News from Vermont # 242--Let Joy In
Hello again Maple People,
This morning I saw a cartoon in the New Yorker magazine that not only made me chuckle but relates to a couple of experiences I've recently had. Although I usually try hard to avoid subjects like politics, religion, or anything else that might put me on "thin ice", I'm a Vermont farmer with a mind of my own. So, I s'pose you wouldn't want me to "blow my cork" just tryin' to hold somethin' in, would ya?
The cartoon was captioned "Great-Great Grandson of Godzilla". It pictured a very embarrassed looking Godzilla "pussy-footing" among people, cars, and miscellaneous collateral he had crushed while strolling through New York City. There's two dialogue "bubbles" above him. In one, he says "Oh God! I'm so, sorry!!" and in the other, "I'm such a klutz!!". Obvious meaning: our modern generation is "kinder and gentler" sometimes to the point of silliness. Although "kinder and gentler" works for me to a large degree (seems as though the violence and the wars we're seeing these days are way out of control), I believe that some of our modern day thinking lacks a bit of common sense.
My first experience: I was traveling to the Mount Washington Hotel the other night to play music with the Swing North Big Band. My route took me through the quaint village of Bethlehem, New Hampshire. Bethlehem is a typical New England village with just one exception...there's a summer population of Hasidic Jewish people there who are very "front and center". They walk the streets of Bethlehem in their somber black garb and having seen them several times now, I've taken them on as a Bethlehem "trademark". Just for fun, I googled them to get a little more familiar; I found that they come from New York City and have been summering in Bethlehem since 1916. Their black apparel originates from an 18th century decree and the unique sideburns they wear are called "sidelocks". Early in my research, the descriptive word "joy" popped up which surprised me. Their black attire speaks of piety and spirituality, and I was glad to know they are "joyful" as well. I'm also glad to welcome them as part of the public scene in Bethlehem, New Hampshire.
My second experience: On July 3rd, I was popping kettle corn down at the Montpelier Independence Day Celebration. From the vantage point of my tent down on State Street, I could see a large group of folks all clad in sky blue performing way up on the Statehouse steps. I was impressed with the precision of their choreography and, thanks to amplification, realized they were singing a joyful mixture of Christian and patriotic music; "Perfect for this occasion" I thought, as my popper reached a crescendo and I poured out yet another batch of steaming kettle corn. All of a sudden a red-faced woman approached..."It's wrong that they're allowed to sing their Jesus stuff on the Statehouse steps!" she shouted in my face, spitting the word "Jesus". I wondered why she chose me as a sounding post and considered giving her a "pass" with a simple shrug of my shoulders but my own emotions erupted like a bottle rocket..."Mam, you're talking to the wrong person...I LIKE it!". And there we stood nose to nose for what seemed like ages until she finally did an about-face and stormed off grumbling.
I'll never forget my little episode of personal "fireworks" on that July 3rd, 2011. Thankfully we live in a country where freedom of speech and religion is allowed. Yes, the "separation of church and state" is important but we need to be realistic with it; whether its religious messages at the dooryard of our statehouse or on the public sidewalks of Bethlehem, New Hampshire, I LIKE it...we need more joy in this world wherever it pops up and whatever form it takes.
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