Gentle On My Mind

Pierre Fontenot Thursday, November 21, 2019 Comments Off on Gentle On My Mind
Gentle On My Mind

This is a story about peace – but first, indulge me the chance to play meteorologist, not in forecasting, but in reporting, my way, a gentle autumn Sunday in the American south, “The weather was long sleeve sunny, with a flirt to it, the sun set on medium just-right. The sky was like the paint job on the baby nursery walls, when it’s the first child, and yes, you were secretly hoping for a boy.” 

As often happens when I don’t attend church, church finds me anyway. I’m on a two-lane blacktop, headed for my place in the sticks, listening to classic country, and on comes Glen Campbell, singing Gentle On My Mind. It provoked me.

Peace, like joy, it’s easier to spell, than possess. If I had to pick between the two,
give me peace. Joy is like the flavor of a stick of gum; a minute of chewing and there
it went. Peace is fickle too, but I’ve known it to sleep over, spend the weekend.

I arrive, at the end of a road that leads to nothing further, raise my face to the sun, spread arms, enjoy. The place has an in, but I’m here to be out, out in this weather. Crows off up there, a bug noise down there, the soundless mysteries of butterflies in flight, the tink, tink, tinkle of a wind chime. Time passed, hours, a strange sound, a car passing, the only one, all day…

I carried the Glen Campbell song with me all day. I’m not sure how I crossed over, from a song about gentle, to thinking about peace. Maybe because they’re linked. My dad, those two words, there they were, in one person.

It’s Knowing That Your Door Is Always Open And Your Path Is Free To Walk

When my father’s time was getting short my sister asked him, was there anybody he needed to see, make peace with, she’d be happy to drive him… He thought it over for a few seconds and then said, “No, I think I’m alright with everybody.”

Weeks later, going through his stuff – so little of value – it crossed my mind, about how valuable That was, the going out clean, peace with God, peace with self, peace with fellow man, the fruit of a life lived with intentional obedience, a clean motived heart, and always, with everyone, gentle words.  

I, on the other hand, I could use some do-overs. Catch is, some of mine, the chance to do them ended at the funeral home.  I think of a few, at random, especially those who died too young. Sunni came to mind recently, died of an aneurysm – just like that. We were on no-speaking terms for some little nothing about nothing. She didn’t believe in God; I was in my not-sure-about-Him years. I hate to think that I was as close as she came to…

Stuff like that, big ‘n small, is why in a prayer I’ll say the same thing I said yesterday, “Help me do some good today… if not that, then help me do no harm.”

It’s Not Clinging To The Rocks And Ivy Planted On Their Columns Now That Bind Me

Maybe its part of aging, this growing priority for peace. Of all the things society tells you to be ambitious for, not a peep about peace. 

I’ve chased what the world values. I’ve caught some of it. Often, so often, countless oftens, the joy of attainment has the satisfaction lifespan of eating a donut. So you tell yourself, ‘It’s about the journey.’ So, it’s off on a new journey, great chunks of your life, chasing another donut…

Now more than ever, I understand King Solomon, vanity, the whole chasing-after-wind thing.

I Dip My Cup Of Soup Back From Some Gurglin’ Cracklin’ Caldron In Some Train Yard

Like all the Good Stuff, peace can only be appreciated when lost becomes found.

I’ve got a long list of Don’t Do That Agains. Anything that costs you peace, whether with fellow man or self, it’s just too expensive. 

On the Sunday of this story, I did feel peace. I get a little credit for getting smarter with age, but mostly, peace is a gift of grace for me, hand in hand with forgiveness, and hope.

As a kid, mom and dad, the big emphasis on Listen To Your Conscience, which seemed like a no fun trip down guilt lane.  After some decades I’ve moved their direction, come to think of my conscience as not only friend, but straight-line-to-God kinda thing. The minute my conscience gets uncomfortable, there goes my peace.

Through Cupped Hands, ‘Round The Tin Can

I Pretend To Hold You 

To My Breast And Find

That You’re Waiting 

From The Back Roads

By The Rivers Of 

My Memories

Ever Smilin’, Ever 

Gentle On My Mind

Peace is the intended state of being.  I’ve lived entire years without a day of it.  You get it back, even for a moment, the little bell rings, and you’re like, ‘Okay, that’s the good stuff.’

Life has death, and all that other bad stuff to deal with, so it’s not realistic to aim for peace in a state of permanence; that said, it is available more often than most of us feel it. I think some people never know the feeling, even once.

I suppose there is peace in labor, but for me, peace has a rest to it.  I’m not reaching for tomorrow, just delighted to soak up some right now.

When I behave, peace is conscience based. And when I mess up… peace is grace based.

Peace tells us where we are with God. If we’re not right with His other children, if we’re not right with ourselves, we’re certainly not right with Him.

Peace and forgiveness are hand and glove: in the giving, in the receiving, from God, to each other, to ourselves.

I think of peace as a great wealth. I truly wonder if the wealthy know a moment of it. If they did, why would they chase money?

Peace is democratic. There’s no who-you-know, where-you’re-from, right-side-of-the-tracks to qualify for peace.

Peace would be perfect luggage.  It has no weight, takes up no space.  Doesn’t set off the metal detectors at the airport.

Next time you feel peace, just sit in it, float, and ask yourself, Is this what heaven is like? I think the answer is yes-but: not just more, but constant; not just some, but all.

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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is dedicated to the proposition that we’re always just one prayer away from a clean slate. We may have to do some clean up, but peace is just a reach away.

Uncle P can be reached at

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