In the far corner of the storage closet lay a box that sat untouched for decades. It contained my grandfather’s writings, passed down to me for safekeeping. Last month, I began reading them. What a precious discovery! I never got to meet my father’s father; he died when my parents were on their honeymoon. Now, I am getting acquainted with my Grandfather through his writings. Stanley A. Curtis was a former circuit rider (preacher on horseback) and Methodist minister for many churches in Colorado. When ill health forced him to retire from the ministry, he became a popular lecturer and editorial writer. In fact, from 1929-1935, he had two syndicated columns that appeared in various newspapers. One, called “Seems to Me”, and another titled “The Little Church in Black and White”. I’ve imagined my grandmother proudly cutting out each article to save, for reference or remembrance. She couldn’t have known how important those articles would become to their granddaughter. As I read his words, I’m struck by how timely his messages are for today’s world.
Here’s an excerpt from his column, “The Little Church in Black and White”, published in July 1936:
“Here, for example, is a presidential election in the offering. The bewilderment and uncertainty of the times are an unprecedented challenge to the one fortunate enough to be elected and entrusted with the reigns of the government. The last four years have proved that the temperament and the political philosophy of the man in the White House can make a tremendous difference to the last man and woman in the country. But the challenge of this year is to the candidates, to the leaders. What can the rest of us do?
We can, of course, vote our choice. Someone, or at best a few, will always focus the attention of the world upon its major evils, and lead us out of the wilderness. My enthusiasm for the tremendous social implications of the Christian religion remains unabated. And I realize that even I can do something as one of the masses to clean up the world. Even in a presidential year, I like to hear someone keep this fact before us—that we can obey the Ten Commandments and try to measure up to the Beatitudes, no matter who gets elected. And we can do it all alone, each for himself. And I have a feeling that the quality of American life would be perceptibly improved if we should try it.
That, indeed, is the surest way of rising out of our mediocrity into greatness. For “he that ruleth his own spirit is greater than he that taketh a city”.
Even without Grandfather’s religious lens, we can all take personal responsibility for our own outlook and behave with positivity and compassion toward our fellow human beings. Do those things, (as well as VOTE of course), and you will truly have done all you can do for our world.
(Note: In 1936, the U.S. was still recovering from the Great Depression and the conflicts that led to WWII were threatening Europe. FDR was re-elected by a substantial margin and instituted his second “New Deal” which included Social Security.)
QUOTES TO REMEMBER
“The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit, And habit hardens into character.
So, watch the thought and its ways with care, and let it spring from love.
Born out of concern for all beings.”
— Buddha —
NOTE FROM LINDA
This newfound energy has motivated me to delve into a new project. What began as an effort to complete the purging of our storage closet has now become a fascinating journey of discoveries and a cherished tribute to my grandfather (shown at right in 1937).
October is here at last. In Florida, that means the long hot summer is finally drawing to a close and the sublime weather of winter is closer. It feels good to be looking forward to something in this strange year. (Heck, I feel peppier just thinking about wearing boots and jeans!)