Dear Winn – 26 March 2016

Dear Winn:
Your last letter took me back to far too many Holy Week weekends where I felt that pressure to deliver the goods. I can even remember a certain church member telling me one Easter Sunday pre-service, “Today’s when you earn the money, preacher.” I never liked that church member, always thought he was a bona fide bonehead. But you’re right, the people were/are going to show up expecting something. Exactly what they were/are expecting is hard to put a finger on, but they show up paying attention. As one who has moved from the pulpit to the pew (or interlocking row of chairs in my case), I guess I’ll show up tomorrow expecting something too. I don’t have a sermon for you, but here’s a thought at least. I believe what I want to hear tomorrow is “the same damn tune” (as Willie sings in one of my fav’s of his). Winn, just remind us of the story that’s been told a kabillion times, and maybe, just maybe if our hearts are bent in the nonboneheadian direction tomorrow, we’ll feel like we’re “going home.” Man I’d pay good money if somebody’d sing “Hands On The Wheel” tomorrow for the Easter anthem.
I will pray for you though, as I’ll pray for my Dad, and my pastors here in Monument, and all the other ministers/pastors/preachers/priests because yes, tomorrow’s the biggie. As I’m typing this its snowing like a mutha, so my plans to wear my open toe pastel flats are kinda screwed. Nope, it sure doesn’t feel like Easter. But get this. Guess what just landed on the branch of my neighbor’s snow-covered aspen? A dove. I kid you not, a dove. Is that a sign? At this stage in my life I’m taking everything as signs and wonders, Winn. So PEACE for me and you and all of us as we’re living the day before the Day, and then as we gather tomorrow, some of us in layers.
Speaking of stage of life, my back’s been out of whack this week. I used to worry about jacking it up squatting 300 lbs, but I’ve passed those boyish flat-stomached days. Grief, I can wrench my back brushing my teeth at the wrong angle or wiping my hind end with too much verve. Yeah, feeling my forty-nine in living color. I did receive a humbling birthday gift though, and I’ll sign-off with that because I believe it might encourage you a bit, and if we’re not encouraging one another then we oughta just stop and shut up.
Out of the blue I got a Facebook note from a young man who was a member of a church I used to pastor. I didn’t know him too well back then, but I did give a little pre-marital counseling to him and his fiance (I shudder to think what I told them in all of my wisdom of thirty-three years. Father, forgive me). The story goes that the minister who was supposed to officiate their wedding ceremony had an emergency and had to beg off, so they asked me to step-in at the last minute, and I did. I’d long forgotten that story until he reminded me of it this week. His note concluded with mucho thanks for my part in their young lives, and here’s the absolute kicker – they gave their firstborn son the middle name “Blase” because of my words and presence at a particularly poignant threshold of their lives. I read that and broke down and cried, my friend. Best birthday gift ever. All that to say just keep doing what you’re doing, your words and presence are so vital to the people around you, even the boneheads of which there are always a few (some are born and bred boneheads, but some might just be folks with their backs outta whack – hard to know).
Keep your hands on the wheel, Winn. That dove’s still on the branch.

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  1. The Keeper of me on March 26, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Dear John:
    I seem to be unable to pretend I am not reading your intimate exchanges with Winn. Truth be told I am in deep like of the both of you, and no, not in any inappropriate sense, just the” can I be a fly in the corner” kind of way. Dear God there are so many treasures in this letter. I am beyond grateful you have your voice and pen and funny words that make me smile and then you can zing me with the best of them. Easter this year appears to be buried in white, which may be appropriate in the sense of white washing a religious day that I seem to treasure EVERY day, if I have the mind to remember his gift. God I am so grateful for his gift. I am so grateful for his blood shed and his message and this life changing thing called grace. Because he lives and I’m forgiven. Thanks for the reminder of all of it.

  2. Ruth Brown on March 26, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    I agree with feel the same as The Keeper of Me above…

    I love the part of your blog “…just keep doing what you doing, your words and presence are so vital to the people around you…” You are the age of my children, and I sat here chuckling listening to your humor over getting older and feeling older. Thank you for this gift of joy today as I busy myself preparing for my family’s celebration tomorrow

    I too pray for the pastors in my town and in my county. May the beautiful truth of Jesus place a blanket of mercy of our country tomorrow

  3. paula jones on March 28, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    “At this stage in my life I’m taking everything as signs and wonders . . .” I love that line (along with many others in this missive). Leonard Sweet would be proud of your semiotician self 😉

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