july of 1996 was a difficult month for me. my grandmother was in the process of dying from heart disease, i had just received my fourth alcohol related citation in six months and i didn't know what i was going to do with my future - though i realized that returning to oklahoma state for a second year of blatant debauchery and academic excellence was not my best option.
during that time i was fortunate to receive guidance and accompaniment from people i knew and loved, such as scott schlotfelt, sean radecki and regina (whitehead) johnston each of whom spent many hours reminding me that, as confused as i was, i was still loved and i had a strong community supporting me.
however, during that time, i was also fortunate to receive encouragement and accompaniment from an unexpected source. namely, the lcc dayspring group. this crew traveled throughout the region that summer singing songs about Jesus, encouraging young adults to attend bible college and blessing those they came across. at sean's insistence, i helped them unload their gear into the church, i attended their charming, if a little cheesy and formulaic, performance and enjoyed chatting with them after the show.
the next morning sean called me to tell me that dayspring's bus had broken down* and to invite me to hang out with the crew for a little longer. so i did. as that day turned into half a week, guys like joel craig, david drake, john cassetto and, especially, todd zastrow really blessed me with their friendliness** and they encouraged me to explore the possibility of attending lcc instead of simply jumping ship to another state university.
their encouragement tapped into the odd*** affirmations i had received over the years that i would "grow into a preacher" someday and, as a result, i decided to give at least one semester of bible college a try.****
the first semester really sucked, but i received an unexpected call to preach, i stuck around lcc and that calling continues to orient my life until this day.
why am i tripping down sentimental lane and dropping names? good question...
this weekend i remembered the dayspring week because a sort-of similar group from st. stephen's university in new brunswick visited the gathering. this group of eclectic, incredibly talented musicians invited us to experience "the filid," which they described as an experience of celtic liturgy, song, dance, poetry and prophesy.
i didn't know what to expect from "the filid" crew, but when i realized within an hour of meeting them that several of their members were former l'arche assistants and that the whole crew had been profoundly shaped by the life and ministry of jean vanier and henry nouwen, i had a feeling that we would get along famously.
fortunately we did.
their performance was amazing***** - weaving a "deconstruction liturgy" together with contemplative sculpture, quirky, powerpoint entangled proclamation and soaring instrumentals - and afterwards we lingered over many beers and they joyously jammed out versions of marvin gaye's "let's get it on" as well as original tunes such as their bi-lingual, comedic, closer of a love song between canada and separatist quebec.
obviously, i'm too old to respond to their rousing performance by running off to a christian college, but spending time with the st. stephen's crew reminded me of my roots in spiritual theology, gave me a vision of an engaging, mixed media liturgy and, by the strange miracle of grace, provided a provision of much needed bread for the journey.
* which came as no surprise to that crew or anyone who attended lcc during that time period.
** friendship is probably too strong a term. they were recruiters, after all.
*** odd because my language, behavior and contrarian nature have always made me an nontraditional candidate for ministry in the christian churches, churches of christ.
**** against the recommendations of schlotfelt and radecki who discouraged me from attending for rather superficial reasons (that i will not reveal except to say that the "wish book" was involved).
***** i wish i had another superlative, but, um, there you go.