Sep. 28, 2002


by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Poem: "Terminus," by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


It is time to be old,
To take in sail:--
The god of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal round,
And said: 'No more!
No farther spread
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent,
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
There's not enough for this and that,
Make thy option which of two;
Economize the failing river,
Not the less revere the Giver,
Leave the many and hold the few.

As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
I man the rudder, reef the sail,
Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
'Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed.'

It's the day Confucius' birthday is celebrated in Taiwan. The holiday is called Teacher's Day. Confucius dominated the thought and traditions of the Chinese for centuries, but he was not a religious leader; a disciple of his said, "The Master never talked about spiritual beings, disorder, extraordinary things, or feats of strength." He lived simply, and never doubted that learning would lead to virtue. H said: "Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes," "It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop," and "Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart."

It's the birthday of Ellis Peters, born Edith Pargeter, in Shropshire (1913). She started out writing historical novels, but they didn't sell very well, and she switched to mysteries. She wrote a number of mysteries set in an abbey before her death in 1995. The monk-detective who was the hero of the mysteries, Brother Cadfael, was a former crusader who had dedicated his life to God, and solved puzzling crimes without the benefit of modern fingerprinting techniques.

It's the birthday of Al Capp, born Alfred Gerald Caplin, in New Haven, Connecticut (1909). He's the creator of L'il Abner, the comic strip about the strapping dimwit who made his living as a mattress tester.

It's the birthday of Kate Douglas Wiggin, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1856). She wrote Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1910) and a dozen or so other novels. She also started the first free kindergarten on the West Coast, in San Francisco.

It's the birthday of Edward Herbert Thompson, born in Worcester, Massachusetts (1856). He was an amateur archaeologist, and he managed to get himself appointed U.S. consul in Yucatan, Mexico, so he could live closer to the ruins at Chichen Itza, which he believed to be the remnants of Atlantean civilization. He became fascinated by the Sacred Well, a lime sinkhole next to the pyramids that was said to hold the victims of human sacrifice. The cloudy water made diving impossible, and Thompson sent to Boston for dredging equipment; it was the first time archaeology had ever been done under water. He found gold and jade jewelry, pottery, textiles, and the bones of many women and children, just as the legends had predicted. He sent the artifacts to the Peabody Museum at Harvard, enraging the Mexican government; the Peabody eventually returned most of them.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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