Bluesfest,Good Friday and the Blind Boys
1985 was a good year. I had been working on the Gold Coast for 4 years as a School Chaplain/ R E teacher, my wife Felicity was pregnant with our first son Zach, and we were getting ready to leave the coast for the Back of Bourke and time with Cornerstone Community.
Our kids surprised us this year with tickets to the Bluesfest in Byron Bay over Easter, so we packed the van and headed off to stay right near the beach and listen to the blues every night. Good Friday the Bluefest was packed and we huddled along with thousands of others to listen to The Blindboys from Alabama. These guys are great and sing old and new Gospel songs to the Blues. They were in the middle of singing ‘Amazing Grace’ to ‘House of the Rising Sun’ tune and as I listened, most of the crowd was singing along.I figured it was a good time to send a facebook message capturing the moment saying God still has his way on Good Friday- even at the Bluesfest.
A lady next to me[ lets call her Kerry], asked who I was talking too[forward I know, but not for Bluesfest] and I told her what I was doing and the message I was sending and this began a discussion on all things spiritual although mostly about Jesus and Kerry’s life and disappointments. After a while and following introductions to Flis and our kids I asked Kerry where she was from and she said the Gold Coast. I asked her what school she had attended and she said Merrimac High and I commented that Merrimac was the school I began chaplaincy at in 1982 to 1985. Kerry said that she remembered the religious eduction seminars we would run regularly at school and that this was the first time she had heard about Jesus. As we talked further it became apparent that Kerry had been in my classes about 26 years before. Kerry asked me if I really believed this religion stuff although she admitted to occasionaly calling out to God in a crisis and he or something always seemed to turn up.
Thats when I said, Ok, it’s Good Friday, the day Christians remember Jesus dying on a cross for our sins and forgiveness. We are at a fairly non-religous[although that depended how you looked at it] music event where know one is really interested in what Easter is about- they are just here for a good time. We are listening to a group of blind black gospel singers from the other side of the world singing about Jesus and there is a huge crowd here and people are joining in. I’m standing next to you, a complete stranger and we start a conversation about religion and faith and you tell me you first theard about Jesus 26 plus years ago at high school and I just happen to be the person who was not only the school Chaplain at the time but also your religious education teacher. You ask me is it real? Kerry if thats not Gods providence and love wanting to somehow remind you about what you heard years ago and to let you know he cares very much about you I don’t know what is. We chatted some more and planned to keep in touch. Amazing when I reflected on it. I told you that to tell you this.
Resurrection Sunday night we turned up, parked our van, miles from the front gate and walked in carrying our camping chairs. No more standing up for hours for these groupies. We got set up outside a big tent- great under the stars, big screen, good blues music, wonderful. While we were dancing about I noticed my keys were not hooked to my belt where they should be. A quick search ensued, then we packed up the chairs, rang the kids who were rocking at another tent to tell them and then headed for security to report our loss. In the mayhem of the moment, Flis and I got split up and lost each other for 30 minutes eventually finding each other at security. We backtracked as best we could at night, borrowed a torch and asked everyone we met, but nothing. RACQ were helpful but said they would have to get a new key cut when shops opened on Wednesday after Easter and that would be $400 minimum. So we prayed and went back to listen to more bands and eventualy got back to our digs- vanless!
The next day we had to go out early to meet NRMA for a toe, so we decided to have one last look. We tracked from the van as best we could- it literally was in a paddock of hectares of car parks seperated by security cords. We walked up to where we thought we changed direction the night before, was it this bay or that one? Finally deciding, Flec went ahead and bent under the security rope and I told her to look under her foot as I could see the key. We were so excited we jumped around and then made an iphone movie of us finding the key -available if you really want to see it, but fairly lame!
Finding that key in a paddock where the night before there was probably 5000 cars parked was nearly as miraculous as finding Kerry, one of my old students from 26 years ago and being able to share with her about the story of Jesus again.
Mike Frost talks about God making a pass at us. I cant believe how when things like this happen I look up or down or around and there’s God, tippin his hat, winking at me and simply saying , how ya goin Turner. Not just a reminder for Kerry but a good one for us as well I reckon.