I love the John Rutter version of the hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth. It’s fitting that a song about beauty is so beautiful.
Listening to this hymn one day, a line stood out: “For the love which from our birth over and around us lies.” There’s a lot to think about in that phrase… the idea that we were loved from the beginning, and that this love has surrounded us since that time.
Do you ever forget that? If so, what would it take to keep remembering?
I came into the world the youngest of four. For that reason alone, I’m fortunate I got this chance. Many families stop at two children these days, so perhaps my generation was the last chance for me to be born. Of all the things they say about having kids, the one thing they do not say is, “They are so inexpensive.”
My birthplace was Old Russell Hospital. That wasn’t actually the name of the place, but by the time I was old enough to be aware of my surroundings, Old Russell Hospital had been torn down and replaced by Russell Hospital on Highway 280. When I rode through town as a child, my mother pointed to the area where this significant moment occurred: “Old Russell Hospital was over there. That’s where you were born.”
I tried to look. I wanted to see. But the moment went by too fast, and I could never figure out where Old Russell Hospital used to be. I just knew it had been “over there” somewhere.
I was told that my father backed his car into a parking place behind the hospital and positioned my three older siblings on the trunk. My mother held me up to the window of Old Russell Hospital’s maternity ward so they could get a peek.
I grew up getting prodded to go outdoors on Saturdays. As in: “Go find yourself something to do.” I took bike rides without helmets and enjoyed unstructured play times in a neighborhood. Perhaps that too was the last chance for such things. But it’s probably a good idea that people stopped smoking indoors, and we figured out that those seat belts stuffed down into the seat cushions should actually be worn as restraints while the vehicle is in motion.
In restaurants, my favorite appetizer was a pack of saltine crackers spread with one of those individual pats of butter, where you lifted the thin paper, even if you had to shake it off your finger because the butter had an adhesive quality. Or maybe it was margarine.
I liked the smell of crayons, Play Doh and Silly Putty. I also remember the smell of the school hallway, especially when the janitors spread out that red dust they swept away with huge brooms. I can almost hear the methodical slapping of the brooms in the hallway. I used to know the sound of the front door at my house opening and closing. I also knew what it sounded like to yank a bedroom window open to get a breeze. Or, more likely, just more of the stifling heat.
That was the beauty of life on earth in those early days, where a sense of place could tell you who you were. And you could feel as much optimism and hope as your dreams allowed.
Yet life did get difficult in this flawed existence of humans being human, and learning as we go. For each hill there was a valley, and a sunset for each sunrise. I got some bad information at times – ingesting it into my operating system. And I usually learned the hard way things that could have made life so much easier. How about you?
It’d be a shame, I think, to waste the amazing insights I discovered during my journey. For example, how do you recapture your first impression of life – the one that speaks of your momentous potential and remarkable value? That’s the first topic I address in my new Story Shaping curriculum. I’ll tell you more about that soon.
The love that was over and around us from our birth is over and around us still. I hope you see evidence of that day. Enjoy your magnificent journey.
– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 27