60 Gifts I’m Grateful for (Part 4)

31. Childhood friends … I think back to Delayne, Robbie, Paul, Dave, Alan, Bruce, Peter, Rob, Dave, Scott, MaryLou, Gail, and so many more. What great friends to grow up with!
32. Childhood Church … our family was at church 2 or 3 times a week, and although I remember a lot of boredom, I also gained so much from the singing, preaching, prayer, worship, and fellowship.
33. The Fellowship … I was part of an amazing group of people in high school who came together through the Jesus Movement. So many of us look back on that experience as one of the greatest blessings of our lives … more special than we could have realized at the time.
34. Music lessons … First piano, then violin, then clarinet (which led to sax and flute). Then I picked up the guitar (thanks, Don, for the loaner and first lesson of 5 chords – C, Em, Am, G, and that vexing F). For the bands I was part of (garage and otherwise), including symphonic, marching, and jazz … I am so grateful.
35. Fishing and fishing buddies. I came across that Thoreau quote recently: “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” From my first fishing trips with my grandmother on a rowboat on Conesus Lake to the great weeks with the Ich-Theology gang (theologians who fly fish for trout in Yellowstone) to my current circle of fishing buddies, I know there are many reasons fishers fish … a perpetual series of occasions for disappointment (and hope), the development of skill, the game of chance and opportunity, the excuse to be outdoors, the search for something elusive and unseen, the connection to life via a thin thread, the search for a good story to exaggerate, the indulgence in a primal hunting instinct, and more.
36. Wildlife and ecology. I have always loved nature … first bugs and reptiles and amphibians as a boy, and now, birds and trees and even dragonflies: creation is truly the original Bible, and for me, it is the most direct avenue to worship and communion. I am so grateful for 60 years of living on this beautiful earth, alongside brother tortoise and sister swallow-tailed kite.
37. Music and musicians: James Taylor, Carol King, Joni Mitchell, Chicago, Bob Dylan, Bruce Cockburn, David Wilcox, Jackson Browne, Keith Jarrett, Jodi McLaren and so many other singer-songwriters have enriched my life. I am so thankful to have been on earth at the same time as they are. And then are all the classical composers
38. Making music: I remember learning to improvise on the sax, and feeling that a whole new world was opening up to (and in) me. Around the same time, I began writing songs on piano and guitar. Never has time flowed by so quickly as the times I’ve been in recording studio, taping (remember tape?) and mixing. Now I can sit at my laptop and have a studio in my living room. What a joy!
39. Worship: Through my Plymouth Brethren heritage, I learned that worship was one of life’s greatest joys. That was intensified through the Jesus Movement, the Charismatic Movement, and later, my discovery of liturgy through the Episcopal Church. Music, of course, played a key role in all those experiences … as did silence, wonder, and awe in the presence of the Mystery we call God, to whom I send all these thanksgivings.
40. Eucharist: Central to my 60 years has been the simple ritual of taking bread and wine in remembrance of and communion with Jesus. I am so grateful for all the ways I have enjoyed the eucharist, from cathedrals to summer camps to communal meals, and especially for the 24 years I was privileged to help lead in the eucharist at Cedar Ridge Community Church.