Over the past three days I attended two showings of a musical called Back in the Boondocks. It was put on by the CrossRoad UMC Arts Academy. The premise of the story is that of a family living in Louisiana. It details their struggles with relationships, alcoholism, friendship, death and faith. Musically the backdrop is solely Country with songs by the likes of Miranda Lambert (Kerosene), Joe Nichols (The Shape I’m In), The Band Perry (If I Die Young), Craig Morgan (Bonfire) and Little Big Town (Boondocks).
As someone who is not a big Country Music fan (yet I feel I am becoming a very selective one as each day passes), and a seasoned agnostic, the existential message disclosed by the production was something to which anyone could relate. For me it was summed up simply as this: we should not be looking for happiness, we should be looking for peace. This production was sharing how that could be found in Christianity and the crowds who I saw it with grasped that to thunderous applause. I saw the message as expanding beyond any one faith or belief system. Encountering, as well all surely have, individuals who do not hold the same life view as we and he who are at peace it serves not to remind us that we are necessarily wrong in our beliefs but that maybe we have gotten a bit off track.
There is one character who loses her farm after her brother signs it over to her seemingly ex-husband in good faith. Then there is that same brother who struggles with returning to Nashville in an effort to revive a successful singing career which he walked away from when his wife died in a tour bus accident. Amidst the messages of forgiveness and repentance I was more hit by the problem of attachment. Of holding on too tightly to something for fear of being without it. Such a crime assumes that beyond the now is not any better. How can we be so arrogant and naive?
Sandwiched between these shows I had two fantasy football drafts. It is like a big tent revival to see these guys. For the vast majority this will be the only time we will hang out all year but the community makes the friendship a bit less distant. These two days have an air of freshness about them. Every conversation is clean and new as we discuss everything from football to family. The six or so combined hours is less like an event and more like a reunion.
What made this year’s fun even more impacting was a conversation I had with my friend Joe Butler. Some of you may know him as the owner of Blackcreek Outfitters. Joe and I had a lengthy discussion about Change-Can and how influential Joe feels it could be. Hearing someone believe in the vision and express a desire to help move it forward was quite humbling, terrifying and joyous at the same time.
While I was away from home my wife and daughter were cleaning the Master Bedroom closet. It was a long overdue activity as my wife’s clothes were storming the shelves and hangers that belonged to me and I feared eventually I would lose all access to this apparel alcove. Coming home Sunday and seeing the order was more inspiring than I expected it would be. I knew, however, that this complete task would be leveraged to get me motivated on my unfinished commitments, but I did not mind.
That all these events played through my head today, which is garbage day, was a grand coincidence. Looking around to see what I hold onto demands an inventory of that which and that which inspires. Sometimes even the things we consider beautiful need to be let go of in order to allow someone else to appreciate it. If it becomes a distraction it becomes garbage.
I do not know if it is a matter of being tired, lazy, over burdened, scared or lost which causes us to stray as pilgrims. Then I wonder if maybe there is no straying at all. Without community we are far too alone to ever see beyond our field of vision. Even harder with the mountain of trash around us. And sometimes it just appears to be a mountain when it is nothing more than a single item to be recycled.
What seems to be a recurring theme is my post being associated with a Toad the Wet Sprocket song. For this topic this one seems fitting: Throw it All Away.
take your cautionary tales
take your incremental gain
and all the sychophantic games
and throw ’em all away
burn your tv in your yard
and gather ’round it with your friends
and warm your hands upon the fire
and start again
take the story you’ve been sold
the lies that justify the pain
the guilt the weighs upon your soul
and throw ’em all away
tear up the calendar you bought
and throw the pieces to the sky
confetti falling down like rain
like a parade to usher in your life
take the dreams that should’ve died
the ones that kept you lying awake
when you should’ve been all right
and throw ’em all away
with the time i waste on the life i never had
i could’ve turned myself into a better man
’cause there ain’t nothing you can buy
there is nothing you can save
to fill the hole inside your heart
so throw it all away
won’t fill the hole inside your heart
help me to empty out this house
All i’ve gathered all these days
and thought i couldn’t do without
and throw it all away