Saturday, August 22, 2009

Keith Green

A young man in a gray pin-striped suit walked into our house this morning, right on time for an appointment he'd made with Beve to talk about insurance. Talking about anything mathmatical, especially first thing in the morning sometimes sounds like the other people are talking underwater, I see their mouths moving but none of the words make any sense.  Fortunately, we know this young man well.  Beve teaches with his father, was an assistant coach when this 22 year old married man was a high school point guard on Squalicum's basketball team.  He had classes with our son, was in music with Sk--including Cinderella, in which he played the prince and Sk was one of the step-sisters causing havoc all over the place. I've sat with his mom at many a high school games in the last dozen years, sat at high school music concerts with her as well, when SK performed in the same choir with Aaron and his brother.  So we've known Aaron a bit over the years.  Watched him play, sing, become a man a little.

But now he's a college graduate, has a job selling insurance back home.  His dad talked to Beve about him, so Beve talked to Aaron, and some numbers were crunched and hopefully, we'll be saving money about the time SK goes back to school on Wednesday!

After visiting with Aaron for a couple hours, after having him show us the numbers for about 5 minutes, he noticed our new piano.  Have I told you about this piano Beve and Sk bought from an estate sale earlier in the summer?  They paid 150$ for it, but had to get it moved up some stairs out of a basement.  After several false starts, Beve found someone to do the heavy lifting, and I looked up this particular piano online.  The piano we had to sell to move this one into our house turned out to be one of the worst pianos ever made on this continent.  And we'd sold a heavy old piano my parents had given me long ago--a strong, sturdy upright with beautiful tones, though the wood was dinged a little--to buy this little console piano that always sounded tinny to me.  But this new-to-us piano weighs about 700 pounds, has beautiful strong sound and (thanks to the tuner) is now pitched to key.  That tuner told me that some perivious tuner had turned it to itself...which made it about half a step flat all along. When he finished tuning it, he said, "You got a really nice piano here!"  And my internet research revealed that it was made by the company that is considered "The Steinway of Canada". It's not one of their top pianos, but it's plenty good enough for my playing alone in our house.

And after we finished our 'meeting', Aaron sat down and played for us.  He plays really well, is completely comfortable preforming.  He played a couple songs Beve and I both knew.  "I love Keith Green," I told him.  "You know Keith Green?' He asked, a bit incredulously.  It dates me--us--that's for sure. But then Aaron already thinks we're dated.  His mom just got a puppy, and Aaron said, "It's good for them, keeps them young." and his parents are younger than us, I know that!  But we're all ancient when it's kids in their twenties looking at us.

The first time I heard Keith Green play was at the church I went to in Eugene, Oregon.  He'd taken a bus up from Southern California to sing and play.  I don't mean a tour bus, either. Just an old greyhound.  Our church had invited him up to play during a service.  He was amazing.  Not just his music, which was plenty powerful, but his words, his prophetic voice about our nation, the responsibility of Christians.  Like many prophets, he wasn't always an easy guy to be around.  But there was something about him that drew us to him--something about WHAT he said, and something about the certain conviction in his tones..  About a dozen of my friends followed Keith Green back down to LA over their spring break, so they could go to his practically empty apartment, sit around and learn for this teacher/prophet.  They came back, talking of 'the upper room' and being disciples.  They were rather profoundly changed.  The jury's still out, but I think it changed them for good!  For good, as well.

A year later, Keith Green returned to the Willamette Valley, and by then, his first album was out.  By then, our church, as large as it was, couldn't hold him.  So he performed in Mac Court at the University of Oregon.  And I was lucky enough to be an usher for the show, helping set up, helping take down.  It was quite the experience. He'd influenced us in such powerful ways.  Just telling the truth, he did that.  It was almost like we'd never heard anyone simply tell us the truth about our lives, and our world before.

Fast forward a couple of years.  I no longer live in Eugene, but have planned a European trip with a friend who'd been there to hear Keith on his genius tour, and again when he returned--a larger personality, larger 'star' but also with more urgency in his words.  SKC and I went to Europe, and in Finland, got in touch with my old friend and neighbor, The Beve.  While we were there, staying with Beve and Rog sometimes, Beve showed us the Last Days Newsletter (Keith Green's publication) about the horrible plane crash that caused Keith, most of his children, an entire other family, the pilot, etc to lose their lives.  A lot of people had squeezed into that small plane that day, took off on earth, and ended in heaven.  That's really something to consider, isn't it?

In the article about Keith, there was a challenge to young people.  He was always on about mobilizing our country's youth.  He quoted the parable of a grain of wheat falling to the earth and dying.  But unless it does, nothing else will spring up. And that's exactly what happened. Talk about prophetic words.  I don't know how many people went overseas at least as a partial  result of that powerful message that he actually lived out--falling to the earth and dying.  But at least one because a grain that sprang up in his place--me!  And Beve too, for that matter.  And then we went farther afield, and signed up to actually BE missionaries--looking toward the fields ripe for harvest.  Our ministry, indeed, our ideas about ministry have many people to thank, but for Keith Green, our lives and those we've touched have been jewels in His crown.  A crown he's already wearing in glory.

It was sooo good to hear Keith Green's music in my house this morning.  Good to know that today's youth are still hearing and being changed  by him, still emboldened in those powerful words.  And it was good to by reminded of who he was to me--the link he was between Beve and me especially.  And a push toward the life I've lived since he lived and fell to the earth 26 years ago.

1 comment:

AMY said...

I was in fourth grade when I went to the concert in Mac Court. I will never forget it. A few years ago my husband gave me some of his music on CD and a book filled with "Last Days Ministries" articles. Melody Green's book, "No Compromise" has been read and re-read many times.