Two things I believe

More than three months ago, I submitted an essay to the organization This I Believe. Perhaps you’ve heard their installments on NPR, where they’ll play 2-3 minute segment of someone reading their 500-word essay. The one that has stuck with me for the longest was “Always Go to the Funeral,” which was broadcast more than five years ago, and I still hear it playing in my head.

I got an email yesterday from This I Believe, thanking me for my essay and telling me that it would be on their website within a few hours. To my dismay, when it was finally posted, the line breaks were odd, and which made it appear choppy on the page and difficult to read.

I sent them an email this morning, asking if they could fix the formatting. Within two hours I received this email:

Dear Ms. Howard,

We are happy to make the changes you’ve requested to your essay.  We know how much time and energy (and sometimes blood, sweat, and tears) you put into the writing of your This I Believe essay. We, too, want your essay to be the true reflection of your beliefs, and we want you to be proud of your words on our website.

Our project would not be possible without people such as yourself who take the time to carefully reflect on–and write about–their personal beliefs. Thank you for being a part of This I Believe.

Very kindly yours,

This I Believe

Now, in addition to believing in singing hymns, I believe in sending emails like the one that someone named Laura sent me this morning. Laura, whoever you are, wherever you are, thank you for making my day.

11 responses to “Two things I believe

  1. Joy, thanks for the link to This I Believe. I’m excited to ready your essay and join the conversation.

  2. Joy,
    I’ve been lurking and reading your blog for a few months now without comment and have enjoyed your words very much. Your thoughts on hymns are very welcome to me. I tend to be over-critical of what many hymns SAY and lose sight of what hmyns can DO for those assembled. My singing voice leaves much to be desired, but now I will (cautiously) attempt the “dinosaur tail” method with hopes of improving. Too bad we sit towards the front….

    • Hi Steve,
      It is so great to “hear” your voice after all these years. Thank you for reading, and commenting.

      As for what many hymns SAY, I completely agree that there are so many that are problematic. I change the words A LOT when I sing hymns. PW taught me my latest favorite word swap: switching “love” for “blood.” The hymns that focus on the whole nasty blood sacrifice thing are not only gross, they describe a theology that is repellent to me. An example of how this vastly improves a hymn I dearly love (from the second half of a verse from “Come Thou Fount”):

      Jesus sought me when a stranger,
      Wandering from the fold of God;
      He, to rescue me from danger,
      Interposed His precious blood love.

      Swing that tail and sing out, my friend!

  3. Oh, I love this essay! I think wagging our dinosaur tails and singing should be a daily exercise. I plan to start today. xxoo

  4. The essay was great. I, like, Steve have of late been too focused on the words (many of which I don’t agree with) and less focused on the joy of singing. Tonight I go for the first rehearsal of the “Messiah” for our small community of Estes Park. I don’t agree with all those words either, but the joy of the music and hearing all those voices together, will fill me completely.

    • Hi Marlene,
      See my reply to Steve’s comment for my latest hymn word-swap strategy. I change the words all the time, which makes it a lot easier to sing joyfully with some of the hymns.

  5. Marlene! Glad you are back in the game! Allelujah.

  6. Pingback: Secret Geometry – James Primosch's blog

  7. I loved reading this – as well as your “How can I keep from singing” post! Music speaks to us in so many ways we may not understand – I hope we never lose the music just because of disagreeable lyrics! I sometimes sing alternate words too – but too often am not creative enough to figure out something that fits. I’m definitely remembering the Love substitution for Blood hint!

  8. I love the This I Believe essays, and yours is just terrific. Yesterday after that amazing service at Emmanuel, CTR’s mom told me how much she likes that I know the words to the hymns. “After all those years of singing them, how can people not know them?!?” she wondered. What I didn’t tell her is that I sing not necessarily the words in front of my, were I carrying an open hymnal, but the words I learned as a kid, the ones I substitute if I can’t quite remember, the words Church of the Covenant changed to be inclusive, etc. No matter — the bouncing on toes, the laughter, the tears — nothing better than a good hymn-sing. Thanks, JOY, for sharing what you believe. XOX, JO

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