Dear Winn – 25 February 2016

Dear Winn:
Manure on the barn boots. I like that. I like that a lot. That there are physical indicators of where you’re from and what you do, and those speak volumes as to who you are. Every once in a while someone will ask me, “Do I hear traces of a Southern drawl?” I’ll smile and say, “Yes, I’m from the South.”
The South. Mercy. Lady Flannery called it “Christ-haunted.” I remember the first time I heard her phrase, thinking how accurate, how insightful, wishing I’d come up with it. I also remember thinking that’s how I feel, how I’ve felt for as long as I can remember – “Christ-haunted.” I can hear someone riffing on Flan, telling me I really oughta try and progress to being “Christ-centered.” I’d have to say, “No thanks, I’m good.” Dirt on the boots, man, dirt on the boots.
We’ve got some friends who are getting ready to put their house on the market. Meredith and I have long loved their house. Its beautiful. Plus it sits on a hill, and I’ve dreamed we could live there one day and people in town would refer to us as “the folks who live on the hill.” God I love that song, and when Peggy Lee sings it I get misty, every time. That’s a dream of mine alright. The reality is I don’t know that we can afford it. There’s a chance someone might say, “Well, maybe God would answer that dream if you were more Christ-centered.” That’d be one of those moments when I’d just want to smack someone.
I’m heading out this evening with a handful of good men, we’ve got a little cafe in Castle Rock where we gather and eat and talk and laugh. We don’t do this often enough, but we try our best. The last time we were together we talked at length about Jim Harrison and sex, over coffee and pie. Talk about a winning combo, baby. These men all have dirt on their boots, some days under their fingernails too.  Our gatherings are what some call “community” although I find that a horrible word, having all the inspirational oomph as a stalk of celery. I prefer to call these men “friends.” We’re all after the same rainbow’s end.
On Saturday I have the opportunity to talk to a roomful of people about what Kent Haruf referred to as “the precious ordinary.” Its a writers conference, I’m not mainstage or anything, simply a breakout session, probably next to the men’s room. The mainstagers are no doubt more Christ-centered. People are paying to be there though, so I want to try and give them their money’s worth, or at least come close. I’ll wear my boots. 
About this time next week you and I will be in the same room looking out over the water. Now that’s something to look forward to. And I am. See you soon, pard.
I am haunted by Christ (can’t you hear that in Redford’s voice?).

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  1. The Keeper of me on February 25, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Dear Lord….This is so great…

  2. pastordt on February 25, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Cannot tell you how much I am LOVING these letters. And I find ‘Christ-haunted’ far more evocative (and true) than Christ- centered. Thank you especially for that today. I have one friend facing into brain surgery this morning and another facing into Jesus momentarily . . . from a brain malignancy. Each of them is definitely Christ-haunted, man. Yeah, they are. Be blessed by that men’s room. I know those who have laid out that cash will be.

    • thebeautifuldue on February 26, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      I’ll do my best, Diana.
      Grace for your friends…amen.

  3. Jacky on February 25, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Oh to be Tinkerbell invisible and listen in on men-friends gathering, esp in dirty boots. No? Then maybe not.
    “Christ-haunted”, now there’s a word. I’ll think about that one.
    Thank you, John.

  4. agjorgenson on February 26, 2016 at 3:34 am

    I’ve never really thought that being the centre was Jesus’ thing. I experience him more on the edge; under my skin.

  5. Bill on February 26, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Manure on the boots… I love that. Real men, living life in the real world, down to earth, salt of the earth.

    • thebeautifuldue on February 26, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Thank you, Bill. And if I do head to Pony, I’ll holler.

  6. Shelly Geyer on February 26, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    I read these letters to my husband at night…and we often smile, a lot. Thank you does not say enough.

    • thebeautifuldue on February 29, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      Hi, Shelly. Thanks so much for letting me know. I’m grateful the words cause a few smiles, maybe even a lot.

  7. ~Brenda on February 29, 2016 at 4:04 am

    I didn’t end up taking your class at the conference, but now that I’ve read your blog, I wish I had! We were in Patricia Raybon’s class together, and you made one comment, and I appreciated it, so I hunted you down by the smell of your boots. Sort of. 🙂

    • thebeautifuldue on February 29, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Hi, Brenda. Thanks for taking the time to write (and to read). Patricia did a great job, didn’t she? Thanks again.

  8. La Vonne on March 9, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    I so love your work. The word “Christ-haunted” is so perfect and fits me to a tee. I listed that word as a gift for that day. It works so well for me because it is Him who does the haunting and not me being centered, which on most days I am not.

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