Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Men in Skirts

            Monday, July 2, I found myself walking down the large center aisle at Wal-Mart and spied a tall man with mutton chops facial hair wearing a kilt and almost knee-high laced "army" boots.  If he had not been asking an employee a question about where to find something, I would have raised my fist to my shoulder as I walked by and in a deep, guttural voice grunted "Flatfo-o-o-t."  Obviously, this man was a fan of Flatfoot 56 and probably planned to go to the midnight pool-party concert on Friday. 

            Even though I was in my floral print sleeveless shirt, denim shorts, white ankle socks, and white Pro-Walker shoes with three kids in tow, I felt a certain comradery with this man since both of our lives had been touched by some of the same people.  That's a little bit of what it was like at the Cornerstone Festival.  Yes, this is another Cornerstone blog.  I can't help myself.  I still find it amazing how such a diverse group of people could come together and blend so well for one week each year.  I recently read one man's reminiscing thoughts about the festival, and he made the comment, "I surprised myself at how casually the words, 'over there is a man juggling knives,' rolled off my tongue."  When I read it, I thought, "and so?"  Then I remembered that, although this did not seem out of place at Cornerstone, I would have been surprised and maybe a little threatened if I found a man juggling knives in another situation.  However, not at Cornerstone, it fit.  All of this meshing of worlds and thoughts happened without alcohol or drugs to numb the senses or judgment.  I don't clearly understand how the Holy Spirit of God works, but I think the one-mindedness that often occurred at Cornerstone was the work of the Holy Spirit.
The spots are dust particles flying around, even
though seemed invisible to the naked eye.

            Observing the "one-mindedness" of fans (not necessarily the work of the Holy Spirit) surrounding Flatfoot 56 brought amazement to me once again at their Friday night concert.  In preparation for Cornerstone, the band had announced on its Facebook page that the theme would be a pool party.  I do not visit their Facebook page or search for them on the internet, but by word of mouth, I, too, knew the theme.  It did not surprise me to see some people wearing floaties and carrying various water toys at the concert.  However, I was taken aback by the pied piper effect I witnessed before the concert even began.

            I told my older, still-at-home daughters that they could go with their adult siblings to the concert, and I would meet up with them there.  I planned to take my younger daughters and their friends to other concerts until it was time for Flatfoot.  Not wanting to miss anything at Flatfoot, they decided they wanted to lie down at our tent for an hour, so they could be rested and ready for the midnight concert.  Half expecting them to fall asleep anyway, I agreed.  At 11:40 p.m. I told them it was time to head out.  Surprisingly, they jumped to attention, and we began our half-mile or more walk to the concert.  A few other people were walking on the road in our camping section toward the concert tents.  That was to be expected.  Usually, there was always someone walking down the road.  However, as we got on to the main, dusty gravel road, I began to see droves of people quietly emerging from the blackness on each side of the road, leaving their camping areas, and pouring on to the road.  After we passed the first fork in the road and no one veered to the left, I looked behind me and saw that people continued to flow into this growing procession.  Flashlights and the headlights from a few passing golf carts highlighted the billows of dust floating into the air.  This visual image seemed to pop from a science fiction movie, especially since the occasional blinding light primarily revealed silhouettes, not the actual faces of travelers.

            I told myself I was glad we had not waited until the last minute since, obviously, a lot of people were going to see Flatfoot 56 as well.  I was wrong.  Not about the multitudes.  About getting there early.  As we approached the very large tent, which lay in a slight dip in the pasture beside the road, I could see that the tent already appeared to be full and overflowing.  At least 1000 people patiently chatted and joked while they waited.  Cornerstone has no overall public address system to announce concerts.  No one had gone through the grounds with a blow horn to encourage attendees.  I don't even remember seeing any flyers or posters announcing the concert.  Only two items in print revealed the concert:  the notice on Facebook and the name Flatfoot 56 in small print on one of the small charts in the festival program telling the times and locations of concerts.  That's it.  That was all that was needed.  Word of mouth did the rest.  By the way, amazingly, I did meet up with my daughters, their friends, and a friend of mine and her family (my pastor's family).

            Mind you, if my daughters had found this group on You Tube and said they wanted to go to one of their concerts, I would have told flat out, "Forget it."  Without Cornerstone, I doubt I would have ever come to appreciate this band.  Yet, this band also appreciates what Cornerstone Festival has meant to them.  They left their tour in California and flew at their own expense to get to the festival and played for free.  The festival had lost too much money over the years to pay for bands this final year.  (That's what happens when you run a festival to minister to people rather than to make a profit.)  Even so, Cornerstone touched these band members in way that they willingly made the sacrifice to be there in 2012.  In turn, Flatfoot 56 touched its audience in such a way that a thousand plus people willingly made their way through dust and darkness to be at a midnight concert.

            Some fans go for the music.  Some go for the crazy circle mosh pit.  Others go to be spectators to this seemingly chaotic event.  Yet, everyone is moved.  When Tobin (the lead singer) asked the crowd to listen a few times between songs, everyone became quiet.  Yes, this enormous crowd of strangely dressed, jumping, and sometimes screaming people stopped and listened.  Tobin spoke words of hope and encouragement, but he also admonished and reminded listeners that loving Christ also means obeying Him, spreading the Gospel, and ministering to those in need.  He didn't just tell them what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.

            The ability to mesmerize an audience with words and music did not make these men self-centered super stars.  When not in concerts, they mingled with the crowds on the festival grounds and stood in line at carnival-style food stands for lunch.  Of course, you could talk to them while in line or even ask for an autograph. The members of Flatfoot 56 are not more worthy in God's eyes than the teen who brought his God-seeking friend to the festival.  We all need the salvation of Jesus Christ, and we are all called to use the gifts God has given us to do what he wants us to do.  For some men that means to put on plaid skirts (or kilts J) and play bagpipes or guitars in a hard rock Christian band.  For others it may mean to share the awe and beauty of God's creation with a child sitting in a backyard full of dandelions.  For others it may mean to touch someone's life through a few words on a blog on a semi-irregular basis.  What about you?  Are you using what God has given you to do what He has called you to do?

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