Being around people who allow you to be yourself is sort of like sitting in sunshine that's not too hot . . . just pleasantly warm - comforting.
They shine on us. We understand ourselves better. We relax. We feel at home.
I look back now on my 28 years of life and can easily acknowledge the blessing I've found in honest friends - funky people with unique perspectives, off beat humor, and a zest for diverse music . . . people who don't look at me funny when I say things like, "Let's do the Adams Family theme song right before the Doxology song at the gig Saturday."
They have always been there in my life - teachers, coaches, and close friends and mentors who have shared with me the joy of being unique . . . but also similar. The gift of common ground in the midst of our uncommon quirks.
Every time I invite different musical friends to join in on a concert I find this joy again.
They are all such different people. The music never comes out just like it did last time. The show is never just like rehearsal. Guitar strings break. Piano breaks get skipped over. Singers forget their starting notes (I totally did that tonight during a Doors song . . . sorry, Doors). We all look at each other, laughing, and the music goes on. This reminds me so well of the invitation I found in Jesus a long time ago - "Come live a fully human life with me, Sarah, and I will teach you how forgive yourself quickly . . . how to forgive others quickly."
I almost never play "New Doxology" in front of a live audience. My family lovingly calls it "That creepy song you wrote." Yeah - a creepy version of the Doxology. Because the Doxology is creepy, guys!!! We are saying "Thank you" to the Maker of all things for all things. ALL THINGS. It's a set of ancient words demanding that we keep our hands open to receive an undivided, holistic human experience with unflinching trust (by the way, unflinching trust doesn't equal a lack of fear or even avoidance - it's a journey and we're not going to be perfect at it). So the song came out of my mouth several years ago with odd, sharp edges . . . and I fear sharing it with audiences and other musicians - I fear that they won't like to play it or hear it. I fear it so much that I usually leave it out of my notebook for gigs. It has gone unplayed for over a year at this point.
But these guys? I trust them. And something about collaborating with such settled people causes me to settle within myself . . . and so, why not?!? We played it. And it was a great experience. It wasn't great because of anything I did. It was great because all of us went after it as the people we were created to be . . . what an honest sort of "thank you" it was.
If we allow ourselves to learn from each other, there is no limit to our growth potential.
I'll say it again: If we allow ourselves to learn from each other, our potential for growth will have no limit.
This is the lesson that keeps me engaged in my work as a teacher - I learn from the children that I am working with. And this work keeps me pliable as an adult. It makes me less afraid to learn from my peers, and that helps me to find joy more often . . . because it helps me to put my pride in the backseat. A teachable spirit will do that for your pride.
In my backyard there's a small field of wild onions. This time of year the grass stops growing tall and when you look out through the morning sun you can see these tufts of onion sticking up all over the scruffy lawn. They're just green onions. They have no flowers. They weren't put there to be beautiful or even to be edible. But the morning sun falls on them and they become something like a Chihuly glass exhibit - crystals in the morning light. My backyard becomes the studio of The Great Artist Himself.
We're all just green onions, folks. We're scruffy and gawky and we stick out in this vast human landscape like weeds in a garden.
We look at each other and we think, "Gosh. Look at that one. See how awkward?" Then we look at ourselves and we say, "Gosh, look at me. I'm so awkward."
Then the Master Gardener walks through the garden in the morning light, shines down on us . . . shines right through us . . . and says, "My dear, growing child - you're just a green onion . . . it's true. But you're MY green onion. I made you to be a green onion in this garden, and look at you! See how you shine in the morning light! I knew you'd be like this before you were quite ready to be born. How delightful."
Then, hearing His words, we look at ourselves and know the Truth - We're involved in something special because of how we were created and because of this light shining straight through us. And if we look at the other green onions in the garden, we see the light shining through them, too.
Ok. I took that image way farther than it needed to go. But I think you get it.
Here's a video of "that creepy song" I wrote.
Stay green and groovy, little onions! You light up the garden when the gardener shines a light straight through your life.