Friday, November 14, 2008

Faith and Scarlet Ribbons -- jcarolek

I had a discussion about faith with a friend one night not too long ago. We were discussing the difference in meaning "believing" and "knowing." I won't go into the discussion further except to say that it has stuck in my mind for the past few days....
On my way to northern VA today for a meeting, I popped my homemade CD into the CD player and sang along with myself and my kids...sang the songs I've sung a thousand times in my life. And when I got to the song "Scarlet Ribbons" I suddenly realized something I had never comprehended

in the more than 40 years I have been singing that song. That song IS about faith. Pure and absolute. The faith of a child.

"I peeked in to say good night, when I heard my child in prayer
'And for me, some scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for my hair'

All the stores were closed and shuttered, all the streets were dark and bare
In our town, no scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair

Through the night my heart was aching, just before the dawn was breaking
I peeked in and on her bed in gay profusion lying there,
Were some ribbons, lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair

If I live to be a hundred, I will never know from where
Came those lovely scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair."

The child, the praying child, KNEW she need only pray for those ribbons and she would get them. The parent clearly did not have the same fact, felt compelled to scour the town that his child not be disappointed in the morning. And yet that child knew... she believed. We do not know how many times she had prayed for those ribbons, only that this was the first time her parent had heard the prayer.

I started really thinking about that whole part where we, as parents, might try to teach our children to have faith in a higher power, and yet teach them through our actions to have faith only in what we, ourselves, can accomplish. And even, when presented with the evidence of the higher power, even when those ribbons, those ribbons we ourselves could not provide, the ribbons that forced us to lose just a little bit of faith in ourselves as we KNEW our child would be disappointed in the morning, even as those lovely ribbons appear before our very eyes...we declare we will never know from whence they came....

Well, the child KNOWS and so it is.

Can this adult ever really KNOW? When I think of faith, at least for a while now, I am certain it will present itself in images of scarlet ribbons....

And to think.... I sang the song all of my life, always loved it....never really understood it...

This is the link to the song recorded by my children and myself about four years ago.

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