Tag Archive | new book

Peace – Let It Begin with Me

Floe-Marian faces 2015“Hey, Mom.” My dog Floey came ambling over to me as I sat at my desk.

“Good morning, Floey. What’s up?” I replied.

“I just saw on TV that it’s supposed to be as hot and humid today as it was yesterday. Do we have to go on any long walks today? I’d rather stay inside where it’s nice and cool.”

“I agree with you, Floey. Maybe we can run up and down the stairs a few extra times for exercise. You let me know when you need to go outside to do your business, and the rest of the time we’ll stay inside.”

“Great plan, Mom! What do you want to do while we’re inside today?”

“I think I’ll get back to writing my next book. It’s coming along pretty well. I’ve completed the first draft of the first couple chapters, and now I’m working on the third chapter.”

“Is this book going to be just like your last one, TALKING WITH GOD THROUGH MUSIC: Reflections on My Favorite Psalm-Based Hymns?”

“It’s very similar in style. I’ve made a few structural changes based the on feedback I got on that book, but it’s the same concept – choosing a favorite hymn and reflecting on its history and meaning. The first chapter includes 16 hymns about peace – hymns like Dona Nobis Pacem, Let There Be Peace on Earth, Peace in the Valley, Peace Like a River, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, Make Me a Channel of Your Peace, and lots more.”

“That’s an interesting mix of peace hymns, Mom. One of my favorite hymns is Let There Be Peace on Earth. Can you read me what you wrote about that one?”

 

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TUNE: WORLD PEACE
COMPOSER: Sy Miller (1908-1971)
AUTHOR: Jill Jackson Miller (1913-1995)
SCRIPTURE: Romans 12:18 (NRSV)
If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

THE HUSBAND AND WIFE TEAM of Sy (Seymour) Miller and Jill Jackson Miller collaborated to write many songs together. In 1955 they wrote “Let there Be Peace on Earth” for a very specific purpose. They wrote it to be sung at a week-long retreat for young people who had come from very different religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. 

Sy Miller described the effect of the song this way. “One summer evening in 1955, a group of 180 teenagers of all races and religions, meeting at a workshop high in the California mountains locked arms, formed a circle and sang a song of peace. They felt that singing the song, with its simple basic sentiment – ‘Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me’ – helped to create a climate for world peace and understanding.”

When the retreat was over, the kids took the song home with them, and it quickly spread throughout all 50 states, and then internationally.

The author of the song, Jill Jackson Miller, had lived a life of many challenges. Her mother died when Jill was only three years old. By the time she was 12 she and her sister were placed in a foster home. One of her two brothers died from an accident with fireworks. 

Jill’s life dream was to become a movie actress. After two years of junior college, she moved to Hollywood. She starred as the heroine in several westerns. In 1940 she married Felix Jackson, a German writer and director, and she gave up her movie career at his request. 

They had two daughters. They divorced in 1944, which led to Jill attempting suicide. During her recovery she developed a strong belief in God and felt inspired to become a writer. In 1949 she married Sy Miller, and he convinced her to write songs with him – she wrote the lyrics and he wrote the music. After they wrote “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” the quest for world peace became her life focus. She traveled widely to speak about the power of each person to help create peace. She encouraged people to keep searching for their meaning, their inspiration, their true beliefs, and to forgive themselves and others for mistakes made along the way.

——————-

“Hey, Mom. If what you said is true, that song was written 63 years ago. Do you think the world is more peaceful now than it was in 1955?” 

Danny and Marian in haybarn - brown“That’s a good question, Floey. In 1955, I was seven years old. My fiercest enemy was also my best friend – my 9-year-old brother Danny. I wasn’t very aware of international politics back then. Dwight D. Eisenhower was president – that’s all I remember.” 

“Didn’t you watch TV way back then?” 

“Yes, we did, but there weren’t any round-the-clock politics channels back in those days. We watched comedies like “I Love Lucy.” We spent our time together laughing, not arguing.” 

“How about racial discord?” Floey asked.

“The only non-white kids in my school were Robert and his sister Sandra. Robert was in my class and was a good friend. Sometimes he shared his candy with me. I especially liked it when he gave me a whole envelope of lime Lik-m-maid. We drifted apart over the years, and the last I heard, about twenty years ago, he was in prison somewhere.” 

“That’s kind of sad, Mom.” 

“Yeah, it is, Floey. Peace can be very elusive – on a personal level as well as community-wide and globally. But the message of this song still holds – “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” 

“How’s that, Mom?” 

“Do you know what day it is today, Floey?” 

“It’s Tuesday, August 14, 2018. Is there anything special about today?” 

“Yes, there is, Floey. In Wisconsin and a few other states it’s voting day for primary elections. I’m going to ignore the oppressive heat and go out and vote. That’s one little thing I can do to help us all move toward peace on earth.” 

“Good for you, Mom! I wish I could vote, too. Maybe I should begin a fight for the right to vote for dogs (but not cats – they don’t have the intellectual capacity that we dogs have).”  

“Now, Floey, if you really want peace on earth, you’ll fight just as hard for the right for cats to vote as for dogs. When you accept the universal right to vote as your cause, you’ll have taken the first really big step toward peace.” 

“Maybe, you’re right, Mom.”

“Floey, let’s try to find a shady block or two, and walk down the street together. Maybe we can even sing all the words of Let There Be Peace on Earth.  

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God our creator, children all are we.
Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me; let this be the moment now.
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow;
to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

I should have known better …

Marian at desk2Last Tuesday I did something really dumb. As a 65-year-old, I should have known better. The day started out fine. I spent the morning working on my computer in my home office. I was working on a mailing to promote my new book, Come, Lord Jesus, Be Our Guest. I knew I just had the morning to work, so I got right to work and was very focused and efficient.

In the afternoon I had an eye doctor appointment in Madison. Although the drive should be about half an hour, Mim and I allowed an hour, anticipating road construction. We arrived 25 minutes early. Apparently, the clinic was ahead of schedule, so less than 10 minutes after I checked in, I was taken back to the exam room, where all the preliminary questions, testing, and eye drops were taken care of. Then I waited and waited and waited. After more than 90 minutes of waiting, I was moved to another exam room to wait a little longer. As a nice gesture, Mim and I were offered a cup of coffee, which we accepted. (I think that was the first dumb thing I did that day.) Finally the eye doctor came, examined my eyes, and said everything was looking good and I should come back in a year, unless I had any more flare-ups like I’d had a few months ago.

mocha freezeSo Mim and I left, just in time to hit the beginning of rush hour. We went to Staples to get some envelopes for my mailing, and then we drove to Costco. It was a classic hot, humid summer day. We were both craving a mocha freeze, one of Costco’s specialty drinks. They are so refreshing! We needed a few items that we always get at Costco anyway, so going home via Costco seemed like a smart idea, not the dumb one that it actually was. I knew I had already had a cup of coffee at the eye doctor, so another cup of caffeine would not be a good idea. But those mocha freezes are so good I couldn’t resist. We sipped on the mochas as we wandered through the store.

We made one more quick stop at a grocery store on our way home, and got home about 6:30. We skipped supper. We weren’t hungry because of all the samples we’d snacked on at Costco. I spent the next hour cleaning out my email inbox. Then I put on TV to just relax for a couple hours before going to bed.

By 10:00 I wasn’t very sleepy yet, but I went to bed anyway. I knew the alarm would go off at 5:00 a.m. That’s the time we need to give our resident her first pills of the day. It’s also the best time to go for a vigorous walk, our usual morning exercise routine.

By 11:00 p.m., I was really regretting my caffeine indulgences of the afternoon. I tried to make good use of my wide-awake time in bed. I prayed for Mim. I prayed for my brother Danny and his family. I prayed for all my nieces and nephews. I prayed for Maria, the woman in prison I wrote about a few weeks ago.

By midnight I told myself that if I wasn’t asleep by 12:30 I’d get up and read the novel I had started to read a few days ago. By 12:30 I got up and read until 3:00. By then I was beginning to get sleepy.

By 3:30 I was back in bed and playing some of my favorite hymns on the piano in my mind.

By 5:00 when the radio alarm clock came on, I had finally gotten to sleep, but I woke up enough to listen to the news. Then I got up. I decided to skip my morning walk. The heat index was already 86 degrees at 5:00 in the morning!

Then this amazing thing happened. Before starting to work on my mailing project again, I read from my devotional books. One of them is Sarah Young’s newest book, Jesus Today. In this book, she writes in the same style as her other book, Jesus Calling, writing as though Jesus is speaking directly to the reader. Listen to what I read that morning:

Jesus Today coverRemember Me on your bed; think of Me through the watches of the night. When you are wakeful during the night, thoughts can fly at you from all directions. Unless you take charge of them, you are likely to become anxious. Your best strategy is to think about Me during your night watches. Start communicating with Me about whatever is on your mind. Cast all your anxiety on Me because I care for you. I am taking care of you! This makes it possible for you to relax and rejoice in the shadow of My wings.

When you remember Me during the night, think about who I really am. Ponder My perfections: My Love, Joy, and Peace. Rejoice in My majesty, wisdom, grace, and mercy. Find comfort in My names: Shepherd, Savior, Immanuel, Prince of Peace. Be awed by My Power and Glory, for I am King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus you worship Me and enjoy My Presence. These thoughts of Me will clear your mind – helping you see things from My perspective – and refresh your entire being. (p. 188)

Next time I can’t sleep at night, I’ll still pray for everyone who comes to mind, but I’ll also try to think more about who God really is. I think I was getting on track with that when I was playing those favorite hymns on the piano in my mind. I guess I’ll do more of that.

Or, maybe I’ll learn not to drink more than one cup of caffeine in the afternoon. But if I succumb to the temptation of a mocha freeze, at least I know a better way to spend the wide-awake hours of the night.

Marian-Abbey faces bronze

Abbey agrees –
I should have known better, but at least I’ll know better for next time.