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Old Five and Dimers

June 12, 2008

So I downloaded “All I Intended to Be,” the new Emmylou Harris album, from iTunes (Amazon was cheaper and DRM-free, but the iTunes download contained the electronic booklet with lyrics, liner notes and photos.  I’m a liner notes junkie, and knowing who played what and who wrote what is at least 25% of the fun).  It’s a great album, and Emmy is an icon.  She carried the torch for Gram Parsons after his death, and will be remembered alongside Sinatra and Ray Charles as one of the all-time great interpreters of song (IMHO).

Anyway, I’m driving to the local grocery store to pick up a couple of things for supper earlier tonight and listening to the CD in my car.  Emmy is singing Billy Joe Shaver’s “Old Five and Dimers Like Me,” as I pull up in the parking lot.  Lying in the shade between the door and the Coke machine along the front of the store is a big ol’ black dog.  He’s just panting away, his tongue hanging out.  He watches interestedly as people walk past him into and out of the store.

And this is your typical throwback small-town grocery store.  There’s a limited amount of groceries, mostly staples.  There are several hardware items, mostly stuff you might need in a pinch (nuts, bolts, toilet flappers, dog collars).  There’s a butcher counter in the back, and you can see portraits of the store owner’s grandkids hanging on the wall back there.  Near the back is the table where the old guys used to sit, smoke and tell fish stories.  They still hang out there and drink coffee, but they can’t smoke in there anymore since it became illegal to smoke in public buildings and the store owner has an oxygen tank.

The juxtaposition is cool: digital music about old five-and-dimers, and just the kind of store (and fellows) the song is about.  I like guys like that.  I like stores like that and towns like that.  Life is just a little bit slower in places like that.  It feels a lot like home to me.  I love the dichotomy – I can receive musical instant gratification over the internet, then go to our little country store and buy a couple pounds of freshly ground beef for supper, and scratch the dog’s ears on the way in. 

And on Sunday morning I can preach to and worship with forty of my very favorite people in the world, twice (about 40 in each church). 

And amid the trials and tribulations, the frustrations, the tight schedules, the demands of ministry I can still take a moment to realize how blessed and fortunate I am to serve where I serve.  Little moments like that make it all worthwhile.

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