They were only seven and nine years old respectively, but the Christian world came to listen to them, Catholics especially. Their last name was Marto, and they were the two youngest of the trio of children at Fatima, Portugal, who said they had seen a beautiful Lady, who told them (it was 1917, the peak of World War I) that another, second World War would follow if humankind didn’t stop offending God. Offensive was the atheism spewed by Russia, which would spread throughout the world.
For the third appearance, scheduled for Oct. 13, 1917, the Lady promised a miracle, which actually happened, and was witnessed by an estimated 70,000 people, many of them unbelievers. (Portugal was matching Russia in following Marx.) There were other, smaller miracles. Three of them, all to children, were recorded, two of them to crippled girls (those are no easy miracles).
Now let your doubting self listen to me. I am eighty-five years old and have spent almost my entire adult life with children as a teacher. If your seven-year-old daughter stuck to her story after being kept overnight in the local jail and being threatened to be submerged in boiling oil with her two friends who told the same story — I’d believe her. Children that age bear a mark of innocence.
A million Muslims being assimilated into Western Civilization! How tremendously difficult. Yet Angela Merkel was the one who assumed this heroic task by accepting them, New Testamentwise, into Germany. What a cost! As an American accustomed to assimilation, I know from Minnesota and Michigan how difficult it is to assimilate Muslims in this way.
The body of those immigrants elected representatives to the U.S. Congress, where they continually embarrass the Democrats with their anti-Semitic remarks and such Seventh-Century customs as wearing a hijab. The willingness of their children to support such foreign cults as ISIS and al-Shabaab rather than the free country (and I mean free) which accepted them is an illustration of their backwardness in adapting to new circumstances.
Angela Merkel stood out as a woman who would put out her hand for a stranger, nay, love her enemies, and so far, I think it’s working. There are no news from Germany of mass terrorism, and the German police have the customary number of lawbreakers well in hand. Is this a modern miracle?
It was called the Finer Diner, and it offered better than diner fare, with of course, bigger than diner prices. It is run by a master chef who wants to do something different. Not far from where I live, it’s on Hempstead Turnpike near Levittown. “24 North” it’s called (notice all the classy eateries on Long Island are north).
I thought it was the place for a classy woman. I don’t take her out that often, but when I do, it’s got to be worthwhile. She chose Fish ‘n Chips, with a Caesar salad, and that fit my prescribed menu, so I did the same. The place had a patrician venue. They served wine in a tumbler (no stems to break) and with the sun streaming in the south windows, I felt I was doing something for the woman to whom I owe so much. I do honor my commitments.
Life is not supposed to be a joy ride–the road can be displeasing. But if it’s done out of gratitude, not only does it become pleasurable, but we believe the payoff is beyond reckoning. The final bill was something I could easily manage, so I’m taking her there again.
She was ninety-one years old, and had persuaded me to go to Copiague, where I’d find a grocery store that offered her groceries at a discount. But I had a dentist appointment that morning, so I went to King Kullen, a nearby more pricey supermarket where I bought her equivalents of a quality she wasn’t used to. The bill came to $70.00
I knew she’d be upset at the unwanted price, so I purposely lost the receipt and told her it was $50.00 Then my wife, who had come to help me (after all, I’m eighty-five) said that a man had given us a coupon for $5.00 since he wasn’t able to meet the $50.00 minimum. There went $5.00 more, for a total of $45.00. The old lady tried to hide her anger, but she was definitely displeased.
How often have I been annoyed at the price I’ve had to pay for a gift from the ultimate giver. (Don’t ask who is the Ultimate Giver.) What will she say when someone goes with her to Copiague and she finds out she can’t get what I gave her for $45.00?
The impossible works out for simple, humble people — like me. When I was in high school I was all science, going to get a physics degree from an engineering college, going to get a Nobel Prize. But all my avenues shut down.
I floundered. Not only was I partially color-blind, but I tried to serve God, and he wouldn’t have it. I sat and thought. Who had been my first teachers? (the nuns) What had they taught me of value? They taught the little Swiss boy English — again! So why didn’t I become an English teacher? Yes, here was a little foreigner who wanted to become an English teacher!
He did his job for forty-one years and then, suddenly, he became an author of a book on raising children, an author of YA books, a novelist, a science writer, a religious writer, and now a blogger. Do go to gewkey.com . That website is part of the supreme mystery of the universe, beyond the dark matter, beyond the Milky Way, beyond the black holes, at peace among the daffodils, the dandelions, the crickets and the alpine goats.
My first book, Raising Your Future, lay on her dining room table, probably ordered during Christmas week. I had stopped by to deliver a grocery order that I had offered to get for her, since Scrapple is not easy for non-Southerners to find in the North. She was the lady who had brought AMI Montessori schools to Long Island, and had rebuilt a Levittown edifice, a building probably valued at a million dollars. She is now ninety-one.
I don’t know what will become of that building once it is sold, but the northern Levittown neighborhood where it is located has recently received a boost in status with the opening of a well-designed church in that West Village Green area. The Maria Montessori School has contributed to the quality of Levittown education and to that of Long Island’s south shore, many graduates now buttressing this civilization as far away as Australia.
So it was satisfying to see that my book was still being read by people in the know, and was having an effect, perhaps into the distant future, and what I wrote for the people of Levittown (my son included) has reached a goal.
“God be wi’ ye” — that’s the original meaning of good-bye. We’ve come a long way since those days, but people still put a lot of heart into a departure. A fellow at church gave me a small pouch with a silver-looking rosary as a departing gift. He was moving to Pittsburgh, and had been the leader of a group that dedicated five decades of that prayer to Christ’s mother every Friday. He leaves behind a transformation, which I believe in, for I take the spiritual seriously.
Have I not mended my erring profligacy? Have I not contributed to an other’s betterment? Only the secret books of the universe contain all those answers, and unfortunately I don’t yet read the muons and hieroglyphics of what is scanned by the naked eye.
I know God uses unworthy rascals to accomplish his ends (look at our political system), but if I need to make my mark that way, so be it. I owe so much to that mysteriousness behind the wonders I have seen, and believe you me, I am not at all overly credulous. Let me leave it at that.