Waves splashed against the steamship’s hull as it plowed through the choppy waters of New York Harbor. People who spent most of the journey in steerage climbed the stairs and pushed toward the railing, so that they would be among the first to glimpse the shoreline. A mother, her face strained and white, felt herself buffeted along by the crowd. She carried one little girl on her hip and held the hand of her oldest daughter.
“Hurry, Mama, hurry,” the eldest girl said. “We have to get close.”
The crowd was thick. Too many people stood between them and the railing. The girl tugged on her mama’s hand, as she tried to weave through the crowd.”I have to see the lady, Mama,” she said, a note of desperation in her voice. She remembered the last letter her papa had written. “Look for the Lady with the torch, Liebchen,” he wrote. “When you see her, soon after, you will see me.” She missed him so! How she longed for him to scoop her up and swing her around.
In her haste, she bumped into a tall man ahead of them. He turned and looked down at her, though not unkindly. Apparently he had heard her words, for he looked at her mother and opened his hands wide. “May I pick her up?” he asked. The woman searched his face: broad, honest; eyes sad, but kind.
“Yes,” she said.
The man bent and lifted the girl high, smiling at her as he did so. “My own girls and wife are home,” he said to the woman. “I come first to make a place for them.” The woman nodded with understanding. It was what her husband had done. He had gone ahead of them, found work, a place to live, had saved money for their trip across the ocean. He’d sent them tickets and instructions and they had braved the journey, which now, was nearing its end.
The man gently pushed his way through the crowd with the dark haired girl in his arms. The mother’s hand now gripped the edge of his jacket, and in the wake of his broad shoulders, followed him until they reached the railing.
The mist of early morning obscured the shore and gray clouds hung low against the water, but as the ship approached, the haze cleared, revealing the Lady and her torch. Excited voices stopped, some in mid-sentence. An intake of breath could be heard across the crowd, as if from one. Each person was caught up by the sight and taken to the place in their heart that whispered the promise of goodness. It was that which had brought them here, seeking.
The year was 1927. The eldest daughter, my mother. She journeyed to America as a six year-old, with her mother and four year-old sister. After they were processed through the Ellis Island Immigration Station, they found her father, waiting for them. His gray eyes searched them out before they saw him. He scooped his beloved family into his arms and took them, by train, to Illinois.
My grandfather, a German immigrant, made a life for his family in America. He thanked God, every day, for the country which held for him, and many others, the promise of goodness. Mom lived in Illinois until a young Kentucky man, who had traveled west to find work, stole her heart at a church picnic. He eventually brought her back to his home soil, Kentucky farmland, earth as dark as chocolate cake.
Controversial issues pulse like black, coarse veins through the heart of our country. As believers, we should pray that decisions made by those who lead our country are in accordance with God’s Word. We’re called to stand and speak and live for truth in the circles God has placed us in, but we must not forget, in spite of everything that needs to be “fixed” in our country, to be grateful for the blessing of living on American soil. Breathe it in, and with the next breath, seek the place in your heart that holds the promise of God’s goodness, which will take us beyond the here and now.
Rev. 21:3-4 …And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Over a year ago, I wrote a post in the chill of a Blackberry Winter (scroll down to The Man With the Shriveled Hand, May, 2014). The blackberries were luscious that summer, and many made their way into my freezer. I promised one day I’d share a cobbler with you. I wish we could sit across the table with a cup of coffee and a dish of cobbler. The next best thing is to give you a treasured recipe, from a beloved family member in Kentucky. Her arms are always open with hospitality when you come to call and her blue eyes sparkle with joyful warmth. There is usually a tasty homemade treat to be shared: cream puffs, snickerdoodles, hummingbird cake or blackberry cobbler. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy the goodness!
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and gently patted dry (frozen ones can be used)
Combine flour and sugar. Make a well in the center. Add milk, melted butter and vanilla. Stir just until smooth. The batter will be very thin. Spoon fruit into 8 x 11.5 inch casserole dish* sprayed with cooking spray. Pour batter evenly over fruit. Bake at 350 F for about an hour. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla or lemon ice cream. *Other sizes of baking dishes may be used; but you may need to adjust baking time. When done, crust should be golden and fruit juices bubbly.