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Jazz, kids, and Jesus

Only Tomorrow Knows


Monday, July 25, 2016

I have been feeling quite poorly because of a bad cold. I plug along, trying not to feel sorry for
myself, but there is real pain, discomfort, and discouragement. It takes twice as long to do
anything, and then I have to rest afterward. During the night I feel like I am suffocating, and my
throat has been so sore I dont want to swallow anything, not even food or drink.

I recently did a job for the Lord that was not easy. I am feeble and oversensitive, and some
people would have been five times as fruitful as I was and immediately gone on to more and
greater works, not thinking anything of it. But a couple times today the thought came, After
what you just did for the Lord, as admittedly humble as that was, why did he let you get sick? I
forced myself to not even go there. And the good news is that I dwell there much less than I
used to. I just suffer and carry on the best I can. I find I can even thank and praise the Lord
occasionally.
So I was working on something today and at a certain point I felt quite firmly to take a break,
and not only that, but to have some herbal tea. It was a bit odd, but I was straining away at the
task and it seemed endless and my tiredness was pronounced enough to lessen productivity
guilt.

We have Music Choice, which is a streaming music service that comes with Comcast basic cable.
There are times when I use my break time to catch up on the news, but sometimes I lose
control and might be looking at stories online for an hour or even more. I didnt need it; it
doesnt help, and is like an addiction, and just winds me up tighter.
MC as a service has, as its main draw, audio, and frankly the visuals one sees on the TV screen
are quite unimpressivecertainly nothing to compare to our video-saturated culture. A
sentence or two of text or an occasional picture is all you get, no movement, no video. The
static elements change about every 30 seconds.

As poor as the visuals are, MC used to be more generous about giving snippets of information
about the artist whose song was currently playingbirthdate, how the person got their start,
notable awards they may have won, and other human-interest items. (It is after all a person
making that music one is hearing.) Now MC has eliminated about half of that information and
replaced it with static advertisements, for example costly devices that seem a bit suspect that
are supposed to help the elderly, a product that helps one publish their secular or Christian
book, and other downer products. (All right, publishing your book can be a good thing, but was
disappointing in my case, as though the enemy says each time this ad appears, How did that
work out for ya? My usual reply, Point taken.)

But sometimes there is a picture of the artist one is currently hearing, as it was today.

There are 25 music genres available, but I find these days that I gravitate more and more to
Smooth Jazz, a departure for me. And on that channel you may get rock, some regular jazz, and
instrumental music with a beat, the kind that would be awesome to listen to if one managed to
go on a road trip after being vacationless for a long while, like, Lets pull out all the stops and
listen to groovy secular happy music for a little while! Its not hymns, but we can repent later.
So I got my tea, and was sipping it, and this dudes picture came on, and they started playing a
song that was in the Smooth Jazz genre. It was especially sweetthe texture of the
instruments, the gentlenessand it took me to a place of fewer worries. I heard these lyrics:
A flower grows
A river flows
Where will it lead?
Nobody knows

After the words nobody knows, the saxophonist played a fill. It was beyond words poignant
and beautiful, and that little snippet found a crack in the armor around my heart, like a key
inserted and releasing the almost subconscious hurts and wounds of the last couple months.
Very surprisingly and almost violently I began to weep. I had no idea what was happening, why I
was crying. Wracking sobs.
I saw through my tears a picture of the saxophonists young face on the TV screen. Such peace,
wisdom beyond his years.

My first thought: Theres no way this guy could play that without being a super-sensitive artist
whos had his share of heartbreak. Then, He creates beautiful places musically so he can
dwell there and escape the pain in his life.
Then I saw one of the helpful bits of text next to the guys picture that said that the
saxophonists name was Dave Koz. A little while later more was displayed saying his major
influence was Stan Getz.

The name of the song was Only Tomorrow Knows. You can listen to it on YouTube. (link goes to
this particular song on YouTube)

I began to think of an article I read about Stan Getz about a month ago and a fresh onslaught of
tears flowed. I had known for a long time that Getz was a heroin addict, and remembered he
had been busted in Seattle and done jail time. But a month ago I saw an article that went into
more depth:
Im sorry for the crazy thing I did (headline)

In April 1954, Stan Getz wrote from the jail ward of the Los Angeles General Hospital to the
Editor of DownBeat magazine explaining how he had been busted in Seattle for (as Popsie
Randolph put it) holdin up a drugstore to get money to buy some stuff.

Getz was one of the most talented saxophonists of his day, and had been a featured tenor sax
since he was sixteen-years-old. He was also addicted to heroin, which caused the various
behavioral antics that led Zoot Sims to describe him as a nice bunch of guys.
According to drummer Don Lamond, Getzs early career success had never allowed him a
chance to grow up.
Don Lamond: And you know how it was during the war. There werent any
bands. There was nobody for these kids to dig except for a few guys who
happened to be around, and some of those guys were on junk. And you
know how kids are. Everything their idols did was right. So the kids did it
too.

Stan was an impressionable kid like many of them. And he was a spoiled
kid, coddled all his life. The tragedy is that I cant think of anyone who has
more talent. Stan is a natural musician. He has a fabulous ear, imagination, a
retentive memory. What else do you need?

At a loose end in Seattle in 1954, Getz needed junk.

In his letter to Down Beat, Getz began by declaring he had many things to say, excluding
excuses, regrets, and promises. Getz continues:
Promises from me at this point mean nothing; starting when I am released
is when my actions will count.

His actions in Seattle was what he wanted to explain, and to understand.

What happened in Seattle was inevitable. Me coming to the end of my


rope. I shouldnt have been withdrawing myself from narcotics while
working and traveling. With the aid of barbiturates, I thought I could do it.
Seattle was the eighth day of the tour and I could stand no more. (Stan you
said no excuses.) Going into this drugstore, I demanded more narcotics. I
said I had a gun (didnt).

The lady behind the counter evidently didnt believe I had a gun so she
told another customer. He, in turn, took a look at me and laughed, saying,
Lady, hes kidding you. He has no gun. I guess I didnt look the part. Having
flopped at my first caper (one of the terms Ive learned up here), I left the
store and went to my hotel. When I was in my room I decided to call the
store and apologize. In doing so, the call was traced and my incarceration
followed.

The woman behind-the-counter was Mary Brewster. When she asked to see Getzs gun, he fled
the drugstore, and ran directly to his hotel across the street, as other customers watched.
When Getz phoned Mary to apologize, a policeman was listening in. Getz said:
Im sorry for the crazy thing I did. Ive never done anything like that before. Im not
a stick-up man. Im from a good family. Im going to commit myself on
Wednesday. Brewster asks Why dont you commit yourself today? I cant. If I
dont get drugs, Ill kill.

The cop on the phone spoke up, pretending to be a doctor and asked if he can help. Stan
blurted out his lifes story. The doctor said he was coming right over to help. Locked in his
room, despairing and ashamed, Stan tried to kill himself by swallowing a fistful of barbiturates.
The police knocked on his door minutes later, and run him in for booking. A photograph of Stan
in the back seat of a patrol car, looking sick and scared, was flashed over the news wire
services. The overdose of barbiturates took effect minutes after he was locked up and he
collapsed.
In his letter to Down Beat, Getz explained his attempted suicide.

My dope poisoning was sixty grains of a long-acting barbiturate that I swallowed


en route to jail. Id had enough of me and my antics.

An emergency tracheotomy was carried out to save Getzs life. When he came round from his
drug coma three days later, he found himself lying on a hospital bed at the Harbor Haven
County Hospital, with a breathing tube in his throat.
Getz was sentenced to six months in jail, and three years probation. In his summing-up, the
judge said:

You have talent, family and a good background, but despite an income of a thousand dollars a
week, you are not only broke, but your family is living under deplorable conditions. They are
sleeping on the floor while you travel in luxury spending money on yourself - and doing what
comes naturally.
Youre a poor excuse for a man. If you cant behave yourself, someone else is going to have to
look after you Its time you grew up.
Getz was admitted to the jail ward at the LA General Hospital, where his detox began. At the
very moment he was being processed to the prison ward, his addicted wife was downstairs,
giving birth to their daughter Beverly.

In jail, Getz received incredible support (through letters, telegrams and phone calls) that helped
him through his moment of despair. Though he was not a religious man, the experience showed
him that there was a God, not above us but here on earth in the warm hearts of people. (end
Downbeat article)

After I (Dan) recalled this story, my first thought was, The motivation for his suicide was so
different from a suicide bomber. Maybe he was thinking that the world would be a better
place without him, and that he didnt want to hurt anyone anymore. More tears. Some artists
really go through the ringer. Yes, there is culpability, they make bad choices.

So then I looked up Dave Koz. It was through that research that I found out that Dave, Getzs
mentee through listening to the now-departed Getzs music, is Jewish. I found out that Stan
Getz was Jewish also. I did not know it, and I honor those who are Jews, especially artists. There
is some kind of bond between Koz and Getz. When I hear Getz play, at home or at Starbucks on
the satellite radio, I pause and listen. And this day, God sure used that musical phrase to touch
me.
When I was up at kids camp last week, I was next bunk over from a young boy (9 years old) who
has had a rough life. He is now a foster kid. Small and slight for his age, he is quite likable,
though sometimes withdrawn, and lost in his own creative world.

So I was kind of hornswoggled by the Lord into filling in for a co-cabin leader who had to drop
out due to some family issues. At church the Sunday before camp week started, another male
kids church teacher (we teach on Sundays only) and I got together with the head of family
ministries and talked. The other teacher and I agreed to do two nights apiece with the kids,
starting at 7 pm for childrens church, sleeping at camp, and then leaving the next day after
breakfast. (there is an accountability rule to not have one teacher alone with the kids at night,
apparently; there was also a junior cabin leader, but I think the rule is two adults and one junior
cabin leader)
It wasnt easy to make the commitment, though of course we had about a third of the load of
the men who were out there all five days. (names available on request, mighty men of God all
of them)

I try not to boast in the Lord, so wont detail the at-times demonic opposition I thought I felt in
getting out to camp that first night. (Besides that attempt at modesty, I tend to be oversensitive and imaginative, which means it is a little unclear if any of that was spiritual or just in
my head.)
I arrived at 6 PM, talked with a few teachers and kids, and got checked in (security) and then
waited for a while in line to get into evening service. I was happily surprised to see that a
number of my 5 and 6-year-olds from Sunday church were there and recognized me and were
friendly. (I suppose every kids leaders nightmare is being totally rejected by his kids. The
enemy seemed to be working that one, but the Lord came through.)

So there were a number of natural reasons I did not sleep well that first night. My daily
schedule was not in alignment with going to bed at 10 PM being the main one. But I always get
kind of wound up whether at kids camp, mens retreat, or what have you. I may have slept an
hour between 5 and 6 am.

All night long, the little camper next to me rolled and tossed, almost fully awakening about
every 15 minutes, and then trying to go back to sleep. I prayed quite a bit (for me) that night.
There was nothing else to do, for one, and I thought it might help the little guy. (Im very sorry
to report that it did not.) The mental image I got of that little kid was the enemy had him on a
spit over a hellish fire and slowly rotated him for max pain all night.

The next morning the little guy was super spaced out. I was also. Maybe the Lord let me suffer
that so I could get an idea where he was coming from. Well rested I think I am much more
prone to being judgmental.

You see I had a kind of tough childhood. Every few years my Dads job changed locations,
everywhere in the US where there was an Air Force Base. I did develop some close friendships,
but they did not last much beyond a year after we moved to some new place. I lived in
Lancaster, CA when I was 4, near Eglin AFB in north Florida when I was 5, Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma when I was 6, Dayton, Ohio, when I was 7, then back to Seattle, then to Dayton
again, then back to Seattle, and then to California again when I was a junior in high school. That
last move was brutal, but I suppose God turned it for good. It was the hippie days, and some of
my Seattle friends I left behind died.

I was also afraid a lot of the time. I never pushed back when intimidated by bullies, but cowered
away.
I went to camp a couple times as a youth. I knew the kids were going to do the rope swing and
the zip line out at Cedar Springs this trip. These are tremendous exercises to overcome fear, but
if a child is forced into them, you may have a child who will never again come to camp. Instead
of integrating him into community, you drive him further away, possibly for life.
I wanted to feel out the little camper as to the rope swing and zip line, and try to do something
so he didnt have to be shamed into doing it if he didnt feel like he could. (I had gone on the
mans retreat at the same camp and had very nearly not gone on the rope swing. By the grace
of God I forced myself, but no one tried to talk me into it. It was totally my decision, though I
will admit I was terrified, and had diarrhea (made it to the can though, woo hoo! ) before my
turn.
You know, slightly random idea here, but I am continually amazed and encouraged by kids and
animals. They can be suffering terribly but continue to have a cheerfulness and gameness.
How are you doing, Jim? Good. (In that somewhat drawn out syllable that rises and falls a
little, and yet ends with a hint of hope and joy beyond the word.)
I stopped the little camper as we walked by the other cabins on our way to the bathroom. We
were a bit late, moving in slow motion sleep deprivation.
I dont think you slept really well last night, and neither did I. Did you know there is a rope
swing here and a zip line?

Yeah.

Are those things kind of scary to you?

He looked at me, his thoughts slowly warming molasses. I dont know.


Do you want to go on them?

Yeah, he said gently, but with conviction. I could see in his eyes that he thought it would be
fun.

During the night, I had felt kind of sorry for my cabin leader, having to be out at camp 24/7 for 5
days. I had prayed that if it were the Lords will, I would try to stay out at camp during that day
rather than leave after breakfast. I put that on the altar and said I was willing, but I was also
afraid that I would not be able to accomplish it through weakness.
The way things worked out, I felt it was the Lords will to go back to Everett. Looking back, I
dont think there would have been any way I would have made it through that day unless God
did a number of miracles, like give me a 20-year-old body for example, and other big-time
marvels.
So I went out again on Thursday night. I got there about 7, even though I tried to get there
earlier. Again, it felt like demonic opposition. Traffic, at least one accident, difficulty in getting
away from the house because of entanglements.

Kids church that night was really good. And the little camper slept much better Thursday night.
Maybe my prayers just had to be waited on for a while.
Well, I havent cried for about 15 minutes, so I guess my tale is winding down
Except for two things.

I saw God move in two wonderful ways Wednesday morning.

I felt to ask a boy named J to reach out to the little camper. At the rest room, I asked him (J) if I
could talk to him. He asked what about. I said I wanted to ask him a favor. So as we walked back
to the cabin, with no one near us, I asked him if he would reach out to the little camper, the
one who didnt sleep well, while I was away.
He asked, What does reach out mean?

I said, Well, you look out for them, and try to help them, and be their friend. (The little
camper did not have many friends.)

Jacob stopped and looked up in my eyes. Are you saying you would like me to show him
compassion?
Yes, I said, feeling the kind of joy that brings tears.

I have shown compassion to a number of people in my life so far, I think I can do that, said J. I
walked back to the cabin with J and told the little camper I wanted him to introduce him to
someone. I had them meet and shake hands. They looked at each a long time, and then smiled.

The other thing was that there was an unusually large boy in my cabin who could be a handful.
Two athletic brothers were kind of putting him in his place, trying to contain him I guess for
future potential problems. I can see why they would be doing it, self-preservation through
teamwork, but in this case the big boy had done nothing wrong and was just trying to get along.

When the big kid left for a moment, I asked the brothers if I could talk to them. I told them they
were working in concert to pick on the big kid. The more aggressive brother denied it. The other
brother slowly shook his head in the affirmative, and said, Yes, we were doing that. That
confession moved me.
I told them, Look, so-and-so (the big kid, name withheld for privacy) has issues, but he just
came out here to learn more about God and have fun. What you are doing is taking that away
from him, and making his life harder. He might have a bad camp experience and not want to
come back.
About 5 minutes later when the other boy had reentered the cabin (he did not know I was
talking to the two brothers).

At that time the cabin leader was beginning to put more pressure on the boys to clean up their
spaces, put their stuff in bags and suitcases, and make their beds. The daily inspection by the
camp staff was imminent. The large boy had a lot of stuff strewn around, and did not seem
much motivated to clean up. Maybe was still smarting from being picked on.

A few minutes later, after the aggressor brother had cleaned up his own space, he began to
clean up the big boys space and make his bed. He did this without fanfare, without a word,
without anyone except me seeing what he was doing. I went over the brother who was cleaning
up and said, I see you, man. I held up my fist for a bump, and he gently bumped it.
The one boy had confessed, which was very good.

The other boy had not confessed, but his actions went beyond a confession.

When I told this story to Donna, her eyes got moist. That brother got why he was at camp.