Years ago I had a guitar that had the signatures of my favorite songwriters. Four I had already, one I had left to get. The four were Nicole Nordeman, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, and Kim Richey. I also wanted to get Mary Chapin Carpenter. These songwriters helped shape me as a songwriter. From Nicole Nordeman I learned how to be brutally honest about your faith which means sharing your doubts, questioning God, and leaning into Him. From Patty Griffin I learned that to show emotion with my guitar and to not hold back with my lyrics. From Shawn Colvin I learned that lyrics don’t have to have that perfect Nashville form and by doing so you can sometimes communicate so much more with poetry straight from the heart. From Mary Chapin Carpenter I learned that songs don’t have to be a simple love, they can be about a town or a shirt or a railroad depot and have an honest impact and tell a story. From Kim Richey I learned that you can be cool being yourself, to use poetry tricks like antonyms, and great rhythms can make a song move.
Since my sunburst mock humming bird guitar, a $150 purchase at a garage sale, was stolen with four of the five signatures on it I have been on a quest to get them back. A few years ago I was able to get Nicole Nordeman’s signature at one of her concerts. Fast forward, these past couple months have been a rollercoaster of songwriting emotions, starting with going to the Dar Williams Retreat, who taught me about taking time with a song and not rushing it, and during that time having a new project to focus on which is probably the thing that makes songwriters most happy. A couple weeks ago my wife Kim took me to see Patty Griffin and as we took my guitar and a gentleman working at the venue in Oklahoma City was nice enough to take my guitar back and have Patty Griffin sign it. It was like Wow a break through. To have something stolen from you to in some way come back to your possession is weirdly freeing.
Last night something serendipitous happened. Kim got tickets for the Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter show in KC. What I didn’t know is weeks ago she contacted Shawn Colvin’s manager to see if my guitar could be signed. She ended up getting in touch with the road manager for both of them. When we arrived at the Kauffman Center we had to get permission to go to the stage to be able to give the guitar to the stage manager. Both Mary Chapin and Shawn agreed to sign the guitar. I was so excited at that alone, not realizing what else would soon happen. Shannon who worked there then showed amazing generosity saying “Hey my friends weren’t able to show to this concert, do you want to sit in the seats?” They were a lot closer. When we sat down, the lights were dimmed, Shawn and Colvin broke into the cover song “This is the End of the Innocence”. I don’t know if it was the hard week I had had, the love show by my wife for helping make this blessing happen, the generosity of strangers, the being able to slow down and see my music heroes breakout into song, or the longing for doing the same, but I broke down into tears.
The lessons I learned yesterday is that life can be hard and good. In life, junk will come our way but so will the quiet blessings. And when we receive those quiet blessing, those moments of joy, and things are really good we don’t have to be afraid of what is to come. We don’t have to be afraid of tragedy. We don’t have to be afraid of things taken away from us. Because good and bad will come it is the ebb and flow of life. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh as Job said. But the Lord also giveth again. Enjoy the moments of joy. Find peace in the wave of hard times. This blessed life is continually moving, but it is ours to cherish. It is ours to live.
Sarah Popejoy Jackson