guns, songs, and seeds

Posted by on Nov 22, 2017

(The following is a letter I wrote to the cast and crew of a community musical theatre production that was only staged once… but, as I recently discovered, continues to have an impact… you never can tell…)

Hi there. Remember a little thing we did together a few years back, called “Selah’s Song”? Just over a week ago I had an experience that I thought I should share with you – I encountered someone in Oklahoma, of all places, who has been deeply impacted by the work we did together.

It was at the tail end of a two week trip that I was doing, with engagements in Iowa, Illinois, and Oklahoma. I had been invited to lead a retreat with a “Church of Christ” congregation from Tulsa (The Journey Church – they found me online, when their pastor Googled the phrase “Reading the Bible With Jesus”).

One of the elders of the community contacted me by email, and told me that he really wanted to sit down and have a conversation with me. So, on Saturday afternoon, at New Life Ranch in northeastern Oklahoma, we did.

He is a no-longer-on-active-duty marine (he told me there are no ex-marines, just marines-no-longer-on-active-duty) and Vietnam combat veteran. He shared vulnerably with me about his journey, including the trauma that he has lived and the fact that he, to this day, feels naked without a weapon… how he has been trained and lived his life with a good-guys/bad-guys way of looking at the world… and yet has been on a journey with Jesus that has been leading him down a different path… he described how my music (and one song in particular) has touched him and helped him articulate his experience and take more steps down a different path…

I think it’s a song you might remember. Here are some of the lyrics…

“Oh the songs of war are all around
I can hear them wherever I go
There’s a drumbeat of worry, the frightening sound
Of an enemy at your door
If we’d get a look at the enemy’s face
I wonder just what we might see
Could it be that the people in some other place
Are planting their seeds just like me…”

(from “Won’t You Sing” on the Selah’s Song soundtrack and on the I’m Glad You’re Here album)

He described watching the recent PBS mini-series on Vietnam, and that he had to stop after three episodes. Part of what impacted him about watching those shows was precisely that they did interviews with North Vietnamese and Viet-Cong… the enemy that he’d been fighting. “If we’d get a look at the enemy’s face…” – these lyrics narrated his own experience.

“… for the drumbeat of war that we hear all around
is a sound so afraid and alone
There’s another drummer, drumming somewhere
with a rhythm that’s calling us home…”

He described driving down the road when listening to this song, and needing to pull over to the side, as he was weeping too much to be able to drive. He told me that he has spoken to his pastor, to let him know that one day he can expect to receive a sizeable cheque from him, for the church. This will be the money from when he sells his guns. He hasn’t done it yet, but he has told his pastor to expect it… that is the path he is on…

He also wanted me to know this… referencing another lyric from the song…

“So I guess I’ll keep planting my seeds in the ground
Never knowing if they will take root
And I’ll keep on singing my songs in the air
Never knowing what they’re gonna do…”

He said he wanted to look me in the eye and let me know know something of what some of these songs are doing… he wanted to encourage me for my own ongoing ministry…

So I thought I’d share that experience with you. The same goes for you – you might never see or know the fruits of some of the seeds you plant… songs you sing… dramas you stage… interactions you have… but the encouragement is there: keep on planting…

“… for the drumbeat of war that we hear all around
is a sound so afraid and alone
There’s another drummer, drumming somewhere
with a rhythm that’s calling us home…”

Thought you might appreciate hearing this. I hope it’s an encouragement to you on your journey. You never know… seeds planted in Stouffville can sprout just about anywhere…

Keep on, my friends. Peace be with you,