I have two blogs going here at good old WordPress. The first one is ancient and has been sound asleep for some time. This particular blog limps on as I have the time and inclination to write.

My first blog site (celebrationrock.wordpress.com) began as a way to note the 40th anniversary of the debut of my radio program, the genesis of my media-oriented vocation. When I’d written all I could think to tell, and more, no doubt, I abandoned that site and moved on. But, as with almost any blog that includes something that someone “out there” is interested in, the stats for that blog indicate almost daily readers, usually just a handful…or one solitary soul who was led to my site by Wikipedia. The topic? Harry Chapin. Yes, after all these years.

I am gratified that 1) folks are still enamoured of his story-telling songs, and 2) that I had something to add to the literature about the singer-songwriter whose life was suddenly ended in a highway accident. The account of my backstage interview with Chapin is the one to which Wikipedia searchers are referred. Day after day. Because Chapin fans still search for information about the poet, musician, singer, social critic, and anti-hunger activist. (I realize how awkward that last term is; I’ll have to edit this post some day when a more helpful descriptive occurs. Until then, let it remain said: Harry Chapin worked to alleviate world hunger in his music, in his public speaking, and with his very being.)

A couple of weeks ago, a church member discovered my blog when he went searching for information about Chapin on line. He found the Wikipedia article, which led eventually to my blog, and then discovered that it was my blog, one written by someone he knew from two pews away across the aisle. I wound up giving him a copy of one of my Harry Chapin radio specials on CD. Then I located the tape (reel-to-reel!) of my original backstage interview. But wait! There’s more! I also found in the attic a reel on which I had recorded a lengthy interview with the man whom Chapin referred to as his best friend. Shortly after Chapin’s death, I had called Bill Ayers in his New York City radio studio, and we talked about Chapin…about his music, his final compositions for “The Cotton Patch Gospel,” Chapin’s religious beliefs, his fight against hunger, and, of course, the meaning of his death.

Playing those interviews and listening again to the radio show confirmed again my respect for the man and his music, his “preaching” and his zeal for justice.

Every now and then, I continue to check the statistics for that old blog, and inevitably, among all those fascinating radio stories I told, there is one post that surfaces almost every time: “Backstage with Harry Chapin.”


Now the “top” post in this present blog (“Peace, Grace, and Jazz”) gets many more hits, not only this time of year when one might expect it, but year-round. Again, the WordPress stats bear it out: the prayer I used as an invocation or “grace” at my 50th high school reunion is accessed nearly every day, and multiple times. Seems people are more than curious about what shape that kind of prayer should take; they are almost desperate.

I know praying doesn’t come easy for everyone. And prayers for “special occasions” are especially challenging, particularly when one is praying out loud for a wide variety of folks to hear. High school and college reunions are attended by people of faith and no faith, by Catholics, Jews, Baptists, Muslims, and Quakers. Because it is as customary to pray at such events as it is to sing the National Anthem before the first pitch of a ball game, and because often no clergyperson is present, the assignment to compose and lead that prayer is, for many, downright scary.

Is it an invocation (asking God to be present, to bless the occasion, or simply acknowledging that God is “there,”) — or, is this prayer one of thanksgiving for the meal, or for the gathering, or for having survived the years (acknowledging that many classmates haven’t)?

When I was involved in the planning meetings for my high school reunion, it was natural to ask the minister in the group (me) to offer the prayer. I was used to those invitations, of course. I’d been the chaplain for the local Jaycees in my younger years. I’d prayed over the Virginia General Assembly, the oldest legislative body in the U.S. I had led the prayers at Memorial Day services in parks and cemeteries. Yeah, I could do this. So, keeping in mind my audience (God) and those I’d be leading in prayer, I wrote the words down, and a few days later, after a few classmates had asked for copies, I posted the prayer here in this blog.

It’s nothing unique or clever or special or profound. But it’s apparently a decent sample that provides a template for those not used to praying aloud, or writing the words with which to pray. And, as I’ve indicated, it’s the most popular thing I’ve every written. I note that with some chagrin.