Monday Music #14/Just Breathe

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“I have always found that I did not get so tired, and my day seemed shorter, when I listened to the birds singing or noticed, from the window, the beauties of the trees or clouds.”           – Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

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Soapbox #1

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Pic via Mark Tinson Music

 

Definition:

soap·box
ˈsōpˌbäks/
noun
noun: soap-box
  • a box or crate used as a makeshift stand by a public speaker
  • a thing that provides an opportunity for someone to air their views publicly.

I suppose, in a way, my whole blog is my soapbox. Today I will address  a racism that still seems to be overlooked by most, and that is the treatment of the Naive Americans in our country. I was taken aback when I read this about L. Frank Baum, the author made famous for writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

 

Frank Baum called for total extermination of the Indians.

 

“Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are.” – Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, December 20, 1890

I first read this in Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. Then I fired up my google skills to double check the information. 

In another editorial he said,

 

“The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extirmination [sic] of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past.

An eastern contemporary, with a grain of wisdom in its wit, says that “when the whites win a fight, it is a victory, and when the Indians win it, it is a massacre.”  – Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, January 3, 1891

In reading further, I found that in 2006, two descendants of Baum apologized to the Sioux nation for any hurt that their ancestor had caused. Well, that was a start.

The mistreatment of minorities in our country is a reproach to the American name.  To my shame I know so little of our history in relation to the Indians. But, I’m learning.

 

Make Your Own Music

 

“Make your own music. Write your own songs about the things you care about.” – Pete Seeger

I’m still an Avett Brothers novice, but this is exactly what they do. They write what they care about. And the thing is, it’s what a lot of other people care about, too.

For example:

I And Love And You

…One foot in and one foot back
But it don’t pay to live like that
So I cut the ties and I jumped the tracks
For never to return…

When at first I learned to speak
I used all my words to fight
With him and her and you and me
Oh but it’s just a waste of time
Yeah it’s such a waste of time…

…Three words that became hard to say
I and love and you

and…

“Head Full Of Doubt / Road Full Of Promise”

…When nothing is owed or deserved or expected

And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected

If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected

Decide what to be and go be it…

Wait Silently

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To look for community instead of cocktail-party relationships is part of choosing sides in the vast, strange battle. To say, “I’m sorry”; to be silent; to say “I love you,” “I care.” It is these little things that are going to make the difference. For God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, the weak to overthrow the strong.

– The Irrational Season (1977) by Madeleine L’Engle

 

I’ve written about this before, I’m sure; I am writing to myself again. I long for community, real and true. I think I’m settling for cocktail-party relationships via social media. I see the words “I love you”, “I care” “praying” all over facebook, but what does it really mean? Is it so others can see you are so concerned? To do so in person is another kettle of fish all together.

 

It is not easy to say I’m sorry, especially I’m sorry without a but after it. However, it’s often too easy to say I love you  – love ya – as an alternate to see ya later. Said too easily and it looses its meaning. Saying I care may be harder; harder still to show you care in a tangible may.

 

But the hardest may be to be silent. Silent when you want to scream or cry or yell or explain or accuse or complain.

 

My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. – Psalm 62:5

 

Help me, LORD, to be silent. To show love and care.  To pray.

Kinder Than You Feel

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Today began after a rough night. We finally were approved as foster parents and had our first respite care experience this weekend.  Though we had indicated we wanted 5-12 year olds, this was a four-year old little girl, and I felt my age on numerous occasions over the course of the days she was with us. Last night, a knock at the door woke me at 12am., and I spent the rest of the night being assailed by arms and legs and an occasional head. Not to mention the snoring, and yes a four year old with allergies can snore.

I took a peek at Instagram as I was waiting for my coffee and saw these words from another foster mom:

Always be kinder than you feel.

When I got in my car to head to work, I heard about the shooting in Las Vegas. Then later I heard about Tom Petty. After I got home I saw this charge from  fellow Tweeter Joe Pug: “If you’re a songwriter, the best way to honor Tom Petty’s beautiful life and work is to write a song tonight. Start to finish.” Well, I can’t write the music but I did attempt the words. Thinking about foster care, Las Vegas, and Tom Petty, here are my lyrics waiting for a tune.

 

Kinder Than You Feel

 

Woke up this pre-dawn morning glory

Tired from life, I heard the story

Tired from living

Tired from giving

Always be kinder than you feel

 

Woke up to gray sky before the sun

Tired from living but not undone

Time for forgiving

Time for thanksgiving

Always be kinder than you feel

 

Early morning, it doesn’t make sense

What’s past still feels like present sense

Working my way through

Working past that blue

Always be kinder than you feel

 

Chorus:

Always be kinder than you feel

Kindness is what it takes to heal

Kindness is that one true ideal

You can’t borrow, you can’t steal

 

Step Back in Time

Last year I read some wonderful books set during World War II. Besides being drawn in to care for the characters and having to google location images, I learned a bit of history along the way. The following is a brief review on my selections.

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All the Light We Cannot See

Set mostly in France, this heart-wrenching story follows two main characters: blind Marie-Laure whose father works for the Museum of Natural History in Paris, and Werner, an orphan recruited into the Nazi army. “Seeing” the war through blind eyes was interesting. Marie Laure’s father made a model of their city so that she could eventually earn her way around unaided. Later, he had to do it all over again in a new town, but this time his model was more than just a way to help his daughter. It also held a secret.
Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s paths eventually crossed, as I hoped they would. But it was a bittersweet timing.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This story was a little more light hearted, yet still contained moments of sadness that can’t be avoided in war. Written in the form of letters between the main character, Juliet Ashton and others who were a part of her life, this one has an element of romance sprinkled in with the courage shown by those who faced wartime with tenacity and tenderness. The “society” was a cover story made up on the fly, but one which led to a community coming together under the bond of reading. This one is a book lover’s delight!

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Suite Francaise

Written in 1939, it was the last work of Irene Nemirosky, who met her untimely death in a concentration camp before she finished this work. It’s almost too full of characters, so it needs to be read carefully. I often found myself backtracking to pick up storylines or remind myself who the characters were. Still, it is an interesting take on a side of war that we don’t often see. It shows what happens to those who aren’t on the front lines, but at home, forced to house the enemy. Yet, sometimes the enemy seems like a friend.

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Once There Was a War

The only non-fiction work on my list, it was easy to read Steinbeck’s collection of his news articles. Sometimes I breezed through the technical military aspects, but I got the jist of them. There is something about his style that makes you feel like he’s sitting across the table telling you about his day.

If you want to brush up on your history and lose yourself in a good book, any of these would make an excellent choice!

Charlottesville and Beyond

I don’t watch much news. When I see something on twitter, I look up what’s happening in the world. Is that the best way to be alert? Probably not, but that’s me right now.

So I totally missed the goings-on in Charlottesville. But, facebook to the rescue. After being told what I, as a white woman, should be doing, I had to first read about what was going on. I read up and am appalled and sad. I in no way agree with what these protesters were doing. If I was a person who was in the right place at the right time, I would have been on the side of the counter protesters.

I wasn’t there. I was just returned from a trip visiting relatives in Florida. While there, my mother-in-law had emergency surgery and her life is hanging in the balance. I saw my grandkids off to their first days of pre-k and second grade. These children have friends who are “brown”. They do not seem to notice a difference; they never refer to their friends except by name unless they are asked to describe them.

I read this from a well meaning person I respect: “For all my white friends in different parts of the country, we must continue to chip away at the bedrock of this hatred in every conversation we take part in, and every action we take.” I understand his concern, but why must I do this in every conversation I have?

Michael Eric Dyson wrote this in The New York Times: “Now is the time for every decent white American to prove he or she loves this country by actively speaking out against the scourge this bigotocracy represents.”

I am speaking out now, but not because I love America, though I do like it an awful lot and I’m grateful to be one of its citizens. I’m speaking out because I love Christ. I strive to follow him in all I do including the way I treat everyone on a daily basis. I believe that in the Bible God has given instruction on how to live. Do I follow His instructions every day? No. Do I bend over backwards to consider the needs of others? No, not nearly enough. I do strive toward this end; I am learning more everyday what it means to serve others and to love my enemies.

I may not chip away at this hatred in every spoken conversation. I may be hanging out in a hospital waiting room, meeting my grandchildren’s friends, or hugging students when I substitute teach. An older, Middle English definition of conversation meant behavior or manner of living. This is the conversation with which I hope to chip away at hatred.

But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation    –   I Peter 1:15

 

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BFFs