Friday, April 13, 2012

HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING!


I hear the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

This sprite of a Carolina wren put on quite a performance recently, just beyond the great room window. Loud, boisterous, the ebullient little songster was simply filled to overflowing with the joys of spring and life—singing of love and territory, the wind in the trees and the sparkle of morning sun on the enduring river flowing just below his perch. It was all there, in every ringing note.

Standing, watching, listening, I couldn't help but be reminded of a beautiful old hymn that's been around at least a century and a half, though is nowadays seldom heard. I also thought, with no small degree of shame, how often I grumble and complain about this ache or that pain, about things I lack, opportunities missed, roads not taken. 

Why do I find it so easy to focus on the negative while overlooking the positive? 

Why can't I be more like the singing wren? After all, we share the same gifts. 

I, too, have those who love me and a place to call home. The wind in the trees is equally mine, along with blue sky overhead and the purling river sparkling in April's sunlight as it journeys merrily along.

There is abundant music in my soul. Should my life end tomorrow, the good will have exponentially outweighed the bad. I have been so greatly blessed, and I am humbly thankful.   

How can I keep from singing?
———————



 

20 comments:

AfromTO said...

You don't come across as a complainer- you always seem so positive and giving.Have you heard Enja's version of this song it is haunting.

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO…

I like to believe you're right…I think I whine too much. I sure hope I don't come across as a complainer; I don't want to be one, certainly, for I'm too blessed, have been given too much—more than I earned, and way more than I deserve—to grumble and feel sorry for myself.

Yes, and I like Enya's version, except she, like so many pop vocalists, uses the substitute verses written by '60s protest singers, while I prefer the old original words. (Being an old original sort of guy. ;-D) But still, it's a nice version.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ -
there are few more humble or grateful than you. All of your writings ar natural and honest and filled with gratitude and simplicity and truth and hope. You song, is a bit gruff - like gravel and grit sifting through honey - perfect sound, slow and steady and with purpose. I love your song.
Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Oh, my…what lovely words. Such a nice thing to say. I'm at a loss. Thank you.

Cicero Sings said...

I too have been greatly blessed in this life ... it is humbling when I see so much pain around me.

Robin said...

Oh, please. You don't complain.

And I love that hymn.

Thank you.

Grizz………… said...

Cicero Sings…

There's no better way to realize how blessed we are than to look around and see the hardships so many others face daily…and often with a more positive attitude. To be sure, there is much real pain and suffering in this world, no shortage of genuine tragedies. But for most of us—certainly for me—one glance at the balance sheet and a moment of self-honesty are all it takes to put things in perspective.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

I know I too often dwell on what I lack rather than what I have; on what I can't do instead of what I can. I know I regularly measure myself by the wrong standards, compare my goals and results to disparate examples. And I've never been willing to readily accept my own limitations, including admitting their existence…though to this day can't decide whether such an attribute has merit or creates roadblocks.

What I want to avoid absolutely is coming across as a whiny, unsatisfied, and ultimately unhappy person. I am not. I love life, love people, love the adventure of each new day. I walk filled with joy…and as the Navahos so eloquently put it, try always to "go in beauty."

More than anything, that's what I want to come across in my life and writing. And whenever I began veering from that path, as my friend, I expect you to give my chain a good solid yank and get this old dog back on track.

George said...

Don't be so hard on yourself, my friend. I suspect that even the Carolina wren has days when he finds nothing to sing about. We are redeemed, I think, if we just remember to sing now and then. I also firmly believe that we can praise as much in silence as in song. And I'm with you, Grizz—take me away tomorrow and I would still count myself among the world's most blessed, even if I often find myself grumbling about the state of things.

Grizz………… said...

George…

You're right in most of what you say, though I dunno that any Carolina wren ever found himself without something to sing about—and loudly, to boot! They sure sing constantly around here—regardless of season or weather.

I don't know that my mother, bless her, ever allowed a day to pass without a song. She would sing in the kitchen while fixing breakfast. I can remember waking countless mornings to the sound of her voice. She sang while doing her housework, or outdoors in the garden. She sang in good times and bad—old, old hymns and church songs, mostly—and I've come to understand that this was her way of dealing with life, of lifting and settling, working through whatever was on her mind, burden or blessing, both prayer and praising. Singing, when it's real, comes from the soul, music of the heart and spirit.

I envy that, just a bit, the natural ease of finding a daily song, being able to give expressive voice to all of life. But you are also right in that praise and gratitude can be given silently—though isn't it so much better, from both sides of the equation, when imbued with sound?

Robin said...

I think you give praise and gratitude every time you look up from your desk, see something wonderful.... photograph it and share it with others.

Really, I think the praise starts when you raise your head.

I think you sing as strongly as your mother ever did... you just do it in words and pictures, and you're giving her gift to you, to others.... a hundred-fold in sharing it with us.

I think you think too much, and as we all do... find too much fault. Of course, you could have/ can do things better if you tweak it...

But there is such a pure vision in you that you share with us....

Try to give your 'negatives' away....

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

Uggh, I so, so hope what you say is right and true. But I'm humbled and afraid, because it makes me feel good about the person you see, whom I want to be, while at the same time fearful that I might not be that selfsame fellow. Is that just guilt or self-awareness and honesty? I don't know. In my mother, it seemed to spring from her in purity, unbidden, an organic reflection of her soul. With me, I often have to reach in and drag the good or positive out; there's effort involved which I never saw in Mom.

And you're sure not the first that's told me I think too much. And possibly I do. No, make that probably…in fact, for sure. But I don't know how to be any other way. It's who I am, for better or worse. Both strength and weakness.

Maybe, just maybe, I can, as you suggest, learn to give some negatives away. Maybe. But I want you to know how very much I appreciate what you've said, because I know something of you and your story and appreciate you so much as a friend. Thank you.

Robin said...

You know, my Grandmother and your mother sound so much alike. Momie (long 'o')... had more Grace than anyone I've known since. She sang in church and I've heard she was very good. She went to Berea college... back when women kind of ... didn't.

She loved Cardinals and Peony's and she loved to laugh (she was known for saying "Heee-Law" whenever something was extremely funny). No one knew why.

She married a man quite her senior and had three children. Her husband was a severely religious man, Postmaster of their town, became deaf and was a frightening man to his children.

She mothered and taught me such important life lessons when my parents divorced and did it again 20 years later when my Dad remarried and suddenly was father to a lost little girl, Jessie... my step-sister. I watched Momie's love save that girl.

What I know now is that she married my grandfather because she was getting 'up in years' and there was no one else. He had to be difficult to live with and the way he treated his children... let's just say they all have issues.

But she never wavered from the life she had and the love she gave. She sang and read stories and tended her roses amidst the birds and died with some of us only suspecting the truth.

I think for both of us... it seems that their lives came from some secret well of purity and grace. I believe that instead they had a huge well of strength and conviction (and an Invisibility Cloak) and never showed how hard they had to work at their 'Lightness of Being'.

You're gnawing a bit too much on guilt and judging yourself against someone not like you.

If you looked into your spirit's mirror, you would see the wonderful man the rest of us do.

...........
Sorry. A bit wordy....

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

First off, not too "wordy" at all. Rather a fine glimpse of your grandmother…who, I agree, sounds a lot like my mother. Their similarities are quite amazing.

Second, my father went to Berea, finishing his high school there and going to their "teachers college" before later attending Morehead University for a Masters.

Third, today is Dad's birthday. He was born in 1908, in Magoffin County, KY. God, how I still miss him…

I have no doubt of Mom's deep well of strength and conviction, for I saw that displayed repeatedly all my life. Mom constantly amazed doctors; time and again one disease or condition or another should have killed her—and here I'm talking sometimes a 1-in-100 odds of survival as given by the medical profession. She faced similar challenges before I was born, too. She outlived all her brothers and sisters, though was the middle-born of seven kids. And she worked very hard, all her life. Moreover, she seldom slept more than 4-5 hours a night, and often fewer. She was, by any accounts, amazing…and there were plenty more from that part of the country, born and raised in a timeframe and culture just like her—your grandmother doubtless being another.

Those folks, hill-country sons and daughters, born around the turn of the last century, were indeed different; certainly of a life which most of us can barely, and only inaccurately, imagine.

But I do continue to believe that a well of purity and grace in some also existed, for I've known others who drew from such a resource…something other than mere courage or strength. I've watched them carry themselves and others through impossible situations, keep traveling on when the road was impossible or there simply was no road; defy all that came against them, physical, spiritual, emotional, whatever. These aren't the movers and shakers of industry, education, business, or any other vocation or calling which requires incredible strength and conviction of leadership; these are the people whose lives glows with a soft inner light, a gentle person whose presence puts you at ease, whose words give comfort, who somehow bless everything and everyone they touch with love.

While I try to be the best I can, I also know Mom and Dad were different. And I'm being honest when I say I'm too weak in too many ways to ever quite measure up. My reflection will always be a bit skued.

Robin said...

The woman, Reva... who I speak of often... is of that fine line of people. They do still exist.

And, I'm not sure how you meant your 'reflection would always be skewed', but... if it's about your memories, our perceptions about them tell us important things about ourselves.

If it's about who you are in the mirror of your past... in my humble opinion, what you see in the mirror is a great deal more than you imagine.

You give more with your words and photos to those that are searching, than many people do in any way at all, in a lifetime.

I'm grateful for you.

Rochelle said...

Such a beautiful shot. I so enjoy reading your blog Grizz. And when I'm not reading, I think about it. Wish I had your gift...

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

Yes, indeed—such people do still exist. And thank God for them! Because they serve to remind us of what this old world could be if love and honor and goodness prevailed—if we set our sights on making things better instead of simply making things better for ourselves. The part I can never get is that I've been good and I've been bad, and I always feel better about things, especially myself, when I do good—even when the outcome isn't all I'd hoped for or anticipated. There's a wonderful solace in doing for others, in truth and honesty, in caring. It's even better when it's reciprocated, of course—but even when it isn't, you still receive a peace and strength from doing the right thing, from helping out, from genuine kindness. The Golden Rule still applies, and is perhaps more important today than ever, being arguably more lacking.

Anyway…I was referring to my view of myself in the mirror of honest self-appraisal, present not past. Or maybe present plus past. I know that hindsight is always 20/20—but seldom a day passes when I don't think about a moment when I could have spoken up but stayed silent (or should have stayed silent but spoke) or could have done this or that—offered more. It's the little moments that are too often lacking, badly handled, counted as opportunities missed or wasted. And one of the things that life has taught me is that little things—small moments—truly matter…in fact are often the hinge-point to the future. I don't want to fail at being all I can.

I'm grateful for you and your friendship, Robin, and appreciate your words. Thank you.

Grizz………… said...

Rochelle…

I'm glad you liked my singing wren! I was really pleased with the shot because I think it captures something of the bubbling-over vernal joy I head when the bird sang.

Thank you for reading and your nice words. They mean a lot.

Kelly said...

:-) Lovely and beautiful. Those little wrens really know how to bring the best in us out!

Grizz………… said...

Kelly…

Yup, I love Carolina wrens…they're one of my two all-time favorite birds.