Sunday, December 31, 2006
My youngest uncle is nine years older than me. I think. He had an 8-track player in his first car. My sister is three years older than me. She had an 8-track player in her first car. Those were my only experiences with 8-track players. I never had an 8-track player. I had an FM converter in my first car. That was some fine living there.

I can’t think about 8-track players without thinking about the band Three Dog Night. I believe that both my uncle and my sis had Three Dog Night within their 8-track collections. Their band name supposedly came from the Australian Aboriginal custom of sleeping with a dog for warmth. A "three dog night" would have been a very cold night. Also, the band had three lead singers. Did you know that they are still around? It would be really cool to see them sometime. They had a lot of good songs but there are two which I remember best. “Joy To The World” (aka “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog) and “One” (Is The Loneliest Number). I think my sister and I spent a couple of summers with the neighbor kids singing "Joy To The World." I am a bit surprised my mom didn't freak out on the "And he always had some mighty fine wine" line but somehow she lived through it.

Thinking of the song "One," though, why should “one” be the loneliest number? It is a single digit number but so are eight other numbers, plus zero. Is “zero” a number? If it is, it seems like it would be pretty lonely, too. More lonely than "one" in fact. Of course, maybe “zero” can’t really be lonely because there’s nothing there to be lonely. That sort of gets back to the old question of whether a tree falling in the forest really makes a sound if no one is there to hear it. I am convinced that it does. Therefore, “zero” must be a number and it must be even lonelier than “one”. Whew! Glad I figured that one out. Now on to the vexing problem of achieving lasting world peace. Oh heck, why not just go for world dominance instead since I am pretty good at this thing, you know!

Here are the "substantive" lyrics from the song “One” … I encourage you to help me figure them out if you’re so inclined. Whether you’re inclined or even reclined right now, I hope you’re not lonely. I suspect these lines might have been written while under the influence of some mighty fine hallucinogens.

One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one

No is the saddest experience you'll ever know
Yes, it's the saddest experience you'll ever know

'Cause one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
One is the loneliest number, whoa-oh, worse than two

It's just no good anymore since you went away
Now I spend my time just making rhymes of yesterday

The older I get, the more lonely “one” seems to be. I used to pride myself on not being bothered by being by myself. I think that this was likely compensation or perhaps even justification for being introverted and not wanting to go out of my way to make friends. But, really, fact is, I never was bothered too much by being alone.

I remember when I went away to college, for the first couple of weeks I actually ate dinner by myself at a little restaurant in town rather than face the trauma of having to figure out who to eat with on campus. I had friends who I ate lunch with but usually in the afternoon before dinner I wouldn’t be with them so rather than try to go find them, I went off campus to eat. Eventually I decided that was going to get ridiculously expensive and I ended up hanging out in the music department in the afternoon and then going to dinner with music majors. I was not a music major but I was sort of their mascot or something for awhile. It was weird. I won’t think too much about the music department at college lest I get the heebie jeebies. Maybe that can be another post someday.

Then when I started my career and even after Lisa and I were married, I spent a lot of time traveling. By myself. I figure that I have spent, in total, at least two years traveling by myself during the past 20 years. Probably more. (Speaking of the years going by … I received a note recently from a high school classmate. I usually get a Christmas card from him but this year I just got a note from him which was apologizing for not getting his Christmas cards out on time. That was a bit peculiar in and of itself. Apparently he was late getting his cards out but technically that was okay because I wasn;t getting one anyway. His note also pointed out that 2007 is the year of our 25th high school reunion. I have never gone to a high school reunion before. 25 seems like a milestone. Maybe I will go but maybe I should get serious about that weight loss thing first. I had a doctor last week ask me how much I weighed when I graduated from high school. I lied and told him 135. It was actually 125. It sounded better, though, if I’d only gained 85 pounds in 25 years instead of 95. That is just frightening. Okay, I may have just lied again. I probably weighed about 120 when I graduated from high school. Maybe 115. In any event, our 25th reunion is this year and maybe I will actually go. Out of our class of about 300 students, something like 20 or 25 of us have died. That seems like a whole lot. Very few violent deaths like you might expect at this age. Mostly cancer and heart problems I think. I really need to commit to that diet. Man, our house is full of fattening goodies right now.)

Anyway, I have spent a lot of time alone in my life. When I traveled, I would eat inside at restaurants by myself. Some people are really freaked out by the idea of eating alone in a restaurant. I was never bothered by it. These days, when I must travel alone, I find myself more likely to order room service. It’s harder for me to be alone than it used to be.

"Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there." (Matthew 18:18-20 The Message)

I have always been sort of bothered or something by that scripture. I guess I never understood it. It always seemed to me like Jesus was saying that God wasn’t with us when we’re alone. And I knew that couldn’t be right.

I now see how it was really the Holy Spirit to which Jesus was referring. How, when two or more Christians are together, the Holy Spirit can flow between them and wonderful things come from that.

I have been thinking a lot about the Holy Spirit lately. I am sure there is still much I do not understand about it but I do know that, up until the last few years, I really didn’t understand squat about it.

Late last week, I was at an early morning church committee meeting. The person leading the meeting asked me to pray to close out the meeting. My prayer took a strange twist and I started praying about God’s power and thanking Him for the way He works through us. Though there’s nothing wrong with what I said, I got very self-conscious in the midst of the prayer and then I just sort of ended it. I don’t know … maybe I felt like it was getting too personal with things I have been reflecting a lot on lately.

Have I blogged much about the couple of early morning prayer meetings we held at Evan’s school a few weeks ago? Those were powerful times. It is amazing how your heart can be opened and softened by hearing others pray what is on their hearts.

I guess that, in my Christian journey, I have really started to focus more and more on relationships and the powerful things that can happen in those relationships, particularly when the Holy Spirit enters in. “One” really can be a lonely number. It isn’t that God isn’t with us when we’re alone. In fact, those can be powerful times, too. However, His power is truly awesome whenever two or more are gathered in His name. I still enjoy my “alone” time but I also really value time spent with others, more than I ever have before.

God is good. And He’s here. In 2007 I want to experience Him in as powerful way as I possibly can.

  posted at 11:07 PM  

At 3:07 AM, Blogger HeyJules said...

Happy New Year, Todd! I have had that same odd feeling about that scripture. It used to kind of freak me out that "good things happen when there are two or more of you" and I'd always think "Hey, I live alone. I certainly do most of my praying alone. What's up with that?"

Eventually I realized what you realized - that the Holy Spirit can do great things when we are in community together and God certainly DOES want a one-on-one relationship with us so it's all good!

I pray that you and Lisa and Evan have a blessed New Year! I look forward to reading more of your thoughts in the coming year. You always seem to hit so close to home with me.


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Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

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