Friday, December 01, 2006

Simple Gifts

When I had to pick out my songs for my wedding, I knew that my choices would be limited. I go to a rather traditional church (in some ways) and I knew that the more popular songs were out. There would be a list of very traditional hymns that had been played at weddings for many decades and will be played for many more.

Though I enjoy my share of traditional, there are some times that I like to break the mold. Some people would say that my family breaks the mold already with three Korean adoptees. I like to think that we’ve just created our own molds. While most of the world is geared towards staying within the boundaries, I am often envious of the people who live on the outskirts of the boundaries on a regular basis. Me – I only have the courage to taste this freedom in very small doses.

They handed me a list and I scanned through the songs. The perfect song was at the bottom. “Simple Gifts” was written by a Shaker, Joseph Brackett, in 1848. The Shakers always fascinated me. I wrote my first history paper on the Shakers when I was in high school. After that, the Shakers started popping up at some of the oddest times.

I really enjoy this song on many different levels. In its simplicity, it can mean so many different things to so many different people. In fact, it means different things from me. I can apply it to my adoption, my current life, my future… While I see it one way, you may see it in a totally different light.

Verse 1
‘Tis the gift to be simple,
‘tis the gift to be free,
‘tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

I believe in this verse. I’ve always believed that I am here for a reason. I’ve never had a problem with my adoption. I could spend a lot of time wondering what my life could have been, but I’m here so I might as well look forward. I was supposed to be here and I ended up in the “place just right.”

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shant be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come round right.

This can mean a whole bunch of things to someone. Since this blog is about adoption, I’m going to stick to the theme. (Though admittedly this refrain means something else to me too.) Meeting each other half way is the key to our relationship with our adoptive children. Both sides – the parents and the adoptees – have to bend a little. Often the blogs of both can be a little one sided for me. When we work together and learn from each other, will “we come round right”?

Verse 2
‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say, (refrain)

I know that some Korean adoptees resent their adoption and they wish they had not been adopted in the United States by Caucasian parents. I do not resent it for a minute. “’Tis a gift to be loved and that love to return.” I wouldn’t trade my family to be in Korea. Personally, I am happy that I am here.

While I am here, I will learn and I will teach. I will continue to try to make sure that my son has all of the information that he needs. I will hope that other people are learning and that the racism that has caused many (not just adoptees) believe that we can’t all live together – will disappear. Though I realize that this is a rather idealistic view of the world, that’s really what this song is about – finding the perfect community. So, I’m telling you about mine.

Verse 3
‘Tis a gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of me,
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real. (refrain)

I am lucky in my family and lucky in my friends. I really think that they are the reason that I am so happy with who I am. That sounds funny, but their presence makes me feel safe to be me – to have my own opinions and to choose my own wedding songs.

When I chose this song for my wedding, some people thought it was a pretty odd choice, but I didn’t. it made perfect sense to me. I was getting married and starting a new chapter in my life. Here was a song that embodied all of the things that I was striving for – home, compromise, love, learning, peace, friends, reality… It was all pretty simple to me.

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