By Melodious Monk
This past Sunday, our marching band was part of a parade celebrating the 350th anniversary for a nearby town. Marching down the narrow streets, I noticed a particularly happy group along the side of the road — young kids! It’s fun to see how the rhythm of the drums, or the sparkle of the uniform, or the sound of the instruments, the twirling flags, or just the sheer size of the long marching unit makes kids smile.
You know when a toddler or infant is excited and they just start flailing their arms and body with lots of energy and smiles? They aren’t controlled enough yet to do much else, but when something inside is sparked to life, they respond with a type of dancing (of sorts!) and there is absolutely no care of what they might look like! Some of us older kids, I’m afraid, are often too embarrassed to follow this impulse to dance. We care what we look like, and perhaps we are afraid we might look like the uncontrolled toddler trying to dance. The young child doesn’t care about pride, or how they look — they’re just excited and want to express that innate joy. Marching in the parade, I wondered if this instinctive response to express, to dance, to let oneself be sparked by joy, is part of what Jesus means when He tells us to live child-like.
So I wonder, what form of control often robs me of this unabashed joy as an adult? Is it simply pride?
by Melodius Monk
On Sunday I marched in a festive parade honoring the 200th anniversary of a traditional textile mill and factory town in southeastern Massachusetts, fittingly named Millbury. For the hours I was in Millbury, it felt like a national holiday, bands, floats, kids playing, antique cars, lawn-chairs, balloons, grills, vendors and more….all the makings of a celebratory parade. In our increasingly hectic and instant-access 21st century lives, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have time to stop and celebrate – to rejoice and honor events big and small, past and present in our lives. We should plan to take time with our friends to celebrate important events like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or any other milestones. Daily we need to take time to thank God for His blessings to each of us; for as Psalm 118 says, This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I’m reluctant to admit it but I think the very thing I dread or complain about is the thing that may bring me the greatest sense of fulfillment…
I was driving home today thinking “I’m tired of being in a rush….why couldn’t my life be simpler?” And almost before the thought was over, there was a second one, “OK — well, what would you change?” So I thought about it (as I do again every time I feel like moaning that I just can’t keep up). I love singing in choir, I love being in band, I love theatre, and (dare I admit it) I feel a twinkle of what I think may be love growing for my new job. I love my dog, I love the people I live with, I love being with my friends…..
Don’t get me wrong — I am anything but a big bundle of love walking around — but I guess my conclusion is, I’d rather wake up in the morning asking, “How am I going to do all the things I have to do today?” than “What am I going to do today?”
Much work and care culminated once again in this summer’s Charity Auction set up beautifully in a large tent by the bay. God was very good to send favorable weather, and many hands – young and old – were active in putting it on to raise money for the needy and for the arts. Time, talents, gifts, money: they all make up parts of our lives and we collaborate with the Lord in making them useful. So it’s good to celebrate what He’s doing in our midst by continuing what we’re doing as best we can.
I had the privilege of marching with Spirit of America Band in two 4th of July parades on Wed.
The band was comprised of present members and alumni from the past 10 years. For many of us “oldies” (I’m 63), marching in parades was in our blood. It all came back, and there was tons of grace for us to give our all. I heard a comment from the sidelines….a man said “They really exemplify the Spirit of America….there’s a difference with this group!” I was so proud to be a part of it, and hope in some small way, we made a difference.
Spirit of America Band marched in two parades – the first one in Bristol, RI where vets from all wars back to Korea were marching in uniform. How can we thank them for their sacrifice? Marching and playing with all our hearts for three hours in baking heat, thanking God for the wonderful country he has given us — the land of the free and the brave.
I saw a movie the other night I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. It’s called “Act of Valor” and is about a group of Navy SEALs who embark on a mission that turns out bigger than they thought. It’s the people I can’t get out of my head – these ordinary guys with families and homes who answer a Call and leap out – with no idea when or if they’ll be back. A real vocation, not unlike monastic life in the sense that their life is completely given to more then just what they want. When the call comes, they move, no matter what they’re in the middle of. The split-second sacrificial choices – for them it’s literally a matter of life and death. So when Spirit of America Band is marching in two parades this 4th of July, I’ll be thinking about these men and women who have answered the Call to serve this Nation – and sacrificed everything. Thank you to all our service men and women, past and present. God help us to honor your lives.