Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas, 2013

Greetings, Friends and Fellow Seekers,
    It’s been another extraordinary year and I could easily fill up all the white space on this page with tales of my exploits. Now that’s exploits not sexpl … well, anyhow you get the idea. However, I’m going to keep it brief and just touch on some of the biggies for yours truly this past year in order of their appearance – New Year’s Eve with Singapore Slingers, Captain Fantasm /Pocket Sandwich Theater (piano), My Wilshire concert featuring a whole bunch of talented folks doing my music (Yes, Virginia there is a CD of it), Jester’s annual show, Jim Rivers memorial birthday party, Robin Hood Melodrama (2 songs), Las Vegas, Me and Marilyn on my birthday, Breckenridge Village in Tyler, Winnsboro Kiddz on Stage, Wilshire Winds concert (Celebration of Freedom, my piece), New England trip, Tom McWhorter party, Denver trip incl. Operation Christmas Child stint, Wilshire Winds Christmas concert (If Every Day Were Like Christmas Day, my song), New England revisited on the 19th of this month. Add to all that this list of even more gigs with AChord, Nobles of Note, Dave Washburn’s Three-quarter Fast Jazz Band, Singapore Slingers, Dallas Banjo Band, Mark McKenzie Quartet, throw in at least a dozen new songs and … well, you can see I’ve had plenty to be thankful for this year – and believe me I am.
  But being thankful has also made me very mindful of friends and acquaintances who have had a rough year. They’ve had to deal with the pain of loss – it’s a pain most of us know too well.  And for them, and perhaps for all of us even now at Christmas time the vacant chair at the table is … The following has been written especially for them. Why? Because I felt they needed a word to be said in their behalf and elected myself to be a spokesman. Well, let’s be honest – I don’t think I was the one who elected myself spokesman. It was really His idea, I just sort of did my best to put it into words.

For After All, It’s Christmas

Okay, it’s Christmas time
Time for fun, frolic and fellowship
And good feelings and laughter
And being together and …
And … and for some – memories
Remembering that someone we loved
Is no longer here
So instead of a smile a tear
Comes to our eyes for a moment
Or maybe longer
It’s a moment with a feeling
A feeling that may grow stronger
As the homey, warm-hearted Rockwell scenes we see
Remind us in clear detail just how great being family can be
And despite the holiday glow everywhere
We know a sadness inside
That we try not to show
Might even try to hide
Not all that anxious to share
It’s a burden
One we’ve learned to bear
Not because we’re martyrs
But because we care
Always have, always will
Best to keep it to ourselves
For after all, it is Christmas

Okay, that’s enough, right!
Are you trying to bring us all down
Turn the red and green that colors
Our Christmas Dreams
Into something so gloomy
That it starts to look more
Like our worst nightmare on Halloween night?
Uh, no, I’m not
But in case you forgot
Christmas is supposed to be
Something a whole lot more than
What it’s become
I believe it started out as
A celebration of the arrival of a Son
The Holy, Life giving
(and in His case, literally) One
And pardon me, (which I know He will)
But if this season doesn’t have something hopeful,
Something real
To offer those in pain, those whose scars are deep
Who sometimes can’t help but weep
Because their world is now shattered
For suddenly it seems nothing much really matters
Like it did when she, when he was here
Well then let’s just turn Christmas over to Hallmark
Or Wal-mart or whoever and be done with it, shall we
Because this is God we’re talking about and let’s be clear
He knows hurt, he knows sorrow and I believe when we cry
He knows the weight of our tears
And He doesn’t expect you “put on a Happy face” when your heart is broken
Just because the Yuletide gods demand it
His grace is unending, his arms always open
For all His children
Though I confess I don’t fully understand it
But maybe especially at this time of year He sees those
Wounded, weary and lonely
And recalls not only a baby’s birth
Coming to a troubled and unwelcoming earth
But remembers how it felt to lose His only Son
To a world who certainly took their time remembering Him
And if God does indeed weep, and I believe He does
He would have then – even though He knew the rest of the story
And so do we who are people of faith – know the rest of the story
Oh, I don’t mean now that we trust
We blithely say, “Hey, everything is just all right with me”
What I do mean is that we can make it
We can, it’s not easy and it sure can be overwhelming at times
Even so
We can put one foot in front of the other
Wipe away the tears as we go
Do our very best with His help to grow beyond where we are
And look for the Star, like the wise men did
Not exactly sure where it will lead us
But believing He would never lead us astray
And if may, I’ll quote myself
“As long as He’s leading the way
We can say
Thanks to the Father, we’ve made it this far
Thanks to the Father, we know who we are”
And so does He, so does He
To those battle worn and beaten down,
My prayer would be
May you feel Him walking beside you
Willing to guide you, a never failing Father
Brother, Sister, Mother, Savior
Compassionate,  Strong, Kind
Giving you the very best present of all
His unconditional, full of “amazing grace” Love
To each one of you at this Christmas time

Merry Christmas,
George Gagliardi, December, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's Too Early For Easter ... Or Is It?

 Wednesday, Easter's a few weeks away
Me, I'm quick to say I'm not ready for Easter -- not just yet
Couldn't seem to get into the spirit of the thing
(More than likely I hadn't let the Spirit get into me)
No matter, there it was, Easter would be here soon, too soon
Or so I thought
I said, "Man, I'm just not ready for Easter"
My pastor, he caught me off guard, taught me a lesson  
A brief but timely response
It essentially boiled down to this --
When you're dead, Easter is never too early.
Talk about sobering, man, was he ever on target with that
I was looking for an Easter feeling -- as if there really is just one
So I wasn't quite ready for it to come barging in
Wait a while, a few more weeks, maybe
Strange thing about timing though, it doesn't much pay attention
To what you had planned -- Life just steamrolls right over you
And ready or not, here it comes -- sort of like this Easter
I'm speaking with conviction here
Conviction borne out of a recent experience
Having been, if not steamrolled, at least put flat on my back -- literally
Laying in a hospital bed, waiting to find out if ....
No, you don't even have to ask
I was once again reminded in a very concrete manner 
About how fragile we are, how mortal we are
And how precious life is, what a gift life is
(You bet I caught the "connection -- it was easy to see)
If that's not a big piece of what it means to celebrate Easter 
(Once you dig deep inside words like "salvation and redemption")
Then it's not about anything at all that matters
Ah, but it is, it is and Hallelujah I'm here to say
I believe it all over again
It's a good time to stand in awe of the Miracle
Moving from "being dead as a doornail" to being so full of life                         
 That I wouldn't be surprised if several angels
Were dancing on the head of a pin that morning
While the Father clapped his hands in sheer delight
At what He had pulled off
And brother don't you know when you realize 
You were closer to leaving this planet
Than you care to think about
Had you not listened to that inner voice 
(Hey, pal, "Something's not right here, better check it out")
A voice that I'm pretty darned convinced was of Divine origin
Well, all of a sudden Easter looks different
It's not a bunny or a brightly colored egg or a delicious brunch
Or a new outfit or even a great musical presentation
It's a whole lot more than that
It looks like the brightest hope you could ever imagine
It looks like something so wonderfully impossible 
That it couldn't possibly be true
And yet your heart knows it is
God did a good thing, the best thing
Anyone could ever do
He spit in the "face of death"
And got away with it
For those of us who believe He did
We can too
Yes, for me this year, Easter ...
Feels different and yes ...
Right on time

George Gagliardi, March, 2013