Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Trip to 50

By Brenda Black

June 21 is my birthday. I'll save you from doing the math. I'm 50. I've been asked how it feels to be so old. I answer, “Not a whole lot different from the day before.” Now ask me what I think about a young couple raising a family in the early 60's, providing a safe and happy childhood in the midst of
racial rioting, a controversial war and the assassination of a president. Well, that amazes me!

In the weeks just prior to my birth, civil rights activists were shamed, hosed and slain. The Vietnam war was in full swing with my parents watching nightly news broadcasts highlighting the demonstrations of the day and tallying the death toll. When I turned two months old, my mom would have been rocking and feeding and singing lullabies while Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. lead the

“March on Washington.” Just shy of three months of age, my parents would hear about an explosion which struck the 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four girls in Birmingham, AL. I wonder if they thought about their little girls growing up in a world so violent. And it only seemed to get worse.

I was five months and one day old when Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy.

Racial tension, riots, earthquakes, hurricanes, war and murder. Yet, I remember none of that in my formative years. While King bellowed “I have a dream,” I was living one under the wise and loving protection of positive parenting.

My memories are not tainted with hateful prejudice. I was taught to get along with everyone. My nights were not filled with fear; I went to sleep feeling safe and secure.

Oh the pressure they must have felt! The anxious thoughts of what tomorrow would hold for their young and growing family surely bore down on them. But they never expressed such angst. Once I began logging memories, I remember only a wonderful childhood filled with life and love and great experiences.

We carved our own way in the world as a family not consumed by politics, prejudice or pain. In the midst of the worldly chaos, my folks were filling my life with better things. Like supper together, a move to the country, good old fashion chores, family vacations, fishing, horseback riding, and their unfettered determination to give us what we needed and help us appreciate it when we got what we wanted. Instead of filling our minds with worry, we practiced joyful living.
Shaw family vacation. I'm the little squirt in the middle.

Gloria Gaither tells the story behind a song she wrote in 1971. By then, I was still an innocent child, but second grade wise and more aware of world events. It was yet another volatile time in history. Gaither says the lyrics to “Because He Lives” came out of a deep sense of fear about the future for her young family. The second verse expresses her faith that God is still in control no matter the circumstances.

“How sweet to hold a newborn baby, And feel the pride and joy he gives; But greater still the calm assurance: This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!”

The chorus is timeless for every generation who faces “uncertain days.”

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living, Just because He lives!”  http://youtu.be/tpwQO3ckqNI

At five months or at 50 years, no matter what in the world is happening, each trip around the sun is worth the living because He lives.

So, how does it feel to be 50? It feels like I'm thankful for the good life my parents provided in the midst of civil turmoil. It feels like a blessing to have raised my own children with that same agenda in spite of more wars and worries. It feels like there's hope for tomorrow even though this world has gone crazy. In every generation there will be frightening events, but I choose, as my parents did, to think on what is good and make good memories. Look out 50's!

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