear friend and coworker from years past. But first, I want to say a little about each of these events.
If you didn’t watch any of the Beijing paralympic winter games, you really missed out on some amazing athletic competitions. USA won six Gold, eleven Silver and three Bronze for a total of twenty. These athletes are so extraordinarily strong, brave and just unbelievable in what they do considering their physical limitations.
March is Women’s History Month so if you see someone wearing purple a lot, they may be celebrating this fact. A little known tidbit I want to mention is the two highest IQ’s ever recorded (through standardized testing) both belong to women. Men don’t have anything over on us women, right? This month is designated to recognize women’s contributions to history, culture and society. The specific theme for 2022 is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” The National Women’s History Alliance states that this theme is “both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.”
You don’t have to be a great athlete or have your name written down in the history books to be a hero. Ordinary people are all around us that do extraordinary things without us really paying attention. One such person I have known was Sue. She and I worked together as secretaries at a vocational rehabilitation office where we became steadfast friends and remained so until her death. She was not really ordinary when I think about it though. She was exceptional and a remarkable individual in so many ways.
Sue was only 14 when she became paralyzed from the waist down from a car accident. Before the accident, she was a star basketball player. Being paraplegic did not stop her from participating in whatever she chose to do. She completed high school and additional training for secretarial work; she learned American Sign Language to be able to communicate with the deaf population she worked with. She was always an inspiration for other disabled individuals. Sue was a determined independent person who was able to provide for herself for most of her life, getting married, working a full time job and in general living a good life. Unfortunately, after years of having to use a wheelchair, her health suffered and she was the one needing help.
I believe my friend provided both healing and hope not only to the people she worked with but others as well even with her own personal struggles; she was one of those truly inspirational women that only looked ordinary.
“The Spring Sky: Coma Berenices”
By David R. Moore
The constellation Coma Berenices is not spectacular, and it is small and dim, but it is easy to find. Look in the northeastern sky just left of the constellation Leo.
Coma Berenices is named after Queen Berenice, the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh, Ptolemy III. From mythology, the pharaoh was leading his troops in a fierce war, and Queen Berenice prayed to the gods for his safe return. So desperate to see him again, she promised to cut off all her beautiful hair for her husband’s safe return. After a year at war, he returned victorious, and true to her word, she cut off all her hair and dedicated it to the temple. However, a few days later, her cut hair went missing from the temple. Ptolemy was furious and decided to execute all the priests at the temple. However, some traveling Greeks familiar with the stars requested Ptolemy and his queen to go out that night to see a new pale cluster of light in the night sky. The Greeks convinced the royal couple that the gods believed her hair was too beautiful for a single temple to possess, and her hair belonged in the heavens for all to see. Thus the temple priests were spared from execution.
Angels Among Us
By Stephanie Williams Dean
Now and then, we get a beautiful image of what it means to be angelic – like that of an angel. We all know people who exhibit angel-like behavior. They engage in something so seemingly difficult that we can’t even imagine doing it ourselves. And for the simple reason that only an angel on earth could possibly have such unconditional love and forgiveness in their heart.
Bob recently shared this heartwarming tale with me. The story tore at my heart the moment I heard it. In 1999, his teenage nephew went to prison – for murder. I was shocked. A quiet judgment followed. How many of us personally know anyone serving time for murder – much less a family member? Yeah – I know. That kind of stuff happens to other people – not us.
Chris had been convicted of killing a man in 1995 and received a 48-year prison term. While incarcerated, the boy initiated a unique service training program for dogs. The program was aimed at helping special needs children with behavioral and emotional issues. He was the first inmate to train a service dog and the first to train a dog to assist an autistic child. Chris received early release for being an exemplary inmate. A great story of turning one’s life around.
While this was a touching tale, it’s not the real story I want to share. The heart twister came in a detail that followed. What happened to Chris later after he was released? Bob continued his story.
Chris married a nun. Yep. That’s what my friend said.
What? He married a nun? Exactly. That’s what I thought, too.
Or maybe I should say it this way. A nun forgave, accepted, unconditionally loved, and later married Chris.
When I hear these true stories of such forgiveness and unconditional love – I get a bird’s eye view of the condition of my own heart – and the heart of others. How quickly we judge ourselves to be superior to others in so many ways. How many of us could love and marry someone with such a sordid past?
I think to myself.
Why can’t I be more like that nun? What is required of me to be more like her? I must be flawed.
Far too often, I hear voices that say me, me, me – they scream of judgment, selfishness, and a lack of true love.
“I don’t want anyone I have to take care of. They must have assets like I do. He must have an education and money saved. She’s got alcohol issues. He’s got health issues I don’t want to deal with. I’m not paying someone else’s way. He has too much baggage. I don’t want to marry someone with those issues. Next time, I’m going to be picky.”
The comments go on and on. The Bible tells us we all stumble in many ways. On our best days, we stumble. Yet, we resent the ways other people aren’t perfect.
Friends, this is conditional love. What’s in this deal for me? What do you bring to the table for me? Next time, I’ll choose someone better for me. And then there’s this jewel – God wants something better for me.
God wants us to forgive, accept, and love – like Jesus did. When we truly love someone – it’s unconditional. The focus isn’t on ourselves but on the ones we love. Instead, the opposite of selfishness would be to ask oneself, how can I better serve and show unconditional love to the one I love?
While so many of us couldn’t find it within ourselves to unconditionally accept, forgive, love, or marry, we see the true nature of an angel on this earth in the nun who marries a murderer.