We worked our first concert a week ago now. It has taken me a week to feel human again. Three days of leaving my house at 8:00 a.m only to return the next morning at 1:30 and get up at 6:30 to do it all over again.
We are a group of parents and kids trying to raise money to send our kids (and their parent chaperones) on a European trip for their senior year. We all decided to take on a summer job of selling concessions at a nearby concert venue. Our first concert series landed over Memorial weekend and was a three day music festival. Which at first, might sound promising, but that would be a serious misinterpretation. The music fest we worked was Sasquatch, which is Indie music with a demographic of concert goers between the ages of 18-24. Now, let me say first off, we did have fun. We laughed a lot - mainly at ourselves for being there in the first place. Because, when I say we were in a different world, that would be an understatement.
This picture just does not capture the essence of Sasquatch. This might be a little more like it:
And then there's this one:
Our group worked 15 hour days. It is fair to say at the end of the last day I could barely string together a sentence. Our kids worked incredibly hard and put up with a lot. For instance:
There was "thong man" who reappeared throughout the festival. He wore a bright red thong - only a thong. But, in God's wise economy by the end of day 2 thong man was pretty sunburned in areas where people enjoyed slapping. Several times I spotted thong man sporting a red hand print on each of his exposed cheeks. Eventually even thong man decided to wise up and put on some pants.
Many of the patrons were very nice and lovely people, but we definitely had an eclectic mix of attendees. I figure this was as close to Woodstock as I will ever get.
Now, you really have to imagine our group of workers. We live nice little quiet lives. We have been blessed by God and we spend our time working hard and enjoying the ones we love. We gather together on Sundays and mid week with the brethren to sing God's word back to Him. We raise our children in the fear and admonition of God and are careful to protect them from things that would harm them.
I've never heard the F-word used so frequently. By day three I just wished people would use it in a grammatically correct fashion. I wanted to shout, "It's not a greeting!"
Thong man was mild compared to other things we saw. Naked man made a limited appearance. Thankfully, I had just relieved my daughter when naked man showed up chased by 2 security guards. The crowd went crazy and people kept trying to take a picture with naked man. The guards attempted to clothe naked man who was having none of that. At some point, some man in the crowd gave his shorts to naked man but naked man did not want strange man's pants and the result was naked man + underware man.
And all I could think was: Why did I leave the Shire?
Then there were opportunities. Because, even when we make stupid decisions - and I'm willing to suggest that working Sasquatch may have been a stupid decision - God chooses to bless.
My friend, Penny, and I had an opportunity to talk to a young man. This man returned to our booth 3 separate times, just to talk. He had been part of an altercation that happened right in front of our booth and his conscience bothered him and he returned to seek forgiveness (my word, not his, but in reality he knew he did wrong and wanted it to be made right with this group of strangers). I've been praying for striped shirt and beaded guy ever since.
And, God loves to bless kids. Throughout the 3 day ordeal I admit my prayers turned more from, "make us a blessing to people out there" to "please protect my kids while we're out there." Thankfully, God does more than one thing at a time.
At the end of day 3 I was driving our car home with my son and daughter while my husband hauled the camper. It was about 1:00 a.m. and my son was a bit talkative, which was a good thing, since I was having a hard time staying awake.
Our conversation turned to the events of the last few days. And this is where God surprised me. You see, I know God blesses His people. But I didn't expect to find blessing in the dark places, the places where it might be easy to forget that God inhabits.
My son, Jordan, was explaining how the night before, as he was stationed selling concessions in the area where the band, Public Enemy (a loud, evil, hate filled rap "artist") was performing, and he was surrounded by angry and obscene lyrics and people that it was then he turned his thoughts to Psalm 137, a psalm we have sung together as a family and as a school since my children were little.
He said, "Mom, the whole time they were performing, I just kept singing the words of the Psalm over in my mind. I really thought about the words. I am just so thankful for our church and for our school and our family."
He went on to talk about how lost those people were and what he came away with was a deep gratitude for grace. He learned, so clearly, that what we know as "normal" is a gift. So many of those people spent that weekend filling their lives with what will never satisfy. And my son realized, firsthand, that what we have is all because of grace. I never anticipated such a gift. My 15 year old was filled with thankfulness while he was surrounded with oppressive music and lyrics, but his thankfulness was toward the Giver of all that he has grown up to know and love since his infancy.
So, while I never could have anticipated these next words: Thank you Public Enemy, for showing my kids how much they have and how great their inheritance in Christ is and how empty your offering is. But most of all, thank you Jesus, for blessing in the dark places. There is no place you do not reign.