2006-11-08 / Opinions & Letters

Midwest Memo

Yet another list
by Alan Shultz

More than once I've confessed in this column to being an avid list maker. I'm comforted by the fact that I'm not alone out there in endless list land. We list makers can spot each other, the note pads, some little, some huge, the discreet jotting of items, tahe furtive striking of tasks accomplished.

List making starts out innocently enough. Usually it begins as an items needed list for the grocery or hardware store. But soon it grows to the familiar "to do" list and then morfs to bigger and grander entries. My Uncle Chuck kept a revolving movie "videos to see list." Our friend Joanne keeps her lifetime "list of birds observed"... list. There are books with lists of places to see in one's lifetime and lists of classic books to read and classic music to listen to.

The other evening I learned of yet another list that one might keep. I had the radio going, a live broadcast from the Moody Bible Institute. I didn't catch the singer's name - a fellow talking about song he wrote about a woman of faith who influenced his life. He read from a letter the woman had written to him. Speaking about the letter, he said: "It's one of those items on the list of things to keep forever." A list of things to keep forever - how terrific that? What a great list assignment to receive during November with Thanksgiving hovering nearby.

So what does one keep on the ultimate list, the list of things to keep forever?

For many, I doubt this list contains stock certificates or precious metals. For me, a list maker who just learned about this very special list of all lists, well I'm caught up in the process of thinking up my entries.

Many of the items on the "forever" list are private moments - mental snapshots that can be recalled simply by closing the eyes and reaching back into fond treasures. The "forever" list also a spot for touchstones, mementoes of a moment or an event with great meaning.

Some of the entries on my "forever" list turn out to be surprise entries. The "who'd a thought" kind.

Over the weekend I toured an old church, a well-loved, well-worn edifice that's seen better days. The tour took a natural pause when the guide brought me through a small dark corridor and opened a narrow passage door leading to the organ loft. It was a big, old pipe organ. It has been quite a while since I played.

I got up the nerve to ask and was granted permission to play a few old familiar hymns. The organ groaned, hissed and growled my unfamiliar touch. It was wonderful!

Without mental roadmap, without any clear trigger, seated at this unfamiliar organ in this unfamiliar church I was reminded of a piece of musical composition paper which rates an entry on my own personal list of things to keep forever.

I wrote a four-line piece of music once. In the church music arena the piece is known as "introit," a musical introduction to the worship service. It is the equivalent of a religious "kickoff." Without diminishing my own work, suffice it say it was like a first pie or a first woodworking project. There was more enthusiasm and adventure there on the composer page than merit.

Back then, I was the organist at the Delphi Presbyterian Church on Main Street. Like a kid who learned to ride a bike for the first time, brought my freshly inked page to choir leader Betty Ward. Without hesitation, she put her crew to singing this elementary first musical effort The next Sunday the church bulletin showed that day's Introit by yours truly.

So this past weekend, out of the blue, like the unexpected crack of lightning on a still summer afternoon, I realized something. The church choir's unconditional acceptance of my composition represented a huge gift to me. I hadn't thought of that experience for years - yet with the task filling this new list of things to keep forever there it was. So my friends in the choir Delphi Presbyterian, a belated thanks for a treasured gift.

And to my readers, a question for contemplation. What's on your list of things to keep forever?

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