Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | February 21, 2015

End of the Longest Year

On February 21, 2013, my late wife – Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  Thus, today endeth the longest year of my life.  My life, not ours.  And, so it went.

The long mourning from her death on December 9th, 2013 to her funeral was followed by a full year of grieving.  One year.  Nellie, the great grieving counselor, said it takes two full years to get to the new normal.  She was right.  Once again – she’d note.

Here is what we said at her funeral:

Here is what Dr. John Snow said:

The longest year has its pictures on my Facebook page.  I aim to write out the story “A Grief Felt” – a tangent from C.S. Lewis’  Beloved’s loss.  I think I need to walk the walk for the full 2 years, before I know what path I’ve trod.

The Good Lord blessed me with a new place to live through this longest year.  I call it ‘Sanctuary’, because it is.  I give thanks to Lord Jesus Christ often – every day here.  I behold the beauty of His natural world, The Bay, every hour I breath here.

Family, friends, church family and allies have shared their prayers, lovingkindness and caring.  I’m grateful.

I’m much, much healthier than I was.  I’ve done my duties as best I could.

I’m leaving unsaid what grieving for Nellie was and is.  I’m a man of words and I don’t have the words.

Let me say this: In a year of fitful and troubled sleep, I’ve been surprised to see my wife just a few times in dreams.  The last one,quite recently – which was clearly a dream and not a vision – made me so happy.  I got to hear her voice.  She asked me if I was ready to come home.  I said “Yes” and kissed her.  It was so wonderful to see and hear her.

Today, at the end of the full year of grieving, I’m grieving still.

I’m not holding on to grief as a way of life.  I’m not clinging to memories to avoid living life.  Quite the contrary.  I’m living with as much high energy, enthusiasm, disciplined passion and focused engagement as ever.

Then, why did I watch Nellie’s vimeo on this anniversary of her burial?  Why did I cry a keening lament through every minute?  Because I can see clearly through my tears, that I’m still married to my wife of our whole life.

The longest year was but one year.  It was awfully, horribly long without her.  In another year I should see clearly again, but differently.

I love you, Nellie.

Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden's words in her Bible in her hand.

Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden’s words in her Bible in her hand.

Singing "My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose" from a sheet to use the right words, not the ones I made up when I sang it to Nellie in private.  Her 65th and last birthday - Sep 2013.

Singing “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose” from a sheet to use the right words, not the ones I made up when I sang it to Nellie in private. Her 65th and last birthday – Sep 2013.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | February 9, 2015

Obama’s High Horse of History and Theology

Barry Soetero knows about high horses - arrogance, envy, hatred, revenge and more

Barry Soetero knows about high horses – arrogance, envy, hatred, revenge and more

I downloaded the transcript of the speech delivered by President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 5, 2015. I wanted to see his exact words for myself.

Barry Soetero had some good things to say. Not kidding. But, he dripped his poison into everyone’s ecumenical coffee.

POTUS’s killer lines were, “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

The past sins of Christians don’t award moral equivalency, good standing among civilized people, for the present barbarism of Islamists. Even if the ancient wrongs were done in the name of Jesus.

First, the Crusades were a counter-offensive to Islam’s robbing, rapine and arsonist, murderous attacks – after 300 years. Their worst failings were the lack of success in rolling Islam back all the way past the Indus River.

Second, slavery and racism, which aren’t unique to Christianity, were eliminated by Christians motivated by their Christianity. Slavery still is sanctioned in the dark corners of Islam.

Fundamentally, any thousand year old wartime atrocities aren’t a permanent stain of shame. Especially, after Christianity had their Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment and 3 Great Awakenings and Islam has not. Today, Christianity is quite civilized – the very bulwark of Western Civilization. ISIL follows the Koran – literally. ISIL is indicative of how barbaric Islam is – by comparison.

When he actually criticized ISIL, he failed to mention their barbaric crimes against Christians.

POTUS says the “sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe” are perpetrated in the name of “religion” – instead of naming Islam as the culprit.

When he says “people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths”, he is making the moral equivalency of all religions are alike.

When POTUS says there are “those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends”, he denies the murderous original intent of Islam – as is written in the Koran.

He added, “So this is not unique to one group or one religion.” Yet, today, barbarism is unique to Islamists.

He got truly stupid, theologically, with “I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.” See Hebrews 11:1 for the definition of faith. Jesus said he is the light, the way, and the truth – not the doubt, the confused insecurity and the shared partial truth.

POTUS spewed more theological babble, “Our job is not to ask that God respond to our notion of truth — our job is to be true to Him, His word, and His commandments. And we should assume humbly that we’re confused and don’t always know what we’re doing and we’re staggering and stumbling towards Him, and have some humility in that process.” No, we Christians should follow Him, His Word and His Commandments with bold courage and great joy. Trust and obey – in Biblical clarity with confidence.

He says “that means we have to speak up against those who would misuse His name to justify oppression, or violence, or hatred with that fierce certainty. No God condones terror. No grievance justifies the taking of innocent lives, or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number.” But, he fails to name the guilty – the Muslims.

He presumes again the moral equivalency that all people of faith have freedom of religion in common. They don’t. “And so, as people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion — any religion — for their own nihilistic ends. And here at home and around the world, we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom — freedom of religion — the right to practice our faith how we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.” Islam rejects the freedom of religion.

He “calls for each of us to exercise civility and restraint and judgment. And if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another’s religion, we’re equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are the targets of such attacks. Just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t question those who would insult others in the name of free speech.” Except, when the truth is an insult, it’s a moral obligation to keep speaking the truth – like Mohammed was an illiterate, murdering, raping, robbing, genocidal pedophile – and let the defenders of the indefensible be insulted.

He’s right there every religion has some version of the Golden Rule. But, none have the uniqueness of the Christian Golden Rule.

Barry Soetero is confused, or ignorant, about history and theology. He does know high horses. He lives on his own high horse of pathological narcissism and absolute ideological allegiance to socialist, racist Human Secularism.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | February 4, 2015

Vote No on Con Con, Virginia

Changing the Constitution

Changing the Constitution

Vote No on the Con Con

February 4th, 2015 the Virginia General Assembly votes on the Constitutional Convention of States. Please tell your representatives in the House and Senate, who are supposed to represent You – the Sovereign of Virginia, to vote “No.”

You don’t have to tell the Delegates and Senators why. Just tell them to vote “NO!”

The majority of Virginia’s Delegates and Senators are mere politicians. With few exceptions. Likewise, the Congress is for pols. It’s how you get elected. Be a career politician. Or, buy your way in – and quickly kowtow to The Establishment. These politicians are the problem. Not the Constitution.

New words aren’t necessary to fix the Constitution. The issues can’t be solved with words. It’ll take will.   The kind of will that gives the cowards of Congress and genial dunces of the General Assembly the vapors. The kind of will needed for the state and federal legislators to do their duty requires election upon election of patriots – for a revolutionary season of 12 to 20 years.

Consider our friends, the Republicans.

Virginia Republicans in the General Assembly gave us the two largest tax increases in Virginia history. When the Attorney General didn’t follow his oath of office to defend the Virginia Constitution, they did nothing. Nothing.

Virginia Republicans in the Congress voted to fully fund Obama and his un-Constitutional actions – except for Brat and Rigell – on the procedural vote that mattered and sanctimoniously voted against budget when it didn’t matter. When Federal judges took their pen to Virginia’s Constitution to attack marriage with arrogant impunity, they did nothing. Nothing.

Con-Con doesn’t fix our friends, the Republicans. Elections will.

The Virginia Senate is about to vote on re-defining husband and wife in all legal documents and across the Commonwealth. Republicans hold the majority in the Virginia Senate. Con-con, more words, won’t stop such foolishness.

Honorable men and women think changing the rules matters. But, it doesn’t matter when the people in power have little or no regard for the Rule of Law.

The best of amendments from a Constitutional Convention won’t keep the Federal Judiciary, Executive and Legislature from ignoring them, violating them, or modifying them. There is no assurance, whatsoever, the amendments will be good, let alone the best possible. The Con-Con could be an epic disaster. And, given the stature of today’s politicians, the Convention would most likely be awful.

Conservatives of good will, sound minds, and brave hearts are wasting time and energy on the Con Con. The Constitution isn’t the problem. People are the problem. Professional politicians, especially our Establishment Republicans, must be replaced with real Patriots – Constitutional Republicans.

Let’s follow up the election of David Brat in the 7th Congressional District with a Revolutionary Season of elections.   Virginia must lead again.

James Atticus Bowden

Poquoson, VA

James Bowden is a long-time Republican activist, writer and elected party official. He served as Chairman of his city committee, 1st CD and on the State Central Committee. He taught American Government at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | January 12, 2015

Our Civilization is AWOL

40 Leaders Lead the  March in Paris.  America is absent.

40 Leaders Lead the March in Paris. America is absent.

After Muslim barbarians murdered people in Paris for mocking Mohammed, there was a massive unity march in France.  The 3 million people across France were the largest march in French history.  40 leaders from across the world, including some Muslim rulers, marched against Islamist terrorism.   America’s ambassador, a former financial bundler for candidate Obama, represented the US.  The President, Veep, Secretary of State and Attorney General – who was already in Paris – didn’t show up.  America was Absent Without Leave – AWOL.  It’s a court-martial offense in the Army.  It’s an abdication of leadership for the US in the World.

It’s nice the leaders and so many people marched on Sunday.  Lovely.

It would have been better if the President of the United States had been front and center, arm in arm with the French President, to lead the wartime coalition of Western Civilization and its Muslim allies prosecuting expeditions against ISIS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Africa and the Taliban in Afghanistan.   A Coalition dedicated to exterminating specific Islamist threats.  A Coalition prepared to mount new expeditions – to fight campaigns, win and go home – against any future threat.  A Coalition of the West.  Committed to protecting, preserving, and sustaining Western Civilization.

Western Civilization is AWOL on the World War Against Islamism.  Some countries are fighting limited engagements – like the US bombing ISIS – in an unlimited war of national and civilization survival.

That may change.

Europe may wake up.  Maybe.

Europe may wake up. Maybe.

Many of the People across Europe – and in Australia – are waking up.  Populist movements are growing.  The Liberal, Socialist leaders hate these movements.  They call them “racists.”  That’s like a Muslim calling someone an Infidel – or worse.

Meanwhile, ungoverned “no-go” zones ruled by Muslims – and their Sharia Law – grow across Europe.  Muslims violate laws against polygamy, female genital mutilation, and “hate” speech with impunity.  No government challenges them.  The same leaders who marched on Sunday, will do nothing today, Monday, to establish their own sovereignty – their rule of law – in their own countries.

As an Army Futurist, I’ve known for a long time there would be a time of reckoning when the Muslim population bomb burst in Europe.  I just don’t know when it will happen.  There are a number of ways the reckoning could play out.

Western Civilization will commit suicide or fight and survive.  Western Civilization should do much more – and better.  The West, lead by the US, should be a still ascending Civilization – empowered by a powerful Judeo-Christian, Capitalist, classical liberal Democracy-based culture.

Presently, our Western Civilization is AWOL from its real duty station.

Islam is the enemy of Western Civilization.  Most Muslims aren’t the enemy.  But, their Islamic ideology and identity, which includes a religion, is antithetical and anathema to the West.  Until Islam has a Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment and Great Awakenings, it is Barbarian compared to Western Civilization.   Today, the Barbarians aren’t at the gates, they are within the walls and approaching the castle keep.

The West needs leaders to stand in the gap of the walls – and fight.   At home within the walls and outside abroad.

Pray the People of Europe elect new leaders to stop the Muslim invasion of immigrants, restore national sovereignty, promote cultural confidence, encourage conversion to Christianity, and demand assimilation into the superior culture of Western Civilization.  And, send expeditionary forces to exterminate every militant Islamist threat – cutting off the head of the snakes – wherever they arise.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | January 1, 2015

2014, A Very Different Year

Merry CHRISTmas 2014 and Happy New Year 2015

Merry CHRISTmas 2014 and Happy New Year 2015

The CHRISTmas card I haven’t sent out yet, tells the tale of 2014.

It was a very different year indeed.

It was a very different year indeed.

It was a year of grieving and beauty.  Deep grieving and remarkable, breath-taking beauty.

My 61 blogposts reflect much of the grieving and beauty – and a glimpse of interests, hopes, concerns and commitment to life beyond my small sphere.  And, always throughout another year, bond servant relationship and worship of Lord Jesus Christ.

Grieving my late wife, Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden, is about honoring her, our deep desire, our marriage and family – the whole of our adult lives –  to grieve in as great a measure as we loved.  The many tears I mentioned were a cleansing expression of love, not a wallowing self-pity.  As much as I wrote about crying for her, I actually wept far more.

2014 was way station by signpost by mile marker of life without her.  The long, long hard path was expected.  Lived and endured.  So it was for all of her family, friends and loved ones who knew her.  Yet, as oft noted from her Bible, in her hand, “God never wastes our sufferings.”   He didn’t.  He gave Grace.  He provided strength and purpose.

There were new, different family hardships and challenges.  This is called life.

He surrounded me with unspeakable beauty.

He gave me Sanctuary.  Just a house – a material thing – I know.  But a place to live where beauty of God’s created world, Nature alive on The Bay, is around me day and night.  Here, too, he placed my oldest daughter and 3 grandchildren – the living beauty of God’s love.

This beauty seen by the eye and held in the heart is greater than grief.  The beloved living are life itself.  Life is about love, because life is about relationships.  First, Unconditional Love – Grace – from God to self.  Then, from self to spouse.  From self to family.  On to friends, neighbors, and all – in agape love.

The year may have been sad, missing and hurt upon sad, missing and hurt for me – and death sucks – as I wrote often.  But, I also wrote that love is more powerful than death.  I lived it in 2014.  Far more powerful.

Look at this stunning picture of my youngest Grandchild.

Granddaughter Bonnie Kyle Buchanan - for 2015 and beyond

Granddaughter Bonnie Kyle Buchanan – for 2015 and beyond

Bonnie is 2 years old.  When she is 80, people will look at this picture and exclaim, “Bonnie, this is so you!”

She is the picture of the power of love in life, past death, and for the promise of Heaven.  Look at her eyes, her gentle smile, her posture.  This is Bonnie Kyle Buchanan showing herself to the camera’s eye.  This baby girl will become quite a woman.

I could wax on and on about my love for this angel baby.  Her beauty symbolizes the beauty of life in 2014 and promise of more to come in 2015 and beyond.

God’s promises are always kept.  Every single one.  Forever.

As I shared in the invocation at my USMA Class mini-reunion, one fulfilled promise is that the young lions become old bulls.  This old bull still cares deeply about my Clan, community, Commonwealth, and Country – as well as all the world for Christ.

2014 was a year of hope for America for a good election result.

2014 was a year of shame for Western Civilization for failing to rise as one to defeat and utterly destroy – to kill to the last man – every Muslim jihadist soldier of ISIS.  The bombing and advising half-measures are a shameful witness to the lack of courage, moral resolve, and vision which all the West should have – to save every suffering Christian within striking distance of the ISIS devils.

We should all be ashamed.  I am.

2015 is a new year.  God will provide.

Grieving will continue, but it’s different.  I struggle with creating a new identity.  I still feel married.  Companionship brings new relationship – with healing and growing.

I’m much more healthy.  Bound and determined to be more healthy indeed.

Ready for God’s Will.   Up for doing my duties better.

Blessed to be face to face, daily, by such beauty with my beloveds and The Bay.

Grateful for God’s Word – like II Corinthians 1:3-4 and Psalm 30.

Life is short.  "I ain't dead yet."

Life is short. “I ain’t dead yet.”

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | December 10, 2014

One Year, Ten Schools

10 Elementary Schools in York County, VA will have friend benches - dedicated to Katherine Kyle Bowden

10 Elementary Schools in York County, VA will have friend benches – dedicated to Katherine Kyle Bowden

Today, “buddy benches” for 10 elementary schools in York County, VA were dedicated at my late wife’s school, Mt Vernon Elementary.  The teachers in the 3rd grade got the ball rolling, the counselors across the county picked it up and the school administration scored.  Former teachers, counselors, staff and parents attended the ceremony with our family.  The benches are a place for a child to sit and signal to all others the need for a friend.   My Nellie did that pairing of little hearts in the classroom, lunch room and playground.

In her last full year Nellie paired a significantly challenged girl with the two coolest girls, the princesses, of her grade.  She asked the cool kids to be a friend – and she followed up.  She was as happy for the lessons learned in lovingkindness for the popular children as the blessings of friendship and value for the struggling child.  She knew the girls went to church and told them to pray about doing what is right and good.  Consequently, the benches are the most fitting tribute possible for my Nellie’s work.

Colleague, mentor, friend - Mother Counselor

Colleague, mentor, friend – Mother Counselor

In my remarks I reminded the counselors, teachers, administrators and staff of the “Sisterhood”  how Nellie held their burdens and joys as their own.  I asked the kids if they loved Summer vacation.  I responded to their cheers with how much Mrs. Bowden did too.  And, she would not want to leave the pool on such hot days to come back to work.  But, on the first day she came home with the biggest grin and said, “I love those children!”  I said, again, how much she loved each one of them, knowing them by name, working for them and praying for them.

We, her family, are deeply grateful for the Principal – Mrs. Lugo – and everyone who made the ceremony so special for us.  It was very emotional for all of us.  We are deeply touched, humbled, and honored.

We remain deeply, profoundly touched, humbled, honored and blessed to have loved the ‘Mom’ of our family.  We miss her.  It’s been a year.

Her marker in Arlington National Cemetery

Her marker in Arlington National Cemetery

I visited her grave on Sunday.  I started crying as soon as I passed the Post Chapel and got inside the stone walls of Arlington National Cemetery.  I wept and wept more when I stood before her stone.  Reading her sweet name, saying it out loud, flooded me with memory upon memory, feelings chasing fleeting feelings, and joy swirling with such sorrow.

I caressed the smooth stone.  Cold as death.   Hard as the emptiness of not being here.  Unforgiving as all time without her.

I looked at the view.  I imagined a day when my family will come to put my body down by hers.  I smiled to myself.  I’ll never see the view from that perspective.  I’ll be gone.  Alive in another place.  Like Nellie.  Hopefully with Nellie – even if we aren’t married in Heaven – and close enough to see her respond to my love.

I prayed, of course.  It’s like breathing for me to share life with the Lord through the indwelling Holy Ghost.  I thanked Him for her.  I told Him the obvious – how sad it is to live without her.  How much I miss her.  How awful her loss is for us all.  And, of course I love, worship and praise You, Lord Jesus Christ.

I know it’s the way of the world that we live and die.  The Lord giveth and taketh away.  Praise be the name of the Lord.  But, I had no idea – even after the deaths of beloved parents – what it is like to lose your wife who is the desire of your heart for your whole adult life and you hers.  No clue.  Not an iota.

Now it’s been one year.  One awful year.

So, we must live.  Live as well as we can.  Live with as much courage as we can muster and joy we can share.

Here we are.  One small branch of our Clans.  The grown-ups smiling as best we can – with hearts broken for Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden.

Her husband and brood.

Her husband and brood.

God is good all the time.  No matter what.  NO MATTER WHAT.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This is what I wrote last year: 2013

Every day is a thanksgiving day.  Every Sunday is Easter.  There’s a connection between the two.  This Thanksgiving Day – the holiday – for 2013 carries too many thanks to list.  Yet, in the rhythm of the year the blessings that sing out should be heard.

Thank You, Father God for creating the universe and all that is in it.  Thank You for creating Life.  And Love.

Thank You, Father God for putting part 0f You, Your Spirit, into a human, Jesus, birthing the Son of God.  Thank You, that Jesus, God-in-Man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for all humankind’s sins, and bodily rose from the dead.  Thank You for walking out of the grave.

Thank You, Jesus, for sending another part of God, the Holy Spirit – Ghost – to be everywhere on earth at all times.  For physically being in the body of Christians.

Giving thanks at Thanksgiving and every day

Giving thanks at Thanksgiving and every day

Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, for the survival and recovery of my critically injured son-in-law.  Thank You for the many tender mercies given to him and his family by so many people.

Thank You for family.

Thank You for my 1 wife of 38 years, my 3 children, 2 in-law kids, 4 grandchildren.

Thank You for all my kin – living and those gone home.

Thank You for friends, classmates and comrades who are like family.  Like the Bible says, closer than a brother.

Thank You for faith.

Thank You for Your Grace and my free will to be saved by faith.  Thank You for my relationship with You – and knowing You through the Bible.  Thank You for right to the free exercise of my Christian faith and for my fellow citizens who are Christian and Jewish.

Thank You for your fellowship with Christians and Jews around the world.

Thank You for freedom.

Thank You for my unearned gift of being born American.  Thank You for my inheritance in freedom as an American, Southerner and Virginian.

Thank You for my time spent serving in the U.S. Army – and still serving as best I can – to preserve our Constitution and Country.  Thank You for all who serve the Nation now.

Thank You for the past, present, and future in Your perfect Will.

Thank You for the people I know and those I only met through writing, social networking, political activism – and even those I don’t know – who will fight and win for our families, faith and freedom.

Thank You for all of this and much, much, much more this Thanksgiving 2013.

Thank You and praise You, from rising to resting every day of life in this body.

Thank You for all things – good and bad – in Your Will.

For the crooked road, the cleansing tears, the pain and suffering unto brokenness, the hurts that healed and taught, the fear and despair, the failure and humiliation, the loss and grief, the dark depths of this life.

For the joy in the journey, the absolute thrill of living moment after moment of intense and sublime happiness, wonder, excitement, gratitude, pleasure, awe and satisfaction, the overwhelming, pulsing power of physical strength, courage, and passion, the beauty brought to every sense, the gentle quiet times, the recoveries, the next chances – new days and nights, for love of lovingkindness, and blessing upon blessing piled and stacked upon blessing wrapped in blessings abounding – undeserved, unmerited, unearned, yet gifted in UNCONDITIONAL love.

For all in all, more and more, from rising to resting – every day.  One day at a time.  Every day is a thanksgiving day.

God is good.  All the time.  No matter what.  NO MATTER WHAT!


The day after I wrote this above my wife had a stroke.  Nine days later she died.

I could write the same this year – by adding ‘late wife’ to my thanks for Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden.

God is good.  All the time.  No matter what.

God is good through a long night – many days and nights – of grieving.   Through a long soul season, crossing earthly seasons, of mourning.

In Nellie's hand in her well-worn Bible

In Nellie’s hand in her well-worn Bible

God is good for providing a new home of exquisite and constant beauty on The Bay – my Sanctuary.

Summer storm on The Bay

Summer storm on The Bay

Light above the dark storm below - a metaphor, too

Light above the dark storm below – a metaphor, too

Beauty when bright, cloudy, fog, storm, or under moon and stars

Beauty when bright, cloudy, fog, storm, or under moon and stars

Never a bad sunset.  Textured from glass to Oh my gosh!

Never a bad sunset. Textured from glass to Oh my gosh!

Sanctuary, the structure.

Sanctuary, the structure.

God is good for having me survive to serve in His Will for whatever He purposes for as long as He likes.   He had me endure what seemed unbearable.  He had me feel more pain than I thought possible, more loss than I ever could imagine, more sadness than I thought a heart could hold – because God is good, no matter what.  Today’s pain, loss and sadness aren’t yesterday’s.  Yesterday’s aren’t last week’s or last month’s and on and on and on.

The tears still come swiftly.  They’re impossible to stop.  Yet, they stanch more quickly.

God is good through the tragedies and trials that happen in many families – even when it’s our childrens’ challenges.

God is good with so many prayers of well-being and love from so many people who love Nellie Katherine and her family.  Abundant thoughtful kindnesses.

Today last year was the last full day Nellie and I had together before she couldn’t talk.  It was the last night of our marriage bed.  That milestone is profoundly sad – that all of our life here ended.  Psalm 30:5.  Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Come joy, come.

Psalm 30:11.  You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me in gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Come dancing and gladness, come.  I praise already.  I praise God at rising and resting every day – and through the day.

I give thanks this Thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving 2014.

Giving thanks in 2014.  CHRISTmas pic shot.

Giving thanks in 2014. CHRISTmas pic shot.




Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | November 19, 2014


November 18th, 1950

November 18th, 1950

Usually, I know what I am to write.  Not what I want to write, but what I am supposed to write.  The themes develop over a few days or come full force, with all the words, in a sudden burst.  Not this birthday blog, except for this memory.

On November 18th, 1972 my girl friend, Nellie Katherine Kyle, made me a chocolate cake.  She put little toy soldiers – the green guys from Toy Story movies – on top.  I was in jump school at Ft. Benning, GA.  My classmate, companymate, roomate, Gary Micheau said in his inimitable sarcastic voice, “Hey, Bubba, you’re going to marry this girl.”  I said, “No way.”  We’re just dating.  All the time.  Every free moment.  Constantly.

This birthday was the first in my adult life that Nellie wasn’t sharing life – and my birthday – with me.  Even the ones I missed not being home.

So, that’s what my birthday is all about.  Not me.  Her.  My late wife.  Nellie.  Wife over 38 years.  Passionate desire for my whole adult life.  Her absence is my 64th birthday.

My grown kids, other family, friends were sensitive and sweet about today.

My connections – almost all are on-line at Facebook or other networking, were kind.  I know several hundred of the kin, classmates, old Army buddies, church family, friends from work and all venues, and Virginia political comrades.  The remainder of the 5k are un-indicted co-conspirators in Christ, the Constitution, Conservativism, Confederate heritage, or Western Civilization.  I’ll respond to every kind birthday wish – it’ll take time.

Thank you.  One and all.

A year ago I put together a collage of icons that told my story.  They don’t say who I am, but what I’m from and a bit of what I’ve done.  One life.

Bottom half is family.  Top half, left to right, is my path.

Bottom half is family. Top half, left to right, is my path.

This year, I don’t have the energy for any such thing.  Just marshalling the energy to endure these two months to New Year’s 2015.  Coming up is Thanksgiving, my youngest daughter’s first birthday without Mom (and it’s her big 30th), first anniversary of Nellie’s stroke, death, and memorial service, and finally CHRISTmas – her glorious holiday.

The first year without Nellie will be over.  There is the rub indeed.  The end of the first year means there will be more without her.

So, 64 is close to a crack in time for one man.  The new normal is about to begin.  Nellie told me all about this second year – she was an expert on death and grieving as a counselor.

I’m deeply grateful for every kindness today.  I’m deeply devout, not priggish pious, in my broken, humble thanks, worship and love for the Lord God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost for this birthday – and every day to do His Will to the best of my ability.   And, I miss her.

A crack in my time on earth

A crack in my time on earth

This is the first birthday since 1972, that she didn’t ask me what I wanted for my birthday.  Which, of course, was all that mattered.  (Of course I coveted and cherished cards from family.  However, their cards and her question were quite different to my heart.)

I’m up for as many healthy birthdays the Good Lord wants me to live.  Psalm 30.  Thy Will be done.

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Praise be the name of the Lord.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | November 2, 2014

Two Months to Dread

Nellie's grave in Arlington graced with flowers from her beloved sister, Pookie.

Nellie’s grave in Arlington graced with flowers from her beloved sister, Pookie.

I dread November and December 2014.  These months are the last of the first times without my wife, Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden.  November is a full year since her stroke.  December is the first anniversary of the death of her body.   The full year of living without her will be done.  Gone.  Over.  I hate this time with a cold passion.  My warmed tears course my hot red checks, but my hatred is cold.  I hate few things in life.  Very, very few.  I hate her absence.

Oddly so, this hate, because I love the first few weeks of November when we have Indian Summer in Tidewater, Virginia.  It’s my favorite time of the year.  Since I love every season, Indian Summer is the extra love placed on top of love – rejoicing with great joy in every warm day surrounded by such glorious colors.  It’s also my annual time of assessment – right before my birthday.  The assessment I make with the Lord God in prayer is more than the usual observation, introspection, and thoughts of a man who is always alive and engaged in his own head.  Like the fall festivals of the Hebrews, it’s about accountability.

I dread looking at all the accounts of life without my wife to factor in every calculation.  I know she is in Heaven.  Her absence brings such sadness and loss to life.  I don’t want to feel how a full year without her feels.  I don’t even want to think about it.  But, I must.

I didn’t go to our local fall festival for the first time in 25 years.  I’ve made myself do other things – to be normal and go through the grieving process.  But, I dodged this one.  Last year I worked the Republican booth as usual and we took our oldest daughter and her kids to the Poquoson Seafood Festival.

October 2013.  Funnel cake with Nellie. Her hand is on my back.

October 2013. Funnel cake with Nellie. Her hand is on my back.

We had no clue what would happen in a month.  No idea.  She wasn’t feeling well, but soldiered on.   We had fun that day .  She touched me then like she did over 30 years before.

Nellie's hand on my back - back then.

Nellie’s hand on my back – back then.

And holding my arm.

And holding my arm.

I hate it that Nellie is gone.  I’m not angry.  Especially not angry with her or God.   Myself or anyone.  Just hate her absence.  I’m grateful for every day here at Sanctuary for my duties as Father and Grandfather, Brother, Cousin, Friend, Believer, Patriot, etc. Yet, I hate having to live without my wife.  My Nellie.  I hate that it’s been a whole year without her.

No more birthdays to celebrate her.

Nellie is overwhelmed at seeing a whole restaurant full of people on her last birthday.

Nellie is overwhelmed at seeing a whole restaurant full of people on her last birthday.

No more time to share our deep desire for one another.

1977.  Pregnant with our first child.

1977. Pregnant with our first child.

No more growing old together.

Our time together ended.

Our time together ended.

I know to be grateful for a love so dear.  I know to praise God for Nellie.  I know to be grateful for a desire that defined a love more broadly and deeply for the way we were together.  I got it.  I know it is the way of the world that one would pass before the other.  Understand.  I know that God can expand the human heart to love more anew.  Believe it.

I dread these two months for what they mean this year.  Not for all time I have left on earth.  I dread what they mean now.

Every week the steel bands that were so tightly constricting my head and chest – my whole body encased in a pain I felt upon rising – are loosened.  I feel much healthier and stronger.  I laugh and smile.  I’m living life as it is.

I dread what must be done these two months.  My first birthday without her – since 1972.  Thanksgiving.  Her stroke.  My youngest daughter’s 30th birthday.  Her death.  Her memorial service.  CHRISTmas where we’ll be aware instead of overwhelmed by emotion.  I’ll be more engaged, not just trying to survive – and not stroke out as BP spiked.

God is good.  All the time.  No matter what.  NO MATTER WHAT.  Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ.

The night before we wed.

The night before we wed.

My wife, my Nellie.

My wife, my Nellie.

Ok, November and December 2014, let’s go through you two.  I won’t be alone.  Just missing her so.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | October 8, 2014

Life, Art, Life

Light and storm across The Bay, Summer 2014

Light and storm across The Bay, Summer 2014

This Summer a storm at sunset created such beauty before my eyes.  I was awestruck.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful, fascinating places and people across the world – and I stood mouth agape at the beauty moving all around me – right where I live.  It would have been a spiritual climax were I a pagan.   Instead, it was a humbling moment of thanksgiving and gratitude to the one, only, true, living, triune God.  I was so happy to get to see what I saw.   And experience it from my dock – at my home here called ‘Sanctuary’.

The storm moved with power and grace.  Its beauty and strength was on the largest canvas a human can see – the space of air and water reaching to the horizon of eyesight.  Above the storm the light abounded.  It’s blazing purity washed the clouds in their brightest white.   The air rumbled and cracked.   The water fowl squawked.  The waves slapped hard.  The warm wind washed me.

The works of God were made manifest in the natural world all about.

My telephone camera pictures, as beautiful as they are, capture just part of the pageantry.  The pics are but a taste, not the meal.  Or, they freeze a scene in a moment, rather than performing the whole play.  A great picture is good, but not equal to what life presents.

Life is awesome.

My sister Sue's art.

My sister Sue’s art.

My sister, Sue, who lives near Bah-stin (Boston), loved the pics.  She painted what she saw and felt.  Her painting is – to overwork the word without rancor – awesome!  Her painting, like the pics, is not the whole experience.   Her art, like all art, has a narrative.  It tells a story.

Flash of the obvious from Captain Obvious, Master Obvious, Mr. Obvious – moi.  But, the obvious, like clichés, offers truth.

Good art tells the truth in a simple, powerful way that communicates clearly.   In my 30s I wrote that “Michener laid it all bare.”  James Michener’s formulaic, team-produced histories still spoke truth to me.  They swept aside the normal, busy, distracting everyday living to get at what matters in life.  What changes lives intimately and history ultimately.  I felt a sense of awe as I read.  That prose was art to me.

Of course, good prose is art.  All the visual, performing and decorative arts – poetry, sculpture, architecture, gardening, photography, dance, music, pottery, clothing, jewelry, furniture, prints, film, clothes, and literature are art.  Some say cooking can be art.  Maybe.  The artist creates his or her art to communicate.  My sister certainly does that with her art.  I try with my writing.

Creating a narrative from blank paper or empty canvas is more compulsion than challenge for many.  It is for me.  I must write, lest I burst.  I’ve written since I was a teenager.  Kept little that I wrote, but that little is board feet of scraps of paper.  Single lines that speak a whole poem to my mind.  A couplet that captures a thought I’d never had before.  And rambling rants record the torrents of words that sometimes come like a thunderstorm’s downpour.  Like the power of the storms on this post that I experienced, filmed and my sister painted  Whether it’s drivel or not, doesn’t matter.  It’s my art.

Got my first novel, Rosetta 6.2, out of my system after 17 years.  Got it done.  Started a series of 7 novels 14 years ago.  Need to get about finishing all 7 of them before I’m done.  Many stories to tell within those books.  The stories, which are totally made up in a sci fi setting, have to tell the truth.

Telling the truth about life ultimately talks about God.  God and man.  God and nature.  God and time.  God and life.  God and love.

The weakness of much of what passes for art today is the avoidance of God.  Pretending there is no Lord of Heaven and Earth.   Acting like this life is all there is.  Ha.  The majesty seen in this life points to far more to come.  So, it did when I saw the scene pictured below.  All alone on my dock – actually alone with the in-dwelling Holy Ghost – I could exult in life and life to come.  I could breath deeply and say, “Wow”, out loud.

I could say, “I love you, Nellie” to my late wife and breath the strong salt wind deeply again.  And over and over, “Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank You, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

Let it rain.  Rainbow follows.

Let it rain. Rainbow follows.

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,199 other followers

%d bloggers like this: