23 April 2012

Jazz Prayers

This Friday the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation kicks off its Annual Jazz Fest.  I cannot wait for its arrival.  JazzFest, for me, is the high holy day of the year.  I do not say that lightly, I am purposively framing the event in religious language.  For me, it is the opportunity to experience Christmas and Easter (it is hard for a pastor to plan and preach and worship on these days, well most Lord's days for that matter) and earn a year's worth of continuing education credits!

I was planning to go only one day this year with the missus next week.  Then she suggested that I go and sell some of her (jazz)fest bags at the fest on Friday.  Inner monologue: "you want me to go to Jazz Fest and walk around with your bags around my shoulder until I sell all of them?  No problem."  Then this morning as we drove back to the house I thought, I'm gonna do even better.  I'm going to take my typewriter, a Royal Aristocrat, and write prayers for the people as they go in.  I'm going do that until I make enough to cover the cost of my ticket.

Maybe you heard the story on NPR of Zach Houston, the man who writes poetry in San Francisco on his typewriter for a living.  I loved this story.  The closest to this cool of an idea I've ever had was a a few years ago when I proposed putting a table and two chairs out in front of the church.  I would be in my clergy shirt and collar (I wear a blue shirt - blue = Baptist + water).  On the table would be an urn of coffee, a few cups, and a sign that read, "Conversation" that's all.  I was curious if people would stop by for a cup of coffee and conversation.  But I never did it, I chickened out or just forgot about it.

I'm sure most people will think I'm joking, but I am not.  I am going to wear my clergy shirt and dog collar, maybe even a stole.  If folk want blessed, I'll bless them.  If folk want me to marry them inside the fest, I will.  But mainly I am going to write prayers for them.  Why?  For me, Jazz Fest is a spiritual experience: the music, the community, the food, the celebration, and the overwhelming feeling and experience of art.  That experience, for me, needs to be marked, ritualized, and honored - to repeat in the manner of the artist who created Genesis, "And God saw that it was good."  I'm not comparing myself to God, but from someone who has devoted his life to the study and practice and Christianity JazzFest is "good" for the body, mind, heart, and soul.

Yes, on Friday morning I'll be there - where, well I'm not sure yet, probably by the bicycle parking lot - with my Royal, a stack of paper, and a sign until I make enough from my prayers to get in.  If no one pays for my prayers I don't care because it is the act of doing it that matters most.  I'm not seeking to change the world on Friday, but I am looking for an outlet to practice and live out my calling in a small creative and meaningful way.

My typing needs some practice, but I have time between now and Friday.  

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