Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In Response to Small Town Texas

In her epic novel Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell used a phrase from the poem Cynara as the title:

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind ...

In Chapter 24 of the book, she wrote of the post-war plantation:

"Was Tara still standing? Or was Tara also gone with the wind which had swept through Georgia?" (GWTW, Chapter 24.)

The storms of life are ever upon us...all of matter where we live or when in time we live. We all have different winds and storms, but they exist. It's how we weather them that defines if we survive them.
{Shared on Social Media. Contributor Unknown.}
Dear Small Town Texas,

I'm truly sorry for this but (even though I don't know you) I hear you, and sympathize and, in 2005, I walked in your galoshes and this week I want Small Town Texas to know they are not alone.

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, my small town was in the same boat as you are today, as was Biloxi, MS, and we were crippled by it all. Our New Orleans was your Houston. Even this year, with the same storm, we are still the small town in America. We are swept away with the wind. If we were in Texas, and Louisiana was not in the storm's path, our town would not even be a breath on the news media radar. Even this morning, because Harvey breezed alongside the Sabine River from which our town sits a mere 15 minutes from that swollen river, the attention is directed at Texas. And nothing we do or say is going to make it any different. That's how it was for us after Rita which followed a month after Katrina. That's how it was for Biloxi, MS during Katrina.

Don't let you life or your community be defined by how much attention...or get from the media, social or otherwise.

Big cities are where we go to be absorbed and consumed and forget ourselves. Yet the big cities define us on the map, don't they? We go to big cities to have an adventure and take on a new identity. Because big cities are loud, we believe that we can shout and be heard but, really, we aren't heard at all. We aren't even noticed above the roar. Just know that being smaller doesn't make you less. And remember that small town America is what made America great.

I know you're feeling swept under the rug, pushed aside. The wind blows and throws your world around and no one seems to know that you and all you care about are out in that wind. You're facing a destructive time in your life and you want the world to know it. Like the tiny people in the speck of  Horton Hears a Who, you're shouting, crying, pleading for someone to take notice of you, to recognize you are here...You Are Here...YOU ARE HERE! We all want to be seen, now so more than ever.

I can't help but think that's the reaction of our world at large today. Everyone shouting, crying, pleading I am here...I Am Herre...I AM HERE! Do you see me? Do I matter? #blacklivesmatter #bluelivesmatter #translivesmatter #gaylivesmatter #Republicansmatter #Democratsmatter #smalltownlivesmatter #bigtownlivesmatter #TXlivesmatter #LAlivesmatter #smalllivesmatter #biglivesmatter

And we keep burying ourselves further and further into the world's expectations of us and into the roar of the hurricane, of the city, of social media, beating each other up while battling whose lives matter more. It's getting a bit beyond ridiculous. Right? There's a true sense that no one is at peace with themselves and who they are. Know that there is good out in the world. And go find it! Don't live your life looking for attention...give it to others. Live your life as though others matter and make it count.

A strong wind has swept through your beloved Tara and national news takes no notice of you. But don't let that defeat you. Let it build you. Let your hurt and cadence become your rallying cry. Let it spark a desire in you to notice more closely, empathize more dearly, embrace more freely the hurt and neglect that is around you. Read the history, look for the history, listen to the history that is Small Town America around you. Find the courage that your tribe before you used in order to build that community in the first place. Then go pick up a shovel, pick up an ax, pick up a leaf blower, pick up a broken window, pick up a trash bag, pick up a newspaper, pick up a pen! And get to work.

Small town America is where we reunite with our past. Small town America is where we remember our roots. Small town America is where we can build a future. Small town America is where we go to remember who we were. Small town America is where we become a newer, a better version of ourselves. Small town America is where we can be noticed. Small town America is where we recover our sense of identity. Small town America is where we recover. Period.

I can't help but think of all the small town Americans who have gone away in search of ...what? Self? Greatness? Purpose? Doesn't that sense of self begin in our heart first? What are the reasons we move away? Disgusted with town, family, school, momentum, stagnant waters that run deep? We leave and sail our boats around the world and and into other storms. We find that some places have avalanches despite the crystal beauty and some places have tainted waters despite the icy stillness and some places have godless faith despite erupting mystery and some places have blizzards and tornadoes and the earth shifts beneath all our feet.

And we are all victims. Or we become victims.

Then in the harvest of our life when we are crippled to the point of having to bow low, we bend down to collect the pieces of our life's story. Often the grains of time shift through our fingers and many times a person stands beneath a tree looking out across a field, a pond, a woods, a yard, a memory that defined his first foot steps. And the one thing a servant and king both think as they look across time and space is how much they wish they could tell that little boy or that little girl they once were to just live and to be content for having lived.

By all means large, go and see and visit and learn, but at day's end know that this small town was what molded you into the person you became or gave you the strength to accept yourself. You did not create that place; it created you.

What is wrong with that story? Nothing. Nothing at all. It is meant to be lived. The sorrow is that we realize too late there was a message in the storm and we are where we are in order to make a difference.

There is nothing you can do about the lack of media coverage of your great small community, only remember that big cities do not define America. Seems there was even a recent election where small town America spoke very loudly and reminded the nation that they exist. They are what truly built America. Not Washington D.C., not Hollywood, not Broadway, not Big City U.S.A. The media may focus on them but you focus right there where you are planted. Live it. Breathe it. Applaud it. The treasure is in being grateful for that community. Be who you are, where you are and you will set the world on fire. And there is something you can do in remembrance of it. Be proud. Build your tomorrow so that you can own it. And carry that small town America out into the world.

We're praying for you and lifting you up.

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