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renewing The Middle

by | Nov 28, 2021 | renew, The Middle, The Moody Blues

In the span of a little over 24 hours we were with friends who have celebrated over 50 years together, and then other friends that were celebrating the marriage of their daughter. The latter was filled with other young people who met at a Christian Camp set in the mountains of Virginia near Roanoke. The outdoor celebration was perfect for any occasion… but particularly perfect in this very strange year. Standing under a larger tree as they exchanged vows, we were all sitting in chairs – pods of mostly 2s and 4s spread across the hillside. At a certain point in the ceremony, the minister (without any sound equipment by the way) had us all join hands with our family, and remind ourselves of these vital relationships, and touching (in every sense) that makes a difference in the journey…

We also caught up with other friends, who now have girls of their own, 8 and 5, who, within the next 15 years, would easily be on the dance floor not just having fun, but being the guest of honor. They were also raised in the church, which is where we met, and we were talking about where things are with The Church, which I thought interestingly has its own journey through The Middle. My father-in-law gave his life to The Church which he credited with changing his life — likely it did. But he didn’t stop there – living through the Civil Rights era, the Chicago Riots, he engaged in an inner-city church that had a vibrant congregation — actually 37 of them — the number of languages spoken on Sunday Mornings. He brought all of that diversity, a new term, but not a new concept, under one roof — both collectively and individually — to find The Middle.

We are up to the 7th album from the Moodies, and ironically the “next” album would be Seventh Sojourn. The rationale was that the first album was really a “pop” group that sounded very different from the sound the core 5 found with the next 7 albums… and these 7 are the albums that most fans know about. This one is titled using the common words that match the acronym for the notes on the Treble Clef — EGBDF — Every Good Boy Deserves Favor.  It starts with a piece called Progression that was a “history of music – up until now”. There are only 3 words – “Desolation”, “Creation”, and “Communication”. This is the last track to use the rapidly aging Mellotron, and you really hear how great a guitar player Justin is. As with the track “Question”, this track starts fast with Hayward’s guitar lead break and Pinder’ scorching piano. Their focus on being able to play these songs well live is shown off in clips like this one from Red Rock in 1992, along with this one from 2000 at Royal Albert Hall with a full symphony.

The other area my father-in-law engaged with was support for Women in ministry. Much was written historically about the “rightness” of that leadership position, and you can find – well given my focus this week – about as many on either side. He was unwavering – he supported… early, and often. And not just a nod here and there, he was actively engaged in encouraging and supporting them, including seeing one of his parishioners rise to the level of Dean of the very seminary he helped save in the 80’s. He engaged, sometimes fiercely, in ensuring all voices were heard — a lifetime commitment to both The Middle, but also the renewing and restorative power of The Church.

He also later in life realized he needed to make his own family a priority, and most of his grandkids never saw him other than as a Grandfather. The picture on the left below is a famous one in our family. At the time it was simply one of his granddaughter’s reaching up to touch her Grandfather. Little did any of us know that about 25 years later, we would see it in a totally different framing. Amie would hear the call to become a Minister herself, and we now see that picture as the passing of the torch. On the far right, is our granddaughter — who, at only 3, was one of the cutest Flower Girls for a wedding in our family, and that couple are now expecting their first child. The Middle — is renewed — by each generation, and our own commitment to it. Doors are now open to her, and the next generation – our Children’s Children’s Children — that widened The Middle. The closing song for the week sounds words of love, and caution for the journey. Embrace your own role in The Middle… and find The Story in Your Eyes.

I’ve been thinking about our fortune
And I’ve decided that we’re really not to blame
For the love that’s deep inside us now, is still the same
And the sound we make together
Is the music to the story in your eyes
It’s been shining down upon you now, I realize
Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away
We are part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day
But I’m frightened for your children
And the life that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we’ve been waiting for
Will turn to rain
When the final line is over
And it’s certain that the curtain’s gonna fall
I can hide inside your sweet sweet love
Forever more
Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away
We are part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day
But I’m frightened for your children
And the life that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we’ve been waiting for
Will turn to rain

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