Choir Notes

Begin Again Tomorrow
From Music and The Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4109

When troubles, heartaches, and disappointments weigh us down, how we cherish the companionship of friends who lift us up. Their patience and good cheer, even in the most stressful situations, can help us see beyond threatening clouds to clearer skies on the horizon.

An incident in the life of Amos Bronson Alcott, educator and father of famed author Louisa May Alcott, illustrates the positive influence we can have on each other. The Alcott family finances were meager, and expectations were placed on Mr. Alcott to replenish the coffers with his winter lecture series. When he returned home one cold night, the family circled around him close to the fire. A hush fell on the gathering as daughter May asked the question weighing on all their minds and hearts: “Father, did they pay you?”

Mr. Alcott opened his pocketbook, slowly pulled out a one-dollar bill, and laid it on the table. “Another year I will do better,” he said. There was silence. And then Mrs. Alcott threw her arms around her husband’s bent shoulders and said stoutly, “I call that doing very well.”1

Mrs. Alcott understood how to master disappointment. She chose to be encouraging and optimistic instead of critical, bitter, or resentful. Without minimizing the problem, she kept the family’s focus on what really matters. She couldn’t make the family’s troubles go away, but she could contribute positively to the situation by lifting the burden from her husband with her patience and confidence. The Alcotts still had a difficult winter ahead, but they also had the strength and courage to face it together.

Marmee, the mother in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, gives this advice: “Don’t let the sun go down upon your anger; forgive each other, help each other, and begin again to-morrow.”2

1 See Clifton Fadiman, ed., The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes (1985), 9.
2 (1872), 71.

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