Broken-down Poetry: October 2008


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Saturday, October 4, 2008

From Canton with Love.

I should mention that I'm not a spontaneous person. I am a planner. My reoccurring nightmare features me late for class or late for work because of unlikely situations that barricade my path.

But I am also an opportunist. This forms a sort of duality within me-one half involves risk taking adventures, while the other stays at home and make lists. So when this whole RELEVANT ordeal came about with less than a week to react, both sides of me got antsy, but for different reasons.

I am an official RELEVANT College Advocate, my goal being to spread the good news of RELEVANT around my campus. (I know that sounds like a self-proclaimed title, but there really is such a thing.) Because of this, I was given the opportunity to pass out magazines at the Art*Music*Justice Tour.

Luckily, most of the little details got sorted out. I chose the location I wanted to work at (Canton, OH), I had the money to go, a place to stay the night and a whole playlist of music to entertain me for 300 miles. (I should mention that I still didn't know exactly what I was doing once I got to the show until 5 minutes before I left my dorm room. I even had to call ol' Chad from RELEVANT to get that sorted.)

I left after chapel on Friday and planned to get to Canton by 5:30, and I planned to arrive at the concert fifteen minutes early and planned to get to Amanda's dorm by midnight. I have heard several times that God laughs at our plans or something to that degree. I don't know how much he laughs exactly, but he does like to screw with them a little bit.

The drive was fine. I have a nice internal map in my head. Sam used to tell me how I always knew exactly where stores were in the mall back home. I just knew that since the mallway was in a big circle, eventually you would come across what you were looking for. I think my sister's compliment went to my head. I am convinced I'm good with directions.

I found the building okay. The AMJ Tour website told me the address of the church, right across from the dirty McDonald's I tried to eat at. It was at a college campus, Malone University, a small private school like my WU.

It was past the time I was supposed to be there (6:30) but only by a minute or so. If I were to grade myself on punctuality, I'd give myself a 4 out of 5. So, I entered the back door of their PAC and wandered the hallways until I found an office.

I went into the office only slightly panicky (what's a few minutes, really?). I told them who I was and what I was there for.

They had no idea what I was talking about.

A concert?


They logged onto the concert's site, pretty sure that I was in the wrong place. They found the true location of the AMJ concert: First Christian Church.

OOOOOH! They said in unison. Turns out FCC moved out of the building we were in a year ago. Noticing the panic rise a notch, a man in a suit jacket (I think his name was Rick) ushered me out the building, telling me over and over again how FCC was only down the road four miles. He gave me directions, wished me luck, and I got into my car. I re-graded myself in punctuality: 2.5 out of 5.

Rick told me to take a left at the T. I took a right. I turned around. I saw a dead end. I turned around. The numbers got smaller... they were supposed to get larger. I turned around. I panicked. Punctuality: 1 out of 5.

I somehow got to the church. I walked the classic I-only-have-10-minutes-to-get-to-class-on-the-other-side-of-campus walk (which I don't practice enough I noticed due to the shortness of my breath). I went to the ticket people and, once again, spilled my story. I don't think it made any sense.

Once the ticket-ers could understand my babbling, a woman named Claudia took me to find my booth.

Wait, where is it?

Claudia had no idea where this infamous table was, so she took me backstage to find a Mr. Troy Groves who, according to ol' Chad, knew what was going on. Troy was not around, so I was brought to a room with refreshments. Claudia told me to eat, giving me a water bottle and offering lasagna.

Another woman, Kristin, was in the room as well. I told her my story, still with a little adrenaline kick. It was like when King David (prior to his kingship) was acting like a madman at Gath so he wouldn't be recognized. It was a lot like that, except that I wasn't acting. I was a little frantic and a little foolish (I did just drive 5 hours to work at a booth that didn't exist) . . . but suddenly my Gath-moment halted when Derek Webb entered the room.

This was the guy that played on the podcast a few years ago, who was on the Mar.-April 2006 issue of RELEVANT magazine. He's the guy quoted in one of my favorite books, Jesus for President. I had this guy's CD! (Or at least I did until I gave it to Goodwill.)

And boy, he was a lot shorter than I had imagined.

Then walks in Sandra McCracken. Then Sarah Groves.

Suddenly my driving around confused for a half hour was worth it. I was here. I was among very incredible musicians--I felt renewed.

Soon after that, Claudia talked to Troy about the magazines and he said they'd get them out. . . eventually. (How ominous.)

So I bet by this point you must think I am a little crazy. Perhaps a little Gath-crazy (as I now choose to call it). So... what am I doing here?

See, this very dilemma led me to ask myself that age-old question: If RELEVANT asked me to jump off a bridge, would I do it? I am a poor, jobless college student who spent five hours driving through Ohio, got lost in downtown Canton, trailed a just-as-confused FCC member, and sat awkwardly at a concert alone. . . .

Yes, the answer is yes.

Meanwhile, Claudia had me watch the first half of the concert since the table wasn't set up. She gave me her backstage pass and permitted me to eat whatever I wanted. Really, I just wanted to stay in the back room until Brandon Heath came by. Then I would propose marriage to him. Okay, not really.

The concert was amazing. I would go into detail, but you can read a pretty thorough review of it at (SHAMELESS PLUG!) But it was amazing. I haven't felt so close to God since I've been at IWU. I think that is the problem with a Christian school. It's hard to find the sacredness and mystery of God when you have to go to chapel three times a week. (I'll blog about THAT later.)

Intermission. I found Claudia once again and we went to look for my table. Still not there. We went back stage again, walking through a dark corridor that led to the refreshments table.

Footsteps behind us.

Brandon Heath. Claudia introduced herself as the event coordinator (and a very helpful magazine-hunter if I do say so myself) and told him my problem. Oh, I know where the RELEVANTs are.

Brandon Heath saves the day!

He set them out at his merch table and I did my duties of taking out every single subscription card and stacked them in a neat pile.

Back to the concert.

Once it was over I finally got to work. And I'll say, RELEVANTs go like hotcakes. Subscription cards do not, but that's not my fault. The economy sucks, that's why only a few people took them. So why not just blame Bush. (And my readership just got cut in half.)

Brandon was signing autographs right next to me. Now, I don't have time to go into this, really, but I have to say that Brandon Heath is the nicest musician I have ever met. Usually when people come up to tell them about a song they've written, the musician just says coooool and move on. Not Brandon. I think he's co-writing a song with a thirtysomething guy from FCC. Not to mention the guy who liked Brandon's watch. Brandon took it off his wrist and gave it to him.

I reconsidered that marriage proposal.

We packed up, I said my goodbyes (and got a picture with Brandon). Claudia and a few women from the church insisted that I didn't drive two-and-a-half miles to Ada to stay with Amanda; they had an extra hotel room, paid for and everything.

I sat in that Holiday Inn, writing the beginnings of this blog. My mind was reeling with excitement, but my heart was so low and lonely. Why did the day progress like it had? I got my answer on the way to Ada, while listening to a little Jon Foreman. (And my roommates roll their eyes. . . .)


If you made it this far in the blog, I commend you. I'm pushing 1500 words now, about five pages double-spaced if this were a paper. Stay with me. I actually learned something this weekend.

God has been teaching me about loving people, about finding what Shane Claiborne calls their "sacred humanity," looking beyond the Lifeboat, and realizing that we are ALL created in God's image. Black. White. Pretty. Fat. Short. Lazy. Whatever.

God had told me this on the way to my sister's apartment a few months ago while I listened to a new song by a Mr. Brandon Heath: Give Me Your Eyes. God wants me to stop being so selfish and obsessed with comparing myself to others so that I can see people the way He sees them. I finally saw the connection.

I got lost in Canton for a reason.

If I knew where I was going and had arrived on time for the concert, I would not have been so reliant on people. The advisors at Malone University took time out of their schedule to help me, a kid who didn't even attend their school. They didn't have to do that.

And Claudia, God bless her. I followed her around and asked so much of the other members of First Christian Church. I owe them. It reminds me of Jesus' command to give even just a cup of cool water to a little one who's thirsty. They gave me so much more: a whole water bottle full, a hotel room, a tee shirt and most of all mercy.

These people showed me mercy. They didn't know who I was.

But they cared.

I want to be like them.

God reminded me that I don't have to be in Africa serving the poor to love people. I can do it here. I can do it by asking my friends how they are doing, or offering help when a problem arises. I know I'm being vague, but I don't know all that God has in store for me. But I am willing. I want to be a servant. I want to learn to love.

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten