It has certainly been a terrible, no good, very bad year…except that there has been some good mixed in with all the bad.
Yes, we have suffered through a pandemic that is now claiming 3,000+ lives a day; we have endured the murder of too many citizens of color (including Ahmaud Arbery right here in Glynn County); and we have watched people lose jobs, even businesses. Plus, the chaos and craziness of the election is something we will never forget.
But, among these thorns there have been some roses; among the disappointments, some glad surprises. You name yours, and I will name mine.
First, I launched a radio show. It was not much of a business, with employees, revenues, and all that: but it was a new venture: on the air locally on two FM stations and distributed nationally through two web sites (including this one).
It was actually the relaunch of a radio show I premiered when I was dean of the chapel at Georgetown College: The Meetinghouse: Conversations on Religion and American Life. Then and now, it has been the most creative and enjoyable task I have had in my fifty years of work and ministry. I hear regularly from listeners, from Florida to California, from Texas to New Hampshire. I would be glad to hear from you!
You can listen to all the shows, now posted as podcasts elsewhere on this website.
Second, I discovered John Prine.
Which is like saying Christopher Columbus “discovered” America—when, in fact, in 1492, the land was already full of people!!
I wrote about this musical discovery last summer, and you can read that commentary here. But for some inexplicable reason, the wacky, wonderful lyrics of his distinctive music spoke to my soul. Especially choruses, like:
“What in the world’s come over you?
And what in heaven’s name have you done?
You’ve broken the speed of the sound of loneliness,
You’re out there running just to be on the run.”
“On a dusty pew in a vestibule, sits the Devil playing pocket pool.
He’s waiting for the next poor fool who forgot that it was Sunday.”
Third, my son Ike is doing just fine. Finer, in fact, than he has done in a long time, a very long time. Ever!
Over the last 25 years, he has fought his way through addiction, danger, dismissal, diagnosis, incarceration, poverty, restlessness, and just plain craziness. It is a miracle he is still alive.
But alive he is and this year has pushed aside these distractions to emerge into the man he has always had the potential to be: interesting and intelligent, creative and compassionate, productive and successful. Happy!
He actually has an address these days, for both his residence and his studio. I hope you have seen his art; better yet, I hope you have admired his art; and best, I hope you own a piece of his art.
Finally, and for all of us, the election. I don’t mean just who won, because across the country, who won is a mixed bag. All of us had results that both encouraged and discouraged.
I mean: the whole thing worked! The polls, the mail, the volunteers, the state-by-state overseers. They made possible the largest voting turnout in the history of our country. Good for them and good for us.
Then came round two: the judges. They also worked and worked wonderfully. At the state and federal level, in state after state, all the way up to the various supreme courts. Not even the political taintedness of their selections kept them from doing their duty and doing it within the bounds of the law.
And this week, the Electoral College. When have we ever paid attention to that? Never! Many of us think it is one more college that is out of touch and ought to close. But it certainly held its own against enormous pressure.
Amidst all the chaos and confusion, all the hysteria and hyperbole, all the pressure and evil possibilities, the American election process worked. It made me happy, and I suspect most of you feel the same.
We have 14 days left in this terrible, no good, very bad year; but that is enough time for some more wonderful things to happen. I’m ready for that!!