Don’t Be Jealous

kinfolkRecently, I was tagged in an Instagram photo of Socialite Barbie, who happened to be appearing in Kinfolk Magazine, which is a trendy hip magazine featuring people doing really cool stuff. Anyway, in the photo Barbie is letting everyone know that she was featured in the magazine and then hashtags a number of things, but most notability she hashtags #humblebrag.

At first I though it was funny (I can laugh at myself) but then, I had a series of events where friends made reference to feeling jealous for the way we travel and the things we get to do and see. Then we performed a house concert and at the break almost every person came up to me to let me know how jealous they were of my family and the life we live. I started to feel a bit bothered by all of the comments but mostly deflated. I almost felt like apologizing or trying to down play our adventures by highlighting the really hard times. Then I started to wonder if I was over reacting and maybe I just needed to lighten up but I couldn’t find rest in it and the more I thought about it the more it all just felt yuck.

Jealousy is nothing new and in some instances it’s actually a positive thing, like a healthy jealousy the lover has for the beloved, or the beautiful kind of jealousy the creator has for his created. But there is an ugly side for sure. Trust me, I have had my own seasons of fighting with feelings of unhealthy jealousy. I have compared my home to others, my financial position, my beauty, my parenting, and more. But, something changed in our perspective when we  began to seek the heart of God in things like justice, purpose, love, and righteousness. Jealousy and comparison just fell out of our vernacular. We started to see miracles, and things that seemed to be offensive or dangerous became opportunities to see the supernatural ways that God is faithful.

None the less, I never want to miss an opportunity for growth so I took another look at my writings and photos and saw a trend. I noticed that I do have a pretty awesome life and I tend to share how awesome it is. I also saw that behind my sharing is a heart longing for others to see that this life we live is not our own but our makers. It’s true nomadic life has allowed us to be in the “front row,” seeing the fabric of humanity knit together in amazing circumstances. We also get to do and see a lot of freaking awesome things on this journey but it comes at a cost. Our security and comfort are constantly compromised and there are days that I can hardly believe we are still alive. But, when I step back and see the Glory of God I can’t help but to shout it out.

I was reading Donald Millers, ‘Searching For God Knows What’ and he wrote about how this old saint named Paul was exhorting his friends telling them they shouldn’t think they were better than other people, and how folks should submit to one another in love, thinking of each other as more important than themselves.

Donald makes a statement in his book that I really resonate with. He says, “Imagine how much a man or woman’s life would be changed if he/she trusted that he/she was loved by God? They could interact with the poor and not show partiality, they could love their spouse easily and not exact them to redeem them, they would be slow to anger because redemption was no longer at stake, they could be wise and giving with their money because money no longer represented points, they could give up on formulaic religion, knowing that checking stuff off a spiritual to-do list was a worthless pursuit, they would have confidence and the ability to laugh at themselves, and they could love people without expecting anything in return. It would be quite beautiful, really.”

I thought long and hard about that. And, honestly this question of what life would look like if we trusted God is core to our families abilities to continue forward. We always come back to this starting point and as much as our natural tendency is to seek the approval of others, and we understand, as Miller says, “people (including ourselves) are biased and really have no idea what is beautiful or ugly to begin with.”

So, back to the #humblebrag hashtag. It’s funny because even as I write this proclamation of really trusting God’s love for me, I sense some eye rolls. But, here’s the thing, I am responsible for my own emotions and the impact they might have on others. I know I can’t control others emotions but, when I feel the impact of others jealousy, I feel bound. I feel robbed of joy and of uninhibited relationship. And, then I realized, that those feelings of jealousy rob both parties. It robs us both!! And, that makes me angry!

But what do we do about it. Blogger,  gives this suggestion. She says, “It helps me to see jealousy as my enemy. You can sit around all day and try to not compare yourself. You can try to keep your blinders on and be grateful for what you have. But when you start to identify jealousy as something that’s attacking you personally, that’s when you start to fight against it more. And that’s when it starts to lose its power.”

And so, back to Paul’s exhortation, We have to work together, yielding to one another in love and thinking of each other as more important than themselves. And yes, if there is a potential that I am practicing “humblepride,” then I need friends to help me by gently showing me, but if jealousy is the heart of the prod then we have to recognize it and fight for each other, extending grace. Because, in the end, that’s what we all want, isn’t it? Amazing Grace. To know we are loved.

PS. By the way, I do find the Socialite Barbie thing quite funny. It all just got me thinking. This is what happens when I start thinking to much. Ha!

 

 

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The Last Ever Cornerstone Festival

“Burn down the building and let free the body.” Lyrics by Tyler Hentschel.

Our hearts mourn as we say good-bye to Cornerstone Music Festival one last time.

I am at a loss for words and struggle to convey the intense feelings of love that we hold towards this community of creative and precious Saints, sinners and all of those in between. Cornerstone festival is unlike any festival we’ve ever attended. It is liberating and life-giving. It really is otherworldly, as John Joseph Thompson quotes in his article, “Goodnight, Cornerstone.”

We are thankful for all those who have worked so hard these past 29 years to provide a beautiful and relevant place to share sacred space, to struggle, to commune and to create.

This was our week in review:

Day one: We pulled into the Cornerstone Farm and set up shop on a central corner. Windows open and sweat on our brow, we found ourselves barring down mentally for a long, humid, dusty, hot week without the refuge of air conditioning. Very quickly our attention shifted as we began to see familiar and kind faces. We were excited to see friends, Connie and Dereck arrive in their custom made gypsy wagon, Philip and Sari with their suitcase sideshow, the Baumgartners, Helle’s and all of the rest of our kinfolk. All of our darling muso friends from all across the country and more!  Home, we’re home!

Day two: Our children really enjoyed the freedom of connecting with friends and running around the grounds like they owned the place. Swimming, staying up late, skatepark, seeing new bands but most of all, the loosening of our parental strings.

Craig and Seth Martin hatched a plan to set up a generator stage outside of our bus, Celu’haven, on Thurs. (A generator stage is one that is unofficial, meaning permission from the fest isn’t necessarily granted, although, security at C-stone has always been very gracious. It’s impromptu, and underground)

That night we settled into the Chelsea House/Gallery Stage and watched our favorite musical kinfolk including an early evening performance by Lauren Peacock. Her gentle spirit and melodic sound was the perfect start to our evening. Later, we enjoyed The Illalogical Spoon. The beauty of the “Spoon” is their unassuming innocence and sheer delight in sharing their music, which is extremely well made.

We ended the night with Soil and the Sun. These darlings are genuinely creative. They produce the most deliciously, organic, soulful sound I’ve ever heard.

Day Three: Tonight is our performance at the Chelsea House/Gallery stage. In the morning we held rehearsal in the Village. Joy began to brew as Scott Knies, Joby Morey, Colleen Davick, Darren Davick, David Baumgartner and Pilgrim Metts joined in to create a sound the angels could dance to.

Knowing this was the last Cornerstone, we decided to add in a little treat for our finally, a Ballydowse cover, “The Yiddish Song,” a traditional Jewish instrumental. There is a gleam in everyone’s eyes as the song comes together, specially Craig’s. There is a strong sense of camaraderie and knowing that this might be the last time Craig and his former band mates might play this song.  Although the heat is beating down on us, there is an excitement brewing and we’re ready to celebrate!

We all took refuge from the heat and met up at the stage at 5:15. Show starts at 6pm. We played a 50 min set. I’m not even sure how to sum it up except for joy joy and more joy. I couldn’t stop smiling. Craig broke two strings, I tossed instruments to the crowd and beamed a lady on the head with one of the little purple shakers, Grace and I jumped off stage and danced in the pit, ha! The sound was amazing as the 700 or so folks in the crowd sang along to “Old Man’s Town” and we became one big band!

Arriving the grounds with our last $50 in our pockets we had anticipated there would need to be some financial miracle for us to leave. The generosity of the crowd totally took us by surprise as they blessed us with enough to fill our bus and fridge and keep us on our way! If you know how much it costs to fill our bus, you know this is huge! Plus, they offered encouragement and affirmation by taking us home via CD. That is priceless.

When we laid our head at the end of the night it was 98 degree’s in our bus but we slept well.

Day four;  This morning we hosted a generator stage, showcasing our friends Insomniac Folklore, Jonni Greth, Ellen Morey, Lauren Peacock, Erin Eichenberger, The Illalogical Spoon, Seth Martin and The Suitcase Sideshow.

A handful of kinfolk came through out the morning to have a listen and a sing. We served fruit and veggies with hummas, H2O and shade from the hot sun. It was a magical morning with Celu’haven as our backdrop.

Later that afternoon, my cousins arrived and we enjoyed a night of reminiscing with  a performance by our favorite from 1998, Squad Five-0. The fella’s pulled out all the stops! Although, they still had their quick sense of humor and cheeky grins there was a maturity about them that was encouraging and hopeful. Jeff offered words of wisdom and humility as we all cried out, “We are the Youth.” Once again, although the heat was an intense 94 at 2am, the relief in the spirit was penetrating and we slept well.

Day five: We moved slowly as the heat, humidity and dust started to take its toll. Most of our day was spent in the lake or 20 min away in the town of Macomb, cooling off at the local Walmart. We played a short but fun set for the kids at Creation Station and later enjoyed the bright and invigorating music of our friends Destroy Nate Allen. Once the sun went down the air thickened and we started to feel a little delirious. Flatfoot 56‘s Pool Party concert was the perfect solution and a great way to end our day. Those fella’s are so creative and high energy. They had sprinklers going, a pool slide on stage with a line of kids waiting to go down and landing in the mosh pit; don’t worry there was a life guard on duty. At one point, they sent buoy’s out and made pool lanes. Then they hosted a little crowd surfing relay. They ended the set with rollicking version of Amazing Grace and some words of wisdom. We left blessed and encouraged!

Day six: Only 1 1/2 days left. There is a tenderness in the air. We all know it’s about to end. Exhausted and dirty, we want relief but we don’t want it to end. The kids are becoming more and more emotional as they realize the end is almost here. In the past, these emotions would rise up but we could just say, “it’s ok, because we always have next year.” But this is it. The last time all of us riff raff will be able to gather under these circumstances. Starting that morning we set out to find kinfolk and say goodbye, not until next time but until we meet again, “here, there or in the air.” I had tears in my eyes as I sang, Insomniac Folklores, “Burn down the building…” and, “Farther Along” with Josh Garrels.

As the sun set, a parade of bikes, golf carts and the masses marched the viking ship filled with Cornerstone memories down to the lake. The procession was dramatic and tearful as the crowd passed the Gallery stage, then the Underground, skate park, generator stages and camp sites. All the while, folks bellowed out “I’ll fly away.” Once we reached the lake, the boat was set sail and we watched silently as arrows of fire were launched into the floating vessel. Finally, the boat was set on fire and we said waved goodbye.

The last band we heard at Cornerstone 2012 was epic hardcore band, Norma Jean, one of Craig’s favorites. Moments after they finished the crowd rush out of the tent to the skate park where a rumor had been brewing about the Chariot showing up to do an impromptu generator show. It was a con and the crowd was left in a quandary, a bon fire was set in the middle of the skatepark and a controlled chaos ensued.

The irony of that moment was intense. Last show of the night and instead of soaking it in, there was a mad rush to the next thing. I guess folks just wanted to keep that Cornerstone high going as long as they could.

Day Seven: A sad departure and end of an era.

“Heaven come to earth and there won’t be no church, we’ll meet down by the riverside. There we’ll swim with all creation, never get tired, never bored. Don’t worry one day there will be no dam between us and our Lord.” ~the Illalogical Spoon

There are 6000 weary travelers out there, somewhere. And, we look forward to the day we can all meet again… down by the riverside.

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“The Zone” Phoenix, AZ

The Zone is an area in Phoenix, where all of those down trodden and tired are corralled by the local government into a three block radios. I believe the idea of keeping them in this area is so they can be monitored and kept under raps. It’s a dark and lawless place filled with double murders, prostitutes, child trafficking, drug lords, mentally ill, refuges and rovers. It’s a few blocks down from the government buildings and the business district of Phoenix. So, the contact with the outside world is mostly from the law and business men/women coming down to get there fix, whether drugs or sex.

Our friend, Steve and his team, are a breath of fresh air and visits these folks regularly. They call their efforts Hope Thru Art. Their purpose is to bring a spirit of healing and peace into that hard environment through the arts. On a practical level, they hang raw and unassuming “disposable art;” installations that can be disassembled by those who choose to take. For instance, Steve might hang the letters HOPE on a fence and then using clothes pins he’d frost the piece with layers of colorful photographs of nature scenes and poems. The impact these installations have on this artistically poverty-stricken population is profound.

We spent a few hours on Saturday afternoon with Steve and Dave down in the Zone. I brought my mandolin, Grace sang, Craig and Banjo brought a drum and our friend Cindy came along and played her instruments. Our first stop was the four corners, this was where folks claimed their status. There was the prostitute corner, the drug dealer corner (which happened to be the only one under shade) and the corners where folks were just trying to get by.  A middle-aged man approached us asking, “what’s you gonna play?”  The first song that came out of my mouth was “I got a home in glory land.” He beamed and began to sing along. More folks gathered around and after about 15 minutes in the sun we decided to cross over to the shaded side of the corners. There we meet Lorenzo, who had kind eyes and a warm spirit. He was so excited that we were there and began to bless us with encouraging words. He ended up staying close by our sides the whole afternoon, singing along to all the old hymns and folk tunes, hand to his ear to hear the harmonies.

After about 20 more minutes on the corner we were ready to walk into the heart of the zone. The rectangle yard was large with a few buildings and a fence around it. Folks were sprawled out on the ground, benches and picnic tables, all trying to find shade and comfort. There was a level of tension in the air and folks who seemed apathetic could be arouse immediately if they felt threatened. We sat down in one corner of the yard welcomed by an old Mexican fella. He asked if we spoke Spanish and Steve answered. A huge smile came over the fella’s face as he realized he was about to receive his own personal concert. I wished at that moment I knew even just one folk tune in Spanish and vowed to learn one. More folks gathered around. A few young fella’s, who looked as if they were once soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, a woman who wore a badge and acted as if she were the nurses aid in the village but was not, a few older fella’s with anger in their eyes and a number of young girls walked by with vacant looks in their eyes totally unimpressed by of our presence. A man named David came by and asked for prayer for protection and safety. A 30 something black woman  (I’ll call her Stella as she would not give me her name) sat quietly nearby. She had a sneaky grin and at one point she blurted out, “Ya’ll know Amazing Grace?” “Yes,” I answered. “Then play it,” she demanded. I said, “only if you sing along.” She smiled and, we played it happily.

We continued to play gentle tunes of hope and rest. At one point an old Chevy pulled up and a fella jumped out and opened the passenger door. He began to hand out brown bags. Folks flocked over and took a lunch. One man yelled out, “there burgers” which brought a larger crowd. Upon further inspection they were peanut butter and jelly and the crowd pulled back. Someone gave Stella a bag and she looked apathetically at it. She was sitting behind the angry fella’s and began to break off pieces of her sandwich and toss them in their direction. The pieces would bounce off of there heads and she would giggle. The fuse blew and they were up at her. Within seconds, a few other men jumped up to stop the angry men. They walked off in a huff, all the while we were singing “Swing Low.” She continued to throw the sandwich, aiming further at another happier fella. He just laughed it off. I tried to engage with her by moving over onto the bench next to her. She ignored me. I touched her shoulder and asked her to sing along. She answered, “What’s their problem, I’m throwing it at the birds.” I looked over and sure enough about fifty feet past the men was a few pigeons. I laughed, she cracked a little cheeky smile. We both knew that she was really aiming at those men and using the birds as an excuse.

That night, I dreamt about Stella. Only in the dream she was a very wealthy woman, still the same disposition, but wealth beyond measure. Everyone knew she was wealthy and would put up with her ill spirit because they all wanted something from her. It was said that she paid her cleaning lady, $15,000 a week to clean her house. I heard whispers in my ear about ways to get her to hire me and if I could just clean for one week, all of my needs would be met. I approached the lady with this mindset and when she open the door the scene morphed into Stella sitting on the bench in the Zone. She sat vacant with a sneer on her face. The woundedness the same in the rich woman as in the woman in the zone. I woke up.

At the end of the day, we are all made of the same mud. At the end of the day whether we have wealth or not, the condition of our souls is what matters.  Regardless of circumstance and status,  we are all apart of  the precious precious tapestry of humankind.

KINEO HOUSE:

We meet Steve at Cornerstone Music Festival. Steve also connected us with the Kineo House, and they were our hosts for the weekend. They are a beautiful picture of folks committed to sharing in community and caring for those around them. They were compassionate and possessed a desire to bless and serve each other and their surrounding area. We were encouraged by their openness to us and their genuine offer to pray for us as we continue our journey. We can’t wait to come back and spend more time sharing in community with Steve and our hosts at the Kineo House.

CONNECTING OF THE SAINTS:

Our original contact for Phoenix was a little folk venue called Fiddlers Dream. It’s an all acoustic venue hosted by a handful of sweet and dedicated folkies.  We were delighted to share in song with them all. Specially our host, Bill, who expressed a great desire to sing with other musicians on a stage someday. So, we invited him up to sing a little Johnny Cash with us.

Through that booking a kindred and gentle soul named Cindy and her hubby, Alan, contacted us and offered us hospitality, friendship and the added bonus of Cindy’s gift with the tin whistle and bodhran. Besides sharing a lovely meal together, Cindy joined us the whole weekend and by the end of our time together a deep spiritual friendship rooted. Alan and Cindy are our family now and we look joyward to meeting down the line.

Our last stop in Phoenix was in Chandler, AZ at a church called The Grove. It’s one of those big mega churches where everything is beautiful and runs like clockwork. It was a bit of a culture shock after our day down in the Zone but The Hommel’s, our hosts and friend of my parents, were welcoming and cared for us with a meal and opportunity to relax. It took me a moment but after processing the dream I had, I realized that my prejudice towards those with wealth, fame or status was burdensome. That morning my heart was heavy as I began to take steps towards rebuking and confessing my false belief system. We can not be all things to all people if we see them with disdain or if there is any hinderance because of jealousy, insecurities or twisted thinking. It’s easy to care for and love the obvious but much harder when the souls around us tap into our own desire for power and security.

That evening we enjoyed a concert on the lawn with a handful of engaging and encouraging folks and once again we were blown away by the provision offered and allowing us to keep on our way. We came to AZ with our last dollar and we leave with just enough to get to CO, by a few groceries and pay for the $200 hoses to fix the oil leak in the engine. A powerful weekend emotionally, spiritually and physically. Just one more reminder that we are not in this alone but apart of a bigger picture. We continue on filled with gratefulness, joy and ready for more hard lessons to be put to the test.