We Need Something New, Though the Truth’s Always True

Dearest Rachel – I’m not sure why, but I woke up this morning with the tune of “He Lives” running through my head. I can’t be quite sure of which lyrics, but I think I recall hearing the first (“I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today.”) and third (“Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,Continue reading “We Need Something New, Though the Truth’s Always True”

Schoolhouse Rock

Dearest Rachel – Ever since I made this a challenge to myself, to write you something at least once a day, there are days when I find myself wondering what’s going to be new that’s going to be worth telling you about. It is a ‘new normal’ that I am living in, but when youContinue reading “Schoolhouse Rock”

Out With the Old

Dearest Rachel – Thanks to the drive down to Nashville and back, I’ve discovered that my iPhone contains a number of songs that I wasn’t really even aware of. When the two of us are listening to them on an infinite random shuffle, it’s interesting to hear something where one of us would comment howContinue reading “Out With the Old”

Where You Don’t Want to Go

·I tell you the truth [L Truly, truly I say to you], when you were younger, you ·tied your own belt [dressed yourself] and went where you wanted. But when you are old, you will put out your hands and someone else will ·tie [dress] you and take you where you don’t want to go.” JohnContinue reading “Where You Don’t Want to Go”

If You Said That’s the Way it Ought to Be

Dearest Rachel – You can’t escape music when you’re out and about it the world. Retailers in particular have decided that we need a soundtrack in order to encourage us to stay and buy, I guess. And restaurants seem to think we’d rather listen to tunes than talk with each other, judging by how loudContinue reading “If You Said That’s the Way it Ought to Be”

Some Days Are Just Like That

Dearest Rachel – Way back in the early 90s, when we were still able to – and inclined to – go out to the movies, there were a number of films that stuck with us, however average and unremarkable they might have been in retrospect. One of them was a film called Mermaids, which featuredContinue reading “Some Days Are Just Like That”

The Dissonance of a Different Drummer

Dearest Rachel – Morning of the fourth day. We were supposed to have been docked in Aruba by now, but that’s understandably been put on hold. Indeed, even while we were in a holding pattern in Kingston Bay, there was another alert topside, as ‘Alpha Alpha Alpha’ was repeated over the public address system. FromContinue reading “The Dissonance of a Different Drummer”

Candy Floss and Soundtracks

Dearest Rachel – There are mornings when you try to put together the dreams from last night, only to find yourself holding a paper cone of candy floss (okay, cotton candy, if you must) that’s been out in the hot sun for the last two hours. It may not have been that long ago thatContinue reading “Candy Floss and Soundtracks”

Three ¡Alarma! Fire

Dear Rachel – The irony of this letter is that, while the mix tapes we sent each other back in the day included songs from each of the albums from which I’m referencing, I’m not touching on them at all today. You see, this letter isn’t about our relationship with each other, but our (inContinue reading “Three ¡Alarma! Fire”

Here We Go Again

Dearest Rachel – This will probably not come as a great shock to you; it didn’t to me, although I was nevertheless disappointed to see it happen. After all, Ruby had gone so long without being too clingy (I tended to chalk up her contacting me on a daily basis as being a case ofContinue reading “Here We Go Again”

Followers, Fans and Flings

Dearest Rachel – The message at church this weekend centered around the sixth chapter of John. The basic gist of it was about how Jesus was showing the crowds just how narrow the path toward salvation could be, and questioning whether they were willing to take it. Most weren’t. In fact, the mass departure gotContinue reading “Followers, Fans and Flings”

The Twelfth Pain

Dearest Rachel – I remember your calling me at some point while I was at the ‘office’ last year on this day. “Do you know what’s going on in Washington?” To be sure, I was keeping up with the news feed, but there’s always a lag between the activity and the written word describing it;Continue reading “The Twelfth Pain”

Grains of Rice

Dearest Rachel – What with Christmas day having come and gone, I suppose I ought to set aside any talk about painful Christmas music. But if you’ll indulge me for just one more day, I have a few things to say about this one – and its composer. For one thing, Chris Rice just seemsContinue reading “Grains of Rice”

God Bless

Dearest Rachel – Another day of the season, another song to talk about. But this isn’t just any day; it’s Christmas itself. The day of Our Lord. The day when, as my dad often puts it, “the complaint department is closed.” So I will just talk about a song for whom my only complaint isContinue reading “God Bless”

Bit Insulting, Innit?

Dearest Rachel – Today’s song is a bit of a paradox. I’ve never actually listened to it until today (I mean, we’ve heard it a number of times, but actually listened to it? Hardly). In any event, let’s get it out of the way before I start in on it: As I understand it, itContinue reading “Bit Insulting, Innit?”

Eleven Months Home

Dearest Rachel – I had to save the most painful secular song for today, since it’s been eleven months since the accident. You didn’t think I’d forget what the twenty-third of the month was so soon, did you? It’s hard to think about it that way, since none of us on this since think ofContinue reading “Eleven Months Home”

The Plans That We’d Made

Dearest Rachel – I’ve already talked about a couple of Christmas-adjacent songs that talk more about staying inside and avoiding the worst of the weather, that either leave me envious of the couple that can do just that together, or make me worry if I have to become some kind of creep in order toContinue reading “The Plans That We’d Made”

That’s What I Want

Dearest Rachel – You used to tell me that one of the things that appealed to you about me was the fact that I resembled your dad in a number of different ways. I mean, not so much in looks or in age (thank heaven for that!), but in a playful sense of humor andContinue reading “That’s What I Want”

The House Without

Dearest Rachel – I hope you don’t mind, but you know this was never something I thought was worth bothering with, since we never really celebrated the holidays at our own home. Maybe, if we intend to do more hosting in our renovated place, that might change, but for now, we aren’t really going toContinue reading “The House Without”

Happiness and Cheer?

Dearest Rachel – My objection to the today’s song is not the typical complaint about misery-inducing lyrics; in fact, quite the opposite. What words I can make out through simply listening, are perfectly in line with the festive season: “Christmas time is here / Happiness and cheer / Fun for all that children call /Continue reading “Happiness and Cheer?”

Muddling Through

Dearest Rachel – I have to confess that, as I was putting together yesterday’s letter, I was finding it paradoxically more difficult to write and complain about the songs the more I tried to do so. I was getting somewhat self-conscious about the self-pitying tone of my essay the further along I got. Between tryingContinue reading “Muddling Through”

Don’t Snow Me In

Dearest Rachel – For all the problems that I have with the secular version of Christmas, particularly the music that invokes thoughts of loved ones (who are, of course, no longer with us), I am always reminded that it could be worse – I could live in Japan. There, as you know, Christmas is aContinue reading “Don’t Snow Me In”

A Tourist in Toyland

Dearest Rachel – Since I’ve either a.) been out of the country, or b.) shopping from home (or c.) both a. and b., thanks to the fact that I can shop online from anywhere, including a hotel in Switzerland), I haven’t been hearing a lot of Christmas music this year. It’s a bit of aContinue reading “A Tourist in Toyland”

The Wind Has No Answer

Dearest Rachel – I wonder if you ever bother to look down on the earth from wherever you may be. How fast is it moving, from your perspective? They say that the spin is a thousand miles an hour at the equator, but what is that on a sphere of 24,000 miles in circumference? CanContinue reading “The Wind Has No Answer”

I Can’t Send You Anything

Dearest Rachel – I guess it’s a bit of good news that I managed to sleep straight through last night. I sacked myself in just before before midnight (yes I realize that’s five p.m. ‘our’ time, but I’m getting used to the time zone here), and didn’t wake up until almost half past nine. IContinue reading “I Can’t Send You Anything”

Dancing While It’s All Torn Down

Dearest Rachel – This is probably what comes of driving to the ‘office’ as the weather chills, and the rains that fall are cold and unpleasant. As I’ve said, I’m no runner, and I have no desire to expose myself to that sort of weather if I don’t have to. That being said, it’s suchContinue reading “Dancing While It’s All Torn Down”

Can’t Buy Me

Dearest Rachel – You might remember, before I got into (and got the two of you into) certain websites of a more political nature, I used to practice my reading voice by reciting bits out of the Onion. One of our recurring favorites was the horoscope section, allegedly written by retired machinist and A.A.P.B.-certified astrologist,Continue reading “Can’t Buy Me”

“With,” Not “To”

Dearest Rachel – When we were ‘courting,’ for lack of a better term (it wasn’t quite dating, when you were at college and I was working some 150 miles away), we would send music back and forth to each other. It was a way of keeping in touch, sending each other messages that some lyricistContinue reading ““With,” Not “To””

Friday I’m In Love

Dearest Rachel – One of the nice things about the autumn is being able to coordinate clothes. A plain old sweatshirt can be made to look like business casual gear if you wear a collared shirt (either a dress shirt or polo, it doesn’t necessarily matter – although I prefer the latter, as it doesn’tContinue reading “Friday I’m In Love”

Doing It His Way

Dearest Rachel – Not all of my trips across town are terribly interesting. Certainly this mornings wasn’t, unless you count the fact that I had to deliver some mail to the folks that share our address. I didn’t recognize the name on the envelope, and whoever sent it didn’t bother to specify whether South orContinue reading “Doing It His Way”

The Sands of Ho-Na-Lee

Dearest Rachel – There are some days, darling, when I admit that there isn’t much to write to you about. Nothing much is happening, I don’t find myself inspired, and I find myself forcing myself – rather against Jan’s advice – to send you something simply for the sake of sending you something. This isn’tContinue reading “The Sands of Ho-Na-Lee”

Mercenary Worship

Dearest Rachel – You know, ordinarily something like a dream about Christmas shopping would be more of a nightmare – and let’s be honest, this Christmas is both going to be a lot easier (in terms of not having to wrack my brain trying to find something that you might truly want or enjoy) andContinue reading “Mercenary Worship”

But Father, By Your Grace

Dearest Rachel – I almost feel the need to apologize for upstaging you today; this being Sunday, I would be posting (and I have posted) some of your notes from the Purpose-Driven Life journal you were working on in 2004. But this is likely to overshadow it, I’m afraid. Of course, why shouldn’t it? MarathonContinue reading “But Father, By Your Grace”

How Great Thou Art

Dearest Rachel – So, this morning was the final session for the weekend’s retreat. Luke drove us up a hill (because the YMCA of the Rockies is an absolutely vast campus – we’d never have time to walk to the place), and delivered his message with this behind him: With the backdrop such as itContinue reading “How Great Thou Art”

The Box of War

Dearest Rachel – I don’t think you performed this before I was aware of you; at least, not when you performed it for the BASIC group as part of a talent night. If I recall, you had also recited this as part of a similar talent night on the educational cruise you took with yourContinue reading “The Box of War”

A Tourist Barely One Town Over

Dearest Rachel – So here I am, wandering around this park in Schaumburg; I’ve been invited to SeptemberFest by someone I met over the app. Unlike my dinner with Ellen, I guess this is something of a date – at least, once she’s done working the bingo booth for the Lions Club. Assuming I canContinue reading “A Tourist Barely One Town Over”

Music For Staring at the Axe

Dearest Rachel – Eleven years ago tomorrow, you went in for surgery to remove a tumor from your brain. At the time, we didn’t know what was going to happen to you; the fact that it was not within the brain was a relatively good sign, and the doctor was fairly certain it would turnContinue reading “Music For Staring at the Axe”

Ce N’est Pas un Rendez-vous

Dearest Rachel – Since both your parents were university art professors, I know you had a thorough grounding in the fine arts, including history and the like. And given your dad’s fondness for dada and surrealism, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Rene Magritte and his work. And at the moment, I’d like to call attention toContinue reading “Ce N’est Pas un Rendez-vous”

Getting Started When You Can’t

Dearest Rachel – My morning starts at ten ‘til six; that’s when I find myself waking up organically. Some wag on the Internet has made the assertion that one’s alarm clock represents one’s theme song, because that’s how you begin most every episode of your life. If that’s the case, then it would seem thatContinue reading “Getting Started When You Can’t”

Out in a Freezing Rain

Dearest Rachel – I’m not gonna play the song here and now, because it deserves it’s own essay sometime in the future, but Mark Heard wrote “Another Good Lie” about those well-intentioned lies he had been told in his younger days by his closest friends and those older and supposedly wiser than himself. Things likeContinue reading “Out in a Freezing Rain”

The Return Trip

God, grant us strength todayAs we go our separate ways.Though we do not know quite when,Shield us ’til we meet again. me, this morning Dearest Rachel – And so it goes, as they say in Tralfamadore. It’s time (and past time, compared to almost everyone else) to return to life as usual… whatever that isContinue reading “The Return Trip”

A Few Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Dearest Rachel – Normally, the two of us would be scrambling to get everything put together and out to the car before we headed out to the sponsor brunch. this was basically because we needed to check out by noon, and we would probably barely be finished with brunch by then. Not because we ateContinue reading “A Few Impossible Things Before Breakfast”

Self-Indulgence and Survivor’s Guilt

Dearest Rachel – Among the many reasons why I wish you were still here, you could remind me of some of the things we did together back in the day. I have mostly vague recollections, and the occasional sharp image or phrase, but that’s about it. Sometimes, the only way I can remember when somethingContinue reading “Self-Indulgence and Survivor’s Guilt”

If You’re Looking for Devils

Dearest Rachel – When I was a freshman in high school, I think it was our youth group that went to another church where there was a presentation about the evils of rock music. I heard it all there: the ‘fact’ that the Eagles’ Hotel California album featured Anton LeVay head of the church ofContinue reading “If You’re Looking for Devils”

Can’t Recall The Verse

Dearest Rachel – I don’t often set my alarm these days, but it’s necessary on Saturdays, in order to ensure I’m there on time for the men’s Bible study (not to mention the fact that, on the first Saturday of the month – because last week was a holiday – the guys organizing it fixContinue reading “Can’t Recall The Verse”

Fugue State Vignettes

Dearest Rachel – A quick word of warning: this particular letter is not going to make any sense, it’s going to hop between one image or moment and another. That’s because everything listed here happens in my sleep, or just as I’m yanked out of it. So, the other night, I was in in theContinue reading “Fugue State Vignettes”

Once More, With Feeling

Dearest Rachel – “This had better be some roller coaster.” Yeah, the line was that much longer today than the first time. I’m not sure why. To be honest, I thought I’d heard that doses were starting to go begging at this point. Although, to be fair, it has been quite the roller coaster, thisContinue reading “Once More, With Feeling”

In Praise of 20/200 Vision

What kind of friends do friends becomeWhen a blind eye turns on the damage done?What kind of friend could I become?What kind of friend am I? Mark Heard, “What Kind of Friend,” from Second Hand (1992) Dearest Rachel – There’s a story about the great Admiral Nelson, who, during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801,Continue reading “In Praise of 20/200 Vision”

Bill, Melinda, and What Constitutes ‘Enough’

Dearest Rachel – Normally, I wouldn’t comment on current events in these letters. What happens in the wider world was of little concern to us even when we both were here; how much less so, now that the world itself is no longer a concern of yours. But I had to pause when I sawContinue reading “Bill, Melinda, and What Constitutes ‘Enough’”

If There Be Aloneness

Dearest Rachel – If there be alonenessLet it befor the pleasure of one’s own company for the striving to understand oneself for the joy of relaxation but most of allLet it beby choice. Mya Anderson (PHS Class of 1988) Roundtable 1986 I have carried this little slice of wisdom, penned by a classmate your ageContinue reading “If There Be Aloneness”

from Rachel: A Meditation on Psalm 77

I will remember my song in the night;I will meditate with my heart,And my spirit ponders: I will remember the deeds of the Lord;I will certainly remember Your wonders of old.I will meditate on all Your work,And on Your deeds with thanksgiving. Psalm 77:6,11,12, New American Standard Bible (NASB) (v.6 “I will remember my song in the night”) What song will you rememberContinue reading “from Rachel: A Meditation on Psalm 77”

Havering

Dearest Rachel – The Scots have this perfectly charming word that, by dint of it belonging exclusively to them throughout the English-speaking word, speaks volumes about their level of self-awareness in comparison to the rest of us. ha·ver/ˈhāvər/ havered; past participle: havered; gerund or present participle: haveringto talk foolishly; babble. Evidently, foolish talk is soContinue reading “Havering”

So Many Little Things

Dearest Rachel – You know I began this site as a form of therapy – a way to reach out to you despite knowing full well that you would see neither a word nor a pixel of it. It made a sort of bookending sense – we started our courtship by writing letters to eachContinue reading “So Many Little Things”

Too Late for Christmas Music

Dearest Rachel – I am so sorry… You might recall, during the Christmas season, I had attempted to find an album from my childhood, with music I’d never to my knowledge heard anywhere else, but really thought ought to have wider exposure. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I liked the songs, and wanted to shareContinue reading “Too Late for Christmas Music”

Antici…

“Say it! Say it!” “Nope. Not gonna do it.” “…it’s for the kids.” “…ohhh, all right. But they better not laugh!” “Oh-okay. Here we go, then!” Dearest Rachel – Jan and I were busy pulling out cans and bottles from the cabinet in the utility room when the phone rang. Haven’t used the phone inContinue reading “Antici…”

No Longer Much for Mornings

Dearest Rachel – You remember well that I was, for all intents and purposes, a morning person. Not so much out of choice as necessity; when you have to be at work at a certain time, staying up until 3 in the morning like you and Daniel used to do was just out of theContinue reading “No Longer Much for Mornings”

The Cruelty of the Cold

Dearest Rachel – It seems ever since you left, the days have conspired to outdo each other in cold brutality. Even the day of the accident was forecast to be the coldest of the season to date: we were all bundled in jackets and parkas more heavily than we had been in years. Not thatContinue reading “The Cruelty of the Cold”

Nothing Compares To You

Dearest Rachel – I’ll have to dredge up the mix tapes we sent each other to confirm it (yes, you know I kept copies of each one since those days), but I’m pretty sure this song was on one of the ones I sent you. And yes, I’m spelling out “To You” rather than usingContinue reading “Nothing Compares To You”