I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing

Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

My son Gabe recently posted a song on YouTube:

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5JGruIzNDM

His song speaks gently, but powerfully about the pain that those suffering from mental illness  endure.  I am amazed at his insight and touched by his tenderness.  But I am not surprised.  Music has been a part of his life since he was a toddler.  When he was two, he listened to the opening chorus of a Winnie the Pooh record so many times he wore a hole in the vinyl.  As a preschooler, he would frequently hum bars of music under his breath while playing with toy cars and Lincoln Logs.  In elementary school, he arranged books on his bed as a makeshift drum set and pulled elastic bands over tissue boxes to form a guitar.  When he was an awkward, tongue-tied teenager, he wrote lyrics instead of doing his homework, allowing the poetry to speak words that his mouth could not. 

In our home, music was at the core of most activities.  I cried while slicing onions and listening to “Aidia” and “La Boheme.”  I danced with newborns to Hayden and Beethoven, and polished furniture while singing along to “Phantom of the Opera” and “Rent.”    The children fell asleep most nights while listening to their dad play scales on his guitar, and chased each other under the pews of our church sanctuary while our worship team practiced on Saturday mornings.  To them, music is as automatic as breathing, the moments of their lives set against an ever-changing sound track of notes and lyrics.

Still, when I hear them create new melodies and pen their own poetry, I can’t help but marvel that they have not only appreciated the talents of other musicians, but have dared to share their souls with others.  They bare themselves, removing the distance that protects them from their critics, and allowing their innermost feelings to lie exposed, open to harsh comments carelessly hurled in their direction. 

They know that eras in history are earmarked by the songs that are popular with the masses.  More importantly, they understand that music is a powerful medium that can catapult society into an environment of change.  They know this because I introduced them to Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary.  They show this because they introduced me to Damien Rice and Sufjan Stevens.

I believe that when God gives us gifts, He gives us the responsibility to use those gifts in a way that makes this planet a little better for those who inhabit it. 

Thank you to those who shoulder your responsibilities and share your gifts.  If you don’t mind, I’ll sing along.

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Ten in Ten

This post is going to be short.  I’ve got lentil soup on the stove that’s almost ready to go.  Ten minutes is all I have for today’s cup of tea.

A couple of months ago, I had a birthday.  Truth be told, I would rather not celebrate them anymore, but pretending another year hasn’t passed doesn’t make it so. 

Some people yearn to grow older, especially when they are children.  My brother Rick remarked to me that he used to think time passed very slowly as a kid, but it seems to speed up as he gets older.  I have never felt that time passed slowly.  I view the passage of time much like riding in a car.  If we look straight ahead through the windshield, the scenery draws closer at a manageable speed.  We view what’s ahead, digest it, discuss it and turn our attention to yet another object further in the distance.  But when we turn and look through the side window, the trees and grass zoom past us before we have a chance to appreciate them.  I feel that all my life I’ve been staring out the side window.  To me, life passes like a dizzying dance through the lens of a kaleidoscope.

When I am especially aware of the all too fast passage of time, I often take stock of where I came from and where I’m going.  I will never delight in aging, but I can appreciate some realizations that I missed when I was a younger woman.

  1. Assign less value to material objects.  They’re all going to rust, burn, wrinkle, pill, or dry out eventually.  They’re rarely worth an argument.
  2. Fight for your children.   Hold on to them when they threaten to drift into dangerous waters.   Buoy them with prayer.  Encourage them, guide them, forgive them and love them through life’s storms.
  3. Seek hidden treasure.  The kindest, funniest and smartest people I know were rarely popular when they were young.  Think about this when you are tempted to ignore someone who doesn’t fit your image template.
  4. Find value in the simplest of pleasures.  When I was newly married, an economic crisis demanded that we turn off our hot water heater.  For several months we took cold showers.  I will never again ignore the luxury of having hot water simply by turning on the faucet.
  5. Frequent the library.  There are free books about any subject you can name.  In the library, you are rich as a king.  You can travel anywhere you want to go.  Time has no boundaries.  Your imagination can soar and there is no end to what you can learn.
  6. Search for God.  This will be a life-long journey, but reaps rewards impossible to enumerate.
  7. Laugh at yourself often and at others rarely. 
  8. Spend time with your family while they are here.  It is so easy to take for granted that the people whom you love most will be around forever. They won’t.
  9. Cry when you need to.  Nothing cleanses the soul better than a saline shower.
  10. Acknowledge that The Beatles were right.  All we need is love.
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