My friend Pat Terry is one of my favorite singer-songwriters, ever. After a long and successful career in contemporary Christian music, he widened his vision and writing. A successful career in country music as a writer followed, with plenty of hits. He just came out with his latest CD, “How Hard It Is to Fly,” and it’s another great batch of songs. One of my newest favorites, “Clean Starched Sheets” is on this one.
Pat’s heart has always been as a storytelling songwriter. I have been in a couple of his workshops, and he is a master craftsman. I’ve performed with him a time or two here in Birmingham, and I’ve gone more than once to hear him sing. His songs are deeply human. One of my favorites and one of the first I ever heard him perform (while opening for Earl Scruggs!) was “Someplace Green.” It sends me to visions of Eden.
Back in my hometown, everything’s green,
green grass, green leaves, green peaches on the trees in spring.
Green jello, green beans, the kids don’t know a thing—they’re green.
In this dirty old city, everything’s grey,
Gray, ceilings, gray walls, gray traffic that barely crawls,
Gray nights, gray days, everybody feels that way—gray.
But every night, I have the same old dream.
I’m no place gray, I’m someplace green.
This world is not two or three or five—it is one. We all live in it, depend on it, only live by
its fruit and air and water. Whatever else we may differ about how to live here, it is our common home. It gives us our livelihoods, holds us fast, and receives what’s left of us when we die. For those of us who are Christians, and indeed all faiths, it is a gift from the Creator, and so not ours to do with as we please. We are “stewards.” Perhaps we should talk from the place of common interest rather than vested ones. Don’t you love this beautiful, green planet that let’s life of all kinds flourish? I do.
My house is in a community whose neighborhood association does not let us cut trees without permission. Therefore we are surrounded by green trees and lush natural growth. Foxes, groundhogs, cardinals, bluebirds, deer, spiders and chipmunks carry on a full workday behind my house every day. We try to be the least intrusive neighbors we can be. My wife is obsessive with recycling, using as little energy as possible and not being wasteful. She’s right. Taking care of this planet is an act of being grateful for it. I love this beautiful green place. We sit and look at it and something calms in us.
When I’ve battled human nature all day long, driven to hospitals with endless handwashing and parking decks and fluorescent lights, or left my office full of books and invisible tears from a thousand heartaches, I drive twenty minutes to this house. And I look out from a sunroom built by a family of Primitive Baptists and look out—at someplace green. It’s the color I associate with Eden, paradise, home, whatever you call it. To me it’s a resting place under a big oak tree in the summertime in Alabama, and if you sit in its shade and feel a good breeze on your face, you’re someplace green.