Month: November 2014

Hometown Blues

“A seer has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.”

thoughtful-man-small-800x800This morning as he reflected on the words of Jesus this man, well into his middle season of life, considered his own past, his hometown, his old church days, the albums he had made, the songs he’d written, all the band members and different kinds of friends he’d journeyed with over the years and it occurred to him that he was in the process of re-creating himself… with a lot of outside help of course… and that ‘he was not the man they think I am at all’

For somewhere along the road he had let go of the mantles of boy next door and street musician  for the cloak of… well (it felt even strange for the man use say this word)…  a seer…  and though he was still getting used to wearing this elaborate costume in public…  he could feel the change in his songs, stories, the sound of his music, the tours and projects he was now planning… his reason for being was all about breaking shackles, tearing down old rickety boundary fences and preparing others for strange seasons and times ahead. It no longer mattered to him where he had come from or if ‘they’ didn’t get it… for the man was compelled to sow the seeds he gathered from the orchard storehouse behind the kingdom gates.

This, he had to admit was all rather new and sometimes confusing and so, this morning, as he prayed, he soon found himself, in his mind’s eye, running forward into the arms of Jesus, who, once he had him in his grasp, twirled him around and around like a small child.

purple-wild-flowers-pol-ledentIn that cocoon of motion Jesus began to smother the man with an oil blessed with the fragrance of spring and then, blew some kind of angel dust into the man’s eyes, ears and hair so that flowers of bright colors began to grow wildly all about him, so much so that in the days to come, the pollen from the flowers would fall onto all those that came in contact with the man… with the effect of creating an insatiable and infectious desire in them to hurdle the ancient gates and walk within the grounds of the Kingdom on their own.

The man could not help but say “Wow..thank you Jesus”.

The twirling continued at such speed and revolutions that when Jesus let go of the man he was propelled forward into a kind of cosmic space… and so the man assumed he was flying into the future… and yet, when his feet touched down he realized that he was being sent back into his own world… and as he ‘re-entered’ he carried a new restful authority and an eye to recognize that, while circumstances would at first appear no different from any time previous … he now had an understanding of what was going on… where this road was leading… and that he was equipped for the job at hand.

The day was afoot… and there was much to do.

Writing ‘All Honor’

I will never forget how nervous I was the first time I led a congregation in worship. It was in winter for I remember wearing a jacket on stage … I also remember sweating profusely and having huge (embarrassing) under arm sweat marks by the second song.

I was nervous for a lot of reasons. I was not a confident singer back then… I was following in the foot steps of some mighty gifted folk… and as much as anything, I was breaking a trend… at least in our small pocket of the world… in that I was leading from guitar.

And of  course I feared many things… making a fool of myself… failing the Pastor’s trust in me… and letting down the good and faithful parishoners on their big day out.

But things worked out OK. I was invited back to lead the next week and then again the following week and soon this became my full time vocation.

And because it was different… a musician leading rather than a minister or pastor… many people thanked me for freshening up the sound… and for my laid back approach to the leading of worship .

Everyone likes to be told they are doing well or have their ego stroked.

But I had not forgotten how fearful I was and how desperate my prayers had been the days leading up to this first Sunday, asking initially for God to beam me up  (get me out of Dodge)… then once I realized that this wasn’t going to happen… that he give me ‘some tips’… or a bit of wisdom on how to lead… or how ‘I’… Chris Falson… the guitar player-sometime singer should lead a congregation in worship.

And this is why I wrote the song… because while people were showering me with praise… I couldn’t accept any of it… and I didn’t want God to think for  a moment that I had forgotten than it was He who deserved all the plaudits.

Subsequently, there were many stories surrounding the performing and recording of this song. None better than the live-recording below from the Lift Him Up Album, featuring Ron Kenoly, a splendid choir and the likes of Abraham Laboriel, Chester Thompson (Genesis), Leanne Albrecht and Alex Acuña.

 

Houston We Have Problem

You stand on stage before a crowd of people, many of whom are in desperate need of love and acceptance … and they each wonder… “Could love  really be unconditional, kind, patient and all embracing”… and right on cue, as if you can read their thoughts… you whisper to yourself… “Boy have they  come to the right place… and I have just the song for them.”

Opera-viking-ladyAnd so,  as if on auto-pilot, you take a big breath and begin to belt out the chorus of “I LOVE YOU WITH ALL OF MY HEART!”

“But wait… stop… STOP SINGING!?” I say, holding up my hand like a traffic cop.

“Huh” you reply with a confused and bewildered expression on your face. “Why are you interrupting me? I am trying to love these people with my tender song about love and intimacy.”

And I counter with…

“But why are you shouting this song out as if the person you love is on a mountain top many miles away.”

You are even more perplexed now and so I sit you down, give you a moment to gather yourself before I continue…

“Imagine yourself, not on stage but in a lovely restaurant.

Rose-Dinner-800x800You are having a romantic dinner with the love of your life. You have a private table in the corner of the room. The red rose you bought her/him sits in a fine crystal vase on a matching red linen table cloth. You hold hands and look into each others eyes as the flickering candles throw a soft light onto your faces.

In this long anticipated moment, your hands begin to perspire. You desperately want to tell this special person about the deep love and desire you have for them. You had considered a card, a scented love letter perhaps… even a plane flying over her/his house with a banner saying “I Love You with all of my Heart”. But in the end you knew that, to convey both your passion and the feelings of tenderness you must sing this lovely song.

So consider carefully.

Do you stand up on your chair and belt out the song for all to hear, including the other diners in the restaurant and the cooks in the kitchen? Or do you look deeply into this loved one’s eyes and sing in a half whisper, in a tone of voice that sounds slightly broken, as if he/she is the only person in the whole wide world that matters to you in this moment?

If you can understand my little allegory, then you are ready to return to the stage and share your love song with your audience.

 

If not, then Houston we have a problem!

houston-we-have-a-problem

Have Oasis, Will Travel

Water is that lovely colorless liquid that forms rain, oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and puddles. Water is also a metaphor for spirit.Watersplash-NOM-stock-800x800

 

Without a daily supply of clean H20 our natural bodies begin to dehydrate. Dehydration, can be mild to severe, based on how much of the body’s fluid is lost or not replenished. It can be a life threatening emergency. If an adult human being, without clothes, food or water were placed in a shadeless part of the Sahara desert on a hot day, he or she would be dead before nightfall.

 

To survive indefinitely in hot and exposed desert conditions, the average adult requires at least 6.5 liters (1.5 gallons) of water each day.

Adesert-1-800x523 life without the daily refreshment of spiritual water leads to another kind of dehydration.

An Oasis on the other hand is an area within a desert with a fresh water supply for vegetation and human use. It may consist of a single small spring around which palms grow or be an extensive area where the water table is at or near the ground surface.

Planted by the Water is all about helping creatives and communicators become carriers of this spirit water. Our mission is to awaken musicians, artists and storytellers to both the richness of God’s creative spirit and His desire to use their music, art and stories to carry love, life, healing and restoration to their communities.

Let us know if we can help your creative community.

Have Oasis, will travel.

Oasis_in_Libya

Please… No More Singalongs!

If you visit any village pub in Ireland of a Saturday night you can join the locals as they sing their favored folk, traditional or drinking sings. A soloist will often lead the chorus and stir up the congregation in unrestrained harmony but, when it comes time to share the much anticipated lament or Caoineadh, the time honored telling of great hardship, loss, betrayel or brokenness, a respectful quietness will settle upon the flock… and towards the end of the telling there will not be a dry eye in the house.

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And this is not so much to do with the sad tale itself, but rather the gift of the story teller… for the sweet angelic soprano bar maid or the french hornlike baritone farmer will draw the audience inside the story… and make them feel that the telling was just for them.  These balladeers carry in themselves a deep understanding of both the sacred shared moment and, their responsibility to lead their spiritual kinfolk across troubled waters.

They are not given the story telling duties just because they have a fine voice, or for any physical beauty, youth, wisdom or their standing in the community. They are called to this role  because they carry the gift. And, for reasons not quite known or understood, they have an anointing to move the hearts of young and old, rich or poor.

If you visit most any Church on Sunday morning, more often than not you can join in a fine sing along. Some of these event centers specialize in joyful sounds, others more traditional and on occasion there will be tears amongst the congregation members as the deeper meaning of a hymn or song hits home. But rarely, will a singer or musician carry an understanding or authority to reach into the hearts of the visitors and deposit a treasure so fine or tender as the song of the Irish bar maid.

In the Irish community (and many other tribal or non corporate communities around the world) the gift to move the hearts of men, woman and children (through music, song, fine art, theater) is considered a high honor. Those that give themselves to this calling are treasured while the youngsters that show inklings of the natural talent are encouraged to fan into flames these giftings and apprentice themselves to the musical ‘Gandalf’s’ or  experienced anointed one’s near or far.

In the modern world, the concept or word ‘Anointed’ has been belittled as if it belonged to another time… an ancient word no longer in use… or, if someone speaks of it today they are often labelled as so ‘last century’. But a simple meaning; to be anointed is to be enabled… or allowed… or given permission. It is most difficult to develop a natural gift when permission is denied… even if it goes unsaid.

If you are happy with plain old singalongs then far be it for me to be a stone in your  shoe… or a fly in your ointment. But I have no time for them. I also have no time for ever trite happily- resolved testimonies or predictable faith based movies, or hallmark designed artwork.  I would rather go without than suffer a life of mediocrity. But that’s me. I’m weird like that.

I do have a lot of time however for those with the natural gift to sing and play music or create and tell stories through their various art expression. My heart aches for them in fact. Sheep without a shepherd.

If you want to continue this discussion or would like to have some old geezer from last century visit your community to pour a drop or two of oil on your musicians, artists and communicators, then contact us at Planted by the Water. You can also leave a disagreeable comment… we like open discussions. It comes from hanging out in Irish bars.