Long, long time ago…
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile…
And I knew if I had my chance
that I could make those people dance
and maybe they’d be happy for a while…
But February made me shiver with every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep; I couldn’t take one more step.
I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride;
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died… So…
Yes, you know the chorus, right? In another episode of “Giving Away My Age,” I didn’t have to turn to Google or listen to the song again in order to type the first verse of “American Pie” by Don McLean. I just sang the song in my head. I know it by heart. Because it was in the Top Ten seemingly forever in January of 1972 and so I heard it nearly once every 90 minutes on the radio – WOW-AM out of Omaha, which came in clear as a bell in Orange City, Iowa.
I had the radio on nearly all the time that January. Drowning my sorrows at missing the peak of the basketball season – I was a sophomore on the JV team and basketball was my life.
But I was in isolation – quarantine. I’d had a sore throat that December at a 4-H leadership council gathering at the camp near Madrid. Of course I was 15 and invincible, so even with the sore throat I played “Fox and Geese” in the snow with my new friends from State Center, Toledo, Decorah, and Boone.
When I got back home, the sore throat got worse. By the first day of basketball practice I had a fever and swollen glands. The doctor gave the harsh news: “You’ve got the mumps, kid. Get to bed.”
No school, no hoops, no band, no friends…
It sucked. But I learned a song by heart.
I have no great morale to the story. But it’s one thing I thought about when my son – home from college – and I started our self-quarantine. Which surely isn’t as bad as the mumps at age 15. And I’ve been out for groceries, so it’s not really a total quarantine. It could be worse, right?
And, yet, like many of you, I’ve been a bit numb, very concerned, sometimes frightened, often feeling like things are out-of-control because, frankly, things ARE indeed feeling out of our own control. Isolation, especially when you don’t know how long it might last, is stressful. It is quite natural to feel anxious. Acknowledge your feelings and know that you are not alone.
It’s our human tendency to worry about things. Brian McLaren says, “We worry about things beyond our control – and in doing so, we often miss things within our control.” So I would suggest, acknowledge the anxiety and then by grace move from worry to trusting.
It’s our human tendency to judge others too – that is basically what anxious and insecure people do! So I would suggest, especially in this difficult time, that we all move from “judging” to finding the best in each other and practicing affirmation.
Finally, it’s a human tendency to forget that we are deeply loved by God. And when we forget that we are truly beloved, when we forget that God takes great delight in us – well, that just makes us more prone to worry and judging. So I would suggest, remind yourself that nothing can separate you from God’s love. Call a friend – you know the kind – the kind who makes you less likely to forget, who makes you more “you” than you even knew.
Be well, and remember how the music makes you smile, and remember that you do indeed have the chance to make people dance and be happy for a while.
Rev. Randy Lubbers, currently working from home and watching “Boston Legal” on Hulu, is pastor and teacher at First United Presbyterian Church in Winterset. He is live streaming via Facebook Live on Saturday afternoons at 5:00 and Sunday mornings at 10:15 (and periodic weekdays) until further notice. You can reach him via email at email@example.com.