Leader of the Band

In America we celebrate things such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, and many more. This Sunday we will be celebrating Father’s Day. It is a time of family gatherings, visiting parents and grandparents or simply doing something nice for dad.

I have thought quite a bit about this year’s Father’s Day, probably due to the fact that Cheryl lost her father in January, and a brother (who is a dad) last year. I lost my Father thirty-three years ago, yet I still miss him. Also, friends of ours just lost their dad to cancer. So, it really doesn’t surprise me that this particular Father’s Day has impacted me. I was going to write a tribute to fathers, but recalled a song which has always resonated with me. I hope it does for you, as well. The lyrics are below, but I also encourage you to listen to this song via YouTube or other audio/visual website; it is soothing and thought provoking.

The singer/songwriter is Dan Fogelberg. He wrote and recorded this song in 1981 as a tribute to his father who died the following year. I dedicate this song to all good fathers- alive, fallen or off to war. And for the many souls who have never known a father or who may have had one who was mean-spirited or only there in form, uninvolved. Bless you, and may you find someone who will be a father to you. And most importantly, we have a loving Father above. Look to Him.

Leader of the Band

An only child, alone and wild, a cabinet maker’s son, his hands were meant for different work and his heart was known to none. He left his home and went his lone and solitary way, and he gave to me a gift I know I never can repay.

A quite man of music, denied a simpler fate, he tried to be a soldier once but his music wouldn’t wait. He earned his love through discipline, a thund’ring, velvet hand. His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand.

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old, but blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band.

My brother’s lives were different, for they heard another call. One went to Chicago and the other to Saint Paul. And I’m in Colorado, when not in some hotel, living out this life I’ve chosen, come to know so well.

I thank you for the music and your stories of the road. I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go. I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough. And, papa, I don’t think I said “I love you” near enough.

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old, but his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band…I am the living legacy to the leader of the band.

 

If A Picture

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If a picture could paint a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you?

The words will never show the you I’ve come to know.

If a face could launch a thousand ships, then where am I to go?

There’s no one home but you, your all that’s left me to.

And when my love is running dry, you come and pour yourself on me.

If a man could be two places at one time, I’d be with you.

Tomorrow and today, beside you all the way.

If the world should stop revolving spinning slowly down to die, I’d spend the end with you.

And when the world was through, then one by one the stars would all go out, then you and I would simply fly away….

Song by Bread, 1971.

 

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CICADAS

Prehistoric ?Summer in the midwest transforms the natural landscape into a region of lush vegetation with abundant weeds and wildflowers accompanied by hot temperatures, and occasional tornadoes. Summer warmth ushers in the return of many bird species and butterflies. This season also awakens snakes of all sorts, mosquitoes & ticks, and cicadas-just to name a few.

If you would indulge me for a moment, I would like to focus on the cicada which is a most unusual looking insect with a most annoying ‘song’ that is produced by the rubbing of body parts. It was this song from a choir of cicadas a few evenings ago that inspired this brief post. For reasons unknown to me there are  considerably larger amounts of these insects in the branches of our beautiful red maple tree which stands adjacent to our deck, and which provides much-needed shade. This tree has always been a home to the cicada, but 2013 has produced a bumper crop!

20130726_195621The cicada lays her eggs in tree branches and after the eggs hatch the termite-looking insect bores into the earth in search of nutrients. Over a period of two to seventeen years (depending on the species) this stage of the cicada develops into a nymph. At this time the cicada bores out of the ground and climbs onto the trunk or branch of a tree. It then sheds its outer shell-like covering to reveal a prehistoric looking, winged creature. These insects are quite harmless with the only threat being their incessant ‘song’. From a distance the undulating sounds of cicadas in harmony is soothing and reminds me that summer is in full swing. However, when they ‘sing’ within a few yards from where one is sitting or standing, the noise can be deafening. Too long of exposure can lead to headaches…or worse!

There are over 170 varieties of cicadas in the United States, and over 2000 worldwide. Common, to be sure, and an integral member of nature’s food chain-cicadas are as much a part of summer as parades, BBQs, watermelon and apple pie at picnics. Annoying, but essential, the cicada would be missed if they were to disappear. As can be seen from these photos (taken with my Samsung phone), cicadas are a most bizarre insect. Summer wouldn’t be the same without them…preferrably at a distance! Now, where are my ear plugs?20130727_173609

S O N G S

Some people have a song, you know? They are the sweet ones, the talented ones, the sensitive ones. Sometimes, they are even the strong ones. Their songs burst forth as the brilliant rays of a majestic sunrise peaking over the horizon. Their songs are loud and clear and, oh, so wonderful to behold.

I just listened to some songs from a Rich Mullins CD. He had a song, and he shared that song through music. The words he penned, and the melodies he created bring glory to God and cause the listener to take stock in his own life. Of course, there are all types of songs…many of them aren’t music at all. There are songs of encouragement from special people who have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. I had a friend who lived out his song even though he was a paraplegic. He was an artist and shining star of encouragement. Others have songs that inspire through art, prose, dance and athletics. Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King had beautiful songs; similar names and similar messages, but ‘sung’ at different times and in different ways. Yes, there are many types of songs, and they are all unmistakable when seen or heard. Songs are much more than mere talent, though. The two are not to be confused.

I believe I have a song to share, but I can’t seem to proclaim it. Sometimes, I can crack open the door so my song seeps out. Occasionally, some hear my song, but mostly just I do. And God does. I contemplate what it is that holds me back from flinging the door to my heart wide open so my song will burst forth. I sabotage my efforts by allowing the trivial to replace the important. The temporal overcomes the eternal much too often. Sometimes difficult circumstances consume all of my energy. It is frustrating. I have identified some of the distractions, and am striving to overcome them. No doubt, there are a few I am not even aware of. Perhaps sharing my angst will assist me in opening the door.

Oh, how I want my song to be pure and uninhibited-to be free. I desperately want my song to be a blessing to others. I believe our songs are not about us; not really. We are given these songs to guide and encourage and uplift others, especially those who don’t have a song, but need one. Our songs are gifts from a gracious God who gave us the greatest song ever through the life, death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. Forget religion and consider the man. Jesus came into this world-not because He had to, but because He wanted to…He needed to…for us. While He walked upon the soil of a turbulent Middle East. He taught us how to pray, and how to graciously treat one another. He taught us how to worship a Holy God, and to care for the less fortunate. Jesus did more than teach-He redeemed.

What or whom did Jesus redeem? God’s greatest creation and joy: His children. The need for redemption came as a result of our self-righteousness and pride. We needed to be rescued, and that is exactly what Jesus did. Many find this unbelievable or offensive. I find it remarkable. So amazed am I that He would suffer and die so that I could spend eternity with Him and the Father, simply blows me away. I could never deserve such an honor nor could I ever earn it. It had to be given to me by the only One who had the authority and power to do so.

My song-our songs- are like gifts of gratitude to the One who created us and rescued us from a life of meaninglessness. When I started to write this piece, I had no idea where I was going. I didn’t plan on talking about God or Christ or salvation, but that is where my mind was lead. I feel a bit more at ease after penning these thoughts. Maybe, I just learned a little more about my song. Maybe.

And, maybe I will begin to remove the hinges from the door that I can’t seem to open very wide, and instead, remove it. Why should the door exist, anyway. Who do I want to keep out, and why do I want to stay in? To be honest, I don’t know. However, I seek to find out. What of your song? Will you share it? Will you remove the door (at least start by opening it)? Others near and far need to hear and see and feel your song. I have never been disappointed in another’s song when I knew it was genuine and selflessly given. That is how I want my song to be- an offering of love. The Lord knows, and we all know, that our world could use a heap more of unconditional love. Please join me. I want to hear your songs as much as I want mine to be heard. Enough said.