Sing Your Song

In April 2014, a young woman in North Carolina died in a car wreck. The investigation revealed that, at the moment of impact, she was posting a selfie on Facebook.

Oh, the rush that comes from a human touch through social media. The laughter, the buzz, the flirt. Human contact is so intoxicating, especially for the young. He notices me. Maybe I can see her tonight. 

But then…the grill of the gravel truck. The earsplitting grind of steel and glass. Bones splintering. The odors of fire, motor oil, and blood. Then everything is still; the only sound is a distant dog barking. 

Reality always wins.

Eventually, we all learn why Goethe said, “The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

Have you noticed that so much of modern life teaches us to look away from reality? People die every day because they invite amusement (one definition: “to distract the attention”). 

It seems we’ve all been trained to just download data, provocations, concerns, even excitement. We do not think or meditate or study; we tend to just wait for various stimuli (like “breaking news,” talk radio, Facebook posting, political or religious agendas, etc.) to set up a crisis or a cause. Then, like a balloon man at a car wash grand opening, we jerk into reaction.

Are we so bored by our own lives and thoughts that we eagerly give ourselves to anything or anyone that moves or makes noise?

I care about God, Joanne, our kids and grandkids, extended family, friends, conversation, coffee, humor, our dog, Bernie, books, and music. I don’t have enough heart or brain space to give myself to things that matter least. 

Yes, I know many things matter to many people. I don’t despise that. But doesn’t the right to speak also carry the right to not speak? That’s not denunciation. I’m often silent just because others already work that side of the street and do so better than I could. Therefore, I simply choose to not open my heart about some issues (except with trusted friends as we sit on bales of hay in a barn on a rainy afternoon).  

Maybe it all comes to this: I don’t have enough sand left in my hourglass to annex other burdens, dreams, urgencies, or fights. I have a wife to love, a mission to fill, books to read, words to write, conversations to join, and places to go. I want to spend time with my family and friends, laugh, pray, and fire my friend Doug’s cannon.

Thoreau told us most people “go the grave with the song still in them.” Do you realize you carry a song? It flows from your Creator’s unique and personal design and gets boiled in and pushed out through your life. No one else carries your song, and many need to hear it. On this side of the grave.

Want to see what the song looks like? 

In his book, The Wright Brothers (Simon & Schuster, 2015), David McCullough looked at Wilbur and Orville Wright’s unrelenting focus on flight. The brothers worked side-by-side six days a week. They gave no opening to distractions (neither ever married).

At Kitty Hawk, they endured wind, cold, and swarms of mosquitos that blocked the sun; they stood for hours watching birds climb into the wind, ascend, glide, turn, plunge, and land. 

Wilbur and Orville knew their song. And because they were faithful to sing it, humans can mount the air and soar to the edge of the universe. Think about that. 

You and I have a choice. We can let the pollutions and conflicts of the lower elevations constrict or distract our attention or we can rise above the diversions and stimuli, perch like an eagle on a high rocky cliff, and sing our song. 

Finally, I’ve learned the song never springs from glamour or buzz. The deep wells of pain and loss seem to produce the richest and most moving tones. Like caring for a spouse, parent, child, or sibling as they move toward darker, deeper, and more resplendent glory. The most majestic songs I’ve heard were composed by some of you as you laid down your life for another.

Now, to turn an old observation, no one is going to lie on their deathbed wishing they had just read one more blog, sat through a few more sermons or sales meetings, watched another episode of Yellowstone, or joined more causes.      

But we may wish we had sung our song more clearly and often.

31 thoughts on “Sing Your Song”

  1. Oh this is just pure delight to me, Ed! I loved it. It reminded and inspired me. Thank you for bringing this out of your oven and onto the table for us to savor with you. As I read this, I thought…

    Songs have melody and lyrics. They should carry or create a story to tell. I am now an octogenarian. I know my song, and still remember the melody. I still carry the romance of it all, deep in my heart and memory. Some only have a poem, because they never “heard” the music of the romance of the story. I pray I never forget the melody, the romance or the story.

    Thank you for today’s inspiration and instruction.

    1. “Hearing the music of the romance…” That’s so important. We need the lift of the melody and lyrics to find the high altitude eternal enchantment in The Story. Such a fine thought. Thanks, Glen.

  2. Roberta Roachelle

    Thank you Ed for this wonderful reminder of the song in our hearts. Some times as we age our voice does not sound like it was when we were young but the song is still there.
    We can always sing like no one is listening.
    Thank you again.

  3. Resonates. It’s why I’ve turned down most proffered opportunities to fill the time opened up in retirement. I’m not looking for more busy-ness, even if it’s wearing good-cause clothes. Best line: “ and fire my good friend Doug’s cannon.”

    1. Thanks, Faye. You’ve been one of the best examples I know of singing your song. Thanks for all you’ve done, do, and will do. I’m glad you’re selective in the platforms.

  4. As someone who had to walk a darker path to hear her song, I completely agree with these words. The lyric’s weren’t what I originally wrote, but this version will win the Grammy. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. The best songs always get baked in the dark path. You’ve made some tough choices. Your song will help many others. Thanks, Libby.

  5. Oh, Ed. This is so spot-on. I love your ability to turn a phrase that so eloquently and succinctly expresses truth. One of the most surreal moments I’ve experienced was sitting on a rock on Slemish Mountain in Northern Ireland, where the only sound I could hear was the wind blowing past my ears. Looking out over the lush green landscape divided by hand-built rock walls and adorned with simple farm houses and flocks of sheep, I was able to hear more clearly the voice of Father as we communed in that moment. I realize geography doesn’t dictate spiritual experiences, but I have longed to return to that rock ever since I came off of it.

    1. I understand, Dudley. As I read this, I felt like I was on that rock with you. Place pays such a pivotal role in the formation of songs. The longer I live the more I understand why a friend of mine said, “The whole earth is a holy place.” Thanks, friend.

  6. Beautifully and eloquently written Ed. You echo to me what the Lord has reminded me of often the past couple of years as I’ve seen my “role” in life change yet again and a part of me has tried to hide from exploring and living that reality. Sometimes, we need a new verse in our song, or a bridge and a change in the chorus.

    1. Thanks, Bonnie. I read once that rivers cleanse themselves about every 6 or 7 miles. That surely applies to everyday life. And it does renew the song.

  7. Dean Hockenberry

    Once upon a time in my life busyness was a prized commodity. It was in direct proportion to my income and because busyness was so loud my attention was always focused there. In retirement the rhythm of my life’s song has become prominent again. The beauty of creation has once again become the backdrop for the song.

    1. That’s good, Dean. I look forward to hearing whatever comes to you. After all, you live in a golden landscape of creativity–my hometown! Hope to see you the next time we get up there.

  8. I love this! People need to sing even when they can’t carry a tune! Our song may not sound that good to those nearby but I’m sure it sounds good to God. My song’s about over but as long as I can still sing………………………!

    1. You’re right. As Roberta said above, we can sing like no one is listening. Full throated to God. I hope to hear more of your song one of these days.

  9. Beautifully composed thoughts, Ed. Thank you.

    I have recently been wrestling with the topic of “Vocation” which your words beautifully complement. Like a song, callings are singular. We are neither ironsmiths, nor medical technicians nor store clerks, in plural form. We are individual songsters, each carrying our own irreplaceable timbre. Like the songs of whales at sea, each is song is unique, carried to others far beyond our own reach. As we age, we feel the urge to sing more clearly, and, as you suggest, apart from the pull of the voices around us, for a far Bigger Voice awaits.

    1. Oh, Craig. So good… “We are individual songsters, each carrying our own irreplaceable timbre. Like the songs of whales at sea, each is song is unique, carried to others far beyond our own reach.” Love that. I hope you and I can find our way to those bales of hay in a barn on a rainy afternoon one of these days. Thank you.

  10. I am wondering if we don’t each have several songs, intended for different purposes and seasons. Not only that, but some of our melodies fit perfectly and enhance the melodies of others. We miss all that if we are focused on the least things. Life is about discovering what our song is, and then singing to the fullest. The world will not be complete without your song. And you’re the only one who can sing it.

    1. I think you’re right. The patterns of song and voice are probably more diverse and variegated than we realize. You also remind us of the need for harmony. Yes, yes. Thanks, dear friend.

  11. Hello Ed!

    Such a wonderful, inspirational and thought provoking piece! I really enjoyed it!

    It encourages me to slow down enough to consider what and who really matters!

    You have such a way with words!
    Bless you my friend!


    1. Thanks so much, John. What a payoff…to know that a friend is going to “slow down enough to consider what and who really matters!” You’ve made my day!

  12. Ed, this was so beautiful. It’s always such a delight when someone else can put on paper what we so deeply feel.” I don’t have enough heart or brain space to give myself to things that matter least!” Thank you!
    I had a very interesting thing happen earlier this month while being snowed in for a day at the KCI airport. Something I would have missed if I was intent upon facebook or less important things. I was in the “Quiet Room” and was able to lead an angst-full young man to Christ by being present in the moment. It was so rewarding to see the look of hope in his eyes as we parted. So different than his countenance when he came in! So my 24 hour travel delay was not wasted! And I flew out the next morning to visit Deborah and husband Brian and meet our newest granddaughter.

    1. Wow, what an experience within the real world! Beautiful. Being snowed in opened a portal to new wide-open spaces. And blessings upon the growing Hermes vine.

  13. This was excellent in every way. I will most certainly read it several times. Over the past several years God has challenged me to be reflective rather than reactive. There is so much rest in knowing our purpose rests in the eternal and not the immediate.

  14. Another wonderful meditation. Thank you, Ed. These are always such a blessing. I find that the older (and maybe…sometimes, wiser) I get, the less I have to say.

    Passing on this gem that relates well with what you have written:
    In his book, The Tyranny of the Urgent, Charles Hummel wisely advises, “Don’t let the URGENT take the place of the IMPORTANT in your life. Oh, the URGENT will really fight, claw, and scream for attention. It will plead for our time and even make us think we’ve done the right thing by calming its nerves. But the tragedy of it all is this: While you and I were putting out the fires of the URGENT (an everyday affair), the IMPORTANT was again left in a holding pattern. And interestingly, the IMPORTANT is neither noisy nor demanding. Unlike the URGENT, it patiently and quietly waits for us to realize its significance.”

  15. Thank you for you inspiring words Ed. I think a song stems from a visitation from on high which brands us for life that keeps finding its way to be a blessing for others.

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