"Just shower the people you love with love
Show them the way that you feel
Things are gonna work out fine if you only will
Shower the people you love with love
Show them the way you feel
Things are gonna be much better if you only will..."
- James Taylor
I heard this song LIVE last night...really!!! But I am getting ahead of myself.
Earlier this winter I received an email from a fellow blogger/reader. Emily wrote, "If you will drive to Tulsa, I have a ticket to the James Taylor concert for you." Now, I could imagine this from my mother, my husband, a few of my sisters, or even my best friend, but although Emily and I had been regular readers of eachother's blogs (hence her awareness that I am THE biggest JT fan), had emailed one another about bees, folk music, spirituality, had talked on the phone a few times, and had met once at Ted Drewes in St. Louis for awesome frozen custard (because having Ted Drewes with me was one of the things on Emily's bucket list of 100 things to do), I never would have imagined she would have offered such an amazing gift to me.
I was shocked...very pleasantly...but shocked nonetheless. I had only that afternoon gone online to price tickets to James Taylor's upcoming performance in St. Louis this spring and they were WAY beyond my budget...even if I stopped eating for a month or two.
But Emily assured me that this was what she really wanted to do. She said that she knew how much I loved JT and thought it would be fun to see him with someone who loved his music so much.
Now, you may be thinking, Oklahoma, Tulsa...oil, cattle barons...ahhh, Emily is an oil baron's wife and lives on a massive cattle ranch. Nope. Emily is one of the most modest young women I have ever met. Modest, socially responsible, and funny. She and her husband Ron live in a little (Ron assured me it was less than 1,000 squre feet of living space) house in the "working class neighborhood" (Emily's words and she says she wouldn't think of living anywhere else...a gated neighborhood wouldn't let you have chickens and bees) in west Tulsa.
They have a small, lush backyard that hosts two coops of beautiful chickens, an impressive vegetable garden, and three beehives. They share their home with three lovely rescue pups, a finch, and a hamster that was displaced when Emily (and her department) were laid off last year. They drive small fuel efficient cars and care about the environment, their neighbors, social responsibility, music, and Route 66.
On the surface, Ron and Emily live simply and modestly. But deep beneath the well-worn carpet, gently-used clothing, and humble furnishings dwell hearts that are flagrantly generous.
I felt like a queen in their presence. I was showered with kindness and puppy kisses. I was treated to a princess' tour of the city. I was escorted through puddles (wish I hadn't changed into my "concert dress" jeans and boots so early...so I could have enjoyed it more thoroughy) and freshly mown grass to the garden full of new plantings...tomatoes, squash, peppers, herbs.
In my life, I have been blessed by the generosity of family, friends, and strangers...last night as I sat just yards from my most favorite singer-songwriter as he crooned, "Shower the people you love, with love..." I was deeply touched and humbled by the over-arching quality of modesty that characterizes this kind of generosity. From my own mom who has never based her giving on what she had in her bank account, but by the fullness of the love in her heart, to the dear friend who has always shared her "widow's mite" and never seems to reach the limits of her giving, Emily's gift was a graphic reminder of how blessed I have been by the kindness of those who share what they have without fear. And please don't get me wrong, modesty has nothing to do with the size of your bank account, your house, or the kind of car you drive. Modesty is a quality of thinking and acting characterized by humility, grace, and restraint. It is practiced by those from every walk of life, every neighborhood, every economic bracket. Modesty is not defined by lower numbers, but by higher aims and expectations for one's self in the "how" of living.
As I drove 7 hours back across eastern Oklahoma and the breadth of Missouri, I couldn't help but consider the spiritual connection between modesty and generosity. There are countless incidences of Biblical precedence for this kind of giving. From the remarkable loaning of a precious, much-valued axehead to one of the sons of the prophets, to the sharing of their modest victuals by the disciples with five thousand strangers...time after time the miracles that followed blessed a waiting world. I can't help but wonder, however, whether the real miracles were the floating of an axehead and the multiplication of loaves/fishes, or the generosity of those whose own resources were modest...bold, courageous giving in the face of lack and hunger.
So, tonight as I harvest the spiritual lessons from my 800 mile in 24 hours trip to Tulsa, I am thinking about how I can more generously "shower the people I love (and as a global citizen, this is a BIG group) with love and show them the way that I care" while still honoring our family's commitment to modesty, simplicity, and moderation.
My adventure to Tulsa, yesterday, felt like a Soul-carved out space (out of my very full family/professional/community life schedule) of fourteen hours for silence, reflection, prayer, and fasting along old Route 66. It was only fitting that my journey would take me past once-vibrant neon signs and sparkling diners, in honor of Ron and Emily's devotion to a simple man's road where family road trips, honest work-ethics, and a sense of community united small towns and cities along a thread of modest lives and generous hearts.
Enjoy this video performance of JT's "Shower the People" and although it is much like his performance last night, it will never, ever even come close to the experience of sitting next to my friend Emily in a small theatre in the dark hearing him singing it just to us...and about 500 of Ron and Emily's Tulsa neighbors and friends.
I pray you are blessed with showers of love today...you certainly have mine...
Kate Robertson, CS
*Don't miss Emily's post about this same experience for May 4, 2009 on her blog "Red Fork State of Mind"...priceless!!