Thursday, August 30, 2007

Simply Reaching

One of everyone's favorite Carolyn Arends songs has to be "Reaching". I've been thinking about the lyrics lately; the've been swirling around in my head, along with "I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked, Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues" and my own rewrite of that song, "Deacon's Redemption".

But I'm not sure why - why those lyrics?

Maybe it's because I'm 51, heading into the next phase of life now that my youngest son is away at school. That phase, of course, is when all of your children have moved out on their own. You might not be there yet, but I am. The kids are in southern Illinois, Michigan, western Illinois and, next week, Prague.

You see, I've reached the future, and I think I'm beginning to reach for the past. Everyone says that your kids will grow faster than you can imagine, and that you need to enjoy them while they're young. But no matter who tells you what, life happens, and you get busy, and they've grown. And out on their own.

Maybe one of the things that is bothering me most is that I haven't always had the "right words to say". The words have often stayed "out of reach". Not that I wanted to be more of a friend to my kids than a father. No, a father needs to be a father first, with all of the things that implies - work hard, provide for your family, give the kids a good education, take them to church, encourage them to participate in music, drama, and the arts, love them out loud and love their mother.

I understand that there's more than one "quiet ache" - not only is there the yearning for the Divine, there's a yearning for a bit of quiet time to simply sit and reflect on what's happened and what is happening in your life, both with regard to yourself and your loved ones. That doesn't come often, and is almost certainly followed by a yearning for the way things might have been. As Elphaba (the green witch in Wicked) sings it, "Every so often we long to steal to the land of what might have been, but that doesn't soften the ache we feel when reality sets back in."

I take comfort in my faith in God. I know that whatever happens in this life, I'll be together with my loved ones in the next. And, believe me, I'm in no hurry to get there. There's so much left to do, in terms of work and living and writing and giving praise to God through music. And when I concentrate on those things, when I simply live life, the ache isn't as noticable, though it's still there.

There's no doubt I'll keep reflecting on those lyrics. They're floating around in there for some reason. And I'll love my family out loud, because that's the thing to do. And I suppose I'll have questions, and aches, until I see the face of God. As the "redeemed Deacon" says:

I learned to love the Lord and pray
Think about Him every day
Drink His word in, like a song
It's He who makes me strong

Strong in thought, strong in Word, strong indeed . . .

Friday, August 03, 2007

Carolyn and Sadie: Kicking It Barnabas Style

Okay, so I've been a very bad blogging fan of late, and I'm sorry (or, in Canada, "sorey").
(And "sorey" about the spacing between some of the paragraphs, too. I can't get this to work correctly, and I'm fed up with it.)

I owe at least a mini-post on the Barnabas Experience 2007.

Camp this year was amazing as always, though, surprisingly, less Carolyn-oriented than in the past. This is due to our now visiting Barnabas (on Keats Island, BC) as seasoned campers and not so much as odd groupies (at least I am hoping that that is the vibe we're giving off). Carolyn and Mark make a fantastic team, and I hope that they continue this partnership for many years as Barnabas presenters. They're very funny and engaging together, and Jason and I both learned a lot from what they had to say. We shall ponder these things in our hearts.

Carolyn said that she has been so busy lately that she's only written one song this year (weeping and gnashing of teeth from the fan base ensues *now*), but WOW what a song! She sang it at camp, and I cried. I cry at a lot of Carolyn's songs, no matter how many times I've heard them or sung along to them. I'm only sharing this with you, because we are all so closely knit here. I hope this new song comes out as a download soon, if Carolyn has no albums currently in the works. It's one that has stuck with me, though I know I'm remembering it incorrectly. I want to learn it by heart.

The most disconcerting thing at camp was that Carolyn took me to school for what I wrote a while back on this blog about "Just Pretending." I haven't a clue as to how she discovered this site (it's after page ten on a Google search, I well know), and I was rather sad that she did. Not because I'm ashamed of this blog, nor do I regret writing out a disagreement with her lyrics or sentiment, but, rather, just because I wanted a place where I and other fans would always feel free really to talk about her creative work without the shadow of Rose or Carolyn hanging over the discussion. I think Carolyn's music is so important and so relevant that it can be looked at from any kind of angle and its merit will hold.
Anyway, Carolyn thinks I missed the point of "Just Pretending." I'm not so sure. I think I understand the first layer of message that she was conveying; but I was simply, in my critique, unearthing some other layers that she may or may not have intended. Of course, this is the problem and power of art -- the piece offered by the artist in one light may be heard by the listener (seen by the viewer, interpreted by the reader, etc.) in an entirely different voltage. That's one of the most frustrating parts of taking college English courses -- if you get something out of a novel that your teacher does not see, or you fail to see something your prof finds obvious, well, red marks are made, marginalia is written, and office hours are spent in fruitless argument.

Now, until something better comes up, I am going to be teased without mercy about my supposed dislike of "Just Pretending." I think I'll go tip over a canoe.
I was fortunate to have more in-depth conversations with Spencer Capier and his wife, Kikine (who does fascinating work with cancer drug research), and we shared a Parents' Dinner table with Carolyn and Mark, so I got to hear about the trip to Japan. But, really, there is not much more to tell than that.
It really is an edifying experience that is so different from a concert (though there was one of those at the end of the week) to spend an extended time with the Arendses and other thoughtful, prayerful, scholarly, genuine Christian men and women. Rob and Kathy Bentall who founded and maintain this wonderful ministry on so very many footsteps of faith astound and humble me. Barnabas is a blessing.

I got these nice pics of Carolyn and Sadie at camp. Enjoy!

Yep, that's Mark "Von Dutch" Arends in the background working the security detail for Canada's favourite rock star.