This has been an especially horrible week in the news, with the murder of the Amish schoolgirls and congressional scandal.. Compounded by the routine news of war (consider our depravity that news of war can become routine) and a heavy schedule of non-routine responsibilities here, I felt I had nothing to offer for today's column, and would submit nothing but an apology and a promise to try again in a couple of weeks.
Then, as often happens, "joy comes in the morning." On awaking, a couple of memories came to me. They did not come to me in this sequence, but I will arrange them in chronological order.
The first dates from around 1960, when a professor in my theological seminary was reminiscing about World War II. "One of the things that kept my soul alive," he said, "was hearing my younger son praying for his brother." The brother was in the Navy.
Fast forward ten years, to the late sixties, the depths of the Viet Nam war. Our children were young, our house was very busy. It was a time of very hard work and great joy for us personally, but nationally the darkness of war tainted our lives.
In that period I heard the Medical Mission Sisters singing the songs of their choirmaster, Sister Miriam Therese Winter. These songs, with their mix of playfulness, realism, and Christian gospel, played a big part in keeping my soul alive.
Here are a couple of examples of the lyrics:
I saw raindrops on the window,
Joy is like the rain;
Laughter runs across my pain,
Slips away and comes again.
Joy is like the rain.
It's a long road to freedom,
A winding steep and high;
But when you walk in love with the wind on your wing,
And cover the earth with the songs you sing,
The miles fly by.
Our old LPs are warped and we no longer have a turntable, but many of the songs, if not all, I discover, are now available on CD. After this busy is weekend is over, I'm going to order!