The next logical part of my journey is my relationship to those who came before me. I was blessed to know all of my grandparents and three of my great granparents. I was pretty young when my great-grandparents died. My dad’s mother’s father (M. C. Lewis) died before I was born. I barely remember her mother, (Naomi) but I called her Gran Great (my grandmother was “Gran”). Mostly, I remember an old lady who I would “perform” for. At Christmas, we had a gathering of my grandmother’s family (the Lewis’s) at which all the kids were expected to say a piece for Gran-Great. My parents tell me that one of the pieces I recited for her went like this… “The chimney’s small. Old Santa’s fat, but he get’s down in spite of that.” I guess for a little guy that was pretty good.
Great Grandpa & Grandma Anderson
I knew both of my dad’s, dad’s parents (Rom & Bertha Pearl Anderson). We visited them many times and I remember my dad telling me each time that this might be the last time we would ever see them alive. The fact that I remember hearing this more than once testifies to their longevity. It also tells me that the sadness I felt cut pretty deep. Many of our memories that stick do so because they are attached to strong emotion. This photo is just how I remember them. I even remember being that wallpaper, which struck me because of its “oldness”. Everything in their house seemed so old. It even smelled old. My great-grandfather liked to put me on his knee and tell me bear (pronounced “bar”) stories. His voice was airy and soft and he had a gentle laugh that I liked.
My great grandmother was impressed with my singing hymns when we visited. I do not remember this, but my mom tells me it is so. My mom sang hymns a lot when I was little and, being the little musician that I was, I picked them up and sang them too. I still remember most of the standard hymns very well. I suppose it is because of hearing them so much when I was growing up.
Interestingly to me, I do not “treasure” the hymns the way I hear from so many people who grew up in the church. So many times I hear people my age and older wish we sang more of the the old hymns in church today. To my mind, they seem distant and old fashioned. It seems as if I should cherish them and hold them dear since they were clearly such a huge part of my childhood, but they do not. The reason, at least partly is because my musical taste and my love of variety are not met in the old hymns (you don’t get much new and avant-garde with hymns). It could also be that I unconsciously associate hymns with a “by the rules” religion that I attach to my grandparents’ generation… a religious attitude that I find repellant. For whatever reason, the fact is that I loved hymns when I was a youngster but today, I do not prefer them.
I was sharing this dicotomy with a friend the other day and he reminded me of some of the “remakes” of old hymns to a more modern sound. I like very few of them. The ones I like are the ones in which they make interesting harmonic changes instead of merely “changing the beat”. Most of these remake productions lack depth musically speaking. They are merely rock and roll facades on old hymns. It isn’t that I consider what they are doing sacreligious. It is hard for me to imagine that any musical style in and of itself is unpleasing to God. I believe to my core that God is mostly concerned with our hearts.
The Attitude of the Heart
Samuel, in the Bible, says when choosing the next king for Israel, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7. This is a principle that I hold very dear. God is more concerned with my heart than my actions. I once knew a man who loved to perform gospel music ( good-ole hillbilly, bluegrass gospel music). He didn’t love Jesus, but he surely loved gospel music. Something about that bothered me. To sing for Jesus when you don’t love Him, just doesn’t make sense to me. I believe that as a musician, I can perform secular music with an attitude of worship to God that is pleasing to him. Likewise, I could sing a hymn with a poor attitude and I do not believe it would be pleasing to God.
Thinking about God’s looking on the heart also reminds me of Jeanie’s and my philosophy of raising children. When our daughters were little, it was very important to us to try to discern the reason they did something wrong. Did they have an attitude of defiance, or was it a childish mistake? Were they truly sorry, or just embarrased that they got caught? Once I was so exasperated with Danae that I shouted at her. I said, “Why don’t you stop acting like a three year old?” This broke the spell for me long enough to laugh at myself… because she was three years old at the time.
Way over here at the other end of the parenting continuum, I have also asked my daughters many times to judge me by my motives more than my actions. As a parent there are many times that I have just not known what to do or say. I know what I want, but I don’t know how to get it. I have made some real hum-dingers of mistakes with my words. Hurt feelings, miscommunications. I am blessed that my family is so forgiving.
A Prayer Request
I have had a cold for the last week and a half that has wiped me out. Just sitting up and writing for a while is draining all my energy. Please pray that I will recover quickly. I am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired… if you know what I mean.