Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Question: Mom, am I 'Country' ?

This innocent question arose from my son after he listened to "Grandma Deer's" copy of John Denver.  Next came the line of questions:  "Am I a country boy?  Can I be country if I live in a suburb?   What's a feather bed and where can I get one? Mom, because I eat pancakes hot off the griddle, am I country? What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin anyway?"  I heard myself respond: "Well, we have relatives who live in cabins year round, I make homemade corn bread, we try to follow the Good Book, your relatives own cows and tractors, Grandpa grew up on a farm, we go fishing for's in your DNA even if you live in a large metro area. It's not about where you live but it's your values.  But if you're country in your heart, you just know..."

 I grew up in the midwest and the soundtrack of my childhood with a mash-up of musical tastes that included the true classics (many of which my mom played beautifully), Elvis, Ray Charles Singers, Broadway Musicals -- especially Rogers and Hammerstein, pop radio, the Grand Canyon Suite, hymns, honkey tonk of the "Hee Haw" television show (Salute!) and lots of John Denver.  After my brother started guitar, then our family began to steadily increase the amount of John Denver in our diet.

Upon waking this morning I was serenaded by Caleb's version of John Denver's  "Sweet Surrender"  at the top of his voice.  Somehow, I think that he now officially qualifies as a country boy who lives in a greater metropolitan area.  HA!

"What the future is holdin' in store
I don't know where I'm goin' I'm not sure where I've been
There's a Spirit that guides me, a Light that shines for me
My life is worth the livin', I don't need to see the end

Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care
Like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air." 

The song was stuck in my head all day long and I began to reflect about how God has allowed me to be part of an ongoing process and dialogue that has the potential to help bring tremendous healing.  It's easy for me to look at my cvita/resume and see that on paper I'm under-equipped to be in the room, let alone part of something this important for so many people.  And while I was trying to convince God again about how these "other people" were better qualified and more educated and credentialed,  in my head I heard my son singing about the Spirit that guides me and the Light that shines for me.  How beautiful that God will get the credit for anything good I do because it's so apparent that I could never do it on my own.  What a wonderful reminder that it is not my job to fix things or save the world or to solve all the problems.  It's not my responsibility to heal the world, but I can do my part.

When I heard him singing, I was reminded of a trip up north when I needed to simply surrender, rather than fighting the current.  Being swept away by fast moving water, I could choose to try to swim across to the other shore in my own strength or flip on my back and simply let go. That experience at Tettegouche State Park in Northern Minnesota is as real today and it was then and today. When Caleb was singing a light went on in my head again today:  I could work really hard -- or just relax in the current and protect my head from the rocks.  Today I again commit to allow the Force that's already in motion to carry me where it will... a sweet surrender.