Words of Encouragement from the Choir Room
by Dan Seymour


If we meet and I say, “Hi,”
That’s a salutation.
If you ask me how I feel,
That’s consideration.
If we stop and talk awhile,
That’s a conversation.
If we understand each other,
That’s communication.
If we argue, scream and fight,
That’s an altercation.
If later we apologize,
That’s reconciliation.
If we help each other home,
That’s cooperation.
And all these actions added up
Make civilization.

(And if I say this is a wonderful poem,
Is that exaggeration?)
– Shel Silverstein

If I say we live in interesting times, the only argument anyone would have to disagree is that my language isn’t nearly strong enough. Contentious elections, a pandemic, wildfires, tropical storm names now into the Greek alphabet, even literal plagues of locusts – there is no shortage of concerns, fears, and situations that have earned our anxiety.

The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.
– William Wordsworth

So here we are surrounded by all sorts of reasons to make us defensive, fearful, or perhaps just downright ornery. We sit in our homes missing the lives we knew, missing our families and friends, missing our comfortable routines, and in my case, desperately missing the in-person creation of music. That last one might be a bit specific… but, well… I am your friendly neighborhood choir member after all. I digress. In these times and with all of this on our collective plate, it is very easy for things to slip. In fact, it is terribly easy to let loose those little verbal barbs – the ones that dig at those you care for, or even at your own self.

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
– Mark Twain

While we are so very good and practiced at the things that can tear down, we were also lovingly built to be capable of doing the exact opposite.

And so…

As tensions rise, remember love. As anxieties press, remember joy. As emotions flare, remember gentleness. As friendships falter, remember faithfulness. As family members poke and prod, remember patience. As social media screams, remember self-control. As annoyance builds, remember goodness. As anger flashes, remember peace. As fatigue beckons, remember joy. And as the pressure of everything around us continues, remember kindness.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, ……….faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
– Galatians 5:22-23

Dan Seymour
Bass in CSMSG Choir
Fundraising Data Manager at St. Louis Public Radio