Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Old Man Still Sings

I found the following quote from Leonard Ravenhill's book, Meat for Men, on a blog by a friend, Corky Alexander. It says something I've been poring over in my mind as I approach retirement. I've even asked two or three people whom I know have great ability in the field of music writing to help me by writing a song with that title: "The Old Man Still Sings", so coming onto this quote was like finding a nugget of gold in a forest stream.

"THAT literary genius, Robert Louis Stevenson, though hounded by handicaps and pinioned with pain, turned tragedy into triumph. His battle with tuberculosis lasted years; then came the master stroke -- blindness; later came sciatica with such an iron grip that the moving of a muscle was excruciating pain. In this derelict condition, Stevenson, the writer, was ordered to bed, and there the doctor strapped up his right arm to immobilize it. Writing meant agonizing pain. Days later the doctor came, only to be staggered at Stevenson's determination to work. The wellspring within was gushing forth. Then the doctor speculated, "Bitter things will be written and dark shadows of pain translated into verse." How wrong he was! Under this duress, the brilliant author of Treasure Island gave the world the glittering book, A Child's Garden of Verse. When a man can carry Stevenson's load and still sing, he is worthy of any man's admiration."

I am thinking at this moment that I may just save this blog in draft form and come back to it to change, correct, refine and polish it for some time. So...What I really want to do is write the song about those who taught us to sing and to laugh...even in painfully bad times. Of course we all have those bad times or maybe I should call them "blue days". I'm not sure when I first became aware of them, but have known for a long time that I did not always feel so chipper. For example, one of my pet peeves has been song leaders at church who want us to jump like a jack-in-the-box from the first word of the first chorus or song that they lead. I don't feel like singing - sometimes. If I do sing on those days, I'd rather sing the "blues". This genre of music seemed to be popular among African slaves when they were first bought and brought to the America's. Some of it became known as "soul" music. Why sing if one is blue? Well, it was better than moanin' and complainin'! Let me explain it as I experienced it.

Long ago when just a lad, when I was feelin down and sad,
And just to be honest I didn't know why, but felt like I just wanted to cry.
When a voice from above me, looking down,
Said, "Son! just lift up your head and sing

Cause if in life I've learned anything
It's that when you feel down you should stand up and sing!
And the old man would sing - of his Heavenly Father!
He'd sing of His Love, of His Grace, and of Hope bye and bye!
Yes, the old man still sings, of our Heavenly Father!
And soon I'm gonna join him, In the Sweet Bye and Bye
(More to come in the future on this song)

In his unique way my Dad made a lot of other people feel good about themselves and about life by his "singing attitude". My observation is that when the blues remain hidden in our souls it turns into depression. But when the sad feelings are brought out into the open, in the light of God's son-shine, they can then be easier dealt with.

Today is September 29, 2007 and I've decided to put this on the Cabin page. Early this week I had a particularly rough day and felt that some of my colleagues had really mis-interpreted some of my suggestions and treated it with great condescension. I was physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of that day. I decided that what I needed was a "coke" - for "everything goes better with coke", right? Upon opening the fridge door and seeing that there were none left, I shouted to Frances that I was going to the store to get a coke. "OK", she responded. "Would you also pick up a birthday card for our grand-daughter Gracie?" "Sure!," I said. While standing at the card counter, a beautiful young lady whom I assumed to be in her late 20's or early 30's approached me and asked, "Is your name Brannen?" When I answered that I was, she said, "Well, I'm Melissa, John Colbaugh's daughter, and I want to tell you something that your Daddy used to tell me. When I was young I was very shy. Your Dad worked with my Dad at the Monroe (Louisiana) church and I would always walk timidly into the church hallway with my head down. Your Dad would get up from his chair in the office and come out into the hallway to meet me. He would bow his body and meet me head on until his head bumped my head lightly and say, "Hold up your head, Melissa! You have NOTHING to hang your head down about!"

When I returned to the house I told Frances that I had just had a message from my Daddy and also from my Heavenly Father!


Travelin' On said...

I posted about your "visit from daddy" on your other page.

I remember your asking me about the "old man still sings." That's amazing that you found this quote from another place. It is a lovely idea and a great and powerful message. I think the song is all your and inside you. :) It will all birth in it's time.
Yes our dad was truly a man that lived, "singing." We are blessed to have had such an example of what I call contentment. Often I have prayed and asked God to help me live as contentedly as daddy did.
love ya, more later, DB

Fred Alton said...

Thanks Sis, for the nice comments both here and the other page. You know, there was nothing ghostly or ethereal about that encounter with Melissa. She just wanted to share with me the encouragement that Daddy had given her. But the timing was oh, so accurate!

Tabitha said...

We are so blessed to have just what we need at just the right time. Grace loved her card. I didn't know that her Popaw picked it out. VERY COOL.
Donice is right, you have that song on the inside of you. But I always compared the way that Gepa lived to someone who lived "laughing" ... laughing at troubles, laughing at things that were brought against him, laughing at kids, money and things that were truly funny. He taught me to laugh better at myself and to love better. I think he taught it to all of us. If we would listen. Thank you for sharing out loud with the rest of us.

Corky Alexander said...

This is a wonderful post. I'm glad I knew and worked ever so briefly with your dad. You ministered to me through this one, buddy.

fred said...

Corky! Thanks, Friend. Dad loved you and Kim and was very proud to work with YOU.