I’ve shut the door on Yesterday,
Its sorrows and mistakes;
I’ve locked within its gloomy walls
Past failures and heartaches.
And now I throw the key away
To seek another room,
And furnish it with hope and smiles,
And every springtime bloom.
No thought shall enter this abode
That has a hint of pain,
And every malice and distrust
Shall never therein reign.
I’ll shut the door on Yesterday,
And throw the key away—-
Tomorrow holds no doubt for me,
Since I have found Today.
—Author Unknown to me
by Edgar A Guest
I’m getting along, with a bit of a song
and a bit of a smile for my neighbor.
I’ve managed to grin, with the little I win
day by day as the bit from my labor.
Time was in the past I stood often aghast
as the storms of despair swept around me
but my ship, although small, bravely weathered them all
and nothing I’ve dreaded has downed me.
I’ve not had the luck which some others have struck;
I’ve neither been famous nor wealthy,
but I’ve always had meat when I wanted to eat
and I thank the good Lord I’ve been healthy.
Some things I have missed on the millionaire’s list,
but the friends I have made have been true ones;
I have always had suits, shirts and neckties and boots
though I couldn’t afford many new ones.
I’m getting along , just as one of the throng.
Day by day I have worked for my money;
but in spite of the care and the burdens I bear
I’ve supped of life’s nectar and honey.
My house isn’t large, but love has it in charge
and in peace and contentment I dwell there,
and all men I defy to be happier than I
when a friend puts his hand to the bell there.
I’m getting along, with a bit of a song
for I’ve learned what I knew not at twenty,
that enough for each day—with a bit put away
for the cares of my old age—is plenty.
I have eaten and slept, and at times I have wept,
I’ve done all that the Lord lets a man do;
I’ve made friends on the way, and I venture to say
that is all that the richest man can do.
From his book, The Light of Faith
©1926 by The Reilly & Lee Co.
My poem started as haiku;
from there it grew, as thoughts will do—
expanded to a broader view
of rebel gray and union blue.
And now I’ll share my thoughts with you.
Warning: Unqualified Political Views Ahead
Not so long ago I read one blogger’s lengthy and convincing article urging Southern cities and towns to take down all those Confederate memorials. Her argument: the Confederate army were fighting to protect and perpetuate a system that held people in bondage. Why should Americans honor their position and keep these memorials to their struggle? A question I won’t touch, not being black nor living in the South. My grandparents came up to Sask. from Minnesota.
Have you ever noticed, though, when it comes to war, how “causes” often aren’t causes? “Religious wars”, for example. How often are they really about religion? Yes, there’s always convincing rhetoric, but how often don’t money, land grabbing, and power lurk somewhere back there, feeding the flames?
This blogger’s take on the Civil War was limited (at least the angle of her article) to the issue of slavery. Ridding America of “the blot of slavery” was the face put on the declaration of war, but I’ve read a few historians who suggest other factors, too. Northerners may have opposed the idea of slavery but breaking the economic advantage of the prosperous South may have colored the picture as much as the issue of black and white, according to some analysts.
Southerners had accustomed themselves to the idea and practice of slavery, but when the Union army swept down on them, Southerners were fighting as much for their economic and physical survival. I’m not sure how much, if any, negotiation took place before hand, or whether the North simply issued an ultimatum Southern leaders rejected. But, as is usually the case in conflicts, the guys at the top make the decisions and the average Joe & Johnny have to pay the price.
Union General Sheridan, regarding the state of Virginia as the breadbasket of the South, was quoted as saying his army was going to strip Virginia so thoroughly that if a crow flew over it would have to bring its own lunch. If the leader of an opposing army about to unleash his troops on your area or country would make a statement like that, would you be thinking ideology — or would you be desperate to save your home and family? It’s only in looking back that we paint stories in their most popular colours.
One book I read describes the experience of Mennonites in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Believers in peace, not wishing to take sides in this conflict, they saw their farms fall into the hands both armies, their livestock slaughtered, their young men arrested by one or the other side. They were hard-pressed to survive those bleak years.
The Civil War, we know, was a long and bloody conflict. And one thing quickly showed up when it was over: a better life for black folks was never the goal. After crushing the Confederacy, the Union army marched off and left Southern blacks to the mercy of some quite bitter white neighbours. Read the history; it’s not pretty. Black families that moved North soon learned that they’d face as much, if more subtle, discrimination there.
A great book on this topic: The Little Professor of Piney Woods: The story of Professor Laurence Jones, written by Beth Day Romulo, © 1955. It’s incredible what one man can do when he puts his heart into overcoming prejudice with gentleness and making life better for his people. He fought a tough battle against poverty and prejudice — and won.
Thankfully a lot of healing has taken place; I trust a lot more will yet. Unity and equality are worth fighting for, but these battles are best fought in people’s hearts. As Jesus once explained: all our actions, loving or hateful, spring from what we believe and desire in our hearts. Think of Charlie Brown’s “I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand!” That’s a heart issue.
David, who blogs at Hokku, pointed out in a recent post that some folks are preaching love, acceptance, and tolerance, yet trying so hard to silence those who don’t hold the same opinions as themselves. It takes an honest heart to recognize that “It’s me, oh, Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
Enough musing. It’s Monday morning and I have work to do.
by Edgar Guest
A book to read, an easy chair,
a garden when the days are fair,
a friend or two life’s path to share.
A game to play, a task to do,
a goal to strive for and pursue,
sweet sleep to last the whole night through.
Such wisdom as will man befit
to sit with learned sage and wit
discussing life and holy writ.
Some judgment as to right and wrong,
the sense to value mirth and song,
with these the humblest man is strong.
With these the humblest man can fine
his path with countless pleasures lined:
contentment, pride, and peace of mind.
From the book Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co