On the last day of this 5-week stint of our 2019-20 tour, I sat on the grass by the sea and wrote in my journal. It was a beautiful, warm day in New Bern, NC, and the little marina we were in was quiet.
This was the same New Bern that got flooded and devastated by hurricane Florence just last year, but apart from the boarded doors of a waterfront hotel near us, there was no sign of hardship.
It wasn’t on the faces of the kids we had performed for that morning, or their teachers who welcomed us with excitement and gratitude. We didn’t feel it when we spoke to the Board members of the concert association that brought us to New Bern. It wasn’t in the tavern where we had lunch. There was no trace of devastation on the beautiful downtown stone and brick buildings or the trees that lined the streets in all of their fall glory.
I’m sure that if we dug deeper, we would find the scars and the struggles…
But what was so inspiring and encouraging to me was that the community seemed to pull together through it. Life went on, seasons changed, people rebuilt their lives and the boats were resting on the calm surface of the Ocean bay.
Yes, life comes with struggles. Tragedies do happen. Emotional pain and heartaches are real.
But when we go through them supported by a loving community, they don’t devastate us. We keep living and healing and loving.
It’s the unconditional love shown by strangers that is the absolute best remedy when hard things happen in our lives.
It’s the ‘I don’t want anything from you. I just want you to know that I am here and you are not alone.’ presence that gives us peace of mind and a calm heart so that we can cope with hardships.
Back on the grass, I wrote my usual ‘I’m grateful for’ reflection. (You can see us on the grass in this video recap)
It was an intense five-week tour – with over 6,000 miles driven, 5 flights taken, 16 full length concerts and 5 student outreach shows. You can see all the video footage here or watch more extensive coverage on our Patreon site.
Yes, there was exhaustion, worry about our families at home, and a few situations that made us grumpy and less able to handle the stress. Life on the road is NOT easy (or glamorous, really).
It could be magical or miserable.
And what makes all the difference for me is this ‘gratitude’ practice.
Here is what I wrote:
I’m grateful for the beautiful shows
and happy audiences
and those who sing with us
and those who care enough about music that they keep the community concerts going.
I’m grateful for seeing my sister smile and dance and sing.
I’m grateful for the dinner we had on the bay in Mathews, VA.
I’m grateful for Sally and Chris’ home
and for Jeanne Spyrka’s gluten free pie and butter-covered pop corn
and for Tim and Mary who showed up at our concert in Nashua, NH.
I’m grateful for John and Shirley
and the peaceful moments we had in their beautiful West Virginia mountains.
I’m grateful for an easy flight to Nashville
and finding the last couple of pumpkins with David
and carving them with Evan and Blais.
I’m grateful for spending a day with Blais
and I’m grateful that I was home on that one day (out of five weeks) when he wasn’t feeling well.
I’m grateful for the warmth and the sunshine we are enjoying right now.
And I’m grateful for you for reading these posts and allowing these reflections into your heart.
If you feel inspired, get a pen and a piece of paper (or use your smart device) and write a few lines of what you are grateful for. Simple things that are happening right now!