Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thought for the day "They got hymns but nothing else"

     "This singsong woman here tonight (in the nursing home): I want to ask if she knows my mother ( the mother of the patient listening whose mother used to play guitar and sing professionally), what with them both having light-brown hair, both playing the guitar and singing "Side by Side."
     'Oh we ain't got a barrel of money/ maybe we're ragged and funny/ but we'll travel the road/ sharing our load/ side by side.'
     'Do you know my mother?' I ask the woman.
     She scowls and looks around for someone who might rescue her. She's got songs for us, but nothing else."

Linda McCollough Moore, "On My Way Now", The Sun, April, 2014


  1. The "singsong" woman meant well I hope singing her songs in the nursing home unless she was just looking for an audience to use to do her thing. The fact that she didn't know how to respond to a disoriented and delusional woman is not her fault if she doesn't have this experience and skill. While I understand the cynical humor here it seems a bit mean spirited to me. Let's cut the singsong woman a break.

    1. While I agree with your comment, nonetheless, things are being written here and questions raised which I find very helpful. Sometimes it's not what's said that is important, but what is not said. Sometimes there are elephants in the living room, and the narrator wants to connect, wants human contact, and all she gets is songs, silly songs which remind her of her mother whom she wants to talk about and no one has the time, or interest, or courage to listen and so we shut people down, take distance, marginalize those who are less powerful and who want to say things we don't want to hear. It seems what this woman wants is an understanding listener not "a singsong lady" as she puts it.

      I heard a very good sermon one time on the ministry of listening and the priest said that there are many ministries people can involve themselves in in the church, and listening is the most difficult and often takes the most courage. In this instance the woman wants someone to listen to her stories about her mother not sing songs while ignoring the context, memories, meaning they invoke. If we as UUs really believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, then we have to be willing to listen to their stories and be attentive to not only what is said, but what is not said. It is in reading between the lines and evoking the unmentionable that true ministry and healing lie.