Stay Connected – Pastoral Letter – June 18, 2020

Stay Connected

A message from Rev. Jim

Dear Members and Friends of CCEH,

I remember when it happened – when country music grabbed me. I was twenty years old. A canoe buddy and I were together for a few days to hatch our next big wilderness canoe trip. He put on a record by the Marshall Tucker band and we spontaneously began dancing around the room. Those of you who remember this band may quibble as to whether or not their music is true country music, but it sure sounded like it to me.

One of the songs on that album was the hit, “Can’t You See.” The lyrics go –
I’m gonna take a freight train, down at the station
I don’t care where it goes
Gonna climb me a mountain, the highest mountain
Jump off, nobody gonna know
Can’t you see oh can’t you see
What that woman, she been doin’ to me
Can’t you see, can’t you see
What that woman lord been doin’ to me
I’m gonna find me a hole in the wall
I gonna crawl inside and die…

As the words sunk in I stopped dancing and became a bit melancholy. I wasn’t aware of having any problems in my dating life then (probably because I wasn’t dating anyone), but the raw emotion of the words struck me as true – as somehow being universal human experience.

Since then, I have been grabbed by other music genres, such as opera, which, incidentally, seems the opposite of country in that most words to opera songs are over-the-top emotional, dramatic, and unrealistic. It’s the music not the lyrics that I love about opera.

But back to country music…and our context with COVID-19. I’m amazed by the huge variety of ways people are experiencing COVID’s impact on their lives. For some, it’s offered a liberating break from prior life routines, but for many others it’s been harsh. Many people tell me how the enforced closeness is driving them batty. Others are stressed out by having to juggle too many balls at once: kids’ online schoolwork, trying to keep a job (or suffering the loss of one), conflict with spouses, or simply too much alone time for those who live alone.

I’m also struck by the resilience of those who have come to understand that life isn’t always fair and not always beautiful. While life can knock you down, many have also acquired enough wisdom in life to know that struggles can often make us stronger and lead us to a new place of contentment – joy even.

I close with the lyrics of another favorite country song which speaks to the joys and frustrations of life in a strangely comforting way for me.

“Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” (by Gary Allan)
Life ain’t always beautiful; sometimes it’s just plain hard; life can knock you down, it can break your heart.
Life ain’t always beautiful; you think you’re on your way; and it’s just a dead end road at the end of the day.
But the struggle makes you stronger; and the changes make you wise; and happiness has its own way of takin’ its sweet time.

In Christ-love,
Rev. Jim

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