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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unsettled Chapter 13-A: "Fill My Cup, Lord"

There is a stand-alone chapter-story I wrote three years ago called "Mixed Milk" that really belongs in this "Unsettled" series. Had I been thinking I would have posted it for Christmas. When I print and bind these thoughts about the land and well and house to leave in our house for whomever lives there someday, I will include the "Mixed Milk" chapter. I've reason to mention it now...

Toward the end of that post you'll find this paragraph, which describes a picture you saw back in Chapter 9-b. Here is the paragraph and the picture, which we recently found:

"That year under the tree, we each got new leather shoes. We always mixed necessities in with our wants at Christmas. This was especially true during the mixed-milk years. In fact one of my favorite Christmas snapshots is of me sitting beside the tree in an undershirt with a new Bible in my right hand, a new bike tire in my left and those shoes somewhere in the wrapping paper in front of me. My mother says that picture makes her sad because I seem to be holding a bike tire with such satisfaction, but I had asked for the tireā€”it was on my list, just like the Bible and lots of other things I had unwrapped--and then to top it off... new shoes. The look on my face is one of genuine contentment." POI 12-05

You'll notice that paragraph speaks of my mother in present tense because it was written when she was an active reader here at Patterns of Ink. But the actual reason I wanted to include these opening thoughts is so obscure that it requires further explanation about the phase of life in which my siblings and I now find ourselves.

As regular readers may recall, my sister and brothers and I have had "work days" in our family home, the house this Unsettled series is about (not the one in the photo). On those days we have met at the house to do the work that all surviving loved-ones eventually face, and I must say I have been encouraged by how the five of us have conducted this systematic sadness, this sorting of life, this closure of what's past and redefining of present. It has actually been a very meaningful time.

Because many of us have or will face this process, I'll share two ideas that helped make it so. First, we always work together or at least in pairs. And second, we try to defer to each other about the little "things" that can sometimes cause strife.

For instance, when it came to the hundreds of "priceless-but-not-costly things" that fill a house, my sister organized each room of the house as if for an estate sale, but rather than "buying" the objects, we each took turns (in a "rotation" of order that kept it fair) at picking things that had meaning to us. Once we got down to items that no longer had meaning to anyone, we left the objects there for a true estate sale (on a date yet to be determined). The process took hours, but it was a time of fellowship and reflection. Spread on the floor all around Mom's piano was her old sheet music. Each of us got to select "favorites" one at a time.

In this photo are two pieces of sheet music I picked that day: a first edition copy of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" and the song that is the subject of this post. If you look closely at this photo of our piano now and the photo above from Christmas 1969, you'll see the same copy of "Fill My Cup Lord" that is on Mom's piano behind me.
I picked that music because I knew this chapter was coming. (I'd already alluded to it last summer in another story [2/3 down in that post].)

I have not heard this song in a church setting for many years. It was written by Richard Blanchard in 1953, but it reached its height of popularity in the late Sixties and Seventies, and like so many meaningful songs of that era, it's been shelved by the present generation.

It's possible that some readers here at POI know little about church music, so I'll just say that in addition to the great old hymns of the church, each generation is compelled to contribute new songs for believers to sing. These new songs ride up and down on waves of popularity over and below the steady line of the great hymns through the years, but unlike the hymns, they tend to be forgotten over time. (I could name dozens of other "church songs" that are even further back on the shelf, unsung for years.) In my case, for whatever reasons, I have not heard "Fill My Cup Lord" in a church setting for nearly two decades.

My children do not know this song, and I'm guessing neither do many of you. So for those unfamiliar with it, let me just say that it is based on the story in John 4 of the woman at the well whom Christ told He was the long-awaited Messiah. She was a woman who had been "looking for love in all the wrong places" so to speak. Christ told her of living water that satisfies eternal thirst. Just as Christ used a metaphor to capture that woman's imagination, Blanchard does so with ours, beginning his song with "Like the woman at the well, I was seeking for things that could not satisfy."

The links in this paragraph are not of the best quality, but I include them to demonstrate that "Fill My Cup Lord" was very popular and sung by vocalists and choirs of that time. It was sung by hundreds every week here in the states, and it's sung to this day in little churches all around the world. As a teen, I sang this song several times a month for many years. But how I remember it most, is hearing my mother singing it at her piano. To give an idea of how simple that sound was, I'll include this link of a piano playing it. (I wish it did not have the "midi" notes for the vocal part. Midi music has a way of making good music sound cheesy.)

Chapter 13 was to be called "The Woman at the Well." It is not about the woman in the Bible but my Mom. I split the chapter into two parts. Part "A" explains the song so that when I mention it in part "B," you'll fully understand its meaning and why my mother sang it so often that summer when we dug the well.

I probably won't be able to post the next chapter until Friday or so. In the meantime, please follow this link to read "Mixed Milk" (or listen to some of the other links above). If you have a few more minutes, watch the video below by CeCe Wynans. It's called "Alabaster Box" and is about a different woman in the Bible, equally in need as the woman at the well, which is perhaps why Wynans begins the medley with "Fill My Cup Lord."

Chapter 13-B coming this weekend.


Anonymous quilly said...

I know the song. I have sung it in church just recently, but more importantly, I know it well. I can still hear my Gram singing it next to me as we stand side-by-side in church.

13/1/09 1:09 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I am so glad to know you know it and that it is still being sung. More about it in the context of part B of this chapter.

13/1/09 5:51 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I remember the song and enjoyed listening to it again. I am amazed with how you weave music, technology, religion, and family into your story so effortlessly. My pea brain doesn't always grasp it all but I'm constantly reminded of the talented, gifted writer found at Patterns of Ink, which is a blessing indeed! Have a great week and know how much your writing is appreciated!

13/1/09 11:58 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Thank you. I thought you might know this, but it sounds like your experience is like mine in that it's an "oldie."

You are a wonderful encourager and a blessing to many in your world and far beyond it.

13/1/09 7:05 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

I loved reading this...and seeing the contented look of Christmas morning on your boyish face. :)

I do know that song well...and though I appreciate some of the modern worship songs, I miss so many that I use to sing growing up in church.

Sorry it's been so long since I stopped by...it's a constant juggling act balancing my computer time these days.


14/1/09 2:35 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Oh, I do understand the time thing. This series should have been done months ago. Part of that is time and part of that is rabit trails (like this 13-A chapter. It's not essential but it all ties in to the fabric of that time in my life).

I may write a post someday about all those old choruses that youth groups and kids at church camp were singing back in the early 70's. Some of them are more worthy to be sung than others, but it has been decades since I've heard them.

14/1/09 4:01 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

Cleaning out the old house was sad for my sister and I as well.
I was part of a group that sang that song a lot a long time ago.

14/1/09 7:19 PM  
Blogger heiresschild said...

hi Tom, thanks for leaving me comments letting me know about this post and song. i do remember it well. this post was very inspirational for me tonite. i still say you're the best writer and would make a great movie producer of all of your material. another Hallmark moment.

18/1/09 12:38 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Thank you for sharing...

18/1/09 2:29 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Dr. John,
Those were the days! You singing in a group. I'll bet you and Betty still enjoy singing.

So glad that even though you're on a blogging hiatus you do read and write comments. You are too kind. To someday write a "complete work" a story that would have meaning to others, would be a dream come true. I've become so dependent on "links" I'm not sure how to tell stories without lots of the elements of film. Who knows? Maybe someday.

I'm so glad this post was useful in your life. I've listened to that last link many times this week myself.

Glad you stopped by. You're always welcome. Praying for you and your family...

19/1/09 10:14 AM  
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