Monthly Archives: April 2016

Wisdom The Principle Thing

Men studied history primarily to discern the ways of Providence and so acquire wisdom for their own age.  – Stephen Mansfield
 One of the four categories of stones in my personal Stonebridge I call, “Foundations”.  On my About page this falls in the context of our historic home and the lives that are lived there.  Another of the pillars is “Family”,  the stories of ancestors who have shaped who I am.  In the series of posts entitled Circles and Intersections, I give examples of how things, events and people from the past have come back around and shown up in my life.  So why all this looking at the past?  Is it just my age or is there some real value to it?
We are warned by many to avoid letting the past hold us back.  I agree.  We are made to move forward, to let go and to be who we are designed to be, however, we have been designed by what has gone before.  As a person of faith, I hold to the view that God made me, in His image as a unique person with free will.  I am also aware of the forces in this life which seeks to taint what God has intended.  Looking at the past serves as an objective means to sort things out, when done correctly.
In The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World, by Stephen Mansfield, there is a section where the author explores the faith of the Guinness clan.  He shares that at some point one of the sons attended Trinity College in Dublin.  There was a statement in this discussion that articulated this concept of examining the past that took my breath away:
 wisdom“…We would find that one of the most treasured fields of study at Trinity was a topic we do not teach today, one that we have neglected to our own harm.  It is called moral philosophy and it was a blend of history, theology, philosophy, and ethics.  It was, in sort, history writ large, a look at the past to gain the lessons that might be learned.  Men studied history primarily to discern the ways of Providence and so acquire wisdom for their own age.  Far from the ivory tower, abstracted-from-reality approach so prevalent in our modern universities, the study of earlier ages was then considered eminently practical and men expected to live differently for the time they spent in the far-off country of the past”.

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The Stonebridge Journey – What’s in it for You?

StonebridgeI state on my home page what this BLOG, The Stonebridge, is about:  ” This website  and personal BLOG contain  ideas, thoughts, inspiration, experiences and stories I have collected along the path of my life.  These have become the stones and pebbles on which I walk daily, my STONEBRIDGE.  We all have one.  It is unique.  It is special.  There is not another one like it – anywhere, in all of eternity.  I believe that.”

Behind this statement is my personal belief that what we are is already within each of us.  The raw material, the innate abilities, talents and gifts that come with being human and yes, created in the image of God already exist.  We do not have to go get them, nor are they just beyond our reach.  Yes, our environment, upbringing and relationships play a part in who we become, but it has been my observation that the latter seems to revolve around the former.  I know that theologians, socialists, geneticists, biologists and all manner of “ists” have debated this from the beginning of time (ever read the book of Job?), but any other stance makes me a victim of something or other and I personally refuse to play that role.

This BLOG has a two-fold purpose.  First, it is what a BLOG is, a WEB LOG.  A place to put into words things that are meaningful to me.  These things, as stated on my About Page, fall into four categories of “stones”:  Faith, Family, Flight and Foundations.  I am using this platform as a sort of workshop to document happenings, ideas, musings and so forth that may become a larger work.  For instance, I am about to begin pulling together the information about my father’s fascination with Costa Rica.  It will become a book.  You will get a sneak peek by being a part of this BLOG.

Second, I want to, by example and sharing, awaken in those who read these posts the realization of the potential that lies within you.  I am sure you are aware of some of those desires and gifts and I am equally as sure each of you have walked in some measure of those attributes.  No doubt in great and wonderful ways.  So what is in it for you? There is more.  You are still breathing, right?  So, look closer.  Look carefully and objectively:  What are the stones that make you who you are?  Are they in the right place in your stonebridge of life?  Are there stones that have yet to be discovered and placed intentionally into the structure of your bridge?  It bet there are!

I invite you into my personal workshop, my studio.  Who are you?  I would like to know.   Please make yourself known in comments in the section below.  Even if it just where you live at the moment.  I am in Wichita, KS.



Circles and Intersections – Part III

Circles.  In order to share this circle, I need to provide a bit of my family’s German history.  Specifically my maternal grandfather’s.  It all centers around a small village in the northern District of Lippe Germany:  Varenholtz.  When we visited Varenholtz in 1998, we found a landmark never mentioned in any of the oral (where

Schloss Varenholtz

most of our information came from) or written (which was not abundant) history of our family:  Schloss (Castle) Varenholz.

This castle was the seat of the knights de turns, (of Varenholtz, under Heinrich the Lion (1323). Built to its current size in 1596 by Simon VI, the son of a staunch Catholic Count, who ruled the region and fiercely resisted the Protestant movements in the area.  When the elder Count died, the care of Simon VI, his son, was left to count Phillip of Hessen.  Although the Count gave strict orders that his son be educated in the Catholic faith, Phillip did not adhere to this request and Simon was educated as a Lutheran, and later studied “at a reformed school in Strasbourg” where he became a follower of John Calvin (1503 – 1564).  It was in this way that the area was a mix of Lutheran and Calvinistic influence.  

Circles:  Regetmeir to Righmeier

My maternal great great  grand-father, Frederic Rightmeier,  immigrated to the United States in 1864 at the age of 14.  (I say immigrated, but in reality he and his brother were stowaways on a ship to New York.  It is said they jumped ship in New York harbor and swam ashore , but that is another story).  The reason for this desperate trip is that my ancestors were tenant farmers for the local land owner.  He was a descendant of Simon VI.

The usual arrangements were , they worked a portion of the land for a place to live, food and some small share of the crops they grew.  During the time of my ancestors there was a long-term drought and the land was simply not producing.  In addition, the political and religious climate was unsettled.  In other words the feudal system was breaking down, and the life they knew did not appear sustainable.  Word of the opportunities in America sparked by desperation, drove the young Frederic and his brother August  to make the voyage.

Continue reading Circles and Intersections – Part III

Circles and Intersections – Part II

In my last post I introduced the concept of circles and intersections.  Those events that work in the background of our lives to form and inform our present, who we are, and even how we behave and think.  Being able to see these more clearly can then serve as a point of understanding, gratitude and, if we choose, a point of transformation.
I remember a trip we were taking from Brussels, Belgium to Paris, France in a car.  I was posted as the air traffic representative to the FAA’s Europe, Africa and Middle East office in Brussels and our office interacted frequently with the regional International Civil Aviation Office in Paris.   This was a periodic meeting of air traffic experts I was a part of.  I usually took the TGV on my own, but they were on one of their periodic strikes so I drove.  For the novice, diving in Paris is best done with at least two people, one to navigate, gesture and holler, and one to actually drive.  I was the former and my husband the chauffeur.  We headed out of Brussels on the auto route to Paris.
My husband knew he had Irish roots on his father’s side, but had just learned these originated from County Wexford south of Dublin.  His father had discovered this as a part of his ongoing genealogy research.  Traveling along the auto route, near Verdun, we passed a truck (or Lorry as they are called over there) and on the side of the truck were the words:  Cullen Transport LTD, County Wexford.  I could hardly believe my eyes.  We waved, hollered and squealed “they are still there, they are still there!”.  Unfortunately there was no opportunity to make any contact, but there was a connectedness that was very real.
At a later time, walking into a meeting at EUROCONTROL,  in Brussels, I introduced myself to the other members of the group as I made my way to my assigned seat as the US Representative.  The Irish representative was new so we had not met before.  He stopped, looked at my name:  “Cullen.  Are you Irish?”, to which I replied, “My husband is Irish-American”.  You would have thought He had found his long-lost sister.  I was greeted as warmly and kindly as I have ever been.  It was wonderful.  Yet, I was inwardly taken aback at the obvious connection he valued to a heritage I knew little about.
County Wexford
 These two incidents served to unearth within me a sense of connectedness to events, places and people with whom I had never personally interacted.  Yet, I became aware that my life has been influenced by their very existence because of my husband’s Irish heritage.
Continue reading Circles and Intersections – Part II

Circles and Intersections

While attending a monthly meeting of my local chapter of Women in Aviation, I was introduced to a gentleman who works for Flight Safety international.  I recognized his name and asked him if he was related to a certain person with whom I had attended high school.  It turned out he is her brother!  As it goes in small town scenarios, I  identified myself as the oldest daughter of Paul Hancock which caused a thousand pieces of history to snap into place between us without words.  The gentleman then told me it was my father who had given him his first airplane ride as a boy.  That ride took place from the small grass airstrip, just outside our hometown of Plainville, KS, in the very airplane I fly today, Aircoupe, N3052G.  It was there he got his first taste of aviation.  He went onto fly P-3s for the US Navy, followed by several civilian positions flight instructing before joining Flight Safety International.  Wow, what a small world.  Circles and Intersections!

The AirCoupe

In my last BLOG post,  Becoming a Lover of History, I alluded to “intersections and circles of history” that form a backdrop to our lives.  This backdrop not only occurs in the grand scheme of things, but also in very personal ways.  They are there.  Yes they are, but honing our vision to not only recognize their presence, but then to discern their significance for today can serve to strengthen the purpose and vision of the personal Stonebridge upon which we walk.  So when these happenstances occur, what do we do?

Here are some possibilities:
 Enjoy the wonder of the moment.  As a person of faith, I inwardly acknowledge the providence of God in the matter and give thanks.
  1. Ask with intention, what does this mean?  It is a wonderful  “God Wink” moment to enjoy, or is there more to it?
  2. How does this change me?  my perspective?  my actions?
  3. Is there an action I need to or simply want to take as a result of this moment?