Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Morning Thanks--a wonderful night

For most of my life I've hoped to make enough money by writing to buy more time to write. Rather unfashionably, I've never written that idea down as an achievable goal. These days, it seems, you're not hustling if you don't have a half dozen goals and objectives scribbled out and put in a frame above the desk. They're now an contractual obligation where I work--"what goals do you want to accomplish this year?" If you've got 'em written down, by the 31st of December, you can check off those you've taken home, as if they were veggies, a half-gallon of milk, and those dry-cleaned shirts you keep forgetting to pick up.

Making some money to buy some time is a goal I never wrote down. Maybe that's the problem.

'Cause it's never worked, quite. I'm not complaining, but it would have been nice to be able to buy a little of my own time once in awhile. Not that I ever wanted to get filthy rich or anything. Believe me, I've stepped in sins a whole lot messier than the love of money.

And the writing life has had its sweet moments, for sure. Take Monday night--no don't, as Henny Youngman might have said. I want to keep it forever.

Here's the honest-to-God truth. I take a job like the one that ended up in a book like Rehoboth(go back a couple of days) because I absolutely can't pass up the chance to learn what I can from people whose lives I'd never know if I wasn't blessed with the opportunity to talk to them--at great length--about how they've lived through what they have. I get to meet people--in depth; I get to hear their stories; I get to listen to their hearts beat, to stand as close as anyone to their own holy of holies. Good Lord, what a privilege. What a blessing is mine.

Those families--twelve in all--were invited to come to Rehoboth Christian Middle School for the gala release of the book. It wasn't a public thing at all--no church bulletin announcement, nothing in the paper, just an simple invitation to a dozen families, with an r.s.v.p.

Hundreds--I'm not kidding--showed up. Hundreds. The place was jammed with Native folks and white folks, young and old. Each family came up front when their names were announced and picked up five copies of their own brand new book.

I don't think this writer has the words to describe that night. Ian Frazier finishes The Great Plains with a scene in a small town in Kansas, where people simply love each other; he says it's proof of what this world could be. Last night on the plane home from New Mexico, I finished Rhoda Janzen's Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, and she finishes that sassy memoir with a very similar moment, standing with a posse of Mennonite elders, all of them dancing and singing and offering a level of joy that makes her feel, she says, home--as in really home.

I may be gloating, and if I am, may I be forgiven; but Monday night, what went on in that school assembly room climbed to a hot-air-balloon level of blessing. What seemed to reign that night with all those folks in that place was nothing less than joy.


I never really wanted to make big money by writing--like I said, love of bucks has never been at the top of my list of deadly sins. I've always wanted to make enough to buy some time, and, mostly, I guess, that hasn't worked out.

But if I look back on my life as a writer--shoot, as a human being--then I can't help but say that what happened in the Code Talkers Middle School on Monday night comes as close as I can remember to a vision of heaven as I've ever witnessed or been a part of--solid, unfettered joy all around. I never made much money writing, but, Lord a'mighty, for a couple of hours on Monday night I could count myself among the super rich, richer than any fool human should be, mega-bucks stuffed from the pockets of my heart.

This morning it's good to be back in the basement, even though my computer is doing all kinds of time-consuming calesthenics, checking in updates it didn't get while we were gone. But it's no problem for me to come up with material for my morning thanks because for that Monday night experience with good folks whose lives I've been blessed to share, I am deeply, deeply thankful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wooden shoes on a Navajo rug - quite appropriate, maybe.... Maybe it should have been a Navajo rug over wooden shoes, but then one could not see the wooden shoes....and, maybe that is appropriate. Thanks for a good night, and thanks again for the message of Sunday.