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Friday, December 14, 2007

A Moment's Joy (An E-Letter to My Congregation)

Today I did not have a lunch appointment with anyone, so I walked over to Cincy’s for a quick lunch of chili salad. I took my sermon materials and enjoyed the quiet and the time to read and ponder the passage from Sunday. I thought a lot about Mary “treasuring up in her heart” the things she had heard. I’ll have more to say about that Sunday.

This has not been a “fun” week. I am trying very hard to get my office life in order, which has meant hours and hours of very detailed data work and such. I’ve enjoyed my times of fellowship over lunch this week with some of you, and my time alone today.

It’s kind of nippy outside today. I had been listening to my iPod the last ten minutes or so at Cincy’s, and on the way back I decided to play a Lucinda Williams song called “Blue” as I waked back to the office. Heather had mentioned the day before listening to this song on her birthday iPod while studying at the UNC library. Heather and I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Lucinda play this live back in September at the Carolina Theatre (see review).

Anyway, so I was walking south on South Elm, on the east side of the street, approaching my building, the Guilford Building. When I got to the corner of Washington and Elm, the sun, already sinking into the southwest sky, was beaming directly down on that corner and on the building behind me – the one with all the Virginia Creeper growing up the south side, where the frame store is. I stopped. I stood. I kept standing there for maybe ten minutes soaking up the sun and the view and the music. I was thinking, “This is my little corner of the world, where I work and live.” The view down South Elm, and especially down both sides of the opposite corner of S Elm and Washington, was really lovely. The sun was warm on my face. It felt really great. At Cincy’s I had been pondering the works of God that Mary had treasured in her heart. Now I was treasuring many things in quick succession. I heard a train even over my iPod music and was able to look to my left several blocks to see the train cross over Washington Street going south and bending west around and behind The Depot, and then see it cross S. Elm two blocks down. That was cool.

Often when I listen to music I “translate.” Between the music itself that I was listening to, and the words “as translated” into my world view, I was just feeling an upwelling of joy. You wouldn’t think a song entitled “Blue” would do that, or the other Lucinda song I listened to (“Ventura”), or even the other song I sang to myself after I turned off the iPod - John Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”

Here is the chorus to “Blue”:

Blue is the color of night
When the red sun
Disappears from the sky
Raven feathers shiny and black
A touch of blue glistening down her back

The melody is so beautiful, and the imagery so vivid, pointing me to the beauty of God’s creation, and even on a downtown street corner there was enough of that to notice and be thankful for.

Here is the chorus to “Ventura”:

I wanna watch the ocean bend,
The edges of the sun in
I wanna get swallowed up
In an ocean of love.

I felt that way in that moment – swallowed up in the ocean of God’s love, with sun beaming down not upon an ocean but a city block.

And of course, here is the famous line from John Denver, which I was feeling pretty intensely myself:

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

And that’s how I felt standing there at the corner of South Elm and Washington, happy, joyful, blessed, swallowed up in God’s love, attentive to His presence and Lordship even over that one little corner of one little ordinary town.

You just never know how God will bless you.