This German folk tune, later sung by a host of musicians including Peter, Paul, and Mary, asks a very good question in its title; “Where have all the flowers gone?” Throughout the song, the songwriter misplaces a multitude of people and things – I used to sing this song in my eighth grade German class. Listening to the tune brought back a memory of the last time I “lost” my keys. All of us have lost our keys, books, wallet or purse, only to find the missing artifact in some obvious place a few moments, or hours later. We are amazed to think that we could have overlooked during our frantic search a set of keys sitting on the kitchen table. Could the keys have become invisible for two hours, and then just reappeared? Is there a wormhole to a distant universe in my kitchen? Or maybe, when we lose, or temporarily misplace something, it is because we have forgotten where ‘it’ came from and how to find ‘it’ once it has become missing?
Let us suppose that our lives can be displayed as a home, complete with bedrooms, bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, and the dreaded basement. All of the stuff in our life is contained within the house: love, beauty, feelings of peace, joy, contentment, compassion, and gratitude – all of the emotions and feelings that make our days contented. The bad stuff: hate, fear, loathing, resentment and others are locked up in the basement where we try, unsuccessfully, to keep them hidden from sight. And, like in our normal home we sometimes lose stuff, not forever, but gone for some time anyway. Today, maybe we will lose our patience. Exactly how many times must we ask a child to make their bed or pick up their own dirty clothes and put them in the hamper so we can clean them? Of course, when patience leaves, so do peace and joy – the three seem to live together. When a good emotion leaves the home, often a bad one sneaks up from the basement to take their place, like resentment. Joy is out and resentment is in. The event may only last twenty minutes, but for that time your home is not the home you want it to be. So what do we do? In my world, there is only enough room for a certain number of feelings and emotions. If joy and peace stay, resentment and hate are not allowed in. On the contrary, if hate and anger linger, peace and joy cannot.
The trick for me to stay in peace is in not misplacing the upstairs feelings so there isn’t room for the basement ones to sneak in. I do not lose my keys, because I remember who gave them to me in the first place. My wife and my family bring me peace, joy, love and happiness. When I am at work and I can’t find my joy, I remember that my joy comes from God through my family, and then like those magical keys reappearing on the kitchen table, my joy finds me again. I know that my God and my family are my anchors, my rock on which I build my home. I remember that when the storms come, or when I am looking for those lost peaceful moments. Never give an opportunity for the basement feelings to come upstairs.
Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind? Where have all the flowers gone? That’s the point, they are not gone, the flowers are on the kitchen table where you put them, right next to your keys.
Thanks for reading.