There is an idiom that references the unintentional stumbling upon a truth, or accomplishment that seems unlikely for the one performing the act. We’ve seen it used frequently in sports, like when Shaquille O’Neal made free throws, or when the Cubs won the World Series, or other such oddities.

It goes like this, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut in the forest every once in a while.”

I was also the recipient of this dagger when I was just beginning my anesthesia training. I wish I had a nickel for each time I heard that phrase while attempting a spinal block, or intubation by the self proclaimed comedians that were training me.

Other similar, yet not as fun, sayings may be also be used interchangeably. These are the “even a broken clock is right twice a day”, and “every dog has its day” options.

Over the last several years, I have found that this principle can apply to almost any situation. Today, I thought it would be fun to see how this principle applies in music.

Often music can be worthless, distracting, and carry messages that are detrimental. Just go look at the lyrics of the billboard top 100 songs right now…on second thought, don’t do that. But, every once in a while, even a blind squirrel finds a nut in the musical forest.

Enter Willie Nelson.


As a disclaimer, I am not proposing that Willie Nelson, nor any of his compatriots, are secret purveyors of gospel principles in their musical repertoire. Hence the intro referencing blind squirrels and nuts. But when it happens, it happens.

The other day as I was listening to music in the car (perusing the forest for some nuts), I heard a song sung by Willie Nelson called “Sunday Morning Coming Down”.

Listen here

An interesting fact about this song written by Kris Kristofferson was that it became so popular, that it was covered by at least 14 other musicians. They ranged from Johnny Cash to Telly Savalas (I didn’t even know Mr. Las Vegas sang..?). I guess the message resonated with them…

It was an interesting take on the special nature of Sunday, albeit from the outside looking in. He sang about taking a walk on a Sunday morning, after the “beer [he] had for breakfast“, and “one more for desert“. He went outside to clear his smoke filled head, and noticed that he was missing something in his life. Shocker, I know….

“And it took me back to something that I’d lost
Somehow, somewhere along the way”

He then tries to describe how he came to realize something was missing. This “something” was apparently more obvious on Sundays. In the process of the song, Willie stumbles upon some truths, even though it’s a slightly indirect inferred kind of truth.

“In the park I saw a daddy
With a laughing’ little girl who he was swinging
And I stopped beside a Sunday school
And  listened to the song that they were singing
Then I headed back for home
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringing
And it echoed through the canyons
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday”

“On the Sunday morning sidewalk
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday
Makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’
Half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleeping city sidewalks
Sunday morning coming down”

There is something special about Sundays, and about family, and music, and about what we do on Sunday. Sometimes, even those unfamiliar with that special something even recognize it through a smoke filled haze and a beer buzz.

If we want, we can choose to spend our time scouring the musical forest for food, and settle for these occasional nuts, and be happy to survive on the last remaining sip of evaporating rainwater from a hoof-print (True Grit Mr. La Boeuf reference). Or, we can purposefully take our squirrel blinders off, and indulge in the bountiful feast and drink from the fire-hose of good music that is readily available to us.


To better contrast the difference, let’s look at the nutritional value and level of spiritual satiety we experience between Willie’s nut in the forest song, and one of my favorite Hymns.

“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is amazing. It is my spiritual entree of smoked brisket, lobster mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, washed down with authentic Brazilian Antartica brand Guaraná. It was “prepared” in 1758 by a 22 year old young man in England named Robert Robinson. Even though the gospel hadn’t even been restored yet, many of the beautiful lyrics in this hymn teach principles of the fullness of the gospel. A gospel that would soon would be restored through Joseph Smith. And it is a full 7 course meal.

If we read the menu from the Mack Wilberg arrangement sung by the Tabernacle choir, we can find some doctrinal pearls hidden inside. Its quite a difference from the tangential inferences that we find in our previous song.

Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come,
And I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God.
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

O to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Seal it for thy courts above.

I love these verses for the imagery they creates for me. Who doesn’t wasn’t to associate with, or sing like heavenly angels? Yes, please. I imagine many of us have been in a place where we simply want to be better, and yearn for and hunger to be a part of the peace that we know exists beyond the veil.

One of the most powerful phrases in the song is when the author describes his weakness. He admits that he was “prone to wander” and “leave the God [he] loves”. We have all been there. We have all had moments, despite our love of the gospel, our Savior, and our Father in Heaven, that we have wandered. I love that in the very next sentence, the author offers his heart, and then begs the Lord to take it, and “seal” it to Him.


In the subsequent stanza, the words “bind” and “like a fetter” are also used to describe the relationship the author sought with God. This is the part that I think I love the most.  It is the juicy, tender, and delicious part of the meal…

These phrases are colorful metaphors of the covenants we seek and receive in the temple.

The temple covenants, especially the sealing ordinance, teach us, and remind us of our potential, and worth to our Father in Heaven. They can also elevate us from any feelings of inadequacy, or unworthiness. What a completely nutritious meal that is. If we let that sink in and digest, it is incredibly satisfying.

This recipe is not new. The feeling that Robert Robinson put into words in 1758 is a hunger that has been on the earth from the beginning. We only need to read a few chapters into the Book of Mormon before we see this same sentiment expressed by one of the strongest, most faithful prophets that has ever lived.

“Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted…

…And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man;…

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.”

-2 Nephi 4:17-28

Nephi was able to rejoice after wading through his feelings of inadequacy and falling short. He saw the end from the beginning let’s remember. How difficult would it be to continue trying to teach, encourage, and invest in those around him when he knew that his entire posterity would eventually fall? He saw it. Yet, the deliciousness of the gospel, and the atonement satiated him so completely that he was able to rejoice despite his prophetic knowledge.

I hope we can all find inspiration, encouragement, and fulfillment in the hymns, poems, and scriptures to help us feel more fed, and “sealed” to God. Especially in these times when we all feel so disconnected from each other.

I hope we look to the best sources when we are hungry or thirsty for meaningful sustenance. I hope we strive to receive, or actively remember receiving the sealing ordinance and its promised blessings.

It is ultimately in the temple ordinances, where the earnest hopes and yearnings expressed in Robert Robinson’s hymn are realized.

It is through the atonement of our Savior that the rejoicing described by Nephi can be experienced, and our hunger truly satiated.

Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.”

-Doctrine and Covenants 84:20

For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.  Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou has made.”

-Doctrine and Covenants 25:12,13