Columbus Day 2014 Reflections

Today is the Monday the thirteenth of October or to be more currently American –October 13, 2014 and is also Columbus Day. It is not a big holiday compared to Christmas or the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving.  But it is a holiday and I will blog about this particular day today. Columbus deserves some attention. He has gotten some here before.  But even in this post he will not get a full biographical sketch. The Italian mariner who sailed for Spain to search for India’s Western reaches and found Hispaniola and caused the sea off America’s East to be called the West Indies. Admiral of the Ocean Sea, bringer of  fine churches, barracks and trade goods and gatherer of reports of the nearby continent — he deserves more attention than he will get here. This is not so much a post about 1492 as about my own Columbus Day this year.

Columbus discovered America. That is the old formulation which shaped much of the creation of this holiday and of our sense of American history.  But the Vikings got from Europe to America before Columbus. The Viking past has made the news this week again.

One vision of America that I relate to better than most is the vision associated with the magazine titled America. It is a magazine of the American Jesuits. We get it here and we recently had a guest who fairly recently before his visit appeared in its pages. Father Corcoran’s sister is living at Big Woods Mission as I write this post.

I spent  good bit of today getting ready for a storm. Partly this meant finishing up some drains for the land around our house. It may well get a full test today and the rains have started since I began typing this post. But it is gard hobest work that needs to be done.

A Columbus Day storm may test our  new drains

A Columbus Day storm may test our new drains

There were little supplies to get like the top for my homemade seep pot between a larger and smaller drain pipe. All of that is part of what is repeated in millions of homes to make a continent into a society, economy and civilization. It was my day’s contribution to the development of America.

This false slate covers the  seep pot in my new system

This false slate covers the seep pot in my new system

 

But none of this is America writ large. I have dealt with the theme of the great America in many posts such as here, here and here. But that is not what this post is mostly about. I have a lot on my mind today including the role of Columbus as a Christian  coming to the New World and the ongoing struggle of Christians and the ongoing role of Christianity throughout the world. This continues to have geopolitical significance in places as different as Hong Kong and Syria and Iraq. Syria is the first country where the term Christian was ever used.  The vast Christian populations of the America’s are an enormous legacy for Columbus and his Spanish employers.  I am a Christian and glad to have these lands filled with so many of my faith.

But America is above all my homeland and it is a home in which my sense of rootedness continues to grow and manifest itself in different ways. I love the sports, prepare for the elections, and over a lifetime have done all kinds of things in interaction with the lands, waters and natural treasures of America. Today I tend to a smallish lawn and garden

The orange tree panted and nurtured on the new house site on old family land.

The orange tree panted and nurtured on the new house site on old family land.

What is never in doubt is that it really is home. So many are the ties that bind and the memories that enrich. Here too so many ancestors lie buried and so many ancestral deeds are remembered.

These are the fruits I hope will weather today's storm.

These are the fruits I hope will weather today’s storm.

But for all the land has to offer this homeland is more than land and cultivated and wild nature. But the wilderness endures and appeals to us all here. All the years of hunting and fishing form a vast geography of memory.

My brother killed his first deer taken with a bow today at Big Woods and brought it back here to our house.

My brother killed his first deer taken with a bow today at Big Woods and brought it back here to our house.

So today is Columbus Day.  I will live one more day as an American and see what happens tomorrow. It too will find me in debt to the explorer remembered today.

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