Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing,
At a time when it would be most easy to sit in the air-conditioned comfort of the EastWing this hot July Sunday Evening and rave about the bad things going on in our country. It would so easy to find fault with the FBI, with President Obama, with Hillary Clinton, with Black Lives Matter, and others doing downright brainless things which I perceive to dangerous to our great land. The time will come to say the things that need be said on those matters.
Today, at the suggestion of the beautiful She, I’m thinking more of where we came from as a nation and what got us to were we are rather than thinking of what seems to be trying to tear us apart.
It was in the summer of 1787, the Constitutional Convention met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to decide how to set up a new government. Many times the arguments grew bitter, and tempers flared in that summer heat. Some delegates talked of quitting when they reached an gridlock over whether representation was to be based on the population of each state or if each state should be given one vote. This period of gridlock would become known as the “critical juncture” in the Constitutional Convention. This nation was brand-new, not yet old enough to vote by today’s standards, and already it looked as though it might fall apart.
On one of the hottest June 28th ever recorded, it was 1787 when Benjamin Franklin, at age 81, the oldest delegate in the room, rose from his seat and made a simple but profound suggestion. Ben Franklin said they should pray for guidance. He reminded the delegates that the Continental Congress had asked for divine aid at the start of the Revolutionary War.
“Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered,” he said. “And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”
The delegates did not follow Franklin’s suggestion to begin each session with prayer -for one simple reason, they had no funds to hire a clergyman. But his words helped calm the Convention, which soon began to make progress, and so that did answer Franklin’s fervent prayer.
It was on July 8, 1776, the Liberty Bell rang from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) as It summoned Philadelphians to hear Col. John Nixon give the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. The Pennsylvania Assembly had ordered the 2,000-pound bell from a London foundry in 1751, specifying that it bear an inscription from the Bible: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof ” (Lev. 25:10 kjv). The bell arrived in Philadelphia the next year but cracked on its very first test, most likely due to a flaw in its casting, so it was melted down and recast twice to make a new bell.
Over the years the bell rang often to call people for announcements and special events. It pealed in 1765 for Philadelphians to discuss the Stamp Act, in 1774 for the First Continental Congress, and in 1775 after the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
At some point – no one is certain when – the bell cracked again. On February 22, 1846, during a ringing for Washington’s birthday, the crack grew so much that the bell became unusable. The bell no longer rings today. Although on special occasions, such as the Fourth of July, it is gently tapped. On June 6, 1944, when the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, officials struck the bell and broadcast its tone across the nation by radio..
Today the Liberty Bell sits near Independence Hall in a pavilion known as the Liberty Bell Center. Lines from an old poem capture Americans’ attachment to the venerable icon.
The Old Bell now is silent, And hushed its iron tongue, But the spirit it awakened, Still lives forever young.
Maybe, just maybe it’s time that we, as a people, reconsider Ben Franklin’s suggestion that hot summer day of long, long ago. It worked then, it’ll work still.
And so from the EastWing I pray:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
From the EastWing, Ben Franklin, The Liberty Bell, Mother Teresa
I Wish You Well,