I finished the organ prelude this past Sunday and reached up to jot down the date it was played. I noticed that I first played this arrangement in the early 1980s, shortly after my children were born, a full generation ago.
The music was entitled “The Way of Faith”. I had randomly played it four or five times over the years, before it would be put back into a file where it might not be discovered again for years. I briefly thought of my faith which has been a constant in my own life. It has been tested, challenged and has even evolved a bit as I have grown and learned.
Faith is a bit like the sun that rests behind the clouds. You can’t see it, but you know it is there. It gives you comfort even as almost everything else around us changes at light speed. We cling to these constants in our lives because they are almost part of a nest we have built to protect us; to show us that at some level life is the same.
Some constants reach us at some primal level. We identify something we like and we keep coming back to it. Think of brand loyalty. It took me almost six decades to consider that another mayonnaise might be as good or better as Kraft. I am now experimenting with Duke’s mayonnaise, a brand of the south that I wasn’t even aware of until a year or so ago.
For many, sweet tea is a constant. Our diets may change. We may eat out more and more. But that cold glass of sweet tea takes you back to that hot Summer day in a more carefree time. When your mother put a glass of tea down on the table, it quenched your thirst in more ways than one.
Music is a constant for many. We are often grounded in the music of our youth, but others never stop evolving or changing. I knew every word to every song at a recent Eagles concert, though I rarely listen to their music these days. They were a rock in my past that doesn’t change.
We will travel soon to countries that don’t speak our language or use our currency. Years ago, we would have taken books to tell us how to change the money and how to try to say the most basic and necessary phrases such as “Where is the bathroom?”
Today you download a free app on your phone. You point it at a picture and it translates the words. You speak what you want to say and it converts to any one of a hundred languages, verbally stating the words clearly. It is interesting to note that the languages we will experience, for the most part have not changed. It is simply the way in which we communicate past the barriers that makes it simpler.
That is probably the way most of our life is. It has been quoted that “Change is the only constant”. Yet, occasionally those changes protect certain core values that we hold dear. They make them constant.
Politics change, but they stay the same. Huge pharmacies still carry aspirin and home remedies, despite decades of huge improvements in medicine. We drive cars that are marvels compared to my first Plymouth. Yet they both run on wheels, break down, and need washing, just like the first models did.
The greatest comfort of my life has been knowing that I was loved by my family no matter where my travels took me. It was that sun behind the cloud, ready to peak out when the dark clouds passed. Always there, even if I couldn’t see it.
Nothing changes faster than family, yet nothing stays so constant in the lives of most of us. Love in its many forms can be, without a doubt, one of the greatest constants of our lives.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org