I don’t know about you, but I love patriotic songs. I often puff up with pride and even tear up a bit when I hear a good rendition of “God Bless America” – whether at a 4th of July celebration or the seventh inning stretch of a baseball game. (And in case you haven’t noticed…its baseball season over here in KC! GO ROYALS!!!)
“…From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam…”
And then there’s the purple mountains majesty, the amber waves of grain and the shining seas in “America the Beautiful.” Perhaps these songs particularly catch my heart because we have called the mountains in Colorado and New Mexico, the sea in California, and now the plains of Kansas our home over the past four years. Put a military figure – those very heroes who “more than self their country loved” – behind the microphone, and I really have to hold myself together. But beyond the lyrics describing the aesthetic beauty of our country, there are a couple of lines that get lost in the middle of “America the Beautiful.” I believe they are the true crux of the song.
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
from sea to shining sea.”
I believe that the very best of our country isn’t found in the beauty of the mountains or on the most stunning beaches of our coast. The writer of “America the Beautiful” recognized that the good of our country is crowned by brotherhood. Relationships. Community.
In each of the seven states I’ve lived in, there are plenty of people who believe they live in the best place in the world. They would never move away. You certainly can’t easily convince a Bostonian to move to California or a Kansan to move to Texas. When it comes down to it, most of these people love where they live – not because of geography – but because of their people. Geography doesn’t hurt, but it’s really all about community.
So how do we ‘crown thy good with brotherhood?’ What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? How can we truly embrace and serve our communities? These are the questions I’m asking myself as we approach the holiday season.
Our best patriotic songs are more than just pride reserved for national holidays and ballgames. These songs call us to do our part to add to the beauty. We are called to crown our beautiful country (and our world) with love and compassion in our immediate circles and greater communities. What does that look like? To crown our good with brotherhood is a call to be fruitful and productive with the talents and gifts God has given us. It’s a call to look for ways to serve those around us – near and far, daily and long term.
As we appreciate the bounty of fall and approach Thanksgiving this year, will you take a challenge with me? Not just to be thankful – but to actively add to the beauty. Start small. You might just make a big impact.
Sarah Grove’s words in her song, “Add to the Beauty” recently struck me:
“Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out our best
And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside”
True, America is beautiful. May God give us the grace to add to the beauty.
Awesome article you wrote here! I reblogged it on my award winning blog Totally Inspired Mind: Where Positive Minds Congregate.
We are kindred spirits.
Paulette Le Pore Motzko
Thanks so much, Paulette. And thank you for sharing it. Great idea for a website.
I am so glad you like my web blog Lauren.
Oh Lauren you are such a deep thinker and see beauty where it is everywhere instead of getting lost in the everyday minutia that often wears us out. Thanks for not letting us lose sight of the beauty around us and encouraging how we can add to it with the right attitude. Bless you.
Thank you:-) Although, I definitely get lost in the everyday minutia! Just ask my kids!
Finally got around to reading this! So insightful! And so true! I love the places we have lived for the landscapes but it does mostly come down to the people and community! I hope you are loving your new community! Xoxo, Kate
Thanks, sweet friend. You were an important part of my community in California, and I’m so glad to be keeping in touch with you. I wish we could hang out…speaking of geography, a beach play date would be nice;-)
Lauren, you are so gifted! I love how you think deeply and broadly about things – and challenge all of us to do the same! Thank you for another beautiful post…you are ‘adding to the beauty’ with your writings!
Wow…thanks, Toni:-) Those words mean so much to me, especially coming from you! I doubt I would have kept up with writing if you hadn’t challenged and encouraged me towards the blog. Thank you, friend.
Lauren, your words are beautiful, and so encouraging and inspiring! I have often seen, in so many Christmas hymns that Stanza 3 or 4 contains the real “meat” of the writer’s intent – just as this blog has! Your love of community has been evident to so many of us in the seven states you’ve graced with your presence – I’m so glad to be sharing more than one state with you! I love to watch how you build community, wherever you land. (and pray you’ve landed THIS time for a while!!)
I’m so thankful for our NM/KS connection too! Thank you for your love!
Lauren! As usual, you convey things in a fresh new way. This is beautiful and thought provoking. Thank you!
Thanks, friend. So glad to have you in my life, no matter where I live:-)
Beautiful!! Always so thought provoking. Love you!!