Young children are God’s gift to adults, so we can relearn important lessons about life and laughter. George and I have been blessed with five grandchildren under six years of age, and we are expecting a sixth grandchild in September. When I am not “Rev. Carol” at St. Alban’s or “Micky” at home, I’m “Gramma” to my three granddaughters. I love reading books to them, and then talking about what the story is about. Dr. Seuss is my very favorite children’s author. This past week, we sat together and read, I had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew, full of Dr. Seuss’ famous rhymes and tongue-twisters. His books always amaze me, for beneath the humorous verse and colorful drawings of his story there lies a life lesson with wisdom for children and adults. This particular story begins with a character with whom we can all identify:
I was real happy and carefree and young
And I lived in a place called the Valley of Vung.
And nothing, not anything ever went wrong
Until…well, one day I was walking along…
Sound familiar? Life is good, but then something goes wrong – an accident, a fall, an illness, a job loss, death of loved one. So we try to be more careful about everything we do – assuming that if we look carefully and do our best, we will avoid any further troubles….
But I learned there are troubles
Of more than one kind,
Some come from ahead
And some from behind.
Something else goes wrong, something unexpected or not planned for. Somethings just can’t be avoided. Some people begin to look for some ideal place, a ideal job, or a new relationship in which they hope they will “never have troubles, at least very few.”
I’m off to the City of Solla Sollew
On the banks of the beautiful River Wah-Hoo,
Where they never have troubles! At least, very few.
The little guy in Dr. Seuss’ book finally realizes he can’t avoid all troubles… We are all just doing the best we know how to be thoughtful, responsible, caring and faithful people. And what was familiar now starts to look pretty good.
Then I started back home
To the Valley of Vung.
Where I know I’ll have troubles.
I’ll, maybe, get stung.
I wonder if Dr. Seuss was really writing and speaking to the adult reading the book to the child? I know I always learn something from a good children’s book. The story reminded me of Psalm 46. In the midst of troubles that we cannot avoid, blizzards, earthquakes, or hurricanes, we are naturally drawn to be with our loved ones, and to remember that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
How did I miss this Dr. Seuss gem? It sounds like a must-read, even with grandchildren a long way off. The underlying message reminds me of the Yiddish folktale “Mazel and Schlimazel” — beautifully told by Isaac Bashevis Singer — which we read with Deb when she was small. No matter who we are, we are just one Schlimazel away from trouble. In light of that reality, the words of Psalm 46 are deeply comforting. Thanks for offering them up along with a slice of Seuss!
Simplicity with strong insight. Thanks for the Dr Seuss rhymes, attainable to all ages for times to come.