Chim-Chim-Cheree

As I sit, doing some reading for one of my classes, a song gets stuck in my head, and i automatically open up youtube and play the Mary Poppins Soundtrack.

And what, you might ask, prompted this nostalgic trip into my musical-filled childhood? Ironically, it was a poem by William Blake, and for those of you who haven’t heard it, here it is:

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The Chimney Sweeper

A little black thing among the snow

Crying ‘weep, ‘weep, in notes of woe!

Where are thy father & mother? say?

They are both gone up to the church to pray.

 

Because I was happy upon the heath,

And smil’d among the winter’s snow;

They clothed me in the clothes of death,

And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

 

And because I am happy, & dance &sing,

They think they have done me no injury,

And are gone to praise God & his Priest & King,

Who make up a heaven of our misery.

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As I finished writing my response to the poem, I realized I had finally gotten to “Chim- Chim-Cheree”, and, as I’m sure you can understand, it wasn’t quite the same as I remembered. As I read and began to understand what exactly a chimney-sweep’s life was like, and that they weren’t a well-choreographed group of young men, but mainly orphaned boys small enough to fit inside the chimneys starting at age 5 or 6, I was suddenly hit with a realization.

In the poem, the author commented several times on the passive attitude the church held, embodied by the nonchalant and cold tone the parents had towards the “little black thing” that was their son. When he was in need, they were “both gone up to the church to pray.” Later on in the poem, the boy says he was also ignored when he seemed to be doing well, “because I am happy, & dance & sing… [they have] gone to praise God & his Priest & King…”

Just like the church was “gone” when these young chimney sweeps were stuck in dangerous and unhealthy child labor, so the church is “gone” in many of the issues we are facing today– and not just the well-known issues like the Syrian refugee crisis.

I have to wonder, what are we missing right now, as we allow ourselves to be distracted by trivial things, and instead fall into the practice of easy/pretty church without actually “doing” church?

Of course, there are plenty of other things to be said of the poem, but I think it’s very telling that the most attention that chimney-sweeps have ever gotten has been through Mary Poppins, and it is nowhere near accurate. As a kid, I knew that it was obviously fictional, and of course the chimney sweeps couldn’t just take the chimney like an elevator up to the roof and have a dance party, but I had no idea that the job of a chimney sweep was less-than-favorable, let alone in many cases fatally dangerous.

How much are we missing?

Just a thought.

 

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Love>Fear

Originally, I had a different opening to this post, but as I sat in church today, I found the sermon aligning perfectly with the blog I had already written.

“Chatting on social media is not the same as a conversation. Texting is not talking, and being on someone’s Snapchat story does not mean you are actively a part of their story… Technology is masking our relational issues.”

More and more I am becoming disgusted with the way I live my life.

How do I show true love and appreciation for my friends? I write a lengthier than usual post on their wall about them, with a picture to match. Hardly a sacrifice, or a true act of love. But it’s easy, and convenient, everyone will see what a great friend I am, and best of all, there’s no risk! It’s a perfectly safe way to show I care without the danger of rejection.

I’m not try to down social media, and of course sweet posts are nice in their own way, but I feel as if I’ve lost something. Maybe the reason why my friendships don’t last is because instead of telling them to their face how much they mean to me, or making memories with them, I have invested in a post that may last for a day (more likely a couple hours) before it is lost in a torrent of bad political posts and cute kitten videos.

Why do I invest in the temporal, instead of something more lasting?

And worst of all… why do I settle on complaining about my relationship issues?

Because it’s easier, and we’re trained to accept it.

It’s easier to talk, spread, and point out the negative, which is why there are more magazines about the failings of our favorite actors, rather than magazines that genuinely care about a person’s well-being. We bond over that which we hate, and thrive off of other people’s failure (not just famous people’s failures, but our loved ones as well).

Lately, instead of talking, complaining, and settling, I’ve been praying. And I’ve been trying.

For some reason, we have cultivated this false idea that these unhealthy habits are the best way to develop relationships, when in reality, it’s the reason that, in a “plugged-in” world, we are more isolated than ever.

We have become vampires who suck the life out of the first person who loves us, and then, after using them up, we become furious and act as if they’ve betrayed us when they have nothing left to give, and ask for some space.

What if, instead of taking, we gave?

Why do we allow fear to reign in our relationships?

What if that really pretty girl that just introduced herself to you isn’t competition, but someone you could have a real friendship with?

What if that guy genuinely wants to know how your day was, and isn’t trying to get your number?

What would it be like to be actually vulnerable, to try in your relationships?

Lately, it’s come to my attention that people believe if a relationship isn’t progressing naturally, or if you have to put in effort, it’s not a healthy relationship.

*This does not include actual abusive/ toxic relationships*

What if I told you that was lie?

What if I told you I know firsthand that the best friendships, the healthiest relationships, will come with struggle, and times of hardship?

Oh, but that wouldn’t fun. And aren’t relationship all about fun, and happiness?

No.

What you see on Instagram is the beautiful, well-captioned, filtered parts of life… not the messy parts that take up more space than we’d care to admit.

Life isn’t all about fun and happiness, and neither are relationships (although there will be plenty of that if you’re willing to stick it out for someone you love).

Why don’t you take the risk and reach out to that person on your hall (pardon my college-speak) that no one wants to talk to, instead of assuming there’s an excusable reason that no one does?

Stop being afraid of relationships, and start loving. There’s no use for that love if you’re stingy with it–in fact, it’s a total waste.

Go out and see that dorky movie your friend wants to see, instead of convincing them to stay in and watch Netflix; take that road trip, and make it about more than just the new profile picture you’ll get out of it.

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“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
―C.S Lewis, The Four Loves

“Friendship takes time and energy if it’s going to work. You can luck into something great, but it doesn’t last if you don’t give it proper appreciation. Friendship can be so comfortable, but nurture it-don’t take it for granted.”                                                             -Betty White

“Live-tweeting your bikini wax is not vulnerability. Nor is posting a blow-by-blow of your divorce . That’s an attempt to hot-wire connection. But you can’t cheat real connection. It’s built up slowly. It’s about trust and time.”                                                    –Brene Brown