Today’s Word from Karl Olsen…
Deb and I have been doing some work on the house this late summer and early autumn. There’s nothing like the promise of another La Niña winter to make you “find” time you didn’t think you had to accomplish those outdoor projects!
As one day faded toward dusk and the sun was shining its light on Japan and beyond, I found myself on our roof as I finished the day’s project. I sat on the roof (I love sitting up high and watching the wonders below!) and gazed down on the garden and the forest, and assorted ambling critters. I thought of the people who had visited in this yard, played in the woods and worked on the many varied projects over the last 30 years.
The connections and memories pulled my head toward Psalm 8 and Ray Makeever’s setting of that text: “Who are we that you should love us? Who are we that you should hold us in your hand. … Bless you, Lord, that you would make us for each other, to love and hold and try to understand.” Ray Makeever’s music and that song in particular brought back memories of Pastor Dan Erlander and Karen.
Dan’s death a few weeks back was not so much sad—my guess is Dan was ready to take this next journey—as it was a moment that brought a fountain of wonderful images. He was always a lover of God’s creation—many a Blessing of the Animals (blessing of the critters?) happened because of Dan. Thirty years ago, Dan would have enjoyed sitting on that roof with me, taking in the wonders. Such a gentle soul. Rest in peace.
Then just a week and a half ago, I had the joy of singing a concert at Trinity with the Brothers Four. The group was saying thanks for letting me travel around and sing with them for the last 14 years. I say thanks, too! One of the fun moments in that show was having my brother Vern (teacher, community song leader extraordinaire!) come up and sing one of his signature songs with us—This Land is Your Land. Vern loves nothing more than to get people to sing along. So, it was fun to share a stage with my brother again and share a song! Thanks, Vern!
At the end of the evening, we sang an encore—Goodnight, Irene. While the lyrics of the verses are one of those “love-gone-wrong, betrayal-by-my-sweetheart” kind of songs, the chorus is pure magic in the right setting. And you (I’m assuming you were there that night!) were in fine form. The other three guys in the group were mightily impressed during the show by your willingness and ability to sing along with us—well done!
So, on the encore, it wasn’t really a surprise when it came time for your solo chorus: “Irene, goodnight, Irene, goodnight. Goodnight, Irene, goodnight, Irene. I’ll see you in my dreams.” We listened as you sat by friends and loved ones, singing a song from your past (or maybe new that night for some of you), and filled the space with love and joy. Thank you for that gift.
When I sing with the preschoolers, occasionally we sing “make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” Or we sing “the more we get together, together, together; the more we get together, the happier we’ll be.” We’ve been able to get together a little more often these days—some folks masked, some un… lots of air circulation and a few vaccines—and the joy has been a remarkable gift. Who are we, indeed, to be so privileged to spend these days together? Treasure them. God made us for each other—to love and hold, and try to understand!
Here you are singing Irene!
And here is my version of Psalm 8, written September 26, 2012.
See you in church, or online! Or on the roof…