November 2015

New Melleray Cemetery

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.

-- Henry David Thoreau

There are some languages that do not have a word for “thanks.” Does this fact mean that the people who speak these languages are never thankful? Does it mean that they never feel or show gratitude? Does it mean that kindness has faded away because it has never been acknowledged? Could be, but not necessarily. Just imagine that you had no word to say “Thank you” to your spouse, to your coworker, to your doctor, to someone who picks up something that fell from your shopping cart at HyVee and hands it back to you. I think that if you had no words for the gratitude you felt that you would find a gesture to show that gratitude. You might even kiss the person! Certainly you would do a kindness in return when you could, and if you could not do a kindness to that person, you would pay the kindness forward to another, free, a wordless yet eloquent expression of your gratitude. But, we do have a word for saying “Thank you.” It is “Thank you.” When you say this to people, looking them in the eye as you do, it goes a long way toward strengthening respect and appreciation. Or, instead of saying “Thank you,” you could announce to others, “Look what Sylvia did for me . . . , gave to me . . . . Isn’t this just the most terrific thing!” Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks—or to just giving. I know I speak for all the monks when I say to each of our Stakeholders, “Thank you for being part of New Melleray.” 

Fr. Mark

Books

Peter Guralnick, Sam Phillips, The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll (Little, Brown, 2015).

This is a monumental biography of the larger-than-life loner who fought for the acceptance of black music and discovered an extraordinary group of poor, country-boy singers whose records would transform American popular culture. Guralnick recounts the life of Sam Phillips (1923-2003), an Alabama farmer’s son who first recorded the music of Ike Turner, B. B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and others. Phillips opened the door to untutored talents, recognizing their originality and mentoring them with “patience and belief.” A sickly child who became enamored of African-American music while picking cotton alongside black laborers, Phillips was bright, observant, and much influenced by a blind black sharecropper who lived with his family. He started out as a radio DJ and engineer and realized when he recorded Ike Turner’s hit “Rocket 88” (1951) at Sun Records that black music had potentially universal appeal. His discoveries—related here with contagious excitement—were not happenstance but rather the result of his dedication to finding the “pure essence” of performances. While Guralnick, a close friend of Phillips since 1979, makes no secret of his affection and admiration for Phillips, he also covers his problems and foibles: his early mental breakdowns, his troubled marriage and affairs, his financial difficulties, his later drinking, and his penchant for bragging about his (rightful) place in music history. This is a wonderful story that brings us deep into that moment when America made race music its own and gave rise to the rock sound now heard around the world. 

 

Author: Fr. Mark Scott

Tags: Thank You, Thanksgiving, Sam Phillips, The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll, Peter Guralnick

This simple communication is one way for me as abbot of New Melleray Abbey to communicate with the abbey’s employees and volunteers. My intention is to give our stakeholders some idea of the values and lifestyle of the monks and to share things that I have found worthwhile, thoughtful, and/or humorous. It is hoped that this sharing from the abbot will strengthen the bonds of partnership and collaboration between the monastic community and our extended community of employees and volunteers.

Fr. Mark

Abbot