Random Blog Clay Feet: February 01, 2009
Feel free to leave your own comments or questions. If you would like to be in contact with me without having it published let me know in your comment and leave your email address and I will not publish that comment.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Floyd's Song

Well, this is going to be a very interesting post. I must share with you one of the most surprising things that has happened to me in a very long time.

As I had noted previously, last Thursday I woke up very early with a stomach bug of some sort and I have been suffering from it ever since. This meant that I could eat almost nothing every day. When I did attempt to eat some soup in the evenings it sat like lead in my stomach overnight and only gave me further problems. So I have had to be just content to drink a little water and whatever else seemed to not upset me too much and wait this out.

I also tried to continue to work the last couple days of last week which also didn't work out too well under these conditions. I was so weak that by by Friday I ended up having to sit down every few minutes to just get enough strength to continue working a few more minutes. I felt totally drained and even could not think very clearly. By noon I was nearly wasted and went home to take a nap and try to recover a little more energy.

What concerned me was that we were scheduled to attend an annual officer's installation banquet for the Barbershop chorus that I belong to on Saturday evening. I realized by this time that at best I might be able to eat only a few bites of the banquet and I just hoped that I might feel strong enough to even attend. About a week ago the president and the director of the chorus both had strongly encouraged me to try to attend and had even discussed with the restaurant how to provide vegetarian food for us since nearly everything they serve contains meat. After all of these accommodations I felt that it would be rather unkind not to try to respond to their generosity.

By Saturday afternoon, even though I had not eaten all day, I felt that I could probably get through the evening O.K. and maybe even be able to eat a few bites of food. I was hoping that maybe I might even be hungry enough by that time that it might actually start digesting instead of just sitting in my stomach all night. But I also wanted to attend this event because it is one of the social highlights of this organization that has become a positive part of my life over this past year. It was in fact, this very event last year that was the first time I had had opportunity to socialize with this group before I had even gotten to know any of them.

As I was laying in front of my fireplace Saturday morning trying to keep my stomach comfortable and just resting, I suddenly began to have an inspiration very much like many of those that end up as blog posts. Only this time it was something along the line of a tribute to the man that I have come to admire and appreciate very much over this past year. It is the father who is the elder member of the father-son team that directs our chorus and has had such a profound influence on keeping this chorus active and attractive for around forty years now.

He is the only member remaining who has been in this chorus ever since it was started. And interestingly this chorus was being started up in this town at just the same time that I was leaving this same town as a young man to go off to boarding high school never to live near here again until just a few years ago. Of course I had no idea at that time about any of these events transpiring in the same town as I was leaving, but it is interesting to look back and see it from this perspective.

This man is a very unique and gifted man. But much more than that he is a man of heart, of passion, a man who cares about people and shows it openly and sometimes unexpectedly. He not only loves music and the men of this chorus but he is a wonderful family man. His son who directs the chorus with him is an adopted son that was raised in their home with love and affection that still shows yet today. And as I watch the way he interacts with his grandchildren I almost become jealous of the love that so obviously surrounds this man's family.

In addition I have also come to sense that this is a man who cares about how God thinks about him. A number of times I have seen his love for God show through as he prays with our chorus before a series of concerts in maybe eight churches in a row. He is also a man that has surprised me at times when an audience's response suddenly induces another part of him to suddenly come alive and our performance unexpectedly takes on an extended dimension that none of us were expecting to experience.

As I thought about all these things and how much I have come to appreciate this guy, I decided that maybe I should take the time to write down how I felt and present it as a sort of tribute to the members and their wives who would be attending the banquet that night. So I grabbed my computer and began writing down everything I could think about and decided that maybe I could end it with a proposition for a toast. As I explained in the tribute, I don't really know anything at all about toasts because I have never been a drinker. But I presumed that everyone else would know what to do and that this might be something that would be meaningful to them maybe even more than to me.

I finished up this tribute in the afternoon and as usual it ended up maybe a bit longer than I intended. I didn't take the time to read it out loud to time it and I didn't really want my wife to read it because she might want to change it too much. (Sometimes things I write are so personal that I feel maybe over-protective of them for awhile which may be good or bad depending on your opinion.) Anyway, I printed it out and didn't tell anyone what I planned to do until after we got to the banquet room.

After we had been there for awhile I decided to check with the president who was in charge of the program for the evening to find out when I might be able to read my tribute. I didn't tell him what it was about, but he informed me that at the end of the meal I was supposed to step out of the room and practice with a quartet for awhile so we could sing at the beginning of the program. This was news to me, but he told me that just before we sang I could read my paper.

That sounded fine with me. Since it would be right at the end of the meal that meant that a toast would seem to make sense at that point. A few minutes later we stepped out into another room and they had me rehearse a couple songs with the members of the most talented quartet in the group – minus their regular Bass of course. I really enjoy singing with these guys because they have that sensitivity for the nuances of the music and put in the expressiveness that is so important for music and that I like to use. After we practiced for about ten minutes we returned to the banquet room and began the program. Little did I realize the real reason that they had taken me out of the room.

After a few comments by the president, he called up our quartet and we sang our two songs. I was beginning to wonder when I might be able to read my tribute but had no chance to even try. Immediately after our performance the director rushed up to me and announced to the audience that they had a special surprise for me. He then brought forward a chair and made me sit down facing the front while the whole chorus gathered in front of me to sing me a song that the director had obviously just composed in the last few days. This song was titled, “Floyd's Song” and expressed their appreciation for my work to take the handwritten, difficult to read music and transcribe it into professional-looking, readable notation so that we could practice and learn our music much easier.

As they expected, I was completely caught by surprise by this. What I hadn't known was that while I was just out of the room they had been practicing this song themselves for the very first time. Though this is something typical of what our director does, I had never expected anything of this sort in response for the little efforts that I have made to contribute to the improvement of this chorus. They have already purchased the music software for me that I needed to do this job and I have enjoyed just being able to make the music easier to read. I really felt it was not necessary to make such a big deal out of it and I certainly wasn't expecting a full-blown musical production to be made of it. But here I sat in a chair being serenaded by the whole chorus singing about my history with them and their humorous musical appreciation for the work that I have been doing behind the scenes to help them.

At the end of the music, two of the men came forward and presented me with a couple very nice gifts. One was a wrapped present which they insisted that I open and show to everyone. It is a book about music that will likely be very helpful in assisting me to figure out some of the Latin and various sometimes confusing rules needed to write music. The other was a beautiful card with a check enclosed that simply left me speechless. I felt so overwhelmed and almost guilty that I really didn't know what to say. I was about to say that I was simply speechless, but then I realized I would be sabotaging my own plans to make a speech. So then I was really left with nothing I could think of to say.

At that point as everyone returned to their seats while shaking my hands as they passed by, I turned around and announced that I was going to hijack the program and that turn-about was fair play. I then pulled out my own 3-page tribute to the very man who had instigated this whole affair and proceeded to read it out loud while trying to be as expressive as possible. Now, you would have to know me a little better to realize that doing this does not come naturally for me. I have found it far easier to write than to speak in public and this is one reason that I decided to write this out and chose to read it instead of attempting to simply speak it off the cuff. While I don't like listening to others read their speeches, I still don't feel comfortable being able to speak myself effectively.

As I neared the end of the first page I began to realize that this was going to take much longer than I had anticipated (about like this post). But I tried to be as expressive as I could and to make eye contact, especially with the man that the tribute was about who was sitting right in front of me. I have to say that I was extremely glad that I had followed my impressions to write this and to give it, for after the unexpected and almost embarrassing experience of being the center of focus myself, I was so glad that I was already prepared to turn the attention around and express my gratitude and thanks to the one who had been behind all this. I really believe that it was God who had prompted me to write this in the first place and who knew that I would want it just when I did.

I was afraid all day that I might become too emotional to even finish the speech and that I would be publicly embarrassed even more. (Yes, I still struggle with a lot of internal fears) When I got to the place in my talk where I pointed him out for everyone's attention, I almost lost it. I knew I had a lot farther to go, but I also realized that allowing emotion to be seen also reinforces the authenticity of my words so I really didn't want to suppress them too much. I just wanted to be able to finish the talk for myself and not depend on someone else to read it in my place.

Actually, the whole day, both before and after this event, I was thinking about the positive benefits that I was feeling simply from choosing to be appreciative. I began to realize how much I have been missing out on in life because I have such a very low level of appreciation in general. I have had this dreadful condition all of my life but I would like it to change as quickly as possible. I have been learning more and more about the power of praise and have begun sensing that there is incredible power to overcome all sorts of evil influences simply through the exercise of gratitude and praise in all directions, not just toward God. I realize that this is old news to many other people, but it is something that still has to soak into my deeper consciousness for myself, not something that can be forced or imposed on me.

The glow from the emotions and bonding that took place last night still lingers strongly and will continue in various ways for a long time to come. It may even likely become seeds that will in turn germinate to produce other random acts of kindness and appreciation that will in turn germinate yet more. It is really the way that true reality was originally designed to function all the time and has only been severely obscured by the darkness of sin and lies about God. Satan is terrified that we will discover this most potent weapon against his power in our lives, but I am determined to become more familiar with its use and to have much more of its benefits in my life and to influence those around me. I want to participate in God's ways of doing things and to attract others to see God differently. As they come to appreciate the real truth about Him and dispose of the lies they have always thought, they too can join the symphony of praise that brings life and joy and healing to the growing family of God.