the last mile of the way

Many years ago I took my kids to the Folklife Festival on the Mall in Washington, D.C. It was HOT. We were weary. Ahead of us, in a tent that was so packed we couldn't see the stage, the Birmingham Sunlights were belting out soul-stirring gospel tunes with such energy and enthusiasm that we were pulled in like moths to a flame.
I had never heard of the Birmingham Sunlights, but I would never forget them. They asked for volunteers to come on stage and help them sing the next song. I stood up. One of the kids -- I don't remember which one -- said, "If you go up there, I'll never speak to you again."

I went up there.

Five volunteers and five Sunlights. We each ran through our part with our Sunlight -- the audience snickered and cheered us on as we did -- and then all ten of us sang our hearts out to "The Last Mile of the Way." Soon *everyone* was singing - we were, all of us together, the song. The energy zinging through that tent was so amazing I thought we might lift right off the ground. I have never forgotten it. And the children still speak to me.

The chorus to this song feels particularly appropriate for where I am right now with this novel:

When I've gone the last mile of the way,
I will rest at the close of the day.
For I know of the joys that await me,
When I've gone the last mile of the way. *

Please let me go that last mile of the way and Get This Novel Off My Desk! Slog, slog, slog -- isn't that always the last mile of the way? That's how my work feels right now -- total slog. I'm tryin' to get to the close of the day. I want some of that joy that awaits me, some of the joy I felt that day, singing with the Sunlights.

You can hear the marvelous Birmingham Sunlights (including "The Last Mile of the Way") here.