Greg Murat (mur-rah)
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Journal April 2004 Journal Archive Flash Poem Archive
Columbia Winery Cellar Club members getting down on the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train.
So I call the PUD and they tell us we will be without power for 5 days. Now five days in the dark without water and with losing all the food in the freezer and fridge might not be so bad. It will be like camping. However the cold dark house has alerted the local spider population of the possibility that the house is theirs now. Andie got bitten twice last night. Andie just called and said maybe it is not a bite. I hope. I hope. It is difficult to feel a bite and then try to sleep when you haven't found the perpetrator. We take so many things for granted. Little every day things seem like wonderful luxuries after they disappear: things like taking showers and flushing a toilet. I talked to a friend last night who said he went four days without power in the heart of that cold snap we had this last winter. That would be much worse; freezing in the dark. It is starting to get a bit ripe around here but we will make it.
I heard from Grandpa Joe today. He is in the outback of Tennessee waiting to start on a new adventure. It was good to hear his voice and to hear Uncle John is doing well.
I also received a poem by Shannon Ramey, a friend from Lake Stevens Covenant. It was a pleasant surprise. Andie and I spend a lot of time in conversation and reflection about that small fellowship. I have thought of how much good could come from using that marquee outside to minister to the thousands of people who pass by it each day. It has been blank for awhile and that is sad. Of course I tend to dramatize everything. So maybe it isn't sad, it is just blank.
- It is beautiful outside today. It seems odd to think our house will be cold and dark this evening. But, thanks to God's grace, we have a house to light and heat when we do have power.
- Eureka! The power came back on this afternoon. A guy came by from PUD to do a meter read. He checked the meter and turned to Liz and said, "Yep, you don't have any power." Duh. I think God was looking out for him since he encountered Liz and not me. I was feeling quite a bit contrary regarding the Power Company. About an hour later the power came back on. Now I have showered and flushed the toilet a few times for fun and I am ready to take it easy for a bit and maybe read a little bit by soft lamp light. What a week we have had.
- April 28
After a three hour drive from downtown, I arrived home last night to what looked like a war zone. A sudden wind storm blew in yesterday afternoon and knocked down trees and took out the power. There were huge branches all over our driveway. I thought I had stepped into the Twilight Zone. The nice part of a power outage is the silence and the candle light. It also helps if you have a gas grill. I sat at the table and scarfed down an enormous bowl of stew that Andie had heated on the grill. Josh sat next to me playing the Guild and showing me some of his chord changes. He then proceeded to play the lead guitar parts from the movie, Crossroads. I remember just last Sunday when Paul Peterson was telling us about what the rhythm of life was like before we had all the multimedia. It was like that last night. We sat in the semi darkness and visited and when it was fully dark outside we were all ready for sleep. Had the TV been on, we would probably have stayed up for hours. It made me think of times when things were more simple. A time when I lived in a lean to on a sand bar by a river in the Sierra Foothills of California. There was a time I took to stay in the woods and debrief myself from my experiences in Viet Nam. Andie and I are content with simple things. It always comes around to the fact that we have each other and we have love. Everything else, good and bad, have a different perspective in light of that love. We are headed for life that is more in tune with God's rhythm, with more simplicity, music and serenity. I can hear the distant drumming in a soft cadence telling me, all in time, all in time, all in time. Let go, let it flow and trust the one who brought us here. All that said, I will still be glad when the power comes back on.
- April 27
It sees like it is more difficult with each passing day to have time to write in my journal. It is a good sign that I need to slow down and spread myself a little thicker. Vesper Service on Sunday in Bellingham was another healing evening. Paul Peterson did a lot for our souls by inviting me to be a part of that worship time. I actually sang the Fernando Ortega song, Jesus King of Angels. Poor Kevin had a terrible cold and couldn't sing. He played the piano beautifully though. I jump started the song a little early and Kevin gave me the almost imperceptible head shake, No. In the past that would have made me so nervous I wouldn't have been able to play. But the spirit of that gathering was such that I just poured my heart out in the meaning of the music. It is such a powerful song. I have Paul to thank for many things, and one is introducing me to the music of Fernando. Saturday night I played in the church Lobby for Paul's 50th birthday party and that was a lot of fun. I have to say I ran out of steam way before he did. Andie and I stayed the night in Bellingham and it was good to have a little romantic get away. It was so late and we were so tired when we got to our room. The hot tub was closed. There was no food available. We slept well anyway. We had a huge breakfast after church. Paul and Cat got our room for us and it was just nice for Andie and I to have time together.
Things are moving along kind of lazily at a crazy pace. The same day to day stuff goes on. Josh is growing and has made some great strides in just the last week. His playing and his spirit gets stronger daily. God has been good to us. We wonder what Sarah is doing as we nearly never see her. We have a little shrine for her in the former studio. She is at a retreat right now and I hope it does her spirit some good. Yesterday was her birthday and we couldn't even say hi. Life.
We are also praying for Pastor Eric as he is leading Lake Stevens Covenant. May he be able to lead. May those who don't want to let go of the reins be humbled by God and step aside and support him. We miss the fellowship, but not the strife. So here is another day. Thanks God, stay close, watch over our young people overseas and please, bring them home!
- April 22
I wonder, do I get carried away writing in this journal? When I think of the volumes of journals I have kept over time, I see that I used them to work through things. I don't think my concerns and experiences are any more special than anyone else's. Time has certainly proven that I have been mistaken in so many of my views and my choices. My perspective has often left out a lot of the details from the big picture. I guess it is hard to see the sunshine sometimes. But overall, I feel like Tom Hanks expressed in Joe Versus The Volcano. Floating on that luggage, sun baked, dehydrated, he looked at the moon rise and said "God, thank you for my life." He was in some hard, hard times and Joe could still see the wonder of it all.
I talked with Josh last night, or I should say, I listened to Josh. He was sharing some insights he has been gaining over the last week. It was great to hear the things he is realizing. It must be hard for him if he puts himself through anything like I put myself through. My heart swelled up with hope that he will see how much we love him and believe in him. I could hear the genuine growth of his spirit in his voice. It was wonderful because there was no agenda. There was nothing he was seeking, he was just sharing his feelings. I felt like I had found the rainbow's end. I had been in the studio listening to one of his songs that he recorded with Rob. Liz, Andie and I just sat and played it over and over again. Rob's twelve string is magical. Josh's solo is so beautiful and mature it brings tears to my eyes. I wish I could play like that. I am a lucky man. I am rich in so many ways, Lord have mercy on the man who is so often blind to his blessings. And may I just say, thank you for family and friends.
- April 21
Since I missed so much time I thought I would also mention this last weekend. It was a good weekend for music. I played solo at the Cafe de Paris, and I always enjoy that because just sitting and playing my guitar, washes the week's worries away. Then I went to Provinces and played and sang my heart out with the help of Kathy and Dale. I was nearly brain dead from the stress of the week. They kept calling out songs to keep me going. I am trying to revisit and circulate songs I've written because I forget them over time. On Saturday Jim Culler brought in Mark Dodge to play lead guitar. The rest was magic. As I listened to Mark play to all these songs he had never heard, I thought, thank you God for balancing the madness of this week with this wonderful musician. It was so much fun and I am looking forward to doing a lot more music with Mark.
My schedule has been crazy so I haven't even looked at e-mail for a week. Sunday we went to visit Andie's cousin in Poulsbo, so we caught the ferry. It was Bri's birthday party and I brought my guitar and sang her a bunch of songs. I was very tired, so tired that I took an hour and a half nap at her house when we got there. She had lots of friends over who belong to a club, and I never did get the story on this, but all the men were wearing kilts. I was one of the only people there not in a skirt. I was okay with that though. Back on the ferry and home we went and that was all I had left for energy. I think I fell asleep right away, blinked my eyes, and it was Monday. I heard on the radio this morning that Billy Graham said the one thing he learned about life is this: it passes so quickly. Ain't it the truth.
- April 21
I have been caught up in the swirl of life. This last week left me feeling beaten and battered by the current events in the world and in our own home. It is time for me to move on and like the words in Josh's song, everyone is moving forward and I am left behind. I live in a lot of turbulent emotions trying to help Josh make choices that will bring more quality to his life and get him sharing the absolutely amazing talent he has as a guitarist and as a song writer. I am weary from the grief of trying. Meanwhile my own life is passing by in a blur. I did get to go in my studio last night and fiddle with some mixes. Andie came in and said, I bet that feels good. It did. I don't even remember the last time there was time or space for me to work on my projects in the studio. Rob is a tireless worker with more projects going than anyone can keep up. He has gone to Arizona so I am doing that thing I do where I want to rearrange things. I need to do something that has a result. I keep trying to fix things, kind of like my sister Maria. We have plenty to deal with on our own plates but it is hard when you want to adjust someone else's table settings all the time. Mean time, your own food gets cold.
- April 15
Life goes on day after day. I remember a Moody Blues song that says, work away today, work away tomorrow, never comes the day, for my love and me. It seems like that sometimes. In one door and out another from job to job to job. I have been working at Mike's studio, so now I come home and leave. That was not the plan when Andie and I started our own studio. Oops. Lots of changes are in the works. Rob is leaving for Arizona today, or at least that is the plan. Josh will be moving in a few weeks and God I hope he finds a good living situation. He is doing good at his new job and I am very proud of how responsible he is being about getting up and going to work every day. Sarah just called yesterday and came home with me. Revolving doors with people streaming in and out. I am looking forward to a little more elbow room. I will be especially happy when Andie has her studio back. It has been hard on her not to have her place of retreat and work. She continues to get more lovely as the days pass. I pass the mirror and think I stepped into a scary movie. Who is that old guy? Oh, that would be me. Wow, someone beat me with an old stick while I was sleeping. At least now my face is starting to match my hair. Age and gravity are funny things. It could be the ground is anxious to suck us in as we get older. Patience as say as my chin and my tummy head towards the floor.
- April 9
I was listening to the radio early in the morning and I heard a program on depression. It was very interesting. The speaker said that depression was unspent or caged up rage. It made total sense in regards to myself and others around me, like Sarah, who struggle with depression. I can recognize unresolved emotions and situations that involved a claim to anger. The best approach to winning the ongoing battle is to come to terms with those things at the route of the unrecognized and unreleased anger. One approach was the tried and true technique of making a list. In much the same way an alcoholic has to recognize their condition before any treatment is a possibility, a person leaning towards depression needs to get in touch with the underlying emotions and persons and forgive them. Let it go. I remember also hearing that service or volunteer work is another great way to get out of the funk and into life. By doing for others we are healing ourselves. I know Sarah has done a lot of that kind of work with the food banks and feeding the homeless and hungry. I think that prayerfully seeking forgiveness is the long term cure for the blues, though. Seeing the beauty in the world around is a great healer too. It is so easy to lose sight of the good when so much bad is thrown at us by the radio, the TV and newspapers. It is still there. Just like God, whether we believe or not.
- April 6
We went to a memorial service for Helen Three Stars last evening. I told Andie on the way there that we would see what the little church looks like full of people. I knew there would be many people there because Helen had such a wonderful spirit. She was an inspiration with the powerful faith you could see on her face and in her eyes and by her actions. When someone like Helen dies, you are both sad and glad. Any time we lose someone from our lives we feel the loss. We feel their absence keenly. Those emotions are about ourselves and they create sadness. When you think about someone like Helen, you have to smile and know that she is in such a better place now. She fought the good fight and now she is done and home with Jesus. The kind of life she lived spilled over and blessed all those around her. It was obvious in the whole mood of those attending her memorial. We all came to pay our respects, share our loss and above all to celebrate her victory. Actions speak so much louder than words. She spoke, acted and laughed loudly on Christ's behalf. We will all miss her.
- April 5
Andie is off to see the tulips with her Mom today. That is really the way to go to the tulip fields, during the week, when everyone else is at work. We went on a weekend one time only. Lines of cars were backed up for miles. Still, weekend or week day the fields are so very beautiful with all that color. I think seeing those many colors is good for the soul. There is so much gray in the skies so much of the time here in Washington. When the flowers bloom it is soothing to the eyes. I think sunlight is like that too, I associate it with hope and growth.
- Freedom called from Sedona and went on about the beautiful sunsets there. I am so looking forward to seeing some of those sunsets ourselves in the early summer.
- We had a great weekend and so many people at the house. We got to see Blu and Jason and visit for a good long while. Mish and Rob and the rest of their family, Liz, Josh, Miracle, Mike, Ty and Faith. It was quite a turn out and lots of music was made for many hours. Andie looks so happy when she is entertaining people in our home. She was dancing with the girls. It is good to have time with friends. It is good to just soak up some life with the people you know and love. We come together and share music and company. Memories tied to old songs were talked about and many old songs were sung. We talked about Cat Stevens and the wonderful music he gave us before he retired. It was one of the many times I chose life in the moment over sleep. There is something about the charge I get from the experience and fun of a gathering that seems to make up for the absence of slumber, well, kind of anyway. I must say, I feel it more and more when I don't get much sleep. So I am a bit rummy today but thankful for friends and family, and for music. And I am thinking that a little nap would be like a party in and of itself. That may not happen though, so I will breathe deep and move forward one step at a time. Miles to go before I sleep.
- April 2
Yesterday was tough. I was still writing my journal entry this morning from yesterday. Sometimes a person just has to vent. I don't write a lot about music in here do I? I do spend time making and writing music though. I have written my way through some heart break songs and I am ready to go back to the islands and that happy mur-rah music. We are recording those tunes as well as the song I wrote after 911 and the lament for Viet Nam. I have been walking in shadow land for a long time. I am ready to come out into the sun and have some joy. I know Andie would sure appreciate it if I were to have more fun. I love to make her laugh. It is one of my favorite sounds, the sound of laughter. In these times in which we live we need to laugh. So I will share this story.
A teacher gave her fifth grade class an assignment:
Get their parents to tell them a story with a moral at the end of it.
The next day the kids came back and one by one began to tell their stories. "Johnny, do you have a story to share?"
"Yes, ma'am, my daddy told a story about my Aunt Carol from Key West.
Aunt Carol was a pilot over Iraq during Desert Storm and her plane got hit. She had to bail out over enemy territory and all she had was a small flask of whiskey, a pistol and a survival knife. She drank the whiskey on the way down so it wouldn't fall into enemy hands. Her parachute landed her right in the middle of twenty enemy troops. She shot fifteen of them with the gun until she ran out of bullets, killed four more with the knife, 'till the blade broke and then she killed the last one with her bare hands."
"Good heavens," said the horrified teacher, "What kind of moral did your daddy teach you from that horrible story?"
"Stay the hell away from Aunt Carol when she's been drinking."
- April 1
A. I wrote the second paragraph at 5 AM this morning. Life is focus, right. When contemplating responsibility it is important to ask questions like, how am I contributing to the problem? Or perhaps, what might I be saying or doing to create this situation? Josh, after working for 11 hours, came home, called Mish in response to her phone message in which she asked for help moving. He took a shower, got back in his car and drove out to the ranch. He spent the rest of the evening helping her move her belongings to storage. It was very kind of him. He didn't grumble or complain, but willingly went to help out a friend. I was asleep before he got home. Before he left, he called Andie to let her know what was up and then off he went. I had hoped to spend some time talking with him about our family situation and his part, but we were both a bit tense from a long day of working. The night before, he had expressed some desire to make some changes in his life; changes that are vital to his future. The things that trouble me most about Josh are clearly visible to me. I just have to look in the mirror. Open the door and let me in and let there be love between us.
B. Last night was not my favorite. I wanted to talk with Josh when I got home from work, but it didn't happen. There was just too much defensiveness and too much be quiet and leave me alone vibe. I guess I feel my hopes of a few days ago are slipping away. I ask myself, how can someone miss your birthday, Christmas and everything else that concerns people in the immediate family and with such ease and disregard? How many ways can someone demonstrate that you don't matter to them? All concern, when there is any, is towards the portion of the person's family that is not involved in providing home, food and comfort. I am so ready to have peace in our home. It will come to pass one way or another. I have to remember, we each have our own walks and mine is mine and so is everyone else's. I would so like to converse and counsel with my son, but his goodness will come out somewhere else I suppose. He can only see us through eyes that are unable to see the love we feel and give freely. I hope someday he can see us for who we are. When you realize that all that you do and give to help someone is only enabling them, then it is time to stop. It is time to stop. Let go and let God. No anger, no lack of love, just time to move on to somewhere kindness can come from your heart and you can show appreciation for the people who love and care for you, or not. Some people mistake compassion for weakness, patience for foolishness, and unconditional love for stupidity. Blindness to the sacrifices of others is a sad affliction, because you lose out on the chance to show grace. Grace is holding hands with God. I love my son very much. I wish he could see it. I wish he could give it back. I wish I could feel like a good father. I wish.
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Greg Murat (mur-rah)