Dear Winn – 11 February 2016

Dear Winn:
I attended our Ash Wednesday service last night. I was up yesterday at 4am, my usual rise, so by 6:30pm, put me in a darkened room with candles flickered by quiet whispery scripturey voices, boy I was captain drowsy eyes. But I longsuffered, its what you do. The service was full of elements, a little too full for me, but a phrase from the beginning of the time stuck with me the duration, drowsy eyes and all: as for man, his days are like grass. There were also two music videos shown during the service, one a Tim McGraw song “Humble and Kind” (I liked it) and one a Gungor song “Beautiful Things” (I didn’t like it, it tried too hard). The only way I know it was a Gungor song is that Meredith told me, after I got home. I don’t listen to that kind of music. Actually McGraw tried too hard as well. I should’ve just closed my eyes and listened. But being drowsy to begin with, that could’ve sealed the slumber deal, pitched me right over in the lap of the Lutheran lady sitting beside me and upset the whole show. But she is my friend, so she might’ve just patted my head and said “Just rest, pal.”
Our pastor concluded last night’s service with a story about a man whose father died, and the father’s dying wish was that the son take his ashes to the Ganges, or some over-there river, I can’t remember. I stopped listening after that because my mind immediately leapt to Lonesome Dove’s final chapters, where Gus asks Call to pilgrimage his body back from Montana to Texas for burial. Gus knows Call needs a prod for one more big adventure. Its beautiful. Its also harrowing, frustrating, down right hard, but Call makes good on his promise.
I sent you that Hugo poem the other day, the one about Pony, Montana. He wrote –
I hope I die here. I want to spend my
last years on the porch of the blue house next to the charming
park the town built and no one uses, picnic tables ringed
by willows and the soft creek ringing in the grass.
There aren’t many Google images of Pony, Montana. But I’ve become a little infatuated (surprised?) by what I’ve found. Basically a ghost town these days, a place you have to want to get to, but once you do you see why Hugo wrote what he did. There is a bar, evidently a number of friendly dogs, and that soft creek still flows. Last night, when I was not listening to my pastor’s lenty conclusion, I thought “I might ask Winn, if I die first, to pilgrimage my ashes to Pony, Montana. He could sit under the willows for a spell and listen to the purity, maybe visit the bar for a cold one and conversation, then stroll to that soft creek ringing and spill my ashes in, and say something like ‘Days like grass, my friend. See ya soon.'” Then you could put spurs to the dun and ride away.
Don’t write that down in your journal. I haven’t formally asked you yet. But I’m thinking on it. Lord that all sounds dramatic, like some kind of a vision, huh? But it could end up being, as Call said when asked at the end of his pilgrimage if he was a man of vision: “Yes. A hell of a vision.”
Days like grass, my friend.

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  1. Michele Morin on February 11, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Psalm 103 is whispering into my ear as well: He knows our frame. He remembers we are dust.

  2. Jacky on February 11, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    You are hitting those heart chords, John…again. That deep delicious music that too often I miss, despite its persistent play…likely because I want clarity and confidence without cost. May God bless you as you keep writing (for us) or not (for ?).
    By the way, I may have missed something, but who is “Winn?”

  3. Bill on February 26, 2016 at 6:07 am

    John, I sure appreciate these letters. If you ever make a trip to Pony, please stop in Bozeman on your way. I’d love to go with you!

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