Friday, April 3, 2015

The Great Remember

Good Friday is a significant day to me.  For a few reasons.  Obviously, as this blog itself is testament to, my faith is a significant part of my inner life, and Good Friday is the pinnacle of that faith.

Good Friday is also the day that my grandfather passed away, twenty-three years ago.  I was ten.  In my ten years up until that day, my grandfather had endeared himself to me time and again.  I'm not sure what it was - a lot of the things characteristic of him are traits that irritate me in others, actually.  He was a prankster, and I hated when my mom, his daughter, would pull the same style of pranks.  I cried for a day after a prank by some well-meaning college friends.  Yet my grandfather could jump out from behind a door at me leaving a restaurant and I thought it was amazing.  He drew a mustache on my school picture, and it made me feel loved.  He did traumatize me with his false teeth once, but his teasing and jokes didn't bother me the way they did/do from anyone else.  (Looking back, I wonder if the way his death affected me changed my personality in that area.  I wonder if I was more carefree before I realized what death was, making it easier for me to take a joke back then.)  He was completely golf-obsessed, and I hate when my brother, uncle, dad, husband talk/think/watch/analyze/breathe sports.  With my grandfather, though, I adapted to his sports-crazy world.  I learned to watch golf, I knew the pros' names, I had a crush on Payne Stewart, I practiced my own golf swing, I took care of the clubs he made for me, I begged him to let me drive the golf cart any chance I got.  There is nothing inherently in golf as a sport that appeals to me - it was my grandpa's sport, so I immersed myself.

Ten years old.  There are so many conversations I wish I could have had with him now that I'm old enough to remember what he says.  He told me about his life and his time in the service for a school project once.  He went through a box of old trinkets from his past and let me keep a few to use in my project.  I don't remember a word of what he told me.  I have a faded memory of a paratrooper pin he gave me which is long lost.  I wasn't old enough to have the weight of remembering that one conversation entrusted to me, and I know there are countless others I don't remember enough to even know I'm forgetting them.

My point, before I digress too far, is this.  On Good Fridays I drive.  Ever since I've been able to drive.  I drive to the country, I listen to good music, and I think.  About everything.  Some years about life, some years about death, some years about him, some years about me, some years about God.  I talk to my grandfather, I fill him in on my life, what he would think about the people he's never met - my husband, my kids.  I try to remember what he looked like.  I sing to him sometimes.  I journal.  I pray.  I've been known to talk to a cow or two in a nearby field.  It's frequently raining, and I figure that's fitting seeing as he liked to mess with me.

Ten years old.  I have had tears streaming down my face as I write this, about a person who has not walked this earth for twenty-three years, who managed to mean enough to me in the span of ten years, including the few years it took for me to even be aware of things beyond sippy cups and colors, that his presence in my heart identifies me, and that Good Friday is my day to drive, and think.

Today, my boys came with me on my "Adventure" (as I pitched it to them).  With one of them asleep in his carseat, the other quietly contemplating my description of country life - how his great-grandmother walked to the school there on the left, from the farm up here on the right, even to that church we were just at up the road, and no, there aren't a lot of houses out here, but there are a lot of trees, yes - and as he quietly sat thinking, I turned up the bluegrass radio station just as a song started, and I heard God.  Not the God who speaks words.  I've heard Him in songs before.  The God who just is.

The Great Remember.  Take that as you will - a person you are remembering, a moment or experience, what those who have known you for ten years will remember of you, an inner struggle or victory you don't want to forget ... Whatever it is, I pray that as you listen, you hear God today.

Good Friday, everyone.

The Great Remember (for Nancy)
(I was unaware at the time of hearing this song that it was by Steve Martin, written in memory of the wife of Martin Short.  Two bona-fide comedians.  Well played, my prankster grandfather.  Well played.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brand New Day

It may be worth noting that it has been nearly a year since my last post.

God is an amazing God.  He will follow us wherever we meander along our walk with Him.

Expressing my faith - no, expressing what I know and have seen of God's truths - through artistic means, is air to me.  I forget from time to time how vital that expression is for my feeling of fulfillment in life, but when I remember, the realization is sharp.  Someday I may not have the ability to sing.  Voices grow weaker and shakier with age, and singing God's message through Christina Aguilara, Pink, Alanis ... that's my air.  I am already partially deaf in one ear; some day I may not be able to hear new passionate pop artists on the radio speaking God's words into my heart.  And for almost an entire year I have not breathed modern music air from my radio.

Well it's a brand new day.

A couple weeks ago, one of my favorite people to hear speak reminded me that God sees me.  Not just when I come to Him, rushing to Him with my ideas and plans, but just as much when I am wandering away, or timidly keeping my distance.  He is there, loving me, knowing me, waiting for me as a father waits for his child.  Even when I am struggling, in the depths of my own versions of hell, He is there beside me and within me, ready to start fresh, asking to be my everything.  There is nowhere too far for Him.

My return to this blog may not seem quite so melodramatic as the above paragraph describes.  Yet the truth that God has seen me, fighting for sleep with two young kids, stepping over clutter, balancing too many plates on too tiny of sticks, losing my keys, my wallet, my wedding rings, my mind ... there is something freeing in knowing that He has seen all of that and has been there the whole time.  He has seen me forgetting to breathe my air and He stands here offering it to me still.

Coming back to this blog is like Sting's lyrics - finding an old photo of someone I love, recognizing that old smile I've been thinking of, and turning the clock right back to zero.  It's not the blog which I love.  I'm a horrible blogger.  It's what I find when I hear God's message in an unexpected place, and the compulsion I have to share what I hear with other people.  Once upon a time I had other venues for that impulse - singing, performing, and speaking to congregations about the connection between God's word and the art around us every day.  But for everything there is a season, and those opportunities happen to be out of season right now.  This little blog project was designed to fill that space, and today it feels like a breath of fresh air.

Sting isn't the easiest to understand; you can read the lyrics here.

This song says a dozen other things to me as well.  I hope you find an insight of your own in it!