Running down the stairs only to be embraced by the smells of a Sunday night in the Harper home sent my heart into bliss. The house was warmed with radiant beams of red from the sun that set just outside the screen door. I could hear the familiar rhythm of the music that accompanied every summer night within the homegrown, walls that protected the hearts of 221 South Vine Avenue.
This music wasn't just something to fill the silence within this home of extremely loud characters, rather, this music was the art that left each one of our hearts full as we sat around the fire toasting to this beautiful life and the Team we have to share it with. And, overtime, this music, and each word spoken were the words that lullabied me to sleep... each and every night.
Now, 20 some years later, they would be the words that send chills down my back as I discover, time and time again, the truth and power behind the words that served as the Soundtrack to my life.
1. "Smell the sea and feel the sky...Let your soul and spirit fly."
-"Into The Mystic," Van Morrison
When I was younger, I remember looking at the small little wrinkles that hugged the eyes of my mom and dad. I would study the way they laughed, and the sound of their voices throughout our home. These little wrinkles, along with the simple hum of their voices, were just the mere elements to the immensely beautiful people they are. I had the chance to see their souls and spirits fly as they lived their lives and touched the lives inside and outside of the little white home on 221 South Vine, and it was on nights like these, that I remember being so proud to look up at each of them and know that God gave me each of them to experience this life with. They taught me to embrace the little elements of this life, the fine detail of God's work, and use these elements to spark my heart. To let my soul and spirit fly.
2. "But time threw a prayer to me... And all around me became still... I need love, love's divine"
- "Love's Divine," Seal
As a student in college, there will never be enough time. But, as I am finding, when I look in the mirror of the almost 20-year-old young woman that still looks back at me, I can feel the heart of the 10-year-old girl I was in what feels like just yesterday. And, If I look closely I can see the of my own wrinkles begin to form with my smile, and it brings me back to the humbling reality that there will only ever be so much time on this earth. There will be only so much time to find yourself, lose yourself, and come back home. This life was not intended to be lived in parallel, this world is to be explored. Because of this, our love needs to withstand distance, pain, and everything that this life throws at us. But, with a love that is authentic to you, and with a love that honors the one above, the grace of God is in you and with you. There is only so much time... so hug those God gave you to love, and pray for the grace to live this life to your truest.
3. "And I think it's gonna be a long long time...'Till touch down brings me round again to find...I'm not the man they think I am at home...Oh no no no I'm a rocket man."
-"Rocket Man," Elton John
In a funny sense, we are all our own "Rocket Man." As I have grown older, I have seen the hearts of so many pour their time into things that they feel they "need" to do. But, at the core of all of us, lies a spirit of someone who is made to love and be loved, there lies someone who is made to lose themselves in something because their heart is drawn to it till "touch down brings us back around" in time. In my life, I have made a point to never lose my "Rocket Man". I vow to challenge my heart and make sure that my passions align with my daily practice. I vow to use the gifts God has given me to serve what he has placed in my heart to do with my time here on earth.
4. "Darlin' only the good die young... Woah, I tell ya... Only the good die young"
- "Only the Good Die Young," Billy Joel
Singing this throughout the house when I was younger, little did I know the weight of these words and the impact they would have only a few short years later.
When God brings someone home, it hits each person they have touched on this earth. The absence of their grace and presence is felt and never, never forgotten. When I hear these words, I don't hear loss, rather I hear a life honored. I hear the rewards and the impact of a heart set out to do good in this life and the impact that this single person can have. This is the power that every single person has, and it is the effect that the presence of one heart can have on the lives of those they choose to share life with.
5. "But time makes you bolder... Even children get older... And I'm getting older, too"
- "Landslide," Fleetwood Mac
Something that I have found to be so beautiful, is not necessarily the aging of our physical beings, but the aging of our hearts and minds through the experiences we are given, as well as the experiences we are able to create. If you sit back and listen to the words of someone's testimony to life, the growth that happens to each of us as we share our stories and experience the stories of so many others in the lives, can only be attributed to the work of something greater than us alone. We are all children, but we are aged with the blessing of each breath of life. As time goes on, and we take each breath, we use them to speak, and act in remarkable ways. In ways that are bolder than we ever imagined.
6. "Why won't you run into the rain and play... And let tears splash all over you?"
- "41.," Dave Matthews Band
I have never been afraid to feel. To let my heart pound with excitement, or ache with pain... I can truly say, whatever was on my heart, I have felt it. We are human. We are created to feel, with passion or pain, it is all apart of our story. Our being resides on the state of our outlook on life, and the connections we hold to those we walk this life with. There is a power to letting yourself embrace the impact of the incredible experience that life is, in all of its conditions. To shield yourself from feeling, robs yourself of experiencing this life to its fullest. So, run in the rain, sing in the car, cry to your favorite movie, and squeeze the hands of the ones you love tight. Enjoy the ride.
7. "I want to stop and thank you baby. I just want to stop and thank you baby, yes I do, how sweet it is to be loved by you. How sweet it is to be loved by you."
- "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," James Taylor
I have been blessed to experience the love of my parents, in its purest form. I have seen the highs and lows, and the commitment of a lasting love, even after one is no longer here on earth. I have seen two people no longer looked at this life for themselves, but for one another. Watching the looks each of them gave one another, and the team they built as a result to their has been a direct reflection of the love that God wants us to share on this earth, and the power it can have on the life you lead.
8. "I'll tell them what the smile on my face meant...My heart going boom, boom, boom.... 'Hey,' I said, 'you can keep my things, they've come to take me home'"
-"Solsbury Hill," Peter Gabriel
We all have a home. But, we also all have our own home within ourselves. Our home within ourselves consists of our truest, most authentic selves. When you discover the courage you have to reveal this authentic self; you are home... and you will, in time, bring others home too. I remember dancing around the kitchen to these words, and thinking that I was home. Little did I know, life called for me to leave home. It has been through the process of being on my own that I have realized who I am, embodies and resembles the home that I can run to, whether it is physically to 221 Vine, or the home within myself as I have grown to know myself and the home that resides within me.
9. "So speak kind to a stranger, Cause you'll never know... It just might be an angel come, Knockin' at your door."
-"Waiting On an Angel," Ben Harper
In my eyes, there is no such thing as a stranger. Just a story that you haven't heard yet. See people, not labels. See the eyes that look at you, not clothing they wear. See the hands that are extended to help you, not the ways in which you may look.
People are your greatest investment, and through and through... people are your greatest reward. Every time.
10. "If in the dark we lose sight of love, Hold my hand, and have no fear, Cause I, I will be here."
-"I Will Be Here," Steven Curtis Chapman
If the lights in your world were to go out, who would you hold onto? These are the people in your life that deserve to know how much of an impact they have made on your life. When it is all said and done, when the lights go out, nothing matters but those who will be able to tell your story, your legacy lies within the people who value it.
11. "Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone"
-"Jack and Diane," John Mellencamp
Believe what scares you to believe in. If your heart tells you yes, don't shut that off. This life goes by in the blink of an eye, and it is, and will always be, faith that will drive your engine. It will always be the relationship that you have with your maker, and the work that you know he is doing through you, that will keep you moving on.