Bowen: Shouting ‘Hallelujah’ keeps feet on solid ground, mostly

Published 7:39 pm Thursday, February 16, 2017



There are two ways to look at life: You can look at it as an “Oh, no” or an “Oh, yes.” Here in this little space of the world we have all decided to get up, get dressed, hit the front door, and say “Oh, yes!” as soon as the sun crosses the big smile on our faces! Or, if you choose, you can shout a good “Hallelujah” when your face and the sun meet up for the first time. “Hallelujah” works even better.
Men, you all know the word well, because your neighbors heard you holler it out last Wednesday after you woke up alive the day after Valentine’s Day. You may not have set the world on fire, but the sun still chose to shine down on you the next morning, regardless of your epic failures.
Oh, yes, even on February 15, a hearty “Hallelujah” is a good way to start the day.
Do you know that I once heard of a mule that could never get his day started without a good “Hallelujah” either. If it worked for a mule, surely it works for somebody just as stubborn!
Our story comes complements of my ol’ grandpa Preacher Miller, from many years ago. Most in these parts know of Preacher’s Miller’s loud, booming voice; his long, hot, powerful sermons; and his daily suit and tie, regardless of the time of the day or night.
But you also know that the Southern preacher had a knack for laughter. I think it goes along with preaching. Sometimes you want to cry but instead you laugh. I guess it’s a preacher’s way of saying “Oh, yes” when he wants to say “Oh, no.”
I learned a great deal about laughter from Preacher Miller, and he is probably the reason we get to visit every week the way we do. Maybe he was teaching us that when you browse through the newspaper and see a whole bunch of bad news that it’s our moral duty to contribute some good news, too, to help balance it out. You understand.
Preacher Miller’s laughter was his “Oh, yes” approach to the world. And it was a unique laugh, too, as he’d outlaugh everybody else after he told a story, and his shoulders would bob up and down with each chuckle. He wasn’t the only one over at the Murphy Avenue Church of Christ, either, who had a knack for laughing and storytelling. Oh, yes, our Uncle Angus did, too, as did Coca-Cola Mike’s dad, Ivy. Storytelling and laughing was as much a part of the Georgia red clay as egg and grits, and buttermilk and cornbread.
Preacher Miller certainly was one of the best. He’d always have something funny to share everywhere he went, and I think it helped to balance out his hard preaching.
“Did ya hear about the Texas preacher who sold his mule?” I heard him ask once to a Texas farmer and his wife as they sat out back shucking corn.
“No sir, I haven’t heard that one,” the wife said.
“Well,” said Preacher Miller, “this preacher had a mule he wanted to sell. When he found a man who wanted to buy him, he told him he needed to remember two things: To get him to go, you have to say ‘HALLELUJAH’; and to get him to stop, you say ‘A-MEN’! The man bought the mule, but as he was ridin’ along one day the mule got spooked and took off runnin’ like crazy. The farmer said, ‘Whoa, mule, Whoa!’, but the mule kept runnin’, and he was headed straight for the cliff. So the farmer started praying as hard as he could, and at the end he hollered ‘A-MEN’. When he did, the mule stopped! … Right in his tracks, not two feet away from the edge of the cliff … When the farmer saw how close he was to the cliff, he took his hat off, wiped his brow, looked to heaven, and said, ‘HALLELUJAH!’ with a sigh.”
With that, Preacher Miller laughed that booming laugh of his, his shoulders moving up and down as we went, and the farmer and his wife, and I joined right in.
Now, you may think that the story defeats our purpose here, but not really. I still maintain it’s true that a good ol’ “Oh, yes” or a heartfelt “Hallelujah” will keep your feet on solid ground, mostly. But I suppose occasionally it will send you over the edge for a rough landing. Amen?