Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Bouquet Named Mercy

It’s scary to be transparent. We all have our reasons why. Some of us—we simply have never been transparent. It was not modeled and therefore we have never tried it. It is not in the repertoire of human relating. Some of us—we were modeled over-exposure. TMI, too much information. And we have left situations feeling too vulnerable and as if relationships are not mutual.

Occasionally, however, if the stars are aligned just right, this delicate balance between our authentic selves being shut away too deep and our authentic selves bleeding all over the room is accomplished.

I have a dear friend going through a significant life change and we have flirted with the transparency dance for years. Just the other day, however, those stars aligned and the false walls we build between one another came down. Our authentic selves showed their faces.

And we were both crying. And we were both scared. And we risked it. We talked on the phone that day, we listened and we loved.

…then I went to the grocery store. I was digging around trying to find Lipton bottled tea Unsweetened (they NEVER have it) when a song on the store’s Musak caught my attention. It was a cheesy 70’s love ballad, you know it, “We’re in this love together, the kind that lasts forever…” And that line repeats and repeats and repeats, “We’re in this love together, the kind that lasts forever…”

I teared up in aisle 5 knowing God was affirming me, calling me, to love my friend. I was humbled and challenged at the same time. I am honored to be in this loving of others with Him. I am also required to be in this loving of others with Him.

My spirit submitted right then and there and He told me to go and get her some flowers, and to name them Mercy. I admit, I thought, “What an awesome idea!” knowing it was not mine.

I went to Whole Foods and bought two of the biggest bouquets I could find and had the flower lady make them into one-- with a big pink ribbon around the stems. I prayed as I drove to my friend’s home. If she was there it was meant to be. If not, I would simply leave them on her stoop.

Heading up her walkway I was very self aware of my suitor-like behavior. I rang the doorbell and waited. I nervously shifted back and forth on my feet. She opened the door and the look on her face told me His idea was obviously the correct one.

I handed the enormous bouquet to her and said, “I got you these flowers. I named them Mercy. Put them on your kitchen counter so every time you come in you are reminded of His unconditional love and mercy for you.”

She responded with an, "Ohh"--the kind that comes from the bottom of your soul.

We hugged. We wept. She put the flowers in a vase.

I didn’t stay long. Even authentic transparency hits a point where everyone needs a break to regroup and find inner safety. As I got in my car and drove away, the song on the radio echoed the song in the store. We’re in this loving of each other with Him. We are his Mercy Bouquet.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Music Builds in Chicago

I am a child of the 70's. Admittedly, not a Woodstock- going-hippie-child. I was born in 1970. Which means it was my senior year in high school when U2’s historic Joshua Tree Tour permanently indented into my rock & roll psyche.

Last night in Chicago at the Charter ONE Pavilion Jars of Clay, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Switchfoot and Third Day also revealed the pervasive influence U2 has had on us all, ending the concert with members of every band on stage, rocking Rattle and Hum’s “When Love Comes to Town.” I was delighted when Switchfoot ended their set leaving the stage one at a time, with the crowd singing, modeling the memorable “40” exit from Joshua Tree Tour. And I was right there with Switchfoot when Jon Foreman did an impressive rift echoing one of U2’s biggest songs, ONE.

Maybe it is because I am a Joshua-Tree-child and have come to have certain expectations of my icons, but I couldn't help but think, “This is how it’s supposed to be done.” Great music. Great venue. Great Cause. One dollar of every ticket for the Music Builds Concert goes to Habitat For Humanity and the ONE Campaign sponsored the event.

I was inspired see all the ONE videos on the screens, encouraging people to get involved, join the campaign, Vote ’08 and Change the Debate. I was able to meet the band members before the show. My family was with me, and my 12 year son—well, I think he was a little shell shocked and star struck! The band members were gracious and sincere. I found it very rewarding to thank the guys in person for all their efforts on behalf of the ONE Campaign.

I have been a member of ONE since its inception. And it was a music super star who humbly came to my home town in 2003, in a bus, with a guitar and a boom box, and started this wave, this movement of ONE. We are all ONE. We all make a difference.

I have a good friend who says, “ONE is America at its best.” It’s all different kinds of people, from different walks of life, political leanings, and faith affiliations coming together to build a movement solely to help those who need it.

The wave continues to build and last night in Chicago demonstrated ONE is also music at its best!