Fifty one years ago today a beautiful, young and very pregnant woman gave birth to a baby boy. She and her husband (the boy’s father) loved the boy and cared for him like good parents do. They gave him food and shelter and love. They made sure that he was brought up in a Christian home. Every Sunday they took him to church. In fact, the boy cannot ever remember just sleeping in on a Sunday.
He grew up big and strong and one day he left and started a life of his own. Eventually, the boy had children of his own and in the process of caring for his own children, he began to understand some of the difficulties that come with being a parent. Now that his children are all on their own, the boy has a depth of thankfulness that he could never have experienced as a youngster. There’s just no way to explain those kinds of things to a little guy. He doesn’t have the years of experience. He only has what experience he has lived. As much as the parents want him to learn from their experience, there are so very many limitations on that kind of understanding. The boy learns best from his own experience… the hard way!
Now, the boy is a grandparent and more thankful than ever! As he looks back from his 51 year old perspective, he wants to say, thank you to his parents. Thanks for giving him life. Thanks for taking care of him, loving him and doing your best to shape him into the person God made him to be. He knows that he has let you down many times. He remembers hurting you. He wishes he could redo so many things from the past. Alas, he understands better than ever how this show only has one performance with no rehearsals.
Despite all his regrets, the boy is happy. He is glad to be alive and glad to be who he is. Sure, there are many things he would like to change, but when he is honest, he realizes that there is no one else in the entire world that he would rather be. I think that’s pretty cool.
Most of my friends know I am a musician. A lot of people have influenced me (musically) through the years. None more than a band director from my high-school years, Danny Leonard. Danny had (and still has) a music school in Charleston, SC where I grew up. My junior year of high-school, I joined the school. As a member of the school, I took private music lessons and was part of the concert band and the jazz dance band. Every year we had a week long intensive music summer camp, took a tour and made a record. What a wonderful experience!
Danny was an exacting and demanding music director. One of my favorite memories (although it was terrifying at the time) was how he would occasionally stop the rehearsal abruptly and point to someone and ask them to sing the part of another section in the band… usually when you were playing too loudly. So I and the rest of the trombone section would be playing our parts proudly and loudly only to have him stop the band, point and ask one of us to sing the flute part. The flute part! Are you kidding? You mean those quiet little woodwinds way over on the other side of the room!? He wanted each of us to be able to hear the whole piece; to be aware that our part wasn’t everything. There was actually other music happening right in the same room. What a great life-lesson! Each part is important, but the music of the band is all the parts together. I could tell you a hundred more stories just like this one.
Last November, Danny and I met at the new music school and caught up on more years apart than I care to admit. I learned that in recent years Danny had not one, but two battles with cancer and beat it. If you have ever met Danny, you know that he has a passion that just draws others in. As he told me about his plans to make a second bike ride across America to raise awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I was hooked and ready to join him. I offered to help by creating a web site for the trip. I’m happy to say that they web site is live and the trip begins next week!
Please check it out and subscribe to join me in following their progress as they journey from San Diego, CA to Charleston, SC. If you are in Charleston this Friday night (April 17th), check out the Blues Brew & BBQ send off bash.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
May the risen Christ change us in a very real way beginning today. May we truly begin to love people they way he loves us.
Twenty six years ago today, a young lady named Melody joined our family. She was the second of what would eventually be our four daughters. When she and her sisters were little girls, I created a folder for each of them in the filing cabinet. Sometimes, like tonight, I pull them out in order to remember. Melody’s is the thickest folder because of the way she has always lived out loud. She frequently wrote what she was feeling on notes and gave them to us. Most of the ones to Jeanie or me were “I love you” notes… sometimes they expressed her displeasure at the way we were running things. Regardless, I will treasure these forever.
The more I get to know her, the more I see a beautiful person with unique and incredible gifts and talents. She has persevered through undergrad and is now working her way through Medical school. Yes, medical school! Melody is going to be a doctor! And I am sure she will be a great doctor! Her artistic creativity, her ability to communicate and to understand difficult scientific topics combined with her tenacity, value for authentic integrity and compassion will take her far.
I love you, Melody. I am so glad I get to be your dad. Happy Birthday!