Posts Tagged With: freedom

Banded Together

It’s Gratituesday! The radio normally doesn’t play in the car when I’m driving by myself. Yesterday I turned it on and heard the most surprising sound coming from my speakers. It  sounded like a high school band playing The Star Spangled Banner.

I expected some advertisement to start blaring in the middle of it, but nothing like that happened.

I checked the station setting, expecting it to be NPR doing some patriotic piece about something to do with the upcoming American holiday. Nope. Not National Public Radio.

I turned the volume up some and listened to the rest of the anthem. Meanwhile tears came to my eyes as I drove.

What a surprising moment in the middle of my day.

That song, played not with perfection but with feeling and obvious hours of practice, spoke volumes in those few brief measures.

I felt so lucky to have won the lottery that let me be born here, a place that millions have dreamed of and worked at and sacrificed to come to and to live.

I felt gratitude for so many who’ve defended the freedom I so richly and probably undeservedly enjoy.

I felt reverence for the wisdom of those who first wrote the words and signed their names to the document that begins:

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…”

Which document is that, you ask?

It’s the one whose second paragraph begins with these more famous words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It’s time to read that inspired bit of history and of foundational concrete. A reminder I know I need more often.

Here’s a copy for you to read as well. (It’s 1137 words long – five minutes to read, maybe a bit more.)

20071018_declaration

Just kidding. It’s too tiny. Click here to read a copy.

Also, if you can find some way to let yourself hear the national anthem sometime this week, I’d encourage you to make that happen, too.

My thanks also goes out to a local radio station, 94.5 FM for reminding me how blessed I am as a citizen of these United States of America.

flag

A Word You Might Not Know But Will Now

un·alien·able

adjective \ˌən-ˈāl-yə-nə-bəl

: impossible to take away or give up

 

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Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Holiday | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Brief Pause in the Dawn’s Early Light

Every school morning there’s a bit of extra traffic in front of my house. Foot traffic, bicycle traffic, car traffic. It’s spread out over forty-five minutes of drop-off time, so it doesn’t seem like that much. When that traffic clears and school starts what follows has made living so close to the school a sweet daily reminder of how charmed a life I lead.

English: Flag of the United States of America....

The American National Anthem plays on the loudspeaker system every school morning. It’s broadcast outdoors apparently, not just indoors. It’s loud enough that I can hear it inside my house.

I remember hurrying across campus at college to get inside a building before the National Anthem and flag raising started so I wouldn’t have to stop and stand with my hand over my heart, freezing, for those interminable minutes while it played. What a dweeb! I was young and shallow and clearly didn’t appreciate what that really meant. Decades later I get it and will stop and listen and pay respect with my hand over my heart.

One of the parents in the neighborhood walks his kid to school and brings the family dog along. When the anthem plays the dog “sings” along. I kid you not. The dog barks and yowls in this high-pitched singalong dog falsetto that is something crazy to behold. I like to think the dog gets it. I know that’s stretching it a bit, but it makes me smile to imagine that a dog knows what a charmed life it lives, too.

US Navy 041217-N-3236B-022 A World War II U.S....

A World War II U.S. Army veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, salutes the American flag during the playing of the National Anthem.

It surely makes me pause every single time I hear it. It’s not the words and it’s not the music. It’s what it represents; a daily memoir of thousands and thousands of lives shared, lived, changed and lost. Today, September 20, the third Friday in September, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Is there an appropriate way to remember and honor people like this? Gratitude for  their sacrifice, mindful of the price of the freedom I enjoy. I can start there.

The National Anthem is also a daily question: “Can you see?”

And so I ask myself. Can I see? Can I see what abundance lies before me? Can I share that somehow today?

I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant. That’s the last message I’d want to convey here. I guess I just want to acknowledge that I feel lucky, grateful, humbled. I don’t want to take any of this for granted.

I’ve included all four stanzas of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key. Read it with the tune in your head, or read it as a poem.

But please, read mindfully and see what it says to you today.

Can you see?

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Categories: Gratitude, Poetry, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What We Give Up

Half the people I know have fled town for cooler places. I had plans to flee, but alas, here I am, in the final throes of wedding plans for my youngest.

I must admit I am envious of all the absent, traveling, vacationing, escapees from the heat wave we’re in.

Ultimate-sky

A little Ultimate Frisbee anyone? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And not just because they’re getting out of the heat. Oh no. I’m missing a family reunion that I also had to miss last year due to partial insanity and (mostly) very low to non-existent funds. This year I scrunched, pinched, saved, cajoled and weedled my way into a plane ticket so I could go early, visit with the fam, enjoy the festivities, stay long and visit more with other fam and pretty much relax for a week.

But love waits for no man, or future in-law.

So here I am, celebrating freedom by feeling slightly, begrudgingly, unfree.

That’s just silly isn’t it?

Instead I am here, in the desert, free to enjoy my freedom, my independence, my life. And what a life it is! A quick review of this past year’s Gratituesday posts alone reminds me I am blessed beyond measure.

Sure there’s some strange happenings afoot in our little land of the stars and stripes, but it’s still an exceptional place to be. It’s an abundant life by any measure you choose.

What will the next 365 days bring? Will we give up some of our privacy, some of our freedom for a pottage bowl full of something that looks and tastes like, but isn’t necessarily security? Or will we hold our ground? Can we keep the haters at bay? Can we tolerate each other and our polar-opposite opinions or will we insist on everyone agreeing with our view of things? Will we still feel free?

If I go to a parade, or a rodeo, a picnic or a reunion, will I still be grateful? Will I still recognize this country as the one I’ve spent a lifetime in? I sure hope so.

English: Sparkler Polski: Zimny ogień

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m counting on attending next year’s family reunion, seeing all the new babies, stunned at the growing up they do so magically, amazed at how the uncles and aunts have morphed into slightly younger version of Grandma and Grandpa, renewing friendships with cousins. Of course, my own siblings keep aging while I stay perfectly young (cough) and that is fascinating to me, too.

I’m glad I’ve stayed in town for my daughter’s sanity, her last few days of single life, the little details that need attending to. She’s only a bride this one time. I’ve got a long list to get busy with today. I’d best get to it.

Tonight’s local barbecue and sparklers…will do just fine for celebrating this country’s birthday and my freedom.

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summertime

School’s out today for the next couple of months. No more national anthem wafting across the park every morning at 8:45. No more a.m. and p.m. traffic as parents drop off and pick up their littles. No more playground noises, of tether ball chains against poles, kick ball, swings squeaking, girls screeching, boys in mock battles, girls piled up in little cliques like so many fall leaves blown into a pile.

Ah, the summer freedom of children.

Months stretch out before them in a vast sweeping prairie of waving grasses, unexplored trails, toes in cold streams, popsicles dripping, and entire days spent swimming.

Oh wait, that was my childhood. Do kids still do that?

English: Cottonwood Trees in Lions Park

There’s still a sense of freedom, but I get the feeling that it’s only a pale shadow of the freedom I enjoyed.

I took off running by ten every morning to my best friend’s house. From there the two of us would race to the park, with its open grass fields, a swampy tadpole pond, a meandering creek, a cottonwood tree-filled valley, ivy covered hills, rusty barbed wire fence lines. We spent most of the day there roaming, dreaming, romping, hiding, in imaginary wars with other kids who also played there.

Completely unsupervised.

Yes.

Not an adult in sight. Can you imagine it?

It was a different world. An innocent time. A protected, sweet existence.

A small pocket of pure perfection.

Categories: Memory Lane, Nature, Outdoors, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Many Years Ago, Or Just Yesterday

I slip away from the house after school is over but before the pre-dinner chores start-up.  A walk at the park feels like what I need to sort through the weirdness of the day, to think for a few  minutes without a crush of noise and piano music in the background.  There’s too big of a chance that a bunch of little kids would come screaming down the big hill racing each other to the woods, so I figure I’ll head over to the park boundary, near where the orchards and alfalfa fields meet up.

So far, not another person in sight, not even the usual random high school couple parked in the far corner of the parking lot.  Makes me breathe easier to feel like I have the whole place to myself.  At the big hill I’m feeling kid like, so I lay sideways and roll down as far as I can before my lopsidedness rolls me off at a right angle.  I’ve never figured out how to make myself roll straight to the bottom, arms up over my head I go crooked, arms by my sides I go even more crooked.  Dang.

Grasses

(Photo credit: Matt Ohia)

Shaking my head I clear my hair of grass and leaves.  I love this time of year, not really summer, not really autumn yet.  Still warm days, the leaves mostly green.  My allergies aren’t even bothering me the past few weeks.  Nice not to have a runny nose and itchy eyes for a change.  I kick out a couple of cartwheels.  I go so fast it feels almost like when you spin a bucket of water really fast and the water stays in even when it’s upside down.

Suddenly I feel like I’ve got this extra burst of energy from somewhere and I take off running.  I don’t just run straight, but zoom around like a rabbit or something.  I dive forward into the grass and roll into a ball and somersault to a stop.  I jump up, cart-wheel a couple more times to the edge of the grassy area.  I look behind me, and scan the circumference of the park.  No one here still.  Good.

I step off the grass and onto a barely noticeable path sloping through what looks like tall, pale wheat stalks.  Maybe it’s just wild grasses.  I don’t know.  I just know it doesn’t get mowed and may not even be park property.  It’s probably the boundary for the farmer’s land.  I’ve never seen anyone out here, although there is a tractor parked in different places out on the fields or the dirt road in the distance.  This piece of land I’m on is up above all those cultivated, irrigated, neat rowed areas.  This is like a forgotten little dry hillside that the farmer just ignores.  There’s a small bunch of scrub oak off to the left and a lot more tall grass off to the right leading to the big wooded area of the lower park.  I’m close enough to the park that if Mom sent someone down to the park to holler for me, I’d probably hear them.  But I’m far enough away, that no one can see me where I am.  It’s a cozy little spot of quiet.  I like it.  I like it a lot.

Grass

(Photo credit: DBduo Photography)

All that running and rolling and silliness has made my heart race and I feel a bit sweaty.  A breeze would be nice, but it’s not too warm either.  The grass thins out some on the left and I find a spot to sit down.  I all but disappear in the tall grassy wheat stuff.  If I lay down, for sure I’d be as good as disappeared.  That actually sounds nice, so I break off a piece of grass, put it in my mouth and lay back with my arms behind my head as a pillow.  I know you think I’m gonna say, “this is the life,” or something like that.  But I don’t think that.  I don’t think at all.  I just breathe in deep.  I inhale  that dusty dry grass smell, the green smell of the alfalfa, the heat of my own sweaty body.  I breathe all that in because I’m still a bit out of breath.  As I breathe my body relaxes like I’m on a soft feather bed.  My back melts into the ground below me, my legs soften and stretch and ease.  I feel just a bit drowsy but not sleepy.  Actually, it’s more like feeling hypnotized like you do when you’re in a rocking chair on a porch after a game of freeze tag in the evening.

Looking up, the sky has a few little brushes of clouds, nothing really fluffy.  But enough to have not just blue, but white too.  The blue is really something else.  I look at it harder and think, there are stars out there that I can’t see, but they are there.  If I look toward the mountains a couple of miles away I can see the clouds moving, or is it the earth moving.  Or is it both?

Just as I’m noticing the earth moving, in a slow big way, but fast at the same time, I notice the strangest sensation.  It’s like I can feel the ground beneath me breathe ever so slightly.  Like a deep sigh, only warmer, and barely noticeable. I know, you think I have a pretty wild imagination.  You’d be right, I have a really good imagination, but this is not imagined.  This is real.  As real as it gets. I’ve never had anything like this happen before.  This is surprising, but so comfortable and somehow not as strange as it sounds.

I sigh, just as the ground sighed a moment ago and relax deeper still.

The odd thing is that I don’t feel tiny and insignificant.  I feel melted into it all, like I’m part of the sky, part of the earth, part of those grass stalks, part of the smell of green and blue and gold. The earth is me and I have become her.

Categories: Joy, Memory Lane, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m Always Learning Something New, This, For Example

Portrait of the first president of the United ...

Portrait of the first president of the United States, George Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

[New York, 3 October 1789]

 

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

 

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

 

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in thecourse and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

 

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

 

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

 

Go: Washington

 

Categories: Gratitude | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inadequate Gratitude

Honoring Veterans

(Photo credit: Fort Rucker)

 

It’s Gratituesday!  Today I am grateful for people who are willing and able to do things I cannot or would not do.  I’m not a brave or daring type of person.  I am continually amazed by people who are willing to go into dangerous situations and  risk their lives, or their personal health and well-being, for something outside of themselves.

 

How does someone willingly put their life out there as a potential, highly likely, sacrifice.  In a war zone, in a militarized zone, in a combat area, in a hostile environment, all those euphemisms for extremely dangerous, life-threatening places scare me beyond reason.  And yet, military personnel daily place themselves in these situations.

 

They defend freedom, they protect the innocent, they help support a fragile peace, they keep anarchy at bay, they stand between madness and hell, they offer a sense of stability in the most unstable of situations.

 

The amazing thing to me is that they do this willingly.  They volunteer!

 

They leave family and sanity, they leave friends and safety, they leave predictability and order, and they go and do whatever the situation requires.

 

I am so thankful someone has the discipline and the courage to do such things.  Grateful that they have faced such difficulties in the past, I stand in awe of these stalwart men and women.

 

How do I repay these heroes?  How do I honor the things they place on the altar?  How do I remember and reverence such acts as these perform?

 

This kind of debt seems unfathomable.

 

My gratitude seems miniscule and minor and wholly inadequate.

 

Veterans Visiting the Graves of Fallen Soldiers

Veterans Visiting the Graves of Fallen Soldiers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Another Gratituesday! Six Reasons I’m the Richest Person I Know

It’s Gratituesday! October 16  –  Today I find myself unable to focus on just one single thing I’m grateful for.  My cup runs over with gratitude. Today I am more aware and appreciative of:

  • The freedom I have to speak my mind without reprisal or fear. I know this is a relatively rare thing in the world at large.  Sometimes it’s a rare thing even here in the US.  Repression rears its ugly head in private homes, too.
  • My education; knowing how to read, write, figure out math, understand scientific concepts, grasp difficult ideas, think and reason.
  • Employment; the job I currently have allows me incredible flexibility and freedom.  I’m treated well, better than I deserve and I feel loved appreciated. How many people do you know that can say that about a job?  How many people do you know wish they had a job of any kind?
  • Having two parents who have always been supportive, loving, caring, kind and generous.
  • Extended family fanning out in many directions, and in just as many flavors.  Good times!
  • An abundant life filled with opportunity, friends, health, experiences, fun, challenge, growth and variety.

I’m amazed as I think about the richness of my life.

It’s a good day for reflection.  There is so much that’s good in the world.  So many things that can bring happiness to mind.

I hope if you were to list some of your blessings, some of  your “happies” you’d find yourself feeling equally blessed.

Categories: Gratituesday, Joy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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