Sunday, June 25, 2017
Sunday Afternoon Tea - Relationships and Reality
I truly believe that there is something in our surroundings those first years of life that are embedded in our soul throughout the remainder of our years. Perhaps unrealized, when we see an object or hear a song or smell the aroma of a certain food. We remember...
In late summer and early fall, when the corn is high and becoming golden, I feel as if the year is wrapping up. When I hear a train whistle in the distance, it brings a smile. When I grind wheat for bread, I'm once again five years old and living across the gravel road from the grain elevator where the train would stop when a load was ready. It is such a similar aroma.
The orange day lilies growing along side the side of the country roads right now remind me always of my father and our walks in summer when the ditch lilies were blooming. My wish for my last meal would be chicken fried in an iron skillet, mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, and cooked to death green beans. My mother's signature meal. I even think of her when I pass a Kentucky Fried Chicken sign.
Although we were not farmers, we lived with the land as we raised chickens, a pig, other animals from time to time, and my parents always grew a huge garden. My father loved to add to the family meals by hunting and fishing. Weather was always a subject of importance for those of us in the country.
When I was in early elementary school, we moved to the very small town nearby where the backyard was long and narrow and ended up at a fence near the wetlands. We called it a swamp. My mother and other adults would tell children stories to keep them away from the swamp lands. They worked to a certain extent.
There were no A Girl of the Limberlost style romantic tales of moths or butterflies in these stories. The one I remember the most was about an entire tractor being sucked under by the quicksand. I can't recall what happened to the farmer and I'm not sure it was actually a true story... or one invented to keep us out of the swamp.
However, I had a fascination with the land so whenever possible, I made my way to a favorite climbing tree just beyond the fence and enjoyed looking at all the mysterious land. Once in awhile, another young relative would join me. We had a healthy fear of quicksand and snakes so we didn't go any farther. I don't think my mother ever caught on. She may be turning over in her grave.
Growing up the way I did in my childhood, I understood why people value land whether it is to grow food or to protect swamps. Ummmm.... wetlands. It wasn't until most of the wetlands in this area were gone that we truly understood their value to much of nature.
As a young wife, I came to value health foods and supplements to improve my husband's immune system. At the time, he did not realize much of his illness was made worse by being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. We became immersed in finding out about healthy eating as well as beginning to learn about the affects of chemicals in our food, our rivers, our bodies.
A little later, when we lived in Iowa, I was the president of our local health food co-op and we used to laugh about the different kinds of people attracted to health foods. For we tended to be either conservative Christian homeschoolers (although I didn't homeschool until my son was school age) or very far left hippy style liberals.
You know what? We got along. Just fine thank you very much.
Through the years our mutual interests bonded us together stronger than any differences in politics or religion. I have had in-person friends and many online friends with these mutual interests but different politics and religions and we relished our similarities. Until this past election.
Then the hate began and even longtime friends were unfriending each other. People said such vial things that I was shocked. Hateful words such as I have never experienced were spouted and there was no room at the health food or environment party for conservative Christians.
What happened? Well, I've thought a lot about it this past year. Part of it I think, is just the times we live in for those of us who believe we are near the return of Christ (which I do). The Bible tells us in various places what the world will look like at this time but I'm still shocked.
However, I truly believe the excessive hate is because of the hit and run and anonymous nature of the Internet. After all, I voted for Reagan and Bush and not one of my liberal friends disowned me at the time. When Bill Clinton was elected, I went into a minor depression for a few weeks. But I didn't disown any liberal friends.
Why? Because we pretty much knew each other face to face. We lived in the same neighborhoods and shared recipes and our kids played basketball together and we knew each other outside of any labels society would attach.
Take away the face to face knowing, making it all just a label stamped on by the mass media... add a few dozen or hundred or thousand nasty comments from people who will never know us face to face... and we have a whole new world out there.
Throw in the fact that most people can now join the world wide web on their phones (I still have a flip top), we rarely talk to people in person these days. Yes, some may have a thousand friends on Facebook but do we really know them?
We make up our minds about each other according to what we are made to believe, not by what is reality. We are being taught to hate but by whom? Who is manipulating us behind the curtain? Why is it that there may be a coming civil war in this country and how did we get there?
The only difference I can see from now and my former friendships is this... a combination of 24/7 news cycles and the Internet. A new world of virtual reality in which people can hit and run comment anonymously and getting rid of friends is as easy as a single click.
I love the friendships I have developed through the Internet, many people for whom I have the same affection as I do those who live in the same town. However, we do know that the enemy can take what is good and make it used for evil. I just pray that in my own frustrations at what is written, God guide my fingers and my mouse as well as my tongue to show only grace.
Photo: The road that runs by my place in the world.