To Be Ordained

To Be Ordained (1,173)

June 10th, 2011

I was twenty years old, my mind exploding with ideas, many of which were more stupid than useable. That’s just the way life is. When you’re young, winners and losers look very much the same—because ability has not yet caught up with intelligence, which is itself dragging far behind common sense.

I heard that Marty, a friend of mine, was going to be ordained. Marty was very helpful to me except when he disagreed or somebody in his church thought I was being obtuse. And then Marty, being a good politician, would tend to side with the congregational member and leave me hanging out to dry. But it didn’t happen often enough to affect our friendship. And to his credit, he gave our group, Soul Purpose, several opportunities to perform, even though we were in our fledgling days.

At that point, I had written two songs which our group had recorded onto a 45 rpm record. It went nowhere. (Once again, I was young and thought that merely recording a record was enough to grant you some blip on the radar screen, and recognition amongst the masses. Not so.) People become excited for about forty-eight hours, but when we failed to become an overnight success, they assumed the record must not have been very good instead of understanding that we lacked the connections to plug into the market.

So because our little record did not do very well, people had assumed that we were done—and that we should all go get jobs and become normal, everyday laborers. The fact that we disagreed with this assessment put us on the outs with a good number of people.

So when Marty was planning his ordination, I asked him if Soul Purpose could sing a song in his honor. A bit reluctantly, he agreed. (I think his reticence was based upon our present level of popularity with his flock, rather that upon our talent.) As soon as Marty’s mother found out that we were going to sing at the ordination, she contacted me and suggested that we share the hymn “Haven of Rest,” which she explained was one of her son’s favorites.

I agreed to learn it, and we did. But I wanted to do something different. I wanted to write an original song in honor of Marty’s ordination. You must understand that when I spoke this idea out loud in front of other people, there was an immediate uproar. First of all, such ideas were never done by anyone in Central Ohio. Who would have the audacity to think they could write a song for an ordination that would be better than “Haven of Rest?” Also, they doubted my ability to compose such a piece since my previous efforts had not produced a hit. Even those in our musical group were nervous about sharing an original tune instead of following the advice of those who were elder.

But I wrote the song. I liked it. I more than liked it—it made me cry and touched my heart. So our group learned both “The Haven of Rest” and our new song, which I entitled “To Be Ordained.”

The day arrived. I had no idea what I was going to do. Matter of fact, up until the time of our introduction, I was still conflicted. And then I made a decision. It was a decision that changed my thinking for the rest of my life. Would I rather regret doing my own thing? Or regret that I didn’t do my own thing?

Suddenly the choice was crystal clear to me. If I sang MY song that I had written for this friend of mine for his ordination and it ended up being a real bomb and turkey, then I would survive two or three days of ridicule and never be asked to do anything like that ever again. But if I sang my song and it DID touch the folks as it had me in writing it, then I would have a memory that would last a lifetime.

There was no indecision on my part.

I started the introduction of “To Be Ordained,” and I could see the sweat burst on the brow of my fellow-band-members. But to their credit, they sang it loudly and proudly. We finished the song and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I presented the words and the music to Marty, and he embraced me. It was the talk of the next week—all through the church house. No one remembered “Haven of Rest.” No one wondered why I had decided not to do it.

Over the years I have made such choices many times. Sometimes they have ended up in my favor, and on occasion, they have blown up in my face. But I always chose to move towards progress, innovation, creativity and genuine purity. I don’t regret the selections—even when they had an unfavorable conclusion. Nor am I overwrought about the victories.

This is just something you have to do if you’re going to live an original life. But when you’re young, winners and losers look pretty much the same—until time gives you the chance to prove your worth.

This is something we should keep in mind as we try to come up with solutions in our country, our churches and our families.

All ideas seem stupid until someone insists that we try them. Don’t forget it—and pray for those who are fearless enough to actually put them into practice.

Published in: on June 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
%d bloggers like this: