Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement,
and death will be part of your journey,
but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors.
No evil can resist grace forever.
(my favorite place on earth—the old Methodist Church in Cades Cove/
The Great Smokey Mts National Park / Julie Cook / 2021)
Have you ever felt that switch flip?
You know the one…
The switch which flips you from upside down to right side up?
As in all of a sudden, there is some sort of vast difference
between now and then.
Something new is now residing in your soul while the old has been
As an unseen presence now lifts you ever upward.
One day you’re one way…and then suddenly, the very next day,
you’re something else entirely.
You’re simply not the same person today as you were yesterday.
And thank God you’re not.
It is that odd juxtaposition of a before and an after sort of flip of the switch.
A profound difference begins to resonate within your inner core.
As in…there was first angst and emptiness…and then next there
grew a blessed peace and a sense of being sweetly content.
A huge difference happening all within a single 1 minute.
Marvelously, actually miraculously, you feel a peace that had been
nonexistent just one minute prior.
This new comforting sense of peace that, had been so elusive for such a long time–
longer than you could recall, now wraps you in a soothing embrace.
And so now you actually find yourself finally being able to exhale.
Being able to exhale the heaviness of forever,
while then breathing in a fresh new air of life.
The body goes weak.
The soul has been broken.
And now…we are the better for it…
as I think we call that loving Grace…
Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul,
the golden link which binds us to duty and truth,
the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart to life,
and is prophetic of eternal good.
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom
to distinguish the one from the other.
“On the single strand of wire strung to bring our house electricity,
grackles and starlings neatly punctuated an invisible sentence.”
(grackles on the line / Julie Cook / 2014)
I imagine it happens to all of us at some point or other…
and it’s always out of the blue…
It catches us totally off guard— when we least expect it.
Suddenly a lump is forming in our throat as we find the words catching, cracking and breaking as we can barely whisper along.
And just when we frustratingly focus on the fact that no sound seems to be
coming from a voice attempting to speak, stinging tears now form in our
eyes, rendering us both mute and almost blind…
Mute and blind with raw emotion.
We blink hard and swallow hard…as we hear our brain pleading “not here, not now….”
Maybe we’re just sitting on the couch…
Maybe we’re walking down the aisle at the grocery store pushing a cart full of
paper towels and cat food…
Maybe we’re sitting in the middle of traffic, stuck…
Maybe we’re sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting….
It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing…it happens…
and it happens when it wants to…never mind what we want.
And there is always some sort of trigger…
as the ordinariness of life is punctured like an over inflated tire…
our breath begins to release as we are helpless to hold it in….
It comes suddenly out of the blue..
Out of nowhere…and there it is…
A familiar sound, a familiar tune, a familiar voice…more oldie then goldie…
For me this time, it was Wichita Lineman and it wasn’t even Glen Campbell
singing the song but rather someone else…
Yet it mattered not—it was still that same melodious memory drifting in on
the passage of time… swirling down on the currents until settling sweetly, yet
painfully, in the recall of memory.
My mother loved Glen Campbell.
What woman in those heady days of the late 60’s didn’t?
Dashing boyish good looks…dimples, perfect hair, sculpted nose,
laced with a velvety voice.
He wasn’t Country, he wasn’t Gospel, he wasn’t Pop…
he was simply the complete package.
I can remember sitting with mother in 1969 on that old tweed couch
watching the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour—
This was a time when children could actually watch television without fear of hearing
or seeing things that children shouldn’t really see or hear emanating
from a television….
The line is iconic… “and I need you more than want you….
and I want you for all time….
for the Wichita lineman is still on the line…”
…as heart tugging violins finish out the notes….
About two years ago, give or take,
Glen Campbell and his current wife (I say current because he had had four marriages
with one in particular making for tabloid drama) gave what was to be Glen’s
last public interview.
Glen Campbell was suffering from Alzheimers.
A disease that actually claimed his life earlier this year.
The selfish disease was robbing his family of the husband and father they loved
while robbing a man of the one person he’d known best his entire life…
that being himself.
He was asked about singing and his songs— what song had he loved the most….
A question I would think somewhat difficult for any musician / singer,
who had had such long careers, to answer—
As songs and melodies ebb and flow with the times—
Because it’s hard to compare what was a career starter with what came about
during one’s peak moment throughout such a lengthy career…
But he answered quickly and at first very effortlessly… “it’s really the best line of all time in a song you know…. isn’t it???”
as he then turned to his wife with that lost look of one battling with a
memory-robbing illness, when he sadly and poignantly realized he didn’t
remember now what line he was talking about.
His wife offered a small airy couple of notes with the first word, which allowed
Glen’s mind to grab hold as he finished the stanza himself in beautiful A cappella
And it is an iconic line.
A beautiful line.
A line that has for me, over time, changed it’s meaning.
Songs, lyrics and melodies all have that effect on us.
So much so that I think I’ve written about this before—and about this very same
song for most likely the very same reason—
It simply caught me off guard.
It reached out through the abyss of time grabbing hold of my arm while pulling
me to a bittersweet place I don’t often like to go.
The hot tears formed as I attempted to utter those familiar words….but I couldn’t.
I couldn’t even speak the words because they had stuck in my throat…
as they achingly cracked coming from my mouth without sound…
And then slowly…the recesses of a memory came into focus,
I was seeing the one who had first loved that song long before I had.
She had her own personal reasons, her own personal recollections…
Things that, at the time, were unbeknownst to me.
Something that caused an overwhelming sense of melancholy…
Something that had left her with words which had no sound,
something that had left her eyes wet with warm tears…
I had no way of knowing then…no way of understanding…
for I had not lived yet what she had lived…
Yet sweetly and even oddly in that bittersweet moment of hearing that single song
with that most iconic simple lyric, I actually understood what she had known
all those many years ago…as warm tears filled my eyes and the words coming
from my mouth had no sound…I was transported one day closer to understanding
the woman I had lost so long ago…
Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.”
So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the Lord.