Finding a Voice

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

tour update #6: nearing the end, finding a home

This particular journey is nearing the end. It has been exhausting yet exhilarating, affirming and confirming my calling to a creative lifestyle, with music as a central part of that.

The house concert in Kitchener, Ontario was a delightful reunion of Briercrest alumni from the 2000s, plus a few new faces. One fun introduction was Laura S. Her sister Hannah (also there) was one of my students and introduced Laura to this blog. Laura has been quietly reading for a couple of years, and finally we met. It was amazing to open my concert singing "Poetess" and see her wipe away tears, then later to ask what caused the tears and have her respond that it was seeing me "standing, declaring my choice / To take my calling after resisting far too long." Hmmm. What a place to be in.

My other Ontario house concert in Markham was quite a bit smaller, but no less lovely in reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones. The CACSD meetings were fruitful, there were several opportunities for rejuvenation and reconnecting with friends during the trip. Of course, a touring schedule, sleeping in a different bed every night or two, being with different people every day or two, is not easy and I have often longed for a companion and/or a manager/agent at home and/or a laptop of my own to help streamline some aspects of life on the road.

I'm in Calgary this week. Arrived at 10:00 on Thursday evening (midnight in Ontario). Probably one of the funniest (as in ha-ha) touring moments happened the next morning at 6:30 when my alarm went off to get me up for a day of CHEC meetings (Christian Higher Education Canada). My last bed in Ontario was a mattress on the floor for two nights (comfy and restful). However, my bed in Calgary is your typical off-the-ground variety, but combining lack of sleep and disorientation, I jumped, rolled, and fell on the floor, banging my forehead on the night table! A bit of ice and nobody could tell, but it underscored my relief to be staying put here at my brother Tom's place for a few days and doing ordinary family things like driving my nephews and niece to school and writing little ditties to record on a birthday CD for my youngest niece and nephew.

Just a few days ago I found out that the Canadian Christian Music conference is here on Thursday and Friday, so I'm going to go for learning, networking, and inspiration. Possible workshops present me with some tough choices:
Caronport this weekend, then home to Spiritwood for a few days where I'll pack up to move to my brother Jeffrey's place in Duval, SK (population about twenty) to be Jeffrey's business manager and general "Girl Friday" for Jeffrey: potter, photographer, writer, musician, etc., etc. It will be an outlet for all my best admin & marketing impulses and provide some creative space for me, too. It's time to write songs and stories. Jeffrey and I have some big artistic dreams, both separately and together, so will prayerfully proceed.

These sorts of dreams have been stirring in my heart and soul for a long time, but I could hardly imagine how or where they could begin to happen, even though Jeffrey had talked about similar things. The past year in Spiritwood has been transitional, knowing that I needed to finish my thesis and regain some health while seeking the Lord for the next step.

While in Ontario, my friend Anna reminded me of a developmental model that helps make sense of this past season: Janet Hagberg's Critical Journey. I've spent most of the year on a "journey inward" (stage 4), and have struggled "to be comfortable staying in this place until the new path comes." This summer I started hitting "the wall," wanting direction (particularly paying work) rather than waiting. I wrote out some elaborate schemes, trying to imagine ways to move on, make money and fulfill my calling at the same time. I have even submitted numerous resumes, with no bites. What should I do, what should I do, what should I do?

In all of this, the Lord has clearly had his hand on me. I recognize it in many ways. First there was the breakthrough in going on tour. There have been places to sleep and food to eat and people to sing for and with. As the tour nears the end, I have been wondering what to do next. I could keep touring, but it's time to stop and rest and be creative. I have been scouring job sites and brainstorming possibilities for self-employment income. Walls, walls, walls. Now Duval.

Though it seems perhaps a bit strange and risky, what hasn't been risky and unusual in my life for the past year plus? We're not naive. This transition will not be without challenges, of course, but that's the nature of anything worth doing. This feels like the right next step, pulling together all of my interests, training, experience and passion for the arts, business and education.

Hopefully my next post won't be so long in coming.

Here's a forecasted schedule for the next few weeks:

Mon, Oct 22, Calgary (driving my nephews and niece to school--a nice change for me and a break for my brother & sister-in-law!)
Tue, Oct 23, Calgary, house concert, Pete & Brita Miko's home
Wed, Oct 24, Calgary, writing
Thu, Oct 25, Calgary, Canada Christian Music Conference
evening, Red Deer, house concert at Pete & Audrey Winter's home
Fri, Oct 26, Calgary, CCM conference
drive to Caronport
Sat, Oct 27, Caronport, house concert at Brendan and Laura Winter's home
Sun, Oct 28, Moose Jaw First Free Methodist Church

Mon, Oct 29, Caronport
Tue, Oct 30, Caronport
Wed, Oct 31, Eston, SK, Full Gospel Bible College, concert (to be confirmed)
Thu, Nov 1, home to Spiritwood, Mom's birthday
Nov 2 - 8, Spiritwood: house concert at Inn on the Tenth; packing to move to Duval, SK for creative space and to be my brother Jeffrey's business manager and personal assistant during the Christmas rush.

Sometime in November: that free trip to California from a bank promotion last year

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posted by Colleen McCubbin at 10:01 AM 3 comments

Thursday, October 04, 2007

tour update #5: sacred space

So much has happened, as you can imagine from the previous schedule. The Menno Simons Centre concert was lovely. There were 11 guests, and would have been more with longer notice. A couple of people gave me friendly chiding on that. Ah, but this tour has been very worthwhile, so I'll be back, with more advance planning next time.

Courtenay was a treat. I had dinner with a dear friend, Lynette, and her new husband Dave. I was supposed to sing at Dave & Lynette's wedding in December, but weather and health prevented it. They came to my concert the next night and I dedicated the song to them there. What a fun concert! It was my largest to day, with 18 guests plus my host couple. The crowd was very responsive, singing along on a couple of songs, with one woman even requesting an encore of "Good Storyline"--Lynette & Dave's song!

The two nights at Terri & John's place were restful and productive. They had just bought an infrared sauna earlier that week, so I sat in it both nights for some helpful cleansing. I was fighting a sore throat, so they loaded me up with zinc losenges and "BioStim" immune boosting capsules and fed me lovely, healthful food. Terri set me up on the computer and I was able to catch up on some correspondence and finish a conference proposal, with a prooreading session in the sunny back yard.

Saturday morning, Terri and I got up quite early to meet the 8:30 ferry, as I wanted to get to Regent for their celebration of the opening of the new library. We made it. I was able to spend a good lot of time writing in my journal and reflecting on the past days before being with more people. (Driving time, I am learning, especially in city limits, is not a good substitute for solitude with time for reading and writing. So I am especially grateful for small windows like this ferry ride. I am loving reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances and meeting interesting new people, but I learned several years ago that I need to balance that with time alone.)

After the Regent celebration events, I joined my cousin Amy to meet a few of her dear friends. We had sushi with "the other Amy," then moved on to Amy's apartment to meet Johanna and let her practice her George Herbert paper with us, as she's presenting it this weekend at a conference in England.

Saturday evening I attended a shower for Sherry and baby Josephine. Our friend Juliet was able to come--a lovely reunion. Juliet and I were roommates during my last year at Regent, and we both agree it was a magical household. Life moves on, and we are contented and glad with our lots in life, hers with husband and toddler and baby on the way, mine on the road as a new traveling minstrel ... yet, those memories of the house at 41st and Crown evoke wistfulness.

Sherry had asked me to sing a few songs at the shower. The hostess is originally from Saskatchewan, so I sang "Prairie Soul" for her sake and it brought tears to her eyes. I had forgotten how meaningful that song is for Sherry, too, from her years growing up in Oklahoma. I never get tired of singing that song.

There were quite a few children in the room, attentive to the music. One boy, Max, asked if I was going to sing a "clapping song." Indeed I did have a "clapping song," which I had written for my 3-year-old nephew, Ross. So "No Please, No Pizza" made its debut with rousing success. Ross's birthday is in a couple of weeks, so perhaps I'll record it this weekend with his cousins as a present for his 4th birthday. (Thanks to Kathy Wiebe for prompting the last section: "Isn't he going to say thank you?")

Too bad, so sad, no please no pizza
Too bad, so sad, no please no pizza

He said, "Please give me pizza,
please give me pizza
please give me pizza
so I can eat."

He's done, he's full, he's finished his pizza
He's done, he's full, he's finished his pizza

He said, "Thank you for the pizza,
thank you for the pizza,
thank you for the pizza
so I could eat."

Our food that evening was not pizza: it was sushi. My second meal of sushi, much to my delight, as we don't get much of that in Saskatchewan.

Sometime during the evening Sherry told me that her grandmother had died that morning, so she would be preparing to leave for the funeral. It was a tremendous gift that Sunday and Monday were both open on my schedule, so I was able do laundry, just be around to listen and cry, and babysit so Sherry & Stefan could go out together. It was work, but it was such a lovely change of pace from touring to do these ordinary, homey things for my friends.

Tuesday was a very full day. I can hardly begin to describe how crazy it was at the beginning. Sherry's shuttle to the Seattle airport was supposed to leave at 5:45, and they were there in good time, but apparently it left early so she missed it. They came back to change her flight and take the two older children with them to meet a different shuttle at the border. At first I thought I was dreaming when I heard the baby crying at 7:30. So we said good-bye again, and I was sure I would be gone before Stefan returned. No: my car battery was dead. Fortunately I had bought CAA before the trip, so called them, and called Duffy at Regent to tell her I was going to miss our coffee date. Sigh. Stefan returned before CAA arrived, so he boosted the car, I finished packing it, said good-bye yet again, and was on my way, arriving at Regent about 5 minutes before chapel.

Here is where the sacredness of my many spaces converged and became clear. The theme was pilgrimage. Don Lewis was one of the first students when Regent started in 1968, and he reflected on Regent's journey to his fourth phase, marked by the opening of the new library and park. After he shared we watched a video, documenting the building of the library, then we all went outside to circle the new park and sing the doxology in the rain. I cried to see the work in progress and was deeply moved by the awareness of God's hand on this college, my alma mater. I wished that other alumni could be here to feel the surge of happy relief in the chapel as scenes of the shrouded wind tower appeared alongside strains of Ben Keyes song about waiting on the Lord, who is "a long time God." Indeed he is. Sometimes he appears to delay, but once his work is established, who can shake it?

After chapel I met Chelle for lunch. She had driven up from Seattle to do research in the library and had chosen a day that worked for both of us. Had it really been five years or more since our last meeting? She and her husband spent several years in Scotland, both as Ph.D. students. Then 2 years researching in Berkley, CA. Now they're back in Seattle, exploring options for the next season. Of course I knew that Chelle was dear, but I had forgotten how much I enjoy her mix of humour and intelligence.

Finally, after lunch, Duffy and I had some time together, after three postponements! It was far too short, but focussed, meaningful, and encouraging. Her role at Regent is to promote the arts, both among current students and alumni (is that about it, Duffy?), so our little visit was a mix of deepening friendship and investing in my new artistic vocation. Such pointed, helpful questions. Thank you, friend. I will come back sooner than later and will give you more than 48 hours notice!

From Regent I drove to East Vancouver for another visit that was far too short with Christie Goode. Even so, I couldn't imagine being so close and not seeing her face to face one more time. Christie's is a friendship that spans both Briercrest and Regent.

From there it was to New Westminster for a house concert, which was a bit like a Caronport High School/Briercrest Bible College reunion. My host was Shelley (Klassen) Linke. We met in CHS. There were two others at the concert: our mutual friend Sandra Enns, and Will Watson. We reminisced for well over an hour before I began to sing, we discussed everything between songs, and then talked for over an hour after the last song was done. The Facebook event had suggested the concert would end around 9:30, but we didn't wrap up until after midnight!

Wednesday I was going to sing at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, but accidentally locked my guitar in Shelly's house. Fortunately, I had heard her mention where her husband works, so I called the head office on a longshot and was transferred directly to him. He gave me her work number, she called someone who had a key, and I was able to get into the house, but was behind just enough minutes to miss singing in the cafeteria. I could have sung, but lunch hour was in full swing and I felt like my singing would be invasive for the conversations in progress. Instead, Rikk Kieft took me on a tour and I got in on a chocolate fondue in the commuter collegium! I did sing a couple of songs for a few people in the Student Development office.

Met my friend Brad Jersak that afternoon at Ethical Addictions in Abbotsford and had a good visit. On my way out the door I suddenly remembered that I wanted to send something with his wife Eden who is going to China in a few weeks and will be at the school where my friend Crystal's husband works. "Oh," he said, "well Lorie's here and she's going with Eden." I knew Lorie from a conference at Briercrest. How satisfying to send my love in person to a dear old friend in a far away land.

That brings me to Aldergrove and an overnight stay with my friend Kathleen, where again I am struck by the sacredness of the space that is a dear friendship. Kathleen's family moved here from Caronport in the summer, and it has been a hard transition, yet I feel hopeful for her and for all of them. When we were at Caronport I wrote a poem for Kathleen. She typed it and framed it and hung it on her dining room wall in Caronport. It is here as well. In a season of transition, it's easy to wonder if or when life will be so wonder-filled again ... but it will. It just takes time ... perhaps it feels like too much time ... but it will come.

(for Kathleen)

You are not just teaching
your children,
you are nurturing
their love for beauty:
the everyday dishes are dirty
so they delightedly suggest the china
for Saturday's waffles;
you giggle assent.
Together you work the garden--
planting,watering, weeding;
waiting by the fire in the gazebo,
drinking tea from locally made pottery;
harvesting cherries and cherry tomatoes
and crab apples
by the laundry basket-full.
Practicing hospitality,
and living in community,
you cook and bake and visit,
provide for those in need,
enjoy company at all hours.
You hike together in the Pines,
canoe Canadian lakes,
watch sunsets,
launch art projects.
Your husband carves creches
and walking sticks.
You tell Tooth Fairy tales,
paint labyrinths.
You are experiencing
supernatural childhood before God.
You will wander to the center:
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 9:34 AM 2 comments