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Sunday, at Church

Sunday, December 29, 2013

We're inside the Waxler Church, just taking in the spirit of the place. Snowlight floods in the windows and I find myself wishing there were a pot-bellied stove to warm it up. I feel the presence of every person who was baptised, married, eulogized, schooled here. I hear their voices echoing in the wooden walls. It is a place charged with life and love and sadness too.

There's no doubt that Chet feels it too. He sniffs and looks everywhere as if he's following leads. 

He does that everywhere he goes, of course. He's does it because he's a dog.  I find it deeply inspiring to explore such places with someone who is completely in the  moment, in the place where he finds himself. He inhabits his reality, instead of drifting off or wishing it were otherwise or thinking about something else entirely unrelated. Chet is in the now, ever in the moment at hand, awake and aware. I strive to be more animal-like. I am drawn to animals, of course, but also to people who can achieve that state of situational awareness, who don't miss a thing that's going on in their surroundings. It's a vanishing art, one that most aren't even aware can be learned and cultivated. 

Dogs are its best practitioners. Watch your dog, see how he goes through his environment, investigating everything as if it were new. If anyone is ever prepared for the second coming, it will be Chet Baker.

He is so like a toddler in his little coat that even I do a double-take when he stands up and looks out the window. Is that a child from the Waxler School, ca. 1915?

In the corner sits an old upright piano. I pretty much know what it will sound like before I roll back the keyboard cover. There are bird droppings on it. The way the photos and documents are lined up on its top reminds me of the piano in my Gram Ruigh's parlor. Sigh. 

Years of piano lessons at skinny Mrs. Ericson's mothball-smelling house, where the couch was covered with plastic and the avocado green drapes were always drawn against the light, have left me with nothing but an unpleasant memory. I never learned to read music because my ear was too good, and it was far too easy for me just to memorize the tunes. But I try to pick out a tune and play a few chords. The freezing old piano sounds like it's somewhere 20 fathoms under the sea, but I love that wavering tone, that nowhere-near tuning. At least for this application. 

The sound is awesome, reverberating around the wooden walls. I'd love to play a Rain Crows gig here.  It doesn't seem so far out of reach, especially in the summertime.

 Finally I give up trying to summon up anything useful from my lessons and just sing "Realms of the Blest," because I want the spirits to hear a song in this space once again. You can hear a snippet of me singing it here. It's Track #5.

It's time to leave this hallowed space. Chet leads the way, into the light.


I was thinking how it looks as if Chet Baker were imagining himself giving a sermon up there on the dais. Then I read your thoughts on living in the present moment and I realized that he was indeed giving a sermon, and you heard it clearly and relayed it to us. Living in the moment is something that I am continually striving to do, but is difficult for me as worry has become a habit. Still, I am better than I used to be, and that is something. We have much to learn from the animals around us -- both domestic and wild -- if only we humans are willing to admit that we don't know it all. Chet Baker has the secret for a happy life, and if we all follow his example, we can also have one.

-- Amen

I am a member of a dying small town church and constantly feel the presence of all who were married, buried and baptized in our small church. You described our church perfectly.

Posted by Dori Martz December 29, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Mimi Manderly, you've got it exactly. Animals are always teaching, always preaching, if we'll only quiet ourselves down and listen. I strive to be more like Chet Baker, and hope the happy-go-lucky will follow. :)

You have no idea how much I love this post. Well, then again, you probably do. I want to shout this post the rafters!!!!! I LOVE THIS POST!!!!!

Oh well then just share it Timmeh. ;) I do know how much you love it because you are a prime example of a human who's completely in touch with his surroundings and misses nothing, whether visual, spiritual, or gossipy. Har! love you!!

"just taking in the spirit"

That is what makes your writing and art so appealing to me. You so wonderfully convey the essence of every plant and animal (including humans) that you meet, and give that to us as a gift.

Thank you and best wishes for 2014.

Realms of the Blest is the most beautiful song I've ever heard. I am so happy that I got to hear you sing it in person. It is a song that I will carry with me for the rest of my time. Thanks for singing it to "them"... I'm sure they'd give you a Standing O, ...if they could.

Posted by Olivia Kittle January 2, 2014 at 4:28 PM

I absolutely love the photos of Chet Baker in the church!
Sandy from Marietta Ohio

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