Happy In(ter)dependence Day

Perhaps you will attend a parade today or a block party or family barbecue. Interesting, isn’t it that all the activities we typically participate in to celebrate July 4 involve people?

For several years now I’ve wished we could rename this holiday and call it National Interdependence Day—seems, really, to describe the day more accurately. Those early settlers needed each other to draw up and execute their plan for a life in America.

When I think of the word independence, I think of a sturdy, determined two-year-old proclaiming, “Do it self!” But no single person among us is smart enough, strong enough, capable enough to do life alone. Maybe we know that deep-down and that explains, in part, why we celebrate Independence Day surrounded by others.

If you read my blog last week http://ow.ly/yK7n301UajB, you read my musings on playing second clarinet and friendship. I talked about the idea of playing a supporting role in friendship and letting others shine. I think I missed a piece of the puzzle, though, the idea of working together for the greater good of the whole no matter what your role—first clarinet or second clarinet. My clarinet-playing friend, Roberta, commented on the blog and beautifully explained this.

As you think this weekend about independence and interdependence, let me leave you with the wise words of my friend Roberta. (Oh, and she found a yearbook photo of us holding our clarinets—too funny!) And I also leave you with a short sentence that has become my favorite: “Let’s do it together.”

Roberta writes:

If given the choice, I, too, like to hide in the back. It was a challenge to be “first clarinet” sometimes. But it was so much fun to be a part of something “bigger,” like a “music team.” God calls us to use our talents to support each other, just like the Body of Christ. My favorite part of our musical journey was playing clarinet duets with you. Loved the harmony. We can challenge ourselves to be our best, whether it be in the lead or a supporting role. Together we are more than the sum of the individual parts. And I am glad that you had the opportunity and challenge to be first chair our senior year. You have grown and blossomed from the experience.

Thank you for your continued friendship!


 1979 All State Band Roberta, Mike, Afton


Thinking of Shrubs

A backyard fire a couple months ago severely scorched some of our shrubs, and we thought we had lost them. But last weekend we took a closer look and noticed some green leaves sprouting.  We pruned them and decided to let them be and see what happens. (That is a royal we—John did the hard work of pruning.

I know this regeneration process happens; I’ve read about it books and articles. But seeing it happen, day by day, in my own backyard has so surprised me.

IMG_1237After enduring the trauma of such a hot, intense fire, I expected these shrubs to wither. I expected them to say (if they could talk), “I’ve had enough. I’m exhausted. I just can’t keep going. I’m just going to fold into myself and wither. I gave you myself and my beauty for a period, but now I just have nothing left.”

Perhaps I imagine those words coming from my shrubs because these same words have rattled in my mind and heart after traumatic events in my own life. I just feel so tired, so useless, so defeated.

Trauma does that, doesn’t it?

I know many of you have experienced traumatic events that pale in comparison to a backyard fire. The event has left you feeling broken, depleted, rejected, frozen in time . . .

May I encourage us all to take a lesson from my shurbs?IMG_1289

Don’t give up and fold into yourself. Trim back your expectations a bit to give yourself the energy to embrace new growth. And remember, your life brings a one-of-a-kind beauty to this world, a gift to those around you.

Let me leave you with a beautiful song about trees that takes me back to my junior-high days. This is a song by Ken Medema (copyright 1976 Word Music LLC.) sung by Evie Karlsson with addition of dozens of tree photos. Enjoy!