Hard times require something to help us survive. Friends have tried streaming all of a comfort show. Others go for the old standbys booze, food, overwork, never sleeping. Sometimes, after a very hard day, I try listening to the best audiobook reader, Charlton Griffin. He is very good, but not good enough for these times. Some of these things are comforting, even very comforting, but they are not deep, real, solid enough for chaotic situations.
We need better comfort.
Naturally our times are not the worst of times, not even close. My Granny faced a worse pandemic, a Great Depression, Hitler, Stalin, and could not vote when she was born. Granny had a deep reality where she could live, be protected, and endure those terrible days. She had a family. When I see people complain about how terrible Christmas is, how family hurts, then I know the power of family is there in reverse. Family can be disappointing, but family was, is, and always will be designed to be a safe place. My times are not as hard as her hard times, but these are the hard times we have.
Family is designed to be the anchor.
My Dad and Mom are the voice of the “male” and “female” . . . the two voices of the image of God. . .in my life. They endure, living voices of wisdom, but even if they had gone to glory early in my life, they would be there in reality, praying for me, being there for me. Mom and Dad are there. My brother Dan is a great comfort: my lifelong friend. He is going no place. Hope, the children, now adults, are all part of this raucous group with many views, changing opinions, but safely loving. My children could do nothing that would keep me from loving them. They may not always approve of me, but I am confident that they too will always love me!
This is a great comfort, a safe place, a happy hideout. I can close my eyes and be listening to Mom read a story to Dan and me. I can open my eyes and see two adult children painting some artwork for a game they are playing.
People who freed themselves from slavery always turn to family as a comfort, as a safe place. Slavers, tyrants, demagogues always hate family. Family is uncontrolled, an alternative. They try to set up false families, state run alternatives, state marriages, but the romance of Christian love surpasses all. Taken as a whole, I am not enough. Only God can be “I AM” without loneliness and loneliness eats away at us if we try to say:”I AM.”
We need “us.”
Family is the first and most important us. Many have broken families, need to find other places to rest, but family should be our first safe place. After all no human has ever come forth except from a mother: a human woman. Each one of us came from the womb and suckled at the breast. Our mothers kept us safe for months, then we were born and these great women gave us a good life.
Against this memory the greatest tyrant can do nothing? We need only remember Mother love and the threats seem small. Mother gave us life and nurtured us. In the natural order of things, there was a Father, the other voice of God, that loved us, nurtured us. Mom and Dad were there. . .and mayhap siblings. This is good.
Slavers could capture a “youth,” but they could not strip away the memory of family. No man with a family can ever be a slave.
The Youthful Captive
The Louisville Newspaper, February 1850
Securely chained to walls of stone,
Within a dungeon damp and low—
There ne’er was heard a friendly tone;
A captive slept,
A youthful brow the captive bore,
And sadness deep his features wore,
For darksome clouds his spirit o’er Had rudely swept.
As daylight faded in the west,
All peaceful was the captive’s rest,
No gloomy thoughts pervade his breast,
Nor doubts—nor fears,
For back he wandered in his dreams,
To childhood’s haunts and gliding streams,
When o’er him fell the silver gleams
Of early years.
Again his mother’s voice he heard,
Sweet as the carol of a bird,
With music fraught each gentle word,
His heart made light—
As is in the blissful days of yore,
Ere grief had swept his spirit o’er,
A father’s care was his once more,
And all seemed bright.
In his sweet dreams of untold bliss,
Too holy for a world like this,
Upon his cheek a sister’s kiss
He felt impressed;
A brother’s hand again he grasped,
Which in his own he firmly clasped—
Through joyous scenes again he passed,
And he was blest!
With bounding heart and gladsome pride,
Once more he roamed the forest wide,
And climbed the rugged mountain’s side,
As oft before He’d done in young, glad, light-winged years,
When he knew not of sorrow’s tears,
And dreamed not life had grief and fears For him in store.*
*Voices Beyond Bondage . NewSouth Books. Kindle Edition. I am reading Black poetry from before the world as class preparation.