Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Songs We All Knew

I tend to be a little star-struck when it comes to the small group of people I think are famous. There's a certain group of amazing Christian musicians in Nashville who congregate on a website called The Rabbit Room (after the Eagle and Child pub, of Inklings fame). I only discovered them two years ago, but since then, we have acquired six Rabbit Room books, ten or more Rabbit Room albums, and check in frequently on the site for new posts. The Rabbit Room's proprieter is a singer/songwriter/author named Andrew Peterson.  He's such a household name with us that I can just say “Andrew said on Facebook earlier…” and the rest of the family will know exactly who I’m talking about.
Andrew Peterson on tour with Steven Curtis Chapman and Josh Wilson

Last year, after I met Michael Card, I said "Now, I just need to meet Andrew Peterson, and life will be complete. " A few weeks ago, I did meet him (at a concert in Winston-Salem) and he signed my copies of his books. My life is not, in fact, complete, but as soon as someone sends me a private plane and tickets to The Hobbit premiere, it will be. Make it happen, readers.

The Captains Courageous (their unofficial name) were terrific live. Andrew, Ben Shive and Andy Gullahorn, (the other Captains) were hilarious, making fun of one another or providing the sort of witty banter than makes shows better than CDs. We were fifteen feet from the stage, on the front row. With each song came an amusing and interesting tale; not only is he a gifted songwriter, but Andrew's a real storyteller too. He's like our pastor, Don, who can tell a joke and have us all in stitches, but when I tell it the next day...blank faces. Some people are just Funny when they're talking about anything. See the The Cheese Song.

At one point, Ben Shive said, “Only at an Andrew Peterson concert would the name of J.R.R. Tolkien get a woot.” Yep. I knew I was in the right place. The man quoted C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton all in one show, how could I not love him?

I will close my eyes on the Shadowlands
And bid goodbye to all my friends
The parting is the price, it is the price that I must pay
To sail beyond the arms of the havens grey
-Andrew Peterson "The Havens Grey

And the servants of the secret fire
Were gathered there
The embers of the ages
Like a living prayer
And all at once I saw the shadows flee
Shine your light on me
-Andrew Peterson "Shine Your Light On Me"
Lord of the Rings references galore. Andrew also talks about thunder and mountains a lot, which I love. His lyrics are extremely poetic and often profound. It's not just flowery stuff: it means something.

 Due to YouTube and the albums I own, I knew nearly all the songs. It’s an experience that is nearly indescribable, to be in a room full of people who are all singing your favorite songs by heart. It felt like finally coming home after a long journey, and that was especially poignant for me at the time, as I've felt pretty disconnected from my church friends for a long time, to the point that my spiritual growth was suffering from lack of edifying friendships.

At the end of the show, there was a standing ovation which lasted so long that the band came out and did an encore. It just happened to be my favorite song ever: The Reckoning. The night would have been sweet but incomplete without it. I've heard it so many times that the words are engrained in my memory, and I listen to it every time it storms, but still it brought me to blinking-away-tears (I don't cry. Ain't cool. Okay, so that might not be entirely true.)

(The music starts at 4:07 but the story is great. It really speaks to me on so many levels. I do wish He'd just "unzip the air..." and I love storms)

Coming out of the auditorium, I was riding high on a wave of euphoria. It’s always disappointing to come home after something like that—back to the “real world.” It’s a bit of a letdown to get back here where people have never heard of Andrew Peterson or G.K. Chesterton. Also, it irks me that I didn't have a camera.

But I know that thinking that isn’t right. Nobody can live in the ideal world all the time. We’re here, and this is our job. We just have to do our best to make the place we’re in a little better than when we came. We must build our own home wherever we are. Probably, if I’d spent a few more hours with those people, I’d have realized they were a lot more like people around here than I imagined. We all have our ministry, and often, we don’t have to go around the world to find it.
“Take a left at the end of my street,
Just a few doors down,
Up the hill and into the trees,
There’s a hole in the ground,
Where we traveled the caverns so deep,
Wandered the wonders the wide,
It was right beneath our feet, all this time.”
-Andrew Peterson "World Traveler"
 Perhaps not having a camera was better. Sometimes, you have to hold things in your heart, and I can't help but think I saw a little glimpse of heaven that night. I could see clearly a time when brothers and sisters in Christ will gather together, laugh hard and cry hard, and sing the words of songs we all know by heart.

I now feel incredibly goofy for having written that. I must end on a light note. Here's Andy Gullahorn talking about himself when he was a boy from Texas shopping at the ritzy Nashville mall and being nearly run over by his dream car.

I know that I don't know what I'm asking, (best line ever - watch the videos)
Neo-Mayberry, Middle of Nowhere, America

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