Songs Prayers Poems from “Saying Grace: Blessings for the Family Table” (February 2015)

Susan’s Thursday Morning Note February 12, 2015
Songs, Poems, and Prayers from “Saying Grace: Blessings for the Family Table” Edited by Sarah McElwain

Good morning! Silence. Hot coffee. Freezing cold. Our angel of dawn has arrived quietly this morning with her gift of this beautiful gift of life today. Arriving with a backdrop of orange sunshine. Encouraging me to write out for you thoughts from a small book on my table today. Saying Grace: Blessings for the Family Table. I have found some prayers and poems that have stayed in my mind and I know you will really like. The first is on time. How different the sand timer seems to flow depending on the situation. Then I have also loved some other blessings, songs, and poems on finding what matters in life. Again, the constant mental decision to focus on what will matter years from now. On training our thoughts. On creating “our symphony” as a song below speaks. Time. Symphonies. Finding beauty in life as our responsibility. The little birds are singing their symphonies for us even in the cold this morning. Determined to keep their focus on what their role in the scheme of life is for us. Noticing. Keeping perspective. Taking the time to notice beauty and be thankful.

Time is
Too slow for those who wait.
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice.
But for those who love,
Time is eternity.
Hours fly, flowers die,
New days, new ways pass by.
Love stays.
                          Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) – found on a sundial at the University of Virginia

Hold on to what is good
     even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
     even if it is a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
     even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life
     even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand
     even when I have gone away from you.
                           Pueblo Verse

To live content with small means; to seek
     elegance rather than luxury;
And refinement rather than fashion; to be
     worthy, not respectable;
And wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think
     quietly, talk gently,
Act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to
     babes and sages, with open heart;
To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await
     occasion, hurry never; in a word,
To let the spiritual, unbidden, and unconscious
     grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony.
                             William Ellery Channing (1780-1842)

Do not seek too much fame,
But do not seek obscurity.
Be proud,
But do not remind the world of your deeds.
Excel when you must,
But do not excel the world.
Many heroes are not yet born,
Many have already died.
To be alive to hear this song is a victory.
                                West African Song

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for
     the morning light, for your life and strength.
Give thanks for your food and the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault
     lies in yourself.
                              Tecumseh (1768-1813) Chief of the Shawnee Nation

Thank you for again letting me enter your Thursday today. To find writings for us to keep our eternal perspective. Our symphonies. Someday our songs will all end in such beauty. Regardless of which particular movement our songs are today, remembering that composers have the ability to turn minor movements into beautiful movements. We must keep finding what to give thanks for. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Encouragement from almost 300 years ago. Love lines that stay in my mind like that. This is to be my symphony. Another line that immediately burrows into my mind. To find a permanent home. To be alive is to hear this song of victory. I can picture chanting in Western Africa with that line as it finds a corner in my mind to burrow. Time is…too slow…too fast…eternity…words burrowing. Filling my mind. Keeping me alive in thought. Keeping my perspective. Helping me to find words worthy of inscription in my stone tonight. Words for the time I will never have back. Words for my epitaph.

Will we notice individual grains of sand as they flow through our timers? Time. Constantly running. Can we just stop in my mind a few beautiful moments? Our symphonies. May we continue to play our songs. Sing our songs. Listen in our minds to songs. The birds continue to sing for us. Birds created with the intention of giving each of us our own songs to listen to outside our windows. Will we stop our thoughts long enough to hear their little gifts? Have a beautiful weekend. Thank you for running into our store for your books, gifts, and friendship. We’ll have the coffee, smiles, and escape from your world as you enter ours! Susan

Latin for this week:
Musica Donum Dei – music is a gift from God
oemusica vita est – music is life
pulchra simphonia – beautiful symphony
tempus anima rei – time is the soul of things

Works Cited:
McElwain, Sarah, Editor. Saying Grace: Blessings for the Family Table. 2003. Chronicle Books. San Francisco.