Nec aspera terrent. Let nothing difficult frighten you. (Motto of the Von Trapp family)
In 1949, Maria Von Trapp – think The Sound of Music – had published The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. She gave it none of the romantic tension Rodgers and Hammerstein gave the musical. Rather, she shared the unfolding of God’s will for a faith-filled young woman and the family she took as her own.
Maria touched lightly on the hardships of their journeys to America, to a home in Vermont, and around the US on singing tours. She wrote little of the conflicts of so many people in close quarters. However, she shared the beauties of
- Nature in Austria and the US
- the pageantry of Eastern European Catholicism
- and centuries-old folk songs as performed by an extraordinarily gifted musical family.
Maria helped readers to experience the anticipation and excitement of Advent and the celebration of Christmas. Gifts from all to everyone were hand-crafted with love and materials they had. An enormous tree was decorated behind the closed doors of the drawing room and “brought by the Christ Child.” (No Santa Claus for them.) Saint Nikolaus (the fourth-century Bishop) came for a visit, accompanied by the demon Krampus. Nikolaus spoke to each family member about his or her accomplishments and shortcomings over the past year. Well-doers received bags of fruit and other treats. Wrongdoers were left a switch as a warning.
Maria also shared the emotional lows and highs of Lent and Easter. Each family member volunteered to avoid some working of the flesh for the weeks of Lent. They all mourned the death and burial of the Savior then exalted at the celebration of His resurrection.
Having been raised in the Methodist church, I left for what I considered more Spirit-led forms of worship. Maria beautifully countered my disdain for Catholic ritual with her faith-filled experiences of these rituals.
Maria went beyond the story of the Von Trapps’ escape from the music festival (which they really won the first time they performed in public) and the clutches of the Nazis who occupied Austria. With the loss of their riches in Austria, the Von Trapps came penniless – but not poor – to America. Thru the charity of God’s people, their own frugality and industry as a whole family, and their extraordinary musical talents, the family prospered. Their faith in God to provide carried them through tough economic times.
The second half of the book shared about their singing tours of Europe, their sailing for New York to sing in the US, their several successful tours across the country, and their subsequent life on a farm in Vermont. The book related their building a singing camp for people to learn much of the music the Von Trapps performed. It explained their efforts to solicit contributions to aid the Austrian people torn by World War II.
Above all, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers told of their reliance on God, their close loving relationships and hard work with each other, and their sharing musical culture around the US. In the end, they called their Vermont home “Cor Unum” or “One Heart” after their desire to live together “in one heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”
How does God use your faith to create your extraordinary life story?