Downtown … December 5, 2012


Jon Signing

I am a defensive driver–defensive in the sense that there are moments when I greatly desire, in the midst of the marauding barbarians of metal-clad warriors, to roll down my window and plead into traffic, “You’d like me if I weren’t changing lanes!”
You see? Defensive.
It’s one of the reasons that I don’t like to go into the business districts of big cities. There are just too many things to hit and that are prepared to hit me. With the introduction of buildings, buses, taxis, and even horse-drawn carriages initiating elements of the old Wild West, I become jittery and resemble a teetering old man on the verge of mental collapse, having discovered that the daily shipment of tapioca pudding to the nursing home has been delayed by–what else?–traffic.

Imagine my horror yesterday when I turned the page on my calendar and discovered that I had entered the quadrangle of hell. Yes. A four-sided box, trapping me within a quartet of my fears. For my next engagement was in Historic Old Downtown Savannah (count with me–that’s # 1), with parking across the street (that’s #2), for a noontime basically unadvertised concert (horror #3) with what was sure to be a transient crowd, stopping in for curiosity’s sake during lunch hour (there’s #4).

Savannah River

Savannah River (Photo credit: DoNotLick)

I prepared myself for failure. Let me discuss that procedure, since we are all occasionally suiting up for our latest nosedive. My preparation for failure works this way:
A. A loss of enthusiasm. (I wish that came with a loss of appetite, but it usually increases my desire for food)
B. A sense of dread (usually accompanied by a nasty dose of grouchiness).
C. Proclamations of doom and gloom (so as to look as if I was at least intelligently expecting my termination).
D. Reluctance (a literal dragging of the feet on the way to the gallows).

As you can see, this particular collection of emotions is not conducive to energizing an already-faltering project. But I decided to see it through.
Are you ready for this? It worked.

People actually came in from off the street (not many), sat down and spent thirty-seven minutes listening to us do our Christmas show, gave money, bought materials and walked out overjoyed. This collage of humans ranged from homeless people who had come in order to be insiders instead of outsiders for a while, to even a couple who were tourists from Canada, sporting that infectious north-of-the-border grin.

It actually came off–which created a new dilemma. Because often, when something works which should never have worked, we make the mistake of analyzing it for future possibilities.
For instance, if I were suddenly healed of terminal cancer, it would not be a good idea to go out and start chain-smoking because I felt confident that if the disease returned, I could once again lick it–maybe even quicker. Sometimes God, who is very merciful, grants us a reprieve from our own stupidity by allowing us to slip through a crack that is really too narrow for us, with the hopes that we will not be so stupid as to try to wiggle through it again.

As I left my noontime gig in downtown Savannah, departing from a transient crowd to roll across the street to the parking lot, I breathed a sigh of relief rather than sucking in a deep breath of hope. I shan’t do this again–and certainly will NOT do it more often. If God would request a command performance or if circumstances required me to pursue another downtown, across the street, noontime concert in front of a transient crowd, I would humbly agree, sporting once again all of my predilections of anxiety. But I have no intention of moving upon the success of this unique event, to become known  for my lunchtime concert series.

Sometimes a blessing is a blessing. Yes, sometimes it is not a call to new mission. Count your fingers and toes, slide out through the traffic, laced with horsies and blaring horns, and be grateful that God is as good as advertised.

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