I have to admit I was totally stumped on this one. Two breakthroughs of light are burning passionately in my mind. Which do I share? Yesterday in Church, I decided I needed to talk about both.
Everything started in November when I heard that Light of Day tickets were going on sale. I have long dreamed of attending Light of Day, a Parkinson's fundraiser music festival which originated in Asbury Park, NJ (one of my top half-dozen North American locations). When my mother developed Parkinson's a little more than a year ago, the desire mounted.
I couldn't manage the first on-sale time, but apparently the whole system went down and Light of Day had to reschedule the sale. I casually mentioned the sale to my sweet husband and he thought it might be fun to attend. I was home and available for the new sale date and logged in to Ticketmaster, just for fun. I was searching for the VIP package tickets, but I couldn't find them anywhere on either Light Of Day's website or Ticketmaster's, so I tried best available (or maybe GA, I can't remember but I wish I could for next time). A pair came up but they were too far back, so I threw them back and tried again. This happened a few times until a pair in row G on the side appeared. I grabbed them. I chose the traditional type, thinking these would be easier to re-sell if we couldn't attend, a strong possibility.
The next thing I knew, we were approached by a client who wanted to hire my husband for a gig in southern Ontario on the first day of the event. I had purchased my tickets for the second day, since the VIP package for the entire 3 day festival had been invisible to me. While the client was deciding, I booked us a room at my favourite Asbury Park ocean-front hotel, just in case, knowing I could always cancel. Before I knew it, the 4 hour leadership session was finalized, our flights to Toronto were booked and we added on a side trip to Newark. It was like the planets were all aligning, except that I knew that it was really a good and perfect gift from our Creator.
What a good and perfect gift it turned out to be. We touched down in Newark, picked up our rental and were motoring down the Garden State Parkway together. I had been to Asbury before on several occasions, but had never shared it with my wonderful husband. My heart was racing as we took the exit to Asbury Park and then made our way up Ocean Avenue. We checked in, scrambled to find a parking spot, had a very mediocre dinner – I had chosen proximity to the venue over quality of cuisine – that was shared with wonderful friends who happened by, and then we found ourselves idling the few steps down the boardwalk and entering The Paramount Theatre for the first time ever. Our 7th row seats were stunning but that wasn't the end of the story.
I wish I could say we were blown away when who should appear alongside Jessie Malin than his good friend, Bruce Springsteen. Well, we were blown away, but it wasn't unexpected. Before we were out of the elevator at The Berkeley a total stranger had informed me that he had already heard Bruce's sound-check. But no amount of anticipation could have prepared me for the joy of seeing that plaid shirt-layered-over-white-Henley with that guitar strapped over it. For the first 3 bands that he graciously joined for one song each, Bruce played on our side!
After joining Alejandro Escovedo on a rich acoustic version of Always a Friend, Bruce came back out with his acoustic guitar and stood downstage, on our side, and played Your Own Worst Enemy. For me, this was indescribably superior to the full band version (and I love the band)! Then he pulled out his harmonica; my heart was racing. I had heard he had sound-checked Promised Land. Of course I would have been happy with anything, but this song that is so dear to my heart was, to quote The Globe and Mail's Heather Mallick, a dirge when Bruce played it on the Devils and Dust tour – poignant, heart-felt, brilliant, but piercingly sad. Instead of The Promised Land (which,
to add to the perfection of the evening, he later played with Joe's band), didn't Bruce launch into the intro to This Hard Land? It is one of my husband's favourites and he has never heard it live. When Bruce sang, "Stay Hard, Stay Hungry, stay alive!" it was all for Ryan. He loves the song, and he loves the line. The title of his next book is HUNGRY!
Those two songs would have been enough, after all Bruce was never even listed on the bill, but right after that he came back out with Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, and played until 1:30 am. Not only that, but he played onour side. He was magnificent. It was magical. All evening he had displayed all of the characteristics of great leadership (about which my husband speaks, writes, and coaches) when he played with the other musicians: grace, humility, teamwork… but from those 2 accoustic songs on, he absolutely shone. He dominated. He proved it. When the Twist and Shout finale, as much fun as it was, degenerated into a less than stellar ending to a sensational show, Bruce calmly informed us, "You're getting your money's worth tonight," (after all, he had already played 18 songs, even though he wasn't slated to be there) and pulled out that dear harmonica. I knew it would be Thunder Road, another of my husband's very favourites, which he had also never heard live. It was a love song from Bruce to us, from us to each other, and from us back to Bruce, as every person in that stately Paramount Theatre sang every word along with him. I still haven't recovered. I hope I never do.
From sharing that loving moment with my sweetheart let me fast forward one week. The following Saturday night I was having endless trouble falling asleep. A slight foreboding of dread started to wash over me. I started to pray – for Ryan's safety as he travelled the next day, and then on to the health challenge that has besieged our family over the last two years. As I prayed the story of the widow begging the unjust judge came to mind. I kept praying until I slept. The next morning (Sunday) I turned to the online Bible reading plan I follow and guess what the NT portion of the reading was? Yep, Luke 18, the story of the widow pleading for her rights to the unjust judge.
"4For a long time the judge refused to act, but at last he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or respect people, 5yet because of all the trouble this widow is giving me, I will see to it that she gets her rights. If I don't, she will keep on coming and finally wear me out!'"
6And the Lord continued, "Listen to what that corrupt judge said. 7Now, will God not judge in favor of his own people who cry to him day and night for help? Will he be slow to help them? 8I tell you, he will judge in their favor and do it quickly."
I knew that the Lord had given me that story the night before and that He was reminding me to continue to pray for the very thing I need, over and over and as much as I like. The word "badgering" actually came to mind J This was the second breakthrough of light in less than a week! So I kept right on praying. Later on Sunday, Ryan called to tell me that he was fine, but that he had pulled over on the highway after taking a wrong turn, and had slid down a snowbank into the ditch in his rental car, which he had fortuitously upgraded to an all-wheel drive SUV. A tow-truck had successfully pulled him out and he was safely on his way to Deerhurst Resort, where he would be speaking the next day. I was so thankful that I had been badgering the Lord on his behalf since the night before and I am encouraged that as we continue to badger day and night on the family health issue, God, in his great love and mercy, will judge in our favour. He is, after all, the Creator of Light and Day!