Bird Droppings September 18, 2019
Sometimes history is a teacher and others only a memory
The anniversary of a day that will be a scar on our nation’s history has past most will say September 11, 2001. However, on September 15, 1963 an explosion tore through the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. It was on a Sunday. People had gathered for church four young girls were killed, twenty-two others injured. FBI investigations led to four members of the Ku Klux Klan who had planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the front steps of the church. The event in days after was described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.” Four Klansmen were presented as suspects. In 1968, the FBI formally closed their investigation into the bombing without filing charges against any of their named suspects. The files were sealed by order of J. Edgar Hoover.
Over the next ten years one of the suspects was tried and convicted and after forty years two others were tried and convicted the fourth individual died before a conviction occurred. I was teaching a college class on US History a year or so ago and mentioned this in class. By chance my class was entirely nonwhite. We were discussing the end of World War II and Harry Truman’s decision to drop the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sitting there discussing with my class an event that I could not justify in my own philosophy of life, the shear destruction of life in one single event knowing what has come from that bomb in future years. History has a way of leading to wisdom yet on so many issues we tend to simply push aside what we could learn.
Recently I had the mother of three former students tell me how much her sons and daughter thought of me while I was going into my current favorite store, Kroger. So here I am sitting at my computer pondering in the stillness of a Wednesday morning, we all need ego stroking at one time or another. I recalled back to when I had those particular students in class and how difficult a time it was and yet so often when we pay attention to a student or a friend we do not realize how much we are truly affecting that person. Many times, it is years later as is the case with this parent commenting to me a few nights ago as I walked in the store.
“I reach down and touch the delicate leaf of a plant. My friend’s words rise up in my heart. ‘Everything lives, everything dies, and everything leans to the light.’ If I only knew this it would be enough.” Kent Nerburn, Small Graces
When we show a bit of light to a student they turn just as the plant will slowly turn to face the light in many ways that person will as well. I recall a few years ago one of my students requested to be in my resource class all day, I really did not want them all day, but he responded how I did things made sense to him. Friendship so often is like sunlight. I started replacing my overhead lights a few years ago with grow lights. Actually, the color is so much easier to deal with and colors of things are more real than the sickening yellow of standard fluorescent bulbs.
“Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.” St. Thomas Aquinas
How do we support friends and throw sunlight their way, maybe simple things, quiet things, a touch, a smile, an email.
“Friendship is one of the most tangible things in a world which offers fewer and fewer supports.” Kenneth Branagh
“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.” Robert Brault
I got thinking back five or six years. I had printed out several pictures but two were of owls that were in effect clay turned jug owls made by a folk potter from north Georgia. I met Grace Nell Hewell who was the matriarch of a family of potters in Gillsville Georgia. She was a sixth-generation potter from a family at that location turning pots for a living. I dropped them off in my friend’s room, no reason really just for being a friend, she teaches art and talks about potters in her sculpture class; sometimes we just do simple things. My dear friend passed away last year but I still think about our arguments about politics and discussions on art.
“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend — or a meaningful day.” Dalai Lama
“I do then with my friends as I do with my books. I would have them where I can find them, but I seldom use them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I am speaking of friends often I will say I really do not have that many friends one or two and usually a name or two will scroll through my head. I tend to be somewhat monastic. Yet when I am walking about in life there are few who I do not truly consider friends. I sit back in the in my chair at school typing away at my computer a row of books put together recently when a friend of my sons took interest in an area of thought I have been following for several years. Behind me shelves of books, theology, education, psychology, literature and poetry surround the walls and directly in front of me a quote.
“A very powerful axe in a master’s hand accomplishes much, that same in the hands of a child nothing.” Edited by A.J. Russell, from Gods Calling
Emerson would have to be one of my heroes and I always seem to have something from him at my fingertips often paraphrased a bit; friends are like books, you have them there on a shelf sort of waiting for the need or specific instance that you will have. I ran into a friend from school as I went shopping at the grocery store, she said she hates to go grocery shopping and will try and go once a month. I go daily, to see my friends I never know who I might meet, coincidences. Yesterday I went for a few items and a student who was absent was there riding his skate board we talked, another inside, a friend whom I have known for years was also shopping. So often my wife warns me as I walk in don’t stop and talk to all of your friends you will be all day.
“Give me work to do, give me health, give me joy in simple things, give me an eye for beauty, A tongue for truth, A heart that loves, A mind that reasons, A sympathy that understands. Give me neither malice nor envy, But a true kindness and a noble common sense. At the close of each day give me a book and a friend with whom I can be silent.” S. M. Frazier
How do we as friends support each other midst the turmoil of life and tribulations of simply walking the face of the earth, how do we support each other as we struggle to cross the stream with the rocks slippery and wet.
“Friendship needs no words…” Dag Hammarskjold
“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine.” Thomas Jefferson
A seldom heard phrase, a seldom whispered thought, and a seldom thought idea is only seldom responded too, so then do it, as NIKE says and or be a friend.
“The real test of friendship is: Can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you enjoy together those moments of life that are utterly simple? They are the moment’s people look back on at the end of life and number as their most sacred experiences.” Eugene Kennedy
As I finish up this morning and in the course of the last hour or so thoughts of friends not just one or two that I would attest to but ever so many that I see and talk too every day each moment and email. Some are in college and I will see once a year or two maybe some I have not seen in several years and simple correspond daily in email. Still others share my home and some I see each day as I walk the halls at school or sit in the hall way observing and listening as folks go by. Friendship is a cement to build a life on as we travel from here to there, friends are everywhere. Sitting back that sort of sounds like Dr. Seuss, so today justice to all and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)