Monday, April 18, 2011

Journals on Journeys

A Slow Journey, a Long Pathphoto © 2008 Cristian V. | more info (via: Wylio)

It is Monday of Holy Week.  The end of this fast and season seemed so far away a few weeks ago, it's hard to believe it's already just a few days before Good Friday.  As usual, I feel not as entered in as I'd like.  My great intentions for shutting down Facebook, Twitter, and constant gazing at my phone have been rationalized away so not much is different I suppose from last week.  

I do feel a bit of the added weight to pray.  I feel more a draw to silence.  And I've been reflective.  In particular, these past 2 days have been a picture of reminiscing.  We went yesterday to St. Patrick's Episcopal church.  I grew up in that  church.  I was baptized there, went to Sunday school there, had first communion, first children's play, first friends, first youth group, all that stuff.  There. In that early-80's "modern" building with the courtyard and the giant Jesus.  Then one day it was all over.  Our summer of discontent, or rather, my parents' summer of discontent abruptly ended our life at the only church we'd known.  Their views too liberal, their leadership to haughty, whatever it was, we were out, and with us several other families, and eventually many of the youth leaders and peers I'd known.  The classic church split.  I did okay, I was sad I couldn't go back to the EYC room anymore, but our newly forming church made of the rebellious defectors was a neat experience for me, in its own right.  

But being back on Sunday brought back sadness, memories of lock-ins and bible studies and our Montessori Sunday school.  I still remember the blue walls, toddling around from station to station.  And I remember the painting of Jesus with all the little children coming to him.  (it was always a bit of an artsy fartsy church).  The building is nearly unchanged, save some additional Celtic paraphernalia, and by God, some icons. Score.  Definitely didn't have those when we were there, I think the St. Patrick icon now presides in the nook formerly reserved for that (in)famous 70's laughing Jesus drawing.  

There was less charisma this time around.  For better or for worse, the congregation seems to have evolved out of that a bit.  Not that it was staunch and southern Episcopalian, but it wasn't hands-raising, tongues-speaking, words-of-knowledge charismatic.  But I still recognized a dozen faces.  Faces more seasoned than I remember them, with more salt than pepper in their hair, but familiar no less.

Memories. Bad ones faded, good ones flood back, and I chuckle at the comedy of what-ifs.  What if we wound up back there.  On this wacky journey of faith and church that we are on.  (could I ever tell my parents!?).  They certainly were more scarred from the battles than I.

And today, as I rolled yesterday's palm Sunday experience around like stones in my hand, I ran into an old friend.  A friend of the blissful Redeemer days.  Those days when I met Jesus in a new and different way, when the Gospel came alive.  When this guy with a handlebar moustache and veiny forearms demonstrated such love and openness I couldn't believe it.  And there he was in Trader Joe's, sans the moustache, but still with the lines of time and experience on his face, and designer pants.  Yes, I've seen him now and again since he was fired from Redeemer.  Even since he separated from my friend Lauren.  But today brought back this hint of certain joy that I once had about church and community.  Upon reflection, that joy has given way to sadness that I don't have that same affection any longer.  But I love the memories of those times - my courtship with Jeff, Twister at Susan's apartment, Abby, the Portico, worship in the Chamblee UMC gym, John Thomas, the DeLoach's spooky artwork, walking to church, community weekends in highlands talking about Dallas Willard and Kierkegard, etc., etc.  

Journey's go on, and sadness happens, and leavings happen, and, as Greg said today, God is SO patient.  When we want it Now Now, He sees the bigger picture.  In this bigger picture I have lots of fond memories, and I have to believe there are more still, even as I struggle to see what is immediately ahead. 

Is there a place that is particularly poignant as a marker in your journey?  

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Today is “Record Store Day,” commemorating all the independent record stores out there, and folks who are, presumably, still selling records. Those honest-to-god vinyl spherical objects with lots of tiny ridges.  It’s got me thinking about records: the first record I heard, the ones I played all the time and what is in my digital collection now that would sound amazing on vinyl. 

I think that the first vinyl I ever heard was Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes.  My mom had this collection of 45’s that I’d give anything for now.  Beach boys, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis. God, what happen to those 45’s?  I think she had a little 45 player, too.  It opened at the top like a jewelry box and was maroon on the inside.  

When I was older, we’d listen to records on the “nice” stereo.  I think my dad brought it into the marriage.  My  parents record collection was varied to be sure.  As a kid, I mostly liked the showtunes, like Oklahoma! and Carousel and Guys and Dolls.  I would leaf through those big square record jackets and look at the ones that looked interesting.  In between the Streisand and Johnny Mathis, I pulled the Mamas and the Pappas, all nestled so cutely in their little bathtub on the cover.  And Janis Joplin, this funky looking brunette lounging on a couch holding a SoCo on ice, who I discovered had soul like I’d never heard before.  When the record player got moved from the family room to the upstairs, I’d sit up there in the old mustard-color lounge chair and listen to Janis, and Simon and Garfunkel, and the Hair Soundtrack, and feel entirely hippie and cool. 

But it was more than feeling cool, I like to think that good music transcends generations.  I must have know somewhere in me that what I was hearing was GOOD music.

The first vinyl I ever bought with my own money was Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon.  Looking back, I love how vinyls lent themselves to listening to a whole album.  And that is a great album.  It was work to switch from song to song. You couldn’t just skip to the big hits, when you had a vinyl you had an album, crafted by the artist as such.  I surely age myself by lamenting what we’ve lost with music’s digital age, but there’s just something warm about a record.

Thinking about my current collection of digitized music, albums numbering in the hundreds, there are some that I’d love to hear on vinyl.  Probably anything Radiohead would take on a ethereal stripped of digital fanciness.  Artists like Iron & Wine or Nick Drake seem almost made for the analog simplicity of vinyl. I’d like to hear that. And of course anything Beastie Boys, mostly just because they’d want to be heard on vinyl. 

What was the first record you remember hearing? Buying?
What’s in your collection that would sound better on vinyl?