Monday, May 9, 2010
I’ve lived around strong women all my life. My mother is a strong woman. I have three sisters, all of them strong. My three brothers all married strong women. I married one myself.
Two strong women, a mother and a grandmother raised Timothy, Paul’s “son in the faith.” Paul recognized it perhaps because he too knew the power of strong women. There is a camaraderie among strong women that I do not pretend to understand entirely, but I have seen it in action. In hardship and adversity, there is a strength of character that emerges steady and consistent; an ability to find goodness in the most trying of circumstance; a loyalty that transcends reason even when disloyalty may well be warranted. It is a spirituality that is full of mystery, and when I take the time to think about it for any length of time, added to mystery, wonder.
We have a daughter whose brood numbers five. The oldest, a seven-year-old boy who is curious about everything, will be happy to show you his origami collection. The third is a little girl as competitive and tough-willed as her older brothers and just as happy in her Cinderella dress with tiara perched in her blond hair just so.
My mom faced hard days as a little girl in depression ravaged Chicago. Jobs were scarce. Mom and dad were gone most of the day trying to get the rent paid and food on the table. Off she went to Lutheran Sunday School where, as she tells the story, they taught her a melody with a lyric that stuck – “Be not dismayed what e’re betide, God will take care of you…”
In a conversation with our daughter, that mother of five, Mom explained that this little song was her very first introduction to the notion that there is a personal God who really cares. A God who knows her by name and has a grand purpose in mind and will see it through no matter what. This God is the Creator of the Universe who is big enough to know and attend to all of creation in minute detail. So when she was all alone and the awful realities of life would close in now and then, she would sing this little song and rest in the assurance that there was something good, something better waiting out there if she would just hold on.
As Mom tells it, Kristyn’s eyes welled up with tears at the thought of a little girl finding strength in knowing God in the singing. It wasn’t until later that Mom learned this was not the end of it.
Kris went to the computer and then to Google where she punched in what she could remember of the lyric. Before long, both the melody and the two or three stanzas popped up. Later, she took her place in a school setting in front of twenty little children, and just like that little Lutheran Sunday School class in post-stock-market-crash Chicago, she taught the children to sing, “Be not dismayed… God will take care of you, through every day…”
“You should have heard them sing it, Grandma,” she told mom later. It was so beautiful, she said. “And little Rebecca loves it. While she’s playing, I hear her singing it all day long.”
So for Mothers Day, in a little town up North, we gathered for worship. Moms showed up with their families all spruced up for Mom; somehow they know how much it means to sit with Mom on Mother’s Day on a Sunday morning over at the church. Even tough guys who rarely show otherwise.
The day before, I managed to call Kristyn when Becca was in a favorable mood. I had a digital recorder next to the cell in speaker mode. It didn’t take much prompting. Three almost four-year-old Becca sang in full voice…God will take care of you Through every day, o’er all the way. He will take care of you God will take care of you.”
I played the recording for our folks that Sunday morning, Mother’s Day. Not a dry eye in the room.
And there you have it. Four generations. From the 1930s into the new millennium. Strong women, passing along the secrets of their depth of character.
And now there is little Becca, a strong woman in the making.
Copyright Kenneth E Kemp 2010