Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Sandhills of Nebraska...a place to hang your hat and leave your heart.

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This is along highway 12 in north-central Nebraska heading west. I love the Sandhills!
This is some of the most beautiful country on the planet, at least to me, a Nebraska girl. Though I never lived on a farm, I had Aunts and Uncles who farmed and loved going to visit them. One farm was in Kansas, and the other, in the upper central Nebraska plains, aka: the Sandhills. It makes me want to read some Marie Sandoz and Willa Cather novels and watch the "Sarah, Plain & Tall" series. There's something about the "ocean" of prairie grass, moving like waves as the wind blows through it, like the soft voice of God, whispering His love in the peace and solitude of the wide open spaces.
To me, this is the loveliest of the Central U.S. When people talk about 'fly over country' they're just ignorant of beauty. I'd much prefer the byways to get from point "A" to point "B" than to fly over it, or drive in such a hurry on the Interstate completely oblivious of the changes in terrain and the clean windswept prairie, where prayers of our pioneer forefathers and mothers were uttered under harsh and difficult conditions.
Mountains are majestic "forces" of God's handiwork. The oceans and seas and shores are his "watercolor" paintings, but the plains, the prairies of Nebraska and Kansas and the Dakotas are His pungent "earthy" handiwork...where wagon ruts are still visible from brave men and women, in search of new lives on the prairie and further to the West and California. Many didn't make it that far. Many died along the way, and some remained close to the earth here to start farmsteads and families and began the many rural townships. Some are only "ghost towns" now, but some are still thriving, though not as many. It always hurts my heart to see little towns die out. I know it's "progress" but it still hurts. To see gorgeous Catholic churches and other rural churches close, and fall into disrepair is so sad. It's from here that I eventually came "to be" due to my ancestors who lived in a "soddy" and made it through the depression in a small town. They didn't 'give up' or faint at the challenges they faced, but 'braved them' with their simple, "country" faith. My roots are Methodist and Baptist and now that I'm Catholic, and have visited so many shrines the past 4 years that honor the mother of ALL Christians, I would love to one day see 'Our Lady of the Sandhills.' Maybe there's a benefactor out there somewhere who could persuade a generous rancher to donate an acre or two to erect a shrine for Christians to make a pilgrimage to and pray for our farmers and ranchers and our country, in a secluded area of the Sandhills. We did visit "Our Lady of Peace Shrine" at Pine Bluffs, Wyoming returning to Nebraska last week on our way home from Denver. I had pictured the Shrine to be actually on the bluffs, but there must not have been the funds for that or maybe the land was not offered or available. Either way, it's very nice to see the honor and reverence given to Mary, (she always "points" to Jesus, never 'taking away' from Him - to clarify) since Jesus himself chose to have a mother, and made her His mother. He chose to come to us as a baby through her. He could have come down from heaven as the Lord of Lords,a fully Divine Lord, as a grown Man, but He came instead through the womb of His mother, humbling Himself that much, to show us how to honor our parents, as He did His (and commands us to likewise do) If he wanted a mother for Himself so much, as it seems obvious now to me, then we should also give her honor and love Mary, our 'spiritual mother' as much as Jesus, our Brother, does. Right? Ok, I digressed. Anyway, I hope one day there will be a Sandhills Shrine where people can stop to pray, to connect with God in such a lovely location, and to see the beauty of this farmland and ranch land. Where the earth provides the food for the whole world, like any "good Mother." "Mother Earth" is honored every "earth day" (almost every day obsessively now) yet Mary is hardly honored even by many of her own Catholic children. I think that's been a tragic thing, for when they disregard her, they disregard a part of Jesus. I mean if my own friends were to 'diss' my mom, how would that make me feel? Yet when they loved her, as I know so many did, it took nothing away from our friendship, it only enlarged it, as love does. That being said, it seems a very logical place for a shrine, at least to me so I hope one day one will be built.
I've been blessed to grow up in Nebraska. I thank God for Nebraska and prairie roots, even if I never lived on a farm. I may not have been a "country girl" in the literal sense, but the country's been inside of me for as long as I can remember. Just to get out of the city and the constant noise and din of business, traffic and busyness is a most profound delight to my soul. I can't wait to 'hit the road' and head west again. Next time, we're going to the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota and maybe up to North Dakota to visit the shrine there. I've not been to the Black Hills or Badlands since I was a girl of 15. It's the quiet serenity and the way the locals look out for eachother that's so endearing to me, about the "country."
They are their "brothers' keepers"
for "doggone" sure!


Hannah Baker said...

Hi, i dont belieave in abortion at all either, but i really think you should take that abortion is killing this many babies since you got to this webpage because that really hurts, and to be homest i felt like your putting a number on the babies, like they arent people, when they are.

Joyful Catholics said...

I'm sorry Hannah. I'm not really sure I understand your comment. I've read it 3 times. I'm not going to remove the ticker, it that's what you're requesting. I certainly KNOW babies are people, that's why the number...that many PEOPLE are being murdered while one is perusing this blog. It's sickening. It does hurt. But it hurts our Lord and Our Blessed Mother more than any of us, and if we can show people how many lives are being lost in however many minutes, that's the point. If you care to explain your thinking to me again, feel free. But that's all I have to say on the matter. Blessings, H.

Joyful Catholics said...

Hey Hannah...I just went to you blog. I see that you're wanting to 'vent' ...maybe I should have gone to your blog before replying to you comment. If there's anything I can do, to help, or just listen...I will. I'll be praying for you. I love babies Hannah. I know they're people. I didn't realize you were only a teenager. By the way, I hope you will have a nice Birthday. I don't know your situation, or how your parents really are, but know that I'll pray for you, ok? Be not afraid. That's what John Paul II always said. Ask God to help you. He will. He helped me out of many hard times. Desperate times. Peace. Hannah. ~ susie