Friday, December 31, 2010


"Seek clarity. Not Truth. Let truth find you." BH

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Devaluation of Music

"Music feeds the soul, but not the family." Brian Hilligoss, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ten Questions

“Lord, why am I on such a short leash?”
Only you establish the length.

“But what does that mean Lord?”
Follow the path I have laid so clearly and the length becomes infinite.


“But there are those, Lord, who attain success, fame, goals, and riches who don’t follow this path. Those who don’t believe in you. Those that defy your existence.”
Envy only your own path. Their path is not yours. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

“Some seem so ambitious, Lord. So determined. So driven.”
These things are finite. They are not substitutes for faith.

“Lord, I feel so stuck. Why don’t you give me a break?”
Only you control this suffering.

Vanity and fear are your only obstacles.

“So Lord, there are conditions I have to meet before I can achieve success?”
Freedom awaits.

“Lord, why do you haunt me so?”
Fear not. Only with your eyes and your heart open are you haunted.

“But Lord, why are you always - there?
Because I am always here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Roger and Bobo

“Every day is Saturday for dog.”

I imagine Roger Miller sitting on the steps of his house, sipping or smoking or both when he came up with that line. Probably before noon, with a hint of dread in his brain while contemplating Monday responsibility. Not sure if ol’ Roger even made it up before noon. Most likely, that was when he was just going down most days. But this particular morning, I imagine him turning up his cup with the last sip of black coffee just before forging reality in the midst of noticing a yard dog nodding off for a mid-morning nap.

“Dang, everyday IS Saturday for a dog.” A little scratching, a little food, some water, a large personal gift while taking a reckless romp through the roses. Not that Roger would spend his time on Saturday working through this specific agenda, although he might, but the point is – freedom. To do what you want, when you want to do it. Guilt-free. Suit yourself – lazy or productive. Be Saturday.

A few weeks ago I wrote about “Searching for Summer.” Maybe this entry should be titled, “Searching for Saturday.” When I was out on my own, in my twenties, I thought that maybe Saturday, somewhere along the line, had moved to Sunday. Actually Sunday was still Sunday, but Saturday was packed in there too. Over time – in our world, in my world – I have compressed fun and freedom. To the point – where either I don’t have either or I don’t notice them.

As you may catch on – I write, from time to time, about being shaped by run-ins with random taxi drivers. Soon, I will write about the taxi driver in Athens, Greece that quizzed me about freedom. That scenario has played out a couple of times – freedom - taxis.

Back to searching for Saturday. Maybe it only really existed if you were a kid. Cartoons started at 7:00am. I knew they were over for the day when American Bandstand came on at noon. Followed by Don Cornelius and “So-o-o-o-o-u-u-u-l Traaiinn” at 12:30. As I became a teenager – I traded Rocky and Bullwinkle for Dick and Don. But still unmistakably Saturday was Saturday.

Usually, an entire box of Frosted Flakes would meet their doom along with a half gallon of Farmer’s Dairy whole milk while sitting in front of the boobtube. I am not sure how many flakes entered my mouth in those years, but back then I had not discovered peanut butter for breakfast. I would pour the white creamy whole milk on top of the flakes until they would float just a bit. Wait for a minute or so until they became thoroughly soaked. Then with my Jethro-spoon I would begin shoveling – letting the milk drain down my throat as I held the flakes tightly in my mouth. Then chomp, chomp, chomp, like a line outta Poke Salad Annie” – I would grind the Tiger’s delicacy into something more swallow-able. Mmmmm…Saturday.

I am grateful that I didn’t have me for a parent. I would be all over that ‘entire box of cereal” thing. “Save some for next Saturday. You don’t need a whole box today!” But then again – there was only one of me, not three Jethroes like I have produced.

Sweet sixteen. Driving baby. Saturday night was party night. A night to spread your wings. Especially if you were raised in a family of heathens like I was. No church – just “Gospel Jubilee with Bill Hefner” on the tube each Sunday – cleansing our souls with the Word in song. Which I tried my best to sleep though.

But Saturday night…dates with Darlene, playing music at the Wildwood Music Hall or cruising Main in my step-father’s 1976 orange Camaro with t-tops, Glass Pack mufflers, and pin striping. I made that car look good...

Some Saturday nights were spent at the Archdale Soda Shop working the curb (11206 N Main St, Archdale, NC). Delivering orders of “The Special” (2 hotdogs, fry, small coke - .99). to locals sitting in their car awaiting greasy fare from charming teenage boys.

Through the years, no doubt, Saturdays have changed. From being a day of domestic catch-up to just an extension of nine to five. But now - hey are definitely different. Less recreation. More work and more worry.

And even more than Saturdays evolving into something “different,” the idea of Saturday is missing in the world around me. The idea of Saturday used to be filled with the smiling anxiety of relief. We work too hard, multi-task to our detriment, stress too often and search for pharmaceutical means of relief. From diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and obesity we go on searching desperately for a bottle of Saturday.

But Saturday, simply, is a state of mind that requires – action. The action to stop and smell the roses. Bobo did. Just before he peed on them.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Bobbie

A few years ago - I wrote a song called "The Lord, My Shepherd, and Her." I had been listening to Johnny Cash's "Hurt" pretty much nonstop for 3 days. And on this particular day - I was driving a rental car near Las Vegas through Lee Canyon and Mt. Charleston. Being mindful. Listening. Profound. Painful. Honest.

My mother is similar to Johnny Cash in the pain I believe that she has waded through during her life. One overwhelmingly painful experience for her was losing her mother. I have often thought that she would have just as soon packed in the day Nana passed.

I pulled the car over near Lee Canyon. Turned off the CD player and began to walk amidst the cool fresh alpine air. Free from the hubbub of the Vegas Strip, I came to large rock overlooking Nevada and I sat. Quietly. Mindfully. The haunting lyrics of "Hurt" still overshadowing my thoughts. It's lyrics and tone depict sobering regret. The kind that may rush over a person at the end of their life. I am sure my mom has plenty of guilt. It is embedded into her southern psyche deep and constant with the strength of an anvil anchor. With those thoughts, I wrote the beginning words of "The Lord, My Shepherd, and Her."

I called Bobbie today to tell her Happy Mother's Day. I am grateful that she was there. I know life has often been tough for her. But I do realize that when that sad day comes for real - she will be headed home to be with The Lord and Nana.

The Lord, My Shepherd, and Her
(Brian Hilligoss)

Oh my journey, has been long but it’s true
And oh my eyes, how they hurt
But it’s my yearning that sees me through
To the Lord, My Shepherd and Her

The Lord he waits on me all the day
And Mother, each day how she’d work
Keeping me safe and from going astray
From the Lord, My Shepherd and Her

Father, dear Father, oh how I see you so clear
Father, dear Father, feeling you drawing me near
Oh how I’ll hold you so dear

Now the angels they sing with their voices on high
I’m so close I can almost make out the words
And there they all stand with their arms open wide
With the Lord, My Shepherd, and Her

Jesus, oh Jesus, oh how I see you so clear
Jesus, oh Jesus, feeling you drawing me near
Oh how I’ll hold you so dear.

Oh my journey has been long, but so true
From those who gave me my birth
But I’m returning to start anew
With the Lord, My Shepherd, and Her

Mother, dear Mother, oh how I see you so clear
Mother, dear Mother, feeling you drawing me near
Oh how I’ll hold you so dear
Now, how you hold me so dear

©2005 Brother Briar Music, Inc.

This tune can be purchased at iTunes along with Johnny Cash's "Hurt"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Got Haunting?

Howdy Blogland.

I have been surprised at the amount of interactivity I have experienced on this blog over the last 2 weeks. Seems as though folks have been very curious about "Jesus is Haunting Me" - what the music is like, why I wrote it, had I recorded it yet, etc.

Read the posting prior to this for the "back story" and lyrics.

I have to say some of you have been mighty opinionated as to how this should be treated. Which I take as a compliment that folks are making it their own. I describe to some that it is a sassy rocker - a bit of a rebellious thang that describes my annoyance with the omnipresence of the Holy Ghost when I have other things on the agenda.

I started jotting notes for this tune a couple of years ago, but only finished it up in the last 6 months - primarily, because I "live" this song. I live "in" this song. If I completed it - action would be in order. Maybe I have crossed that bridge.

Anyway - as I described the feel of the song to those asking - they seemed disappointed. I think they were looking for something more - thoughtful. Something deeper than "ticked off." Something more - well - haunting.

You guys win. I have changed the music to suit the listener this time.

I plan to make this blog more interactive in the future. I value your opinions and want to hear from you.

Below is a rough demo. Tell me what you think.


Jesus is Haunting Me by bhilligoss

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Steadfast Haunting

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears…

…Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest me

From “The Hound of Heaven”
Francis Thompson – 1889

Francis Thompson was an English Poet, often homeless and confessed opium addict who died of tuberculosis in 1907 at the age of forty-seven. “The Hound of Heaven,” his most famous poem, is an autobiographical account of how the Holy Ghost relentlessly pursued his wayward soul. 186 lines beautifully describe the struggle, conflict, betrayal, and his eventual surrender to The Hound’s steadfast love.

I ran across this poem about 2 years after I started my own careful consideration of these hauntings. Acknowledgment of the “situation” leads to more relentlessness. More banging. More baiting. More bugging. More begging. Polite persistence awaits me with an echoed voice reminiscent of Rex Allen Sr. and a Godly presence that only Christ, himself, could pull off.

Here is my version of Mr. Thompson’s account. I’ve had a difficult time finding an audience for this song.

Jesus is Haunting Me

Jesus is haunting me, Jesus is wanting me
Jesus is preying on me, he’s haunting me

Every turn, don’t learn, ignore all the friction
I’m against the grain, feel no pain, and hide my religion
I’m a fake it til I make it and fair weather Christian at best

Every look, on the hook, he’s showin me the good book
In my face, side the head, he’s hiding under my bed
A waitin’ and a baitin for the right time to reel me in

Jesus is haunting me, Jesus is wanting me
Jesus is preying on me, he’s haunting me

In the shadows, in the yard, on the hood of my car
He’s lurks and he works overtime chasin me far
I’m shaken, and awakened, he is scarin’ the hell out of me

Now I’m on the line, this time, everything is mighty fine
No doubt, devil’s out the first round, last bout
Oh Lord, My Lord, Thanks for being there for me

Jesus is haunting me, Jesus is wanting me
Jesus is praying for me…
He’s wanting me. He’s wanting me.

He’s haunting me.

Brian Hilligoss © 2008

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Main Man!

IN HONOR of Black History Month – I shall pay homage to my favorite American hero. If you know me at all – Michael Jordan may come to mind immediately. Although a true icon and, to me, a real live super-hero, MJ isn’t my first pick.

If you know me well – you will have no problem understanding why I choose George Washington Carver to pay tribute to this month. It’s actually for a couple of reasons. Initially, this idea came from the realization that I must eat healthier and must diet to get down to my target weight of 175lbs by my birthday, June 30th. It will be quite a milestone, but with each butter knife swipe of my favorite food, invented by GWC, it might be a little difficult.

When God gave Carver’s George the idea to smash peanuts into a paste, I am pretty sure that he didn’t have it in mind that someone would actually spend nearly fifty years eating enough of the delicacy to fill a medium size bedroom.

I guestimated a couple of months ago, that over my lifetime, I have consumed – wait – “enjoyed” enough peanut butter to fill my bedroom. Stacking the 20oz jars to the ceiling and against the walls – it comes to over 22,000 ounces of the most spreadable delicious, outstanding combination of sweet and salty that exists. About 600 jars - or ¾ of a ton. You can figure about a third more of that amount would be in jelly and someplace – one must fit in a dumptruck load of bread, Ritz Crackers, or saltines, vanilla wafers, or Wheat Thins. And then when you are done with that appetizer – you could probably add enough prepackaged Nabs to fill the cab of that dumptruck. Probably two cabs.

And while you are at it – fill a half a truck bed with just roasted peanuts and the other half with Snickers, Twix, Reece’s, and other goodies that include goobers. I am sure that I have consumed a shopping cart full of boiled ones as well.

Oh yes, and don’t forget my favorite liquid accompaniment to those delectable peanut butter treats. Chocolate milk mostly, but a heckuvalot of chocolate milkshakes, 2%, and every now and then, sweet iced tea, and pop.

Over the recent years, I have become guilt-ridden with having lustful thoughts of the barbeque ribs, french fries and other heart-stopping favorites that have made their way somewhat through my blood. But I have never felt guilty about a single spoonful of peanut butter or a peanut-filled Pepsi bottle. Peanuts and Me - we were made for each other. Just like George.

George Washington Carver must have been a tremendous soul. He didn’t patent peanut butter when he first happened by it in the early 1900’s. He always felt that food was God’s gift to us – he could take no credit. Well – it’s probably best he didn’t – because after the abuse I have put the poor stuff through – I wouldn’t want George to feel bad if my veins harden into pretty much the same stuff he created on that wonderful day when he was working his way through research that would account for his book “How to grow a Peanut and 105 ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption.” Dang, I have only made it to 86...must - eat - more - pean...

Finally – the second and most selfless reasons to celebrate the life of George Washington Carver. He was born the son of a slave woman in Missouri on the Carver plantation. During the Civil War, his family was sent away and scattered about Arkansas. When baby George was located – Moses Carver traded a race horse for him and he was returned to the plantation. Although he was “free” he remained there until he was about 12 years old when he left to seek an education. I can’t imagine any of my kids taking off on their own to seek anything but a Nintendo DS and a slice of pizza and sure they would return home for dinner.

Truly amazing. Aside from inspiring the entire agriculture industry, GWC’s story should be most inspiring to anyone.

Go here if you find his story as interesting as I do.

An extraordinarily humble man – all of his work, he claimed was done to the Glory of God. “He testified on many occasions that his faith in Jesus was the only mechanism by which he could effectively pursue and perform the art of science.” As you may guess – he inspired as much criticism as he did praise. The man couldn’t catch a break – but it is almost as if he never heard the noise. He kept right to his research in Alabama and to his faith and love of people.

A terrific quote from George: "When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world."

And as written on his tombstone:
He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.

Today – I thank George Washington Carver for all his contributions to this world. His patience, his humility, his faith, and love of humankind and plantkind.

I am hopeful that Mr. Carver’s generous attributes will influence me as I launch my latest health regime and kick the lifelong addiction to his most heavenly contribution. From this day forward until my birthday in June - I will try very hard - to skip the Skippy.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Searching for Summer

This winter, visions of summer are seeping through the cells of my brain. Collecting bits of mind media that contain drops of lake water, sweat, and iced tea swim through my veins while I stare at my lonely snow shovel.

"Searching for Summer." A ripped off title. Stole it. Took it from a great writer by the name of Jim Shahin.

If any of you have ever flown American Airlines in the last twenty years - you may have run across Jim's writing. Many a time, I climbed aboard awaiting a fresh copy of American Way magazine to quickly thumb through to find his monthly slice of life story. In a Ray Romano meets Garrison Keillor sort of way, Jim is a great observer and storyteller.

I have a short bookshelf next to my bed. This morning I grabbed an old notebook with lyrics in it to see if any great ideas needed to be finished. The bookmark inside was a torn out page from American Way. "Searching for Summer" by Jim Shahin.

Not so different from my "Can you taste Summertime?" poem. The longing for simple pleasures. Summertime pleasures. But Jim's ideal summer pleasures don't come from playing church softball or skinny dippin' or bike riding. But the lazy sort. The basking. The languishing state of torpor, as he quips from a Faulkner novel.

Ah-h-h, the beauty he reveals in boredom. Hammocks, back porches and blankets in the backyard. Where did all that go? Well, Jim claims that summer went to camp.

Personally, I think summer has gone digital.

What I really want to talk about is a slice of summer, possibly from 1970. Which wasn't that different from '69 or '71, or even 1972. Jim's affinity for the boredom of yesteryear took me back to the days when my best friend Noel and I lived large on nothing. I know times change, but values don't. The values that come from being lower middle-class and growing up in rural North Carolina were probably invaluable.

I have three boys. I can guarantee that they have never spent the day collecting thumb length crawdads to sell to the local bait shop so they could buy a grape Nehi and a pack-a-nabs. To split.

I love video games, but twenty years from now I won't remember a scene in Halo as vividly as I do the far gone days spent at Old Man Parson's Used Bike Shop longing for a banana seat and some chopper forks. Sure - I can go on missions to Vietnam in a terabyte second, but I can't take my Bandaided toes down a hot, sandy tobacco barn road ever again. Well, not as a lazy and free 11 year old. When each summer day is a magical boring nugget.

One thing about my kids though - when they were younger, I used to tell them "stories from mouth" after reading one from a book before bed. They requested stories about my and Noel's adventures. Perhaps we seemed like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Huck who? Right.

If I ramble on about this long enough I won't have to feel sorry for Mr. Shovel, but I shall close with run-on sentences about the summer of 1970.

Cut-off shorts atop our tighty whities. N'er a stitch more. Two beat up 20-inch bikes, two buzzed-headed barefooted boys. Streams of sweat streaking their way down our dirty faces. Codenames for the ones we loathed who yelled at us for cutting through their backyards and "ruining the grass." What was grass for if it won't fer runnin' through?

Mowing lawns for three bucks so we could afford to go to the skatin' rink on Saturday. Green feet. More Bandaids. Dirty rings around our necks and dust in our ears. Grins on our faces.

I recall one of those adventurous days concluding with a dappled sunset shining through the sycamore trees with Noel and me swinging on a rusty old swingset. The legs coming up out of the ground as we'd reach for that sun with our chins. We were singing a song we learned in church, "Jesus, is Coming Soon." Noel answering with the harmonies his mama taught him. "Trumpets will surely sound!"

And they still do when I search for summer in my darkest days and stress-cluttered mind.

Every kid should have a best friend and every adult, a simple boring summer memory.

What is yours?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Can You Taste Summertime?

I can…

In the rain that falls in June on my face with my palms held high.
In the vanilla ice cream we churn outside …that’s summertime.

In the homegrown tomatoes and watermelons that I bite.
Through the window screen on a hot August night –
When the wind blows just right.

On a dusty dirt road in the country – while riding my bike
I can taste summer in sweet iced tea with a lemon slice.

In the drink that I take from a garden hose – while washing Dad’s car
and in the fresh strawberries from my Granny’s backyard.

In the misty night air while chasing zipping fireflies
and in fried catfish that I eat at the lake in July.

In the green grass when it grows and when it’s mowed
I can taste it when it blows and blows.

Yes I can taste summertime almost any time it seems -
thinking summertime thoughts in my February dreams.

Brian Hilligoss, 2004

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Real Magic

Since starting this blog a couple of weeks ago, my goal was to post once a week. Some weeks I may only post some lyrics from one of my songs. Others I may only post a photo or a short thought that I found inspiring. Things that I run onto during my day to day - that need to be noted. Experiences that I want to share, but I wouldn't just run up to a buddy and say "Hey, guess what moved me today?" Perhaps I should, but I am sure folks think I share too much already. Man, if they only knew.

This week, a lot rolling around in my head, so I am posting again.

There is a book from Wayne Dyer that I read quite a few years back. Real Magic. It's about noticing miracles, large and tiny, in our world and how they can affect our lives. I am not a huge Wayne Dyer follower, but for me, this book struck a few G chords. Even if you are not a spiritual person, it is a good read just as a reminder that sometimes a cigar is NOT just a cigar.

My wife, Brenda, raises at least one brow when I quip "I believe in magic." But I do. I will tell her and the kids - I believe in Santa Claus. After they realize that I am serious each time, I suppose they consider that I am brainwashed into believing that he exists, but I don't believe Santa exists. However, I do believe "in" Santa. I believe in the value of Santa and all that goes with it. To me - he is magic and that magic is real.

Still with me? Okay, the Santa thing is an extreme example.

If you have read the other posts in my blog so far, you will know that they are about "magic." Everyday, ordinary...magic. Miracles that have touched me deeply enough that I want to remember them and the feeling I get when I realize they have occurred. Some day I will post my "Three Crows" experience. Not your everyday magic.

The taxi driver in Vegas. The one in New Orleans. The one I haven't mentioned from New York - who claimed to be the richest man in the world. When I inquired about his wealth - he showed me photos of his family. All taped to his dashboard. A tiny nugget of magic for me.

Today's miracle is brought to you by Zack. Zack is a boy, I would guess to be about 16 or so. He goes to my church and is faced with multiple physical and mental disabilities. But the glass is always, in my experiences with him, full. Not half full. Certainly not half empty or worse. At least at church he is always glad to just have a seat, although he doesn't stay in it. He wanders around sometimes during the service to spread, what I call "Zacklove."

Recently, he underwent some surgery on one of his feet and was recovering, but he was at church. Pretty much, this situation has just slowed down his mission, but not his will as he shuffles around.

Last Sunday, I took an "emergency" pause from the Sermon (sorry Jerry) to visit the water fountain. While out in the lobby, I ran onto Zack and his father, who was helping him to the restroom or possibly to children's church. I couldn't help but notice his cast and his sock half on during his painful struggle to keep upright as he sort of dragged his ailing foot behind him. My heart went out to him. I felt bad for him and his family.

As Zack and his dad walked closer I must have been focused on his situation and not really "him." By the time I was a few feet from him I looked up to his face. He was grinning ear to ear and looking straight at me. Once we were close enough for him to lunge toward me - I smiled and he responded in record time with a thoughtful, genuine, "I love you."

I am sure that he was the only person who said those words to me that day and I shall never forget them. Or the real magic he shared with me. "Zackmagic."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Arriving New Orleans

It was April. 2002.

It was quite a break for me to leave Chicago in the "spring." At least that's what they call it, despite ne'er a daffodil in sight. Sorry, but being a son of the south, if I ain't lookin' at flowers in April. It ain't spring.

Seven months - post 9-11. I was still apprehensive about flying. Never used to be, but after a coupla' bad flights from Las Vegas and the September 11th tragedy, I had my white-knuckled reasons.

As I sat at O'hare waiting to board, I did some heavy profiling. I wasn't getting on the plane with anyone that looked middle eastern, had an accent, shifted their eyes nervously, or parted their hair in the middle. It was just that simple.

A few Asians, an Indian or two, three guys from the South Side with backwards baseball caps, and a dark-skinned business man with platform shoes. I said a few prayers to the four directions and boarded anyway. Praying mostly that the homies might help me kick some ass if needed. Confession - in the months following 9-11, I always wore tennis shoes and sweat pants on flights in case the requirement for more athletic endeavors ensued. And I never napped.

I couldn't really relax, but managed the flight. It was going to be great being in the South. Humidity is my friend. And New Orleans just has her way. If you have ever been there - you know. I hopped into a taxi and headed to the Hilton. I was beginning to get excited about this rendezvous. Red beans and Rice from Mike Anderson's or maybe even spicy Jambalaya from the old worn Acme Oyster Bar. Couldn't wait. But when I entered the taxi, I was greeted by a driver about seventy years old with a foot tall turban and a foot long gray beard. And I am almost positive his last name wasn't Kershaw. I felt annoyed.

In the months following 9-11, I found myself judgmental and prejudiced. I had never really felt those feelings before - especially, with any real conviction. Inside - I uttered to myself, "Who the hell is this guy? What has happened to the South? Sleeper cell out of Preservation Hall? Cafe Du Monde now serving beniets dusted with anthrax? Will I make it to the hotel alive?" Fear overtook reason.

And then, out of the blue, as if in mid-conversation, the driver says to me, "You know sir, I have saved my whole life so I could live my dream." I remained quiet. "My dream of coming to America." He peered in the rear view mirror for my reaction. What the heck just happened? Was he reading the lines on my face or my mind?

More silence and then I looked back at his flashing eyes cutting from the mirror. "I'm sorry, what did you say?" I mumbled back. "I have waited my entire life to come to America with my family." I asked if they were here with him. He replied, "Only my daughter and my wife."

So I bit. "Why did you want to come to America?" I asked. In his gravelly falsetto-ish voice He replied, "To be free. I have wanted to come to here since I was a boy. It took longer than I thought, but I finally made it."

Okay, so now I was completely busted and suddenly a student.
Who was this man? Was he sent to me? This was creepy. But in my introspective curiosity, I knew there was more to the story. There always is. It was obvious this man from another world, in all his wisdom and experience, was my teacher.

We didn't talk much after that. Lesson learned and I was thankful. He dropped me off, as if he were George Burns in "Oh God," at my hotel. I waited for another sign. Another nugget. I looked in his eyes as he gave me a receipt, and he nodded his head. "Thank you, sir." The moment was over. Or was it?

Eighty degrees and humid. Very humid. I loved it. It WAS New Orleans for sure. Red beans and rice would never taste so good and if I choke on the beniets - it would just be the powdered sugar. And, yes. Daffodils bloomed. Springtime in America.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Arriving Las Vegas

Arriving Las Vegas, last Saturday to work for 3 days, I call my cohort when I arrived at the airport. He is a comedian and was emceeing this event that I was directing and was waiting at the hotel.

He asked me if I had any idea what was going on at our hotel (The Palms). I said no. He replied - The AVN awards and I needed to get my butt to the hotel.Which I responded - "What is that?" It was the Adult Video News awards that night in our hotel and the place was crawling with porn stars. After a few "No ways" and snide remarks from him and possibly one or two by me, I hopped into a taxi to go meet him.

Now - I must derail by admitting that on the flight I had been reading Fulton Oursler's "The Greatest Faith Ever Known." Reading about the early days of Christianity and Paul's conversion, this book really takes you there. So I was feeling rather "connected" after reading for a couple of hours prior to my landing in Sin City.

So - my conversation with Greg, back at the hotel, led my mind down this hyper loaded path as I waited on a taxi at the airport. My brain was racing. Blood was surging. What does a hotel lobby full of porn stars look like? Is this was "hitting the jackpot" is all about?

I get into the taxi, with the usual third world driver and told him I was going to the Palms. Deciding to be more "forgiving" I wouldn't give him a hard time when he would probably jet us onto the interstate to gain more fare miles, rather than taking the local route that is $5 cheaper. To my surprise - he automatically took the local route. That never happens. Guess they're not all crooks.

Once we were on our way - my mind still wandering toward adult "distraction," the driver turned his radio on. He kept it low and directed to his side. As I listened - I heard the tones of Chris Tomlin singing "How Great is Our God, sing with me..." A chill ran up my spine. My surging blood stopped cold.

Mr. Baltic Russian Vegas Taxi Driver was listening to Christian radio! He turned it up a bit and peered in his rear view mirror in my direction.

Immediately, I was focused on How Great my God was and his whopping me upside the head on Swenson Ave. I have taken 2 million taxis in my life, all over the world, and how many times had I heard Christian radio? Only once - today.

I asked the driver - "So you listen to Christian Radio?" He replied, "The only thing." I asked what he was doing in Vegas. He responded in a thick accent - "God's work." I hushed.

When we arrived at the Hotel Gomorrah, he let me out and I gave him the extra five bucks that it would taken to go the long way and said "Thanks Brother." He knew what I meant.

With my holy blinders on - I checked in without temptation, without curiosity, but with plenty of compassion. There is a lot of work to be done in Las Vegas - I am glad my comrade was there to do it.

Moral - There are a lot of ways to make a living in this world. But only one way to salvation I suppose. Even if it's in a taxicab.