Washed by the rain, dried by the sun
I've been taking some personal time to heal a little. I don't think I realized how heavy the burden was on me until after the book was published. I thought that I had protected myself from the pain that was shared in the book, but I had absorbed plenty.
In addition, my personal life has changed dramatically. A seven year relationship with my partner Suzu ended a couple of months ago, and my daughter, Taylor, who has lived with me full-time for the last 11 years decided to move to college.
These aren't bad things; just major changes. I'm grateful that Taylor is strong and confident enough to make this big move happen. I'm also grateful for the freedom that comes with being single and for the new friendship that Suzu and I are developing.
I've also been dealing with the never-ending question of what I'm supposed to do next. I'm here for a purpose (this I know) and when I'm just twisting in the wind without direction it's very uncomfortable to say the least.
So I've been actively seeking healing and answers and I've received both in the last few weeks.
There are places in the South that are vortexes for creating and healing. Asheville is one of those places for me. I went up for the weekend recently. My friends Sean and Chris graciously welcomed me into their home as they always do. I spent Friday night laughing and experiencing the love of friends. Saturday morning I went for breakfast and noticed a festival was happening right down the road. I walked up and asked if they had a spot where I could sell some books. I didn't expect a yes, much less for them to give me a prime spot for free, but they did. I sat and sold books all day, meeting some amazing people; the right people. That night I got to spend some much needed time with an old friend, Dave Desmelik. The next day I setup in front of my friend Danielle's store, Royal Peasantry, and sold more books and met more amazing people.
In short, Asheville embraced me as it always does.
This past weekend I went to Finster Fest at Paradise Gardens in Summerville, GA. I had known about Howard Finster from visits to The High Museum, but I only learned of Paradise Garden several months ago. It was clear to me that it was a place I needed to visit. When I heard last week that Finster Fest was going on, I decided to make the 2+ hour drive to see the Garden and the artists who would be there for the weekend.
I figured that I might as well ask if they had a spot open for me to sell books. I got there 30 minutes after they opened on Saturday and they said they had one spot left if I wanted it. I went down to where my table would be for the weekend, and I'll be damned if it wasn't right next door to Jim White's booth.
What's the big deal about being next to Jim White? Well... I first heard of Jim through a documentary called Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus. The documentary follows Jim around the South. It's raw, gritty and in many ways inspired my own journey. Digging a little deeper, I got to know Jim's music and hear his stories which have also meant an awful lot to me.
Before the Kickstarter launched for the first book, I was also twisting in the wind a little. I was talking to Suzu on the way to a flea market just outside of Athens, GA. We talked a lot about Jim and the documentary on the way there. We'd only been at the flea market for 5 minutes when I look up and see the man himself walking towards me. I had absolutely no idea he would be there that day. I think I was a little starstruck at the time. I don't even remember what was said. That wasn't the point. It was an indication to me that I was not alone on my quest. Something was listening to me and pulling the strings to help my dreams become a reality. I needed that sign at that crucial moment to continue on and I got it.
So, here I am in this sacred garden and I'm shown this sign again in the form of Jim. It opened me up for what would occur the rest of the weekend in this beautiful place. I met human after human who I connected with. It was as if every encounter was destiny. All of these people came along the path and healed me and I them. Perhaps the most touching moments came when I was sitting alone, quietly, by the horse, under the shade tree, surrounded by the beautiful energy that was created by Howard Finster.
I left Paradise Gardens feeling light, and free, and whole. I honestly didn't know if people would be receptive to my book in an environment focused on folk art, but they were more receptive than I could have imagined. I truly felt like Howard himself had graciously welcomed me to his family, given me a seat at the table, and nourished me back to health. I don't believe I've ever felt the presence of someone who has passed as strongly as I felt his on that Sunday. He may not be physically among the living anymore, but he is very much alive and well in that garden.
It didn't occur to me until the ride home how closely he and I are connected in our love for showing the beauty in the broken and tossed away. Thank you, Reverend Finster, for revealing yourself to me this weekend. I'll be forever grateful for your hospitality.
I took the pieces you threw away
and put them together by night and day
washed by rain and dried by sun
a million pieces all in one