Fiddler on the Roof

That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! –2 Timothy 1:5 The Message

 

Ever wonder why you wake up with certain things running through your mind? I mean, things you haven’t been thinking about or have no apparent connection with the current status of your life.

The subconscious mind is a powerful yet subtle thing. There is a connection.

One morning, for example, I awoke with the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof playing in the half-awake alcoves of my brain. As I lay there, I sang the words to myself.

Why did my subconscious pull this out of the recesses of my memory?

Maybe because I’m in the process of decluttering my house, and decluttering has a way of stirring up memories – memories that take me back through my life. I remembered the traditions of my family, of Dean’s family, and how Dean and I started family traditions of our own.

Fiddler on the Roof is about tradition, the traditions that enabled Tevye and his family to survive the tumultuous times in their Russian village prior to the Revolution of 1905.

“You might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck,” says Tevye. “And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!”

How important is tradition in today’s world of technology and high speed everything?

Tradition, first of all, gives us a sense of identity. Traditions are about more than ourselves. They are about our heritage, where we came from. There’s so much hype these days about tracing our roots, getting our DNA tested. But family traditions can help to provide the very thing those tests provide: a sense of where you came from – and why you are the way you are. And that sense of identity builds strong inter-generational family relationships. Listen carefully, then, to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s stories. They are a part of you.

Second, tradition gives us a sense of belonging. We are not alone in this big, wide, often cold world. We are a part of something – a family, a church, a community. Something bigger than ourselves.

Third, tradition gives a sense of stability, providing balance in a shaky, unstable world. It grounds us and roots us in the familiar. Life, after all, is as uncertain now as it was 113 years ago. Don’t we all find comfort and security in the familiar?

Finally, tradition gives us a sense of continuity. Stories passed down from generation to generation give a glimpse of our ancestors. Like a baton in a runner’s hands gets passed on to the next runner, so life goes on, “one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.”

How important are traditions?

Just look at the Old Testament. The traditions God established for His people, and commanded them to continue, gave the Hebrews a sense of identity, belonging, stability and continuity. Not only did they remind them who they were, but Whose they were. It connected them with a God who redeemed them out of His mercy, grace and love.

So it is today. I am so grateful for the traditions of faith passed on to me by my parents. And I pray I’ve passed traditions of faith on to my children and grandchildren. More than anything I yearn for them to see beyond the ritual to the essence of what tradition is all about.

How important are traditions?

In the words of Tevye, “Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as . . . as . . . as a fiddler on the roof.”

What traditions give your life balance and stability? Are you passing them along to the next generation?

Thank you, Lord, for the traditions of faith that give my life stability in an unstable world. Amen.

Read and meditate on Exodus 12:1–14; Joshua 4:1–7. 

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved

Don’t Forget To Remember

 

20160527_122657

Flags in memory of and in honor of veterans wave in a grassy field outside of Punxsutawney , thanks to Dick and Ava Bishop of Punxsutawney, who set up the display and provide the flags and cards to anyone who wants to place a flag.

 

“In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones, mean?’ tell them . . .” Joshua 4:21–22 (NIV)

With three grandchildren on different ball teams (plus one of them umpires), hubby and I are at the Punxsutawney Little League Fields just about every evening. After the sixth game in four days, I told Dean we should park our camper at the ball field.

The Punxsutawney Little League complex is almost a second home to us, as we spent many a summer afternoon and evening there when our youngest played baseball. Five well-maintained and lighted ball fields for Minor League, Little League, Senior Little League, what we call the “Teener League” (VFW), and girls’ softball, are located beside Mahoning Creek.

Each ball field is named for someone local. Some honor those who have devoted much of their time to maintain and improve the fields and the league. Two fields are named as memorials.

The Little League field is called the “Billy Titus Memorial Field,” named after a Punxsutawney Little Leaguer who was killed in a farming accident.

The VFW League field, the Rich Kuntz Memorial Field, is named for SP4 Richard Lorraine Kuntz, who was killed in action in Vietnam on February 5, 1968, six weeks before his twenty-first birthday.

My grandson once asked me, “Who was Rich Kuntz? Why is the field named after him?” Since I’ve spent half a lifetime at the fields and know the stories behind the names, I was able to tell him. But it got me wondering: How many people drive right by those signs or even say the name of the ball field and don’t realize the significance?

Memorials are built and named so we won’t forget, so those who come after will learn of the sacrifice of the Vietnam soldier, the love a little leaguer who never got to play Senior League had for the game.

This weekend we observe Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor and remember our military men and women who gave their lives in service to our country.

Some died in action, some went missing in action and never were found, some died a slow death after they came home and tried to resume a normal life. Some are still alive, but they will never be the same.

Sadly, these holidays that are set aside to remember and honor those who have stepped to the plate for our country are too often perceived as simply a day off work, to relax, catch up on things, feast and frolic.

While there’s nothing wrong with any of those activities, let us not forget to remember why we observe Memorial Day.

On the way to the baseball complex, there’s a grassy field beside the road that’s covered with U.S. flags. Each time I passed it last week, more flags waved in the breeze. Thursday, I slowed down to read the sign. Passersby are invited to place a free flag there in honor of a veteran.

20160527_122629

I didn’t have time to stop. But you know what? As soon as I finished writing my column on Friday, I drove to that field and placed three flags: in honor of my husband (U.S. Marine Corps, 1968–1972), my father (U.S. Army, World War II), and my father-in-law (U.S. Navy, World War II). It was the least I could do.

What about you? What are you doing to remember this Memorial Day?

Thank you, Lord, for those who gave themselves to serve, protect, and defend our country. Let us never forget the sacrifices they made. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Joshua 4