Song of Years by Bess Streeter Aldrich – Susan’s Newsletter October 2016

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Susan's Thursday Morning Note October 13, 2016
Song of Years by Bess Streeter Aldrich.  Strength.  Hope.  Faith.  Desire.  Love. 

Good morning.  Autumn dawn sunlight so bright all green looks yellow.  Complete stillness.  Little bird friends must be sleeping in.  As I struggle to put thoughts into words I replay in my mind thoughts written 800 years ago by Persian poet Rumi,  “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.  Do not go back to sleep.”  Behind the bright yellow sunlight I see the outline of my angel.  My angel of dawn.  Encouraging me to drink strong coffee and begin clicking keys.  The only sounds now the clicking of the keys.  Maybe I will be the one to wake the birds this time.  Are they looking over the sides of their nests into my window, finding me to be their angel of dawn?  Encouraging them as they see me type to enter this fall day?  To push their straw, sticks, cotton, feathers, and other treasures they are sleeping under aside and enter this beautiful gift of today?

The early darkness with fall entering gives more hours in my day for reading.  When too tired to read anything new I go pull out a friend from my shelf, this week inviting into my home one of my best friends who I have never gotten to meet in person or talk to, but who has influenced my life.  Bess Streeter Aldrich.  This week she handed me her words within her book Song of Years, written in 1938.  This book is on the life of a family with nine children, seven being girls with the setting in Iowa in the 1850’s as the land was just being settled.  There are times when I have named this book as my very favorite.  I have many very favorites now, for the categorizing of books into “favorite” must be as a mother categorizes her children all as favorites.  I have a shelf now that all hold the same position. Treasures.  Words within that changed who I am.

Towards the end of the book there is a chapter where the paragraphs end with the following lines depending on which character she was referring to in her thought.  The song of years was a song of strength. (Referring to Wayne, the main young character going to war).  The song of years was a song of faith.  (Jeremiah, father seeing his nation and sons go to war.) The song of years was a song of desire. (Emily dreaming when feeling trapped by duty as a young woman not able to leave home because of the war.)  The song of years was a song of hope.  (Phoebe Lou, young widow left home with children whose husband died in the war.)  The song of years was a song of love.  (Suzanne, main character keeping her dreams regardless of war.)  These lines stayed with me, originally marked when I read these words over a decade ago.  Below are quotes on each song of year.  Each word describing parts of our lives.  Strength.  Faith.  Desire.  Hope.  Love.

The song of years was a song of strength.

This is my prayers to Thee, my Lord. 

Strike at the root of penury (poverty) in my heart.  Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.  Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.  And give me the strength to surrender my strength to Thy will and love.

Give Me Strength.  Rabindranath Tagore

With the new days comes new strength and new thoughts.  Eleanor Roosevelt

You are no ruin sir, no lightning-struck tree: you are green and vigorous.  Plants will grow about your roots, whether you ask them or not, because they take delight in your bountiful shadow; and as they grow they will lean towards you, and wind round you, because your strength offers them so safe a prop.”  Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

God gave the day.  God gave the strength.  Leo Tolstoy

Joy is strength.  Mother Teresa

The song of years was a song of faith.

Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pactum servaKeep the faith.  Horace

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee.  Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not, as Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.  Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness.  Morning by morning new mercies I see.  As I have needed Thy hand hath provided.  Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.  Thomas Chisolm, 1925.  Lamentations 3:22.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.  Corrie ten Boom (concentration camp survivor)

The song of years was a song of desire.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.  
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.  Kahlil Gibran

For what it’s worth; it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be.  I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.  F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The song of years was a song of hope. 

Song of Hope by Mary Artemisia Lathbury 1896

Children of yesterday, heirs of tomorrow, What are you weaving? Labor and sorrow?
Look to your loom again, faster and faster.  Fly the great shuttles prepared by the Master.
There’s life in the loom!  Room for it, room!  There’s life in the loom!  Room for it, room!

Children of yesterday, heirs of tomorrow, Lighten the labor and sweeten the sorrow;
Now while the shuttles fly faster and faster, Up and be doing the work with the Master.
He stands at the loom!  Room for Him, room!  He stands at the loom!  Room for Him, room!

Children of yesterday, heirs of tomorrow, Look at your fabric of labor and sorrow;
Seamy and dark with despair and disaster, Turn it and lo, the design of the Master.
The Lord’s at the loom!  Room for Him, room!  The Lord’s at the loom!  Room for Him, room!

The song of years was a song of love.

Even after all this time the Sun never says to the Earth, “You owe me.  Look what happens with a love like that.  It lights up the whole sky.  Hafiz (Persian Poet 1326)

To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.  Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.  it will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  To love is to be vulnerable.  C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.  Lao Tzu

My song of years.  I will never know what measure I am playing in my song.  Where the end bars lay to my composition.  What measures are playing out now?  What notes hold the beat?  Strength?  Faith?  Desire?  Hope?  Love?  I believe each movement in my song holds all of these words.  Our songs.  Minor movements always are written into beautiful compositions.  Will we see that the weaver’s design before the end of our songs, or will we only see the entire design after our song ends?  Beautiful life.  The song of our years.  I hope we will make a mental conscious decision to desire strength.  Desire faith.  Desire hope.  Desire love.  Constantly desire.  But not only desiring.  Seeing the fall leaf slowly float down alone in solitude.  Seeing groups of leaves fly quickly across the field.  See the morning light.  See the dusk.  Notice.  Notice the eyes of those we will meet today.  We do not know the sorrows anyone bears.  We do not know their thoughts.  We have not walked their path.  But the music in each of our compositions will be played simultaneously.  Can we find ways to make our music affect theirs?  To give rests to the songs that need rests.  To give trills to the songs that need trills.  To make this beautiful composition of life be pleasing to our Creator.  To give him joy as he looks into our eyes.  Thank you for letting me enter your Thursday again.  Thank you for letting me have our store.  I hope you can come over, to enter for a few moments where you will be given a smile, friendship, a cup of coffee, and a book whose words may change your life.  Susan

Latin for this week:

fortitudo – strength
fidem – faith
cupiditus – desire
expecto – hope
amos, gratia – love
cantatio – song
per anum - year

Works Cited:
Aldrich, Bess Streeter.  The Song of Years.  Lincoln.  University of NE Press.  1991.