These Memories of Earth

"You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you've never seen before. A pair of somebody's old shoes can do it. Almost any movie before the great sadness that came over the world after the Second World War, a horse cantering across a meadow, the high school basketball team running out onto the gym floor at the start of a game. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.  They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are. More often than not, God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and to summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next."
- Frederick Buechner

It's turned warm this week in Colorado; temperature up around 70 or so.  Folks have had to roll up their sleeves; I've had to roll down the windows on the daily drive home.  One afternoon, Tuesday I believe, I was veering slightly to the right, exiting from the interstate, the windows were down, and I was listening to the AM station - all hits of all time.  And this thing called a radio, which still marvels me, started playing "Danny Boy" - 
And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me
I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.
And that was that.  Tears, unexpected tears.  

Wednesday night our family sat in a bricked gym while the combined choirs in our school district gave their annual concert.  One of the many school-aged choir kids was a certain fifth-grader who happens to look a lot like me; they didn't charge for tickets at the door, but I'd of gladly paid to hear her sing.  We sat high up in the gym's bleachers, up where all the heat rises, for almost an hour and a half, listening, applauding, listening again, applauding once more.  It was a gathering of all the slices of pie in our area: rich, poor, blond, bald, dressed-to-the-nines, shorts-and-a-t-shirt, young and restless, old and still, plain, handsome, and then that lady sitting catty-corner from me with her thick legs wrapped in black hose stuck out in the aisle just daring folks to step on her toes.  The third song for the evening was an Israeli folk song - "Hine Ma Tov" - performed exclusively by the elementary kids, including that girl who resembles me.  The lyrics, in Hebrew, look like this - 
 .הִנֵּה מַה טוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אָחִים גַּם יַחַד 
which translated reads - 
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony."
And that was that.  Tears, unexpected tears.  

And then just yesterday, a day I'm glad is done and gone, someone broke the window in my girlfriend's van and stole her purse.  There wasn't any cash in it, us being regular and all, but the purse was a gift from my parents and she absolutely adored it.  And the purse had her iPod in it, a gift from me not long ago, and she'd just about got it all loaded with favorite songs; trust me, it was a hard day.  I took the afternoon off to help her, be with her.  When our girls arrived home after school, I told them what had happened: they got mom's purse and iPod.  My two little girls, all hot and sweaty from the schoolday, learning Hebrew folk songs and all, immediately teared up as if someone had slapped them or injured them in some way.  I hadn't cried any up to that point.  I'd waxed eloquently with a few sentences full of words you don't say in church while replacing the locks on our doors, but no tears.  But seeing those so fresh from God well-up at the pain of another, another they love dearly...well, that was that.       


  1. I admire and affirm you for raising children that are sensitive to the needs of those around them.

    It sprang/sprung/brought unbidden tears to my eyes this morning.

  2. ...and so love bathed the family one more time with the gift of tears that are more precious than almost anything else

    ...extra glad you captured the moment here, 'cause when tears dry we some times forget the moments

    ...way to go O Johnny Boy (who is truly becoming more and more the man you were designed to be even before the warm sun came into being as you dream sweeter dreams for your girlfriend, your family and yourself)

  3. Yeah...I wonder when we got so afraid of tears...seems anger is no problem.

    I'm thankful for your storehouse of recent good memories John. Because that break in is a doozy on so many levels.

    And I concur with CPQ--bless you for raising decent, regular, sensitive kids.

  4. there are no words left to used them all. Peace, brother.

  5. What a tough's the tears, the love and holding your family near that make those moments in life bearable and sweeter..

    Your children are precious.

  6. Makes me wish we were more than "regular" folk ourselves so we could surprise Mer with a new Ipod and purse...although it does take one back to what matters most. Praise God none of them were present in the moment.

    The quote at the beginning of this post was powerful. Thank you for including it.