New Voices, New Verses, New Writers
July 2, 2020
Greetings and hopefully a safe and enjoyable, beautiful summer…so far!
I’ve been thinking a bit about this particular holiday weekend. One of my favorite, with grilled hotdogs, grandkids, and definitely the best 4th of July fireworks anywhere and in my favorite spot…the Wenonah Park and band shell. I love every git of the lit necklaces, kids, people watching, and of course, the music, night sky, and fireworks. It doesn’t get any better!
But…this year is just a touch different. Food, family, friends, and hopefully a balmy summer night sky, but no fireworks to light it up. So…how do we make it special? … I am sure that you all have your own special way of celebrating, but if you need any help or even just a little thoughtful reflection on what this day means to each of you as well as to me, I thought I would share just a little bit of what has been going through my mind.
I know that I recommended “Lift Every Voice and Sing” last week, but I really feel that it is worth some quiet reflection time: Read/listen to any or all of the lyrics that I am discussing when you have a moment. Notice phrases, look up study/discussions pertaining to the racial inferences in the “Star Spangled Banner.” Read, listen to “My Country ’tis of thee” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Here are a few excerpts:
Star Spangled Banner - “Tis the Star Spangled banner / O long may it wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Francis Scott Key
My Country ’tis of Thee - “My country ’tis of thee / sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing…From every mountainside / Let freedom ring.” Samuel Francis Smith (If you are really curious, follow through to the abolitionist version written by A.G. Duncan, 1843)
The Battle Hymn of the Republic - “In beauty of the lilies / Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in His bosom / That transfigures you and me; as He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, while God is marching on.” Julia Ward Howe
Lift Every Voice and Sing - “God of our weary years / God of our silent tears…thou who has brought us thus far on the way…and led us into the light; keep us forever in the path, we pray.” J. Rosamond and James W. Johnson
In this truly serious, troubled time, I have frequently been asking myself what do I really believe in? What am I patriotic about? What do I really care about? Where is God in these times? Where is my faith? …Again, what do I believe in?
Do I believe in God? Yes. Country? Yes. Family? Yes. Justice? Yes. Core values of freedom, democracy, justice for all? Yes. You can get the picture.
I do believe in God, as I just stated. And, I do believe in all of the above mentioned beliefs and much more. But these are words with substance and commitment to them. They say that love is a verb. So is belief. Your true core belief many or may not be mine. You might think, fear, or believe one way about God, or Allah, or our flag and country. Or we may believe together…But we must name it.
Here is what I know and want:
Peace — Love — Kindness… for all and above all
I want to help all I can for…”the least of these”
I want to walk in their shoes…so that I do not judge and I do understand.
That is what our country, our hymns, songs, poems espouse…move us to be
Love is a verb…Faith is a verb…Justice is a verb
Have a happy, safe, and healthy 4th of July!
— Kaye Walker