Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Phantasies, Tree of Life, A Case for Vision

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue XXIV

By George MacDonald, Chapter 18

In the wind's uproar, the sea's raging grim,
And the sighs that are born in him."
~ Heinrich Heine.

From dreams of bliss shall men awake
One day, but not to weep:
The dreams remain; they only break
The mirror of the sleep."
~ Jean Paul, Hesperus.

How I got through this dreary part of my travels, I do not know. I do not think I was upheld by the hope that any moment the light might break in upon me; for I scarcely thought about that. I went on with a dull endurance, varied by moments of uncontrollable sadness; for more and more the conviction grew upon me that I should never see the white lady again. It may seem strange that one with whom I had held so little communion should have so engrossed my thoughts; but benefits conferred awaken love in some minds, as surely as benefits received in others. Besides being delighted and proud that my songs had called the beautiful creature to life, the same fact caused me to feel a tenderness unspeakable for her, accompanied with a kind of feeling of property in her; for so the goblin Selfishness would reward the angel Love. When to all this is added, an overpowering sense of her beauty, and an unquestioning conviction that this was a true index to inward loveliness, it may be understood how it came to pass that my imagination filled my whole soul with the play of its own multitudinous colours and harmonies around the form which yet stood, a gracious marble radiance, in the midst of its white hall of phantasy. The time passed by unheeded; for my thoughts were busy. Perhaps this was also in part the cause of my needing no food, and never thinking how I should find any, during this subterraneous part of my travels. How long they endured I could not tell, for I had no means of measuring time; and when I looked back, there was such a discrepancy between the decisions of my imagination and my judgment, as to the length of time that had passed, that I was bewildered, and gave up all attempts to arrive at any conclusion on the point.

A gray mist continually gathered behind me. When I looked back towards the past, this mist was the medium through which my eyes had to strain for a vision of what had gone by; and the form of the white lady had receded into an unknown region. At length the country of rock began to close again around me, gradually and slowly narrowing, till I found myself walking in a gallery of rock once more, both sides of which I could touch with my outstretched hands. It narrowed yet, until I was forced to move carefully, in order to avoid striking against the projecting pieces of rock. The roof sank lower and lower, until I was compelled, first to stoop, and then to creep on my hands and knees. It recalled terrible dreams of childhood; but I was not much afraid, because I felt sure that this was my path, and my only hope of leaving Fairy Land, of which I was now almost weary.

At length, on getting past an abrupt turn in the passage, through which I had to force myself, I saw, a few yards ahead of me, the long-forgotten daylight shining through a small opening, to which the path, if path it could now be called, led me. With great difficulty I accomplished these last few yards, and came forth to the day. I stood on the shore of a wintry sea, with a wintry sun just a few feet above its horizon-edge. It was bare, and waste, and gray. Hundreds of hopeless waves rushed constantly shorewards, falling exhausted upon a beach of great loose stones, that seemed to stretch miles and miles in both directions. There was nothing for the eye but mingling shades of gray; nothing for the ear but the rush of the coming, the roar of the breaking, and the moan of the retreating wave. No rock lifted up a sheltering severity above the dreariness around; even that from which I had myself emerged rose scarcely a foot above the opening by which I had reached the dismal day, more dismal even than the tomb I had left. A cold, death-like wind swept across the shore, seeming to issue from a pale mouth of cloud upon the horizon. Sign of life was nowhere visible. I wandered over the stones, up and down the beach, a human imbodiment of the nature around me. The wind increased; its keen waves flowed through my soul; the foam rushed higher up the stones; a few dead stars began to gleam in the east; the sound of the waves grew louder and yet more despairing. A dark curtain of cloud was lifted up, and a pale blue rent shone between its foot and the edge of the sea, out from which rushed an icy storm of frozen wind, that tore the waters into spray as it passed, and flung the billows in raving heaps upon the desolate shore. I could bear it no longer.

I will not be tortured to death," I cried; "I will meet it half-way. The life within me is yet enough to bear me up to the face of Death, and then I die unconquered."

Before it had grown so dark, I had observed, though without any particular interest, that on one part of the shore a low platform of rock seemed to run out far into the midst of the breaking waters.

Towards this I now went, scrambling over smooth stones, to which scarce even a particle of sea-weed clung; and having found it, I got on it, and followed its direction, as near as I could guess, out into the tumbling chaos. I could hardly keep my feet against the wind and sea. The waves repeatedly all but swept me off my path; but I kept on my way, till I reached the end of the low promontory, which, in the fall of the waves, rose a good many feet above the surface, and, in their rise, was covered with their waters. I stood one moment and gazed into the heaving abyss beneath me; then plunged headlong into the mounting wave below. A blessing, like the kiss of a mother, seemed to alight on my soul; a calm, deeper than that which accompanies a hope deferred, bathed my spirit. I sank far into the waters, and sought not to return. I felt as if once more the great arms of the beech-tree were around me, soothing me after the miseries I had passed through, and telling me, like a little sick child, that I should be better to-morrow. The waters of themselves lifted me, as with loving arms, to the surface. I breathed again, but did not unclose my eyes. I would not look on the wintry sea, and the pitiless gray sky. Thus I floated, till something gently touched me. It was a little boat floating beside me. How it came there I could not tell; but it rose and sank on the waters, and kept touching me in its fall, as if with a human will to let me know that help was by me. It was a little gay-coloured boat, seemingly covered with glistering scales like those of a fish, all of brilliant rainbow hues. I scrambled into it, and lay down in the bottom, with a sense of exquisite repose.

Then I drew over me a rich, heavy, purple cloth that was beside me; and, lying still, knew, by the sound of the waters, that my little bark was fleeting rapidly onwards. Finding, however, none of that stormy motion which the sea had manifested when I beheld it from the shore, I opened my eyes; and, looking first up, saw above me the deep violet sky of a warm southern night; and then, lifting my head, saw that I was sailing fast upon a summer sea, in the last border of a southern twilight. The aureole of the sun yet shot the extreme faint tips of its longest rays above the horizon-waves, and withdrew them not. It was a perpetual twilight. The stars, great and earnest, like children's eyes, bent down lovingly towards the waters; and the reflected stars within seemed to float up, as if longing to meet their embraces. But when I looked down, a new wonder met my view. For, vaguely revealed beneath the wave, I floated above my whole Past. The fields of my childhood flitted by; the halls of my youthful labours; the streets of great cities where I had dwelt; and the assemblies of men and women wherein I had wearied myself seeking for rest. But so indistinct were the visions, that sometimes I thought I was sailing on a shallow sea, and that strange rocks and forests of sea-plants beguiled my eye, sufficiently to be transformed, by the magic of the phantasy, into well-known objects and regions. Yet, at times, a beloved form seemed to lie close beneath me in sleep; and the eyelids would tremble as if about to forsake the conscious eye; and the arms would heave upwards, as if in dreams they sought for a satisfying presence. But these motions might come only from the heaving of the waters between those forms and me. Soon I fell asleep, overcome with fatigue and delight. In dreams of unspeakable joy--of restored friendships; of revived embraces; of love which said it had never died; of faces that had vanished long ago, yet said with smiling lips that they knew nothing of the grave; of pardons implored, and granted with such bursting floods of love, that I was almost glad I had sinned--thus I passed through this wondrous twilight. I awoke with the feeling that I had been kissed and loved to my heart's content; and found that my boat was floating motionless by the grassy shore of a little island.
(to be continued)

Tree of Life
Photos by Bob Kirchman




Tree of Life

Tree of Life


In just about every season, I have visited this venerable old tree at Twenty Minute Cliff Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It has become one of my favorite recurring subjects.
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Misty White Rock Falls
Photos by Bob Kirchman

White Rock Falls

White Rock Falls

White Rock Falls

White Rock Falls

White Rock Falls

Just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia there is a wonderland that is just a short hike away. We visited on a misty afternoon... exclaiming that it was almost like a trip to Narnia! The flowers and fog created a special wonder. We got caught in a torrential rain. It was Magical!

White Rock Falls

White Rock Falls

Feed Storage in Stuarts Draft
Photo by Bob Kirchman

Feed Storage
Feed storage at Sunshine Farms in Stuarts Draft, Virginia creates a pattern against the sky.

Richmond Dairy
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Richmond Dairy

Richmond Dairy
Built in 1914, the Richmond Dairy Building's iconic towers told passers by what went on inside.

In 1890 J.O. Scott, A.L. Scott and T.L. Blanton founded the Richmond Dairy Company. In those days before everyone had refrigerators, daily delivery of dairy products in sealed and sterilized glass bottles brought with it the guarantee of freshness. Prior to 1870 milk was delivered by dairymen from a pail.

When architects Carneal and Johnston designed the company’s signature building built in 1914, they incorporated the modern milk jug into the building’s imagery. At the time it symbolized a great advance in providing safe milk to the public and the new building celebrated it!

But in the 1930s Dupont began to mass produce Freon-12. Visitors to the 1939 World’s Fair saw modern refrigerators. They would not see them in their homes until after the great World War, but by 1950 the refrigerator was a standard appliance in the American kitchen. Milk delivery continued for the next two decades, mainly as a convenience.

By 1970, however, the company was closed as refrigeration had made home delivery a nice convenience that not so many consumers really needed anymore. Milk could come home with the other groceries and the box on the front porch disappeared along with the glass bottles which were now seen as more of an inconvenience.

The building languished in disrepair for the next decades but as Richmond, Virginia’s Jackson Ward became a popular place to live the old building found new life as apartments.

James Renwick Manship Adds:

13 May 2010 — The website recently praised Marks and Spencer for switching all of its mini wine bottles from glass to “environmentally-friendly” polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic in the UK market. Since when has PET plastic become more environmentally-friendly than glass? From an energy consumption point of view, plastic production uses marginally less energy than glass (2,013 BTUs for PET versus 2,155 BTUs for glass) and perhaps this is where plastic may appear more environmentally-friendly. But if you look at the total life cycle of one single bottle, plastic and glass, you realize that glass is significantly superior:

Glass containers can be cleaned and reused several times as part of consignment programs. We use milk from the company Harmony Organic (TM) which comes in a glass bottles that the company collects back, cleans and refills. PET bottles should not be reused as they deteriorate very quickly and can present increased health risks. Glass is highly recyclable, in fact it can be recycled eternally, because its structure does not deteriorate when reprocessed. Plastic bottles can only be recycled once. They can then simply be downcycled into an item that would not be used for food or drink such as fabric fibres for bags or clothes.

A Reconciler Remembered
A Deeper Look at Robert E. Lee
By R. David Cox
[click to read]

Genuine peace demanded prosperity, so Lee developed a curriculum aimed at attaining it: business, journalism, law, mining, engineering. To traditional classical studies he added English, modern history, and sciences. By 1868, his little college had become the second-largest academic institution in the South.” -- R. David Cox

All the statues of Robert E. Lee in Confederate uniform fail to convey one critical point: He was more than that. After Appomattox, Lee turned from being a leader in war to a leader of peace. As I found in examining his religious convictions, he became — largely because of his faith — the South’s preeminent exponent of reconciliation. That, I believe, is why he needs to be remembered, but in a different way. (read more)

Icy Japanese Maple

A Case for Vision V

In their book: The Poverty of Nations [click to read], Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus describe what they call: "The amazing process of creating value that did not exist before." Using the example of a woman in a poor country who takes three dollars' worth of material and sews it into a shirt which she sells for thirteen dollars, the authors point out that she has created a new product of value. She has made that cloth ten dollars more valuable than when she bought it. She has also contributed ten dollars of value to the total value of everything her nation will produce that year, the GDP of that nation. In Zambia, at a place called Grippis Farm, people are learning to sew. They begin with plastic snack bags as they build their skills to the point where they can work with the actual valuable fabric. In fact, Grippis Farm, which receives support from people in American churches, is putting into practice what The Poverty of Nations preaches.

Grippis Farm provides education for the young people of the community. It supports sustainable advances in agriculture as well as incubating the fledgling sewing business. Angus Buchan, who fled Zambia for South Africa buring its previous period of political unrest, has created a similar community of opportunity of opportunity at Shalom Ministries. Asmus and Grudem point to examples in history of nations that have become prosperous by producing more goods and services. England during the Industrial Revolution invented machinery for efficiently weaving cotton thread, thus revolutionizing the clothing industry. "The principle product of the new technology that we know as the Industrial Revolution was cheap, washable cotton, and along with it mass-produced soap made of vegetable oils. For the first time, the common man could wear underwear, once known as body linen because that was the washable fabric that the well-to-do wore next to their skin... Personal hygiene changed drastically, so that commoners of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century often lived cleaner than kings and queens of a century earlier.

By producing immense amounts of cotton and then other desirable products (such as high quality steel and machinery), England became the world's wealthiest nation. Income per person in England doubled between 1780 and 1860, then between 1860 and 1990 it multiplied another six times!" -- David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, (New York, W. W. Norton, 1999), 154, 190-94. [1.] The authors go on to cite post World War II Japan and modern China as having become similar productive societies. The Congressional Office of Management and Budget has just released projections showing massive shrinking of America's employment resulting from the so-called "Affordable Care Act's" implementation. [2.] That is on top of an already documented decline that began around 2007. Employment percentages often hide the fact that many employable people have given up and are no longer counted. Employment as a percentage of actual population in the United States has reached a new and dismal all-time low.

A spokesman of the former President's decree that: "now more Americans are no longer tied to a full-time job and are free to pursue their dreams." rings hollow. Most creative ventures in following dreams, after all, began as night and weekend enterprises begun by people in regular jobs. My own venture into enterprenuership began over thirty years ago. I was frustrated in a position where my creativity was dismissed and their was no prospect of growth in career stature or compensation. My best designs often ended up on the cutting room floor, so to speak, as the man I worked for desired quick and dirty... and made that fact very clear. He was a good man, but saw no need for vision when what worked twenty years ago would, he surmised, serve quite adequately. I began with my little studio in a spare bedroom. I would pick up my assignments before and after work, and often missed lunch to meet with clients. I would do the actual work in the evening. My little daughter was a baby and often I would share a tender moment with my beautiful wife at the 2:00am feeding!

I gave my employer a month's notice. I thought he would like for me to train my replacement. No one ever showed up to shadow me; Instead, I remember the afternoon I was taken to a very nice lunch by my bosses who proceeded to tell me that I would most certainly fail at my new venture. I should stay where I was! That I "failed" for thirty years at it I do wear as a badge of honor. I have had a handful of brilliant young people share with me in the process of learning the art of visualization. That has been the greatest honor I have received in the process. I once won a PIVA award for one of my brochure designs for a major development company and they misspelled my name! I think of the young people like my last assistant who mostly taught themselves while in my company, and I feel that having somehow enabled their greatness to shine is my most fulfilling reward! These are the honors that gather no dust sitting on your sideboard.

So, we must ask ourselves: "What are we bequeathing to these brilliant young souls?" My nephew works in Baltimore at the sugar refinery. He sent me an article not long ago talking about how they were tearing down the Sparrow's Point Steel Mill and selling the demolished machinery for scrap value. Management saw the need to create one last bit of profit by making men who had lovingly maintained these machines and used them to make a living now tear them apart and sort them into scrap bins! One man saw some sander disks and though they were industrial quality, they would fit on his home sander. He asked his immediate supervisor if he could have them. When his supervisor agreed he threw them in the open bed of his pickup only to be fired by a higher-up manager later that day for stealing company property! The man did not steal the disks, he asked first. Most of us will read this and see the higher law that should govern, but the manager only saw what should have been added to the gross tonnage of scrap 'misdirected' to an employee's vehicle.[3.]

If one looks at the percentage of growth in private employment compared to government employment, the picture is bleak.[4.] Government does not produce, it can only tax and procure. Furthermore, look at communities that have been "freed from work" and subsist on government programs. Are they hotbeds of entrepreneurship (other than the drug trade)? A friend of mine shared with me a video about an inner city ministry in Brooklyn, New York. They did home visits and you see disturbing footage inside a dirty, roach infested apartment. A young child still plays but an older sibling stares vacantly from a couch. There are no dreams here to be pursued! Generations have known nothing but government dependency. Is this the vision some of our so-called 'leaders' have for our great nation?[5.] More and more Americans are on food stamps now. But here, amid the bleakness, one finally sees the hope. While most states have lackluster private employment growth or outright decline, South Dakota stands out like a bright beacon. Though the last administration has done everything to stifle domestic energy production on public lands and the Keystone Pipeline, PRIVATE lands have never been busier. The Dakotas and parts of Texas as well have become boom economies. You can go there and sign on with an oil company and soon be making a six-figure salary. Workers are so desired that you can make seventeen dollars an hour at Wal Mart! The point is that in this one sector of the country there are workers creating value that wasn't there before... and they are being rewarded for it.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Monacans, Remembering, Phantasies

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue XXIII

By George Macdonald, Chapter 17

First, I thought, almost despairing,
This must crush my spirit now;
Yet I bore it, and am bearing--
Only do not ask me how."
~ Heinrich Heine.

When the daylight came, it brought the possibility of action, but with it little of consolation. With the first visible increase of light, I gazed into the chasm, but could not, for more than an hour, see sufficiently well to discover its nature. At last I saw it was almost a perpendicular opening, like a roughly excavated well, only very large. I could perceive no bottom; and it was not till the sun actually rose, that I discovered a sort of natural staircase, in many parts little more than suggested, which led round and round the gulf, descending spirally into its abyss. I saw at once that this was my path; and without a moment's hesitation, glad to quit the sunlight, which stared at me most heartlessly, I commenced my tortuous descent. It was very difficult. In some parts I had to cling to the rocks like a bat. In one place, I dropped from the track down upon the next returning spire of the stair; which being broad in this particular portion, and standing out from the wall at right angles, received me upon my feet safe, though somewhat stupefied by the shock. After descending a great way, I found the stair ended at a narrow opening which entered the rock horizontally. Into this I crept, and, having entered, had just room to turn round. I put my head out into the shaft by which I had come down, and surveyed the course of my descent. Looking up, I saw the stars; although the sun must by this time have been high in the heavens. Looking below, I saw that the sides of the shaft went sheer down, smooth as glass; and far beneath me, I saw the reflection of the same stars I had seen in the heavens when I looked up. I turned again, and crept inwards some distance, when the passage widened, and I was at length able to stand and walk upright. Wider and loftier grew the way; new paths branched off on every side; great open halls appeared; till at last I found myself wandering on through an underground country, in which the sky was of rock, and instead of trees and flowers, there were only fantastic rocks and stones. And ever as I went, darker grew my thoughts, till at last I had no hope whatever of finding the white lady: I no longer called her to myself my white lady. Whenever a choice was necessary, I always chose the path which seemed to lead downwards.

At length I began to find that these regions were inhabited. From behind a rock a peal of harsh grating laughter, full of evil humour, rang through my ears, and, looking round, I saw a queer, goblin creature, with a great head and ridiculous features, just such as those described, in German histories and travels, as Kobolds. "What do you want with me?" I said. He pointed at me with a long forefinger, very thick at the root, and sharpened to a point, and answered, "He! he! he! what do you want here?" Then, changing his tone, he continued, with mock humility--"Honoured sir, vouchsafe to withdraw from thy slaves the lustre of thy august presence, for thy slaves cannot support its brightness." A second appeared, and struck in: "You are so big, you keep the sun from us. We can't see for you, and we're so cold." Thereupon arose, on all sides, the most terrific uproar of laughter, from voices like those of children in volume, but scrannel and harsh as those of decrepit age, though, unfortunately, without its weakness. The whole pandemonium of fairy devils, of all varieties of fantastic ugliness, both in form and feature, and of all sizes from one to four feet, seemed to have suddenly assembled about me. At length, after a great babble of talk among themselves, in a language unknown to me, and after seemingly endless gesticulation, consultation, elbow-nudging, and unmitigated peals of laughter, they formed into a circle about one of their number, who scrambled upon a stone, and, much to my surprise, and somewhat to my dismay, began to sing, in a voice corresponding in its nature to his talking one, from beginning to end, the song with which I had brought the light into the eyes of the white lady. He sang the same air too; and, all the time, maintained a face of mock entreaty and worship; accompanying the song with the travestied gestures of one playing on the lute. The whole assembly kept silence, except at the close of every verse, when they roared, and danced, and shouted with laughter, and flung themselves on the ground, in real or pretended convulsions of delight. When he had finished, the singer threw himself from the top of the stone, turning heels over head several times in his descent; and when he did alight, it was on the top of his head, on which he hopped about, making the most grotesque gesticulations with his legs in the air. Inexpressible laughter followed, which broke up in a shower of tiny stones from innumerable hands. They could not materially injure me, although they cut me on the head and face. I attempted to run away, but they all rushed upon me, and, laying hold of every part that afforded a grasp, held me tight.

Crowding about me like bees, they shouted an insect-swarm of exasperating speeches up into my face, among which the most frequently recurring were--"You shan't have her; you shan't have her; he! he! he! She's for a better man; how he'll kiss her! how he'll kiss her!"

The galvanic torrent of this battery of malevolence stung to life within me a spark of nobleness, and I said aloud, "Well, if he is a better man, let him have her."

They instantly let go their hold of me, and fell back a step or two, with a whole broadside of grunts and humphs, as of unexpected and disappointed approbation. I made a step or two forward, and a lane was instantly opened for me through the midst of the grinning little antics, who bowed most politely to me on every side as I passed. After I had gone a few yards, I looked back, and saw them all standing quite still, looking after me, like a great school of boys; till suddenly one turned round, and with a loud whoop, rushed into the midst of the others. In an instant, the whole was one writhing and tumbling heap of contortion, reminding me of the live pyramids of intertwined snakes of which travellers make report. As soon as one was worked out of the mass, he bounded off a few paces, and then, with a somersault and a run, threw himself gyrating into the air, and descended with all his weight on the summit of the heaving and struggling chaos of fantastic figures. I left them still busy at this fierce and apparently aimless amusement. And as I went, I sang--

If a nobler waits for thee,
I will weep aside;
It is well that thou should'st be,
Of the nobler, bride.

For if love builds up the home,
Where the heart is free,
Homeless yet the heart must roam,
That has not found thee.

One must suffer: I, for her
Yield in her my part
Take her, thou art worthier--
Still I be still, my heart!

Gift ungotten! largess high
Of a frustrate will!
But to yield it lovingly
Is a something still.

Then a little song arose of itself in my soul; and I felt for the moment, while it sank sadly within me, as if I was once more walking up and down the white hall of Phantasy in the Fairy Palace. But this lasted no longer than the song; as will be seen.

Do not vex thy violet
Perfume to afford:
Else no odour thou wilt get
From its little hoard.

In thy lady's gracious eyes
Look not thou too long;
Else from them the glory flies,
And thou dost her wrong.

Come not thou too near the maid,
Clasp her not too wild;
Else the splendour is allayed,
And thy heart beguiled.

A crash of laughter, more discordant and deriding than any I had yet heard, invaded my ears. Looking on in the direction of the sound, I saw a little elderly woman, much taller, however, than the goblins I had just left, seated upon a stone by the side of the path. She rose, as I drew near, and came forward to meet me.

She was very plain and commonplace in appearance, without being hideously ugly. Looking up in my face with a stupid sneer, she said: "Isn't it a pity you haven't a pretty girl to walk all alone with you through this sweet country? How different everything would look? wouldn't it?

Strange that one can never have what one would like best! How the roses would bloom and all that, even in this infernal hole! wouldn't they, Anodos? Her eyes would light up the old cave, wouldn't they?"

That depends on who the pretty girl should be," replied I.

Not so very much matter that," she answered; "look here."

I had turned to go away as I gave my reply, but now I stopped and looked at her. As a rough unsightly bud might suddenly blossom into the most lovely flower; or rather, as a sunbeam bursts through a shapeless cloud, and transfigures the earth; so burst a face of resplendent beauty, as it were through the unsightly visage of the woman, destroying it with light as it dawned through it. A summer sky rose above me, gray with heat; across a shining slumberous landscape, looked from afar the peaks of snow-capped mountains; and down from a great rock beside me fell a sheet of water mad with its own delight.

Stay with me," she said, lifting up her exquisite face, and looking full in mine.

I drew back. Again the infernal laugh grated upon my ears; again the rocks closed in around me, and the ugly woman looked at me with wicked, mocking hazel eyes.

You shall have your reward," said she. "You shall see your white lady again."

That lies not with you," I replied, and turned and left her.

She followed me with shriek upon shriek of laughter, as I went on my way. I may mention here, that although there was always light enough to see my path and a few yards on every side of me, I never could find out the source of this sad sepulchral illumination.
(to be continued)

The Bridge of G-d


Unique Natural Formation Saved Early Monacans

One can almost imagine the battle...

...raging above this deep chasm.

Amazing Story of Deliverance in Monacan Heritage

Running desperately through the forest, the small band of Monacan men, women and children were vastly outnumbered by their pursuers. Powhatan warriers were overtaking them. Suddenly they came to the edge of a vast chasm! They could see no way to cross it.

They closed their eyes and prayed. Then they looked up and saw the formation we know today as Natural Bridge, one of Virginia's most unique wonders, spanning the chasm. Hurrying their women and children across the stone span, they followed. Then they turned to make their stand. The much larger army was constricted by the narrow bridge and could only attack the Monacans in a much smaller number. The bridge became a great equalizer between the two forces and the Monacans were victorious that day.

Passed from generation to generation, the story of Monacan survival has made Natural Bridge a sacred place to the Monacans. They named it Mohomony, meaning 'Bridge of G-d."

Today a recreated Monacan village stands at the base of the bridge. Because the story predates written accounts, it is easy to dismiss it as legend, yet as we considered it my wife said: "I believe it recounts an actual event." The strategic element inherent in the story (the narrow bridge equalizing the battle) is too much like something another Rockbridge County resident, Thomas Jackson, would want to remember.

Like Homer's accounts of the Trojan War and the Odyssey home, some unknown Monacan warrier seems to have recounted this amazing story, remembering the time when geography aided them in battle. I walked across the bridge on route 11, imagining an epic battle like something out of Tolkien (like Gandalf facing the Balrog)! Young Monacans standing shoulder to shoulder to protect children and wives from an overwhelming enemy, who prevailed that day, passed the story to their children.

It just seemed to me like one of many grand moments in history where the unseen hand of G-d was seen as deliverer.

Today visitors walk beneath the bridge...

...but her greatest story may have played out above!

The Monacans of Mohomony
Celebrating Heritage of  Central Virginia's First People

A lady of Monacan ancestry presents the history of her people at Natural Bridge.

Monacan Lady (above) and warrier (below) as painted by Kristina Elaine Greer on the Crozet Trestle Mural.


A Monacan ati, or house, covered with bark...

...on a framework of branches.

Here is an ati thatched with cattails. This variation would be used in lowland areas with plentiful water.

Meeting Merlin
A Visit to Enchanted Castle Studios
[click to read]


Sculptor Mark Cline of Natural Bridge had a great fan in his friend Jamie Jordan of Waynesboro. He had an unusual request for the sculptor. He knew he was dying and asked his friend to create a lasting impression of his face and to “use it appropriately.” When Mr. Jordan died just short of his sixtieth birthday, Cline made a casting of his friend’s face two days later at the funeral home and used it to create ‘Merlin.’(read more)

A Floral Legacy Continues
[click to read]


Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime." – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (read more)

A Prayer for Manchester
[click to read]

There are no words to express the deep emotions of this horrific event. Perhaps it hits home because I remember when my daughter and her friend flew to Heathrow and journeyed by bus to Glasgow, Scotland. One event on their itinerary was a concert in Manchester. It very well might have been in this arena, so as thousands feared for their daughters' safety after the latest terror bombing, the picture was a little clearer... a little closer to home. (read more)

University of Virginia Chapel
A Gothic Chapel amidst Jefferson's Classical Village

This is my painting of University Chapel. When Jefferson created his academic village it did not have a place of worship. In the late Nineteenth Century members of the Charlottesville community raised the money to build this gothic revival chapel designed by Charles Emmet Cassell of Baltimore. The cornerstone was set in 1885, and the completed chapel was dedicated in 1889. The chapel marks a sharp departure from Jefferson's classical forms.

Thirty-seven years ago today, I stood in this fine Gothic building as I married the love of my life. Thus this historic building is also a part of the story of our own family. It is a story that includes a hike in a rainstorm on Stone Mountain in Georgia and has continued for well over three decades!

One of the greatest challenges to our Faith is our forgetfulness. Scripture reminds us how the people were instructed to remember the great things G-d had done for them. G-d separated the Jordan, as He had the Red Sea, for the people to walk across and gave them the following command:

And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.

Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your G-d into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day." -- Joshua 4:1-9



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Case for Vision, The Reckless Engineer, Phantasies

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XII, Issue XXII

By George MacDonald, Chapter 16

Ev'n the Styx, which ninefold her infoldeth
Hems not Ceres' daughter in its flow;
But she grasps the apple--ever holdeth
Her, sad Orcus, down below."
~ Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, "Das Ideal und das Leben".

Ever as I sang, the veil was uplifted; ever as I sang, the signs of life grew; till, when the eyes dawned upon me, it was with that sunrise of splendour which my feeble song attempted to re-imbody.

The wonder is, that I was not altogether overcome, but was able to complete my song as the unseen veil continued to rise. This ability came solely from the state of mental elevation in which I found myself. Only because uplifted in song, was I able to endure the blaze of the dawn. But I cannot tell whether she looked more of statue or more of woman; she seemed removed into that region of phantasy where all is intensely vivid, but nothing clearly defined. At last, as I sang of her descending hair, the glow of soul faded away, like a dying sunset. A lamp within had been extinguished, and the house of life shone blank in a winter morn. She was a statue once more--but visible, and that was much gained. Yet the revulsion from hope and fruition was such, that, unable to restrain myself, I sprang to her, and, in defiance of the law of the place, flung my arms around her, as if I would tear her from the grasp of a visible Death, and lifted her from the pedestal down to my heart. But no sooner had her feet ceased to be in contact with the black pedestal, than she shuddered and trembled all over; then, writhing from my arms, before I could tighten their hold, she sprang into the corridor, with the reproachful cry, "You should not have touched me!" darted behind one of the exterior pillars of the circle, and disappeared. I followed almost as fast; but ere I could reach the pillar, the sound of a closing door, the saddest of all sounds sometimes, fell on my ear; and, arriving at the spot where she had vanished, I saw, lighted by a pale yellow lamp which hung above it, a heavy, rough door, altogether unlike any others I had seen in the palace; for they were all of ebony, or ivory, or covered with silver-plates, or of some odorous wood, and very ornate; whereas this seemed of old oak, with heavy nails and iron studs. Notwithstanding the precipitation of my pursuit, I could not help reading, in silver letters beneath the lamp:

No one enters here without the leave of the Queen."

But what was the Queen to me, when I followed my white lady? I dashed the door to the wall and sprang through. Lo! I stood on a waste windy hill. Great stones like tombstones stood all about me. No door, no palace was to be seen. A white figure gleamed past me, wringing her hands, and crying, "Ah! you should have sung to me; you should have sung to me!" and disappeared behind one of the stones. I followed. A cold gust of wind met me from behind the stone; and when I looked, I saw nothing but a great hole in the earth, into which I could find no way of entering. Had she fallen in? I could not tell. I must wait for the daylight. I sat down and wept, for there was no help.
(to be continued) 

David Green.

A Case for Vision IV

A not so recent buzz on social media was one to the effect that Hobby Lobby was planning to close stores in response to the Obamacare insurance contraceptive/abortificant mandate. The rumor was not new. The company is actively fighting this regulatory infringement upon its right of conscience. Founder and CEO David Green was quick to respond to the news piece in which he is reported to have announced the downsizing [1.]. Actually Mr. Green said that the company had plans to build 30 or more new stores this year. Doing the news involves checking facts and we found Mr. Green's actual statement in a report issued in conjunction with receiving an award from a major university this past April [2]. The reasons for the award actually spoke volumes about the life and vision of David Green. From the news articles it would appear that Mr. Green was quietly doing what CEOs all do, just running his company to make a profit, when all of a sudden he became the object of Federal regulation. The fact of the matter is that David Green's work itself springs from, and is dedicated to, a higher vision.

Dr. Henry Smith, President of Indiana Wesleyan University said in conferring the honor: "I am excited to announce that Dr. David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Creative Centers, has accepted our invitation to the Society of World Changers as our 2013 inductee. David Green is a business leader, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, an author, a patron of scholarship and culture but above everything else, he is a servant of Christ like any one of us, a saved sinner dependent upon the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He attributes any success he has had to his trust in G-d, and acknowledges that G-d has used that success as a platform to minister to the world. IWU recognized David Green and his achievements previously through the conferral of an honorary doctorate in 1999."[3.]

FORBES notes: "There are very few members of The Forbes 400 who bring religion to work. Most notable are Chick-fil-A's Truett Cathy and Forever 21's Jin Sook and Do Won Chang, born-again Christians who keep Bibles in their office and print John 3:16 on the bottom of each shopping bag. More typical is Warren Buffett, who admits to being agnostic. Green joined Buffett’s Giving Pledge in 2010: His public letter doing so quotes 2 Corinthians ('Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver'). And that's about all that Buffett and Green have in common philanthropically." Green has a vision to change the world and it plays itself out in the way he conducts his business. He does not see any part of his life as outside of G-d's oversight: "You can't have a belief system on Sunday and not live it the other six days."[4.]

Green is the son of a preacher who's small congregations in Oklahoma barely supported their family. He wore hand-me-down clothes and ate many a meatless meal with his siblings. His five siblings all became pastors (or pastors' wives). Green took "the road less travelled," struggling through school and eventually becoming a stock boy in a general store. FORBES says of him: "Green spent most of his time sweeping floors and unloading boxes for 60 cents an hour, but he fell in love with the romantic idea of buying something for 10 cents and selling it for 20." He served in the Air Force Reserve, and was working as a manager at TG andY stores when he borrowed $600.00 to buy some picture frame making equipment. He and his wife Barbara and another manager literally started the business working on his kitchen table. Their first product was miniature picture frames which they began selling in 1970. In 1972 they opened their first 300 square foot retail location.

Green credits the bead buying craze of the hippies for growing his business to the point that he was able to quit his day job and open a larger store in 1975. Barbara was not thrilled. Those days he was doing about $100,000 in sales and TG andY was doing two billion. Today Hobby Lobby makes well over three billion dollars annually. He speaks candidly of the businesses' struggles and near failure. In 1985 the business was overleveraged and struggling under the weight of bad inventory decisions. Green says of that time: "It was a pride problem, and I had to get rid of it. It's sort of like God says to me, because I was arrogant, 'I'm going to let you have it by yourself.'" Green prayed, worked hard, cut costs and negotiated with his creditors. In the end his perserverance paid off and the company not only survived, but thrived.

Hobby Lobby stores close on Sundays to allow staff time to worship and enjoy time with family. He starts employees well above minimum wage and sees the company's profitability as a gift from G-d. He has given much to further the work of the Gospel and Christian education. Green says: "I want to know that I have affected people for eternity. I believe I am. I believe once someone knows Christ as their personal savior, I've affected eternity. I matter 10 billion years from now." Dr. Henry Smith says of him: "We thank God for David Green's example precisely for that reason: because he sees his wealth as God's possession rather than allowing himself to be possessed by it; because he judges himself by the standards of Heaven and not of earth; and because he recognizes that his own efforts are in vain unless he trusts and depends upon the Holy Spirit." [5.]

A Vision For Work and the World

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it." -- Psalm 90:16-17

I am reading The Poverty of Nations, A Sustainable Solution [click to read] by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus. It examines the reasons successful nations are successful and how successful nations can forget the roots of their success and fall into decline. Like Alvin Schmidt's Under the Influence [click to read], the book does not hide the influence of Biblical principles in advancing the state of humanity. As many in the academy and the media today criticize free markets, Grudem and Asmus point out that the flaws are not necessarily a flaw in free markets, but in human morality. If a people have no moral barrier to it, markets will indeed deliver drugs, slaves and a host of evils, but that is not necessarily a fault of a free market. Indeed the attempts of government to control such evils will inevitably cost far more than imagined and have far less effect on curtailing the evils than proponents of such action desire. Thus the authors show how the Rule of Law, Respect for Property and Good Leadership are all essential for national prosperity... these things being rooted in values presented in the Bible.

Markets, influenced by morality, are actually quite fertile for creativity. When the slave trade was ended in England by William Wilberforce, the initial result was the economic decline of the port of Bristol. Creativity responded to the need as Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the Great Western Railway and steamships to link Bristol to America. The heart of George Müller ministered to Bristol's cast off children, but it was possible largely due to the creativity that linked Bristol to the economic pulse of the world. In fact, Grudem and Asmus point out that a wonderful coming together of talents and resources occurs in markets that requires no huge agency of oversight. In a simple little story called I Pencil, the beauty of this phenomenon is wonderfully illustrated.

I Pencil.

"No single person on the earth could make a pencil without the help of countless others."

Read, Leonard E., "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read." [click to read] 1999. Library of Economics and Liberty. 5 February 2014.


The Reckless Engineer
Short Story by Bob Kirchman (continued)

I am opposed to the laying down of rules or conditions to be observed in the construction of bridges lest the progress of improvement tomorrow might be embarrassed or shackled by recording or registering as law the prejudices or errors of today.”
-- Isambard K. Brunel

Sunday/Monday dawned early. Hannah greeted John and Alana at Zimmerman headquarters. “Elizabeth will be here in a bit,” she said. “Long night with the bridge seals!” A bleary-eyed Rupert popped out of his office: “How was dinner?” he asked.

Quite nice,” Alana responded, “And how did the work go on the seal problem?”

Zimmerman explained the seal problem… it seems that sustained temperatures combined with heavier stressed connections was taking more of a toll on them than anticipated. “Say John, you’re a materials guy. Would you look at this tech brief and when you get back here this Fall, would you like to have a go at it?”

Does that mean we’ve been accepted for the program then?” He responded. “Sure. Let me read this tonight. My thesis was on something similar with flexible pipe couplings. Maybe we can find a way to take some of the stress off of the seal itself in the meantime.”

I like that,” said Rupert. “Most guys just start wanting to remake the seal material straight off. You seem to have another tack. Tell me more.”

Well, sir, it seems the problem is exacerbated by the movement in the bridge. If we could add some sort of a stiffener, we could spread the stress better. I mean, you seem to be experiencing very localized failures at places the bridge moves more than others.”

So, in the minutes before Elizabeth arrived, the young couple had sketched out a pretty interesting clamping system that would spread the flexing evenly along the length of the span. Zimmerman was visibly impressed. “Hey, we could talk about this with your team tomorrow if you’d like.” Alana said. “That is, if you wouldn’t mind.”

When Elizabeth arrived, the congratulations were officially offered. Alana and John would sign on as mentees for their first year. They would be given accommodations and a small stipend until their year-end review, when they would likely be looking at $100K in petrodollars each per year starting salary. Of course, if the seal relief system played out, they would be receiving a bonus for that. Zimmerman, who had seen plenty of his ideas taken by employers with no attribution, had no problem sharing the glory when his own team, even the mentees, made valuable contributions.

But now it was time to head over out to Big Diomede, a half-hour drive West on the bridge. Elizabeth drove John and Alana across the span… but she spoke little. She was tired, sure, but clearly something was on her mind. “I’ve never seen someone get accepted so quickly,” she mused quietly. “You know, John, you remind me of…” she caught herself and was silent for the remainder of the trip. It seemed a long half-hour indeed and when the car finally reached the Big Diomede site, everyone was relieved when Mrs. Greene greeted them. She had worked with Elizabeth in the creation of the Biosphere and sure enough, the renderings of the proposed complex were stunning. It was something out of another Century so far as its craftsmanship and execution. The parsonage was the only building built so far, but it was simple and beautiful; quite a contrast to the prefabricated world of Wales. A lone tree, freshly planted, graced the yard. Nearby there was a footer where stonemasons were laying the first course of a more substantial building. Elizabeth pointed to a painting of a gothic chapel… “A memorial to a man who lost his life in the service of the Zimmerman Organization,” said Mrs. Greene. “The chapel will be home to our church here.”


The biosphere was a fascinating place. Artificial sun-spectrum lighting was being installed along the bars of the geodesic dome which had ionized panels that could be clear for natural light but could be clouded to reflect the light from the lamps down. Huge rigs were drilling down to provide thermal heating. Nursery workers were planting quick growing shrubbery to provide air refreshment inside.

At lunchtime, the Greene’s again hosted what Mrs. Greene referred to as ‘Elevensies.’ This time in their newly finished dining room. “Tell me about the man who the chapel memorializes,” Alana said to Kris Greene as John and Elizabeth were in deep discussion of geothermal piping following their delicious lunch. “Oh,” said Kris, “I myself never knew him… but I understand he was a close friend of Rupert’s. They were working on the Great Western Road alignment in Siberia, I think, when…” Elizabeth interrupted: “I think we’d better get on with our tour now. Thank you, Kris, for your warm hospitality.”

Back at Wales, Elizabeth was summoned by her cell phone… the bridge never ceased to call on her keepers, it seemed. She apologized for her demeanor. “Rough day, it has been,” she said. Hannah was there, eager to show the young couple some of the photos on the wall in the lobby. “Here is the place where we were drilling for oil, but Rupert discovered that the people were all sick for lack of water. Well, he threw a curve-ball into the calculations for the lateral drill. When it gushed not oil, but fresh water, his crew groaned at his ‘mistake,’ but when he capped it the people had a good and steady supply of safe water. Everyone here sort of goes along with the legend that he’s a real cheapskate… but you did see the beginnings of the Big Diomede Chapel, didn’t you. That is not a shabby piece of work at all.”

Rendering by Lola Dalton, 1914, the Author's Grandmother.

Alana spoke: “Do you mind if I ask you, ah, about Mrs. O’Malley; what is it that is troubling her? When we were accepted, I mean, it seemed she has some great reservations or something. Look, we don’t want to come here if you have any doubt that is sincerely based.” Hannah thoughtfully replied: “This is not the time or place, but please come to my place tonight and we’ll talk further. My husband is in the ‘lower 48’ representing our interests in Washington, a thankless part of his job. I’ll be glad when he’s done, but in the meantime it would be wonderful to have some company!”

We don’t say his name here,” Hannah said softly… “Rupert’s colleague who died in the Taiga, but it is clear that he… and his daughter Elizabeth, see the resemblance. He was young, reckless and would go to the ends of the earth… but he had a young family. I would imagine Elizabeth sees her father performing penance, if you will, for the death of his trusted friend. Oh, don’t sweat that. I’ve reviewed your qualifications. You are more than what we require in every way, but I think you will have to deal with the fact that Rupert sees in you an unfinished life. He’s not going to go easy on you, mind you, his granddaughter is the apple of his eye, but he rode her harder than the rest of them. I do not think Elizabeth’s unspoken fears are rational, but fears seldom are.”

So, what shall we do?,” Alana asked.

I don’t know, really, but I suspect that in time this will prove to be a good thing. You came here prepared to be patient, and the present situation requires plenty of that. Elizabeth is quite protective of her father, and I think she has good reason, but she is fair minded. I think you will prove yourself in the end and you will find her a lovely person to work with. In the meantime, I think it best to avoid discussion of a certain unfortunate occurrence… and of Rupert’s attempt to remember it.”

Rupert Zimmerman awoke that night screaming. He came to himself in a cold sweat and got up and checked the lock on his door. His was the top apartment in the condominiums over the workspaces and Elizabeth and Martin were directly below. He hoped he hadn’t disturbed them, but he knew full well that he had. He didn’t know that Hannah’s apartment, though it was further away, allowed her to be disturbed as well. Rupert Zimmerman was a man who professed no need for the Divine… but in the endless night, as Rupert raised the blinds in the hopes that the midnight sun would free him from his prison, his daughter, son-in-law and his devoted assistant prayed to the God Rupert spurned. Back in Virginia, Pat couldn’t sleep. Rupert weighed heavily on her mind. Thirty miles away from Wales, as a new day began at the end of the world, a young woman took her husband’s hand to pray as well: “I’m concerned for Elizabeth’s father.” She prayed. Though Zimmerman would have scoffed at the very notion, his friends that moment were speaking in unison to that God, pleading for the deliverance that only He could give.

If we must have heroes and wars wherein to make them, there is no war so brilliant as a war with the wrong, no hero so fit to be sung, as he who has gained the bloodless VICTORY of truth and mercy."
-- I. K. Brunel

(the Reckless Engineer is the Prelude to PONTIFUS [6.])
Copyright © 2017, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved 


PONTIFUS, The Bridge Builder's Tale
[click to read]

The History of Serial Fiction

Serials have existed in fiction for a very long time. Books were expensive back in the 19th century, so they were printed in installments in order to keep the price low. Charles Dickens, often heralded as one of the greatest early self-publishers, was also one of the most successful writers of serialized fiction. Another big name, Alexandre Dumas, was a very prolific serial novelist, publishing both The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers in serial format. In fact, serialization worked so well, it was considered the way to go by popular authors during the time." -- Samantha Warren

THYME Magazine presents, in serial form, the story of a man who challenged the proposition that something he wanted to achieve was "impossible." Based on history, depicted in the future, Pontifus is a tale of human triumph in the face of challenges such as face us today. (read more)

Sunlight reflects from the biosphere domes of Big Diomede in this photograph of the Bering Strait Bridge from space.

The twin spans of the Bering Strait Bridge. The original span (closest) is the Charles Alton Ellis Memorial Bridge. The second span is the Joseph Baermann Strauss Memorial Bridge.

The twin spans stretching to the West and Asia.

Alaska A2.

Copyright © 2017, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

New 'Old' Architecture
The Inspiration for the Buildings of Big Diomede

The Church on Big Diomede is based on my painting of the University of Virginia Chapel.

My Grandmother, Lola Dalton Carpenter, designed this window for a stairwell in 1914. I carried it into the Twenty-first Century as a window at the College on Big Diomede.

At the turn of the Century, as the Twentieth Century began, the great world's fairs presented a vision of civic architecture for America's young cities. A beautiful classicism prevailed, inspired by the model of Greek and Roman architecture. As the McMillan Plan transformed Washington DC into a very beautiful city, it put in place a sort of architectural order. The civic buildings of the metropolis all followed the form of Greek and Roman architecture. The great Cathedral and Catholic shrine rose in Gothic and Byzantine forms, thus creating a wonderful order for religious architecture as distinctive.

For Big Diomede, it seemed appropriate to again visit the past for ordering the future. Thus I returned to classicism for the College and Gothic for the Chapel, the precedent being Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia... a beautiful campus in the Palladian style. Jefferson omitted a place of worship, perhaps by design, but in the 1880's a chapel Designed by Baltimore architect and University alumnus Charles Emmet Cassell was erected. The chapel’s materials, site, and style signify it as a Christian building in contrast to the Academical Village. Upon the chapel’s dedication, Professor Maximilian Schele de Vere proclaimed that while the Rotunda represented “in cold though classic beauty the outlines of a pagan temple,” the chapel aspired to Heaven with its “pointed window” and “flying buttress.”

In 1980 I was married to my beautiful wife in that chapel, about a century after it was first proposed. Thus that building is very special to me. The Zimmerman Stone Mountain Proposal Story is the story of my own proposal! Yes, the Divine sent a Storm! We like to think it would have happened anyway, without the Heavenly pyrotechnics, but it remains a great story.

Grandma's window and Inglenook found their way into the story simply because the images fit the mission, and I love them. She was a student at the Maryland Institute in 1914 and produced most of her work in those years. She married O. F. Carpenter, a successful Madison businessman and painted as an avocation until her eyesight failed in the 1970's. Lola Dalton Carpenter was extremely talented and had studied fashion design. In a later part of the story, yet to be told, a nod to Kris' efforts in this discipline is really a shout to Grandma, who all of us credit with our own creative impulses. My cousin in Oregon is an incredible photographer. My own children are very good too. We all thank Lola Dalton Carpenter for blazing the creative path for us!

My Grandmother, Lola Dalton Carpenter, designed this ingelnook in 1914. Of course, it was exactly the look I wanted for Kris' house on Big Diomede.

I added the chalk drawings in front of one of my renderings to create the exterior.
Copyright © 2017, The Kirchman Studio, all rights reserved

'Appaloosa Spring'
Photo by Bob Kirchman

Appaloosa Spring

Emerging Hollyhocks
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Emerging HOllyhocks

Emerging HOllyhocks

Emerging HOllyhocks
Photos by Bob Kirchman

The Springhill Hollyhocks are a legacy of Kristina Elaine Greer's Great Great Grandmother, who first planted them in her yard. [7.] Even though her house has long since been replaced by a gas station, the hollyhocks emerge every Spring and in Summer they bless the community near Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton, Virginia with brilliant colored flowers!

What the Church is Doing Right
[click to read]

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” -- Galatians 5: 22, 23

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that when ye were Gentiles ye were led away unto those dumb idols, howsoever ye might be led. Wherefore I make known unto you, that no man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema; and no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits: to another divers kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now they are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary: and those parts of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness; whereas our comely parts have no need: but God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked; that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? have all gifts of healings? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But desire earnestly the greater gifts. And moreover a most excellent way show I unto you.” – 1 Corinthians 12 (read more)

Debra Goldstone: Ask Isaiah