In Annie Dillard’s book of essays, Teaching A Stone to Talk, she writes brilliantly about the Antarctic explorers at the turn of the 20th century.  I don’t think I know anyone who would read those old journals so intently as she did, nor anyone who would so seamlessly compare the silly confidence of those teams to the foolishness with which we church-goers approach worship.  Unconscionably ill-equipped, but determined to the end to find the thing we seek.

I can’t help but re-imagine the scenes she described as I think about our musical and career endeavors, the things that propelled us to this fine city.  Established and talented craftsmen have contributed to our album: musicians, engineers, fine artists.  A sizable amount of money has been spent, and we are captain of the whole outfit, through no qualification except the desire to go… somewhere?  We’ve an idea how we hope the destination will look, but little knowledge of the terrain.  It feels very much at times like we are those Antarctic explorers.  Soon to be found packed in a glacier, poorly dressed for the elements and clutching the silliest of resources.  (In the case of one expedition, this meant light dress clothes and fine silverware.)

At times each small decision feels momentous, and at other times we realize we have failed to think of something vital.  Like forgetting food but having spent hours organizing the board games.

Yesterday was a day for catching ourselves in the mirror and laughing at the captain’s hat on our head.  How did it get there?  What fool allowed it to happen?

But tonight, sort of by accident, I found myself sitting with Jaron, listening to the soothing voice of Madeleine Peyroux, trying to shun the temptation to compare myself with her, and looking at pictures of antique table fans.  They could never be produced now – there would be a 99% chance that a child would stick his hand into the path of the brass blade through the barely existent shield while Dad was texting.  Our society can’t support such dangerous household items.

But these fans are charming, if sometimes a little silly.  Framed shapes of frogs and palm trees and pigs.  If you had more than one your home would immediately turn into a country diner.  But I’m glad they’re around.  I suppose I’m glad people dared to explore the poles?  I’m most certainly glad we continue to delve into the unknowably terrible and beautiful potential of our worship services.  And I’m glad we’re doing this thing in Nashville, whatever it may turn out to be.

As we were sitting together tonight, Jaron turned to me and said, “So far, I really like growing older with you.”  His trick of perspective changed the room.  Our cramped apartment became quaint.  The garage sale antique fan on the bookshelf became a symbol for risk and small beauties.  And the end of my twenties became the chance to really earn my already-gray hairs.  Our fifth anniversary is two weeks away, but I’ll make a toast a little early.  Here’s to continued expeditions – may we find ourselves surprised by our own silliness and the Lord’s grandeur for years to come.

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And here’s a preview of our album artwork, by Hollie Chastain.

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