Like most young people, there was a time in my life when I thought I’d like to play the guitar. It was my first year of graduate school and I’d just started a job as Youth Minister at a local Methodist Church.
Where else does one go to get a good, cheap guitar? The pawn shop of course. Off I went and came back with this beauty below I still have today. It’s an old Yamaha that has since been restored.
Many a night I spent strumming that old guitar. As much as I loved the clarinet, the guitar seemed to reach down inside of me to places the clarinet just couldn’t. For those who play, you’ll know what I mean.
To be brutally honest, I stunk… Yeah, I could play some cords and knew some old songs mainly used at campfires, but, really, I wouldn’t hire me for a birthday party anytime soon!
One of the songs I loved to play, especially after my kids came into being, was ‘Sunshine on My Shoulders’ by John Denver. The song reminded me of happier times when my kids were still a part of my life and I would give them piggyback rides while running around in circles. They would laugh and laugh.
In the mid-90s, through a series of tragic misunderstandings, I lost the ability to see my kids very often. It was a painful time for all of us. Many nights, and days, were spent crying to the Lord and just playing the guitar. This song was one of the ones I would sing. To this day, it’s one of the first songs I play when I pick it up. Mainly, because it takes me back to those happy days with my girls.
The photo today was taken while visiting family in Alaska a few years ago. Their home had a balcony overlooking the inlet facing the West. One evening, while standing outside when the sun was setting, a plane flew right by and I was able to catch a photo of it with the sunset in the background.
Sadly, it reminds me of John Denver and how he died flying his plane into the sunset. I don’t know what led him to make that decision; tragedy, loss, or just depression. Whatever the reason, RIP John and thank you for the memories!
Tragedy can be something that destroys us. Or, it can be something that makes us stronger. Thankfully, for me, it has made me stronger. Now, when I play that song, it’s not the pain that I remember, it’s the joy of those moments when my beautiful girls were young, and we had that father-daughter moment of joy together.
Since then, the Mrs. and her two children have been in my life and are God’s blessing I’ll always be thankful for (not to mention those two grandkids). God can restore all things too. I’m still praying that, one day, ALL will be made new. Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to create new memories again and sing a few lines of John Denver together!