I’ve known my sister, Hannah, her entire life. I met her the
day she was born. I was there when everyone first saw the purple and blue veins
on her left cheek. But, I don’t remember seeing them for the first time. I don’t
remember giving them much thought. For the past fifteen years, I can recall a
handful of days I or anyone in my family have spared a thought to those veins
on her cheek. I have spent much more time being jealous of her natural beauty.
But, today is one of those other days, one of that small
handful. Today my sister shares a story and it’s not the first of its kind. She
sits on the kitchen counter, eats an apple and says that it was photo
day for her soccer team. She describes posing for a profile shot with her left
cheek facing the camera.
“Don’t you want to face the other way?” The camerawoman asks as politely as possible.
“No, I’m fine.” She says and holds her ground.
“Are you sure?”
“No, I’m good.”
And then, having given up her crusade, “That’s some bruise! Did you get that in a soccer
“No,” and I know she must have shared an awkward smile and
laugh, “It’s a birthmark.”
And I’m sure the woman was not expecting that and I am in no
way attempting to ridicule her for her words. What I am trying to do, is revel
in the bravery and self-confidence of my fifteen-year-old sister. My sister,
who has stood in front of countless people, both children and adults, and dared
to be proud of her appearance.
“Is that a tattoo?” “No, it’s just a birthmark.”
“What happened to your face?” “It’s a birthmark.”
“Did someone hit you?” “No.”
“You know, when you get older, you could get plastic surgery. It would be like it was never there.”
I have only spared a handful of days like this, contemplating
my sister’s appearance and strength of character. I do not take notice of the purple and blue on her face. But, I know she thinks about it every
day. I know she sees it. I hope she continues to embrace it.
Bethlehem Lutheran Chuch was built in 1892 and was dedicated on October 29, 1893. Less than three months later, on January 25, this church was destroyed by a fire that incurred a large debt afterward. Despite this, the founders built a new church, the one seen above.
Bethlehem Lutheran church was a German-speaking church, until 1915 when the first bilingual services were held. In 1959, it was heavily damaged by a tornado. On April 28, 1974, Bethlehem Lutheran Church held its 125th-anniversary service, and not long after the church was abandoned due to funding issues.
**This building is no longer standing, as it collapsed in 2014.**
While we may grow numb to the sound of the gunshots, we never lose our humanity. We understand the insanity of our condition. We mourn for the lives that we carelessly take for granted and the sacred love we impede upon.