It’s never easy to lose a friend, and when I heard on April 29 that Alma Roberts Giordan had died, I felt a deep loss, tempered only by the fact that we had brought affirmation and joy into each other’s lives. She certainly had done the same for readers of America, as your respected and wise octogenarian writer (Am., 4/21)
I first came upon the name Alma Giordan some 40 years ago, when I would be reading a Catholic magazine carrying one of the articles I had written. There, in that same issue, would often be an enjoyable article by Alma. Then, 21 years ago, when I accepted a position as executive editor of The Litchfield County Times in Connecticut, then a brand new paper, waiting for me that first week was a stack of articles submitted by freelance writers. I was surprised to see a familiar name, Alma Giordan. It didn’t take long for me to call her.
Wonderful friendships often begin in coincidental ways. It turned out that Alma had been happily married to Bob Giordan, an artist, since 1939 and had never stopped writing for magazines, secular ones like Good Housekeeping, the Saturday Evening Post and McCall’s, and religious ones like America, Liguorian and Catholic Digest.
I happily accepted much of her work, often illustrated by her husband until his death, finding that Alma had a special gift. She could take the ordinary, small things we encounter every day and make these vibrate with life with her observations and words. She painted the mundane elements of this world that we all encounter in a way that highlighted how truly profound these arebe they a chipmunk, a crocus, a shoe, a mourning dove, a dogwood tree stump. She had the gift of seeing, as a poet expressed it, the God of things, and she could express this wonder beautifully, yet asking, Are words really necessary at the instant of a scarlet poppy’s miraculous unfolding? Is not my involuntary gasp of delight perhaps a more genuine prayer?
Last year she collected some of her good published work (several items were columns I had placed in The Litchfield County Times) and produced a book. I read it all in one sitting, enjoying her gift of seeing wonder and beauty that most of us need to be prodded to see. She called the book What This Old Hand Knows, the title of a truly notable piece she had written for America, an ode to the remarkable gift that is the human hand, our telltale lifeline (10/3/98). The book was humorously illustrated with her husband’s legacy of sketches, many of which I remember well.
Alma and I remained devoted friends. We were supposed to have lunch together this week. While I think she is having a more sumptuous banquet in a new and glorious place, we’ll nevertheless all be missing her.
Sons and Brothers
In the April 7 issue of America, Daniel Harrington, S.J., reviewed The Brother of Jesus. He quotes the authors, Hershel Shanks and Ben Witherington III, saying that this book is about what may be the most astonishing find in the history of archaeology. Their statement leaves me with the question of why Jesus had to give the care of his mother to John and to her John as son. There is no report, no evidence, of a brother being on Calvary! Strange?
Rosemary Esterkamp, G.H.M.S.
I am a subscriber and have great satisfaction in reading your publication. Unfortunately, I am entering the golden years of life and my vision is not as good as it was during my youth. My only complaint is that the font size of some of your articles is smaller than that of other articles, which makes them difficult to read. My friends who also subscribe to your magazine will agree. My only suggestion is when printing out the magazine please try using a standard 12-point font in all the articles. Thank you in advance for your time, attention and forthcoming response.
(Rev.) Antonio L. Rodriguez
Thanks to Bishop Francis A. Quinn for his excellent article (4/7).
In a very skillful and precise manner, he explained the Looming Crisis of Faith in the institutional church today. I profited greatly by his honest evaluation of what is taking place in the church today as compared with the manner in which the church was enclosed and turned in on itself in previous generations. I was especially pleased with his quotations, particularly the last one from Carlo Carretto.
St. John, New Brunswick, Canada
Majesty Above the Heavens, by Robert North, S.J., (3/31) says, Until recently, no religion was much concerned with explaining why God’s creative planning took notice of our earth, which is only a tiny pinpoint in the universe. Here’s why I believe Father God chose earth so singularly as the launching pad for all his gracious marvels!
God’s creative intent singled out the speck of cosmic dust called earth on which to shower inestimable favor because, very consistently in physical creation as well as within the realm of the spirit, Father God surrounds littleness with majesty and power! The earth by comparison to the incalculable vastness of the cosmos is, apparently, as insignificant as a seed. Yet see how much power and majesty resides within a seed, some so endowed with the grandeur of littleness as to be invisible! Within the realm of the spirit, Divine Wisdom says, The prayer of the humble shall pierce the clouds!
Human calculation would have us believe that earth is not the center of reality. Human calculation, however, means nothing when it tries to understand the divine folly demonstratively wiser than the wisdom of men, regarding God’s preferential attraction to littleness. He has even built the enormity of the cosmos on the intrinsic invisibility, or littleness of molecular structure. As men of science look for answers where men of faith have long found them, I respectfully suggest, as Psalm 2 says, God laughs!
Indeed, Father God continues to fling universes wherever the Spirit moves, a reality noted by Jesus when he said, My Father works even now! As if to give credence to my premise that the Almighty consistently surrounds littleness with power and majesty materially and spiritually, I respectfully conclude by quoting Jesus once again: I praise Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and the prudent and didst reveal them to little ones.