Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Beautiful Release

There is a band that I have become fond of named Zale.  They are some of the most beautiful people I have had the privilege of meeting and knowing.  I saw them for the first time in a very small venue here in Columbus back in February. I got to talking with their lead singer Hannah after the show, and we both got extremely excited when we figured out we grew up less that 10 miles from each other. We had this instant connection as we talked about our passions and understood how each other felt.  Now when she comes to town, we try and hang out together for a few moments. I always look forward to seeing this beautiful soul and amazing woman.

After Zale's last show in Columbus, I had this thought.  (Have you ever had something that just wouldn't let go of you?) You see, I had written a poem almost a year ago to help me cope with some burdensome emotions.  After posting it to this blog, my sister saw it and told me I needed to make it a song. (Thanks, Marynan.) I spent several weeks toying with that idea and putting it together, trying several times over the last year to record it and post the song. However, I never had the courage to do it.  I also have never played it for anyone ... until yesterday. As I sat in Cannon Brewpub yesterday with Hannah enjoying a beer with her and several others, she and I began our own conversation. Very nervously I told her, "Hannah, about a year ago I wrote a song. I've never sung it for anyone and I've never posted or recorded it and I know that I will not do anything with it. I’d like to give it to you."

With wide eyes, a small smile and a big heart she said, "Can I read it?" I reluctantly said, “Yes." still not knowing what would actually come of this. When she finished reading it, she asked if I would play it for her after their sound check. "What did I just do?” I thought.  "I've never played it for anyone ... I don't want to do this."

When Hannah left for her sound check at the venue, I sat down with my friend Loreley and told her what had happened. "Why haven't you recorded it or played it for anyone?" she asked. 

"I'm scared. I know that when I play this song for anyone, it will end this emotional storm. It will mean that I have released it."  The look Loreley gave me in that moment told me everything I needed to hear. 

Isn't that strange? I wouldn't play it because I didn't want to be over it. How many of us are like this? We hold to things from our past scared of what will happen if we let go of them. Whether those things are good or bad, if we hold on to them it's like we are walking through life looking backwards instead of looking forward.  Hoping for the past and neglecting both the present and the future! How asinine is that mentality? I was literally hoping for something that had already come and gone and hanging on to it as if it would change my future.  I was living life in the past instead of the present moment working toward a future.  

With Loreley, I walked over to the sound check. I think she knew I needed some serious support in that moment, which I did, for by the time the sound check had ended, I had started to sweat and become really apprehensive about playing . It wasn't just a song, it was my heart I was putting out there.

While sitting in the green room, I told them the story behind the song and began to play. No eye contact was made, but the intensity of that moment is beyond description. OH, SO BEAUTIFUL!

When the piece ended, there was a moment of silence ... as if we all recognized the moment: the beautiful release that had just taken place. There was no clapping. Just understanding. And only one question: "How do you feel?"  I didn't answer ... with my head still staring down, I just lifted my hands as they shook uncontrollably. I broke my silence with, "It's yours if you want it." The only verbal response given was, “Damn!” Hannah gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me that she was proud of me.  

I am so grateful for Hannah’s friendship and encouragement! I am truly thankful for the members of the band Zale, and for their talent, passion and encouragement to all they meet. They are truly beautiful souls. I am also incredibly thankful for a friend like Loreley who walked beside me in this moment.  I love you all and I'm so grateful for The Beautiful Moment shared with you. 

Recording coming soon.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


So it's Mother's Day... No I haven't called my mom yet but don't worry I will do that before the day is over. But right now I'm sitting in Starbucks listening to some unknown music artist that I don't recognize and half singing a Grateful Dead song in my head (Scarlet Begonias) and trying to put my epiphanous (not even sure that's a word) thought into words, not as easy as I thought it was going to be.

When I got up this morning I started thinking of the past year. I do that a lot, think of the past. I don't dwell on it but contemplate and reminisce. Maybe that was a better word, reminisce. Let me begin again...

When I got up this morning I started to contemplate and reminisce over the past year.  If you know me and my family, you know that it has not been an easy year. I/we still deal with the heartaches from those events. But that isn't what this blog is about. 

As I thought about the last year it led from one thing into the other and I started to think about the word "Mom" and its connotations in the confines of my own life.  I sat on the end of my bed this morning getting dressed and playing/petting the Coco (my Dog) having what felt like was an epiphany (my mom would be proud I used that word). Here's the epiphany, "Everyone has a mother. Not everyone has a mother that is a mom."

Here's what I mean by that statement.  Mother, to me at least, is a word that denotes biology.  It points to the woman from which we are born. We all have mothers. But a mom, mommy, mama, whatever she is called by you is a gift. You don't have to be related to her. I have a few moms. But this is about my Mother/Mom.

I have been called a mama's boy several times in my adult life and the first time it happened I remember taking offense to it.  Being a full grown man, there was a spark that sent me into an internal reaction to that statement that was nothing short of being offended.  However, after hearing it a couple of more times my reaction to being called a "mama's boy" changed.  I think about some the great men of history and how they spoke fondly of their moms. John and Charles Wesley, the brothers credited with the founding of Methodism, spoke highly of their mom, Susanna. These are just the two that come to mind.

So why does having a mom versus just a mother even matter.  Because a mom encourages, a mom heals and a mom disciplines. 

When I was getting ready to apply to Auburn for my Master's of Brewing Science I called my mom to let her know that I was doing such a thing at the age of 31.  She not only encouraged me to go for it but also in that moment I believe that she started praying that God would orchestrate my acceptance to that program and provide a way for me to pursue my passion. I didn't tell her that I was applying late. It's funny to me now that her encouragement comes in that she brings friends to Cannon to eat and does a flight of beer with them and will get me to do a small tour with the group.  She's even gotten to the point where she will just tell people to stop by when they are in Columbus.

A mom will also heal.  Remember being small and falling off your bike? Maybe you scraped a knee or elbow and your mom would not only kiss it to make it better and put a bandaid on it, but also she would tell you get back on the bike in a round about way, "Ok, you're all better now.  Go play some more."

Now as an adult it comes in different ways. After my divorce it came as phone calls and books being mailed to me. She even encouraged me to begin writing again both poetry and prose to help me deal with things. It's now been a year since my divorce was final and she will ask if I have been on any dates. Trust me when I tell you that it's no more awkward as an adult than as a teenager to get asked that question. But I will talk about some of the funny things that have taken place. Like the time my debit card wouldn't run because of a bank issue on their end. It was a first date. I was not thrilled. She had to pay. The best story is how I asked a bartender friend of mine about the "beautiful girl at the end of the bar" and said, "I'd like to buy her beer." It was his girlfriend. I know that part of Mom asking me about the ladies is her way of keeping tabs on me but I take it as a "You're all better now".

A mom will also show discipline. As children she was not afraid to show my brother, sister and I discipline whether it was a scolding or a spanking. Yes we were spanked as children and we are all the better for it. It taught us to respect others and ourselves.

If you read Mom's blog,, you will know that she is a disciplined person.  She spends her mornings with a cup of tea, a book, Bible, and Jesus.  She's usually in the sun room or on the back porch in good weather.  Through that she has taught me to look for God in the moments and how to enjoy those moments.  She has taught me to look at things in a different way and be ok with it.  She use to say to me, "You are not a normal student pastor." I never understood her reason for that statement but I became ok with not being a "normal student pastor". It made me discipline myself to be me and be ok with it. In retrospect that statement made it ok for me to start running down my dream and my passion of brewing.

So Happy Mother's, Mom's, Mama's, Mommy's, G-ma's, G-nan's, Mimi's, Day! May you hear from your children and grandchildren no matter the distance, no matter the time and know that you have been a blessing and a love to and for them!

Now if you will excuse me... I'm going to call my mom... You probably should that too.