If Handel’s Messiah is playing near you, go. H- and I went tonight and it is amazing. Every word is from Scripture. The most striking and awe-inspiring songs included For Unto Us a Child is Born, and All We Like Sheep (whose last part was unexpectedly dramatic), and, also unexpectedly, the new-to-me song Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs.
Most of you know I am a member of a black church. I mention this because the first song that the chorus sang made me tear up and I thought about how I would react to the Hallelujah Chorus and whether I would stand by myself or not. For those who do not know, it is a tradition to stand for that one, and so we did. It was sublime beyond compare. Praise Yahweh. Praise the LORD. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Rock Gods Metallica just became the first band to perform live on all seven continents last week. Adding icing to the cake, they accomplished this enormous feat within the last calendar year. However, the news isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Without stating its intentions, a private polling organization released survey results which strain credulity, and frankly, are depressing.
736 randomly selected participants, ages 13-25, were given the following information and question: “Metallica just performed on on Antarctica. This means they have performed on all seven continents in 2013. What is a continent?”
- 13% answered “I don’t know”
- 36% answered “Something in space; like an asteroid, I think. Metallica sure is crazy”
- 19% answered “It’s another word for country”
- 32% answered “One of the main landmasses on the globe, usually reckoned as seven in number (Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, North America, Australia and Antarctica).
More surprising than the fact that more participants thought a continent was an off-earth body is that these young people never learned that the longest answer is usually the right one.
Nevertheless, “you can’t keep a good dog down” as they say, and the older Metallica fans are lifting themselves out of these findings’ mild depression by reminding themselves that over the last 22 years Metallica’s Black Album is the “highest-selling record in the U.S., period.”
This was it. His last day on the job. He’d waited, mostly patiently, for years to be able to quit as he pleased, and now he’d done it twice in one year. How does it feel? Remember Owen Wilson’s description of the ratio between excitement and scared in Armageddon? Nothing like that.
His life had been so planned up until this year that he still couldn’t believe how relieved this all felt. He just wanted to drink it up.
The great joy of the journey. What was going to happen next? He had some inklings, but no real vision. Honestly, while he had narrowed down his professional joys, he knew just one thing above all. He knew he was tired of trying to convince people of his value with his voice. Experience as his mentor, he was learning that the great thing about self-respect and dignity is that they are heavy enough to squash self-doubt.
How would it all turn out? That is what he longed to know. Emerson wrote about what it must have been like three days before Columbus and his crew discovered America. That day embodied the peak of excitement. That day exemplified the joy of living. Intuition caused him to identify with the sentiment as he read those words years ago. Now, experience was teaching him the full truth of it.
No doubt durable, the brown, rubber coated metal picnic table was exploding with sandwich ingredients: two loaves of bread, two packages of ham, two packages turkey, one package of pepper jack cheese, one package gouda, one bottle of mayonnaise, and one bottle mustard. Present also were the sides to include individual bags of chips, apples and oranges; and dessert–nutty bars. Lastly there were sandwich bags. All this was resting amidst coolers filled with beer and dinner, a couple camp stoves, their personal cookware, and some French presses lazily soiled with the morning’s coffee grounds.
As socially graceful as possible they all took turns preparing their lunches that they would then carry in various forms of Camelback backpacks. Each person’s pack matched their personality. The veteran’s was camouflage, the ladies’, trim. The photographer’s had pockets large enough for a professional quality camera; the different guy used a modern word for fanny pack.
Once packed, the group packed the unused food in the cars, and grabbed the morning’s trash bags. Ah, bears. The probably unnecessary precaution justified itself through the addition of the slight thrill of danger. That and being prepared is never a bad thing.
The hike now well under way, storm clouds populated the distant horizon. The group pressed onward. The intervals between the unseen lighting’s thunderclaps decreased as the distance they traveled above the tree line increased. A light sprinkle had not yet become annoying as they began to notice most of the blue sky had become shades of grey.
One party became two.
As those with significant others present headed back down, the alone-and-unafraid pressed their luck.
Unifying them all was a hunger. Friend helped friend as they unzipped each other’s packs and grabbed the sandwiches. Was it the rain? Was it the hiking? Was it the company? Whatever it was, they had never tasted as good a sandwich as at that moment. And never had smiles spread so quickly.
Upon finishing their chocolaty peanut butter goodness, the two groups discovered they weren’t so far apart after all. The clouds parted and the sun’s return was interpreted only as it should have been—the punctuation to the joy incarnate they knew to be lunch on the trail.