By Rev. Everette Chapman
One of my favorite books, No Trumpet Before Him, a novel written in 1948 by Nelia Gardner White, tells the story of a young Methodist minister, Paul Phillips, who faced numerous challenges not unknown to most ministers. Another key character in the book is a young man recently returned from the war. He is drawn to Paul Phillips and often expresses a simple wisdom.
On one occasion, when the weather outside was oppressively overcast and promised all-day rain, young Ficke tells a friend that it is a “ruma-ruma” day, explaining that it was a term used by their Jamaican maid during his childhood.
All the rainy weather occasioned by the two recent hurricanes has had me thinking of that term, for we have had an abundance of “ruma-ruma” days lately. Rainy days sometimes keep us home, and on one such day recently, I re-discovered one of my favorite poems, “Ike Walton’s Prayer,” by James Whitcomb Riley.
I crave, dear Lord, no boundless horde of gold and things, nor jewels fine,
Nor lands nor kine, nor treasure heaps of anything. Let but a little hut be mine,
Where at the hearthstone I may hear the cricket sing, and have the shine
Of one glad woman’s eyes to make for my poor sake our simple home a place divine – –
Just the wee cot, the cricket’s chirr, love, and the smiling face of her.
I pray not for great riches, nor for vast estates and castle halls.
Give me to hear the bare footfalls of children on an oaken floor
New-rinsed with sunshine, or simply spread
With but the tiny coverlet and a pillow for the baby’s head.
And pray Thou, may the door stand open and the day
Send ever in a gentle breeze, the fragrance from the locust trees,
The drowsy moan of doves, the blur of robin chirps, and the drone of bees.
With after-hush of the stir of ever-mingling sounds, and then,
The good wife and the smile of her, filling the silences again,
The cricket’s call, and the wee cot – dear Lord, deny me not!
I pray not that men tremble at my power of place and lordly sway,
I only pray for simple grace to look my neighbor in the face full honestly each day.
Yield me his hardened palm to hold, and I’ll not pray for gold;
The tanned faced wreathed in mirth, it hath the kingliest smile on earth;
The swarthy brow, diamonded in sweat, hath never need of coronet.
And so I reach, dear Lord, to Thee and do beseech Thou give to me
Just the wee cot, the cricket’s chirr, and love, and the glad, sweet face of her.
Ike Walton, with his homely values and unfeigned love for simple things, reminds us all that life at its roots is truly precious. Hold on to that on “ruma-ruma” days and sunny days and windy days and all days!