There is an unusual breeze this evening, not the sort of thing we usually expect in August in northeastern Kansas. The slender branches on the locust bend toward the south as cool air moves in across these rolling hills. We do not complain.
My wife, Randa, my second-oldest son, Sam, and our friend Neil and I are singing on the patio. We do not know whether or not the neighbors object but we have no evidence that they do. Three guitars are ringing into the darkness and our voices blend into the slight wind. Standing next to the table, we are able to hear one another and take pleasure in the harmony.
Our material ranges quite a bit: from Merle Haggard and Hank Williams to Jimmy Buffet and the Eagles. There are a couple of songs that only Sam and Neil know, perhaps owing to the generational difference and perhaps more to the seeming coincidence of common likes that have brought Sam and Neil into faster friendship than might be expected. Sam is living with us during his temporary station at Fort Leavenworth and Neil, in addition to the light burden of association is also worship leader at the congregation where I have pastored for over four years.
In that vein, we sing “I’ll Fly Away” and “O Come, Angel Band.” If not by subject matter, then at least by beauty of melody and lyrics, we next do “Seven Bridges Road.” It might not quite rival the Eagles’ version but, in the closeness of faith and love, it has a thoroughly enjoyable harmony. There is something magic in music, both in the making and in the taking.
As Randa goes in for the evening and we three men begin another song, I am thinking that we might not be all that far from heaven in such moments as this. Not all of bliss waits beyond the river.