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Judith Spitzer: Hit songwriter Laurie Klein finds new voice in blog, poetry

Judith Spitzer

I love my job. I am grateful and always surprised by people I meet whose stories touch me. I truly believe the adage that everyone has a story to tell, a lesson to teach, and wisdom to share.

And then there are those few who seduce and inspire us by sharing astonishing new ways to view the world – without a lot of ego.

Laurie Klein is one of those women.

At 60-something, Klein is a mother, artist, songwriter, photographer, grandmother, poet, as well as a self-described child of God. She lives with Bill, her husband of 43 years, about 20 miles north of Spokane.

These days Klein has added the title blogger to the many hats she wears.

Klein was signed up for my Inspirational Blogging class at Spokane Community College, but she didn’t need me to teach her how to write. She’s been published many times over. She took the class to learn about social media. Having written a soon-to-be-published book of poetry, she was determined to conquer the Internet world. Or at least some of it.

The technical parts of blogging are typically only about half of what I cover in the class. Fear, on the other hand, is one of the abiding themes – fear of social media, anxiety at the vulnerability in sharing one’s words and photos, and fear of the unknown.

From the very first class, Klein was relentless. She picked up the fear, put it under her arm and marched forward.

As I read her writing, it was clear she had a gift, and when she added photos to the blog she shined. She takes the perfect image to illustrate a post, as well as chooses commonplace objects and scenes that anyone else would walk right past.

I watched as her self-confidence grew and the fear subsided.

One of the students’ first assignments is to create a Facebook page, and start connecting with people. Before long, Klein had an avalanche of old friends from her school days in the Midwest.

Reading the comments, I felt like I was with Garrison Keillor visiting Lake Woebegone. She actually went to high school at St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota.

After the class ended, I kept reading her new blog and realized that 40 years ago Klein had written a song called “I Love You, Lord.”

“It is so simple, just four lines,” she said. “The simplest little song. But it went global. I was flabbergasted.”

“Forty years ago, weary and bone-lonely, I wrote that little song while our baby slept. People around the world still sing, ‘Let me be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear,’ ” Klein said.

When she wrote the song in 1974, she and her husband, Bill, were living in a mobile home in Central Oregon, existing on $400 a month – she tended a new baby while he attended college.

“Back when I was a new mom savoring a few quiet moments, braided hair slung over a shoulder, arms cradling a cheap guitar … that day I had been bone-lonely. Sick of my own voice. Emptied of hope,” she recalled.

“I prayed Lord, give me a song you want to hear,” she said. “It came to me whole. Easily, the way grace does when we’re stuck: pure gift.”

Today, the song has been released on some 80-plus recordings, and has emerged in at least a half-dozen dialects around the world.

“It leaves me speechless,” she said. “I still have requests to record the song.”

Klein said her discovery of social media, and the fact that her new blog has caught fire, has opened her life up to hundreds of people, old friends and new ones.

I’m a loyal follower of her blog these days, watching as she tackles tough subjects with a charming sense of humor, self-deprecation and gratitude. She revels in topics like delight, wonder, grace and surrender.

It typically stirs me to wonder at the most mundane and ordinary of things, transformed through her eyes into a quest for truth and the divine.

What a gift, this woman.

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