Friday, October 10, 2014

Messing with my baby

I must preface this post by saying that I am musically challenged, yet appreciate that everyone else in my family is not. I love hearing them practice their horns (trumpet and French) or not being able to flit by the piano without keying a few chords or part of a tune. I took piano lessons as a kid and struggled. I didn't enjoy it and one teacher was too busy freshening up her make-up to notice I'd played a wrong note.

So, forgive me for not quite understanding the band mentality; it may be a local phenomenon not to be generalized or I may just be a grouchy individualist. Marching band was grueling for my oldest, though she surprised me with her dedication and willingness to see it through. Their performances were thrilling. She had hoped for community within her section, but found cohesiveness lacking. My youngest saw what the oldest went through and declined to sign up.  I wasn't pushing her because the price tag has limited who can participate. However, they have both loved being a part of the concert bands. The music this department produces is nothing short of amazing. Obviously, they do a lot of things right.

One of our family's music lovers
Lily was thrilled after last-year's testing to be named second chair. And, her seat was re-confirmed a few weeks ago. Sadly, the first-place trumpet got knocked to third and, immediately, told Lily he'd challenge her. Anyone is allowed to challenge the chair above them at any time. If the one challenged declines, they lose their seat; so they really have no choice. Lily took the challenge, practiced and was not informed until the next day by her challenger that she'd lost.

I was spitting mad; angry that she'd been set up after begin affirmed twice and only the week before in her chair position. I started to post something on Facebook about what I see as a competitive, not a cooperative, spirit. Lily stopped me, insisting that I not write anything in cyberland or to band directors.

Social (in)justice speaks very loudly to me and I am still extremely disappointed in the system, but my daughter showed me what it is truly like to practice Quakerism. She quietly, with dignity, accepted her defeat and congratulated her challenger. I am so proud of her.

This week, my Quaker Meeting hosted something called Quaker Quest as a means of letting those interested informally learn about us.  I had been asked, along with two others, to talk about how our faith and Quaker experience led us out into the world of social action. Of course, I spoke about my journey with Artsy Fartsy, another talked about an incredible eco garden in Over the Rhine and the final speaker shared his long history of non-violent mediation. He was a student at Kent State when fatal shots were fired and has worked toward peace ever since. When he mentioned that he has taken his practice out of the spiritual and socially active realms and into his personal life, I was struck with profound truth. "Just look at our language," he said. We fight things, face obstacles and name targets, all very violent references.

And here I was, ready to fight the music system. It took my 14-year-old born into Quakerism (unlike me) to handle the situation with gentleness and grace, hallmarks of the Quakerism I respect.

The peace conversation got stirred the other night, as you might expect. And I kept waiting for the right moment to tell those gathered how this Meeting had taught my daughter to turn the other cheek and walk away. But there never seemed a space. So  am proclaiming it here, that Lily did the right thing, the God-inspired thing, and never thought twice about it.

And I am asking God why it's still in my craw?

• When has something really fired me up?
• What's my typical gut reaction?
• What happens if I wait to act?
• When has another taught me a more godly way?
• What spiritual practices help me moderate my behavior AND words?

oooohhh that was MY baby
they messed with

but it seemed unfair

someone else's baby
had been hurt

I quickly took
to the low road,
ranting and wanting
to rave publicly

when my daughter
just said no

to me –
her mother

and she was right

like Jesus, she
walked away only
after congratulating
the other

Listen to this post:

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