I set out to write something – anything – for 30 days in November. I’ve done this before, and while the results aren’t necessarily gripping, the practice of writing has been good for me. Writing in public has some peculiar pitfalls, but the little community that tends to read what I write is generally helpful and friendly. All in all, it’s a profitable exercise.
I am tossing about an idea for continued prompts; we’ll see about that tomorrow, when December arrives.
Until then, I’ll close the month with a few links to things I have experienced recently that I found inspiring, helpful, or otherwise enlightening.
what the world needs now
This post, by my brother, inspired and validated my most recent exercise. I’m a big fan of the morning pages he references in this post; in November, this setting is the stand in for that more private, handwritten daily practice. Here’s a short excerpt of why Eric says it matters:
I’m pretty convinced that all good people—even (especially?) Christians—want to do the right thing, but what we are faced with is the same approaches to the the same problems.
We need MORE. We need NEW.
We need more/new from our leaders, we need more/new from our preachers, we need more/new from EVERYONE.
(Including YOU and ME.)
Go read the entire post here; consider backtracking a bit as well. He’s been on fire lately…
what were you thinking?
I’ve churned through two episodes of this new podcastfrom John Ortberg, and this one– an interview with Carey Nieuwhof, was particularly gripping. The Joe Walsh reference brought me to tears, and I thought about it for days. I respect and admire Ortberg, and I am fascinated by the people he’s chosen to talk with for this new work.
dolly parton’s america
Speaking of podcasts, this one is a winner. I confess that I always saw Dolly Parton as a caricature. After experiencing seven episodes (so far), I hav a profound respect for her work and the culture around here. Surprisingly, a sort of patriotism rose up in me; the title is appropriate. This is about us, as Americans, with one of our most iconic entertainers unveiling no small amount of authenticity behind her celebrity. I really, really liked this.
the green mile
Just because it was a holiday weekend and I wanted to wrap myself in a blanket and watch tv mindlessly; The Green Mile was on cable, and I couldn’t remember seeing the entire thing. Incredible performances by Michael Clarke Duncan and Tom Hanks; interesting perspective from Stephen King, whose characters rarely seem to embody the nuance of redemption. In much of King’s work, evil is evil, good is good, and the tension is the battle. This story was a clear example.
One of my favorite things about life is the process of discovery in others, whether I witness it from afar or have an insider’s perspective. A friend is on a unique journey, navigating spiritual, vocational, and musical endeavors with a welcoming depth that is a privilege to observe. Prompted by Frozen 2, she wrote – beautifully – about her current exploration of self and identity. It’s resonant; I encourage you to read it here.
A favorite Saturday evening pastime is watching Live From Here, the new iteration of what was once A Prairie Home Companion. Chris Thile has firmly seized the helm of these 120 minutes to regularly create some of the most outstanding live musical experiences around. (I’ve written about some of those before, when I was so taken with Bruce Hornsby’s appearance.) Tonight was a replay of a brilliant show from December 2018, in which Vulfpeck made an appearance. You can see the entire show here, but the clip that rocks my world still – prompting shouts of joy each time I revisit it – is here: Vulfpeck, joined by Thile, creates a sixteenth-note concerto of physicality and technical prowess that demonstrates, more than anything I have seen lately, the sheer joy that music inspires. I’m not sure it’s possible to watch these men interact with their instruments in real time and not feel something ourselves; to marvel at the gift we are given to create, to sing, to pull sound out of wood and strings, to dance, to leap, to allow ourselves to be carried along with the pulsating sound of delight.
Here’s the clip, embedded for your pleasure. And here’s to December, arriving tomorrow, bringing a close to a decade, to a year, to this month’s exercise.