Friday, January 1, 2010

Ring out with the old and ring in the new

Ring Out, Wild Bells by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, published in 1850
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Mormon's are familiar with a variation of this poem in hymn #215 Ring Out, Wild Bells.  It conveys how I'm feeling this morning - I'm ready to ring out with the old and ring in the new.

I feel conflicted about 2009.  On one hand - I watched my two youngest children get married, my 4th grandchild was born (a girl) and I learned that a 5th is on the way.  But, on the other hand, I lost my job and spent most of the year trying, unsuccessfully, to find a new job.

2009 is also the year where, for the first time in my entire Mormon life, I began to wonder if there is a place for me at the table in the LDS church - or will they only set a place for me as long as I pretend to be something I'm not. In truth, the seeds of this discontent were sown in 2008 - but it festered throughout 2009.

And, in a final slap in the face, my doctor's office called New Years Eve with the results of my latest blood tests.  It turns out I may have diabetes - they want me to get a glucometer and start measuring my blood sugar before every meal and go back in a month with the results.  Of course, that blood test came at the end of a major holiday season where cookies and treats are just part of the diet - so, of course, my blood sugar was higher than normal, or am I just fooling myself?  And, I find myself wondering if I even care.  Should I change my diet, try to loose some weight, and live longer?  Truthfully, there is a certain appeal to hastening my eventual demise.  We're all going to die sooner or later - is there a particular reason why I should try to make that later rather than sooner?

I'm sitting here now, it's 7:30am on January 1st.  There's really no reason not to be up this early - I went to bed at 10:30pm last night.  I did want to hear Kris Allen who was headlining the New Year's program in Las Vegas; so, I set my DVR to record it and went to bed.  It gives me something to look forward to later today. 

We had been invited, with other empty nester couples, to someone's house to play games and bring in the New Year; but, they called Wednesday night to explain that some family situation had arisen so they had to cancel.  Although, I'm really not all that disappointed.  One of the other couples that were coming, the husband has a proclivity for making homophobic comments during in priesthood meeting.  If the discussion turned to politics, I thought it pretty likely he would open his mouth and say something stupid - and I just wasn't in the mood to deal with that.

I apologize for such a depressing blog post -but that's just how I'm feeling right now - it's how I've been feeling for a while now.  We come into this world, we deal with a bunch of crap, and then we die - is it worth it? Sorry, there I go all dark and gloomy again.


Quiet Song said...

I love that song!

Yes, there is a place for you and for me and that homophobic brother at the table.

And, it's worth trying to do something about the diabetes now rather than at a later time.

Abe you and I are at the age where we wear the mantle and have much to do with the character of the conversation. I have gently been correcting misstatements and making small pre-emptive strikes explaining that I, too, have had some same sex yearnings. These have all been in one on one settings, no one has been shocked or even batted an eyelash.

And, I find it changes the character of the conversation significantly. We can and do make a difference. No guilt my friend, you live according to the standards and have no reason not to rejoice and to help enlighten others.

J G-W said...

I love that song too... And say Amen to Quiet Song's sentiments.

Beck said...

I love the very last note of the last verse of that song. It finally rings in a positive, upbeat key - the rest of the music is in a minor, somewhat depressing key... With the negative aspects of your life running through the main score, may the coming year bring you a hope for a more positive and upbeat concluding note!

Ned said...

Wow, I've sometimes felt all alone in loving this hymn. I've also traced it back to Tennyson and enjoyed the longer, original version, which is part of is epic poem In Memoriam which was written for his college buddy who died as youth. Did you know there were homosocial aspects of this text?

And you're right, Beck, the last chord of the last verse Wild Bells is a stroke of genius on behalf of composer Crawford Gates, taking the mood from dawn to daylight.

Abe, I agree with the above comments that our being here makes a difference. Like you I am a grandfather and face health issues including high blood sugar, and sometimes I feel discouraged. Nonetheless, I agree with Quiet Song, and this song from Bernstein and Sondheim for that matter:

There's a place for us
Somewhere a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us somewhere

There's a time for us
Somewhere a time for us
Time together with time to spare
Time to look time to care

Someday, somewhere
We'll find a new way of living
We'll find a of forgiving
Sometime, somewhere

There's a place for us
A time and place for us
Take my hand and we're halfway there
Hold my hand and I'll take you there
Somehow, someday, somewhere

The somehow is what this community and our individual lives are about. The someday is now. The somewhere is where you are and where I am and where Beck is and hundreds if not thousands of others, a miraculous "other place" in the real world but also here in the blogosphere that didn't even exist when some of our children were born.

Ok, OK, I'll step down from my soapbox now and simply wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Sorry to hear about the possibility of diabetes, and of your sadness in general. Hopefully things get better.
This really spoke to me, as it unfortunately does for many of us:
"...I began to wonder if there is a place for me at the table in the LDS church - or will they only set a place for me as long as I pretend to be something I'm not..."
I wonder about this too. But even if the Church doesn't have a place for us, and even if our families don't make room for us--and yes, this is probably straight from an evangelical billboard somewhere in the Bible Belt--Jesus is always saving a spot for you at His table!
Hope 2010 is a year of peace for you and yours,

GeckoMan said...

Abe, come on guy, do as you said, bring in the new heart, let the old fearful and frustrated one die. True Hope is based on promises made to us from the Lord, who loves even us gay boys.

I live with diabetes, that is, my wife. Take care of yourself, so your spouse won't have to. If you really want to be miserable, ignore good blood sugar maintenance, continue to gain weight and force those around you to deal with the ugly consequences.

Anonymous said...
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Scott said...

I'm coming late to this post, but...

And, I find myself wondering if I even care. Should I change my diet, try to loose some weight, and live longer? Truthfully, there is a certain appeal to hastening my eventual demise. We're all going to die sooner or later - is there a particular reason why I should try to make that later rather than sooner?...

Even if you're not interested in living for a long time, (poorly managed) diabetes is not the way you want to go. Blindness and amputated limbs aren't going to make things any better.

Take care of yourself, even if it means eating a bit less of some of the things you enjoy. With a bit of care (and self discipline) you'll be going strong for a long time, which is exactly how your family and friends (myself included) would prefer it.

... And trust that there's a path that will bring you happiness, and that God will help you find it. He may not lead you where you'd expect, and the way won't always be easy, but He wants you to be happy and ultimately He'll help you get there if you let Him.