Monday, February 21, 2011

George Washington...

George Washington praying at Valley Forge
 Happy President’s Day! George Washington’s birthday. What a man. What a life! There is another George Washington whom I can’t help but think of today--and also hope to meet someday in heaven. George Washington Carver.

George Washington Carver
      "Oh, when the saints, go marching in, oh, when the saints go marching in! Oh, Lord, I want to be in that number! When the saints go marching in!"  As a little girl, I imagined these saints as I sang. We had a great music program in my public elementary school. Miss Forsythe taught us many folk songs and classics. I can still see her standing at the blonde-wood upright in our classroom, her tall frame crouched slightly, one knee bent, the opposite foot on the pedals. Gosh, what good times. Some teachers really have a gift for making learning exciting, and bringing it to life.
     In college I was blessed to have a gifted History professor. Dr. Kerr was short and rounded with black glasses and thinning, white hair. He wouldn’t have stood out in a crowd, but in our large lecture hall all eyes were on him. He could have been an actor, his lectures were so animated. He quite literally performed in front of our large lecture hall. I sat front and center. I loved his class. He was Sir Walter Raleigh, Paul Revere, Queen Elizabeth or Abraham Lincoln on any given day. He made history come alive. He was brilliant.
     I still love history. I have more books than I'll ever finish. My middle-aged brain is slower and it is constantly trying to keep tabs on our eight children at home, two living away from home, and our foreign exchange student. They are certainly more important than my reading list, but when there is time, I do enjoy learning about earlier times, those who have gone before us, and especially those with heroic, inspirational lives.
     A few years ago the girls brought home a book about George Washington Carver. Born in Missouri around 1865, he wanted so badly to go to school that he walked ten miles to another town where a black boy could attend. He was raised by a man named Carver, who respected freedom, was good to him and raised him much like a son.  The woman who owned the house where he stayed while going  to school asked him his name. He replied, “Carver’s George, Ma’am.” She told him he should have his own name, one with dignity. He chose George Washington Carver, after our first President, and Mr. Carver.
     He graduated from highschool, moved a few times, worked hard to earn money, and went to college. A Botanist, he later earned a Master's Degree and an Honorary Doctorate. We seem to remember him most for inventing multiple uses for the peanut but he really did so much more. He taught farmers how to rotate crops, using plants like the peanut in order to restore nutrients into soils depleted by cotton. He was peaceful, strong, amiable and helpful. When my boys complain about going to school I remind them how blessed they are. They get a lesson about George Washington Carver and the value of education.

     To be counted "in that number".  I sure am hopeful that both George Washington and George Washington Carver are! I am my own biggest critic and I doubt that one day I could be thought of as an example of anything, unless it’s an example of someone with a desire to do right, despite her own weaknesses and procrastination.  I find strange hope in reading that men like Columbus and Tschaikovsky never lived to see the impact they made on their world. I am sad that they died feeling as though they hadn't accomplished much (can you imagine?).  I will never discover another land or write a symphony! Nevertheless, I will keep trying to do better, and to live as Christ taught. I have ten amazing children, and I believe the world can be changed by them.
You are the only one who can uniquely do what God has called you to do. Here’s to ”marching in” together one day!
God Bless you,
The Abbey Farm

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