There are places where I go to sing for under-served people. These are people much like the ones I met on the streets in Chicago --the ones my mother warned me to never talk to. (which I never listened and came home with countless stories). Maybe it is why I feel a special kinship when I play at the mission home in town. It's a dark place with people screaming in the corners and trying to climb out of their wheelchairs. Where the staff walk right by them and do not help--as if they've seen everything. I keep on singing no matter what's going on.
Last week at the mission home, I befriended a black woman who asked me when my birthday was. "Oh a winter baby!" she said when I told her the December date. I sang some old African spirituals and after each song she said, "Oh yeah!" She was the only one out of a room full (about 25) of people who was listening.
The next day I went to work at the hospital and played for a patient who was on suicide watch. The patient was in restraints and hooked up to life support and very agitated. I tried to surround her with the beauty and comfort of guitar music. There was a guard standing outside the door watching and listening. I didn't know this patient was on suicide watch until I went to leave and asked if the guard was there to monitor the vital machines (bells kept going off and the guard kept coming in to turn off the alarms). The guard said, "No, she tried to kill herself." Wow. It's hard to imagine life can be that bad for some people. I had hoped my music did something for her spirit.
There are things I see at times that gives me perspective. It makes me grateful that I have work doing what I am here to give. People often think being a full time musician is a lot of fun. And it is. But it is also a kind of work others cannot imagine. This was a week in the alleys of mankind. Hope I struck a chord to show them there is still beauty, peace, hope.