Monthly Archives: November 2019

In The Shadow of the Lady

Across the Hudson River in New York stands Liberty Tower where the Twin Towers stood.

Across the Hudson in New Jersey, is Liberty State Park. Close to The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, two memory walls with names of those who perished in the Towers on 9/11 and an old railroad station and relic rails to points beyond the city.

Having experienced all of that and paying attention to the people probably making assessments of the impact 9/11 made and makes which were similar to mine, I listened to the languages. Voices from 360 degrees were not native to my ears, nor did some clothing match mine. I felt something.

These are not my people.

They were no threat to us, some even acknowledged us. Most were doing what we were doing. If this country is a melting pot, for many generations, this was where the first glimpse of the pot would have been. We have a DVD study of the Italians coming into and getting off the boats at Ellis Island. The immigrants expressing gratitude to be in the new land—the place of the American Dream. Yet in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty I was aware people around me were not my people. I didn’t know what the word “have a great life” sounded like in their language or what the pursuit of happiness looked like to them.

For us to be Americans—brothers and sisters—where will that happen if even in the shadow of common national symbols we are not “people”?

To be a people we must have common language, common experiences, common histories and appreciation for each other’s heritages. The Speaker of the House talked the other day about being a common people—Americans all. But we are not and that is part of the fractured core of our current culture. We have no common culture. Where can that be built, experienced and cherished?

At my wife’s mother’s funeral dinner, we had family from North Dakota sitting at the same table with family and friends from New Jersey. The mixed sounds were fun to hear and decipher. The other evening we ate supper in an Italian restaurant—no franchise!—a village restaurant where the hostess greeted some with hugs and kisses. I watched people and wanted to go to their tables and say, “Tell me your story.” I wanted our professional waiter from Greece to join us and tell me his story. He has been our friends’ waiter for a long time—but I don’t know his story.

We went to a favorite tavern for afternoon lunch and another mix of languages, belongings and greetings of which I knew none. But I was fascinated. But sure not my people—yet.

I went to Jr. and Sr. high school with kids who were not Baptist like I was then, whose parents and grandparents spoke different languages. When they began to talk to each other in native tongue, which I sure didn’t understand, I knew I was not their people. I was an outsider and afraid of stepping across some opaque line that would prove it.

The Founding of this nation has filtered all of this as we have viewed New York City skyline at midnight and then closer. By the time the Constitution was debated and then written, there were many dialects and languages and places of origins. From many came one. How? Common challenges, common goals, common beliefs and common meals that excelled the differences and they became a people.

It was called an experiment. America still is. Being a member of a tribe is different than belonging to silo tribalism. Becoming a people—Americans—requires having something in common and learning to enjoy the cultures learned around common tables. Bagels, baklava, Swedish meatballs, I like them all. Just waiting for an invitation.

©2019 D. Dean Benton—

Emotional Support Resource

Friends traveled to the West Coast on concert tour. Upon arrival, they were notified the lady’s mother had died. Plans were made to fly the singer’s wife and teenage son home and he would finish the tour alone. He says it was his first tour alone. That tore open  memories.

We were a several days out on an extended tour of Fla., Ga., S.C. with two multiple-day meetings, and several one-niters. We got word that Carole’s mother needed open heart surgery. I put Carole on a plane in Nashville and began my own first solo tour. I had done solo concerts when the women were sick but this time I was ALONE.

Most of the accompaniment tracks were in my keys –or with scrunched eyebrows could be—and I was the preacher/teacher. The truth is that Carole brings a dimension to a seminar or concert larger than her voice. A pastor evaluated us: “Dean does a good job, but when Carole is in the meeting—it’s dynamite.”

All I had with me was separation anxiety. The meetings went well. I got into a groove blending an eclectic sound of country to southern gospel to inspiration and big band. We recorded some songs with background singers and some we sang back-up. I certainly had a full sound. Some dynamics surfaced that I had not experienced before. My own emotions and spiritual sensitivity gave an edge to the words in messages and tears will sell a song.

We made plans to meet up in a close city as soon as Carole’s mother got home. Those plans changed because Carole had severe bronchitis before her flight home which would not yield to meds or prayer. As I recall, my wife saw 8 doctors prior to and on the trip from Iowa to Nashville. Stressed! Carole’s mother did well. Our daughter had pregnancy-related complications which sounded terrible. I wondered if I would ever see loved ones again.

On that tour, people told me stories. I was involved in conversations that still astonish me. People spurred my faith. After a concert in Waycross, I was changing into travel clothes in the men’s room. Hanging my dress clothes over the stall walls. A man in the next stall said encouraging things to me about the evening: “… for sure God has you where He wants you….” I laughed and thought “Yeah, in a toilet?”

Two or three weeks into the tour, I was drained and very scared. I went to the Macon Mall to visit a large book store. I read a medical book about Debi’s affliction and the possibilities put me close to the edge. I couldn’t do anything to fix anyone or anything and it was as if I were on a different planet. I have cried in bookstores, but I sure didn’t want to lay on the floor clutching a medical book in the fetal position. I had to do something with the adrenalin; I walked the halls of the mall.

In my journey, I found a pet store. There was a fluffy puppy. The clerk said it would be okay if I held the dog so I did. He cuddled into my neck, sloppy kisses and expressed delight. For a few minutes, that pup was an angel aware. Far more than an emotional support companion. I do not know why I didn’t buy the pup. Window sticker probably.

I pray God will release resources and His best people to minister to my friends in this tough time. And to you. (I have no dog resources, but I know someone who can supply up to six kittens per client.)

Ten days later I picked Carole up in the Columbia, S.C. airport. “Lord, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

©2019 D. Dean Benton—Writer, Wonderer, best with my wife.

More travel stories and emotional support animals are in my books listed on website: