Good things on a bad day

It seems somehow fitting to end this summer’s assignment in Nashville, at a honky tonk bar with a preacher playing gospel music and songs of hope.

For the past four months, I’ve been writing about how the Sept. 11 terror attacks have changed America. I’ve tried to write about the people outside of New York and Washington, D.C. — mainly, the people who, like myself, watched TV in horror on that day and tried to make sense of it all.

I started today early at a volunteer event for Habitat for Humanity. More than 200 people had gathered to build seven homes for seven families, an attempt to recapture the spirit of unity that people felt after the attacks.

Then, my editors wanted some quotes from downtown Nashville. I went to Robert’s Western World, where Ron Blakley — an evangelical Episcopalian pastor and country and western musician — sang traditional Christian gospels.

It was moving, uplifting and wonderful.

After his morning show, he told me this:

“We can’t avoid the suffering that life brings,” he said. “But good things can happen on a bad day.”