Posted by Marjorie Ainsborough Decker text© 2011 on May 29th, 2011
Dear Friends, Greetings once again from the Countryside in Oklahoma,
In the sweltering heat this week, I’m sure you dear parched readers are reaching for glasses of that favorite American drink – iced tea. I had never heard of such a thing in England, where tea is meant to be sipped hot – piping hot!
And strange as it may seem, it’s piping hot tea I’m drinking right now. Believe it or not, that’s what I drink to cool off! I think that, matched up against iced tea, hot tea actually cools me off more effectively.
Writing about such things makes me chuckle, remembering my first encounter with iced tea. It was in those long-gone days when I was brand new to some of America’s customs. I was surprised to learn that the Post Office’s “General” Delivery wasn’t a person, such as the famous General Custer.
You’d be amazed how much trouble you can get into simply by using perfectly proper words from your homeland, which provoke startled gasps here in America.
For instance, my kind neighbors, who were more than willing to help me feel at home in Western Colorado, appeared shocked when I complimented them on being so “homely.” Yes, “homely” is a compliment in England! Honest.
It was while visiting a peach farm that my “homely” faux pas was explained, as iced tea and hot tea put on the gloves for supremacy! In the hot Colorado summer, my hostess served me a tall glass of iced tea. One sip, and I knew it would take more than the Declaration of Independence to free me from this unthinkable (change that to undrinkable) concoction called iced tea!
Yet, I didn’t want to offend my new friend’s hospitality. Ah! I spied the way of escape for my taste buds – an open window in the kitchen with a luscious view of peach trees and the Rockies. Leaning forward to get a better view, my iced tea also leaned forward with me and quietly watered the flowers in the window box below. (Oh, dear! there went another “Thou shalt not…” )
As I left, and tendered my “homely” compliment, this wise and candid Western homemaker humorously explained what a trail of bewildered “homely” ladies I kept leaving behind me. “They’re probably all rushing to the cosmetic section of the store to stock up on Oil of Olay,” I said, laughing with her. Right then, I decided to follow her wisdom of being politely candid about iced tea; even if I had to sing for my supper to get hot tea! And, like Little Tommy Tucker, that has happened more than once.
To “sing for one’s supper” is an ancient phrase, used by troubadours long before it appeared in Tommy Tucker’s rhyme of 1744. At the same time, the gifted Charles Wesley (1707-1788) was writing his marvelous compositions of over 6,000 hymns, extolling the goodness and love of God for the man in the street to sing.
I remember the first time I heard the term ‘Wesleyan,’ at about 8 years of age. Hearing an organ and singing at the top of our street, I ran to join in. Standing around the quaint portable organ, I sang as robustly as the adults: “Give the winds a mighty voice, Jesus saves, Jesus saves!.…” Since no one came to listen that day, I hoped the winds would mightily blow our singing into their homes.
After the short concert, the cheery evangelists invited me to sing at their Wesleyan Chapel. That was a new fellowship to me, as our home-life was centered around the Church of England. (Did I visit the Wesleyans? Yes – once. Did I tell my mother? No.)
I thought of that incident a few years ago, when Dale and I were visiting the Wedgwood Potteries in England. We had also visited my niece’s church which was originally founded by John Wesley. A big sign outside captured the Wesleyan style: “You are not too bad to come in, neither are you too good to stay out.”
“Little Tommy Tucker” in Christian Mother Goose has a simple song expressing what is most endearing to a child’s heart: “God is so good.…” That links with Psalm 107:8, “O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.”
In India, there’s a famous tower called the Qutb Minar. It ‘s the world’s tallest brick minaret. Built in 1196, it stands a whopping 238 feet high. From a base of 47 feet diameter, it tapers to a 9-foot diameter top.
Some years ago, an earthquake caused a crack in its base, dangerously tilting the Tower two feet. How to detect any further tilting was a problem in those days. Here was the solution: tiny pieces of dated glass were cemented in certain places. Thus, the smallest movement of the Tower would signal danger by causing a glass to crack. Safety precautions could then be taken.
How amazing! Like those little pieces of glass, our little children can show the stability, or lack of it, in the tower of our homes and nation. Are we wise enough to heed the direction our little ones are showing us, remembering that “….a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6) In fact, this Scripture is penned in French in the Christian Mother Goose Logo as: “Un Petit Enfant Les Conduira.”
May our Lord raise up stalwart American “Founding Fathers” from the many “Little Tommy Tuckers” we hear singing today: “God is so good, and God cares for little Tom.”
Cheerio, for now….and keep singing!
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