Kyrie Eleison, Down the Road That I Must Travel

July 6, 2012 | 19 comments

We’re on our way home from a family vacation, zipping down long ribbons of asphalt. July afternoon spills its heat straight through the windshield. There’s a heavy hum under the tires, and my husband yawns. I push buttons to find a melody to break the monotony.

Jessie’s Girl” thrums through the speakers, and I turn the volume higher. Suddenly, we feel the bass coming up through the floor of the car. I look at my husband with wired expectation.

Jessie is a friend
Yeah, I know he is a good friend of mine

My husband and I know all the lyrics, because they are tangled with the people we were before we were “us.”

We are products of the 1980s.

He wore Ray-Ban sunglasses and played Atari. I wore shoulder pads and a Swatch, and ratted my bangs into a poof the size of a baby raccoon, rendered motionless by Aqua Net. We both owned Walkmans, and when we sang “I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You,” we believed it might really happen someday.

Someday came, and here we are, in a car swollen with empty McDonald’s sacks, damp swimsuits and two suntanned girls buckled in behind us. I watch my strong man beside me, this farmer in a cap. He’s just shy of his fortieth birthday.

Together, he and I sing to synthesized songs. I love the way his nose crinkles on the choruses. His fingers drum the steering wheel, and he taps the dash like it’s a cymbal. I’m in the passenger seat, on air guitar.

There’s nothing between the two of us, except for the arm rest and our singular song rising up in a crescendo like a reveille reawakening us to the past. Our heads bob a metronomic beat, and it all seems just a bit silly. I blush.

I fold down the makeup mirror and watch our daughters watching us. Lydia chimes in with two words and an accompanying eye roll: “Weird, Mom.” The girls stick fingers in their ears and giggle at us. And I see my reflection, lined with years and life.

We keep rocking the beat out.

All ’80s. All the time, the disc jockey promises.

These are our songs. This is the anthem of our growing-up years, our before-we-fell-in-love time. It’s the soundtrack of who we once were when we dreamed big and wondered: Who would sit next to us on the long trip home?

Mr. Mister hums through the speakers, laying down words like a saucer to cup our own life story. I sing it like a prayer:

When I was young I thought of growing old
of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
or only wished what I could be

I hold the notes out long. We sing the words loud: Kyrie Eleison, Down the Road That I Must Travel. We’ve got 200 miles to go, and I’m savoring every inch. Part of me wants to take the long way home. Because it feels a bit like you’re brushing up against Heaven when you realize that the song you always sang is sitting right next to you.


Reposting from the archives,  remembering this moment from last summer, and singing this song today. (And did you know that Kyrie Eleison means “Lord, have mercy?” Worshipping, even when we listen to the 80s tunes! 🙂 )

by | July 6, 2012 | 19 comments


  1. Jennifer C

    Loved that song! I would rewind my cassette tape (ha!) and listen to it over and over. Didn’t we all sound just as good as the artist singing with our headphones on? lol! Another song my husband and I reminisce too is “Walkin’ on Sunshine”. Thanks for another great post 🙂

  2. Brandee Shafer

    80’s music was and is fantastic. I’ll be 39 in April, so I know all about it. My parents played country in the home, though, and 70’s and 80’s country remains my favorite: my go-to music. I sing hymns in the choir on Sundays but don’t listen to Christian music on the radio, at all. It’s an acquired taste, I think, and I find myself turning the dial, always.

  3. ro.ellott

    I must say, I totally missed the 80’s music…raising my babies… … but oh the 70’s…the music that tied my husband and i together…we have known each other since our early teens. my husband discovered a new radio station…Hippie radio…it does make me cringe a bit…every word to every song. Oh but I do love those moments when you just glance over…and it almost takes your breath away…God’s plans in motion long before we could see.
    Love the picture…even though a year old. thanks for the sweet story…makes me think of those sweet times on the road…all the family together.
    have a blessed weekend:)

  4. kelli

    Your descriptions made me LAUGH OUT LOUD!!

    How awesome that your and your hubby still have so much fun together.

    Blessed by this glimpse into your family life, Jennifer.

  5. Lyla Lindquist

    My, but you all look good.

    Makes me think we need lunch sometime. 🙂

  6. Tiffany Stuart

    🙂 I’m right with you, an 80s girl.

    love the pic

  7. Deb Russell

    When we went to fireworks Tuesday night they played “R-O-C-K in the USA” … I was singing along and totally enjoying myself while my kids rolled their eyes and said “Why do you know this song?” Ha ha!! Beautiful picture of your family!

  8. Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home

    Our choir teacher back in our junior year (class of 1989) told us about what the song meant in Latin. I thought it odd back then but now… I find it rather cool, now that I am on the right side of Jesus. 🙂
    I remember carrying a boom box down the boardwalk blasting the Cars and “I Want My MTV” and everything by the Police. Let’s Dance was one of my favorites!!
    It’s good to “remember when” with my husband and the kids think we are NUTS!!! I love it!

  9. Megan Willome

    I remember this one! Did I tell you then that “Kyrie Eleison” was, like, THE song when I was getting out of treatment for my eating disorder? We played it at so many graduations. So I get extra teary when I hear it.

  10. Joell

    As a fellow product of the 80s (class of ’87, Holllah!), I can totally identify with this post…even down to the “weird, Mom” comment. I am traveling down the road with my high school sweetheart, and oh, so grateful that he is the one belting out the tunes with me!

    Each time I visit here, I am blessed by your writing.

  11. Diane Bailey

    So that is what I’ve been saying in …Hebrew(?) Have Mercy! I love the story, and the memories, thank you for sharing.

  12. Sharon O

    oh I remember those words but not sure where they came from… good writing…

  13. Kathie

    Girl! you know how to string some words together!!! Greatly enjoyed this post. ‘Time’ has been good to you both!! Beautiful family!

  14. Leslie McNeil

    captured my heart… the mood, the story, memories… all the feelings of a good ol road trip and coming home.

  15. floyd

    Beautiful family and post. All the dreams of youth for every generation long for the fulfillment of their souls and music seems to capture the hearts of the young as the perfect way to express it.

    “Play the ‘Dog named Boo song Dad”! My little one used to say. She loves the music from my youth. As we listen and sing music together as a family, the words of that band, Modern English, seem to be those of a prophet; the world really does stop as our hearts melt with one another…

  16. Jillie

    Hey Jennifer…Love this post. My husband & I do the very same thing…rockin’ out to the ‘goldie oldies’!!! We can really look quite pathetic, but we don’t care. We just have fun. Our kids are grown now, but they atill put on the disgusted look when The Millwright and I time-travel back to the 70’s & 80’s! I love it when a remake of an oldie comes over the airwaves, and they say, “How in the world do you know THIS song?” and we tell them the song was OUR’S waaaay before it became their’s! This was fun today and has made me appreciate my ‘designed by God Himself’ spouse! Thanks Jennifer.

  17. Diana Trautwein

    LOVELY. Even if it was inspired by 80’s music. :>)

  18. Dolly@Soulstops

    What a lovely picture of you and your family, Jennifer 🙂

  19. SimplyDarlene

    That was my first ever record. I still have it, in fact. Recently I was slightly dismayed, amazed, & weirded out about the meaning of the words I innocently belted aloud all those years ago. Made me blush.

    Anyway, it’s grand that you sing together. My husband says he’s never heard me sing. I say, he doesn’t listen good enough.




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