Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Portrait of a life told in Thank-You Notes
I snapped this photograph (the first my blog has seen) on Monday morning, September 19th. I was sitting at my kitchen table when I realized how startlingly unexpected the scene before me would have appeared to an earlier version of myself. With the exception of taking a coaster off that stack in the back and placing it underneath the mug, I didn't move a single object from where it had gradually accumulated before I took the picture.
As I sat for a minute and looked at this collection, all I could think of were people I ought to thank for the blessings in front of me. I won't give an exhaustive list, but I will give a long one. I am not the sole author of my life, and I want to duly acknowledge at least one person responsible for each item on the table. Follow with me, if you will, in a sort of heart-shaped spiral from the middle out leftward then back again:
Thank you Mom for the table itself, and for helping me move into the apartment where I now live. It's a much better place than where I was before.
Thank you Sarah Todd for encouraging me to read the Bible start-to-finish this year, and for helping me find a copy of this all-important centerpiece.
Thank you Doug Castle for giving me this Strong's Concordance and Bible Dictionary years ago. It was quite a surprise when I received it, but it has served me powerfully when I've remembered to pull it off the shelf.
Thank you Sufjan Stevens for talking about Flannery O'Connor in your early interviews. As much as I love your music, I have come to love her writing even more, and this little newsletter from her homestead in Georgia (tucked underneath the concordance) is a reminder of the blessing she has been. (By extension, thank you Greg and Beth Castle for inviting me to your wedding in Georgia; elsewise I would likely never have visited O'Connor's home and had the joy of experiencing some of the sights and sounds and smells she did when she lived there.)
Thank you Tim Keller for these couple of books I checked out at the library. I have listened to hundreds of your sermons and profited plenty from them, but seldom do I read a book that causes me to weep openly, and both of these accomplished just such a feat.
Thank you John Piper for complaining so much about the NIV (forgive my choice of One-Year Bible adjacent) and for cheering for the ESV. I'm not so emotionally involved in the choice of one translation over another as you are, but I had never read from an English Standard Bible before, and now this black beauty has become my own personal standard when I'm not reading the daily scripture from the One-Year.
Thank you Daniel and Adrienne Lalli Hills for fostering my love for the state of Oklahoma. Without it I would be feeling terribly ungrounded at this stage in my life, I would not have minored in creative writing or enrolled in the honors college at OU, and possibly wouldn't have come to school here at all. I certainly would not be working on my thesis right now, and I can't imagine anywhere else I would rather be for this season. (Also, thank you Amanda Lack for giving me this sweet Frankoma mug. It's the greatest thing to drink out of I've ever owned.)
Thank you Dad for being a songwriter and providing that example for me from my earliest memories. It has become my own chief occupation, and I never would have thought to even try if you didn't make it seem like a perfectly ordinary way to spend your time. I still write them on the same guitar you wrote yours on, and I still (sometimes) use yellow legal pads to write out the lyrics.
Thank you Tommy Scheurich for helping me both practically and emotionally with my songs. You have listened to, complimented, critiqued, learned to play, and recorded more of my music than almost anyone, and I am terribly excited you're coming back to stay with me for the next couple weeks so we can (among other things) record your parts of my songs for bugs album. (Also, you should take this stack of bank statements or whatever they are back to Virginia when you go. I don't need them. Or your phone charger. Or the giant copper pipes you left on my porch...)
Thank you Michelle Price for inviting me to church after only knowing me for a couple of days. And thank you for inviting me to join the worship band after I had only attended a couple of services! Getting to know the four of you and having a blast learning to play the electric guitar again and having the joy of getting together to sing for the Lord as many as three or four times a week has been the best thing that could possibly happen to me. This pencil would not be resting here were I not working on writing a congregational worship song for the first time in my life. What a surprise THAT would be to any number of my former selves. (Thank you Andrew Eiler, also, for being so enthusiastic for "praise and worship music" and for being a good example to me by leading the church in it yourself. Left to my own, I have been pretty critical and skeptical of the genre, but thanks largely to you and now to my new band-mates, I'm finding myself quite at home with the stuff.)
And if you've made it this far, THANK YOU blog-reader for stopping by this page at all, and for having graciously read so many paragraphs of gratitude that is either mostly or entirely directed at someone other than yourself.
For all of you, and for the many unnamed others to whom I owe immeasurable gratitude, thanks be to God.