“Reach…”

You wake up with a mild sense of dislocation, for a moment wondering where you are and when you are.

Loss today takes on a new meaning that’s all too familiar; at a loss for words.
With that slightly unbalanced feeling of an ever-growing need to express, and being unable. And not even knowing where to begin.

“Do you write?” I was asked today, the question framed in the context of words and music. While probably only a beat, my answer of “yes” came after what felt like a lifetime pause.

Yet that simple one word reply burned on my tongue like a coal of fire. It wasn’t a lie, but honest to God felt like one. I stumbled through the rest of the conversation with the grace of a wounded animal, but in the human way of mask in place to hide the fade.

I play music every week. I listen to music every day. I read about it, watch documentaries and shows and films filled with it.

But the disquiet (a polite way to say horribly empty unrest) is there, a constant companion who sticks closer than a brother.

Music feels out of reach.

Time sprung forward today to accommodate the coming longer days of spring and summer. Yet it feels like I’ve leapt forward to a time where music lies behind.

“Call unto me,” the scripture says, “and I will answer…”

Is the silence an answer?

I will sit here in the quiet and unrest and wait…

“All Things New”

After 55 plus years, the shadow cast by life is growing long (and seemingly longer every day). New is a word rarely if ever you apply to yourself.

July 2009 found me on the road in the Midwest with a few hours to myself. I ended up in a bookstore outlet where I discovered an excellent book by U2’s Bono about the plight of African orphans. The images and ideas presented were powerful and moving, inspiring me to write a song that pretty much came into the world fully formed.

A year or so later, my band was involved in a concert to benefit missions in Letsotho, Africa (the very same area captured so vividly in Bono’s book), and this new song was the central theme of the event.

Another year or so passes, and I am producing an EP for Birmingham artist Rebekah Gilbert, and this same song finds its way onto the project.

Time and distance grants perspective. It took stepping back from this song, to see and hear it through other eyes and different interpretations to discover it’s true nature.

What started life as a cry about the unseen, unwanted and abused in the world was revealed to be something more.

It’s not about orphans. It’s about me…

Look through those eyes
Walk in their shoes
How does it feel to be unwanted?
How does it feel to be abused?

Carry that weight
A heart of stone
How does it feel to be so hopeless?
How does it feel to be alone?

43 years ago today I was made new. Years have passed, and the shadows of life, loss, and lostness are still long. But in a season of reminders, for this moment I remember Grace and “All Things New.”

Then mercy comes calling
Grace brings good news
Love wraps its arms around you
And makes all things new…

“Rivers of Loss”

This has been a week of loss; facing and being reminded of losses past and present…

How do you deal with this thing called loss? Even the word itself, when spoken slowly sounds like sand slipping through fingers. No matter how tight your grasp, grains will find a way to fall.

You can wrestle with loss. But at best you walk away with a permanent limp, and scars to show when your tribe gathers at the end to sing the story of your life.

You can ignore loss, or shrug it off with an “oh well” sigh. It has a tenacious way of slipping past the outer defenses, even straight through to the heart in moments when you expect it least.

Wall up your loss, lock it away. Build a strong tower to contain it. Yet you’ll find that you walled yourself in with your loss, like a sad tale from dear old Edgar Allan…

Some will make an effort to simply replace what is lost. It certainly feels better when the void is being filled. But I am reminded of Job in the Old Testament. After losing everything, God restored lands and wealth and even blessed him with a new family. While restoration takes many forms, people can never be replaced.

Loss is a wide river to cross. After time the surface can be calm, but dangerous currents run fast and strong in the deep waters.

You don’t get over loss. You simply live with it.

Praying this day for peace and comfort for all those crossing the rivers of their loss.

GV

“A Week of Years”

It’s been a week of years since I saw you last.

An eternity on some days, a mere blink on others. Two thousand five hundred fifty-seven days since your passing, seven years and a day since we said farewell, the needs of life pulling me away from your side one day too soon.

You weren’t perfect. You had your demons and your darkness like all men.

There were those years where not much passed between us, falsely secure that time wasn’t our foe.
But time kept slipping, slipping toward a future without you, without my dad.

Like you, I am far from perfect, and fall far short of the man you were.

But I love and miss you…

I wish I had stayed to see you cross the river.

The Falling Year

December 31st, we meet again.

For the artistic person, there is a continual need to create, whether song, story, canvas or bust. Whether you see the world through a camera or the lens of other giftings, nights like this one are made for final expression.

Some say that art is a viewpoint or commentary by the artist on the surrounding world. Others of a more spiritual leaning see art as a form of prophecy, seeing things unseen and how our “now” could or should be. Certainly the prophets of old possessed passion and truth expressed in a variety of creative ways.

Passion didn’t keep those prophets alive. Thankfully modern critics only act like they are out for blood. But I digress…

2016 has been an interesting one, to be sure. Here at the end, the tendency is to hang a label on the year soon to be was. I discovered my personal 2016 hashtag months and months earlier.

Welcome to “the Falling Year.”

This was a year of falling. I watched as music, once central to my very core, fell away to a more distant remove more by necessity than choice, with the needs of the many outweighing the needs of dreams.

For me, it felt like a falling year for faith. I saw the religious more concerned with temporal influence than spiritual, all set to a backbeat of hatred and vitriol. Sadly, this song seems hellbent on singing across the bar line well into the new year.

But this new year is coming soon, even as I do my one finger pecking. Soon these few words will be flung into the ether, and whether my entry is commentary or prophecy will soon be moot. I honestly think they are neither.

Sometimes the spark of creativity just wants to flicker if not burn.

Maybe I just wanted to look through my lens and see a world beyond the falling year.

HNY,

GV

“The Blue Metal Door”

The color blue is my favorite.

But there’s a door a shade of blue somewhere between the grey of today’s sky and the drained blue of a failed passion. Door 166 leads to a strange purgatory of sorts, a narrow and cold space between poor choices and the illusion of freedom.

I hate this door and this room and this non-color blue.

I would summon a prayer of thanks, but the lie would burn my throat.

A day will come where thanks will be a color somewhere between the clear sky and the deep blue sea, and the only hint of grey will be the clouds above the horizon.

How long, O Lord? How long…?

Sing Away, Gone

Today is December 1st. The holiday season is once more upon us, a time for prayers of peace and goodwill to all. Nights fall sooner, but the lights of Christmas shine all the more brightly. The aroma of trees and candles and delicious baked treats fill the air, and the sounds of favorite songs complete the sensory experience. “O Holy Night” has been a long time favorite of mine.

Since the age of thirteen, music has had me in thrall, with the past decade finding music at the center of most everything I did. Psalm 150:6 clearly states “let everything with breath, Praise the Lord.” Surely this admonition sings best during the season of Advent.

But times change. This past year I’ve seen music fall away from my day to day, with the very hope and desire and dream of music becoming as ephemeral as the stuff of dreams itself. Today begins a season for me that is the antithesis of joy and praise. The world has not ended and no lives have been lost…

Let me interrupt my own musings. I have no illusion as to who may or may not read these words I publish. In fact, there is a particular freedom in knowing that I speak aloud to no one.

I said ‘the world has not ended and no lives have been lost.’ But that’s not entirely true. Much of who I have been my entire life is gone. I have no idea when or if the things that made me who I was will ever return. It is a stranger that types these words and stares back at me from the mirror.

Sorry for dramatic words, but no one has forced you to read them. The pain of loss and failure is real, folks.

Some will chastise, saying that as Christians we should find joy and hope in every circumstance. That may be true. Faith still burns inside, but it’s a small flame that flickers and sputters against these cold winds. I truly think it is a disservice to the faith we profess not to let our hearts ring true, whether in times of triumph and joy, or loss and grief.

So how, during days of loss, do I praise the Lord?

Christ promised that those who grieve and mourn will find comfort and peace. So, for me to grieve and mourn and bear witness to His promise is through song.

So how to proclaim when music recedes into the distance?

I lament…

Lord, let these days run by
And hurry to the end
I’ve had my fill of daylight
Time for darkness to descend
It’s a longing to be over
Like a race run too long
And grace sits blind and helpless
As law condemns the wrong

Sing away
Sing away, gone
Sing away
But don’t sing too long