Running on Empty

EB Erwin track

I used to be a runner.

That may be difficult to believe, especially given my current girth and atomic weight…okay, perhaps atomic is too far. Nonetheless, I am “more man” than I’ve ever been.

And you’d never wager that a kid born with a club foot, with more surgeries you could shake a crutch at, would have a chance to run track…in junior high no less.

But truth is always stranger than fiction. In the days before music captured me, I loved to run and walk, literally for miles. Most Saturdays would find me walking or riding my bike from my house in Center Point to a bookstore I loved in Huffman (about 5 miles each way).

In junior high, I loved when track season came in PE. It was great to be outside, but it was just thrilling to do something where I actually didn’t suck! We did the entire package of races and sprints, etc. I think the coaches liked to see who might be potential candidates for the school track team. I loved the short distance events, as I never had the stamina or patience to do the long-distance stuff. I’d burn out early, invariably wanting to lead the pack, only to watch as the smarter and more disciplined runners would pass me by, one by one.

Despite counsel and encouragement from my PE coach to run smarter, and to even try out for the track team, it was my stupid pride and lack of belief that cost me that dream.

I may have more in common with Forrest Gump than I want to admit, but I can no longer ‘run like the wind blows…’

I used to run…

Now I’ve found myself in a different race. Music has been my life and love for 40 years…ironically, the ultimate marathon.

But I’ve come to a strange and unexpected moment:

You realize that you haven’t been in a marathon.

You wake up to find yourself in a relay race, and you’ve passed the baton about a hundred yards back.

And you’ve continued to run anyway, empty-handed.

Running on empty indeed…

What remains is to watch others race ahead, breaking the tape…and winning the prize.

Postscript:

It’s been a couple of hours since I completed this entry, and I’ve re-read it more than a few times.

The ending is bulls**t.

Despair evokes a multitude of feelings and emotions. There is a part of me that wants to lay down the burden, to drop out…just simply give up.

But there is also a part of me that is deeply angry at the very thought of giving up what I’ve based my beliefs and my very life upon. I don’t want to give up. Every race ends and you can’t win sometimes. But no one enters a race to lose.

So I live between the struggle to bow to the inevitable, or to feel the finish line tape breaking across my chest.

I wish I knew the outcome. I wish I could tell you that I’m strong enough to endure.

At this moment I am running on empty. God grant the renewal of strength to mount up like eagles…

Mercy Street

It was a sound that shot straight through me. It was a keening cry of fear…

I had entered the grocery store to pick up a few items, but my heart and mind were preoccupied. My spirit was already raw and bleeding, and unprepared for what happened next.

A little girl, maybe seven or eight years old, was being forcibly carried/dragged through the aisle toward the exit. The mother was visibly angry…no, pissed off and embarrassed by her daughter. I have no idea just what could have happened to cause such a scene, but people nearby were frozen in their tracks, not wanting to stare but unable to turn away.

The moment was more than likely just that; a mere moment. But it felt like an eternity as mother and daughter struggled. I could see the mother forcing gritty words through gritted teeth, but I couldn’t catch their sound. There was no way to hear, as the girl’s cries drowned out everything else, literally begging…

“I’ll be good, Momma…I promise! Please don’t…please don’t!”

It was a hard sight, but a terrible sound…the sound of heartbreak, as a little girl was begging and pleading her momma for mercy.

My hands and heart were trembling as I shuffled through the store. My mind raced back to all the times I cried out as a child, lost and lonely in seeming abandonment. To the times of seeing fists fly in rage against an elder sibling, his punishment far exceeding the crime. To the times of fear and shame for things beyond my understanding and control.

I remember all the sounds all too well…every single one.

The Easter season reminds us that the cost of mercy is paid with bruises and blood.

Her cries echoed as they neared the exit, and then faded away, replaced by bland music and in-store announcements, and the beating of my bruised and bleeding heart.

Have mercy…

Hello, It’s Me…

It's me GV

Hello, it’s me. I haven’t seen you in a while, I know.

I’ve been looking back at my posts the last long while. Whether scraps of lyric, the dark poem or two, or general ramblings, they share a theme of being painful to read. I suppose that’s because there’s a great deal of “stuff” being dealt with these days. I admire the folks who courageously speak the truth in love, but sadly I struggle to find even the little bravery required by my cryptic characters. To be honest, there IS pain. It seems as though everything I touch turns to dust. For my half dozen or so readers out there, forgive my lack of trust by not being more transparent, as there are so many things I want to share. As a musician I understand all too well that timing is everything.

I still believe in Grace and Mercy, and regularly bombard the throne with heartfelt supplication. So far, God’s phone number rings and goes to voicemail. But I’m old enough and have seen enough to have faith even still. But if you ask what these answers look like? I’d be lying if I claimed to know. I always tend to doubt myself first and foremost, and for me the line between faith and stubborn pride can blur…

Prayers appreciated but please don’t bombard me with inquiry. For all my bluster I am painfully private. Add that to the list of failings for sure.

More to come in coming days. Thank you for reading at the very least. While all this may not seem like much in the grand scheme, for me it’s huge.

Let me hit ‘publish’ before doubt and cowardice sing their songs over me…

GV

On the Dark End of a Dream

I have not posted here since New Years Eve. In all those words, these leapt off the page:

“It’s been said that sometimes we can fail and fall so far that even the plans of God are nullified, or at least changed beyond recognition. I have fought this notion with every fiber of my being, but still the year comes to a close. Nothing has changed…”

March is roaring in with the threat of more rain, sleet, and snow. The world will slow to a near stop as the cold permeates even the bones of the earth.

Hearts and hope grow cold. And like that last night in December, sadly nothing has changed.

On either side of sleeping
On the dark end of a dream
Hope grows weary of waiting
And mercy loses strength
So cross the darkened river
Don’t forget the toll
The battle is almost over
Time to rest the wounded soul

I don’t know when my next words will come. I’m honestly not sure it really matters. Like the song says, “there are no words to tell.”

Until next time…

GV

 

New Years Eve 2014 (Don’t Dream it’s Over)

2014 Dusking

It’s New Years Eve 2014, a day devoted to tomorrow.

It feels like I’ve been writing this post for days now, if not weeks and months. Since this is my final posting, I suppose it’s been in the works all year long. I remember all too well the end of 2013, facing major changes and staring into the face of the unknown.

Welcome to the future. No hover cars or robot servants, and nothing else seems to be any different either.

After losing at least a week out of life to that horrible cold/flu bug sweeping the nation, the cold and cloudy grey weather and my aching body have finally given way to light and a semblance of life. The sky was a blue we haven’t seen in ages, with thin clouds rolling in like ocean waves. It’s colder, yes, but the sun is a welcome visitor even for one last day.

I’ll join the rest of humanity and wonder where the year went. Highs and lows, many trials and a few triumphs…sadly this year the scale tipped far too often in the wrong direction.

While everyone is recounting the past and pointing hopefully to the future, I’ll allow myself no such luxury. For me there is only now.

If you are fortunate enough to have had a great year, then I’ll say congrats. As for the rest of us, all we can do is hope for better…but if I’ve learned anything from 2014, hope is a dangerous word.

For the first time in years and years, I don’t have a damn clue what is in store for the coming year. As a believer, this is a very strange place to be indeed. I’ve searched Scripture for plans and promises, I’ve hurled prayers toward the heavens, and cried many tears of the hopefully hopeless. I’ve given in and given up. I’ve trusted time and time again, only to see hopes and dreams shatter into shards that have cut my spirit to the bone.

I just don’t know what else to do but wait in the now.

It’s been said that sometimes we can fail and fall so far that even the plans of God are nullified, or at least changed beyond recognition. I have fought this notion with every fiber of my being, but still the year comes to a close. Nothing has changed…

Maybe God gives the visions to those young and strong enough to make them happen, leaving the dreaming of past glory to the old. Maybe that’s all the old can do…dream the dreams that give vision to the young.

And off there in the distance
The morning fire still glows
The promise of a dream that may still grow
And beyond this days horizon
Past the final pathway turn
The day has found its ending
Where Hope fights the darkness as it burns

Father, thank You for the gift of this moment. Be with us in every ‘now’ of the coming days…

Now I will wait for the new year and a new day. I have seen this days dawning, and now it’s dusking.

Today becomes tomorrow…
And still I wait, and dream that it’s not over.

“Rachel’s Grief: December”

This bit of dark verse from a few months ago seemed to fit this December day, in memory of the innocents lost in the days after the birth of Christ.

This day is done, the years grow long
No words remain in verse or song
The hope of mercy and grace revealed
Is lost in pain of wounds unhealed
In the distance a hollow wail
Rachel’s grief for a dream that failed
How long until the promising
How long until the day
When despair is a mere memory
And tears are wiped away?