Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


This book is now published and is wonderful. To order: Descendants of slaves, with ancestral and present trauma in the form of first servitude, then poverty, these families have kept alive consoling traditions. I am minded that in ancient times, millennia before Christ, kindness was counselled; in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the selfish criminal being devoured by a monster, the harmoniously married couple who have been generous to the poor, living their afterlife in beautiful gardens. Today, when I travel back to America I do not find kindness amongst the jet set. On planes one meets with coldness, with fear, with isolation. The courtesy, the kindness, the warmth, the humanity, one meets instead on Greyhound buses, now much my favoured form of travel.

There are many photographs of these white-garbed Blacks, and, like those by Karen Graffeo of the Rom, taken in love. There is the CD of the powerful haunting music, this democracy of music where all the people count, all their sorrows, all their joys. And the words of the hymns are pure poetry, for these had had ancestors who learned their Judaeo-Christianity from clandestine ministers who illegally taught them to read and write. See for this the story by Frances Trollope in Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw, where the white minister who secretly helps the slaves is himself lynched by the white community.

I heard Jesus say
I am the way, I am the root and branch of David. I am that I am.

You are the same God that heard Daniel when he prayed in the lion's den
Heard Rachel when she prayed in the cliffs of the mountain;
You heard the three Hebrew boys when they prayed in the fiery furnace.

You are the same God
That heard me one day
When I was lying.
Next door to Hell.

It is a book about faith, about kindness, about joy, about sacred poetry. It is exactly the book this library has needed for its section on trauma and indigenous and nomadic peoples. Its photographs are taken by my oldest son, Richard Holloway.

Posted by Julia Bolton Holloway at 4:40 PM

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Dearworthiest Godfriends,

For years I have yearned to combine sound and sight, music and text and image. Writing, after all, is an ancient technology for recording sound, spoken words, sung words. Greatly daring I have bought an IPod and a Mac mini to make all this possible. My PC is absolutely mute! We never could get its sound card to work.

If you go to and scroll down to:

Voice Recording of Westminster Julian Manuscript: Julian1.mp3, Julian2.mp3, Julian3.mp3, Julian4.mp3
Martin Buber's Julian of Norwich
Song Recording of Lydia McCauley, Sabbath Day's Journey: 'And All Shall Be Well'
Voice Recording of Quaker John Woolman, Plea for the Poor: Woolman1.mp3, Woolman2.mp2, Woolman3.mp3, Woolman4.mp3
Voice Recording of Augustine, Confessions IX, on Time, with Ambrose, 'Deus Creator Omnium
Song and Voice Recording of Hedera, who is Rom from Romania, singing 'Alleluia'

you will find you can even mix and match these voices, all Godfriends, the recordings of Julian done by Julie and Ilya in Oxford, those by Lydia McCauley, Hedera Cjuraru, myself, in motets - which are very medieval! And if anyone can give us suggestions for improvement I should be most grateful. Am still learning the ropes as to how to podcast, etc.

But on a more serious note. Could I have your prayers, perhaps even further help, for a Rom family. Doina is the mother whose baby Stefano was kept in the hospital in Florence because they thought she was too poor to have him. I got them back to Romania by telling the woman judge that Roman Polanski had said it is worse to be an orphan than to be poor. I taught Doina and Luca how to write their names, in our library, which they then repeated in the courtroom, everyone holding their breath as this couple slowly wrote out the letters that said their names. Then Doina and Luca returned here with their fourteen-year-old Walter, leaving Stefano and Cristina with the grandparents. Walter is wonderful, can read and write, speaks Italian extremely well after only three months here, and reads Italian and English. I gave him Alan Mandelbaum's parallel text paperback of Dante's Paradiso and he was ecstatic, took it back to the camp, a field at the end of the bus line where they sleep under plastic and which the police constantly raid, taking everything they own. and he was reading Dante to the grown-ups, all of them loving it. Then he got hit-run while begging at the traffic lights, has his broken ankle in plaster, Assunta finding crutches for him. Doina told me the police, the carabinieri, were on the side of the Italian man in the car who ran over his leg, not on the side of this brilliant, kind, courteous boy on foot begging who can read Dante. At least the ambulance took him to the hospital where they plastered his leg. I looked at the x-rays today. Italy is good about giving free medical care to strangers. But nothing else.

By the way they love Karen Graffeo's photographs of the Rom. So do our other Rom Romanian family of Maria, Alexandra her sister-in-law, Aliena her mother, Benoni and Daniel her brothers. And so also do the 'gadgee', the non-gypsies, us, who see these beautiful photographs of these joyous people in our library with their babies in rocking cradles and swaddling bands and learn to appreciate, not despise them. See Also Gypsies are Europe's largest minority and have no civil rights, were holocausted in WWII, receive no compensation, everyone is afraid of them, hating them murderously. The Romanian Rom were slaves of the Orthodox monasteries from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. I have found them to be courageous, honest, kind, courteous, intelligent, musical, beautiful, clean people, caring more for their families than for anything else. In Hedera's 'Alleluia' you can hear their voice.

Bless you,

"You see," writes Catherine of Siena, speaking in the person of the eternal Father, "this sweet and loving Word born in a stable, while Mary was journeying; to show to you, who are travellers, that you must ever be born again in the stable of knowledge of yourselves, where you will find Him born by grace within your souls."

Julia Bolton Holloway, Hermit of the Holy Family
Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei, 'English Cemetery'
Piazzale Donatello, 38, 50132 FIRENZE, ITALY