Friday, January 9, 2015

Marmee

Truly, we are not here alone, on this earth which is fallen with much sin and sadness.  But it must cross minds across the world as the nights plays on, as trials ensue, as people march on with their own lives in sought after independence, either intentionally or unintentionally hurting people and relationships along the way. 

I was always intrigued with a song from the musical, Little Women, called "Here Alone." The character is Marmee, mother of four, sitting down to write a letter back to her husband at war.  

Mindi Dickstein wrote these words for Marmee to sing, she begins, "My dear husband. . .  

Write a letter, be inventive
Tell you everything is fine.
Be attentive to the distance
Send my love with every line
Every word should bring you closer and
Caress you with it's tone.
Nothing should remind you
That I am here alone
I can't tell you what I'm feeling.
I can't talk about the war
How the peeling of the church bells
Brings the battle to our door
I don't know which part is harder
What I know or what's unknown
Or raising little women
when I am here alone
Counting days, Praying for news
Is this the life
We meant to choose?...
Do you know how much I miss you
At this hour of the day?
How I wish you were the twilight
Come to take my fears away
Can I manage four young women?
I'm not certain I know how
Will I be there when they need me?
Or do I fail them here and now?
I wish that you were with me
Wish that I could bring you home
The nights seem so much longer
Now that I am here alone.


I always admired the character for being so selfless and thoughtful, laying down her own trials to build up her husband, in an actual war. Across the world there are actual wars and the news is filled with snapshots of people being killed and oppressed, people fighting for their lives.  I see through those windows but have not experienced what war is like in a physical sense.  I think everyone, though, having experienced physical war or not, has experienced the wrestle, the inner war of the mind.  I believe it's the reason celebrities go bad, money corrupts, and relationships crumble.    

There is something I find interesting about the performances of "Here Alone," in particular.  As we have the luxury of YouTube, I started watching some videos of performances of it, from the amateur high school student to the national tour production.  I'll post a few videos below, but it struck me that more seasoned and mature the actor was, the more bitter and envious the Marmee was.  As the youth fled from the faces of the actresses, the sweet protection to not-burden-the-husband-at-war fled and developed into expressions of self pity and anger at him for leaving her "alone." 

Is this what life has become for married people?  We see plenty of it.  I know plenty of bitter young, old, and middle aged women who tear down their husband's character at a drop of a hat.  But I also know plenty of women, young and old, who stand as examples of a godly marriage.  Seeming to never tire of building up their husbands openly.  I am sure they still wrestle with thoughts, it would be un-human to not wrestle with negativism and bitterness.  But it is possible to not let it overcome one's self and fall into the forbidden, "well, this is just who I am." 

Mike and I have been married for about 11 years. We took a vacation last summer for our 10-year anniversary and had more fun than on our honeymoon.  The most encouraging part is that we met couples on their 25th, 35th, and 60th anniversary trips, and the consensus was that "the 35th is even better than the 10th!" and so on.  It is a story we do not hear often enough.  Grab a book on romance, and the scandal, affair, and backstabbing draws in your adrenaline.  I am not well read enough to even recommend exciting books about good marriages, but maybe one day some will come my way. I am talking about candid accounts of the day to day life of people living out godly marriages with the same depth of love that we have already lived out, which can only be the beginning of the richness and decadence to a fantastically designed relationship, meant to reflect the relationship of the God of the universe with mankind.  

I'll have to grab the new Francine Rivers book and see what she's writing these days.

So in these days of texting and grabbing each others attention multiple times a day, I crave those days of thoughtful communication, the letter writing days.  I got really good at thoughtful communication during residency.  Mike and I would need to talk about something, and I would put the issue on pause.  After a 36 hour shift, then a buffer day to work through or sleep it off, we could sometimes go until Friday discussing Monday's issue. I learned what was really important to bring up and what wasn't helpful in the time allowed.  I learned how to best serve Mike when he was overtired or his brain needed a respite.  I was not perfect by any means, and it came with a lot of trial and error, and prayer and counsel.  

To see the progression of bitterness settling in on a married life or age, you only need to see the first 30 seconds of each video.  I pray that in our real lives, the progression would be reversed. On account of the heaviness of wars in the world and in our minds, that we would be able to grow in tenderness and love towards people and not into a bitter facade of a common American expression, "I'm fine."

 Very soft and kind.  Gentle and loving.



Starts to get a bit bitter, softens a little 

Excellent acting.  Sarcasm.  What is her heart really saying?

 

The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. Prov 17:14

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Prov 14:30

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. Prov 20:3