The Show Must Go On

It has been said that ‘some things are too broken to ever be fixed.’

Faith whispers just the opposite, but my heart and life sing a different song. Today I feel every part of broken. ‘All my choices have gone awry’ as Strider admits at the end of a tragic journey that ends in fire and despair.

In music, a horrible final rehearsal usually denotes a great performance to come, and it’s also said that life is a dress rehearsal for something glorious.

If that is the case, then the rehearsal of my life promises Glory beyond the circles of this world.

I am tired of rehearsing. Open the curtain and bring on the show…

All You Are

An old rusty lock on a gate to nowhere

It is written that we should bear one another’s burdens. But no one can wear the yoke of someone else’s failure; how else will a man learn his lesson?

Some will point out that Christ paid the price for our failings and falls, but I sometimes wonder if he ever felt the weight of failure. I believe he suffers all those lost…but isn’t that ‘lostness’ due to choice?

But down here you make your choice and pay the fare…time to move on. Best to be prepared to wear the sigil of your fall for longer than you can imagine.

The weight of failure staggering
The sting of bitterness blinding
Abandonment and loss
Forged the chains forever binding
Years will be required to pay the cost
In the end all you are is lost

The Last Time

It was only ten long years ago when I saw her last. We had just moved to the Nashville area, yet this weekend I was once again working in Birmingham (as I would for many years). I don’t even remember where and for whom I was playing. All I know is that Katrina was ravaging the Gulf and was making herself known even this far north and beyond. I was anxious to get back to the new house in Tennessee that would be home for the long decade to come.

She was ill, and had been for a while. My visits were becoming more infrequent despite my continued presence in the area. There was more than a share of guilt and fear that shadowed my heart, and my memories of hospitals and abandonment played out in my avoidance of those hurts and the frail, aging woman who seemingly embodied them.

It had been a long day, and night and Katrina’s storms were falling. I had promised to stop by on the way back, but still wrestled with myself as to find a way to circumvent the visit.

Love and loyalty and guilt won out over fear and hurt when I saw my mother for the last time.

All I remember was the watery gleam of her eyes in the flickering glow from the nearby television. She couldn’t speak, forcing me to mumble pleasantries and empty promises for my next visit. She opened her mouth and the words “I love you” crumbled from her lips. I replied in kind, kissed her dry as dust cheek, and left for my long drive.

It seemed that I rode Katrina’s coat tails on the way back, my car buffeted by wind and constant rain. My heart was heavy and my thoughts filled with images and memories of my mom.

While her spirit didn’t find release until the early part of March, my farewell was granted on a stormy night in August ten years gone.

Much has changed and much has been lost. While memory remains I embrace the moments that define a life, and learn the lessons of last times.


“Cross the River”

I cross the river
And I think of you
Memories haunt me
But you never do
The river is deep
This river wide
Wide as my longing
Deep as my pride

River flow on to the sea
River roll and set me free
River flow inside my soul
Wash the stains and make me whole

Falling…Broken

Back roads

Lyrics tell the story that many times we don’t want or even know how to tell. The first set came from a random phrase uttered by my son Cameron as we drove the back roads from Columbia to Thompsons Station.

Almost a year to the day, the second lyrics continue an unbroken narrative about brokenness.

“Falling Away”
August 28, 2014

The leaves are falling
First signs of winter
The pressures building
I start to splinter
My strength is falling away

No pearls in the making
Only spirit breaking
These words are lonely
My hands are shaking

So tired of hurting
Weary of calling
The leaves are falling
The leaves are falling
Until they all fall away…
“Broken”
August 22, 2015

Broken like the strings on my guitar
Wanderin’ like a man without a star
Broken as I am I won’t get far
I’m broken
I’m broken

Broken like the songs I used to sing
Wonderin’ how my pain is an offering
Broken by the breaking of everything
I’m broken
I’m broken…

Looking For the Uncloudy Day

2014 Dusking

 

Social media can be a wonderful tool. It can provide great entertainment, or provide a platform to spew and spleen. But so easy to overlook the very real people at the other end of a post. I can post an emoticon that reads “feeling sad/angry/blah”…and we glance and scroll on past to kitten videos or the latest thing/person we hate.

Today and tonight I’m feeling overwhelmed. No cute emoji…no insightful meme. Overwhelmed…by change and loss and uncertainty. My faith in Christ promises eventual comfort, but in this moment the reality is far from the promise of an uncloudy day.

Remember today all who stumble under the weight of their burdens. Prayers for those who know in their head that tomorrow is not promised and are living today with little to no hope in their heart.

A Song of Ice & Fire

These days (weeks/months) I’ve been trying to write. But not just write, but to do so with candor and courage. And every single time, I’m finding myself either playing it safe, or editing out the dangerous parts. Cleaning it up or hiding behind metaphor to make it “universal.”

To write something less than truth means I’m either a coward or a liar. I’m not really sure which is worse…

Perhaps it’s both, really.

Jesus was right. Lukewarm lyrics or words or even a life makes you want to puke…

But in the dark hours of the night, and in the heat of the afternoon, thoughts roll out that alternately freeze the marrow or sear the soul, sometimes all at once. Icy clarity joins with fiery passion and the result are words/lyrics/poetry that must find some release…or else.

Hot or cold. Take your pick.

Metaphor still reigns, but the feelings are real. One day if I ever grow up, I’ll use big boy words to tell the story. For now, play the game with me one more time…

Do you wanna play a game?
How about pretend?
There’s no hurt, no pain
Just the illusion I maintain
And fear whispering the end is close at hand
So one day I’ll cross the river
Pay the ferryman his fee
I’ll collect my last belongings
The memories of me

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…

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