This past week Rob and I drove to a lovely little place called Waco, Texas. We spent a few hours catching up with friends and watching Patty Griffin sing her heart out on a stage that stands on the grounds of a coffee shop in which many significant college memories were forged. I fully admit that I am more sensitive than most and, if history has taught me anything, it’s that my heart seems to have wider-than-usual crevices where places and music and words and memories are buried deep. Spending time in Waco always seems to remind me of all of the things I felt when I was that person back then – the pre-iphone, pre-Zoloft, table-waiting, cargo-pants-wearing lady of inconsistent contentment. I have to physically poke myself to remind my head that that was TEN YEARS AGO. It’s a shocking realization every time. I’m so much older and so much of the same. I guess this is the beauty of the soul.
As I stood in the back of this place, surrounded by a sea of unfamiliar faces, I couldn’t help but think about the last time I saw Patty Griffin on a stage in front of me. (You can read about it here if you'd like. Spoiler alert- I fainted.) I remember that season so clearly. I remember buying a ticket for just myself, as I didn't have anyone to join me and it was important that I prove to my heart that it was capable of independent adventures. I remember driving to Dallas, and feeling so unbelievably sad and trying to convince myself that I wasn't depressed, only affected. And I remember staring at Patty on the stage and feeling as though my heart would never stop hurting. I wanted out from underneath the weight of that sadness so very much. Looking back, it's only now that I understand how truly heavy it was.
And then, this past Tuesday, I got to hear Patty sing a song that has always resonated in those aforementioned heart crevices (Listen here. Another spoiler alert- it's sad). I stood, listening, watching, sinking my heels into the dirt of this place that was so representative of a different part of my life, and I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I realized that I was experiencing a bookend of sorts- a benchmark distinguishing the change of a season. I looked at Rob and squeezed his hand. I know he couldn't read my mind in that moment but, if he could have, I think he would have felt my heart say "I'm so glad to be in this hour, to hear this song, to be in this place, and to not feel as heavy. I'm so grateful that I am older and wiser and happier." And as the song ended and the small crowd cheered, I took a deep breath and said a brief prayer of gratitude that mostly sounded like thank you. That's the funny thing about music - it cuts through the temporary and convinces you that it hasn't done its work until the heart is sufficiently stirred, prayers of gratitude are said, and hands are squeezed. And maybe that's the funny thing about gratitude - it often requires us to feel a bit heavier before we realize the freedom that comes with lightness.
Thank you, Patty + Waco, for helping to remind me.