Sunday, February 19, 2012

And Even Now

I stood near the stage, just beside the barrier separating sidestage from the concert attendees. I cradled my borrowed Cannon camera, looking up at the 18,000 people rising in tiers all around me like a tsunami, rippling restlessly. Cameras flashed high above me, thousands of tiny supernovas touching off a lightning storm in the arena atmosphere. The stage glowed with a fierce intensity as one of Christian music’s biggest bands shot songs like canon fire into the dark.

I smoothed my media pass. I had spent the past two hours in my familiar territory, the world between stage and audience. Photography can be a demanding endeavor in these moments-- you run, half-hunched, to capture a moment you’re about to miss on the other side of the stage. Drop to your knees, focus, hold down for a quick burst to capture several frames. Up and out to the end of the walkway, catch the lead singer reaching to brush the fingertips of fans. Weave to the back of the section for a wide-angled shot. And of course avoid security guards, dodge fans, all while adjusting ISO and aperture in a steady stream of constant attention to detail.

I love this job (if “job” it could be called). I thrive there. I come away feeling alive. This time had been harder than usual though-- communication frustrations with security, organization challenges, hours of waiting for clearance I already had. This was only after a full day at college, going to class and work and checking off the endless to-do list.

The songs that night were a comfort for me, but challenging. I had heard God’s voice like a hurricane in the sound, pressing me, breaking me, erasing the callouses enough to let in hope. Hope right now is hard. It means facing a future.

I am ever a child of in-betweens. I’m currently preparing to jump from the edge of everything I’ve ever known with nothing more than faith that I’ll have a place to land. It’s a terribly lonely thing to look at everything around you, the place you’ve been for 19 of your 20 years alive, and know it’s almost gone. It’s even worse to know that there is really no other more definite option anymore. It feels at times like I am staring into this vast unknown with a heart very much alone. A thousand voices have told me where to go, what to do, how I should do it-- a hundred hearts aching for a piece of mine. There are infinite chances for failure. I am here on the edge, in the in-between. God is about to grow something new, something beautiful, and I believe that. But it’s going to mean losing a lot of things. That is a lonely reality. And as I stood there, stranded between being the overachieving college kid and the rock concert photographer and the 20-something with no clue where I’m going, still fighting and searching and wondering who I am, facing the enormity of the hope for what might be and the fullness of what will never be... it was very lonely.

I looked over then, past the clutter of sidestage, to see a friend walking towards me. He had been on stage earlier that night, and I knew he must be worn from the energy of his performance, from the thousand things he has to keep track of, from the eyes of thousands watching him. But he came to give me a hug and to stand by me, there beside the bass amps and the VIP section and curious security guards.

For 25 minutes we stood there. We talked a little bit, and we sang along with the music, but for the most part he stood there, and I stood there. I knew he didn’t need me to say anything unless I wanted to. He didn’t have any reason to be there-- he could have chosen better places to stand and watch. He knows me well enough that I feel he has every right to pass by without a second glance. But for that space of time he chose to stand by me. Not asking anything. Not telling me to move, that I needed to rearrange my actions. He was just there.

In this deluge of color and sound that is my life, in the midst of 18,000 other stories and voices, peace came with the quiet footsteps of grace. In that seemingly simple action of a friend I heard a reminder, a Voice stilling my heartbeat with a whisper: “I am with you. And even now, I am with you here.”

My world of uncertainty and this sick ache to serve, to be enough, the fighting to understand who I am and to get past everything I regret-- it all stopped. Amidst the chaos, the thousand voices crying to me suddenly silenced in a deep peace. God took that moment and crafted His message, imprinting it in the crevices of this cracked heart. I hope and pray I never underestimate the value of simply choosing to stand beside someone, because I know I will certainly never lose my sense of complete awe when someone chooses to stand beside me. Our God uses friends to remind us sometimes, though He certainly doesn’t need to. Maybe these moments are like the supernova flashes in the dark, setting the picture with startling clarity. There I had the reminder, the promise, diffused and echoed: even now, I am not alone. Even now, He sends those who will still stand beside me, and even if He does not, He Himself takes my hand on the other side of this death and calls gently “come and live.”

Every time I run, this relentless Voice chases me, this promise that has echoed for two thousand years, this truth that stills hurricanes to peace and demands hope: “behold, I am with you.”

He is with us.

- Elraen -


NarnianWarHorse said...

Hmmm, this touches on something I've been wanting to write to you. *hug* I wish we lived closer so I could tell you in person, but a letter will have to do. :)

Love you 'Raen.


Eclectic Elegance said...

This was really, really good. :) Reminded me of the other weekend when I cried my eyes out watching that Faith Lesson DVD at 2am and felt His presence. :) *hugs*