quite an ash wednesday

[this photo wasn't great to begin with, but Blogger does strange things to my pics....]

Vivid blue sky and sunshine.

My TMJ appt. lasted all of five minutes. I acted much more like an adult, less quaking in my boots, and Dr. H. was able to stretch my jaw wider than last week. No need to see him next week, but in three weeks. Sorry to say I won't miss him 'til then.

Earl Grey tea in hand whilst wandering around Barnes & Noble. I did not find a "bravery treat" and exited the bookstore frowning. Then I gently smacked my head - I have plenty of prizes already. How 'bout that weather? The dentist visit dripping with mercy? The tea to-go? The tea gadget we purchased at Whole Foods the night before? Allison's kind offer to send me that issue of Poetry? For God's sake, an Over the Rhine concert awaiting us?

So. I realized that I do find comfort via instant gratification-consumerism. There's not a thing wrong with a prize after braving the dentist, but when I leave a bookstore empty-handed and grumpy, forgetting the luxuries already present in my life, then I have a problem to work on.

We did find a good Ash Wednesday service at a Church near our home. A massive Cross-window behind the altar framed that brilliant blue sky. Ashes were smeared on our foreheads as we heard, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." I feel like I started my Lenten fast early - back in July 2007 at the beginning of my health treatment. Since then, from time to time, as old comforts in my life were taken away, I would think of this verse: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." And you know what? It's true. If you had asked me in July, "How long do you think this treatment should take to make you well? How long can you endure?" I probably would have answered, "Two, three months, max."

Of course, God had another time span in mind, one I can barely tolerate some days. However, as I sit here today - dog-tired, needing nap-time like a child, in more discomfort than I ever dreamed my wimpy body could handle - I do believe I'm finding my life. This is not only because I finally feel health stirring in my bones. With current discomforts, I've been forced to find comfort in my Maker. To look to Him when things don't make a lick of sense. To learn the art of obedience by following doctor's orders. To pray with urgency. To not waver, but believe. To repent quickly (and often). To be forgiven.

....We fought traffic the entire way to Mucky Duck wondering if we'd make it on time. We weren't the only ones. Over the Rhine sat in the same blasted Houston traffic. Someone in their party was rummaging around the van when we arrived. As we walked up to Rusty (the owner) in his rocking chair outside, I was taken way back to a decade or so ago - old friends, all those good shows, my younger self. 'Twas good to be back at Mucky Duck with Johnny to hear one of my favorite bands.

The show started 30-40 minutes late so the weary band could grab a bite to eat. Johnny ordered Guinness beef stew, and an English Breakfast tea for me (I kept the paper doily). At our small table, we were sandwiched between two very nice couples. The first were fellow Innocence Mission, Johnny Cash, and Indian food fans. The second were Kerrville Folk Festival regulars and world travelers (Italy, Greece, Germany, and so on). This second husband + wife were new to Over the Rhine. They frequent Mucky Duck often, saw that OTR was coming, and checked 'em out online. Yes, Over the Rhine won them over - I heard the couple's every comment and they were impressed.

Weren't we all? I've been a fan for several years, but never had a chance to see them live until last night. When Karin opened with "I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time", my jaw dropped open. That lady could sang. Johnny had a perfect view of the drummer, Mickey Grimm. I thought he sounded amazing, but I could tell by the look on my husband's face that Mickey was indeed a fantastic drummer. Linford told spellbinding stories. Karin was sultry & classy - she made the whole room swoon. Their set list was jazzy, country, and funky. Songs from my beloved Good Dog Bad Dog, Ohio, Drunkard's Prayer, and their newest album ~ The Trumpet Child. They covered Gillian Welch's "Orphan Girl" - I loved the bassist's backing vocals. They praised Johnny Cash. During their last song - "Don't Wait for Tom" - Karin thrashed a cookie sheet with a big mallet. I nudged Johnny - he ought to play that, too!

I took a whole lot away from that show. Johnny fell in love with music again. Karin shared one thing they hope to impart within their music: "we have the option not to live in fear." If ever a fan needed to hear that, I did. And something else Linford said during one of his stories (also in The Trumpet Child's liner notes):

"And me, my first memory, the sound of a trumpet at a tent meeting revival, I was sitting on my mother's lap, I remember that bright brass bell, that egg tooth blast waking me up, snapping the world into focus, piercing the womb of distant muffled things, stirring my conscious mind, the sound of a trumpet! and I remember the small wooden stage at the front of the tent, strings of bare light bulbs, my sister Grace's braids, and me forming my first real thought: I need to be where the sound is coming from."


[this strictly from the liner notes ->] "So we hope you like the songs, we hope they unfold like an underground evening of a lost Midwestern cabaret, a little private party good enough to last the night and longer, the sound of a trumpet to wake your world."

I wondered why we were so fortunate as to hear Over the Rhine on a somber holiday such as Ash Wednesday. How does a comfortable, intimate concert with reckless abandon mesh with a day of ashes and death? Well, I'm losing my life to find it, dying to myself to hear the Lord. His trumpet is waking me up to quite a new life.


Christine said...

Oh so beautiful. I love Over the Rhine a million times a million. So glad you got to go and that it awakened you in the deepest way.

allison said...

Need I remind you (and Johnny!) that OTR will again be at the Glen this year?

jenni said...

Thank you, Stine. You will see OTR this week, too, right??

Allison ~ I am well aware! I'm just trying to get my health in order, and Johnny doesn't know his summer travel schedule yet...

liz said...

darn it- we would have loved that show...we had no idea!

jenni said...

Bummer, Liz. I'll try to alert you next time.

leslie said...

i'm so jealous you got to see OTR!

jenni said...

Sorry, babe!