“Turn Aside”

John Ortberg in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted talks about “turning aside” for God. As Moses “turned aside” to look at the burning bush, so must we be willing to interrupt our daily routine and pay attention to the presence of God. Today I was supposed to be in Second Kings according to by Bible reading plan. Instead, I turned aside, and went to Leviticus (of all places), and shared some scripture via email with a new Christian who is hurting from years of sexual abuse. She was on my heart this morning. And instead of plowing through my scheduled Bible reading, I turned aside, and went somewhere else, hopefully following where God was leading me

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I want to go back to bed.

The pastor is away on vacation. I need to lead the Sunday School opening and songs. I’m teaching the adult Sunday School class. I’m running the PA for the morning service, though that’s no real big deal. I’m leading the 11am worship service with my wife. I’m needed at church today.

This afternoon at 2pm is my brother’s funeral.

If ever there was a day I would want to skip church and go back to bed it’s today. If ever there was a day I was needed at church it’s today.

The Spiritual Discipline of Sleep

“Get plenty of sleep” the book said. “You can’t minister appropriately if you don’t get enough rest.” The professor said “Try to get one day a week where you sleep as long as your body wants to.” For me, that was today. Is was supposed to be today. It’s Saturday. I didn’t set an alarm. My body woke up around 5am, as I’ve trained it to do; that’s around my usual wake-up time. I went to the bathroom, but then proceeded to go back to bed. I thought perhaps I’d get another couple hours of sacktime in. I fell back to sleep, but not for long. Nothing wakes one up faster than the sound of a 90lb labrador retriever chortling in one’s bed. My wife and I both lept up. She pushed Deuteronomy (yes, my dog is named after an OT book by way of TS Eliot) out of the bed. I grabed a box that had been filled with Christmas socks. Deut hacked and wheezed, and I stood ready to catch a belly full of nasty, but it never appeared. But now, fully awake, knowing getting more sleep wasn’t going to be happening, I figured I’d start my day. Deut and I took our walk. He ate his breakfast. I read from my Bible, and decided to start the online journal for my Spiritual Formation and Transformation class. Here’s entry #1.

The Rolling Car and the Rosewood Snare Dream

I dreamed I was in a vehicle that was rolling in reverse, and I had no breaks. I had to navigate through some streets and try to figure out a place to crash. I ended up crashing into a beat up old pick up. Sadly, I had cross the border from Canada into the United States during the trip, so I had to go through customs in the clear my possessions. I happened to have a rosewood snare drum with me, and imported rosewood is now illegal (at least in my dream). Thankfully the agent had a poster showing what rosewood snare drums were vintage and would be allowed in, and my snare drum was on the poster, so I knew I would be safe.

My First Ride Cymbal

In my previous post, I mentioned I bought my first pro cymbal, and that I had a video of me in high school playing my first battle of the bands, and using that crash. At that particular band battle, I didn’t yet own a ride cymbal! I had to borrow a ride from another drummer. I don’t remember the exact model ride, but I borrowed a Zildjian Platinum ride from one of the guys at the show. I was impressed by how much ping and cut came out of that cymbal. I was very impressed with it. By the next year, and the next band battle, I purchased a Zildjian Ping Ride from my local music store. I would’ve been a sophmore in high school, I think. Again, I have a video of that Battle of the Bands. I so much loved that cymbal that I asked the sound man to make sure it was heard in the mix. He mic’d it up separately! It was heard, alright. A mic’d Ping ride will get some attention. You can see that VHS on Youtube if you click here.

I still own that ride cymbal. My tastes have changed over the years. I prefer thinner ride cymbals now, lighter cymbals I can get a crash out of if needed. So this ride doesn’t get played much, but it still gets played at the occasional rock show. As I reflect on my friend Harvey, and the closure of my local music store, I think with fondness about my love of ride cymbals (only eclipsed gear wise by my snare drum love), and how it started when I was a young teen, 15 or so, at my local music shop. And now, now that it’s gone, young drummers won’t have a shop to go listen and pick out a cymbal. They’ll have to travel an hour or two, or buy online (where you can’t hear the cymbal before you buy it).  #NK2Music


Harvey and the local music store

My very first real drum set was purchased at Northern Kingdom Music, probably 1984 or so. For the last 35-ish years, I’ve done business with my local music shop. Northern Kingdom closed up a few years ago, but a couple of the employees picked up the mantle and opened K2 Music. Midcoast Maine continued to have a local music store through the line of NKM. Until yesterday. Yesterday K2 Music closed, and with it an era. I’m without a local music store. The closest one is now an hour away.

I’ve decided I want to highlight some stories, and show off some gear I purchased from NKM and K2 over the years. What musician doesn’t like talking gear?

This cymbal is a 16″ Zildjian thin crash. It’s the first professional cymbal I ever purchased, and I got it from NKM. I have a video of me playing a battle of the bands as a freshman in high school. In that video I was playing this cymbal. On a side note, in that video I’m playing a borrowed ride cymbal; I didn’t own my own ride at the time. Anyway, this crash is still in my possession, and currently is on a stand at my practice kit down in the teaching studio as I write.

Ear Plugs

I remember it was in the trailer where my beloved and I lived during our first two years of marriage–so this would’ve been 1994 or 1995-ish. I was an active musician, and we had recently been to a concert of some nature. My ears had been ringing. And would you believe, in the newspaper was an article about hearing damage, and a phone number to a telephone based hearing test. You called the number, and listeded to three tones. I remember calling, and remember I couldn’t hear all three. A recording at the end of the test said something like “If you’ve recently been exposed to loud noises, give your ears some time to rest, and then take the test again.” I did, and thankfully the test that time was normal. Since then, I’ve been routinely wearing earplugs when playing the drums.

Fast forward 23 or so years. I was listening to a drumming podcast, and the subject or ear protection came up. Specifically, a company was promoting high fidelity, but affordable and non custom made, earplugs. I decided I’d try a pair. And so, I’ve been on a bit of a quest. A quest to find the best, not custom, affordable earplugs.

I now own four different sets of earplugs, all less than $25. I’m going to give honest reviews of these earplugs here on the blog, with the hope other musicians find these reveiws and find them helpful in choosing something that will potentially save their hearing. Reveiws will begin soon.

Remembering John Calvin Dancer, Part 5

My father-in-law was the most patient man I have ever met. Ever. The man. Was. Patient. Are you catching that? How many of us count patience among our virtues. Few. Generally speaking, people aren’t patient. Men aren’t patient. Mainers aren’t patient. And yet Dad was the example of patience. In the 30 or years I knew him, I never saw him lose his patience. Never. I never heard him yell. He never raised his voice even! He never got frustrated. Never exasperated. Never lost his cool. Never. Never ever never. My mother in law even commented he was no good to fight with, because he would never argue!

There was one time–one time in 30 years–where he got into some physicality with his then teenage son Jonathan. Susan and I were in the living room, and I don’t remember what the argument was about. I do remember Johnathan was out of line. Whatever the issue was, Dad was in the right. Then, there was some pushing. I didn’t leave the living room, so didn’t see what happened, but I’d bet dollars to donuts Johnathan started the pushing. In any event, even during that, Dad never lost his cool. No yelling. No name calling. Even when it came to being pushed by his son (and both Dad and Jonathan were tall, and John has some meat on his bones–a fridge sized man he is), he didn’t lose his patience. Amazing. His patience is such an example to me. I fall so, so far short there. He gives me a mark to shoot for.

Remembering John Calvin Dancer, Part 4

My Beloved has always called her father “Daddy.” That name is full of love and endearment. I’m sure she calls him Daddy because she loves him so much. I’m confident she feels not only loved, but safe and secure, cared for and cherished. I hope I can live up to his example such that my own daughter will call me Daddy, even when she’s older, and for those same reasons.

Remembering John Calvin Dancer, Part 3

Something that always impressed me about my father-in-law was the way he prayed. There was an honesty and a humility with which he prayed. (Really, honesty and humility were a hallmark of his life, so it’s only logical his prayer life would follow suit.) And one of the things he did, almost–but not every time, but usually–he started his prayers with “Father.” He used “Heavenly Father” some, but mostly he started with just “Father.” I never asked him why he started this way, if he was intentional about it or not, but it was usually how he started. This made an impression on me because of what that opening word says about his relationship with God. God wasn’t someone distant to Dad. He wasn’t “Heavenly Father, creator of all things seen and unseen, immortal and immutable, so on and so forth.” He IS those things, yes, and my father-in-law would recognize Him as that, for sure. But in dealing with God on a day to day basis, He was much closer to Dad than that. He was “Father.” I find that inspiring, that one would be in such close communion with God that, when praying needed to be done, when he needed to ask, when he needed to talk to Him, he addressed Him as that simple word: Father.

Luke 11:2 “And He said to them “When you pray, say Father…”