Friday’s Poetic Pause: “When sorrow comes” by A. Powell Davies

I will be saying goodbye to my grandfather when this post goes out today. He was 95 years old, a father of five, grandfather to 15, a farmer from Glenvil, Nebraska. He loved to sing. I will always remember his bass voice and (I hope) how his rough, leathery skin felt when he held my hand.

When a group of ten children lost both their mother and father in 1989, a teacher at the local primary school mobilized fellow members of the Gwai Lutheran Church to form the Gwai Grandmothers’ group (founding members pictured above). They began by visiting the children in their homes, making clothes for them and providing food and nurturing. As AIDS took a toll on their community, the number of children in need of support grew. Today, with great community involvement, the grandmothers support over 200 children by providing a feeding program, school fees and other basic and emotional needs.

In November, I helped him make a donation to the Gwai Grandmothers in Mberengwa, Zimbabwe. His resources helped this local, remote group respond to the drought they are currently facing in their area. The money went to help, in their words, “250 orphans and vulnerable children needing staple food.”

Like the grandmothers, Grandpa Virgil knew about drought and stretching dollars, hard work and dedication, but not hunger. He was a great letter writer, and once wrote me, “I can remember the depression days when so many people didn’t have jobs. It didn’t affect us farmers. We always had plenty to eat. We raised our own.” Comparisons of food sovereignty aside, I was proud that he wanted to help.

And today I am grateful to be reminded how beautiful and simple giving can be.


RIP Virgil H. Fredricks, 1916-2012, Glenvil, Nebraska.

“When sorrow comes, let us accept it simply, as a part of life. Let the heart be open to pain; let it be stretched by it. All the evidence we have says that this is the better way. An open heart never grows bitter. Or if it does, it cannot remain so. In the desolate hour, there is an outcry; a clenching of the hands upon emptiness; a burning pain of bereavement; a weary ache of loss. But anguish, like ecstasy, is not forever. There comes a gentleness, a returning quietness, a restoring stillness. This, too, is a door to life. Here, also is the deepening of meaning – and it can lead to dedication; a going forward to the triumph of the soul, the conquering of the wilderness. And in the process will come a deepening inward knowledge that in the final reckoning, all is well.”

~A. Powell Davies




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