I cried today.
It’s not something I do a lot. It’s pretty rare that anything much moves me these days, especially to tears. This came completely out of the blue.
Telling y’all about it is pretty out-of-the-blue, too–very out of character for me, especially since it has little (or nothing at all) to do with the subject matter we know each other for. This isn’t about politics, or preparation, or the Constitution, or defense of America–at least not directly. But there’s power in what I’m about to share. I don’t know what it is, and maybe it won’t strike you like it did me. Still, it’s worth a few minutes of your time, I promise.
There are two bits of information to know before I get into it; first is some history about me, and then some history leading into the video(s) I’ll link to at the bottom.
Most of those who would read this know I’m an atheist (one of those far right-wing non-believers you hear so much about, right?). What you may not know is that it wasn’t always this way. In fact I grew up in some fairly religious circumstances; one of my step-fathers was a lay minister, and his father was an ordained pastor. In my early teens I was a cantor in my church. I read the bible as an exercise in knowledge, and to this day can still relate scriptures and parables as well as most anyone. Not bad for a fellow who doesn’t believe in God.
You’ll all have heard, no doubt, the expression that says “there are no atheists in foxholes”. I suppose there’s some truth to that, but that saying points to our need as humans to cling to something higher when we feel imminent danger. What is probably less known is that many non-believers envy, much of the time, those who do believe. We want to believe; we really do. We want the comfort that comes from having somewhere to offload our worries and sorrows, the feeling of safety that comes with knowing we’re being watched over, the ability to call to the heavens and summon extra strength in times of trouble or doubt. We want all of that. We want to believe.
We just can’t.
Now imagine how much more pronounced that envy is when you were once someone who had all of that, but no longer do?
You’re about to watch a man who is no slouch of a person. For nearly a decade he served in the United States Army, and not in just any capacity; he was a forward observer with both the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions. If there was trouble to be found, this is the guy who was going to find it. I can’t say for sure, but I believe he’s probably lived the “no atheists in foxholes” moment more than once.
A few years ago his son was tubing in Kentucky Lake off the Tennessee River when he somehow slipped off the tube. His body was found the next day. Jerry was just 19 years old.
What struck me at first, in the video you’re about to watch, is the old man it features. I couldn’t believe this was who I knew it was, and for the first few seconds I watched just to be sure it was actually him. But then…that voice! I knew it was him. I’d heard him sing so many times over the last two decades (though never, ever like this). I’d only just heard the story, and had never heard the song. Knowing the story explained, for me, the aging–his look, his mannerisms–and the power of the song explains all the rest.
Hardships do strange things to us physically. Belief–the kind people like me wish we had, and (believe it or not) are thankful people like you do have–does something miraculous in every other way.
Have a look at tragedy, and the strength of faith, in four minutes…
Maybe you knew this story already. I didn’t. Maybe you’ve heard this song. I hadn’t. Maybe it won’t have the same effect on you that it did for me…
…but maybe it will.
At the risk of wrapping this up with something pithy, let me say that we live in desperate times; we can see so much bad happening all around us right now. We know there are evils afoot in the world and whatever Devil you believe in seems to have a stranglehold on America, our culture, our children, our future as we speak.
It’s not true. Don’t believe it for one second. America isn’t finished. We aren’t finished. In fact, we’ve barely gotten started. Whether you believe in God and cling to that faith or not, take heart that strength ebbs and flows. We’re down now, and much seems lost. But through the power of patience, perseverance, and preparation, we’ll push through this and come out stronger on the other side.
I can’t imagine the pain and suffering that comes with losing a child, and honestly it hurts me to even contemplate it. I don’t honestly know how I would get through without the faith some of you are so fortunate to carry.
That’s why I cried today.
That, and I felt the power of this song.
This is why I’ve shared it.
For some reference, in case you don’t know (or don’t think you know) who Craig Morgan is, here is his biggest song. “What I Love About Sunday” spent five weeks at Number One on the Country Charts in 2004-2005.
Watch this, and you’ll see why, just sixteen years later, I wasn’t sure I was watching the same man when the video above started playing. That’s meant as no slight to Mr. Morgan (I looked a lot younger 16 years ago, too); I’m just pointing out the startling difference.
Rest in Peace, Jerry Greer.
Sincere condolences, Craig Morgan Greer…and thank you for such a powerful, perfect song. I’ve admired your music since “Almost Home”, and I can honestly say you’ve never sounded better.