I sat in the dark of our tiny hometown theater, (to this day I don’t know who with) and salivated as “Julie” played by Amy Adams blogged about her adventure in cooking, inspired by the infamous “Julia Child“, played by Meryl Streep. But the tantalizing aromas filtering through the silver screen were not the cause for my drool.
You know the story’s good when you forget the chair you’re sitting on is about as comfortable as making love on a bed of pine needles. Oh yes, and the staircase scenario, equally as ridiculous. But this idea of writing about something you’re passionate about turned on a string of light bulbs for me. A thousand fire flies in flight! I’ve always written lyrics and music, but never thought of myself as a writer. I’ve poured out my thoughts to melody ever since my twelfth birthday present arrived in a guitar case, but never equated “songwriter” to “writer” much less, “storyteller”.
You’d think I would’ve put two and two together when my Father said I was “yappy”! What he labeled as noise, I now realize was the beginning of my lifetime love affair with words. And now I know, not all of them have to be wrapped in melody. However the story must be told, with or without it.
Once the truth is communicated, there’s no stopping it, much like a snowball rolling down a mountain side, gaining in size and speed, thunder bound. The sooner the message is shared the sooner the transforming power begins within the many souls who have ears to hear.
On that note; there’s a story evolving here, one that started eighteen years ago. But before I go back and pull those memories forward, I wanted to pause and give you a “bird’s-eye” view of where I’m sitting. There’s a plank roof above me, rustic log wainscoting, and a tasteful jazz/folk combo playing through the speakers at the Sage Bistro in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, a touristy but quaint mountain town. I feel like I’m living a dream it seems, it’s so magical here and unusually warm for an October afternoon. I’m under no pressure and able to meditate on the Lord, which makes the raw, tragic, yet triumphant story I heard this morning even more profound. But before we go there, let me tell you where it started for me.
Once upon a time I stood in my daughter’s sunny bedroom, paint color “Philadelphia Cream Cheese“. Her precious little arms stretched towards the sky, waiting for me to pull her sweater over her curly head and porcelain face. Some where between her clenched fists finding the armholes and her head popping through the neck of the her sweater I saw a mother on the other side of the world dressing her child in the rain. Blood was the backdrop and death loomed at their door. It was 1994 and I was very much aware of the Genocide ravaging Rwanda.
That night, after I put our children to bed, my spirit was moved to write about the injustice of their plight. Carefully I wove the lyrics and the melody together. I had no pie in the sky hopes that my salty paper even stood a chance at changing a President’s mind, nor would it rally a neighboring army to their aid. I offered up the only thing I had, a song and sang it as a prayer because I knew God would listen, and I knew He would do something.
“I live in a safe corner of the world, where I can close my eyes and go to sleep at night, but I still think of you all of the time, while my children laugh and play and your children die”.
I never expected to meet anyone from Rwanda, but I did today, in Canmore, at the First Baptist Ladies Retreat, eighteen years after “evil personified” raped a country. After hearing the first segment of her powerful story, I was prompted to share my old song with her just to let her and our Lord know, how touched I was to meet a survivor! Because after all, hearing her survival story proves God answers prayer!
“Hold on, our God is faithful and mighty to be near to you in the midst of every storm, Hold on my friend hold on, I’ll keep the vigil strong, hold on.”
The lyrics fell short then, and they fall short now. Are there any words in any tongue for that kind of anguish? Even now, hundreds of recovery and reconciliation workshops are just scratching the surface in Rwanda. But I’ll forever remember the Lord’s prompting and Regine’s story and the gift of getting to meet. Only God can weave stories together like this.
Well, I’m off to dig up the song in its entirety, tucked away in my music files, expecting to see more of what God is going to do!