My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music. Psalm 57
I need to thank Garrison Keilor for drawing my attention to this verse of Psalm 57—not in so many words, but in spirit. I need to thank him for reminding me in an interview in Christian Century that the Christian life begins in gratitude. The source of faith itself is certainly elsewhere and mysterious beyond my ken, but gratitude is the starting block for what ye olde’ theologians called sanctification. “I will sing and make music” is David’s brash pledge, his testimony of how he will live. He says it because he knows God’s promises are sure, his faithfulness will ooze into all generations, and beyond, upward and forever outward into eternity itself.
Here’s what Garrison Keilor said:
Thank you, Lord, for this amazing and bountiful life and forgive us if we do not love it enough. Thank you for this laptop computer and for this yellow kitchen table and for the clock on the wall and the cup of coffee and the glasses on my nose and for these black slacks and this black T-shirt. . . .Thank you for the odd delight of being 60, part of which is the sheer relief of not being 50.And then he said, “One should enumerate one's blessings and set them before the Lord. Begin every day with this exercise.”That’s the idea that birthed this blog 2500 posts ago, trying to begin each day with gratitude, making a discipline of thanksgiving. Sometimes thanks comes easy as breath itself; sometimes, come the wee hours of the morning, it’s just plain hard work.
What he said in that Christian Century interview grabbed me because I sometimes feel too much the curmudgeon as I creep into those supposedly blessed, therefore golden years. A friend of mine once made the claim that the doctrine of sanctification—that believers, as they age, inch closer and closer to the Lord, to godliness—is really a myth. “Most old guys I know,” he says, “are crotchety.”
And they are. It’s an itch I’ve been scratching too much myself.
It all starts with praise, Keilor says: “Gratitude is where the Christian life begins.” We all ought to work at it, he reminds us. “Begin every day with this exercise. . .” That idea struck me as priceless, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do for years already--there's the quote up top of the page.
Maintaining a discipline of gratitude with dawn’s early light hasn’t morphed me into some kind of saint. You can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.
But neither has not been, for me, a waste of time. Not at all. I’m not a great a singer, but I make my own kind of music here in front of a screen in the basement. And for that—for my music and the source of its energy and Garrison Keilor’s sweet reminder of something I’ve always known—for all of that, I’m thankful.
Hear my song.