A Simple Practice of Letting Go

Cast all your cares upon him for he cares deeply about you.

Its a great little passage of new testament scripture but used more often than not as a cliche or throw away line from a ‘sincere’ care giver.

But this casting or letting go of ‘our cares and woes’ is a method that counselors and therapists  have used for centuries in the treatment of emotional and mental afflictions.

In essence, Jesus is offering to be our counselor… our therapist. An offer you should seriously consider… his rates are quite reasonable.

Here is a little prayer practice of mine that I use in my own quiet times and in larger group training sessions on identity and creativity.

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Falling in Love Again

A story of escaping the prison of professionalism after finding love inside the music.

I was raised to be a professional musician. To play all the right notes at the right time. Nothing more and nothing less. Do the job, take the money and move on to the next gig.Barry-300x300

Like a coal miner’s son I was born into a trade and a tribe that I would serve, through good times and bad for the rest of my days. They’d bury me with my guitar and my union card.

I had a dinner suit for the bigger clubs and casino shows, blue jeans, black T’s and doc martins for the smaller pubs and seedier clubs, an array of guitars and amps, skills and ‘guitar licks’ enough in the genre’s of jazz, blues, rock and country music to make a decent living. After several hundred club gigs I graduated up into the recording studio brotherhood and, as a professional I was on time, I played my parts proficiently and I got the job done.  I continued to rise through the ranks and soon I was performing on network Television.

I had made it and as much as a guitar player can be, I was model professional.

Now and then in the midst of this professional journey I would be foolish and play music for fun… on my own of course, in a room somewhere private… where no one could hear me… and I would fall upon little treasures that I didn’t understand or know what to do with… and so, I would keep them to myself and then go off onto my next professional gig, keep my head down and do my job.

But, like a child reading his first Agatha Christie novel… I could not put ‘the book’ down… or stay away from my closet musings with my guitar and these little noodlings or melodies of childlike lyrics… all of which… was very unlike the professional I was trained to be. For, without realizing it, I was falling in love… with music and these simple little musical ideas and chordal shapes.

imgres-2I would stumble upon a basic uncomplicated chord progression and begin to imagine a rock pool or a mountain stream and I would sit there and let the peace wash over me. Then I would hear someone walking down the hall towards my hideout and I would hurriedly put my guitar away as if I had been caught doing something naughty.

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Getting off the High Horse

It can be difficult as a ‘professional’ to step down from the ‘lofty’ stage-platform to enjoy music as much as the fan or the amateur. When I listen to my live recordings with my professional ears I hear flat notes, wrong chords, jumbles lyrics, imbalanced mixes and the occasional annoying cough from an audience member (would someone please pray for that person).

And so I need, from time to time to be reminded that, often the most beautiful recordings, perhaps like people, are the slightly broken or imperfect ones. And… I should know this… because it is in these ‘live’ moments that I am at my best within myself, collaborating with the other musicians and singers and of course, the most important people in the room… the audience.

Quite recently, a good friend was thanking me for my new live album and as he mumbled on about how he and his wife had been fighting over the CD… I wondered to myself… ‘What new live album?’ I soon understood that he was talking about this mix of live recordings I had collected over a few years and had (in a weak moment) given to him as a present.

The thing is… the request for the live concert recordings is becoming all to common… and while I battle with the sliding scale of quality I am gradually weakening my resolve in favor of the lovely messy moments of live music making… and like Jesus… I am stepping down off my throne… and setting the mixes free. For, my fan ears tell me that there is something lovely in these recordings… and these same fan ears allow me to enjoy or enter into the moments of worship as I listen to these tracks.

And so… I want to make this available to all the people that have encouraged or prayed or supported me over these many years. It is a live worship merry Christmas present (without the carols and bonbons).

Enjoy.

 

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.

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.

Keys Were Designed to Open Stuff

I had a lovely moment alone at the office early this morning and at some point I began to sing this phrase…

“I left the door open for you… so come right in”

& then

“I have given you keys to every door… ever made”

And then I saw a moving picture (kind of dream sequence) of me in a type of an old castle, down deep in the dungeons and on a wall I found a large key ring with keys of all sizes. Each key represented a door. The smaller keys belonged to the doors that I was already able to open… and each key’s size was determined by either how much I used it or understood how to use it or… believed in its actual existence.

Some keys were too big for me to even lift.

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And so I looked at one of the largest keys and saw that it was for the door to wealth. I dragged the key over to a door that was locked and I knew somehow that this door had two names. On the side facing me it was called Poverty, but… I sensed that speaking to this door was the secret to the key… rather than any heavy lifting… and after I spoke to the door to open, I saw that the other side of the door was called Wealth.

For as I waited there asking wisdom about the keys I understood that the shape of a key was merely a symbol, for the kingdom keys come in many shapes and forms. A key could be speaking or proclaiming, it could be giving or sacrificing or letting go, it could be waiting still, fasting, calling on the name of Jesus, loving unconditionally, obedience, repenting, serving, following, worshiping alone or calling many others to worship.

And in this ‘dream scape’ I knew that the keys to the kingdom had been given to all of us. We are all invited inside the kingdom and, when we are in that place we can begin to decipher each key, understand its value, its purpose and learn how and when to use each key.

I stayed in that dream place for as long as I could… considering the use and purpose of different keys. I tried speaking and singing to several doors that seemed locked to me and in this realm, when one large door opened I saw another picture of me standing on a platform in the sky, just above my earthly life. I could see LA, my house, all around the greater city and then I understood that, while I could freely enter this place of quietness, wisdom and presence, it was right here where I am today, not on some distant mountain top. It is a slightly foreign notion to accept… that the door is always open, that I am invited, and that it is up to me to enter… and linger as long as I am able.