Friday, August 8, 2014

Going over Jordan

"Poor Wayfaring Stranger"

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
Travelling through this world of woe
But there's no sickness, toil or danger
In that bright land to which I go 

Well I'm going there
To meet my mother
Said she'd meet me when I come
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home 

I know dark clouds
Will gather 'round me 
I know my way
Will be rough and steep
But beautiful fields lie just before me
Where God's redeemed
Their vigils keep 

Well I'm going there
To meet my loved ones
Gone on before me, one by one
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home 

I'll soon be free of earthy trials
My body rest in the old church yard
I'll drop this cross of self-denial
And I'll go singing home to God 

Well I'm going there
To meet my Savior
Dwell with Him and never roam
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home

I had some News. I can't say much about it now except that it scared the hell out of me. I don't know what's coming next. Maybe nothing. But I've known too many people who've fallen. Some make it out. Maybe it's nothing. Probably it's nothing. Maybe not though, and my mind pinballs back and forth. I wrote an email to someone I care about and signed myself "Wayfaring Stranger", then realized, hmmmm, that's a song

I went through more than a dozen versions on YouTube and didn't like any of them. Most were full of sobbing violins and plunky banjos and tried to sound folksy and just ended up sounding maudlin. Even the great Johnny Cash didn't quite pull it off, and Joan Baez was, well, Joan Baez. Too much herself. Her signature was all over it.

I don't know who these singers are, but I love them, love the care with which they sing this, their utter musicality, pitch, tone, balance, the lean accompaniment, the brilliant a cappella section. All of it. In a very toned-down way it sounds like mountain music, which I am sure it is. Those aching harmonies, simple. These singers do not get in the way of the song.

Poor wayfaring stranger. I wonder if I subconsciously remembered any of the lyrics. I have been chasing my health issues around and around and around for a couple of years now, coming up empty, and this is not a turn for the better. I wonder, like everyone does, what happens to us, if anything, after we die, if we don't just turn to soil, not such a bad thing really. 

When poor Jasper died, I showed Erica and Lauren his little grave in the back yard. Erica blew it off, but Lauren stood there with eyes like saucers. She couldn't quite believe that he was down there, that he belonged there now. I tried to explain to her how we had given him back to nature, that he was at peace now, just like he was sleeping. 

A while later, still saucer-eyed, she said to me, "Maybe you should plant a tomato plant where he is." 


"Then a tomato will grow up, and Jasper will be alive again."

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