You Should Be…

You Should Be … (1,149)

May 17th, 2011

Colfax, Wisconsin—a community of eleven hundred burgeoning beings in the northwestern part of the state, not far from Menomonie, close to Eau Claire, which I know probably still doesn’t identify its location to you.

It is known for one great historical moment, when 53 years ago, a large tornado came through and nearly blew the town away, leaving the community physically devastated and emotionally distraught—until two days later, spirits were lifted when a baby was found—out in the middle of a field, stuck in the mud, crying and hungry, but still quite alive. The miracle of Colfax.

With our gathering last night, I met her citizens. There was a lady who wanted to be buried with a trombone for sentimental reasons, a woman who moved to the back of the auditorium because she was sensitive to sound, and another one who moved forward so she could hear better. There was a guy there who had planned to go to a baseball game until his wife intercepted him and took him to another “Spirited” event. There was a woman who knew a young man who was so despondent over a family break-up that he was thinking of ending his own life. And I met a gentleman who had spent sixteen years tilling a small, spiritual garden on a plot of God’s earth as faithfully as he could.

My message is not very complicated. Unabashedly and without shame, I have borrowed it from a friend of mine named Jesus. The message is, “You should be happy.” Now, this sounds so childlike that people often pass over it or ignore it in favor of our society’s more prevalent slogan: “You can be crappy.”

Yes, it has almost become a mantra in this day and age. We express our adulthood in degrees of despondency, despair, fear, apprehension and frustration in the shortest bursts of grumbling gumbo. I grow weary of it. It is false maturity—the contention that the more seriously we take our journey, the more responsible we are.


It’s about being happy. So I say:

· Let the lady be buried with her trombone—and let me not horn in.

· If it’s too loud, go to the back—just don’t leave.

· If it’s too soft, tell somebody to turn it up.

· Inform others of the needs of those in your family so prayers can go forth and love can be expressed.

· And enjoy your baseball game—but don’t think you can’t enjoy everything else equally as well.

· And to that man tilling that spiritual garden, you just keep expecting that something will grow.

You should be happy –my message for the rest of this year to everyone I meet. They can fuss, complain, mock or disagree—I don’t care. Because I’m happy. And I want the same for you. Matter of fact, I once told one of my teenaged sons, “Listen, kid. You’re going to be happy. Even if it kills you.” (I know it’s a bit dramatic. But you get the idea.)

I walked outside last night after the show, took a deep breath and sucked in a whole bunch of old-fashioned, Wisconsin barnyard perfume. You see, that’s just the way life works. Because if you like milk and cheese, you’re going to have to have some cows. And if you’re going to have some cows, you’re going to end up sniffing some manure.

And the truth of the matter is, if you want to love God, you’re going to have to learn how to help people—and the best way to help people is by assisting them in discovering how to be happy. Their happiness may not be to your liking. You may even think it stinks. But it’s their thing, not yours.

So thank you, Colfax, for a lovely evening. I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again or not. My journey does not normally go into the repeat mode. But if we don’t, please remember that one vagabond came through your town, piping a message: “You should be happy.”

Published in: on May 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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