Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Speak Lovingly

A friend, who has a daily email list, sent me a poem not long ago.  It was written by one of the most prolific hymn writers in our modern hymnals, Fanny J. Crosby.  If you have ever sung, "Blessed Assurance" or "Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Savior", you are familiar with Ms. Crosby's compelling lyrics.  I was so moved by this poem that I printed it off, cut it out and taped it near my printer where I could see it daily.  Day to day, I would find myself glancing at it and thinking, "I need to memorize that one day."

However, today when I noticed it, for some reason, my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. McDaniel, flashed into my mind. She was a traditional teacher: exacting, organized, confident and in the possession of a big yard stick (which she wielded with unnerving expertise).  She was also smart and commanded respect so we all had no choice but to pay close attention in her class.

One thing Mrs. McDaniel did that we don't see much of these days is teach students to memorize.  Every month, she would give each of us a poem or prose to memorize, then a couple weeks later, we would have to recite it before the class...sort of like show and tell.  The poems were classics like Joaquin Miller's Columbus. "Behind him lay the gray Azores, Behind, the Gates of Hercules; Before him not the ghost of shores, Before him only shoreless seas..." Of course, it was about Christopher Columbus and his (now, much maligned) voyage to the New World. Though memorizing was challenging and reciting made me nervous, I'll never forget how good it felt to master the skill of committing words to tuck important information away for future reference.

Looking back on that experience, and other times I have memorized scripture or instructive prose, I think how handy it is now to have that information at hand, especially since it's so much harder to memorize things now.  One doesn't have to rely on a search engine to find it, or look in a book.  It's right there.  And, unlike the commercials that we involuntarily memorize that might be there at inopportune times, good information often makes itself available at exactly the right time.  For instance, have you ever had a comforting scripture pop into your head just when you are needing encouragement or when you are looking for some way to encourage another person?

In any case, this is the poem that started me thinking about all this. It's surely over 100 years old, but the message is true in any age.  I still hope to memorize it someday -- and write it on my heart.

Speak Lovingly

Speak lovingly and kindly
While here on earth we stay
Our life is but a shadow
That soon will glide away

One little word of kindness
One some poor heart may fall
Like beams from yonder golden sun
That brightly shines for all

Speak lovingly and kindly
O let the task be ours
To scatter by the wayside
Not thorns, but smiling flowers

Though crowned with peace and plenty
Our happy homes may be
Remember those around us
Less favored far than we

Speak lovingly and kindly
for He our Lord we know
To us will show the kindness
That we to others show.

-- Fanny Crosby

Copyright 2013 Shelly Reeves Smith

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