It helps a bit to realize that mistake-making is universal. Only those who profit by the mistakes they make get to the point where they make few–a goal we all long for. And it helps a lot to know, not that all things are good, but that “all things work together for good–to them that love the Lord.”
We may have a hand in turning our mistakes to good. We may do as a great artist did who noticed after he had painted a picture that he had left some smudges in his beautiful clouds. They couldn’t be erased, so he made birds of the smudges.
If we are unduly cross to the children or to our John, we make birds of those ugly smudges by “fessing up” our wrong-doing and proving our repentance by sweet smiles and loving words. If we wrong a neighbor in word or deed we can find some lovely way to atone. All of which will “work together” for our soul’s good.
As housewives we all tire of the daily grind which sometimes seems so irksome, so futile. I have often been strengthened for a hard task by recalling Columbus’ motto, “Sail on!” You remember the story as told in Joaquin Miller’s poem, “Columbus.” On his first voyage of discovery his crew grew discouraged and mutinous and the mate would come to Columbus with such questions as this:
What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn!
Columbus’ invariable brave answer was:
Why, you shall say at break of day,
Sail on! Sail on! Sail on! And on!
There’s not enough singing in this world–of that I’m convinced. I don’t mean singing on the radio, in school or churches. I mean in the family.
Before our family grew up and married we were always singing. On Saturdays one sister and I might be upstairs making beds and dusting, another sister might be in the living room washing floors and Mother might be in the kitchen baking, but we were all singing, and, if working close enough together, we sang “parts” to make harmony.
Sunday was the only day Dad had much time to spend with us. We never left the Sunday table–dinner or supper–without him getting someone to play the piano and the rest of us to sing. Now that I’m married and away from home, I miss those good times. Some of the happiest memories of my dad and mother are of the times when they both joined us and our friends around the piano.
If there were more singing in family life, there would be fewer arguments and more joy. When your feelings are hurt, sing, and you will soon be happier. It is simple but it works.
The little neighbor boy who used to catch polywogs with me has suddenly grown up and married, and I’ve written him a letter.
It’s mostly congratulations, of course, with one tiny bit of advice–a formula for happiness, as thoroughly tried and tested as my most dog-eared recipe. It is a part of a Bible verse–”Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”
The bride’s days will be full with the fascinating job of making Jim’s home shining and lovely. She will be too busy and happy to admit there will come a morning when Jim will go out to the barn leaving the door vibrating from the force of his slam!
When Jim comes in for dinner that day, Helen is apt to be cool and distant. At supper time the tension is a little more noticeable. Jim fidgets and tries to be natural. Helen is fighting tears. She washes and dries the dishes and, after a futile attempt to read, climbs the stairs to bed. Jim follows,–not too soon because he, too, is hurt and he is proud.
And then in the still darkness, the two unhappy children find words to talk it all over. It’s so much easier to be honest and human in the dark! And in the morning, it is as if the quarrel had not been.
In our family we have paraphrased the Bible verse a little because, in a busy farm home, the business of getting down to fundamentals seems to require the quiet and peace of day’s end, darkness outside and love inside. I think this clause in our family’s “Constitution” that demands that no day’s “unfinished business” should remain to greet the next day’s sun, has done more than anything else to keep our home the happy place it is.–1936
From 1925: I was once very subject to the blues and given to worry. I discovered that the blues were just self-pity; worrying was doubting my Heavenly Father. Worrying does no one any good and may do a number of people real harm. So, as someone else had said, “I have to live with myself so I decided to have good company.” I’ve been through much poverty and ill health. I do not yet possess many things needed for comfort and my health is still not good enough to permit me to do many things I wish to. However, it is gradually improving and I can say life is very good.
There are so many things for us to be thankful for: a morning when all things are covered with crystal frost and the sun comes up so clear and bright we can see a million diamonds; a clear, frosty morning when the very air makes us feel the joy of just being alive and our hearts are so full of joy we can almost fly; the first patch of green grass brought forth by the first glorious days of spring, the first flowers and all the later ones. Oh, how I love my flowers! Truly, my heart is glad all the year because of them. I cannot spend much money for them but I try to have something new each year. All winter I can remember the beauties of last summer and anticipate the loveliness next summer will bring. I love my vegetable garden too, though it is a tiny one. Two people do not need much and all our children are now making gardens of their own.
When middle age comes we are given time for some of the other things we have long wanted to do. Perhaps it is to read or take up that almost forgotten music, or do our fill of beautiful needlework. But perhaps the thing that makes life the most worthwhile is the love of family and true friends. This is one of the richest blessings life has to offer and cannot be overvalued.