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The Fire at the Orchard and a Song About Hope

A couple weeks ago an arson’s fire tore through central Kansas burning 800 acres. My wife’s mom and dad, who live on an apple orchard, lost almost everything. About 180 acres of their trees, farm buildings, equipment etc. burned. Their home miraculously survived as my father-in-law placed several sprinklers around the perimeter before making the final exit.

Betony and I were on tour in Houston and when we got back helped out with cleanup and rebuilding. While there, I had a chance to be with Mike and Elaine as they processed the great loss. In the turmoil of emotions and the various stages of grief I was very inspired by pictures we all were receiving of resilience and hope.

As we prepped and leveled the foundation to rebuild the well, my father-in-law, Mike, recounted just how incredible it was that people came out of the woodwork to help. Neighbors rushed in on four-wheeler‘s, people called and wrote with thoughts and prayers, and a go-fund-me reached its mark within the week.

Then, as we were throwing away hundreds of dollars worth of burnt hoses, the same hoses that saved the house, Mike told me to look over at the swing-set he’d built for the grandkids. It had fully lost one of its legs in the fire but was still standing, swaying slightly in the breeze.

“Do you think I’ll rebuild that Tim? Hell yes I will.“

Lastly, we received a FedEx delivery of 10 new cherry trees. Mike talked to their FedEx delivery woman who freely cried at the sight of devastation and offered condolences. As we were digging the holes for the new cherry trees, Mike excitedly ran over to to something he saw in the dirt. There was a large patch of new buds coming up only days after the fire had ripped through. He told me these were a specific type of flower that will now bloom brightly. It actually took a fire to enact their seeds.

With these pictures of hope and resilience: people rushing to help, the steadfast spirit of rebuilding in the face of destruction, an orchard on the edge of blooming wildflowers after devastation, I’m so taken by the paradox of death to rebirth. It’s stirring how hardship, tragedy, darkness, and death is answered by such resilience and hope and new life.

This week is Easter. It’s a great time to reflect on the darkness and tragedy found on Good Friday, and the new life and new hope that bursts forth on Easter Sunday.

Here’s a song I wrote specifically about hope called “There is a Balm in Gilead”. The title is taken from an old spiritual of the same name. The writers of that African-American spiritual encountered an old testament scripture that speaks of there being NO balm in Gilead to aid in suffering. And these writers, in there hardship and turmoil, answered with such hope and resilience. They stated no, there IS a balm in Gilead. God is our hope, our freedom, and our new life.

In the face tragedy, new life will burst forth. This is our great hope.

Here are the lyrics and the song for you to listen to.

There is a balm in Gilead
it comes like a  wisdom but speaks like children
it’s a sight to the blind and a strength to my weakness
it’s something for soul, body, mind

There is a balm in Gilead
it’s a rest for the weary, a song to the sore
its like a dew to my dryness
that fills me with joy when I had none

There is a balm in Gilead
its a spring in the desert
for the withered of soul
it’s a strength and a power
that keeps making you whole
its the question your asking
and the answers you need
it’s the face you’ve been seeking
the one, the one you’ve been begging to see

There is a balm in Gilead
it’s the trash and the remnants
of all my train wrecks
coming together
and still heading out west
like a blank paycheck paying off the back rent
taking me further to
whatever’s supposed happen next

There is a balm in Gilead
it’s the light of the dawn
the scales without measure
it’s the bread of a baker
the blood of a maker
The water I long for
and the story on fire
its the breath and the magic
Its something to die for
it’s the laying down of the shepherd at night

There is a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead

February Balm: Practice and Process Part 2

PRACTICE:

As we are making our way through February, Betony and I have been staying true to practicing the two things we put forward at the beginning of the month:
Praying for people each night as a family
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Exploring where our family can do service work (especially looking in to “Turn Around Bikes” in Greeley).

Volunteering

So we met with Liz Young and her intern of Turn Around Bikes last week just asking, “What all do you guys need this year?” Since Betony and I have experience with putting on big events and art shows we volunteered for the “Turn Around Bikes” fundraiser committee. Be looking for a that event come July! It should be an incredible time of biking, live music, food, and Weldwerks Brewing Company will hopefully be involved.

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We also decided to do a special for the next two weeks on our site: 100% of proceeds of sales of this print go to support Turnaround Bikes!
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PROCESS

I’ve been performing a new song this year that has really good energy when I sing it for people. I’ve been ending sets with it. “There is a Balm in Gilead” is a song about deep hope and it feels like a proclamation every time I sing it. It felt right that we would record this song in February and release it with this theme being lived out… More to come on that in a couple days!

Betony put up some versions of this incredible poster last week on Facebook. (True to Giants & Pilgrims projects, it coincides with the song.) You all voted and chose this version! It will be up for sale alongside the song in a couple days as well!
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Some folks that helped make “There is a Balm in Gilead” happen (Charla Bultman, Brian Claxton, and sound engineer/ producer David Wilton):

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My friend Jeff Cook and I released a teaching/song meditation for Lent called Observance.lent

FURTHER EXPLORING “BALM”

We read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” out loud as a family this month. There are so many beautiful and interesting spiritual archetypes in this book: baptism, desert, resurrection, etc. The whole of the book explores LOVE as an act of giving and sacrifice that shapes someone for the better.

Betony has also been reading “Home Grown” and “Man’s Search for Meaning”. She is highly recommending them for me as well!

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This month I helped friend and Giants & Pilgrims band member Mary Claxton do a songwriting intensive, while Betony designed a set for Frontier Academy Elementary’s performance of Aladdin and volunteered to help with a art show fundraiser at our pre-school (check out those Lorax trees)!

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The family took a trip to see the orchids at Denver’s Botanic Gardens.


And we had lots of fun with Valentine’s shenanigans:

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And, speaking of “Balm”, I have been batching my newest set of colognes, beard oils, and aftershaves!IMG_5129

That’s all for now! March is going to be all about “Ground” so be watching for that soon!