Way back when I was in elementary school, every day my class started with either a recitation of the pledge of allegiance or the singing of the national anthem. Back then, I didn’t have an opinion about whether these were positive activities, or whether they infringed on my rights, I just said the pledge or sang “The Star Spangled Banner” with all the other kids and got back to the business of learning. This morning, I was reminded of that bygone activity as I sat on base waiting for “colors.”
For the non-military types who read Gooseberry Lane, “colors” is that time each day when the flag is saluted and the national anthem is played. Active duty military members stand at attention. Civilians who happen to be walking on base are required to stop while the anthem is played; some of these individuals put their hands over their hearts while others just stand quietly. Anyone who is driving a car is required to stop. Once the national anthem is finished, a seven-note tune is played to signify an end to this morning ritual and a return to normal activity.
For me, “colors” is (loosely) the military equivalent of “quiet time” in my Christian circles. It is that time of day (usually in the morning) when I acknowledge something bigger than myself and when I check-in to make sure my attitude and actions are where they should be. Truthfully, it hasn’t always been that way. In years past, I would often avoid the base during “colors” because it threw a wrench my time management scenario; it delayed my morning regimen and forced me to be still for (horrors!) all of about three minutes. Now that I am older (and not necessarily wiser), I realize that the problem wasn’t time; it was attitude. I didn’t want to humble myself or assess my convictions. I just wanted to get on with my life.
Sad to say, that is often how I feel about my “quiet time.” It interferes with my morning chores; it demands that I slow down; it reminds me that I need to acknowledge something bigger than myself (God as the higher authority in my life); and it makes me examine my attitude and actions (recognizing when my life is moving in a direction that is displeasing to the Lord). All I need to do is sit still and listen.
Two simple actions…so hard to accomplish.
Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.