One year ago to the day, something incredible happened. It was one of those moments that film can’t even begin to capture, that words can’t recount, that the best storytelling art can’t bring to life again in it’s fullness. A night that I’ll never forget.
It came together in the most unlikely of ways. A new band obsession. A random new fashion and music festival. A discovery of new friends with shared musical taste. A threat of storms and last-minute scrambles for rides. Discovering the joy of college community in all its craziness and wonderful spontaneousness. An introduction to the breathtaking wonder of life that hits you when you least expect it. The night strangers became friends.
Switchfoot, though a well-known and loved band, was relatively new to me. All I knew of them was that with every song I heard, the lyrics went straight to my soul and washed over like an ocean, fitting every emotion and mood. I quickly made connections with a friend off of a Fading West poster. Little did we know the adventure that started, as we googled the tour dates to see if this supposedly free concert was real. And to our joy, it was. But then, finding transportation became a big issue. How to even get there when no one you know possesses a car? (College Life Problem #1001). Somehow, last-minute offers from friends – after losing rides and being convinced all hope was gone – came through. And words can’t describe how great it was.
Lost circles, directional challenges, big city struggles. Laughter running through a downtown in the dark. Excitement rising with every step.
A crowd that could not be more diverse greeted us. Once you hear the music, you can’t help but wander inside. And when it began, all else faded into an exhilarated daze.
Shining stage lights, music poured out. Strangers becoming friends and brothers. So different, but making music together, creating a night magical and not to be forgotten. Starry skies feeling small under the grandness of the universe, the One who designed it.
When I look back, there is no better example of this world’s perfectly imperfect nature. Flawed yet beautiful, broken yet whole. Glimpses of a forever that will reach beyond all that divides us, or all that we could imagine. Wandering kids in the park, excited new college students, long time fans, broken hearts, all carrying hopes and scars, looking for something more lasting, an ever building crescendo, shreds of truth in a world that regularly broadcasts lies. The broken, though not outwardly the same, inwardly all dying for a re-ignition of the precious spark once glowing inside. Weary, but all our heaviness made worthwhile, some turned more light. A captured moment of vulnerability and community rare. Reminders being preached from the stage, in words of love, about the gift of being alive. The honor of being alive to sing with these souls tonight. Such a strong reminder shared in gentle amazement.
This is the gospel. Pouring out in a thousand ways that no one ever expected. Running through cracks and filling up the most unlikely of crowds. Cutting through the fog, the distance, time itself, touching every story and leaving them feeling stronger, more hopeful, more connected, more brave, more loved, more purposeful, always more.
Thankful for the gift of words and artists who endeavor to use them well. For friends to share crazy adventures with and have stories to tell. Every song bringing hearts more alive. When the rain started pouring down just like confetti for Where I Belong, my soul exploded into fireworks of joy. There was no more perfect way for the moment to happen, as it seemed heaven joined in this moment in time. Putting aside all else, we recognized the fragile beauty of life, soaked in the moment (literally), and filled our hearts to overflowing with an anthem of hope and longing, of a better world, one where experiences like this last forever and never fade in richness, where community abounds, where this intense emotion inside our heart craving more and more of this high will be satisfied.
Until I die I’ll sing these songs
On the shores of Babylon
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong
On the final day I die
I want to hold my head up high
I want to tell You that I tried
To live it like a song
And when I reach the other side
I want to look You in the eye
And know that I’ve arrived
In a world where I belong
I still believe we can live forever
You and I we begin forever now
I still believe in us together
You and I we’re here together now