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Thanksgiving – Émigrés

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

The lot of the émigré, or refugee, has always been a tough one. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt little did they know the tribes would wander the desert for 40 years before re-establishing their homeland. Few predicaments could be more soul destroying than to be isolated from the places in which you formed a history and earliest memories.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was one who certainly struggled in these circumstances. After an idyllic childhood in Russia, his family’s world was rocked at age 8 when the father was bankrupted. He overcame this shame through dedication to piano studies, and had rebuilt his life with a successful composition and performing career when the Bolsheviks seized his fortune in the Russian Revolution. This second great shock caused him to flee to Western Europe, and eventually to New York City. Although he was treated kindly in the USA and earned well from concert recitals, his separation from the muse of mother Russia meant his composition all but stopped. It was the music world’s loss until US musician Eric Carmen re-imagined some of his works for the pop charts in the 1970s.

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Happily though there are many others who have thrived in these difficult circumstances. The renowned author Isabel Allende left her native Chile after the military coup in 1973 and went on to write many beautiful novels infused with the spirit of her native South America. Works such as The House of the Spirits, Eva Luna and City of the Beasts have seen her sell millions of copies of books.

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende

So too the film director Billy Wilder, who, although he settled comfortably into Hollywood, never lost a sense of humour that reflected his European heritage. Wilder escaped persecution as a Jew in Nazi Germany and fled to America through France and Mexico. At the US border crossing the inspector asked him what he was going to do for a living. When he responded “make movies” the inspector waved him through on the simple proviso “Make good ones, then.”

Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder

There is no doubt Australia has benefited greatly from the different waves of émigrés over the years. Early on it was the Chinese, Italians and Greeks, but more recently it has been people from Vietnam, the Sudan and the Middle East. To all the émigrés who make home in a new land, and bring something of the culture of the old with them as they assimilate, we say thank you.

Previous thanksgiving article: Bit Players

The season of Lent asks of us for sacrifice and the foregoing of many things, but an attitude of joy and gratitude should not be amongst them.

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

At the outset it should be made clear the viewpoints expressed here are a matter of individual opinion. If any one item doesn’t coincide with your own personal tastes then why not seek to better it with some thanksgiving of your own rather than a critique? You are always welcome to do so at the Archdiocesan website feedback mechanism.

So we invite you to come, walk with us awhile, and be thankful as we journey together to Calvary and beyond to Easter.

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