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Bdo how to craft perfum of courage

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Bdo how to craft perfum of courage
July 22, 2019 Events Calendar 4 comments

Hello, Adventurers.

This is The MMORPG, Black Desert.

We’d like to announce the updates made to the Black Desert as of 2019, January 16th(Wednesday).
During today’s maintenance, a Battle Royale system “Shadow Arena” was updated along with “New Accessories in the Guild Shop” and lots more… (Patch volume approx. 587.22MB)

※ For the details, please refer to the contents below.

● Black Desert SEA 1st Anniversary! Black Spirit’s Special Present
- Present 1! Boss Defense Gear Box at Loyalty Shop!
- Event Period: January 16, 2019 after maintenance – January 23, 2019 before maintenance
- Present 2! Get Special Presents Every Hour!
- Event Period: January 17, 2019 00:00 – January 23, 2019 23:59
[ Click here for more details ]

● The Even More Special 1st Anniversary Login Rewards
- Get special login rewards in celebration of our 1st anniversary.
- Login everyday to not miss out on your valuable items!
- Event Period: January 17, 2019 at 00:00 – February 20, 2019 at 23:59

[ Click here for more details ]

● Recruiting New Adventurers! Get Black Desert for Free!
- New Adventurers will need to reach level 56 during the event to get Black Desert for free!
- Event Period : January 16, 2019 after maintenance – February 26, 2019 23:59

[ Click here for more details ]

● Battle Royale - The Last Spirit Standing Into the Shadow Arena
- Event #1 - Become an A-List Black Desert Partner!
- Event Period: January 19, 2019 - January 27, 2019 (Every weekend for 2 weeks)
- Event #2 - Win Rewards by Posting Videos of Shadow Arena!
- Event Period: January 16, 2019 after maintenance - January 30 before maintenance

[ Click here for more details ]

● Battle Royale - The Last Spirit Standing
Mission: Shadow Arena
- Event #1 - Capture the GM and Ring the Golden Bell!
- Event Period: January 19, 2019 - January 27, 2019 (Every weekend for 2 weeks)
- Event #2 - Survive the Shadow Arena Against GMs!
- Event Period: January 16, 2019 after maintenance - January 30, 2019 before maintenance

[ Click here for more details ]

● The Characters below will show a powering up motion for certain skills, and will be able to deal more damage.
- All Slash skills will now deal 4 hits, and now have finishing hits.
- Reduced the number of hits for the Bow Skill from 6 to 3 hits.
- Added a finishing hit to the Bow Skill.

- Added a motion of swinging down the axe downwards with both hands for the 4th hit for the Elastic Force skill.
- 3 hits will be applied for the swinging downwards attack.
- When swinging down the axe with both hands, 30 WP will be instantly restored, and each successful hit will add 35 WP.

- The 4th hit for the standing attack and forward attack for the Dark Split skill will now be a finishing hit, therefore the number of hits have been increased.
- Added a finishing hit to the Staff attack skill.


- Added a finishing hit to the Staff attack skill.

- The standing attack for the Leaf Slash skill will now enable up to 5 hits instead of 4 hits.
- The forward attack for the Leaf Slash skill will now enable up to 7 hits instead of 5 hits.

- Changed the 4th and 5th attack motions for the forward attack for the Wind Slash skill.
- Changed the 4th attack motion for the standing attack for the Wind Slash skill, and added a 5th attack.
- Changed the 3rd and 4th attack motions for the standing attack for the Wind Slash skill.
- Changed the 5th hit for the forward attack for the Wind Slash skill, and added a 6th attack.
- The 4th hit for the Slash skill will now be a finishing hit, therefore the number of hits will now be increased.

< MUSA >

- Changed the standing attack motion for the Slice skill.
- The forward attack for the Slice skill will now enable up to 4 hits instead of 5 hits. - (Last modified : 1/16 16:10)

- Changed the standing attack motion for the Slice skill.
- The forward attack for the Slice skill will now enable up to 4 hits instead of 5 hits. - (Last modified : 1/16 16:10)
- Increased the number of hits for the standing attack and forward attack for the Heavy Fist skill.
- Changed the attacking motion for the 4th hit for the Heavy Fist skill.
- Increased the number of hits for the forward attack for the Heavy Fist skill.
- Added a finishing blow to the standing attack and forward attack for the Kriegsmesser Training.

● Fixed the issue where the Archer (with Awakening weapon) would show abnormal motions when repeatedly pressing the W key while auto-moving.
● Fixed the issue where the Archer (with Main Weapon) would show a sprinting motion when pressing the W key after pressing the T key.
● Fixed the issue where the Archer (with Main Weapon) would switch to a main weapon combat status after stopping by pressing the W key after pressing the T key.

● Fixed the issue where the Archer class could not equip Life Skill outfits which were obtained by using the Equipment Tailoring Coupon.
● Fixed the issue where the Archer’s Shold Glasses would appear graphically broken.

● The lower right-hand side of the Farmer’s Clothes has been fixed to look more natural.
● Fixed the graphical issue where the Archer's arm would pixelate when wearing the Venia Riding Attire.

● Shoulder pads will now be displayed when wearing the Karlstein Outfit.

● When switching from Awakening to normal mode while moving to the right, the direction of the effects and the direction of the attack will now be the same.

● The graphical issue where a part of the Berserker’s arm would look empty while equipping Cavaro Gloves has been fixed.

● Elastic Force - Added the information that WP is recovered on a good hit.

● Fixed the graphical awkwardness that appeared on the hair when equipping Canape Hat in a certain customization.

● Fixed the issue where she looked abnormal wearing the Envi Bikini.

● Wind Slash - Added to the skill description of how this skill works on horseback.

【 Ninja 】
● Wind Slash - Added to the skill description of how this skill works on horseback.

【 Valkyrie 】
● Valkyrie Slash - Added to the skill description of the number of hits this skill has on horseback.

【 Musa 】
● Slice V - Now able to evade during last hit.

● Fixed the issue where she looked abnormal wearing the New Year Hanbok outfit.

● The mysterious island of 'Marni’s Secret Isle' is revealed to the world. You may enter the island at certain times of the day through the ESC menu.

- Shadow Arena: Battle Royale is the first content that can be used on 'Marni’s Secret Isle'.

- Shadow Arena: Battle Royale Rules:


Shadow Arena: Battle Royale is a place where everyone starts the same at the same character level and tries to be the last man standing. Any regular character can enter Solo or Party Shadow Arena. Party Shadow Arena is accessible to Adventurers that are already in a party. Adventurers can defeat monsters and break chests to grow stronger in an attempt to survive.


Shadow Arena: Battle Royale can be accessed from all servers in Black Desert (including special servers such as Arsha.)


The maximum number of participants that can enter a single match is 50. However, an automated countdown of 60 seconds will start once 40 participants enter. Additional participants may enter the match during the 60-second countdown. The match will begin once the countdown ends.


1. Solo: Adventurers can enter Shadow Arena by themselves to battle it.

2. Party: Adventurers can enter Shadow Arena in a party with up to 3 members. You cannot enter if you are not in a party or do not have enough members.

● You can enter Shadow Arena during the following times:



Weekdays (Mon-Fri)


Weekends (Sat-Sun)


● Special events will start as Shadow Arena becomes available.

- Event Period : January 16, 2019 after maintenance ~ January 30, 2019 before maintenance

- You can get better rewards by surviving longer and collecting more items during the event period. You’ll also receive rewards depending on your rank from the matches.




400,000 silver


80,000 silver


30,000 silver


10,000 silver



Winner (Last Survivor)

Resplendent Black Rock


Radiant Black Rock

3rd – 5th

Sturdy Black Rock

6th – 10th

Faint Black Rock

11th – 20th

Rough Black Rock

※ Standard rewards will be sent through in-game mail every time the Shadow Arena match ends.

※ Black Rocks will also be sent through in-game mail every time the Shadow Arena match ends.

- Black rocks can be used to get Black Stones, Concentrated Magical Black Stones, and Memory Fragments.

- Please read the GM Note to find out more about Shadow Arena: Battle Royale.

[ Click here for more details ]

● The "Moon's Blessing" challenge function has been added to the Pearl Shop.
- You can receive rewards by meeting the requirements of the challenge to use Pearls.
- This is an event and the requirements and rewards may change according to the notice.
- Event Period: January 16, 2019 after maintenance - January 31, 2019 at 23:59 (GMT+8) (Resets every month on the 1st)



100 Pearls

1 Moon Fragment, 1 High-Quality Food Box

300 Pearls

1 Moon Fragment, 1 High-Quality Food Box

500 Pearls

1 Moon Fragment, 1 High-Quality Food Box, 1 High-Quality Draught Box,

1,000 Pearls

2 Moon Fragment, 1 Perfume of Courage, 1 High-Quality Food Box, 1 High-Quality Draught Box, 1 Medium Energy Tonic

2,000 Pearls

3 Moon Fragment, 2 Perfume of Courage, 2 High-Quality Food Box, 2 High-Quality Draught Box, 2 Book of Training - Combat (1 Hour), 2 Book of Training - Skill (1 Hour)

3,000 Pearls

4 Moon Fragment, 3 Perfume of Courage, 3 High-Quality Food Box, 3 High-Quality Draught Box, 2 Book of Training - Combat (1 Hour), 2 Book of Training - Skill (1 Hour), 1 Value Pack (7 days)

6,000 Pearls

6 Moon Fragment, 5 Perfume of Courage, 4 High-Quality Food Box, 4 High-Quality Draught Box, 5 Large Energy Tonic, 1 Value Pack (20 days)

* See your progress and event contents for "Moon's Blessing" challenge by:
- Click on the  Moon's Blessing button in the Pearl Shop top right corner.
- Click to purchase pearl items.
- Click to purchase in your cart.
- Click to gift pearl items.

● When you are disconnected while auto-fishing due to network instability, you will now resume auto-fishing automatically when you reconnect.


● The following 4 accessories have been added to the Guild Shop.
- Crimson Shadow Ring
- Crimson Shadow Earrings

- Crimson Shadow Belt

- Crimson Shadow Necklace

- The above items can only be used for 15 days and may be purchased by all guild members.

- However, your set allowance must be higher than the sell price of the accessory.

● The price of Cron Stones sold by NPC vendors were increased.

- You will now be able to purchase the 'Cron Stone Bundle: 10' from Patrigio's Secret Shop.

● Fixed the issue where certain event craft delivery items were displayed abnormal prices.

【 NPC 】

● Revised the dialog and added a description for the button related to cleansing for the Blacksmith NPC of each town.

● Fixed the issue where the ‘Ask About Boatmen’ button would appear in duplicates within the Amity information window of Philaberto Falasi.


● The DP for Giath when it changes its phase (by sitting down) has been greatly increased.
● The attack speed for the following monsters at the Karanda Ridge area has been decreased by 30%.
- Young Harpy
- Harpy
- Harpy Warrior
● The HP and AP for Khuruto monsters have been adjusted.
- Khuruto Elite Soldier: AP +5%
- Khuruto Soldier: AP +5%
- Young Khuruto: AP +12%
- Khuruto Fighter: AP +5%
- Khuruto Shaman: AP +7%


● Added quests to welcome returning users. The people of Velia are giving out various gifts to welcome the returning adventurers.
(The quests below can be accepted through the guidance of the Black Spirit which appears when you first log into the game with a returning adventurer character.)
- [Returning] Do you want to go to Velia?
- [Returning] Find Someone Helpful
- [Returning] Familiar Face
- [Returning] Eileen's Welcome
- [Returning] Shiel's Welcome
- [Returning] Preparing for the Next Adventure
- [Returning] Ready for Departure
- [Returning] A Fresh Adventure
- [Returning] Trying to Fish
- [Returning] Crio's Welcome
- [Returning] Extraordinary Fish I
- [Returning] Extraordinary Fish II
- [Returning] Extraordinary Fish III
- [Returning] How to Cook Dried Mackerel
- [Returning] Removing the Fishy Smell
- [Returning] Making Juice
- [Returning] The Power of Tools I
- [Returning] The Power of Tools II
- [Returning] Loud Noise
- [Returning] Enjoy Various Life Skill Activities

● Even when you lose the Dim Magical Sub-weapon, you can now receive the weapon again through an exchange after completing the new ‘Looking for Adventurers’ main quest.

● The dialog for accepting ‘The Confession’ quest has been revised to sound more natural.

● You can now obtain the Targak Steel Shard by completing the new Looking for Adventurers quest.

● Fixed a typo in the quest summary for [Cooking Lv32] Sharing Food.

● Fixed the issue where Node benefits would not be applied when the characters were at the underground area of the Gyfin Rhasia Temple.

● Fixed a typo of an NPC name from the dialog when accepting the ‘License to Hunt’ quest.

● To improve the Hide Costume feature, some adventurers will have the Hide Costume feature activated by default. This could cause the following issues:
- Adventurers who had the Hide Costume on prior to the maintenance will see their Pearl outfits due to the Hide Costume settings being reset.
- Adventurers who were hiding their mount’s equipment prior to the maintenance will be showing their mount equipment due to the Hide feature being reset.

【 UI 】

● Added a message in the UI Edit window which says that the settings for all the characters in the account have been saved.

● Improved the locations of the Atanis Firefly text and the text which appears when you press Q to sit down so that the text do not overlap.

● The Alchemy Stone durability will no longer be included in the equipment durability warning message.

● Enhancement success rates will now be displayed on the enhancement window.
- The success rate will be displayed up to two decimal places.
- The success rates are equal to the pre-existing rates.

● The design for the Transfusion window has been changed.

● Class icons have been added to the left side of the level display seen on the End Game window.

● When you complete a Black Spirit quest, the quest completion text for the quest widget will now say “Right-click to summon the Black Spirit and complete the quest.”

● When repairing a ship at the Wharf, you can now select either the Inventory or Storage for the fees.

● When you open the equipment Cleanse window, either the Inventory or the Storage will be selected by default depending on which one has 100,000 silver or more.

● Certain text (World benefits) which were overlapping with the World Name within the server selection screen have been fixed.

● Skill lists will no longer overlap when using skills with Skill Guide activated.

● The following text will now appear only to characters at Lv. 16 or higher.
- Use an Atanis Firefly to illuminate the darkness

● The View Underwear button will now be deactivated when you select the Hide Costume button while the View Underwear button has been activated in the Dye (J) window.
● Fixed the issue where items from the Inventory could not be dyed from the Dye (J) window.
● Fixed the issue where the Black Spirit Emojis would not appear properly across different languages.

● Fixed the issue where the quest widget of characters who have not yet completed certain main quests would disappear due to another character within the same account having completed the main quests.

● Fixed the issue where the Dream Horse was being displayed as Tier 9 from the Mount info connected to the Wagon.

● Fixed the issue where the View Underwear and Hide Costume buttons were not set to their proper default state in the Dye (J) window.
● Fixed the issue where the combat and awakening weapon status would automatically be deactivated when selecting the underwear from the Dye (J) window.
● Fixed the issue where the Hide Costume button would be deactivated when selecting normal equipment and Pearl equipment from the Dye (J) window.
● Fixed the issue where a durability of 0 would not be applied to underwear while in the Dye (J) window.

● Fixed the issue where emojis whispered from other servers would not be displayed.

● Fixed the issue where Cleanse Gear function would not correctly display the Inventory slot information.

● Fixed an issue where the pet’s special skill text would overlap with other icons.

● Fixed the issue where the length of the message would constantly stretch out if the same message would be repeatedly shown.

● The stack of hay hovering in the middle of the Northern Plantation has been removed.
● Fixed the issue where characters would appear as if they are inside the water at certain locations of Loopy Tree Forest.
● Fixed the issue where a line of light would be seen in the background when going into screenshot mode by pressing Ctrl+U while using Remastered Mode or Ultra Mode resolution settings.


● Sound effects have been added when opening and closing the Map (M).

Important information before you start:

  • Black ingredients are a previously prepared ingredient
  • Green ingredients are grown on your farm
  • Pink ingredientsare gathered by yourself or workers
  • Red ingredients are purchased from a food merchant
  • Blue ingredientsare fish or seafood that have been dried by pressing "L". You can use Please note that Lobsters, oysters and shrimps are not part of the seafood catagory. Here is a FISH LIST and SEAFOOD LIST if you want to double check.
  • (Ingredients in brackets) can be chosen from the list. For example: Beer can be made with wheat, barley, corn, potato OR sweet potato. If you choose to use wheat the recipe requires 5 wheat, if you choose to use barley the recipe requires 5 barley.

If you have trouble finding any of the ingredients refer to our gathering guide.

To cook any of the dishes in this post, you will need a Cooking Utensil and a house to put it in. A basic cooking utensil can be bought from a food merchant for 1,000 silver. In addition, you may require higher profession level for some of the dishes in this list:

  • White dishescan be prepared at any profession level
  • Green dishes require Apprentice Lv.1 or higher to prepare
  • Blue dishes require Skillful Lv.1 or higher to prepare
  • Yellow dishes require Professional Lv.1 or higher to prepare
  • Orange dishes require Artisan Lv.1 or higher to prepare
  • These conditions apply to all dishes unless stated otherwise

Check out our Cooking guide for more information on the Cooking profession

NOTE: In the Black Desert the craft is heavily affected by your skill level. At higher skill levels you can use less materials and get more products.

For all recipes/designs you can use the general substitution rules:
- 1 ingredient of green grade can be replaced by 2-3 white grade ingredients and vice versa.
- 1 ingredient of blue grade can be replaced by 3-5 white grade ingredients and vice versa.
- 1 fresh fish can be replaced by 2 dried fishes and vice versa.

If you don't know how to purchase a house, click here to take a look at our housing guide.

  Basic Ingredients

Below are the basic cooking ingredients that will be used to make more complex dishes.

 IconBasic IngredientHow to get/make it
EggSend workers to a chicken farm
MilkFind a cow at a farm and press "R" to begin the mini-game
CheesePress "L" and use "Drying" to dry Milk
CreamPress "L" and use "Shaking" to mix Milk and Sugar
ButterPress "L" and use "Shaking" to mix Cream and Salt
FlourPress "L" and use "Grinding" to grind Wheat, Barley, Corn, Potato OR Sweet Potato
DoughPress "L" and use "Shaking" to mix Flour and Mineral Water
VinegarSugar x1,
Leavening Agent x1,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / Banana / Pineapple) x1, 
(Wheat / Barley / Corn / Potato / Sweet Potato) x1
Essence of LiquorFlour x1,
Leavening Agent x1,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / Banana / Pineapple) x1
DressingOlive Oil x1,
Egg x1,
Salt x2,
Mineral Water x1
Red SauceBase Sauce x1,
Sugar x2,
Mineral Water x2,
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat / Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x1
White SauceBase Sauce x1,
Milk x1,
Cooking Wine x2,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / Banana / Pineapple) x1
Teff FlourPress "L" and use "Grinding" to grind Teff Grain
Teff Flour DoughPress "L" and use "Mixing" to mix Mineral Water and Teff Powder
  Basic Dishes

Below are the more complex dishes. Some of these dishes require higher level cooking skill and utensils. Most of these dishes also have a chance to result in an advanced dish which has better stats. The chance of creating an advanced dish is dependent on your cooking skill level.

Grain JuicePress "L" and use "Simple Cooking" to cook Mineral Water and Wheat, Barley, Corn, Potato OR Sweet Potato x3HP Potion +75
Concentrated Grain JuicePress "L" and use "Simple Cooking" to cook Grain Juice x3 

(You can also use Grain Juice x30 and Sugar x1 to produce Concentrated Grain Juice x10)

HP Potion +125
Highly Concentrated Grain JuicePress "L" and use "Simple Cooking" to cook Concentrated Grain Juice x3

(You can also use Concentrated Grain Juice x30 and Sugar x1 to produce Highly Concentrated Grain Juice x10)

HP Potion +200
Refined Grain JuicePress "L" and use "Simple Cooking" to cook Highly Concentrated Grain Juice x3

(You can also use Highly Concentrated Grain Juice x30 and Sugar x1 to produce Refined Grain Juice x10)

HP Potion +275
High-Quality Carrot JuiceHigh-Quality Carrot x1,
Sugar x3,
Flour x3, 
Mineral Water x4
Restores Horse HP +200
Special Carrot Juice
(Beginner Lv 6)
Special Carrot x1,
Sugar x3,
Flour x3, 
Mineral Water x4
Restores Horse HP +300
Good Feed(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x6,
Flour x4, 
Mineral Water x3,
Dried Fish x1
 Pet food +80 recovery
Organic Feed
(Apprentice Lv 6)
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x5,
Dried Fish x4,
(Chicken Meat/Kuku Bird Meat/Flamingo Meat) x4,
Oatmeal x2
(You can also use one of 2 different types of dried fish instead of 4 of the same kind)
 Pet food +140 recovery

Chance of:
Cool Draft Beer 
(Skilled Lv 1)
Sugar x1,
Leavening Agent x2,
Mineral Water x6,
(Wheat/Barley/Corn/Potato/Sweet Potato) x5
Worker recovers 2 (3) action points
Grilled Bird MeatChance of:
Steaming Hot Grilled Bird Meat
(Skilled Lv 1)
(Chicken Meat/Kuku Bird Meat/Flamingo Meat) x2,
Deep Frying Oil x6,
Salt x1,
Cooking Wine x2
Worker recovers 3 (4) action points

Chance of:
Refined Oatmeal 
(Skilled Lv 9)
Milk x3,
Onions x3,
Cooking Honey x2,
Flour x9
Worker recovers 5 (6) action points
Fish Fillet Chip

Chance of:
Mouth-watering Fish Fillet Chip 
(Skilled Lv 9)
Flour x7,
Salt x2,
White Sauce x3,
Dried Fish x2
Worker recovers 5 (6) action points
Freekeh Snake Stew

Chance of:
Thick Freekeh Snake Stew
(Professional Lv 1)
Snake Meat x3,
Freekeh x6,
Star Anise x2,
Mineral Water x5
Worker recovers 5 (6) action points
Cheese Pie
(Apprentice Lv 6)

Chance of:
High-Quality Cheese Pie
(Professional Lv 3)

Cheese x7,
Butter x3,
Egg x3,
Dough x4
Worker recovers 7 (8) action points
Sweet Honey WineTop-Quality Cooking Honeyx2,
Full-bodied Exotic Herbal Wine x4,
Sugar x10,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / 
Banana / Pineapple) x5
Used as a fairy growth item (2,000 EXP)
Exotic Herbal Wine

Chance of:
Full-bodied Exotic Herbal Wine
(Skilled Lv 1)
Dough x3,
Essence of Liquor x1,
Leavening Agent x2, 
Mineral Water x5
Fishing speed +1 for 30 (45) minutes
Aloe Yogurt
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Thick Aloe Yogurt
(Skilled Lv 5)

Aloe x5,
Milk x2,
Leavening Agent x3,
Sugar x3
Fishing speed +1 for 30 (45) minutes
Fruit Wine

Chance of:
Luscious Fruit Wine
(Skilled Lv 9)
Essence of Liquor x3,
Exotic Herbal Wine x1,
Mineral Water x2,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / 
Banana / Pineapple) x5
Fishing speed +1 for 60 (75) minutes
Soft Bread
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Moist Milk Bread
(Skilled Lv 5)

Dough x5, 
Leavening Agent x2,
Egg x2,
Milk x3
Max stamina +100 for 30 (45) minutes
Lizard Kebab
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Lean Lizard Kebab
(Skilled Lv 5)

(Lizard Meat / Worm Meat / Waragon Meat /
Cheetah Dragon Meat) x6,
Red Sauce x2,
(Wheat/Barley/Corn/Potato/Sweet Potato) x7, 
Onions x3
Max stamina +100 for 30 (45) minutes
Meat Pie

Chance of:
Lean Meat Pie
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / 
Weasel Meat / Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x4,
Dough x6,
Sugar x2,
Olive Oil x2
Max stamina +200 for 60 (75) minutes
Desert Dumpling

Chance of:
Chewy Desert Dumpling
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Lizard Meat / Worm Meat / Waragon Meat /
Cheetah Dragon Meat) x6,
Dough x6,
Cinnamon x1,
Olive Oil x2
Max stamina +200 for 60 (75) minutes
Fried Fish

Chance of:
Crispy Fried Fish
(Skilled Lv 1)
Dried Fish x1,
Deep Frying Oil x2,
Flour x3
Movement Speed +1 for 30 (45) minutes
Fish Filet Salad

Chance of:
Fresh Fish Filet Salad
(Skilled Lv 9)
Dried Fish x1,
Dried Fish x1,
Dressing x2,
Onions x3,
Cheese x2
(This recipe requires you to use 2 different types of fish)
Movement Speed +1 for 60 (75) minutes
Meat Sandwich

(Apprentice Lv 6)

Chance of:
High-Quality Meat Sandwich
(Professional Lv 3)

Soft Bread x1,
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x7,
Cheese x3,
(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x6
Movement Speed +1, Max Stamina +200 for 90 (110) minutes
Grain Soup

Chance of:
Special Grain Soup
(Skilled Lv 1)
(Wheat/Barley/Corn/Potato/Sweet Potato) x6, 
Mineral Water x3,
Salt x1,
Cooking Wine x3
Gathering Speed +1 for 30 (45) minutes
Pickled Vegetables

Chance of:
Sweet and Sour Pickled Vegetable
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x8,
Vinegar x4, 
Leavening Agent x2,
Sugar x2
Gathering Speed +1 for 60 (75) minutes
Steamed Fish

Chance of:
Lean Steamed Fish
(Skilled Lv 5)
Dried Fish x1,
Garlic x2, 
Mineral Waterx3,
Salt x2
Accuracy +4 for 30 (45) minutes
Aloe Cookie
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Sweet Aloe Cookie
(Skilled Lv 5)

Aloe x5,
Dough x7,
Cooking Honey x3,
Sugar x4
Accuracy +4 for 30 (45)  minutes
Steamed Seafood

Chance of:
Plentiful Steamed Fish
(Skilled Lv 9)
Dried Seafood x1, 
Dried Seafood x1, 
Hot Pepper x3,
Mineral Water x6,
Salt x2

(This recipe requires you to use 2 different types of seafood)

Accuracy +6 for 60 (75)  minutes
Fruit Juice
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Thick Fruit Juice
(Skilled Lv 5)

Sugar x3, 
Mineral Water x5,
Salt x1,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / 
Banana / Pineapple) x4
Max MP +30 for 30 (45) minutes
Tea With Fine Scent

Chance of:
Tea with Strong Scent
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Rose/Tulip/Sunflower) x4, 
Mineral Water x7, 
Cooking Honey x3, (Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / 
Banana / Pineapple) x4
Max MP +50 for 60 (75) minutes
Meat Stew
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Thick Meat Stew
(Skilled Lv 1)

Flour x2, 
Mineral Water x3, 
Cooking Wine x2, 
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x5
Max HP +30 for 30 (45) minutes

Chance of:
Juicy Steak
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x8,
Salt x2,
Garlic x2,
Red Sauce x2
 Max HP +50 for 60 (75) minutes
Fried Vegetables
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Crispy Fried Vegetables
(Skilled Lv 5)

Deep Frying Oil x6,
Dough x4,
(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x4,
Egg x2
 HP Regen +2 for 30 (45)minutes
Fried Bird

Chance of:
Freshly Fried Bird
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Chicken Meat/Kuku Bird Meat/Flamingo Meat) x7,
Egg x2,
Flour x4, 
Pepper x3
 HP Regen +5 for 60 (75) minutes
Grilled Sausage
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Smoked Sausage
(Skilled Lv 5)

(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x6,
Onion x1,
Pepper x2,
Salt x2
 All AP +1 for 30 (45) minutes
Boiled Bird Eggs
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Appealing Boiled Bird Eggs
(Skilled Lv 5)

Mineral Water x6,
Egg x3,
Salt x1, 
Cooking Wine x1
All AP +1 for 30 (45) minutes
Stir-Fried MeatChance of:
Special Stir-Fried Meat
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x7,
Base Sauce x2,
Onion x2,
Hot Pepper x3
All AP +2 for 60 (75) minutes
Ham Sandwich

Chance of:
High-Quality Ham Sandwich
(Professional Lv 7)
Soft Bread x2,
Grilled Sausage x2,
Egg x4,
(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x5
All AP +3, Accuracy +8 for 90 (110) minutes
Dark Pudding

Chance of:
Bloody Dark Pudding
(Professional Lv 7)
Oatmeal x1,
Pickled Vegetables x1,
(Chicken Meat/Kuku Bird Meat/Flamingo Meat) x5,
(Deer Blood / Sheep Blood / Pig Blood /
Waragon Blood / Ox Blood) x7
All AP+3, Damage against human race +2 for 90 (110)minutes
Seafood Grilled with Butter
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Savory Seafood Grilled with Butter
(Skilled Lv 5)

Dried Seafood x1,
Butter x3,
Salt x2,
Olive Oil x1
Attack Speed +1 for 30 (45) minutes

Smoked Fish Steak

Chance of:
Golden Smoked Fish Steak
(Skilled Lv 9)
Dried Fish x1, 
Dried Fish x1, 
Olive Oil x1, 
Salt x2
(This recipe requires you to use 2 different types of fish)
Attack Speed +1 for 60 (75)minutes
Cheese Gratin

Chance of:
Chewy Cheese Gratin
(Professional Lv 3)
Grilled Sausage x1,
Cheese x3,
Dough x5,
Red Sauce x3, (Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x4
Attack Speed +1, Max HP +70 for 90 (110) minutes
Seafood Mushroom Salad
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Special Seafood Mushroom Salad
(Skilled Lv 5)

Dried Seafood x1, 
Mushroom x1,
Dressing x2
Weight limit +20 for 30 (45)minutes
Meat Pasta

Chance of:
Spaghetti alla Bolognese
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x5,
Dough x4,
Garlic x2,
Pepper x3
Weight limit +40 for 60 (75) minutes
Beehive Cookie

(Apprentice Lv 6)

Chance of:
Crispy Beehive Cookie
(Professional Lv 3)

(Cooking Honey/Wild Beehive) x6,
Egg x2,
Dough x4,
Milk x4
Weight limit +50, Fishing Speed +1 for 90 (110) minutes
Stir-fried Vegetables
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Crispy Stir-Fried Vegetables
(Skilled Lv 5)

(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x5,
Hot Pepper x2,
Olive Oil x2,
Salt x1
Jumping Height for 30 (45) minutes
Fruit Pudding
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Special Fruit Pudding
(Skilled Lv 5)

(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / 
Banana / Pineapple) x5,
Cream x1,
Milk x3,
Sugar x2
MP Regen +2 for 30 (45) minutes
Fruit and Vegetable Salad

Chance of:
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Salad
(Skilled Lv 9)
Vinegar x1,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / Banana / Pineapple) x4,
(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x4, 
Cooking Wine x2
MP Regen +5 for 60 (75) minutes
Steamed Bird

Chance of:
Well-aged Steamed Bird
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Chicken Meat/Kuku Bird Meat/Flamingo Meat) x5,
(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x3,
Salt x2,
Vinegar x2,
Essence of Liquor x2
Combat EXP +3% for 60 (75) minutes
Meat Croquette

Chance of:
Crispy Meat Croquette
(Professional Lv 3)
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x8,
Flour x5, 
Deep Frying Oil x4,
Egg x2,
Cheese x2
Combat EXP +5% for 90 (110) minutes
Milk Tea

Chance of:
Smooth Milk Tea
(Professional Lv 7)
Tea With Fine Scent x2, (Cooking Honey/Wild Beehive) x3, Milk x3, Flour x2Combat EXP +8%, HP Regen +5 for 90 (110) minutes
Assorted Side Dishes
(Apprentice Lv 6)

Chance of:
Plentiful Assorted Side Dishes
(Professional Lv 3)

Cheese x3,
Fried Bird x1,
Dried Seafood x2,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / Banana / Pineapple) x5
Life EXP +5% for 90 (110) minutes
Sute Tea

Chance of:
Health Sute Tea
(Professional Lv 7)
Tea With Fine Scent x2,
Milk x3,
Salt x1,
Butter x2
Life EXP+8% for 90 (110)minutes
Stir-Fried Seafood
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Special Stir-Fried Seafood
(Skilled Lv 5)

Dried Seafood x1,
White Sauce x2,
Hot Pepper x2,
(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x4
Casting Speed +1 for 30 (45) minutes
Seafood Pasta

Chance of:
High-Quality Seafood Pasta
(Skilled Lv 9)
Dried Seafood x1,
Dried Seafood x1, 
Dough x5,
Cooking Wine x3,
Garlic x3
(This recipe requires you to use 2 different types of seafood)
Casting Speed +1 for 60 (75) minutes
Fruit Pie
(Apprentice Lv 6)

Chance of:
Sweet Fruit Pie
(Professional Lv 3)

Dough x6,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / Banana / Pineapple) x6,
Cream x3,
Sugar x4
Casting Speed +1, Max MP +70 for 90 (110) minutes
Meat Soup
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Special Meat Soup
(Skilled Lv 5)

Mineral Water x5, 
(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat /
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x5,
Pepper x1,
Cream x2
Critical Strike +1 for 30 (45) minutes
Fish Soup

Chance of:
Special Fish Soup
(Skilled Lv 9)
Flour x3,
Dried Fish x1,
Cream x2, 
Mineral Water x6
Critical Strike +1 for 60 (75) minutes

Chance of:
Soft Omelet
(Skilled Lv 9)
(Wheat/Barley/Corn/Potato/Sweet Potato) x5,
Egg x5,
Olive Oil x2,
Salt x2
All damage reduction +2 for 60 (75)minutes
Honey Wine

Chance of:
Tangy HOney Wine
(Skilled Lv 9)
Cooking Honey x3,
Sugar x2,
Mineral Water x6,
Essence of Liquor x2
All damage reduction +2 for 60 (75) minutes
Lean Meat Salad
(Apprentice Lv 6)

Chance of:
Top Grade Lean Meat Salad
(Professional Lv 3)

(Deer Meat / Fox Meat / Rhino Meat / Pork / Beef / Raccoon Meat / Weasel Meat / 
Bear Meat / Wolf Meat) x8,
Dressing x4,
Pepper x3,
Vinegar x2
All damage reduction +3, HP Regen +5 for 90 (110) minutes
Pickled Fish

Chance of:
Sour Pickled Fish
(Skilled Lv 9)
Dried Fish x1,
Vinegar x2,
Salt x4,
Leavening Agent x2
Amity Gain +5% for 60 (75)  minutes

Chance of:
Fragrant Borscht
(Skilled Lv 9)
Cinnamon x1,
Fragrant Jerky x7,
Milk x3, 
Mineral Water x2
Max Energy +10 (20) for 60 (75) minutes
Steamed Whale Meat

Chance of:
Steamed Chewy Whale Meat
(Professional Lv 1)
Blue Whale Meat x1,
Honey Wine x1,
Salt x2,
Garlic x4, 
Mineral Water x6
Damage Reduction +2 (3), Evasion +8 for 75 (90) minutes
Whale Meat Salad

Chance of:
Fresh Whale Meat Salad
(Professional Lv 1)
Blue Whale Meat x1,
Egg x3,
(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x6,
Pepper x4,
Dressing x2
Life EXP +10% (15), Max Energy +10 (20) for 75 (90) minutes
Teff Bread
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Spongy Teff Bread
(Skilled Lv 5)

Teff Powder x5,
Mineral Water x3,
Leavening Agent x2,
Cooking/Alchemy Time - 0.3s  for 30 (45) minutes
Teff Sandwich

Chance of:
Spicy Teff Sandwich
(Master Lv 1)
Teff Bread x1,
Grilled Scorpion x1,
Freekeh Snake Stew x1,
Red Sauce x3
Cooking/Alchemy Time -0.5s for 110 (120) minutes
Date Palm Wine
(Apprentice Lv 6)

Chance of:
Mild Date Palm Wine
(Professional Lv 6)

Date Palm x5,
Essence of Liquor x2,
Sugar x1,
Leavening Agent x4
All Evasion +4 for 90 (110) minutes
King of Jungle Hamburger

Chance of:
Jumbo King of Jungle Hamburg
(Master Lv 1)
Teff Bread x4,
Pickled Vegetables x2,
Lion Meat x4,
Nutmeg x3
Ignores All Resistance +3%, Critical Hit Damage +5% for 110 (120) minutes

(Skilled Lv 6)

Chance of:
Classic Couscous
(Artisan Lv 6)

Freekeh Snake Stew x1,
Teff Dough x6,
Nutmeg x3,
(Pumpkin/Tomato/Cabbage/Paprika/Olive) x4
Processing Success Rate +5% for 110 (120) minutes
Grilled Scorpion

Chance of:
Crispy Grilled Scorpion
(Artisan Lv 1)
Scorpion Meat x3,
Butter x2,
Nutmeg x3,
Hot Pepper x3
Damage Reduction -5% from monsters for 90 (110) minutes
Fig Pie

Chance of:
Sweet Fig Pie
(Professional Lv 1)
Fig x5,
Dough x3,
Olive Oilx2
+3% chance of obtaining resources from gathering for 60 (75) minutes
Pistachio Fried Rice
(Beginner Lv 6)

Chance of:
Savory Pistachio Fried Rice
(Professional Lv 6)

Pistachio x4,
Teff x6,
Cinnamon x2, 
Processing Success Rate +3% for 90 (110) minutes
Coconut Cocktail

Chance of:
Chilled Coconut Cocktail
(Master Lv 1)
Coconuts x2,
Exotic Herbal Wine x1,
(Apple / Grapes / Strawberry / Cherry / Pear / Banana / Pineapple) x1,
Essence of Liquorx2,
Mineral Water x5
Reduced automatic Fishing time +5% for 60 (75) minutes
Coconut Pasta

Chance of:
Sweet Coconut Pasta
(Master Lv 1)
Coconuts x2,
Onions x2,
Dough x5, 
Garlic x4,
White Sauce x1
Heat stroke and Hypothermia Resistance +10% for 60 (75) minutes
Coconut Fried Fish

Chance of:
Crispy Coconut Fried Fish
(Master Lv 1)
Coconuts x3,
DriedFish x1,
Egg x2,
Dough x3,
Deep Frying Oil x4

Jul 18, Black Desert Online introduced the new Frenzy Draught with their . Next best potion to use with Frenzy Draught is Perfume of Courage, which.

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BDO Frenzy Draught: Combat AP Potion, Recipe & Obtaining (Black Desert Online 2019)

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November 3rd – All Saints Sunday

Luke 6:20-31   Then [Jesus] looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.  “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.


Here’s a fun fact I just learned.  There are twenty-two towns and cities in the state of Minnesota named after saints.   There’s St. Paul [of course] … St. Anthony ... St. Bonifacius ... St. Francis ... St. Michael ... St. Peter ... just to name a few. When our forebears immigrated to our state, they brought their patron saints with them as a reminder of where they had come from.   It was a way of remaining connected to the old country, along with holding on to one’s native language and celebrating cultural events like Syttende Mai and Juhannus.

I’d like to take a moment this morning to talk about a modern day saint who doesn’t have a town or a celebration in Minnesota named after him: Saint Oscar Romero.   I shared a bit of his story when he was beatified several years back, which some of you may remember.  

As a boy, Oscar’s father wanted him to be a carpenter like Jesus.   But he chose to instead attend seminary and was ordained into the priesthood in 1942.   After earning a doctorate in theology, he returned home and served as a parish priest before becoming the rector of a seminary in San Salvador.  Romero was appointed archbishop of El Salvador in 1977.   The reason the Catholic Church appointed him was because they considered him a ‘safe choice.’   He wasn’t known to take sides on political issues.   He was quiet and thoughtful.   Romero wouldn’t rock the boat, or so they thought, which could mean trouble for the church.  

In 1977 El Salvador was caught in a seemingly endless cycle of violence.  The vast majority of rural folks lived in crushing poverty.  They had no power to organize for a livable wage or to reform the corrupt systems that kept them in poverty.  Those who were bold enough to speak out were often kidnapped at gunpoint never to be seen again.  Just three weeks after his appointment as archbishop, Romero was shaken by the assassination of one of his closest friends, Father Rutilio Grande, who was a vigorous defender of the rights of the poor.    Within a short time, five more priests were assassinated for speaking publically about how their parishioners were being exploited.  

Here’s why we Americans are perhaps not that familiar with St. Romero’s story.  As Archbishop, Oscar Romero publicly criticized our government for funding and training the very people who were murdering priests and peasants and dumping their bodies in landfills. And as so often happens when those who have no power speak out, his words had violent consequences for himself and for those around him.   On March 24th, 1980, as Pastor Romero celebrated mass in a local parish chapel, soldiers burst into the church and martyred him in front of his parishioners as he was blessing the sacrament.   

In a radio address the evening before his death he had directed these words to those who would take his life. ‘In the name of God, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven every day more tumultuous; I beseech you, I beg you, I command you!  In the name of God, cease the repression!’

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.   Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.   At first glance, Luke’s beatitudes may strike us as an odd choice for All Saints’ Sunday.     But these words are shared with us in order to give us the opportunity to re-center ourselves and to remember that our eternity with God isn’t just about a life in a kingdom that is yet to come.     Living as children of God has meaning in this life … today … right here among our neighbors.    According to scripture, the communion of saints is far broader than just the people we worship with or who share our religious views, ethnicity or cultural heritage.    Jesus declares that all are blessed and that all are invited to sit at the table with him.  

There’s a word in Luke’s beatitudes that is meant to humble us; which is the word our text translates into English as ‘poor,’ as in ‘Blessed are the poor.’     The word Luke uses is the Greek word ‘ptochoi’ which describes a beggar, a vagrant.    Its literal translation is ‘one who is bent over.’    Its root is the word ‘ptuo,’ which as you might guess means ‘to spit on.’  When Jesus declares ‘Blessed are the poor,’ he’s reminding us that God’s blessings are consciously and deliberately bestowed onto the very lowest of the low.  He’s proclaiming that God lives in a special relationship with the addicted, the abused, the starving, the evicted, the imprisoned, and the undocumented.   Jesus is literally proclaiming ‘Blessed are the bent over and the spat-upon.’   The very same people whom our success-driven culture declares to be losers, outcasts and nobodies, Jesus declares to be blessed.

If it feels like we just talked about this; well, you’re right.   This is the second time in recent months that the lectionary has assigned Luke’s beatitudes as the gospel text.   I asked a rather pointed question when we discussed this a few months back; a question that was heard as perhaps being a bit confrontational for a worship setting.  But the gospel is meant to confront us.    So I’m going to poke the hornet’s nest this morning by asking it again.    How is it possible that we … as the church … have become so disconnected from Jesus’ own words?   How did it come to be that families living in poverty are written off as losers and takers?   When did it become a ‘Christian thing’ to refer to refugees as vermin and human scum?    What does it reveal about us that people whom we won’t even make eye contact with on the street are the very same people whom Jesus names out loud as being blessed in God’s sight?      

Because of our failure to love as we are loved, we have but one response, which is to admit that we don’t know how to fix ourselves and to believe in God’s promise of forgiveness.   I invite you to hear again the words we confessed together at the beginning of our worship.   This is the Church itself acknowledging our collective failure to live out our calling as disciples.  We confess the ways we live only for ourselves.   We fail to see you in our neighbor’s face.   We turn our ears from voices that cry out.   We passby the hungry and the oppressed.   In your great mercy, forgive our sin and strengthen us for service to all in need; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

We are all beggars because of sin.    We are all vagrants in need of redemption.    And so Jesus proclaims that it’s not the externalthings of this life that connect us to one another and to God, but rather the internal things, the spiritual things; things like faith, love, empathy, and a desire to humble ourselves as servants of the gospel.    We all share something in common with those whose lives are ‘bent over,’ which is our desperate and unfixable brokenness.    And this is exactly where the good news in Luke’s beatitudes is found for us.    It is in our most broken places that God enters in and transforms us with the promise of resurrection life.    It is in our most broken places that God declares us to be blessed.

In those moments when we so desperately need to pour out our sorrows to anyone who will listen; that’s when God enters in and comforts us with the sure and certain promise that we will never be alone.  Not in this life or the next.  And in response to this astonishing promise, we are called to do nothing less than to go out and change the world by living out these beatitudes in the presence of our neighbors.  Each one of us has a story to share.     And within each of our stories are entire chapters of loss, separation, grief and despair.    

We are reminded today that God doesn’t use us to transform this world despite our sin.    God uses us because of our sin.   God uses our broken places to bring life, renewal, hope, and joy into this world.    God turns our sin on its head and then uses us to do the kinds of things that no one else can do in quite the same way.   The promise made to us when we are baptized is that God will take our strengths and our weaknesses, our accomplishments andour failures, and use these things to transform our community.    God uses us as messengers of the kingdom that is breaking into this world through the presence of the risen Christ.

What I’m describing here, God working through imperfect human beings like us, is the very definition of being a saint.  We are saints called and sent to reach out to all the other saints; especially, as scripture reminds us, those saints whom this world separates out as being unworthy of its love and who are kicked aside as unredeemable.   And … yes … this means that sometimes we will suffer at the hands of this world, because this world falsely believes that it needs losers in order for there to be winners.   When we speak out in solidarity with the poor and the hungry we will begin to get a sense of what Saint Oscar Romero encountered when he spoke out for his impoverished people.  And in these moments we’ll want to remember Jesus’ words: ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.’

The next time you drive through a Minnesota town named for a saint; whether it’s St. James … St. Stephen … St. Vincent … or St. Cloud … think about how that name connects you to the love God has for the ‘spat upon’ of this world, and be reminded to go out and serve the Lord, by loving God and by loving your neighbor as yourself.

My prayer this day is that we will experience the many blessings of God just when we need them the most; when we are lost, afraid, lonely, or in need of a hand to hold.    May God continue to bless all who are bent over and spat upon, that we may be the hands that lift them up.    We close in the name of Jesus, who died so that we might live.   Amen.


October 27th – Reformation Sunday

John 8:31-36   Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”  Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”


I was reminded this past week of a movie that came out some twenty years ago titled Mr. Holland’s Opus.   It’s a beautifully crafted movie about how our lives impact the lives of those around us.   If you haven’t seen it, Richard Dreyfus plays a high school music teacher who is frustrated because his career as a classical composer has hit something of a dead end.   He’s taken a teaching job because he needs to pay the bills … and he loathes it.  To him, music isn’t about notes printed on a page.  Music is about heart.   It’s about emotion.   It’s about beauty.   It’s about passion.   He loves Beethoven, Bach and Mozart.    But his students couldn’t care less about the kind of music he’s passionate about.   And because they sense his resentment toward them, they hate being there.  As hard as he tries, he can’t get his kids to appreciate what he loves so deeply.    And so he gets angrier, more embittered, and he takes it out on them, which makes them resent him even more.  

But then one day he has an epiphany.    In a moment of frustration he asks his class if there’s any kind of music they like.   Well … its 1965.   They all like rock and roll.   So he sits down at the piano and plays the hit song ‘Lovers’ Concerto,’ a melody that all of his students recognize.   When he asks who wrote it they all raise their hands.    ‘The Toys’ … they say.  Not so fast.    The melody, Mr. Holland tells them, was composed in 1725 by Johann Sebastian Bach and titled Minuet in G.   He plays Bach’s composition for them so they can hear that it’s the same song.   The version they’re familiar with is just played with different instruments and in 4/4 time with lyrics added to it.   ‘So,’ he says, ‘you do like Bach.’

Then he takes it a step further.   ‘Can you sense the connective tissue between those two songs,’ he asks, ‘and this one?’ as he rips into a song by Jerry Lee Lewis.   The kids go wild.  They love it.   And more importantly, they get it.    For the first time, they begin to understand what Mr. Holland has been trying to teach them about musical scales, melody and composition.  They begin connecting the dots between the classical music of the past and the music of their own generation.

I love the question that Mr. Holland asks here, ‘Can you sense the connective tissue between those songs and this one?’ because it’s a question that implies that the search for truth in our modern world is directly connected to truths that have perhaps been lost over time.   This is the question that Martin Luther asked some 500 years ago.  It’s what we are invited to explore today as The Church.

For five centuries now, we Lutherans have been gathering on the last Sunday of October to remember that our forebears sacrificed for the freedom to read the Bible in our homes, and to worship in the church of our choice.   But our reformation gathering isn’t about clinging to traditions.   In fact, it’s the exact opposite of that.  Reformation Sunday is a reminder of two powerful scriptural truths; the reality of our sin, and the certainty of God’s grace.    These truths had become lost over the centuries.    And so Luther went back to scripture and to the writings of the early Church fathers, and he pulled them forward and made them relevant once again to the Church.  

And the way he did this is important to the story.   Like Mr. Holland, who used Fats Domino, The Kingsmen, and The Beatles to connect his students to the classical composers he loved, Luther used the culture of his day to reclaim long-lost biblical truths.    He translated the New Testament into German so that people could actually read the gospel story.   He wrote hymns using melodies that people were already familiar with because they sang them in taverns.  Luther became the ‘connective tissue’ between the scriptural proclamation of sin and grace and the popular culture of his day.   And because he did, the gospel came alive for people who had never heard it. 

Pulling these two truths forward to today, I’m not sure which one is more challenging for us … the way scripture speaks of our brokenness or the way it speaks of God’s forgiveness.  Paul’s statement that all of us sin and all of us fall short of the glory of God and so we are all slaves to sin is a pretty challenging thing for us to hear.   Luther envisioned sin through the lens of St. Augustine who lived some 1,100 years before he did.   Augustine defined sin as disordered love.    In other words, we place the things we love in the wrong order.   

We place our own individual rights and privileges above caring for the poor and the immigrant.    We value power and authority over honesty and integrity.     We protect our own personal security at the expense of justice for our neighbor.    We love our country more than we love God.  That’s why the law so persistently reminds us of how we should love our neighbor as ourselves, how we should stand up to the injustice of others, how we shouldlive out the gospel in such a way that others can envision God’s love at work in their own lives.     Anytime we’re reminded of the way that we should be, that’s God’s law speaking to us.   It’s the knowledge, as Paul says, that we are broken and unable to fix ourselves.

What we gather to celebrate on Reformation Sunday [and hopefully on every other Sunday] is the grace by which we escape the glaring truth that not one of us has any clue about how to put the pieces of this broken world back together again.    It’s a grace found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Through the sacrifice made for us in Jesus’ suffering and death, we are made whole in God’s sight.   Through the promise of renewal shared with us through his resurrection, the burden of death is lifted from us.    No strings attached.   No small print to read before hitting the “I Accept’ button.   God’s promise isn’t like an Apple I-Phone contract.   It’s a promise already made and kept.   

Because of God’s deep, abiding and unconditional love for us, God’s answer to the question ‘What can I do to be saved?’ is a reassuring ‘Don’t worry.  I’ve got this!’     Our invitation is simply to respond to this promise by setting aside our desires and our ambitions, and be still and know that God is God.  This is, of course, sometimes easier said than done because we want to decide what order the things we love should be placed in.   We want to decide when forgiveness should be offered, to whom it’s offered, and what limits should be placed on it.  But God’s grace is unconditional.   There is nothing we possess that can influence, shape or withhold it.    God’s grace just is.    

And look … I get it.   I sound a bit like a broken record when I preach this, but it’s important that we grasp what grace really looks like. We so desperately want God’s grace to be an ‘if / then’ kind of thing, so that we can be in control.    If I love God enough, then God will love me in return.     If I give generously to others, then God will give generously back to me.    If I’m penitential about my sin, then God will forgive me.  

This is exactly the way of thinking about sin and forgiveness that Martin Luther confronted some 500 years ago when he nailed his 95 theological opinions to the castle church door in Wittenberg.    Back then, the Church taught that it was hard to get God to forgive.   You had to work at it.    The means of earning forgiveness was penance; through things like fasting, putting money in the church coffers, and making pilgrimage to holy sites.    If one was penitent, and if one fulfilled the requirements of repentance, then maybe God could be persuaded to forgive.    These are all good things.  That’s why we call them ‘good works.’   But they’re not grace.

Grace isn’t some kind of bargain we make with God that leads to forgiveness.     Instead, grace is a ‘because / therefore’ proclamation.     Because God loves us, and because Jesus suffered and died, and because he rose from the dead; therefore our sins are already forgiven and we are righteous in the sight of God.      

We proclaim that even our own faith is not about what we do, but is instead about what God has already done, and about what God continues to do on our behalf.    It’s Jesus’ faith in the promise of his death and resurrection that brings God into our everyday lives.  [Let me repeat that.  This is definitely going to be on the next quiz.]   Jesus’ own faith in the promise of his suffering, death and resurrection is what brings God into our lives.  

God doesn’t sit back and wait for us to become the person we want to be, or even the person we’ve promised to be, before saving us.  God loves us as we are.   We are renewed, and made whole, and reborn through the waters of baptism by ‘God’s grace as a gift’ as Paul writes ‘through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.’

We are now invited, through the gift of God’s grace, to share God’s love for this world the way Martin Luther shared it; which is by being the ‘connective tissue’ between scripture and the 21st century mission field we are called to serve.   Instead of wasting our days bemoaning the cultural influences that we imagine are pulling people away from the church, we are called to look deeper, and to discover those places where God’s love is present in ways that we’ve been conditioned to not see it.  Instead of turning people away because we’re offended that they question our doctrines, or because of whom they love, or because their lifestyle doesn’t align with our own; we are called to gather them in and proclaim God’s grace.   We are called to be the ‘connective tissue’ between their lives and the life of the church.  

The persevering reminder of The Lutheran Reformation is this.   Because God loves this world and every single person in it, we are therefore called to proclaim Christ crucified and risen to everyone in our community; regardless of their age, or their orientation, or their politics, or their religion, or their immigration status.    They don’t even have to pretend to like lutefisk.  We are invited to be The Church in the presence of our neighbors: Living Proof of a Loving God to a Watching World.

My prayer this Reformation Sunday is that we will embrace the unconditional love that is shared with us, and live each day in response to the promise given to us in baptism; that we are claimed by God and given new life through the resurrection of Christ our savior.   Amen.


September 29th – The 16th Sunday After Pentecost

 Luke 11: 11-17  Soon afterwards [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him.  As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town.  When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still.  And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”  The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!”  This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.


 I’d like to circle back for a minute this morning to a story I shared several years back.  To me it almost perfectly illustrates how this gospel text speaks of God’s love for us.

It’s said that there was once a young Scottish vicar who was assigned to a parish in an inner city neighborhood of Glasgow during the height of the industrial revolution.    The ancient stone church sat between rows of run-down tenements filled with impoverished families.   There was widespread unemployment, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and crime.   Everything was covered in coal soot; the sky, the cobblestone streets, and even the people.  One day not long after he moved into the rectory a visitor arrived to find him staring despondently out the window, his face streaked with tears.  The visitor asked if he was OK.   He stood silent for a moment and then softly replied, “There’s so much pain and suffering here. I can’t see how I’ll ever be able to make a difference.”

“Cheer up, lad” the man replied optimistically.  “You’ll get used to it soon enough!”   Without turning his face from the window the young pastor answered, “But that’s exactly what I’m afraid of.”

I get the feeling sometimes as I read the gospels, especially the Gospel of Luke, that as Jesus walks among the people of Galilee, he’s determined to never get used to their suffering.     He lived in a time of foreign occupation.  He saw how fragile human life can be.  He knew how vulnerable women and children were.  He witnessed death up close and personal.    And yet he never accepted it as being ‘just the way things are.  Instead, as Jesus encounters the brokenness of human life, he is filled with compassion.      And that’s what is happening here, in the text we just shared, as Jesus steps into a crowd that is preparing to bury one of their own. 

We read that a large crowd is walking with Jesus at the end of a long day’s journey from Capernaum to the village of Nain.    And as they reach the city gate they run headlong into a crowd walking in the opposite direction.    Within this crowd is a woman whose son has just died.    It’s important [I think] that we imagine what is happening here through the lens of this woman’s experience.   The village of Nain sits at the edge of a beautiful valley.  In fact, the word ‘Nain’ translates from Hebrew as ‘green pasture.’   But this widow isn’t taking in the beauty of her hometown, because her life as she knows it has just come crashing down.  She has just that very day lost her most important connection to community life.  She is about to become a non-person.   As she walks behind her dead son, jostled by the crowd of mourners, we may well presume that her grief is almost too much to bear.  

According to the custom of the day, her son has to be buried before sundown.  We can only wonder at what is going through her mind walking this dreadful path, something she has already done once before following her husband’s death.  As painful as losing her husband must have been, at least when he died she still had a son to care for her.    Without a man in the house she will have no identity, no way to earn a livable wage, no protection from deceitful suitors.   Each step she takes must be heavy with grief, heavy with fear, heavy with foreboding.   Each step brings her closer to a future filled with uncertainty and worry.

And as we read, it’s right here in the midst of her brokenness that the grace of Jesus enters her life.    Jesus sees her anguish, and his response is to have compassion for her.

Let’s place this encounter into a wider context.   This text follows immediately on the heels of the story of Jesus healing a centurion’s slave, almost as if they are two halves of the same narrative.    And if you remember, the focus of that encounter is on the faith of the soldier who believes that all Jesus needs to do is to say the word and his slave will be healed.    And Jesus’ response is that nowhere in Israel has he ever witnessed such faith.  But notice that nowhere in this story is faith ever mentioned.    Jesus encounters this funeral procession, he sees what’s happening, and he simply has compassion for that grieving widow.   This story isn’t about faith.    This story is about grace; pure, undiluted, unbidden, unearned, unasked-for grace.   

A son has died and his mother is lost in her sorrow.  Even though she may not recognize Jesus or ask him to help her, he tells her not to weep.  Then, reaching up, he touches the wooden bier her son is being carried on, raises him to life and gives him back to her.  According to Luke, he does all this because he has compassion for her.  The word Luke uses here that translates as compassion literally means ‘to come out of one’s intestines.’   It’s a word he uses in two other places in his gospel.   It’s the emotion a Samaritan feels when he sees an injured man lying alongside the road, and it’s the feeling a father has when he sees his prodigal son returning home.   

As Jesus encounters this woman’s sorrow, he feels her pain in his guts.    His compassion comes wrenching up from deep within his very being.   This sense of empathy welling up from deep inside expresses the very nature of God.  

As Jesus walks through villages and sees crowds afflicted with sickness and disease, he is moved to compassion.   When he sees the hungry, the outcast, and the suffering, he is moved to compassion.   And in response he heals them, feeds them, and stands with them in their brokenness.  The God who created this vast and beautiful universe and who forms us with his hands from the dust of the earth feels compassion for us in his very guts.    

On the surface, this passage may seem to simply be about a dead man coming to life.   That’s certainly the most dramatic part of the story.   But the wonder and the mystery of God is far bigger than this one act of resurrection.    The glory of God goes beyond bringing someone back to life from a physical death.   It is also about this widow being raised back to life from the death she has experienced.   By giving her son back to her, Jesus brings her back to life.

Jesus restores her identity as a mother.   He reinstates her family’s source of income.  He gives her back her only means of protection.    And as we might imagine, this has consequences; consequences for this family and consequences for the community. 

Luke writes that when the man is raised from death that ‘… fear seized all of them.’    Well, yeah … do you think?    Resurrection is a fearful thing.  In bringing this young man back to his mother, and by restoring her to life as well as him, Jesus is interrupting the social order of the community.   He’s turning everything about the way things are supposed to be upside down.    And perhaps here is where this text best speaks to us.  

In God’s kingdom, life is about more than simply existing.   It’s about living in community with one another.   Jesus restores a man’s physical life so that a more abundant life can be lived by everyone.   And this is what Jesus brings into our community; restoration, healing, wholeness, identity … so that we can live abundant lives as well.

Because of God’s love for us, we are now called to feel it in our guts whenever we encounter those who are marginalized and cast aside.    We are compelled to feel empathy for the lost and the forsaken … and to respond by being the hands and the voices of Christ in the midst of this world’s brokenness.

We don’t have to look very far to recognize who the modern day widows of Nain are.  All we have to do to find them is to peer into the hidden cracks of this self-centered and social-media driven culture we live in.  When we lift the curtain of this world’s indifference to suffering, we discover homeless veterans, and discarded teenagers, and abused co-workers, and hungry neighbors.  These are folks with faces and names we recognize; the young couple desperately struggling with their meth addiction, the transgender kid being bullied in school, the single mother juggling medical and car repair bills to make ends meet. 

These are exactly the places we are called to serve, right in the midst of those who are most in need of resurrection.   It’s here that we find the risen Christ; in the blank faces of asylum seekers peering out from behind barbed wire, in the desperation of those who are imprisoned, in the cries of those who mourn the loss of their dignity, their livelihood, or their faith in humanity.  

Our calling isn’t to divide the worthy from the unworthy, and it’s not up to us to discern who is faithful and who isn’t.   We are simply to do as Jesus did when he stepped into that funeral procession; and loved, and in an act of pure grace restored life to an entire community.

My prayer this day is that we will never see the brokenness of this world as just the way thing are supposed to be.    May we reach out to those who are like that widow in need of resurrection and offer our voices, our hands, and our hearts.   We close in the name of Jesus, who breaks into our world with abundance and joy.  Amen.


September 22nd - Creation Care: Creatures of the Air

Luke 16: 10-13  [Jesus said] “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.  If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?  No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”


A topic that has long fascinated me is the study of other cultures’ creation stories.    We’re all familiar to some degree with our own story of creation, where God creates the heavens and the earth and places humankind in it.   And, of course, our story goes beyond creation itself.  It includes how our desire to become like God causes us to fall into sin.  All cultures have creation stories and they all share the same basic purpose; which is to make sense of one’s place in the universe.   Since this is the last Sunday in our season of creation care, I’d like to share one of these alternate stories with you.   This is found in the ancient storytelling of the Cherokee people.  

‘Back in ancient times,’ the story goes, ‘when the people were purer and could converse with the animals, they asked the Creator for something that was sweet to the taste.  So the Creator sent the bee, but the bee had no stinger.  Down came the bees and they found a tree in which they could build their hive and produce honey.   The people came and asked for some of the sweet syrup and the bees gave each person a container full.   The people greedily ate the honey, and when it was gone, they went back for more.  But the bees replied, “We have no more to give you. You’ll just have to wait.”  So the people called upon the Creator, saying “The bees won’t give us enough honey.   We want more.”   The Creator listened, and sent down the flower people.  The flower people began to spread all types of blossoms across the land; giving the bees a variety to pollinate so they could make more honey.  But the honey they produced still wasn’t enough to satisfy the people’s greed.  The people became angry when told that they’d have to wait until spring for more.  They went to the hive and tore it apart, killing nearly all of the bees and taking the honey that had been set aside to feed the hive until the following spring.   The remaining bees asked the Creator what to do.  The Creator told the bees to find briar bushes and to eat the thorns.  The bees did as the Creator said, and the thorns were transformed into stingers.  The next day the people came back to demand that the remaining few bees get to work and make more honey for them.  A loud hum came from the hive, and out they swarmed. The bees stung the people with their newly-formed stingers and sent them running.  After that day, the people treated the bees, the briars, the blossoms, and the rest of creation with respect, and promised to never be greedy or to take more than they needed.’

There is an interesting parallel, I think, between this story and our own creation story.    The commonality is the idea of human greed and the blindness it creates within us.   In Genesis we read that God places the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden and tells Adam and Eve to stay away from it.   They don’t, of course, because they want to have everything.   They want to be like God; which is the ultimate expression of human greed.  

This human desire to want everything without sacrifice manifests itself in ways that now threaten the ability of our planet to support human life.   We pour toxins into the air and the water, we deplete the soil, we destroy entire species of wildlife.     We might not personally suffer from the loss of creatures like the passenger pigeon or the west African black rhino, which we’ve driven to extinction.   But if we continue along the path we’re on, and do the same to bees and other pollinators, we will perish right alongside them.

It’s estimated that a third of the food we eat relies on pollination by honeybees.   If you eat avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash, sunflowers, cucumbers, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwis, cherries, cranberries or melons; it’s honeybees that make it happen.   Do you like a juicy hamburger now and then or drink milk?   Well, honeybees also pollinate clover and alfalfa, which are fed to cows.   Do you wear anything made of cotton?   Honey bees help pollinate cotton fields.    

Some fifteen years ago beekeepers began experiencing a precipitous increase in the mortality of their hives.  By 2010 it was estimated that some 30% of hives weren’t surviving the winter.    Part of the issue is that parasites, viruses and bacterial diseases are becoming more widespread as global commerce makes it possible for infected bees to hitch rides around the globe in shipping containers.    

But it’s two human inventions … pesticides and monoculture farming … that are driving what’s now known as colony collapse disorder.  The pesticides most closely linked to the decline in bee populations are what are known as neonicotinoids.   As you can perhaps tell by the name, the poison in these pesticides is derived from nicotine.   Their application is systemic, meaning that instead of being sprayed onto the crop, they’re absorbed into the plant tissue itself.  And so a single use can persist in the environment for years.   When a honeybee locates blossoms suitable for gathering nectar, it returns to the hive and does an intricate dance that directs other bees to that exact spot.   But this communication is short-circuited when all that’s around the hive are vast fields of a single crop.   And since crops planted in the spring all flower simultaneously, once those blossoms are gone there’s little else for bees to gather.   The resulting malnutrition makes them even more vulnerable to disease and pesticides.

We talked a bit last Sunday about how human sin is often experienced as a complex web of brokenness that we all share in.   And so anytime we start pointing our fingers at those who grow our food as the cause of all this, we’re forgetting that it’s our own greed and our own desire to have it all that drives the economic and the political systems that mandate these practices.  In the gospel text we shared this morning, we hear Jesus proclaim something that speaks to this brokenness.   ‘You cannot serve God’ … Jesus says … ‘and wealth.’    In other words, we can’t really love our neighbor, which is what serving God looks like, when we’re only focused on accumulating more of the things of this world.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not really what I want to hear Jesus say.    I want to hear Jesus say that I can have it all and remain faithful to the gospel.   But that’s a world-view that comes from a place of privilege.   And it’s because of this irreconcilable disconnect between ourselves and God, that God chose to step into this world so that all of creation might be reconciled to him.

And this is where our creation story is radically unique.    That story of the bees I shared a moment ago that tells of how human beings came to learn about setting aside their greed, respecting creation, and taking only what they needed from the earth is a beautiful story.   But notice that in its telling, the Creator remains separate from the people.  This is how almost every creation story is told … except for ours.   In our creation story, the earth is always being made new in Christ.   For us, creation is an ongoing process centered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.    

Jesus lived among us to proclaim that God’s kingdom has come near and that we are to follow in his footsteps by loving one another as we are loved.   And as honest and as simple as this message seems, it so angered this world that Jesus was put to death as an example of what happens when you cross the line and challenge the powers of greed and hatred.  When you think about it, this doesn’t seem like much of a plan for saving creation.    But the gospel reads something like those old Paul Harvey radio episodes … remember … when he’d say ‘and now you know the rest of the story.’   After everything had fallen apart, and after Jesus was condemned, crucified, and laid in a tomb, he rose from death; and in doing this he invites us to now share in his resurrection life.  

This gospel narrative is what we want to lean on when we speak of caring for the earth.   I say this because it’s so easy to slip into a theology of creation care that’s nothing more than shaming ourselves and others.   When we make it about morality, we leave out the rest of the story, which is what happened on that first Easter when everything about this world was made whole again through Jesus’ resurrection.

If there’s one thing to take away from our exploration of creation care … please … let it be this.    Our Christian faith isn’t a moral thing.  It’s an incarnational thing.   Our faith is centered in the belief that God became fully human in Jesus so that God could experience this life right alongside us.   And so, being stewards of the earth isn’t about choosing right over wrong, it’s about living as disciples of the risen Christ.   When we begin this conversation with Jesus at the center, we discover that the restoration of God’s good creation is already taking place.   We discover that the restoration of the world is our present reality, not some future possibility.    

Making peace with the earth begins with naming our brokenness.   We do this believing that we are always forgiven, even before we ask.    And this naming of our brokenness means acknowledging that we twist and distort scripture to justify our craving to create wealth by any means possible.   For some two thousand years we’ve distorted God’s mandate to exercise dominion over creation to mean that we have the right to exploit it.   But the Hebrew word we translate as ‘dominion’ doesn’t mean to dominate.   It means ‘to take responsibility for.’   It’s the exact same Hebrew word used in scripture to describe how a just and righteous ruler is expected to care for his people.

When Jesus says ‘whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much,’ we’re reminded that stewardship begins with taking responsibility for things as seemingly inconsequential as honeybees, so that they can continue to live out the purpose they are created for.   When we are faithful in the small things, we are assured that great things are about to happen.

Our faith is incarnational.   And so we are invited to live together as the body of Christ active in this world; by taking responsibility for the lives of our neighbors, the waters, the land, the air, and the creatures that God has placed in our presence.   This work belongs to us.   It’s built into our very identity as people who belong to Christ.

My prayer this day is that we will remain centered in Christ, who was present in the beginning when the Spirit moved over the waters; and that we will commit ourselves to caring for the abundance of creation.   We close in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the author of life itself.   Amen.


September 15th - Creation Care: Soil

John 3: 13-17   No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.


One of the most beautifully written narratives in all of American literature is a scene that comes about half way through the Ole Rolvaag novel Giants in the Earth.     As the story goes, Per Hansa has left his life as a Norwegian fisherman; and even though he can’t speak a word of English, he’s brought his family to America.   They’ve made the long journey to Minnesota, then across the vast grasslands in a broken-down wagon to their homestead in South Dakota.  And now … finally … he finds himself standing at the edge of his newly plowed field with a sack bursting with wheat seed on his hip, ready to step into the moist rich black soil and plant his first crop.  And in that moment he is so in love with life that he can hardly contain himself.   He reaches into his bag of seed just to feel the ripe kernels in his hand.   He can sense the power of new life ready to burst from them.    His small patch of black earth is more than a field; it’s his family’s future.   And as he stands there, looking out across the treeless prairie, he envisions the bountiful life that lies ahead of them.

We are all connected to the land.    It doesn’t matter whether we live on a farm, in a small town, up here on the shore, or in a condo high above Nicollet Mall.   We can’t escape our connection to the soil because we all need its gifts in order to live.  

Something we don’t tend to think about when it comes to the soil is that it’s a finite resource.   When we don’t give the earth its proper sabbath rest, the organic matter within it depletes faster than it can regenerate, creating an increasingly less fertile landscape.  Biologists have begun referring to flyover country as the ‘black desert’ because the soil is so quickly losing its capacity to sustain life without the use of manufactured fertilizers.  Fertilizers alone can’t restore the complex life systems that existed when our forbears turned over the sod for the very first time, because healthy soil teams with microbes and other microorganisms that cycle nutrients in a symbiotic relationship that is … quite literally … the root of every living thing we see around us.

The only thing that can replenish soil is time; not time as human beings experience it, but time as God experiences it.  The startling truth about soil degradation is that it can happen in just a matter of a few generations, but it takes up to 500 years of the land lying fallow to regenerate even a single inch of topsoil.  Depleted soil takes eons of sabbath rest to replenish.  

Much has changed about farming since Per Hansa stood at the edge of his field envisioning his family’s future.    Global markets have an enormous impact on family farms, often forcing them into decisions they have little control over.   Much of that pressure comes from multi-national corporations who own the patents to genetically modified crops like corn, soybeans and cotton. Farmers who plant these genetically modified seeds pay licensing fees and often sign contracts that dictate how their crops are grown.  Not coincidentally, the agri-tech companies that produce these seeds also profit from the chemicals they are genetically modified to be tolerant to. According to my friends at the Organic Consumers Association up the road in Finland, these chemicals harm the very creatures that pollinate our world; along with a host of creatures that the soil needs to restore itself to health.

The economic pressure to produce crops with the highest rate of return on investment is silently making family farms obsolete.   They’ve been disappearing for decades now, replaced by industrial farms whose decisions are based on creating quarterly profits rather than on creating a legacy for future generations.  This has both environmental and human consequences.   Losing a farm to foreclosure, especially one that’s been passed down in the family for generations, is a tragedy that few of us can imagine.   Minnesotans who farm for a living die from suicide at more than twice the rate of the rest of us.  Singer John Mellencamp personified this human tragedy back in 1985 when he wrote, ‘Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow.  This land fed a nation.  This land made me proud.   And son I'm just sorry there are only memories for you now.  Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow.’

These are complicated social issues for us as people of God.  Is it our Christian responsibility to support healthier practices like organic farming … or … should we simply accept that the free market is the only decider of how our food is grown?    Should we even be part of the conversation when it comes to things like genetically modified food … or is this too political for us as a church?

Let me share how the ELCA envisions the role of congregations like ours in this … and we’ll go from there.   [We believe] in one God, who created in the beginning, who creates now, and in whom all things visible and invisible hold together.  We confess that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will redeem all that has been, is, and will be; including human choices involving genetic knowledge and its application.  This gracious God also endows human beings with insight and reasoning and calls human beings to help order, shape, nurture, and promote creation so that it may continue to flourish.    This obligates us to a greater level of accountability; one that will be measured best by whether and how the whole creation continues to flourish.

In other words, God gives us the tools to analyze, to explore, and to re-shape the world we inhabit.    But we are to be mindful that we do these things for the benefit of all people, not just to enrich ourselves as shareholders.   We are to act wisely and in accordance with God’s love for creation.   We are to be mindful of how we treat the earth so that we will leave it for the next generation in better shape than we found it.

The creation account we read from Genesis a moment ago reminds us that God places us into creation as a reflection of God’s own likeness.  As human beings, we reflect God’s creative, spiritual, relational, moral, and purposeful image.   And yet, because we are human, deep within each of us is a brokenness centered in our desire to step beyond living in the image of God, and to instead be our own god.   This is what the story of eating fruit from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden is meant to remind us of.   We often call this original sin.  I prefer to think of it is as universal sin,because we all share in it.   Not one of us can escape it on our own.

Universal sin is that vast and immeasurable web of brokenness that causes suffering, inequality, poverty, and environmental degradation.  Everyday things like our politics, our economic systems, the technologies we fashion, and the weapons of destruction we fund; they all reflect this desperate sense of brokenness, and we all play a role in their creation.   And it’s our entanglement in this web of universal sin that pulls us away from caring for the earth in the way that God calls us to.  

An undeniable fact about our role in debasing God’s creation is this.   When we misuse the earth’s resources; by draining wetlands that filter surface water, by allowing toxins to run off into our rivers, by poisoning the groundwater beneath us, the poor are always disproportionately affected.  The poorest among us are always the first to suffer the consequences of a degraded environment.  Caring for the soil is about loving our neighbor as ourselves.   It’s as simple as that, really.   That’s where the gospel … the good news of Jesus … fits into all of this.   Our care of creation is centered in seeing the image of The Christ in others.   It’s about caring enough about our neighbors to heal the earth where it is most broken so that they can live healthy and abundant lives.    

Jesus invites us to live into his kingdom by making wise, compassionate, and perhaps even courageous decisions about the land and its people.   Following in his footsteps requires making choices that are responsible to the very least among us, especially the hungry, the dispossessed, the displaced, and the working poor.  Living the gospel also means being supportive of farm families; the very people who grow our food and who are at ground zero when it comes to healing the earth.   They can’t push back against that web of human sin that demands profits over people unless we’re willing to change our way of living in order to support them.

I’ll close with this thought.   In the gospel text I shared, we hear that God so loves this world that God stepped into it so that we may have eternal life.   The word world, though, doesn’t fully express the breadth of what the author of this gospel is proclaiming.   The Greek word he uses is kosmos.   ‘For God so loves the kosmos that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.’  Kosmos means the whole of creation.   God loves the whole universe and everything in it; from vast galaxies spiraling across the heavens to the tiniest microbes nourishing the soil.   God stepped into this broken world in Jesus in order to bring healing and wholeness to all things.   

These are words to remember as we seek to discern our role as partners in caring for God’s creation alongside the farmers, migrant workers, ranchers, and grocers who feed us.  We live in a kingdom that is continually breaking into this world through the resurrection of the Christ.   And so we are called to ‘nurture and promote the whole of creation so that it may continue to flourish.’   The gospel compels us to live upon the land with wisdom, love and compassion for this self-contained living organism we call earth.   It draws us into a re-imagining of our connection to the kosmos, and to the God who created it and all living things.  

We are invited this morning to share in Per Hansa’s prophetic imagination as he stood at the edge of his field ready to sow his first planting of wheat; a vision of God’s good creation and the bountiful life that awaits us when we are willing to place God first in everything we do.   We are invited this morning to fall in love with the kosmos once again, so that all of creation will cry out with joy.

My prayer this day is that we will sense our place in God’s creation so that all may benefit from their labor, and that we will challenge ourselves to be faithful caretakers of the kosmos and all that lives within it.    May God bless us and keep us in our journey; in the name of Jesus who multiplied the bread so that all could eat.   Amen.


September 8th – Creation Care: The Waters

Luke 5: 1-11   Once while Jesus was standing beside the [Sea of Galilee], and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God,  he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.  He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.  When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”  Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.”  When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break.  So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.  But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”  For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.


If you’re within ten years or so of my age, you almost can’t help but to have heard at least a few songs by the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.   Their first concert together was 50 years ago this past summer in front of 300,000 people at Woodstock, and they recorded some amazing songs over the next few decades that still rank among the very best of a generation.

Back in 1975 David Crosby and Graham Nash sailed from the east coast of the United States to the west coast by traveling around Cape Horn; the far southern tip of South America.   And along the way they had a rare encounter with a Blue Whale that was fully twice as long as Crosby’s 70’ sailboat.   The majesty and the beauty of this magnificent living thing was an overwhelming experience, especially in light of the long history of human interaction with whales, in which they’ve been hunted down nearly to the point of extinction.   Whales were once sought for their oil, a valuable commodity in the early days of the industrial age.   But by the 20th century the economics of whale hunting had transformed into a grotesque industry.  Whales were being slaughtered to make cosmetics, pet food and plant preservatives.  And so, out of this transformative experience, David Crosby and Graham Nash composed a song titled ‘Wind on the Water’ to express their sorrow over the decimation of these beautiful creatures, which the psalms refer to as ‘leviathan.’ 

Over the years you have been hunted by the men who threw harpoons.  And in the long run he will kill you just to feed the pets we raise, put the flowers in your vase, and make the lipstick for your face.  Over the years you swam the ocean following feelings of your own.  Now you are washed up on the shoreline.  I can see your body lie.  It's a shame you have to die to put the shadow on our eye.Maybe we'll go.  Maybe we'll disappear.  It's not that we don't know.  It's just that we don't want to care.  Under the bridges.  Over the foam.  Wind on the water.   Carry me home.

The oceans make up more than 95 percent of the earth’s biosphere.   As land-dwelling creatures, it’s easy to forget that the earth is primarily a marine habitat.  It’s a challenge for us, I think, living here so close to Lake Superior to personally connect with what’s taking place downstream where the crystal clear waters we cherish mix with the effluence of the industries and the agriculture that support our affluent lifestyle.  And so, in our own generation we’ve watched silently as the oceans have changed in ways that may prove to be irreversible.   It’s not that we don’t know … as the song says … it’s just that we don’t want to care.

Sylvia Earle, who was Chief Scientist of N.O.A.A. back in the 1990’s reminds us of our connection to water.  She writes, ‘The living ocean drives planetary chemistry, governs climate and weather, and otherwise provides the cornerstone of the life-support system for all creatures on our planet; from deep-sea starfish to desert sagebrush.   That’swhy the ocean matters.  If the sea is sick, we’ll feel it.   If it dies, we’ll die with it.   Our future and the state of the oceans are one.’

Because of this world’s desire to always have more of everything at the lowest immediate cost to ourselves, we continue to compromise the ability of the oceans to sustain a healthy planet.  We overfish them.   We dump incalculable amounts of household, industrial, and even nuclear waste into them.   We allow pesticides and herbicides to run off the land, sucking the oxygen out of them.   Here’s a difficult truth.   When whales die and wash up on shore, in some locations they are so riddled with toxins that their bodies are classified as toxic waste.    And yet the chemicals that they’ve absorbed are often not the actual cause of death.   What’s killing them is the sheer volume of plastic they ingest.

So, why do we … and by ‘we’ I mean the Christian community specifically … why do we continue to look the other way when it comes to the willful degradation of the earth’s oceans?  The answer, I suspect, is that this is partly a biblical thing and partly a cultural thing.  

In Genesis, the sea is viewed as the source of chaos and disorder.  In order to create an orderly world, God had to first subdue the primeval oceans that existed before creation.  To the people who first heard these ancient stories, these descriptions of the ocean as being the very source of chaos and destruction in the cosmos struck a powerful chord.   Go stand out on artist point in Grand Marais when the waves are roaring from the east and you can sense why.    It’s a power beyond what we can control.   And so Genesis describes creation as that which separates us from this terrifying and uncontrollable force of nature.

But we’re not ancient people.   We know that the oceans didn’t exist before creation.  God has blessed us with scientific knowledge, and God expects us to now use it for the good of humankind.   We know immeasurably more about the oceans than our ancient ancestors did, and vastly more than even our parents did.   We now understand that the sea is much more than a source of chaos threatening to overwhelm us.    It’s also a living organism.  It’s where life originated, and it’s what continues to sustain life on this piece of rock we call earth.   It can no longer be treated as God’s adversary to be feared, subdued and destroyed.

And so we are called to embrace a theology that envisions the oceans as being part of God’s good creation, rather than being separate from it.  

We’re given a glimpse of this in our gospel text, where the sea is re-imagined as the source of life.    When we read this story of Jesus calling his first disciples, we typically envision the role of the Sea of Galilee as the stage on which the human drama of Jesus and his disciples plays out.    But Luke envisions the sea as more than just the setting.  It’s a part of the narrative itself.  You’ve undoubtedly heard me preach about going out and fishing for people so that others can enter into a spiritual relationship with God.   But Luke doesn’t make the kinds of distinctions between spiritual and material well-being that we often do.  

The world Luke speaks of is a world in which everyone experiences both spiritual and physical wholeness.   For people living along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, this wholeness includes a healthy harvesting of fish so that no one goes hungry.  Perhaps you’ve never thought of this story and the story of the feeding of the 5,000 that comes four chapters later as being part of one continuous narrative.   But these stories can be read as ‘bookending’ one another.   Before Jesus sends his disciples out into the countryside, he shows them that God’s presence in the world is tangible when its seas teem with life.   Later, when they gather on that hilltop overlooking the sea, he invites them to see that God’s presence in the world is again tangible when the people share this gift with one other, even when it’s only two fish.    

In Luke’s gospel, the Kingdom of God is an abundant world with plentiful seas that support life for all.  It’s a kingdom that invites us to share what we have with those who are hungry.   This is the model of creation we are called to embrace today.   When we care for the health of the seas and the life contained within them, and when we share the gifts of the seas with the least among us, we are living as Jesus’ true disciples.

So … where do we go from here?   How do we embrace this way of living in a world that exploits and pollutes with no regard for the consequences on future generations?   How do we make our voices heard in a Christian culture that is often still bound by those verses from Genesis and Job, while living in denial of Luke’s vision of what Jesus’ presence in this world looks like?

The first part of this journey has two parts.   We are invited to acknowledge our own disregard for the oceans so that we can re-imagine our responsibility in caring God’s creation.   This means taking to heart the confession we shared at the beginning of worship so that we can move into the future together.  Merciful God … We confess to you our blindness to your presence in creation.  We set our hearts on exploiting the gifts of this good earth without regard for those who follow.  Forgive us our sin, and empower us to walk humbly with you and with one another.  Reconnect us with the web of creation, and lead us to the community you envision for us.

That’s the first step; acknowledging that we are part of a complex web of brokenness that is compromising the life-support system of our planet, and then transforming the way we live so that our footprint on the earth leads to restoration and renewal.  The second step is this.  We need to be courageous enough to proclaim the difficult truths of what our neglect is doing to the earth.   We need to be willing to be that voice crying out in the wilderness, even when it angers those who just don’t want to hear it, including other Christians.  

Repentance of our brokenness … a transformation of how we understand our role in God’s creation … … and the courage to speak difficult truths … are the keys to living in a way that honors God and future generations.  This is a theological movement that cannot wait.   The time to re-imagine the church is now; not off in the future when our great-grandchildren only know that whales once inhabited the depths through picture books, not when the coral reefs are lifeless, not when remote islands that have been inhabited for thousands of years are underwater. 

We are uniquely equipped to be the ones to begin the conversation because these keys to bending the arc of history away from the exploitation of the oceans and toward Jesus’ vision of an abundant life for all are bedrock Lutheran principles.   Repentance … Transformation … Courage.    Add a hot dish and Jell-O salad to those three and we’d have everything we need to start a reformation.

‘Under the bridges.  Over the foam.  Wind on the water.   Carry me home.’   My prayer this day is that we will live the gospel in the midst of a world crying out for environmental justice.   May we walk together in this journey of repentance, transformation and courage, so that the hungry of tomorrow may be fed.   We close in the name of Jesus, who walked the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Amen.


September 1st – The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14  On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.  When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”


I’d like to do something a bit different this morning [if you don’t mind] and take a minute or two to explore what the Buddhist tradition has to say about this idea of inviting our neighbor to the table and then see if we can connect it to our gospel text.

Back in the mid-1600’s there was a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher named Bankei Yotaku.   He was famous all throughout Japan and even in much of China.    It’s said that pupils would embark on months-long pilgrimages to study at his feet.   Once as a group of students gathered around him, it was discovered that one of the pupils had stolen from some of the others.   They came to him and insisted that he kick the man out of the gathering.   But instead, the teacher did nothing.   He simply continued his lesson.  The very next morning the man was caught stealing again, and again they came to him and demanded that he do something.   Again, he did nothing.   Instead, he went right on teaching.   That afternoon the whole gathering of students wrote up a petition threatening that either the thief be removed and punished for his crime or they would walk out.  When the teacher read the petition he called them to sit in front of him.   He said. ‘You are wise brothers.  You know what’s right and what’s wrong.   You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor man doesn’t even know right from wrong.   If I won’t teach him, who will?  I’m not going to ask him to leave.   I’m going to keep him here even if it means that the rest of you leave.’  It’s said that the man who was caught stealing was sitting among the students when he spoke, and that when he heard this he had a change of heart and never stole again.      

One of the true perils of modern Christianity is our desire to create a god who looks, and who speaks, and who loves, and who believes just as we do.    We get so caught up in our desire for personal expression and individual liberties that we forget that there is no such thing as being a Christian separate from the rest of the world.   In our gospel text this evening, Jesus throws a wrench into the notion that our personal standing within our community has any value whatsoever when it comes to God’s vision for us.   The idea that we can look around and identify those who should be in line behind us is laid to waste in these few short verses.  

This narrative challenges us in a couple of ways.   It questions our self-awareness … and it confronts our privilege. 

A part of our weekly practice of confession and forgiveness is the calling to recognize those times when we judge our neighbor as being less worthy than we are; whether it’s because of their poverty, or their addiction, or their politics, or their gender identity, or their citizenship status, or whatever it is that leads us to believe that they are somehow less deserving of a place at the table.   

We all do this, sometimes without realizing it, and other times in painfully obvious ways.  I caught myself once walking out of a McDonalds telling our then school-age son Alex to work hard in school so that he wouldn’t end up flipping burgers … you know … like those people.   As if working an honest job in a fast food restaurant to feed one’s family is somehow a less worthy profession than being a pastor.  Does that confession sound familiar?   We see a homeless man down on Superior Street and question what he’s done to deserve it.  We read of people dying of opioid overdoses and shrug our shoulders at their moral weakness.   We see desperate families at our border and turn away because their lives just aren’t our problem.

We say, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ as if it’s a lack of God’s grace that places them there.   That phrase, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ may be the least grace-filled thing one can say about another human being.   It’s something that can only be said from a position of privilege, like a father telling his young son to do his homework so that he won’t end up working at McDonalds.

I read a wonderful essay recently written by The Reverend Doctor Mitzi Smith who teaches at the Columbia Theological Seminary down in Georgia.   And I appreciate her perspective because as a woman of color she sees this text through different eyes than I’m able to.  She writes, ‘I like to think that Jesus was conscious of his own privilege, not just the privilege of [that] Pharisaic leader and his other guests.’  She continues, ‘We often confuse privileges with blessings.  Wealth, birthplace, race, class, gender, sexuality, age, access, health, and so on [are often] mistaken for divine blessings, when they are [actually] the result of privilege. God calls us to turn our privilege into blessings.’

Our privilege sometimes causes us to view others through what one theologian sagely describes as our theological gag reflex.  In other words, we fall into the trap of believing that we can tell who God condemns by measuring how offensive they are to us.   But God doesn’t have a gag reflex when it comes to loving this world.    Jesus was born into this world to walk alongside all of humanity in the mud, and the spit, and the dysphoria, and the discarded needles of our brokenness.

It wasn’t by chance that Jesus spent his first night in a cattle stall; a place that would cause us to cover our noses and watch where we step.  The truth of the birth of The Christ among us is this: God decided when and where to enter into this world, and God deliberately chose a place that was beneath our places of privilege.   

As Jesus journeyed through Galilee, he encountered a woman with a menstrual disorder who begged for his help.   Most guys I know won’t even walk down the feminine hygiene aisle at Target.   But Jesus didn’t turn away from her.   Instead, he healed her infirmity and declared God’s peace to her.   Lepers, whose illness was believed to be the result of their sin, came to Jesus to be cleansed.  The law demanded that they live in seclusion so that respectable people wouldn’t have to go about their daily lives seeing them.    But Jesus didn’t turn away.  Instead, he cleansed them and sent them on their way. When Jesus encountered the four day old corpse of Lazarus, he didn’t turn away from the stench.   He wept.  Then he raised his friend from death and celebrated with him.   If Jesus had embraced this world’s gag reflex theology, that woman who bled would never have been made whole.    Those lepers would never have been accepted back into the community.    Lazarus would never have walked out of his tomb.     And we would not be saved.

The scandalous story of Jesus’ own suffering and death compels us to not turn away, but rather to look upon it and embrace it as the very narrative of our salvation.   We are invited to peer into the empty tomb, both in wonder and in fear, to see God’s love for this world unleashed upon us. 

God reaches into our lives, not because we’re somehow more deserving, or more faithful, or more repentant than our neighbor.    We are invited into an abundant life with Christ simply out of the depth and the breadth of God’s immeasurable grace.  And in response to this astonishing act of love, we are now invited to go out and love our neighbor just as God loves us.

Let’s not tip-toe around the burden that’s placed on us here.    It’s not easy to shove aside all the nonsense this world imposes on us; about who we should love and how we should love them, about who we should fear and why we should revile them.  Living in response to God’s abundant grace will always anger this world us because it means standing together against the social, and the economic, and the religious powers that benefit from keeping those who sin differently at arm’s length.

But as we read moments ago, Jesus demonstrates exactly how we are to live in response to God’s boundless grace.   We do it by humbling ourselves before others.    We do it by serving those who have nothing to give in return.    We do it by naming those who are not being welcomed to the table, so that they will know that they are invited, too.  That last part is the key to this text.  Notice that Jesus doesn’t say ‘… when you give a banquet just invite everyone equally so no one gets offended.’   Jesus knows full well that there are people who are deliberately not being invited to the table; people who will have to hear our invitation personally before they will ever dare to believe it.    And so, in verse 13 Jesus names those who aren’t there. ‘When you give a banquet invite the poor … the crippled … the lame … and the blind.’   Jesus names [out loud!] those who are being left behind because they’re seen as having nothing of value to give in return.   

That Zen Master was on to something when he taught his students that we are to reach out to the excluded and invite them in, no matter what the consequences are.   He was willing to let everyone else walk away simply for the opportunity to reach out to that one guy in order to model right from wrong in his presence.

When we include those who are deliberately being cast aside, the only thing we can know for certain is that it places us on the outside with them.    Any time we name those who are cast aside, anytime we stand up to that which diminishes the dignity and the worth of others, we willfully risk our standing in the community.  

There’s a meme that pops up on my Facebook page from time to time of a church sign that reads, ‘We’d rather be excluded for who we include than included for who we exclude.’   That’s the beautiful contradiction of living out Jesus’ ministry in the presence of our community, right there in a nutshell.  ‘We’d rather be excluded for who we include than included for who we exclude.’  

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Leaves from the Diary of an Impressionist, by Lafcadio Hearn This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you'll have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook. Title: Leaves from the Diary of an Impressionist Early Writings Author: Lafcadio Hearn Contributor: Ferris Greenslet Release Date: October 30, 2017 [EBook #55850] Language: English Character set encoding: UTF-8 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK DIARY OF AN IMPRESSIONIST *** Produced by Marc D'Hooghe at Free Literature (online soon in an extended version,also linking to free sources for education worldwide ... MOOC's, educational materials,...) (Images generously made available by the Internet Archive.)








... Jeune artiste, tu attends un sujet? Tout est sujet; le sujet c'est toi-même: ce sont tes impressions, tes emotions devant la nature. C'est toi qu'il faut regarder, et non autour de toi.

Eugène Delacroix.











On a memorable day a good many years ago a certain sub-editor, exploring the morning's mail, found his sense enthralled by a weird, sad, delicious odor. Perfumes in the mail were not unheard-of: violets there had been, and musk, and orange blossoms, and tobacco; and the sub-editor, with a fantasy appropriate to his station, even prided himself on his ability to close his eyes and pick out a California contribution by the unaided sense of smell. But never before had there been anything like this. Its chief essence was sandalwood, that was clear, but sandalwood so etherealized and mingled with I know not what of exotic scents that it gave to the imagination a provocative ghostly thrill indescribable. The basket of the Muses, hastily tumbled, disclosed a portentous envelope of straw color, with queer blue stamps in one corner, and queer unknown characters in another; yet queerest of all was the address in an odd orientalized hand, done with delicate, curiously curving strokes of the pen. Within, in a script still less Spencerian, these words met the sub-editor's excited eye:—

The Dream of Akinosuké

'In the district called Toïchi of Yamato province, there used to live a gōshi named Miyata Akinosuké'; and so on through some twenty pages, telling a mystical legend of old Japan in a lovely and melodious English style.

This was the writer's first introduction to Lafcadio Hearn, known to him up to that time only by a somewhat formidable repute as 'the best interpreter of Japan,' and mentally scheduled for perusal on a convenient opportunity which had never come. Since then Hearn's twenty volumes have been read and reread; there has been correspondence with his family and friends and with some who were not his friends; his complicated life has been investigated in detail; yet the sharpness, the intensity, of that first experience of his quality is not blurred. The impression that persists is that of weird, sad, delicious savor, of ghostly thrill.

This is not the place in which to retell in detail the romantic story of Hearn's oddly characteristic life; but if we briefly recall its main outlines in relation to the parallel outlines of his work; we shall perhaps find an added interest and significance in the examples of his early writing hereinafter collected.

Born in that Ionian Isle where Sappho destroyed herself for love; the child of an Irishman and a Greek, with an added strain of gypsy bloody Hearn first takes on a human tangibility when we find him deserted by his parents and living in the ultra-religious household of a great-aunt in Wales, a little dark-eyed, dark-faced, passionate boy, 'with a wound in his heart and gold rings in his ears.' In the fragments of autobiography dealing with this time, which Mrs. Wetmore has printed, we find his visionary little mind occupied with highly significant images,—the horrors of hell-fire, ghosts, and 'the breasts of nymphs in the brake,' soon to be blotted out from the plates in his favorite book by the priest who had his education in charge.

After a romantic though somewhat vague Odyssey of misfortune, Hearn finally emerges in Cincinnati at the age of twenty as 'Old Semi-Colon' a proof-reader and budding journalist by profession, a 'flame-hearted' artist in words by aspiration. His appearance at this time, as a striking bearded portrait shows, was that of a Parisian poet not yet 'arrived'; and that side of his temperament, which later made him style himself, half in irony, half in penitence, 'a vicious, French-hearted scalawag,' was then, perhaps, most restive. He attended spiritualistic séances, he tried a little opium, and made other fantastic experiments in life. But these are topics that need not concern us here. The important point is that with the Cincinnati period the tale of Hearn's career as a literary artist begins. He devours' Hoffmann and writes marvelous murder-stories for the Sunday edition of his paper; he studies the methods of those great prosateurs, Flaubert and Gautier; and finally, before leaving Cincinnati in 1877, he completes the translation of the tales of Gautier which he published some years later as 'One of Cleopatra's Nights and Other Fantastic Romances.'

In conveying the flavor of a strongly-flavored writer the work was singularly successful. It was dedicated 'To the lovers of the loveliness of the antique world, the lovers of artistic beauty and artistic truth.' A dedication to the lovers of macabre would have been more appropriate. In his choice of tales, in his gusto in the rendering of certain passages, in the 'flowers of the yew' which he thought best to add in an appendix, Hearn showed himself more macabresque than his master.

In 1877, Hearn, following apparently some temperamental attraction, moved to New Orleans.

Facsimile of an autograph poem by Lafcadio Hearn.

As we look at the decade of his life there, the notable thing now is the growth of his artistic, and still more of his intellectual, power. At first his imagination was captured by the strange, tropical, intoxicating beauty of the old Creole city, its social and ethnological contrasts, its mysterious underworld, and barbaric cults. He felt it to be his artistic duty, he writes, 'to be absorbed into this new life and study its form and color and passion.' Yet little more than a year later we find him in a mood of disillusion and of something resembling remorse. He writes to Mr. H. E. Krehbiel:—

'I am very weary of New Orleans. The first delightful impression it produced has vanished. The city of my dreams, bathed in the gold of eternal summer, and perfumed with amorous odours of orange flowers, has vanished like one of those phantom cities of South America swallowed up centuries ago by earthquakes, but reappearing at long intervals to delude travellers. What remains is something horrible, like the tombs here,—material and moral rottenness which no pen can do justice to. You must have read some of those mediæval legends in which the amorous youth finds the beautiful witch he has embraced all through the night crumble into a mass of calcined bones and ashes in the morning. Well, I feel like such a one, and almost regret that, unlike the victims of these diabolical illusions, I do not find my hair whitened and my lips withered by sudden age; for I enjoy exuberant vitality and still seem to myself like one buried alive or left alone in some city cursed with desolation like that described by Sinbad the sailor. No literary circle here; no jovial coterie of journalists; no associates save those vampire ones of which the less said the better. And the thought—Where must all this end?—may be laughed off in the daytime, but always returns to haunt me like a ghost in the night.'

Later, his advantageous connection with the 'Times-Democrat,' and his friendship with some of the most interesting and cultivated people of the city, made him happier in his residence there. From 1881, the date of the passage quoted, his preoccupation is more and more with books, and the things of the intellect and imagination, with 'the life of vanished cities and the pageantry of dead faiths,' less and less with 'vampire' associates. Yet still he purchases queer books, follows queer subjects, and 'pledges himself to the worship of the Odd, the Queer, the Strange, the Exotic, the Monstrous,' which, as he writes, 'suits my temperament.'

The chief literary expression of this impulse in its early phase was his 'Stray Leaves from Strange Literatures,' chiefly written before 1883, and published two years later. This, a series of reconstructions of what impressed him as most fantastically beautiful in the most exotic literature he was able to obtain, shows a remarkable growth in mere craftsmanship over his translations from Gautier. The cadences are surer, the weird or gorgeous pictures built up from simpler words, and the exotic atmosphere is more enveloping and persuasive.

But the handful of arabesques that Hearn brought together in his 'Stray Leaves from Strange Literatures' was only a drop in the bucket that came up brimming from that deep well of 'the Odd, the Queer, the Strange, the Exotic, the Monstrous.' In the first five years of his work for the 'Times-Democrat,' he made and printed in the paper no fewer than two hundred translations of French stories and striking chapters or passages from the French books that engaged his eager attention. When we remember that the bulk of these versions were from the writings of the greatest contemporary masters of French prose,—thirty-one were from Maupassant,—we become aware of at least one of the sources of that extraordinary growth in Hearn's mastery of his instrument that can be seen when we compare the suave and luminous current of the prose of 'Some Chinese Ghosts' in 1887, with the volume from Gautier, or even with the 'Stray Leaves.'

It was at this time, too, that Hearn, forsaking translation for original work, began to follow the leading of his imagination into characteristic paths. The readers of the 'Times-Democrat,' largely, of course, of French descent, gave him a sympathetic public for a type of work that could perhaps have appeared in no other paper in America. He printed, even apparently with a certain réclame, curious, condensed, personalized paraphrases of out of the way books, like Perron's 'Femmes Arabes,' and other curious investigations of the Exotic, and passed easily from this into such excursions in aromatic impressionism as those that record his vacation in Florida, colored by his reading of Gaffarel's 'Floride Française,'[1] or his studies of the Creole life and language.

It is this group of papers, of special interest and significance to the student of Hearn,—themselves marked by the rich beginnings of his characteristic charm,—that have been selected to form the bulk of the present volume. Hearn himself at one time began to prepare for the press a collection of these papers, with the Floridian Reveries' as its initial section. Indeed, there is before me as I write a manuscript title-page done with those queer, curiously curving strokes of the pen, reading,—and bearing the striking motto from Delacroix that stands at the beginning of the present volume. Apparently it was Hearn's intention to add to the 'Floridian Reveries' a little collection of 'Fantastics,' with such savory titles as 'Aida,' 'The Devil's Carbuncle,' 'A Hemisphere in a Woman's Hair,' 'The Fool and Venus,' etc.

This group, however, is, unfortunately, lost. From the notebook labeled upon its cover 'Fantastics' many leaves have been cut, and there remains only the paper on 'Arabian Women,' which appears hereafter. The Creole papers have been selected from the vast number of essays that Hearn wrote upon this subject, as showing best, perhaps, the peculiar direction of his interests. Taken as a whole, the material here offered to the reader marks the end of Hearn's first literary period, the period of translation and paraphrase, of 'literary journalism.'

The year 1883, as readers of his letters know, marked an epoch in Hearn's intellectual life. Then for the first time he read Herbert Spencer, and by a singular paradox conceived a passionate adoration for that passionless philosopher who, we may think, had the peculiar advantage of knowing so much about the Unknowable.' The secret of the paradox seems to have been that Spencer's vast synthetic panorama of the universe, outer and inner, was precisely the kind of vision to attract Hearn's gypsy intellect, so long bewildered by the 'pageantry of dead faiths,' so long obsessed by the incommunicable sorrow of the world, yet pledged to the quest of 'the absolute' by the forces of his Celtic and Hellenic ancestry. At any rate the philosophy of Spencer came to him with something of the power and unction of an evangelical religion, bringing with it not only conversion, but conviction of sin,' and 'regeneration.' From this time on, there was a new seriousness in his life and a new gravity in his work. Henceforth he was concerned about the Exotic and Monstrous chiefly as they could be employed as parables of the gospel according to Herbert Spencer.

A year or two later there came into his work another strain that was to remain potent,—the tropical. As early as 1879 he had felt the spell, and had written: 'So I draw my chair to the fire, light my pipe de terre Gambièse, and in the flickering glow weave fancies of palm trees and ghostly reefs and tepid winds, and a Voice from the far tropics calls to me across the darkness.'

In 1884 he made the visit to Grande Isle in the Mexican Gulf that resulted in his 'Chita,' which is still in many respects his most astonishing tour de force in word-painting, though in it we see how far away he was from the English tradition of creative art in fiction. The only logic in the harrowing conclusion is the emotional logic of a temperament immitigably macabresque, that must make a tale of terror intensify in poignancy to the end.

In 1887, he went to the French West Indies, and found there a theme perhaps more in consonance with the full richness of his vein than any he afterwards encountered. In 'Youma,' his West Indian novelette, the note is certainly falsetto, but in his 'Two Years in the French West Indies' the luxuriant leafiness of his style, heavy with tropical perfumes, subtly interpenetrated with the sense of tropical terror, rarely goes beyond the bounds of faithful depiction. And underneath it all we begin to see that impressive Spencerian perception of the fatal unity of the world.

In June, 1888, Hearn landed in New York, but drunken as he was with tropic light, he was troubled by the canyoned streets, and returned to Martinique by the same boat that had brought him. In the following year he was in Philadelphia, preparing his West Indian books for the press. At this time he suddenly conceived a passionate and characteristic interest in Japan from reading Mr. Percival Lowell's 'The Soul of the Far East.' His correspondence is full of it. 'How luminous,' he exclaims, 'how psychically electric!' It was with boundless delight and with the highest hopes that he welcomed a suggestion that he should go to Japan to prepare a series of articles upon that country.

As one who reads Hearn's writings chronologically passes from the West Indian books to the Japanese, there is evident a remarkable change, not only of atmosphere but of tone, and, despite the continuity of the Spencerian preoccupation, of what we may perhaps call 'soul.' The tropical luxuriance of his earlier manner has been replaced by quieter tints and subtler cadences, and henceforth he gives free rein to his faculty only in rare heightened passages, which rise above the narrow, quiet stream of his habitual prose with an effect incomparably telling. In part this was the result of his sensitive perception of the peculiar color of Japanese landscape, a domesticated Nature, which loves man, and makes itself beautiful in a quiet gray-and-blue way like the Japanese women'; which must in consequence be reproduced in water-color rather than in the oils in which he had been working. In part it was the result of his greater maturity, and that assured control over his medium, which left him no impulse to mere virtuosity. But still more, one thinks as one reads the letters, it was the result of happier and more normal conditions of life. As a professor of English literature, he had something approaching a secure social and economic position. As the friend of men like Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain, and Paymaster Mitchell McDonald, some of his oddities were neutralized. (He felt always more of a man, he said, after contact with their reality, 'like Antæus, who got stronger every time his feet touched the solid ground.') As the father of three boys and the head of a Japanese household of eleven persons, he had for the first time a stake in the world. And finally in what was clearly a marriage of almost miraculous suitability for him, his restless spirit found a measure of peace.


Lafcadio Hearn has been called a 'decadent'; the word does not signify, but if by it is meant, as sometimes seems to be, a humanist without physique, there is a considerable measure of truth in its application. If one symptom of decadence be the love of words for their own sake, it was, as we have seen, not lacking in his earlier work. There is, however, nothing more unjust to most human beings then the application to them of tags that have taken their color from trite literary usage and hasty popular association with a few notorious characters. This is especially true in Hearn's case. In 1885 he wrote to W. D. O'Connor: 'If my little scraggy hand tells you anything, you ought to recognize in it a very small, erratic, eccentric, irregular, impulsive, nervous disposition,—almost your antitype in everything except the love of the beautiful.' The advocatus diaboli himself could scarcely have done better. Erratic, eccentric, irregular, impulsive, nervous, Hearn undoubtedly was; and these qualities, enhanced as they were by self-pity, so far from being what the psychologists call 'independent variables,' were of the very essence of his faculty. 'Unless,' he writes, 'somebody does or says something horribly mean to me I can't do certain kinds of work'; and again: 'I have found that the possessor of pure horse-health never seems to have an idea of the "half-lights." It is impossible to see the psychical undercurrents of human existence without that self-separation from the purely physical part of being that severe sickness gives like a revelation.'

For all his fine Byronic swimming of straits and wide bays Hearn was never the possessor of 'pure horse-health,' and it is pretty clear that to his lack of it, to his trembling sense of the hard attrition of the world, we owe his marvelous mastery of the 'half-light.' Yet this was not so much 'morbidness' in our English sense, as morbidezza, the quality of mellow-tinted color and soft harmonies. Late in life he wrote, 'I like Kipling's morbidness, which is manly and full of enormous resolve and defiance in the truth of God and Hell and Nature,—but the other—no!' Of 'the other' there is little trace in his own latest work.

The chief morbid factor in Hearn's physical constitution was his vision. One eye was totally blind, the other had, it is said, but one twentieth of normal vision; but too much has been made of this as a qualification of his genius. His monocular vision gave him, of course, landscape 'flat,' without perspective and depth; but undoubtedly, like the half-closed eye of the painter, it gave him color in wonderful harmonious intensity, and who shall say that it was with a vividness beyond Nature? The tremendous cumulative rhapsody of blue at the beginning of his 'Two Years in the French West Indies' is said by those who best know the Southern seas not to exceed reality. And there is plenty of evidence that in his quick, comprehending glances through the single eyeglass that he habitually carried, he seized minute significant details of persons or objects which others missed. It has been said by one who should be qualified to know, that he saw his world as partially and obscurely as one who looks through the large end of an opera-glass; but the analogy is imperfect unless we remember that objects so seen are given not only with remoteness, but with rich color, and with a curious artistic composition like a Claude in miniature.

But after all it was the lens in the brain that counted with Hearn. As opposed to his vision, his visionary faculty was of the first order. From boyhood, 'ghostly' was his characteristic, as it finally came to be almost his trick word. He envisaged wraiths and vanished cities with a definition more like that of objective than of subjective sight. Only his skeptical intelligence kept him from being a thoroughgoing spirit-seer. Perhaps his most characteristic mood was that reflected in his impressive essay on 'Dust' in 'Gleanings from Buddha Fields'—'I have the double sensation of being myself a ghost and of being haunted,—haunted by the prodigious luminous spectre of the world.'

It is not necessary to go much further about to apprehend the inner nature of Lafcadio Hearn. In the same 'Dust' there is a 'lyrical' paragraph that conveys him very perfectly:—

'I confess that "my mind to me a kingdom is"—not! Rather it is a fantastical republic, daily troubled by more revolutions than ever occurred in South America; and the nominal government, supposed to be rational, declares that an eternity of such anarchy is not desirable. I have souls wanting to soar in air, and souls wanting to swim in water (sea-water, I think), and souls wanting to live in woods or on mountain tops.' And so on through a Homeric catalogue of his souls, till at the end he breaks out, 'I an individual,—an individual soul! Nay, I am a population,-a population unthinkable for multitude, even by groups of a thousand millions!'

Half-fantastic this passage may very well be, but none the less it is the faithful reflection of a temperament lacking the sane integrity of perfect health, a nature at odds with itself through many warring inheritances and subtle rebellions of the blood, yet mastered at the last in most of its human relations by a character essentially fine.

The final estimation of Hearn's work is impeded by its scattered bulk, but when in the fullness of time it is finally brought together in a collected edition it will be seen to stand very high in the second class of English prose, the class of the great prosateurs, Sir Thomas Browne, Thomas De Quincey, Walter Pater.

Had he lived longer his rank might have been higher still. He had outgrown his old decadent conception of style as separable from substance, as an end to be attained in itself, to be arrived at by miners' work in dictionaries and thesauri. His work never ceased to be conscious art, but in his very latest writing there is a perfect fusion of his vigorous imaginative thought in the melancholy music of his cadenced prose. Toward the end of his life he had dreams more ambitious even than the stylistic ambitions of his youth so amply realized. In 1895 he wrote, 'I really think I have stored away in me somewhere powers larger than any I have yet been able to use. Of course I don't mean that I have any hidden wisdom or anything of that sort, but I believe I have some power to reach the public emotionally if conditions allow.' Still later the project is explicitly stated: 'a single short, powerful philosophical story, of the most emotional and romantic sort.' 'I feel within me,' he writes, 'the sense of such a story—vaguely, like the sense of a perfume or the smell of a spring wind which you cannot define. But the chances are that a more powerful mind than mine will catch the inspiration first, as the highest peak most quickly takes the sun.'

Whether his imagination, with all its activity, had quite the creative, shaping energy ever to fulfill this dream, we shall never know. But it is certain at any rate that the last of his work, published posthumously, shows both a broadening and a deepening of what, despite the artifice of his method, we may justly call his inspiration. Had he lived to complete the imaginative autobiography of which fragments are printed in his 'Life and Letters,' it might have proved his masterpiece. The fragments have a sincere and haunting poignancy, and his prose was never more vivid and musical. For all that 'population' within him, his own intellectual and imaginative life had been marked by a unity that would doubtless have induced a corresponding unity in the book, with striking artistic results.

The integrity of Hearn's intellectual life consisted in his strangely single-hearted devotion to both artistic beauty and scientific truth. And precisely in this, I believe, lies the significance of his work. He was, in a certain sense, the most Lucretian of modern writers. It has been said that, as Spinoza was 'a man drunk with God,' so Lucretius was 'a man drunk with natural law.' Well, Hearn was a man drunk with Herbert Spencer, and in all save the accident of form he was the poet of Spencerian evolution. As Lucretius, preaching his tremendous doctrine of the monstrous, eternal rain of atoms through the world, wove into his great poem the beauty of the old mythology, the tragedy of passionate humanity, so Hearn, in his gentler fashion, steadily envisaged the horror that envelops the stupendous universe of modern science, and by evoking and reviving ancient myths and immemorial longings, cast over the darkness a ghostly light of vanished suns.

In the final paragraph of his 'Romance of the Milky Way,'—the River Celestial along which, in Japanese mythology, the spirits of the dead return to meet their loves beneath the moon,—we have the heart of Lafcadio Hearn:—

'Perhaps the legend of Tanabata, as it was understood by those old poets, can make but a faint appeal to Western minds. Nevertheless, in the silence of transparent nights, before the rising of the moon, the charm of the ancient tale sometimes descends upon me, out of the scintillant sky,—to make me forget the monstrous facts of science, and the stupendous horror of Space. Then I no longer behold the Milky Way as that awful Ring of the Cosmos, whose hundred million suns are powerless to lighten the Abyss, but as the very Amanagowa itself,—the River Celestial. I see the thrill of its shining stream, and the mists that hover along its verge, and the water-grasses that bend in the winds of autumn. White Orihim? I see at her starry loom, and the Ox that grazes on the farther shore; and I know that the falling dew is the spray from the Herdsman's oar. And the heaven seems very near and warm and human; and the silence about me is filled with the dream of a love unchanging, immortal,—forever yearning and forever young, and forever left unsatisfied by the paternal wisdom of the gods.'

If, as some hold, the problem of modern romantic literary art has been to portray the human spirit caught in a magic web of necessity, 'penetrating us with a network subtler than our subtlest nerves'; to marry strangeness with beauty; to accomplish all this in a style as express and gleaming as goldsmith's work; then few writers have solved it more brilliantly than Lafcadio Hearn.




May 2, 188-

Across the Floridian barrens to the sea,-a long night and a longer day of steam-travel over light powdery soil, the tint of hour-glass sand, whose dust filters like a ruddy fog through the joints of the double-windows and tightly-fitting doors of the sleeping-car; furious travel through wildernesses of yellow pine, whose naked and mastlike stems forever twinklingly intercross before one's tired eyes with the rapidity of lightning. The smoke of the engine descends to mingle with the low hanging cloud of ruddy dust; the sun, which rose in advance of us, is now behind us, but there is yet no variation in the monotony of the woods. Sometimes the train halts at a rustic station,—buildings of painted pine relieved against the endless background of living trees; the smoke floats off slowly through the heavy afternoon; the red dust settles lazily; and one rushes to the platform to snatch a breath of purer air, and to peer expectantly westward. Still nothing;—only the colonnades of pine filing away eternally to right and left, and the lurid road stretching endlessly backward and onward with its two streaks of iron light converging toward either horizon,—and the voice of a bird in some green hiding-place, breaking the hot stillness with plaintive triple cry of 'Sweet!—sweet!—sweet!'—repeated over and over again at drowsy intervals. Never a variation in the frondescence, never a flower; the melancholy of the land has begun to weigh upon you like a pain. Our city minds, our city eyes, accustomed to the relief of contrast, are tormented by creations of such perpetual sameness, of such enormous monotony, of such never-varying beauty as Nature devises in her own solitudes. These shadowy infinitudes do not seem formed for the gaze of the nineteenth century; their boundless uniformity rather inspires dreams of those coniferous growths which burdened the land in ages preceding the apparition of man,—when there were yet neither blossoms nor perfumes, neither saccharine secretions nor succulent fruits,—ere even the hum of honey-loving insects was heard, or the beauty of butterflies had been formed, or the nations of the ants had yet begun to toil,—and all the earth was green.

Then a scream of steam, a mighty jolt; and the thunder-rattle recommences, and the train again begins to rock in mad storms of dust and smoke, and the red sun ignites a stupendous conflagration behind the pillars of the pines. At last, under the moon, there is another shriek of steam; the wheels slacken, rumble jerkingly, then roll slowly and silently, as if muffled, with occasional squeak, and pause with a final shock; while through hastily opened windows and doors, a strong cool air dashes in,—the breath of the great St. Johns River, sweetened by mingling with the mightier breath of the sea, and bearing with it scent of orange flowers and odors of magnolia.

And in the purple night, under the palpitation of stars, Jacksonville opens all her electric eyes.

May 4, 188-

Morning inundates the streets with its fluid gold; the trees drink in the brightness; the plate-glass of store-fronts flames like immense jewel-facets;—and what singular stores these are!—mostly curiosity shops! Here are dealers in strange flowers, flowers formed of iridescent fish-scales,—in jointed walking canes of shark's vertebræ,—in tropical shells, bearing paintings of sabals and cypresses upon their nacreous inner surface,—in splendid screens made of the spoils of white herons and sea-eagles,—in sea-beans and sea-porcupines and seaweed fans and polished shells of the sea-turtle, —in alligator-eggs and stuffed alligators, and live alligators in boxes,—in alligators' teeth, burnished and gold-mounted as brooches, as cuff-buttons, as necklace ornaments, as earrings. Atavism in the evolution of the lapidary's art,—an unconscious return of fashion to the savage bijou try of fossil races! After perhaps not less than half-a-million of years our boasted civilization finds æsthetic joy in the art of the Tertiary Epoch; and in the bud-smooth lobule of her dainty ear, the modern beauty does not hesitate to hang even such a decoration as that worn many thousand centuries ago by some primitive beauty,—tall daughters of mammoth-hunters and lion-slayers.

The breath of the sea quivers in the emerald of the trees, and, sea-like, the broad St. Johns washes the feet of the white town. In the shadow of the wharves the water is deeply green and glossy as the surface of a magnolia leaf; further out it brightens and changes to sky-color, and cools off into steel-tint near the opposite shore. Violet bands moving over the immense breadth of the flood betray the course of mysterious currents. A long promontory, piercing the miles of unruffled water, mirrors the golden-greens, and sap-greens, and sombre greens of its unbroken woods; but much further away, across the enormous curve, the forest lines, steeped in the infinite bath of azure light, turn blue. As through high gates of green, the eye looks up the vast turn into a cerulean world; and it is through these rich portals that you may sail into the region of legend and romance,—that you may reach those subterranean rivers, those marvelous volcanic springs haunted by dim traditions of the Fountain of Youth, and by the memory of the good gray knight who sought its waters in vain.

And though the days of faith be dead, men look for that Phantom-Fountain still. Yearly, from the gray cities of wintry lands thousands hasten to the eternal summer of this perfumed place, to find new life, new strength—to seek rejuvenescence in the balm of the undying groves, in the purity of rock-born springs, in the elixir-breath of this tropical Nature, herself eternally young with the luminous youth of the gods. And multitudes pass away again to duller lands, to darker skies, rejuvenated indeed,—the beauty with rose-bloom brightened, the toiler with force renewed,—feeling they have left behind them here something of their hearts, something of their souls, caught like Spanish moss on the spiked leaves of the palms, on the outstretched arms of the cedars.

Why River-worship should have held so large a place in the ancient religions of the world, I thought I could more fully comprehend on that aureate afternoon,—while our white steamer clove her way toward a long succession of purple promontories that changed to green at our approach, and the city was fading away behind us in smoke of gold. Blue miles of water to right and left; the azure enormity ever broadening and brightening before. Viewing the majesty of the flood, the immortal beauty of the domed forests crowning its banks, the day-magic of colors shifting and interblending through leagues of light, a sense of inexpressible reverence fills the mind of the observer,—a sense of the divinity of Nature, the holiness of beauty. These are the visions we must call celestial; this is the loveliness that is sacred, that is infinite,—the poetry of heaven. Through the splendor of blue there seemed to float to my memory as sounds float to the ear, some verses of an ancient Indian hymn, whereof the authorship has been ascribed even to the Spirit of the Universe: 'I am the sweetness of waters, the light of moon and sun, the perfume of earth, the splendor of fire.... I am the Soul in all that lives;—Time-without-end am I, and the life of things to be, the Spirit celestial and supreme, MOST ANCIENT AND MOST EXCELLENT OF POETS.'

The sun dropped through a lake of orange light, and there were lilac tints in the sky, and ghostly greens. Then the great indigo darkness came; stars sparkled out; the boat chanted her steam-song, slackened her speed before a yellow glimmering of lamps, and halted at the wharves of Palatka. Here we bade her farewell; too huge a craft she was for the pilgrimage we wished to make to the mysterious fountain. Slender and light the boat must be that makes the journey thither,—a voyage upon stranger waters than these: no giant stream like the St. Johns, but a dim river with an Indian name, a narrow river undulating through the forest like some slow serpent unrolling its hundred coils of green. And, as a greater serpent devours a lesser one, so the writhing Ocklawaha swallows the shining current that flows from the Silver Spring.

Seated that evening on a balcony that jutted out under the star-light, above the crests of palmettos, I pondered upon the legend of the Fountain. It was among the Bahamas that Juan Ponce de Leon first sought for the waters of youth,—striving to discover some island vapory and vague as Hesperus, and questioning curiously the Indians of the Archipelago. Then it was he heard of the mainland where 'the wished-for waters flowed as a river upon whose banks lived the rejuvenated races in serene idleness and untold luxuriance.' Was this a rumor of the spring with a silver name, whose waters indeed 'flow as a river'?—or was it an Indian tale of some other one of those many and wondrous Floridian sources whose unfathomed transparencies own the iridescent magnificence of jewel-fire? Or might not the valiant Spaniard have heard in his boyhood some Moorish story of that mystic fountain which the Prophet Khader alone of all God's creatures was permitted to find? And that Moslem tradition itself, had it not been brought to Islam by Arabian travelers to the further East,—as a bud from the marvelous garden of Hindoo myth,—a fairy-flower created by the poet-wizards of India,—a blossom of parable, perchance, called into being by the lips of Buddha? 'Not wholly thus,' deep scholars answer; 'for the legend of Gautama is only a poem evolved from ancient myths of the Sun-god; and the fable of the Fountain doubtless first sprang from the primitive belief that the Day-star, whose glory waned with evening, nightly renewed the strength of his splendor by bathing in the fountains of Ocean,—in the enchanted waters of the West.' Perhaps, perhaps!—But can we boldly aver that the beautiful myth is not more ancient still,—old as love,—old as the mourning for the dead,—old as the heart of man, and its dreams of the eternal, and its desires of the impossible?

May 5, 188-

From the deck of the slender Osceola, looking up the river, the eye can seldom see more than a hundred yards of the Ocklawaha at one time: so sudden and so multitudinous are the turns of the stream that the boat seems ever steering straight for land,—continually moving into fluvial recesses without an exit. But always as she seems about to touch the bank, a wooded point detaches itself from the masses of verdure,—a sharp curve betrays its secret,—a new vista terminating in new mysteries of green, opens its gates to our prow. Narrow and labyrinthine the river is, but so smooth that like a flood of quicksilver it repeats inversely all the intricacies of tangle-growths, all delicate details of leaf and blossom, all the bright variations of foliage-color. And gradually one discerns a law of system in those diversities of tint,—an ordination in the variety of tree-forms. Near the water the swamp-growth is dwarfed, tufted, irregular, but generally bright of hue; further back it rises to majestic maturity, offering a long succession of domes and cupolas of frondescence, alternated with fantastic minarets of cypress; behind all, the solid and savage forest towers like a battlement, turret above turret, crown above crown,—oak and ash, maple and pine. The dominant tone is the light green of the pines and the gum trees, and the younger ranks of cypress; but the elder cypress and the myrtles, and the younger ash, break through with darker masses of color. Singularly luminous greens also shine out at intervals in the wreathings of love-vines and in the bursts of sweet-bay. But whether radiant or sombre, the color is seen as through a gauze,—through the gray veil ubiquitously woven by the aerial moss that fringes every crest, that drools from every twig, that droops in myriad festoons, that streams in hoary cascades from every protruding bough. And mistletoe mingles with the moss, and air-plants nestle in the armpits of the cypresses, and orchids bloom on dead limbs; while, from the morass below, extraordinary parasitic things, full of snaky beauty, climb and twine and interwreathe, often to lose their strangling hold at last, and fall back in spiral coils.

Then also, to right and left, broad bands of translucent green begin to edge the river surface,—the nations of the water-lilies uprearing their perfumed heads,—some whiter than moon-light, some yellower than gold. All start and tremble at our passing, as though suddenly aroused from slumber; and I long watch them nodding in our wake, more and more drowsily, slowly settling down to dream again.

Rarely there comes a break in the solid leagues of forest-wall,—a deep space filled with celestial color, a golden green, the green of orange-groves,—making the wilder tints of nature turn spectral by contrast. These indeed are the veritable Gardens of Hesperides, and theirs the bright fruit of Greek legend,—those Apples of Gold the Demigod sought in mythic islands of the Western Sea,—that Hippomenes, hard-pressed in the race of love, cast before the flying feet of Atalanta. For the orange hath its mythology.

Little frogs, metallically bright as the lily-leaves on which they sit, chant in chorus; butterflies flutter on vermilion wing from bank to bank; sometimes the nose of an alligator furrows the river. The palmettos, heretofore rare, begin to multiply; they assemble in troops, in ranks, in legions. And other gracious forms appear,—true palms,—satin-skinned and wonderfully tall. They hold themselves aloof from the cypresses and the oaks; they don no draperies of moss—proudly majestic in the elegance of their naked beauty. They approach the flood, yet shrink from it with feminine timidity; if the treacherous soil yield beneath their feet, still, by some miracle of poise, they save themselves from fall. Then wonderful indeed is the suppleness of their curves; the neck of the ostrich, the body of the serpent, seem less lithely beautiful. Theirs is never the admirable but inflexible stature of the often to lose their strangling hold at last, and fall back in spiral coils.

Then also, to right and left, broad bands of translucent green begin to edge the river surface,—the nations of the water-lilies uprearing their perfumed heads,—some whiter than moon-light, some yellower than gold. All start and tremble at our passing, as though suddenly aroused from slumber; and I long watch them nodding in our wake, more and more drowsily, slowly settling down to dream again.

Rarely there comes a break in the solid leagues of forest-wall,—a deep space filled with celestial color, a golden green, the green of orange-groves,—making the wilder tints of nature turn spectral by contrast. These indeed are the veritable Gardens of Hesperides, and theirs the bright fruit of Greek legend,—those Apples of Gold the Demigod sought in mythic islands of the Western Sea,—that Hippomenes, hard-pressed in the race of love, cast before the flying feet of Atalanta. For the orange hath its mythology.

Little frogs, metallically bright as the lily-leaves on which they sit, chant in chorus; butterflies flutter on vermilion wing from bank to bank; sometimes the nose of an alligator furrows the river. The palmettos, heretofore rare, begin to multiply; they assemble in troops, in ranks, in legions. And other gracious forms appear,—true palms,—satin-skinned and wonderfully tall. They hold themselves aloof from the cypresses and the oaks; they don no draperies of moss—proudly majestic in the elegance of their naked beauty. They approach the flood, yet shrink from it with feminine timidity; if the treacherous soil yield beneath their feet, still, by some miracle of poise, they save themselves from fall. Then wonderful indeed is the suppleness of their curves; the neck of the ostrich, the body of the serpent, seem less lithely beautiful. Theirs is never the admirable but inflexible stature of the pine; the bodies of all are comely with indication; they balance as in a dance; they poise as in a ballet,—a fairy saraband of coryphineæ.

What wonder that the comeliness of the palm should have been by ancient faith deemed divine; that, among all trees of earth, this should have been chosen as the symbol of light, of victory, of riches, of generation! Sacred to the sun, and to the goddess NIKÉ (whose appellation was Dea Palmaris),—emblem of immortality for the Orphic poets,—blessed also by the Christ and by him selected even as the token of salvation,—ancient truly is the right of the palm to reverence as divinest of trees. Yet not less ancient its claim to pre-eminence of beauty. Arab and Greek and Hebrew poets discovered in its shapeliness the most puissant comparison for human grace; the soft name Thamar signifies a palm; the charm of woman has been likened to the pliant symmetry of the tree by the bard of the Odyssey, by the wild authors of the Moallakat, and by the singer of the Song of Songs.

Darkness comes without a moon; and the torch-fires of the Osceola are kindled to light our way through the wilderness. The night-journey becomes an astonishment, a revelation, an Apocalypse.

Under the factitious illumination the banks, the roots, the stems, the creepers, the burdened boughs, the waving mosses, turn white as dead silver against the background of black sky; it is a Doresque landscape, abnormally fantastic and wan. Close to shore the relief is weirdly sharp; beyond, the heights of swamp forest rise dim and gray into the night, like shapes of vapor. There are no greens visible under this unearthly radiance; all is frosty-white or phantom gray; we seem to voyage not through a living forest, but through a world of ghosts. Forms grotesque as fetishes loom up on all sides; the cypresses in their tatters throng whitely to the black the night, while the woods ever display new terrors, new extravaganzas of ghastliness. As a traveler belated, who sings loudly in the darkness to give himself courage, the Osceola opens her iron throat, and shouts with all her voice of steam. And the deep forest laughs in scorn, and hurls back the shout with a thousand mockeries of echo,—a thousand phantom thunders; and the bitter triple cry of anguish follows us still over the sable flood.

But the Fountain of Youth is not now far away; midnight is past; the trees lock arms overhead; and we glide through the Cypress Gates.

Lulled by the monotonous throbbing of the machinery,—the systole and diastole of the steamer's heart,—I sank to sleep and dreamed; but the spectra of the woods filled all my dreams. It seemed to me that I was floating,—lying as in a canoe, and all alone,—down some dark and noiseless current,—between forests endless and vast,—under an unearthly light. White mosses drooped to sweep my face; phantoms of cypress put forth long hands to seize. Again I saw the writhing and the nodding of the palms: they elongated their bodies like serpents; they undulated quiveringly, as cobras before the snake-charmer. And all the moss-hung shapes of fear took life, and moved like living things,—slowly and monstrously, as polyps move. Then the vision changed and magnified; the river broadened Amazonianly; the forests became colossal,—preternatural,—world-shadowing at last,—meeting even over the miles of waters; and the sabals towered to the stars. And still I drifted with the mighty stream, feeling less than an insect in those ever-growing enormities; and a thin Voice like a wind came weirdly questioning: 'Ha! thou dreamer of dreams!—hast ever dreamed aught like unto this?—This is the Architecture of God!'

May 6, 188-

How divine the coming of the morning,—the coming of the Sun,—exorcising the shadowy terrors of the night with infinite restoration of color! I look upon the woods, and they are not the same: the palms have vanished; the cypresses have fled away; trees young and comely and brightly green replace them. A hand is laid upon my shoulder,—the hand of the gray Captain: 'Go forward, and see what you have never seen before.' Even as he speaks, our boat, turning sharply, steams out of the green water into—what can I call it?—a flood of fluid crystal,—a river of molten diamond,—a current of liquid light?

'It will be like this for eight miles,' observed the Captain. Eight miles!—eight miles of magic,—eight miles of glory! O the unspeakable beauty of it! It might be fifty feet in depth at times; yet every pebble, every vein of the water-grass blades, every atom of sparkling sand, is clearly visible as though viewed through sun-filled air; and but for the iridescent myriads of darting fish, the scintillations of jewel-color, we might well fancy our vessel floating low in air, like a balloon whose buoyancy is feeble. Water-grasses and slippery moss carpet much of the channel with a dark verdure that absorbs the light; the fish and the tortoises seem to avoid those sandy reaches left naked to the sun, as if fearful the great radiance would betray them, or as though unable to endure the force of the beams descending undimmed through all the translucent fathoms of the stream. It has no mystery this laughing torrent, save the mystery of its subterranean birth; it doffs all veils of shadow; the woods gradually withdraw from its banks; and the fires of the Southern sun affect not the delicious frigidity of its waves. Almost irresistible its fascination to the swimmer; one envies the fishes that shoot by like flashes of opal, even the reptiles that flee before the prow; a promise of strange joy? of electrical caress, seems to smile from those luminous deeps,—like the witchery of a Naiad, the blandishment of an Undine.

And so we float at last into a great basin, dark with the darkness of profundities unfathomed by the sun;—the secret sources of the spring, the place of its mystic fountain-birth, and the end of our pilgrimage. Down, down, deep, there is a mighty quivering visible; but the surface remains unmoved; the giant gush expends its strength far beneath us. From what unilluminated caverns,—what subterranean lakes,—burst this prodigious flow? Go ask the gnomes! Man may never answer. This is the visible beginning indeed; but of the invisible beginning who may speak?—not even the eye of the Sun hath discerned it; the light of the universe hath never shone upon it.—Earth reveals much to the magicians of science; but the dim secret of her abysses she keeps forever.


The broken memory of a tale told in the last hours of a summer's night to the old Mexican priest by a dying wanderer from the Spanish Americas. Much the father marvelled at the quaintness of the accent of the man? which was the quaintness of dead centuries...

Now the land of which I tell thee is a low land, where all things seem to have remained unchanged since the beginning of the world,—a winterless land where winds are warm and weak, so that the leaves are not moved by them,—a beshadowed land that ever seemeth to mourn with a great mourning. For it is one mighty wold, and the trees there be all hung with drooping plants and drooling vines, and dribbling mossy things that pend queerly from the uppermost branchings even to the crankling roots. And there be birds in that wold which do sing only when the moon shineth full,—and they have voices, like to monks,—and measured is their singing, and solemn, and of vasty sound,—and they are not at all afraid. But when the sun shineth there prevaileth such quiet as if some mighty witchcraft weighed upon the place; and all things drowse in the great green silence.

Now on the night of which I tell thee, we had camped there; and it seemed to me that we might in sooth have voyaged beyond the boundaries of the world; for even the heavens were changed above us, and the stars were not the same; and I could not sleep for thinking of the strangeness of the land and of the sky. And about the third watch I rose and went out under those stars, and looked at them, and listened to the psalmody of the wonderful birds chanting in the night like friars. Then a curious desire to wander alone into the deep woods came upon me.—En chica hora Dios obra!—In that time I feared neither man nor devil; and our commander held me the most desperate in that desperate band; and I strode out of the camp without thought of peril. The grizzled sentry desired to question me;—I cursed him and passed on.

And I was far away from the camp when the night grew pale, and the fire of the great strange Cross of stars, about which I have told thee, faded out, and I watched the edge of the East glow ruddy and ruddier with the redness of iron in a smithy; until the sun rose up, yellow like an orange is, with palm-leaves sharply limned against his face. Then I heard the Spanish trumpets sounding their call through the morning; but I did not desire to return. Whether it was the perfume of the flowers, or the odors of unknown spice-trees or some enchantment in the air, I could not tell thee; but I do remember that, as I wandered on, a sudden resolve came to me never to rejoin those comrades of mine. And a stranger feeling grew upon me like a weakness of heart,—like a great sorrow for I knew not what; and the fierceness of the life that I had lived passed away from me, and I was even as one about to weep. Wild doves whirred down from the trees to perch on my casque and armored shoulders; and I wondered that they suffered me to touch them with my hands, and were in no wise afraid.

So day broadened and brightened above me; and it came to pass that I found myself following a path where the trunks of prodigious trees filed away like lines of pillars, reaching out of sight,—and their branches made groinings like work of arches above me, so that it was like a monstrous church; and the air was heavy with a perfume like incense. All about me blazed those birds which are not bigger than bees, but do seem to have been made by God out of all manner of jewels and colored fire; also there were apes in multitude, and reptiles beyond reckoning, and singing insects, and talking birds. Then I asked myself whether I were not in one of those lands old Moors in Spain told of,—lands near the sinking of the sun, where fountains of magical water are. And fancy begetting fancy, it came to pass that I found me dreaming of that which Juan Ponce de Leon sought.

Thus dreaming as I went on, it appeared to me that the green dimnesses deepened, and the forest became loftier. And the trees now looked older than the deluge; and the stems of the things that coiled and climbed about them were enormous and gray; and the tatters of the pendent mosses were blanched as with the hoariness of ages beyond reckoning. Again I heard the trumpet sounding,—but so far off that the echo was not louder than the droning of the great flies; and I was gladdened by the fancy that it would soon have no power to reach mine ears.

And all suddenly I found myself within a vast clear space,—ringed about by palms so lofty that their tops appeared to touch the sky, and their shadows darkened all within the circle of them. And there was a great silence awhile, broken only by the whispering of waters. My feet made no sound, so thick was the moss I trod upon; and from the circle of the palms on every side the ground sloped down to a great basin of shimmering water. So clear it was that I could perceive sparkles of gold in the sands below; and the water seemed forced upward in a mighty underflow from the centre of the basin, where there was a deep, dark place. And into the bright basin there trickled streamlets also from beneath the roots of the immense trees; and I became aware of a great subterrene murmuring, as if those waters—which are beneath the earth—were all seeking to burst their way up to the sun.

Then, being foredone with heat and weariness, I doffed my armor and my apparel and plunged into the pool of the fountain. And I discovered that the brightness of the water had deluded me; for so deep was it that by diving I could not reach the bottom. Neither was the fountain tepid as are the slow river currents of that strange land, but of a pleasant frigidness,—like those waters that leap among the rocks of Castile. And I felt a new strength and a puissant joy, as one having long traveled with burning feet through some fevered and fiery land feeleth new life when the freshness of sea-winds striketh against his face, and the jocund brawling of the great billows smiteth his ears through the silence of desolation. And the joyousness I knew as a boy seemed to flame through all my blood again,—so that I sported in the luminous ripples and laughed aloud, and uttered shouts of glee; and high above me in the ancient trees wonderful birds mocked my shoutings and answered my laughter hoarsely, as with human voices. And when I provoked them further, they did imitate my speech till it seemed that a thousand echoes repeated me. And, having left the fount, no hunger nor weariness weighed upon me,—but I yielded unto a feeling of delicious drowsihead, and laid me down upon the moss to sleep as deeply as an infant sleepeth.

Now, when I opened mine eyes again, I wondered greatly to behold a woman bending over me,—and presently I wondered even much more, for never until then had it been given me to look upon aught so comely. Begirdled with flowers she was, but all ungarmented,—and lithe to see as the rib of a palmleaf is,—and so aureate of color that she seemed as one created of living gold. And her hair was long and sable as wing-feathers of ravens are, with shifting gleams of blue,—and was interwoven with curious white blossoms. And her eyes, for color like to her hair, I could never describe for thee,—that large they were, and limpid, and lustrous, and sweet-lidded! So gracious her stature and so wonderful the lissomeness of her, that, for the first time, I verily knew fear,—deeming it never possible that earthly being might be so goodly to the sight. Nor did the awe that was upon me pass away until I had seen her smile,—having dared to speak to her in my own tongue, which she understood not at all. But when I had made certain signs she brought me fruits fragrant and golden as her own skin; and as she bent over me again our lips met, and with the strange joy of it I felt even as one about to die,—for her mouth was—

['Nay, my son,' said the priest, preventing him, 'dwell not upon such things. Already the hand of death is on thee; waste not these priceless moments in speech of vanity,—rather confess thee speedily that I may absolve thee from thy grievous sin.']

So be it, padre mio, I will speak to thee only of that which a confessor should know. But I may surely tell thee those were the happiest of my years; for in that low dim land even Earth and Heaven seemed to kiss; and never did other mortal feel the joy I knew of, love that wearies never and youth that passeth never away. Verily, it was the Eden-garden, the Paradise of Eve. Fruits succulent and perfume were our food,—the moss, springy and ever cool, formed our bed, made odorous with flowers; and for night-lamps we prisoned those wondrous flies that sparkle through darkness like falling stars. Never a cloud or tempest,—no fierce rain nor parching heat, but spring everlasting, filled with scent of undying flowers, and perpetual laughter of waters, and piping of silver-throated birds. Rarely did we wander far from that murmuring hollow. My cuirass, and casque, and good sword of Seville, I allowed to rust away; my garments fell into dust; but neither weapon nor garment were needed where all was drowsy joy and unchanging warmth. Once she whispered to me in my own tongue, which she had learned with marvelous ease, though I, indeed, never could acquire hers: 'Dost know, Querido mio, here one may never grow old?' Then only I spake to her about that fountain which Juan Ponce de Leon sought, and told her the marvels related of it, and questioned her curiously about it. But she smiled, and pressed her pliant golden fingers upon my lips, and would not suffer me to ask more,—neither could I at any time after find heart to beseech her further regarding matters she was not fain to converse of.

Yet ever and anon she bade me well beware that I should not trust myself to stray alone into the deep dimness beyond the dale of the fountains: 'Lest the Shadows lay hold upon thee,' she said. And I laughed low at her words, never discerning that the Shadows whereof she spake were those that Age and Death cast athwart the sunshine of the world.

['Nay, nay, my son,' again spoke the priest; 'tell me not of Shadows, but of thy great sins only; for the night waneth, and thine hour is not far off.']

Be not fearful, father; I may not die before I have told thee all.... I have spoken of our happiness; now must I tell thee of our torment—the strangest thing of all? Dost remember what I related to thee about the sound of the trumpet summoning me? Now was it not a ghostly thing that I should hear every midnight that same summons,—not faintly as before, but loud and long—once? Night after night, ever at the same hour, and ever with the same sonority, even when lying in her arms, I heard it—as a voice of brass, rolling through the world. And whensoever that cursed sound came to us, she trembled in the darkness, and linked her arms more tightly about me, and wept, and would not be comforted till I had many times promised that I should not forsake her. And through all those years I heard that trumpet-call—years, said I?—nay, centuries (since in that place there is not any time nor any age)—I heard it through long centuries after all my comrades had been laid within their graves.

[And the stranger gazed with strange inquiry into the priest's face; but he crossed himself silently, and spoke no word.]

And nightly I strove to shut out the sound from my ears and could not; and nightly the torment of hearing it ever increased like a torment of hell—ay de mit nightly, for uncounted generations of years! So that in time a great fury would seize me whenever the cursed echoes came; and, one dark hour, when she seemed to hear it not, and slept deeply, I sought my rusted blade, and betook me toward the sound,—beyond the dale of fountains—into the further dimness of swaying mosses,—whither, meseems, the low land trendeth southward and toward those wan wastes which are not land nor water, yet which do quake to a great and constant roaring as of waves in wrath.

[A moment the voice of the aged man failed him, and his frame quivered as in the beginning of agony.]

Now I feel, padre, that but little time is allotted me to speak. I may never recount to thee my wanderings, and they, indeed, are of small moment.—Enough to tell thee that I never again could find the path to the fountains and to her, so that she became lost to me. And when I found myself again among men, lo! the whole world was changed, and the Spaniards I met spake not the tongue of my time, and they mocked the quaintness of my ways and jibed at the fashion of my speech. And my tale I dared tell to none, through fear of being confined with madmen, save to thee alone, and for this purpose only I summoned thee. Surely had I lived much in this new age of thine men must have deemed me bereft of reason, seeing that my words and ways were not like unto theirs; but I have passed my years in the morasses of unknown tropics, with the python and the cayman,—and in the dark remoteness of forests inhabited by monstrous things,—and in forgotten ruins of dead Indian cities,—and by shores of strange rivers that have no names,—until my hair whitened and my limbs were withered and my great strength was utterly spent in looking for her.

'Verily, my son,' spake the confessor, 'any save a priest might well deem thee mad,—though thy speech and thy story be not of to-day. Yet I do believe thy tale. Awesome it is and strange; but the traditions of the Holy Church contain things that are not less strange: witness the legend of the Blessed Seven of Ephesus, whose lives were three hundred and sixty years preserved that the heresy concerning the resurrection of the flesh might be confounded forever. Even in some such way hath the Lord preserved thee through the centuries for this thine hour of repentance. Commend, therefore, thy soul to God, repentingly, and banish utterly from thee that evil spirit who still tempts thee in the semblance of woman.'

'Repent!' wonderingly spake the wanderer, whose great black eyes flamed up again as with the fires of his youth; 'I do not repent, I shall never repent,—nor did I summon thee hither that thou shouldst seek to stir me to any repentance.—Nay! more than mine own soul I love her,—unutterably, unswervingly, everlastingly! Aye! greater a thousand fold is my love of her than is thy hope of heaven, thy dread of death, thy fear of hell.—Repent—beyond all time shall I love her, through eternity of eternities,—aye! as thou wouldst say, even por los siglos de los siglos.'

Kneeling devoutly, the confessor covered his face with his hands, and prayed even as he had never prayed before. When he lifted his eyes again, lo! the soul had passed away unshriven;—but there was such a smile upon the dead face that the priest marveled, and murmured, with his lips: 'Surely he hath found Her at last!'—Faintly, with the coming of the dawn, a warm south wind moved the curtains, and bare into the chamber rich scent of magnolia and of jessamine and of those fair blossoms whose odor evoketh beloved memory of long-dead bridal-mornings,—until it seemed that a weird sweet Presence invisible had entered, all silently, and stood there even as a Watcher standeth. And all the East brightened;—and, touched by the yellow magic of the sun, the vapors above the place of his rising formed themselves into a Fountain of Gold.


June 3, 18—


Sometimes, in that Gloaming that divides deep sleep from the awakening,—when out of the world of wavering memories the first thin fancies begin to soar, like neuroptera, rising on diaphanous wing from a waste of marsh-grasses,—there suddenly comes an old, old longing that stings thought into nervous activity with a sharp pain. The impression in the first moment of wakefulness might be likened to a sense of nostalgia,—but the nostalgia which is rather a world-sickness than a homesickness; there is something in it also resembling the vain regret for what has been left perhaps twenty-years' journey behind us, and has now become a tropical remembrance because we have traveled so far toward the Northern Circle of life. Yet the longing I refer to is more puissant and more subtle than these definable feelings are;—it has almost the force of an impulse; it has no real affinity with the recognizable Past; its visions are archipelagoes which never loomed for us over the heaving of any remembered seas; it is like an unutterable wish to flee away from the Present into the Unknown,—a beautiful unknown, radiant with impossible luminosities of azure and sun-gold! I do not know how to account for this impulse,—unless as an unexplained Something in Man corresponding to the instinct of migration in lower forms of life—especially in those happy winged creatures privileged to follow the perfumed Summer round about the world. And I think it comes to us usually either with the first lukewarm burst of spring, or with the windy glories of autumn. Nevertheless, in the morning it came, out of season, and remained with me, while I watched from the balcony birds and ships alike fleeting tropicward with many-colored wings outspread, and thought of a tame crane at home,—with one wing hopelessly maimed,—that used to cry out bitterly to processions of his wild kindred sailing above the city roofs on their way to other skies.

Why these longings for lands in which we shall never be?—why this desire for that azure into which we cannot soar?—whence our mysterious love for that tumultuous deep into whose emerald secrets we may never peer?—Can it be that through countless epochs of the immemorial phylogenesis of man,—through all those myriad changes suggested by the prenatal evolution of the human heart,—through all the slow marvelous transition from fish to mammal,—there have actually persisted impulses, desires, sensations, whereof the enigma may be fully interpreted by some new science only,—a future science of psychical dysteleology?...

So musing, I found my way to the Plaza.

Has it not often seemed to you that the more antiquated and the more unfamiliar an object or a place is, the more it appears at first sight to live,—to possess a sort of inner being, a fetish-spirit, a soul? I thought that morning the ancient Plaza had such a soul, and that it spoke to me in its mysterious dumb way, as if saying: 'Come look at me, because I am very, very old;—but do not look at the sulphur fountain which the Americans have made, nor at the monument they have built; for those are not of the centuries to which I belong.'

So I entered, and idled awhile among the palms that threw spidery shadows under the noon-light; and I deciphered the old inscription upon the coquina pillar:—'PLAZA DE LA CONSTITUCION...;'—paying little heed to the song of the artesian spring, and scarcely vouchsafing a furtive glance to the newer monument, which I saw was not artistic, not imposing, but naïve and almost cumbrous. Suddenly my indifferent eye noted a graven word which revealed that the newer structure had been erected by Love, and for Love's sake only. And then, all unexpectedly, the very artlessness of the monument touched me as with a voiceless reproach,—touched me like the artlessness of a face in tears: so much of tender pain revealed itself through the simplicity of the chiseled words, OUR DEAD,—through the commonplaceness of the inscription, 'Erected by the Ladies' Memorial Association.' Then I walked around the monument, perusing on each of its white faces the roll-call of the dead,—sons, brothers, lovers,—the names of your darlings, gentle women of Saint Augustine! I read them every one; carefully spelling out many a Spanish name of Andalusian origin: sonorous appellations holding in their syllables etymological suggestions of Arabian ancestry—names swarthy and beautiful as an Oriental face might be. And all the while, —dominating the perfume of blossoms, and the keen sweet scent of aromatic grasses,—the sulphureous smell of the Volcanic spring came to me grimly through the warm aureate air,—like an odor of battles!

There was a name upon that white stone which affected me in a singular way,—a name that by contrast with those dark Spanish ones seemed fair, blonde as gold! In someplace—at some time, I had known that name.—But where?—but when?

Even as a perfume may create for us the spectre of a vanished day, or as a melody may suddenly evoke for us the forgotten tone of some dear voice,—so may the sound or sight of a name momentarily revive for us all the faded colors of some memory-portrait so beautiful, so beloved, that we had become afraid to look at it, and had permitted innumerable spiders of Monotony to weave their tintless gauze before its face. But we have had experiences which are now so long dead and so profoundly sepultured in the Cemetery of Recollection that no mnemonic necromancy can lend them recognizable outline; they have become totally spiritualized, and reveal themselves only as faint wind-stirrings in the atmosphere of Thought.

Surely the experience connected in some vague way with that blonde name must have belonged to these:—the memory had been; for I knew the presence of its ghost; but viewless it obstinately remained.

It pursued me through the amber afternoon. By some inexplicable mental process I discovered that it had been also associated with an idea of death, a melancholy fancy, at the time, that I had heard or had seen it before.—But when?—but where did I first learn that name? ... Night came, but brought with it no answer to the enigma.

I watched the moon,—a new moon, yellow and curved like a young banana,—droop over the dreaming sea: there were sparklings like effervescence through the archway of stars,—perhaps the molecular motion of some Astral Thought. Then seemed to fall upon the world a hush like the hush of sanctuaries,—like that Silence of Secrets told of in the Bhagavad-Gita: the peace of the Immensities. In such hours fancies come to us like gusts of seawind,—as vast and pure; nay, sometimes vaster,—measureless like the interspaces between sun and sun. For it is only in these voiceless moments that the heavens speak to us,—telling of mysteries beyond the luminous signaling of astral deep unto astral deep, beyond the furthest burning of constellations; mysteries that shall still be mysteries when our day-star shall have yielded up his ghost of flame.—The death of a man; the death of a sun:—is the awful Universe affected any more by the last than by the first?

And with this question, the question of the morning returned, enigmatic as before,—bringing to me the indescribable, creeping, electrical sensation that we are said to feel especially when some heedless foot is treading the place of our future grave.

It was late when I sought sleep that night—my last Floridian night.

And I dreamed strange dreams.

First, I dreamed of a plant,—a plant with sombre cordiform leaves,—that bent away from the light toward me, and followed me persistently when I retreated from it; crawling like a pet reptile to get in front of me, and then rising up slowly, very slowly; stretching out to me, as with dumb affection, two helpless arms—two long leafy stems tipped with blood-colored flowers.

Then it seemed to me that I stood in a place of burial, and that, in some inexplicable way, I could observe the processes of that dark alchemy by which flesh is transmuted into leaf and fruit,—by which blood is transformed into blossom, as in the old Greek myths, and into the living substance also of those creatures, gem-winged, jewel-eyed, that feed upon the juices, the honey, and the fruit of graveyard flora. Then suddenly the mystery of the blonde name again came before me—this time upon a graven square of marble; and in a little while I thought I knew the story of the dead; for this impossible and nameless legend shaped itself in my sleep.


June 2, 188-

... San Juan de los Pinos:—'Saint John of the Pines,' That was the name of the ancient fort. And in those days the names of the bastions also were names of the Evangelists and the Apostles.

There is a ghostliness in the name! Why Saint John of the pines? Was this low shore beshadowed in the sixteenth century by pines tremendous, immemorial, more ancient than man,—through whose colossal aisles the sea-gusts spake with utterance vague and vast as the Wind of the Spirit? Did the roar of the far-off reef, the mutterings of the mighty woods, evoke for Spanish piety dim fancies of the Voices of Patmos, of the Thunders and the Trumpetings?

It was a timber stronghold only,—that forgotten fort, thus placed beneath the protection of weird Saint John,—a rampart-work of pine. Then were discovered the virtues of the coquina,—that wonderful shell-rock which seems marble half formed, half crystallized, under the pressure of shallow seas; and out of it was Fort San Marco built,—very solidly, very mathematically, very slowly,—by the labor of more than a century and the expenditure of thirty millions of good Spanish dollars. Two hundred and fifty years ago they began to build it; to-day it stands well-nigh as strong as in the time when Oglethorpe's English cannon played on it in vain. Now the profane Americano, who putteth no trust in saints, but in his own strength only, calleth it Fort Marion; and the lizards dwell in it; and the spider weaves her tapestries above its chapel-altar; and the dust is deep in the holy-water fonts, where Catholic swordsmen once dipped their sinewy hands. But over the great sally-port you may still discern the Arms of Spain,—the Crown, the Shield, the triple turrets of Castile, the rampant Lions of Leon, and, encircling these, the sculptured Order of the Fleece of Gold. Salty winds have chapped the relief;—the fingers of the rain have worn it down as the smooth face of a coin is worn;—the wings of Time have brushed away the edges of the tablet,—and besmirched the Fleece of Gold,—and obliterated, as in irony, the title of the King, and the beginning of the solemn inscription,—REYNANDO EN ESPANA. The REY is gone forever!—syllable and potentate! Underneath the pendant Lamb,—now black,—there are dark stains of drippings,—as of blood streaming over the stone. Nothing could be more grotesquely realistic than the sculptured helplessness of that Lamb; yet we may well doubt if he who chiseled it was moved by any spirit of sardonic symbolism,—any memory of those Argonauts of the sixteenth century, who found a new Colchis in the West, and a new Fleece, whereof the shearing yielded in less than one generation three hundred tons of gold.

Now the moat is haunted by lizards and lovers only; and there are buzzards upon the sentry towers; and there are bats in the barbican:—it is just sixty-five years since the last Spanish trooper tramped out of the sally-port, never to come back. But squamated as the structure is, the dignity of it imposes awe,—the antiquated vastness of it compels respect for the vanished grandeur of Spain; the majesty of its desolation is unspeakable.—I think one feels it most on wild days, when the mighty drum-roll of the breakers is sounded from the harbor bar, and the winds of the Atlantic blow their mad clarions in the barbican, and all the white cavalry of Ocean charge the long coral coast.

... A Shadow descends the counterscarp of the sea-battery,—passes the covered way,—crosses the ditch,—mounts the scarp,—vanishes beyond the bastions. A moment more and it reappears,—still coming from the sea; it is moving in circles with a swift swimming motion, as of an opaqueness floating vaguely in the humors of the eye. Now it is only a passing fleck, a shapeless blot; now it is the phantom of a boat.

Look up, into the brightness,—into the violet blaze!—behold him hovering in the splendor of heaven, sailing before the sun, that Kharkas, 'dwelling in decay,'—whom the Parsee reveres. (For't is written that even the flitting of his shadow over the faces of the dead driveth out the unclean spirit that entereth into corpses.) 'From the height of his highest flight he discerneth if there be upon the ground a morsel of flesh not bigger than a hand; and for his comfort the odor of musk hath been created underneath his wing,'—How magnificent his soaring!—yet the vast pinions never beat; they veer only with his wheeling,—sometimes presenting to the meridian their whole black banner-breadth,—sometimes offering only the sabre-curves of their edges. He seems to float by volition alone,—to swim the deeps of day without effort. Higher and higher he mounts into the abyss of light; now he seems to hang beside the sun!—now he is only a whirling speck!—now he is gone!—My field-glass brings him again into view for a moment—sailing, circling, spiring by turns; but once more he dwindles into a mote, not bigger than a tiny flake of soot, which rises up, up, up, and vanishes away at last into luminous eternities unfathomable. Yet from those invisible heights his eye still scans the face of the land and the features of men—that wondrous eye far reaching as a beam of daylight. 'There is a path,' saith Job, 'which no fowl knoweth, and which the eye of the vulture hath not seen—But that path lies not open to the gaze of the sun; for whatsoever earthly thing the day-star hath looked upon, that thing the ken of the vulture also hath discerned. Rightly, therefore, hath the eye of the vulture been mythologically likened unto the eye of deities and of demons. Was not the sacred symbol of Isis, the Impenetrably Veiled,—Isis, mother of Gods, 'Eye of the Sun,' who by the quivering of her feathers createth light, who by the beating of her wings createth spirit,—a Golden Vulture, the saving emblem hung about the throat of the dead? And the vultures of the Vedic prayer to Indra, all-seeing demons; great sun-vultures of the Sanscrit epic, demi-gods. By vision alone it was given the bird Gatayus to know the past, the present, and that which was to come; for, encompassing the world in his flight, all things were discerned by his gaze.

O ghoul of the empyrean, well doth thy brother, the Shadow-caster of deserts, know the time of the going and the coming of the caravans; and he maketh likewise each year the pilgrimage to the tomb of the Prophet!—Thy cousins sit upon the Towers of Silence; and the charnel-pits of the dakhmas have no secrets for them! From the eternal silences of heaven,—from the heights that are echoless and never reached by human cry,—progenitors of thine have watched the faces of the continents wrinkle in the revolution of centuries; they have looked down upon the migrations of races; they have witnessed the growth and the extinction of nations; they have read the crimson history of a hundred thousand wars.

Another shadow crosses my feet—and yet another passes; the orbits of their circlings intercross. Hanging above the dark fort, those black silhouettes cutting sharply athwart the azure seem grimly appropriate to this desolation. Doubtless the birds have haunted the coast for centuries. The Spaniard, who gave many a rich feast of eyes and hearts, has passed away;—the Vulture remains, and waits. For what?—is it for some vomit of the spuming sea,—some putrefaction of the buzzing shambles?—or does he, indeed, still hope, even after the passing of three hundred years, for the return of Menendez?




Old New Orleans proper (French-Town, as it is termed by steamboatmen; Le Carré, as its own inhabitants call it) is principally, though not wholly, comprised in the great quadrilateral bounded by Canal, Esplanade, Rampart, and Old Levee streets. Where the horse-cars now run upon those thoroughfares formerly stood the bastioned walls of the colonial city, encircled by a deep moat. Double rows of trees now mark the old rampart lines upon three sides of the quadrilateral, and birds sing in their branches at just the height where brazen cannon once showed their black throats, where Swiss or Spanish sentries paced to and fro against the sky. Within the Carr? the streets are serried, solid, and picturesque. Memories of aristocratic wealth still endure in certain vast mansions, broad-balconied and deep-courted, now mostly converted into hotels or lodging-houses, half the year void of guests; but the majority of the dwellings are rather curious than splendid. Nearly all the larger ones are built in the form of an L, the lower line of the letter representing the street front, the upper line a shallow but lofty wing reaching far back from the main building at right angles, and flanked by an enormous green or brown cistern as by a round tower. A really imposing archway often pierces the street façade—giving carriageway into the deep court—much like those quaint archways characteristic of old London taverns. Such a building often possesses three sets of stairways—invariably two—one for the main edifice, one for the wing. But these immense winter residences, once sheltering a population of servants and clients large as that comprised in the Roman familia, are now for the most part in a state of decay. There is much crumbling of wood-work, looseness of jointing, ulcerous exposure of the brick skeleton where plaster has rotted away in patches from piazza pillars and from the ribs of archways. Grass struggles up between the flagging; microscopic fungi patch the wall surfaces with sickly green. The semi-tropical forces of nature in the South are mighty to destroy the work of man. Dismally romantic is the Greek front upon Toulouse Street, in rear of the old Hôtel Saint Louis, and once famous as 'The Planters' Bank.' Through cracks in the high board fence erected about its desolation one may see the weeds squeezing their way through the joints of its broad stone steps, the green creepers wriggling round its columns, and bushes actually growing from the angles of its pediment—a vegetation planted, doubtless, by birds. This ruin has a veritable classic dignity—a melancholy that is antique. Sorrowful likewise are the voiceless courts of the once beautiful French hotel, with their void galleries above and dried-up fountains below. Millions upon millions have changed hands within that building; princely revels were held there of old by the feudal lords of Louisiana; the splendors of the past linger in the tarnished gilding and dying colors of the lofty apartments, and in the decorations of the porcelain dome frescoed by Casanova.

Many of the French and Spanish dwellings are as full of architectural mysteries and surprises as the Castle of Otranto—corridors that serpentine, stairways that leap from building to building, cabinets masked in the recesses of dormer-windows, curious covered bridges worthy of Venice. Looking up or down one of these streets, the eye is astonished by the long patch-work of colors motley as Joseph's coat, ultimately fading off into grayish-blues where the vista meets the horizon. Under the golden glow of the sun these tints take delightful warmth; there are chrome and gamboge yellows, deep-sea greens, ashen pinks, brick reds, chocolates, azures, blazing whites, all trimmed with the intenser green of iron balconies and the antiquated window-shutters folded back against the wall. The old French Opera-house I have seen painted in a peculiarly pleasing hue, to which a summer sun would lend the mellowness of antique marble. It was a ripe-ivorine tint, with just the faintest conceivable flush of pink; it was a warm and human color—it was the color of creole flesh!

Speaking of it recalls the curious statement of divers writers to the effect that the skin of the West Indian creole feels cooler than that of a European or American from the Northern States. The same is true of the Louisiana creole; the vigorous European or Northerner who touches a creole hand during the burning hours of a July or August day has reason to be surprised at its coolness—such a coolness as tropical fruits retain even under the perpendicular fires of an equatorial sun.


When an educated resident of New Orleans speaks of the creoles he must be understood as referring to the descendants of the early Latin colonists, the posterity of those French and Spanish settlers who founded or ruled Louisiana. The diminutive criollo, derived from the Spanish criar, 'to beget,' primarily signified the colonial-born child of European blood, as distinguished from the offspring of the Conquistadores by slave women, whether Indian or African. Nothing could be more etymologically antithetical, therefore, than the phrase 'colored creoles,' although it has obtained considerable currency as a convenient term to distinguish those colored people who can claim a partly Latin origin, from the plainer 'American' colored folk who have neither French nor Spanish blood in their veins, and to whom the creole dialect is supremely unintelligible. Among the colored population of lighter tint, moreover, the characteristics of the Latin blood show themselves so strongly that the popular use of the term distinguishing them from ordinary types of mulatto, quadroon, quinteroon, or octoroon appears justifiable.

What old Bryan Edwards, in his excellent but obsolete 'History of the British West Indies;' wrote concerning the creoles of the Antilles, largely applies to the creoles of Louisiana likewise, especially in relation to their physical characteristics. In whatever part of the civilized Temperate Zone pronounced, the very word 'creole' conveys to the hearer fancies tropical as the poetry of Baudelaire; to the imagination of well-informed readers the creole invariably appears as a person of European blood corporeally and morally modified by the influences of a torrid climate. Whether we hear of the English creoles of the West Indian, East Indian, or West African colonies, the French creoles of Algeria, Martinique, or Senegal, or the Dutch creoles of Malabar, the name invariably provokes fancies of burning suns, of monstrous vegetation, of nights lighted by the Southern Cross. In New Orleans we are only at the Gate of the Tropics; sometimes our orange-trees shiver in frosty winds, our rare palms droop in January colds. But the climate is torrid enough nevertheless to have produced marked physical changes in the native white population of Louisiana during the lapse of generations. It has modified the osteogeny of the true creoles almost as remarkably as in Martinique or Trinidad; it has greatly deepened the eye-sockets to shelter the sight from the furnace glow of summer heat; it has made limbs suppler, extremities more delicate; and to these changes wrought in the body's framework is wholly attributable that languid and singular grace which distinguishes the Louisianaise among her fairer American sisters. Creole eyes—the eyes that tantalized Gottschalk into the musical utterances of Ojos Criollos—are large, luminous, liquidly black, deeply fringed, and their darkness is strangely augmented by the uncommon depth of the orbit. The pilose system—to use anatomical phraseology—-is richly developed; the women have magnificent hair, and creole beards and mustaches are usually very handsome. Formerly the Louisiana creoles excelled in exercises demanding grace and quickness of eye; they were fine dancers and famous swordsmen—indeed, the art of fencing is not yet lost among them. The beauty of the women is peculiar; they possess a sveltesse—a slender elegance that is very fascinating; but to Northerners they seem fragile of physique, more delicate than they really are. A rosy face, a bright, fresh complexion, is rarely seen among them; they have an ivorine tint, a convalescent pallor, that contrasts oddly with the fire of their dark pupils and the lustrous blackness of their hair. When the tint is darker,—a Spanish swarthiness,—the effect is less strange. Creole blondes are few.

The creole temperament is one of great nervous sensibility; phlegmatic characters are anomalies; a disposition to violent extremes of anger or affection is often masked by an exterior appearance of listless indifference. The climate itself (nine months of summer heat, three of snowless chill, long periods of heavy calm, broken by storms of extraordinary and splendid violence—a climate enervating, fitful, luxuriant) has reflected its characteristics in the native population. The mind develops precociously, blossoms richly. There are few educated creoles who cannot speak two or three languages well; many speak more; and the writer has known one who was almost a Mezzofanti. Love of the mother-country is not dead among the creoles, and their attachment to ancient French customs has but little abated. Their home life has scarcely changed during a century, although they are becoming less socially exclusive. Nevertheless, the Northern stranger invited to visit the home of a creole family may even now consider himself the subject of a rare compliment. Such a visit, however, will scarcely be made within the limits of the old colonial city, for the creoles are no longer there. They have moved away to newer districts north and south—away from the decaying streets and the crumbling cemeteries—out to quiet suburbs where the air is sweet with breath of jasmine flowers and orange-blossoms, out to dreamy Bayou Saint Jean, where clusters of white-pillared cottages slumber in green. They have mostly abandoned the Carré to the European Latins—French emigrants from the Mediterranean coasts, Italians, Sicilians, Spaniards, Greeks; to the population of the French Market, the venders of fruits and meats; to the keepers of what Sala called 'absurd little shops'; and especially to the French-speaking element of color, which still clings to the ruined Past with something of the strange affection that erst subsisted between master and slave.

How long will even that ruined Past endure? The somnolent quiet of the old streets is being already broken by the energetic bustle of American commerce; the Northern Thor is already threatening the picturesque town with iconoclastic hammer. Colossal capital advances menacingly from the southern side, showing the sheet-lightning of its gold. One huge firm has already devoured a whole square, and extended itself into four streets at once, cruciform-wise, like a Greek basilica. Even the old Napoleon First furniture sets, the massive four-pillared beds, the ponderous cabinets curiously carved, the luxuriant fauteuils, the triple-footed tables,—all these solid household gods which stood upon eagle feet of gilded brass,—are being bought up by shrewd speculators and sent North, to fetch prices which no one here would dream of paying. Perhaps the antique life will make its last rally about the old Place d'Armes (Plaza de Armas,) in the vicinity of the quaint cathedral, under the shadow of those towers whose bells for a hundred years have rung diurnally for the repose of the soul of DonAndré Almonaster Roxas, Knight of the Royal and Distinguished Spanish Order of Charles III., Regidor and Alferez-Real of His Most Catholic Majesty

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