It’s Tuesday – a perfect day for Sunday Gratitude! (26.III.2023)
I had hoped, at least, to get a “Sunday Gratitude” post up on the 19th, but things have been so crazy busy that it wasn’t really possible.
I am incredibly grateful to have been able to get away for a few days, to have friends who don’t mind if I say – “I’m thinking of coming over, do you mind having me?” and it being no problem. Friends like family.
I am grateful to God for seeming to help get all the pieces of the trip together – there are so many things that could have derailed it, and yet everything seemed to fall into place.
I am grateful that even though the car had an issue this week, it still runs, and I was able to take it to the dealer, since the issue is still under warranty.
So grateful for good neighbors…
I’m grateful for the spring coming, even as the world is once again covered in white. I’m grateful that even with what – seven inches or so last weekend – I’ve not had to shovel a bit because it’s melting like crazy, and the sound of the water rushing off the roof and the eaves reminds me of the scene in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” when the children know for certain that the Witch’s spell has broken because at this point, spring can’t be stopped.
I am also very grateful that I was able to rescue pretty much everything from an SD card that malfunctioned while I was away. I’m not great with the Ubuntu Linux system on my computer yet, but I was very thankful that the card that would no longer read could be rescued.
As always, I am grateful for each one of you reading, and for your prayers.
A Meteorologist’s Prayer
In college, I had a friend who was studying to be a professional meteorologist. He was a fanatic about the subject, and it was fun to get him to start talking about meteorology because he’d light up and speak with an incredible amount of enthusiasm – and joy. (And come on, you haven’t lived until you’ve watched the movie Twister solely for the comedy of going through all the technical errors!)
Weather disasters are always interesting because in these small cases, the weather, which is often hardly even noticed, becomes a monster with an almost unbelievable amount of power. Many a locale has had its history changed irreversibly due to one of these monster events, and many, many people have died because of them.
My friend, for example, was always fascinated by the power of some of these storms. I don’t think he was the type to do any storm-chasing himself, but even now when storms can be measured and mapped and predicted, almost necessarily, a lot of the might of the storm is measured in the destruction that is left behind. Meteorology aims to help people by allowing people to make better decisions based on what is happening with the weather,
Advances in meteorology have certainly helped save many, many lives, particularly when it comes to catastrophic events such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Although there’s a lot that still a lot that the meteorologists don’t always get right, being able to issue warnings that give people more time to seek safety when these events happen is incredible.
For meteorologists, storms are exciting and they are a reason why the science and profession exist. Yet they – the good ones, at least – do remember that behind all the science and technology, there are people living ordinary lives in little towns who are going to come face to face with something truly terrible.
The embedded tweet is of meteorolgist Matt Laubhan reporting on a tornado’s path in Mississippi last night (March 24, 2023).
As he realizes that the town of Amory, Mississippi is about to get a direct hit by a monster tornado, he breaks script and prays aloud, “Dear Jesus, please help them. Amen”
Six little words. Yet our culture has come to the point where it is so taboo to something like this that it’s even made the international press: Dramatic moment Mississippi meteorologist calls on God as he watches major tornado head straight for the town of Amory (UK Daily Mail). It’s something, that under normal circumstances might endanger his career. The comments are interesting, both at the Daily Mail and at Twitter. Of course, there are the people mocking calling on an “imaginary being”, but I’ve seen quite a few people who claim not to be Christian or religious say that they were moved by this simple prayer. Six little words, plainly and humbly spoken, yet in the face of not being able to do anything else, a call to God to help when there’s nothing else that he can do.
Amory did sustain damage. A local resident, Jay Holman, shot drone footage, some of which can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/jay.holman.718/posts/pfbid02xvt2bC47Kxor42jV6eJKQ3g2r8K2HjvhoVUqpQKQdBuxyCB555Wv3fyPmp1qcusLl
(A drone video from the same man can be viewed here: https://www.wtva.com/news/local/storm-damage-found-in-winona-and-amory-no-deaths-reported/article_bfaeb4b6-cac6-11ed-a574-dbf4df4bc67d.html)
However, for the most part, Amory is still standing, and the area death toll looks like it is at three.
Contrast this to Rolling Fork, Mississippi, about 200 miles away, where the drone footage shows another town that suffered a direct tornado hit in the same system. The town has basically been wiped off the map:
Storms are fickle things, and there will never be “proof” that Amory’s survival had anything to do with one meteorologist’s prayer. But I am convinced, as surely as the sun shines above, that God hears our prayers and they are most dear to Him when they are the most sincere. This meteorologist, understanding well what a direct hit of a huge tornado means, called out to God in love for these people, despite the fact that many people will publicly ridicule him, and he risked the ire of the place where he worked. I believe his prayer was heard.
Everything Fell Into Place
I am exhausted, but for the first time in a very long time, in a good way.
I did something crazy – I went for five days to visit friends, by myself, without the kids.
I needed it. I needed to be embraced in that circle of love. I needed to be reminded that as much as things are not all right, that they will get better, and that not only is God there for me, but also the people who have become “chosen family”.
At first, it didn’t seem as it was going to happen, as a Sunday return seemed impossible. When I changed it with the wild idea of coming back Monday, I had the best returns that were available. Not only that, but it worked out with a dear neighbor to get rides both in getting there and getting back, because she just happened to be scheduled for things that would make that possible.
The Monday return made it possible to go to a church I hadn’t been to in years and years. It was amazing, and I got to go to Confession and partake of Communion. It seems to have also inspired a friend.
Many times, God works in mysterious ways, but there are also times when it seems as though He makes things quite clear to the people who are willing to see them.
Right now, there’s a lot to process, as all sorts of stuff is running through my head from the trip, and I’m crashing from the five days of adrenaline that made it possible to run around on very little sleep – then again, the sleep that I was getting wasn’t being interrupted by children, so it seemed so much more restful.
(It’s taken a couple of days to get this posted, due to technical difficulties, kids, and just getting back into routine.)
My mind is still racing, but I am grateful that everything seemed to just fall into place. God is good!
Wordless Wednesday #24 – Small things
Wordless Wednesday #23 – Sidewalk Stamps
The Last of Us… (Traute Lafrenz Page)
For those who know a bit about the history of the White Rose, there are six names that are inextricably connected with the group. Hans Scholl. Sophie Scholl. Alexander Schmorell. Willi Graf. Christoph Probst. Professor Kurt Huber. All were tried and convicted of high treason in 1943 and executed that same year. Despite being from Hamburg, in the far north of Germany, Traute Lafrenz knew all of them well, first meeting Alexander Schmorell in 1939, and then the rest of them when she transferred her studies as a medical student from Hamburg to Munich.
What most people don’t know is that there were other people with connections with the White Rose who also died for their resistance. The name Hans Leipelt is sometimes included with the other six; he was also executed in Munich, primarily for trying to raise funds to help support Professor Huber’s widow. Generally, it’s considered that Hans Leipelt had no direct contact to the Scholls or the rest of the Munich group, but he probably did know Traute Lafrenz; if nothing else, they definitely had friends in common, such as a young woman named Margarethe Rothe.
Traute Lafrenz and Hans Leipelt served as the main connections between the White Rose in Munich and what would be known as the Hamburg branch of the White Rose. They both brought White Rose leaflets up to Hamburg and helped their friends produce and distribute leaflets there. Heinz Kucharski, a friend from school who had known Traute since she was 13, was generally considered the “head” of the Hamburg group, and in the fall of 1943, was arrested at the same time as Margarethe Rothe. During interrogation, he confessed to everything, trying to save his own skin. He named names, he blamed other people – including his mother – for his actions, and he gave the Gestapo sixty pages of “dirt” on Traute. (Ironically, I believe he’s the only one of the Hamburg group that ended up being sentenced to death, though he survived, but I digress…)
Despite Traute’s deep involvement in the White Rose, her friendships with those who had been executed , and her connections to their families (when Sophie and Hans’ father had been imprisoned, she had gone to Ulm to help keep his business running, for example), the members of the Munich group had done pretty well to protect her. She had been sentenced to “only” a year in prison, primarily for knowing what her friends were doing and not reporting it. After Kucharski’s confession, though, she was very much in danger of a death sentence. In the spring of 1944, two weeks after being released from serving her year-long sentence, she was re-arrested and spent the rest of the war in various Nazi prisons without her case going to trial. That she survived this was, in itself, no small feat. Her dear friend Margarethe Rothe, though also not sentenced to death (for lack of a trial), did not survive the harsh conditions of her incarceration and died in April of 1945.
Among others in Hamburg who died because of the White Rose were Katharina Leipelt (Hans’ Leipelt’s mother), Reinhold Meyer, Margarete Mrosek, Dr. Kurt Ledien, and Friedrich Geussenhainer. Traute knew most, if not all, of them as well.
Yet she was the one who survived, who made it out alive, and lived a good, long life afterward. This is how she decided to honor those that she knew who didn’t make it, to not curl up and die herself or allow herself continually live in the past. After the war, she emigrated to the United States, graduated from medical school, got married, had children, worked as a doctor, worked as a teacher to underprivileged and special needs children in Chicago, and retired to South Carolina.
It was in South Carolina where she died a week ago, two months shy of her 104th birthday. (Coincidentally enough, it was the day before she died when I posted about getting the book about her.) There is definitely a certain sadness to it, the end of an era.
Technically, there are a couple of people with ties to the White Rose who are still living. Among family, it seems as though Dieter Sasse, half-brother to Christoph, may still be living. From what I can tell, Vincent Probst, Christoph’s second son and whose godfather was Alexander Schmorell, is also still living. However, he was born in late 1941 and was not even two before both were executed. I see no indication that Professor Huber’s son Wolfgang has died. If I remember correctly, he was four when his father was executed. However, as his name is so common, it’s not particularly easy verify that. I also do not see anything to indicate that Hertha Schmorell, Erich Schmorell’s wife has died. (Erich was Alex’s younger half-brother.) One could argue that she’s not actually related, but she and Erich were already dating by 1942, and there even exist photos that both she and Alex are in.
Among the people who were arrested or indicted with White Rose activities, I believe there were close to 70. When I had my website, one of my original goals was to write at least a little about each person. Of all those, three of the youngest may still be living – Ilse Ledien (daughter of Kurt, mentioned above, who died in custody), Gerd Spitzbart, and Riko Graepel. It’s somewhat amusing; Ilse Ledien was so young that on the German side of things, she’s usually referred to as “the schoolgirl, Ilse Ledien”. Her greatest crime, in the eyes of the Nazis, at least, was that she was close friends with Maria Leipelt, Hans Leipelt’s little sister. I don’t discount her “role” at all, and her father died for scarcely more than that, but she was also hardly one of the central figures to the White Rose.
Twenty years ago, in 2003, when I made it over to Munich to take part in the “big” White Rose commemorations – the sixtieth anniversary of the executions of Christoph Probst, Hans Scholl, and Sophie Scholl, I was actually surprised to recognize people who had known these historical figures. I remember seeing Franz Josef Müller, who founded the Weiße Rose Stiftung. More than that though,was actually seeing Herta Siebler-Probst there and realizing, for the first time, that even though she was very much an old woman, that the history that was being commemorated was still so near that she had been married to one of the people executed that day in 1943 (and had three children with him).
The difference, I suppose, is that when I started getting very interested in the White Rose in 2002 or so, one still heard news from people who had some connection: Jürgen Wittenstein, Elisabeth Hartnagel-Scholl, Annaliese Knoop-Graf, Hans and Susanne Hirzel, or Lilo Fürst-Ramdohr, for example. Apart from seeing various people from afar in 2003, I had the extreme privilege of attending a fairly small event which Erich Schmorell and Natalia Schmorell Lange were at and hearing Erich Schmorell speak. And, of course, there was actually getting to meet Nikolay Hamazaspian in 2007 on the trip to Orenburg. When commemorations came up or White Rose related things came up, the input of these people certainly was always relevant and important. With the death of Traute Lafrenz Page, they are all gone. The “last one of us”…
May their memory be eternal!
Christoph Probst, Friedrich Geussenhainer, hamburg, Hans Leipelt, Hans Scholl, Heinz Kucharski, Ilse Ledien, in memoriam, Katharina Leipelt, Kurt Ledien, Margarete Mrosek, Margarethe Rothe, Maria Leipelt, Memory eternal, Nikolai Hamazaspian, Professor Kurt Huber, Reinhold Meyer, Sophie Scholl, St. Alexander of Munich, Traute Lafrenz Page, Willi Graf
Sunday Gratitude 12.III.2023
I hate starting out every week “this has been a hard week” though it really is the truth. This is a long season of hardship; not that I’m materially poor, but rather that there are very difficult things going on that I can’t share 100% publicly yet. That should change soon, and I am grateful for that – I think it will bring a measure of relief.
I am grateful to be hearing my two youngest giggling in the other room. The kids have really been getting on my nerves as of late – but let’s face it, a lot of things have, but there are some things that are always precious.
I am grateful that I have working appliances here, and that it’s making things somewhat easier.
I am grateful that I am looking forward to a bit of a break, and hopefully even a little bit of a religious pilgrimage.
I am grateful that my kids can participate and excel in school and school activities. There were two things that bugged me as a kid going to a small private school – one was that there was no way to get more advanced classes, the other was that we didn’t do any activities with other schools. My kids’ school does both, in particular the coordination of tournaments and the like with other schools. One of my kids did well enough in a competition to earn an invitation to “the next level” in Texas in about a month and a half, and that’s not even something that I could have dreamed about as a kid.
The kids had another snow day and it was another day where if it weren’t for the busses, there probably wouldn’t have been a problem. However, as the district has a good number of suburban and rural kids that often don’t have bus stops right in front of their houses, and considering that the bus drivers have to start and stop these vehicles in snow and slush over and over, I guess I can see it. I will be at least a little grateful, though, that I didn’t have to get the kids up and going on Friday.
I am grateful that the kids have a very good dentist who can work in a kid dealing with a toothache on a Monday morning, find the hole that was causing the issue, and get it fixed on Wednesday.
I am grateful for hearing from friends I haven’t heard from in a long time.
I am grateful that spring is near, no matter how many random snow days seem to randomly pop up.
As always, I am grateful for each one of you reading, and for your prayers.
Spring forward — bluebird of bitterness
This is too good not to share! (Original post: https://bluebirdofbitterness.com/2023/03/11/spring-forward-3/)
Wordless Wednesday #22 – Reasons to Believe