one thing I can hold on to


    I’ve stared at the screen the last two days and then gone to bed without writing anything. I woke up this morning, intending to chase away whatever was keeping me from putting words down, but didn’t have much luck because I just felt empty. As I sat there, John Prine’s words came to mind:

    there’s flies in the kitchen — I can hear them a-buzzin’
    and I ain’t done nothin’ since I woke up today
    how the hell can a person go to work every morning
    and come home every evening and have nothing to say?

    As many times as I’ve sung “Angel from Montgomery” (or listened to it – it’s my favorite song), that last verse penetrates deep into my heart: how can I look at the world, or at my life, and come up wordless? Ginger, who has had the special privilege of living through these days with me, first suggested I get out of the house and to a coffee shop to see if there were any words there and then called about a half an hour later to say, “I know what you can write about.”

    “Tell me,” I said.

    “Write about what you’re thankful for.”

    With those words she gave me one thing I can hold on to. When it comes to saying thank you, there’s always something to say.

    I’m deeply grateful for the way the folks at Pilgrim UCC have welcomed and embraced us. Moving to a new place (and grieving the one left behind) is lonely business and the folks here have been unabashed in expressing their intent for us to be a part of them.

    I’m grateful for hymns. On any given Sunday, my entrée into worship is through the congregational singing. Back in seminary days, they told us the congregation was the true worship choir, all of us singing together, not as the audience but as the primary participants in the act of worship. As much as I like some of the new music, the songs that feed me most profoundly are the ones that have been sung down over generations, words weathered and wise, because they pull me into the stream of singing saints, a sort of melodic Communion.

    Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
    It is the Lord, who rises with healing in His wings:
    When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
    A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

    I’m grateful for my brother, Miller. A number of years ago, when things between us were distant, at best, my dad said to me, “You need to keep in touch with your brother. He’s the best friend you have.” At that time, my father’s statement was not true. The years since have given grace enough for us to let some stuff go and work through some other stuff such that he is today not only family but a dear and trusted friend.

    I’m grateful Ella is bouncing around the house spreading joy and socks wherever she goes.

    I’m grateful for this blog and the connections created here. I’m also thankful it has afforded me the chance to develop the discipline of a writer (even when I don’t know what to write).

    I’m grateful that pitchers and catchers report in less than a month (Go Sox!).

    I’m grateful that just ten days short of nineteen years ago, at a retreat in Texas, I walked over to a beautiful woman and introduced myself. I then proceeded to follow her around the rest of the weekend and, when I got back home, called her and asked her to go see Lyle Lovett (which meant I gave away the ticket that was to have been my friend’s birthday present). I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating in the least when I say spending my life with Ginger has saved my life. I’m still going because of the way she has incarnated indefatigable love and grace and hope on a daily basis. The best news I know is I get to spend my life with her. As I wrote once, imagining us together as old people:

    this is the story of two common hearts
    that started our young and grew old
    they have practiced a lifetime
    the art of a well-worn love

    Tonight’s list is by no means exhaustive, but I would like to add one more: I’m grateful John Prine wrote this song:



    1. Your post blessed me. It also reminded me of something I have written in my journal; I’m sorry there is no note of where I found it:
      For the harvests of the Spirit,
      thanks be to God.
      For the good we all inherit,
      thanks be to God.
      For the wonders that astound us,
      for the truths that still confound us,
      most of all that love has found us,
      thanks be to God.

    2. Yes! I too am thankful for the approach of baseball. Tulowitzki just signed again with the Rockies, and I plan to scrape up enough pennies to subscribe to MLB TV so I can watch him through zingers across from the third to first all season…and maybe a few bosox games as well.

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