Saturday, February 23, 2008

Of dirty cars, evil Christians, and bulldogs

This Saturday afternoon, I decided is was high time to wash the car. The rear bumper of my automobile had escaped those unseen vandalizing fingers who revel in scribbling little reminders to car owners what they should do the next time there’s a spare minute: “wash me”. I opened the garage door, backed the car out onto the driveway, uncurled the hose, and prepared my car soap in the green plastic mop bucket. As I finished scrubbing the fourth wheel rim, I found myself singing the tune KIRKEN DEN ER (remember, I’m a musician hypergeek, so I’m prone to random acts of singing). My singing attracted a little boy who was practicing his bike-riding in the alley between the houses, into which lead the my driveway and those of my neighbors on either side of my house and of those behind. The little chap was being followed by a miniature blond bulldog name Ellie. By then, I was drying off my car to avoid water spots. Ellie and I had been acquainted last weekend as she wandered through my open courtyard gate while I was pruning my rose bushes. She announced herself with a soprano bark, and I answered her with a baritone “go home!” Today, she just walked up and sniffed. The boy was right behind and began to talk, explaining what he was doing, riding back and forth up and down the alleyway. He revealed his usual route when things got a bit boring: he would strike a looping path through the alley, or curve up onto the driveways one by one until he reached the end of his course. He confessed that he sometimes fell off his bicycle. I was interested in what he had to say, and I shared that I too had, as have done all of us, fallen off a bicycle when I was a kid – for me, into an ant hill in Florida, where my father taught me how to ride. My family vacationed there each summer, and that was where I received my first bicycle. The boy was pleasant and his dog enjoyed the visit too. Soon, I told him that I was finished with my work and that I would now pull my car back into the garage. He understood that this meant that I was going in and would be leaving him to his practice. When the garage door closed, I thought of my singing and how naturally the little boy had come over and started talking. He had undoubtedly seen me in the neighborhood before, but we had never officially met. Outgoing little guy, I thought. Then I remembered a saying that I had learned probably about when I was his age, maybe 6 or 7: “Wo man singt, da liegt man ruhig nieder. Böse Menschen haben keine Lieder.” It has no rhyme in English: “Wherever there’s someone singing, one can rest safely there. Evil people have no songs.” I like that saying, and I believe it to be true. Lately, as one might imagine, I’ve come across a few people who have no songs – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really heard them sing. The saying does hold true. On the other hand, very recently I’ve also found a majority of persons who love music and who love to sing. In their cases, the saying also holds true. Regarding the former, we can only rely upon Holy Scripture which reminds us that someday, the “tongue of the dumb will sing!” (That is, unless they through their lifetime decisions have dedicated their souls eternally to wailing and gnashing of teeth). Let me share with you the hymn I was singing this afternoon. It also provides an image about the past month and half in Lafayette. The hymn paints bleak images of Christendom, however, there is a distinct message of hope in the constancy of the Almighty and in our assurance of His Grace and of our salvation. The old saying came up frequently at home when I was a kid, and this hymn found its way onto the hymn board at church just as frequently. Here are verses 1 and 7:

Built on the Rock the Church doth stand,
Even when steeples are falling;
Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land,
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the soul distrest,
Longing for rest everlasting.

Grant, then, O God, where’er men roam,
That, when the church bells are ringing,
Many in saving faith may come
Where Christ His message is bringing:
“I know Mine own, Mine own know Me;
Ye, not the world, My face shall see,
My peace I leave with you.” Amen.


lvschant said...

When we lived in Germany, my husband's Aunt Inge taught me a few German rhymes and tonge-twisters... the family was Evangelisch, but she still had this one to offer:

Maehen Aebte Hoy?
Nie maehen Aebte Hoy.
Wenn Aebte maehen, maehen sie Grass. (Sorry, don't know how to do umlauts here, so added an 'e').

Thanks for the cheery post!

PhiMuAlpha2681 said...

Good call. Haven't thought/heard about that hymn and hymntune in ages. I last played it in 2003 as an improv postlude for the Dedication of the Lateran. Since that falls on Sunday again this year, I might have to work that in somehow.