Daily Archives: November 24, 2008

did it make you cry?

Irene asked me that question Saturday night.

We walked up the aisle, Nancy and I. Irene looked at us and said, “Did it make you cry? Did you smile?”

I didn’t cry. I did spend most of 35 minutes grinning, first with recognition, then with anticipation, then with exhilaration.

Irene had asked a couple of weeks ago if Nancy and I and a bunch of other people wanted to come to the Fort Wayne Philharmonic concert. Irene was going to be playing with the orchestra. I said, “sure.” Irene is a friend, the orchestra is good, and we seldom attend.

Having said yes, I wasn’t sure what to expect. To be honest, I am not always as excited as I ought to be by orchestral music. I understand the concept (quite well, thank you), but don’t always have the attention span nor the appreciation that I should have for more traditional pieces.

Having said yes, however, we were committed.

And that, often, is how we work. We have friends ask for help, ask for advice, ask us to come over. And we agree, because that’s what friends do. And we aren’t begrudging the time, but it is more for them than for us.

And then I looked at the program for the concert. There was Bernstein. There was Beethoven. And then there was Saint-Saens. My heart jumped. And so did the rest of me.

Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78. That’s what the program said. Which says little more than an address. “Organ Symphony” is what the program had in parenthesis. That says a bit more. One of two or three pieces of music that Jon Swanson listened to over and over while trying to write papers and read and study while an undergraduate is what the program didn’t say. But should have.

I’m not sure why I first heard this piece. I won’t even try to describe why it resonates so deeply for me. You have your own pieces of music, works of art, expressions of creativity that have deep emotional attachments.

What I know is this: I said that I would do something out of deep affection for a friend. In return, I got to hear that friend play a piece of music incredibly well working with an orchestra of people who played it incredibly well in a room that sounds magnificent.

Sometimes we take steps of faith and discover not obligation but absolute delight. As if someone knew exactly what our heart needed.


My advent ebook is now available as a downloadable pdf, advent2008, and as a digital book on yudu.


The next thank you

Maybe you weren’t planning a next thank you. Maybe you aren’t sure who to thank. Maybe you aren’t sure whether you are feeling particularly thankful.

That makes this week pretty challenging, particularly in the United States.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. The plan is to sit around a table with people you love and thank God for a blessed year and a bountiful meal.

But people will look around tables this year and wonder whether there was enough money for this meal They will talk after dinner about how much they lost in their 401(k) plans. They will talk as they are preparing the meal about the people who actually have 401(k) plans. They will look around the empty apartment or the restaurant and wonder what is wrong with them that there isn’t anyone to eat with, isn’t any reason to gather.

Whew. That was a pretty dark paragraph, wasn’t it? But it’s true. We have this cultural myth of what Thanksgiving looks like (thank you, Norman Rockwell) and we have this cultural tradition of undermining that myth.

So forget the turkey and linen. Radically redefine thanksgiving day. Make it be today.

Who is the next person you are going to say “thank you” to? Who is the next person that will do something that you will benefit from? Who will take minimum wage and still be competent? Who will hear your story of woe and still come back for more? Who will come around when it is still dark and carry away your trash?

I could make a very long list of people who we could thank. I could make an equally long list of things that we could do to be thank-able.

I won’t.

You do it.


And, by the way, thank you for taking the time on a regular basis to read at least part of what I say. I am grateful more than you know.


My advent ebook is now available as a downloadable pdf, advent2008, and as a digital book on yudu.