As I’m coasting through the eve of what is generally my biggest performance event of the year (the Phoenix Fringe Festival) , I am troubled and somewhat amused by a recent revelation. As we humans prepare to walk through our most recent rites of passage (marriage, babies, graduations, homecomings, award ceremonies, loss of loved ones, and, of course, big-ass performances), there’s always a Who moment. Y’know the one where that damned song floats through our minds: “How many friends have I really got…?”

It seems great events are great levelers. From the most extreme (how many people called when my mom died, who visited, who really cares about me?) to, in comparison, the most benign (who will actually make it out to my shows-if they are local or at least wish me well-if they are not). Judge me if you will but we all have these moments and a lot of our lives are built on the relationships with people that were present, that stayed present or suddenly developed when a person-no matter how much we least expected-was seemingly the only one who cared.

Jesus talked about this at least three times: a prophet is not without honor accept in his own home, in his own city; foxes have holes, birds have nests but the Son Of Man has no place to rest His head; and the parable about all of the originally invited wedding guests not bothering to come or even RSVP.

Of course it is my desire that everyone I care about and care enough to contact either via the internet, phone or personal visit would drop everything to show my life’s work some physical (and hopefully enthusiastic) support. But I am realistic and know how hard it is to do this-imagine with my performance schedule if I went to everything my fellow musicians did.

But then there is that leveling process.  And you, dear readers, already know what that is. We are all surrounded by  talkers and not doers, y’know the ones who love to say things like, “You gotta know who your true friends really are” like they are part of an elite club. I sigh and roll my eyes at this, thinking, “Amen to that. I’m gonna go find my true friends.”

I’m convinced that people who know me are blessed to know a truly unique and one of a kind fellow doing a strange and powerful work for the Lord. Not that I’m easy, but neither are most of you! I see friends keep me at an arm’s distance and know that I am guilty of the same.  What a shame.  God puts so many amazing and wonderful people in our lives for a reason but I’m convinced it’s not to shut them out or have superficial relationships built on empty promises or even best intentions.

I have family for that. I have peeps in California that are going to come to visit me and the kids as soon as the weather is nice. I’ve been hearing that for six years! We’re talking character here not good intentions. And I never write off behavior as, “That’s how people are” or “Look who you are dealing with.”  Put up or shut up. If I make a commitment to you and flake, call me on it and you’ll be doing me a favor in God. And I will gladly do the same. In fact, I’m planning on it.

There are a lot of people who receive my blogs: strangers and one-time visitors to shows make up a huge part of the list. Then there are the acquaintances, acquaintances who call themselves friends and then there are the peeps I call friend. 

To the stranger I say:  Thanks for putting up with all of this output. It’s my project for 2011 and it will die down at some point. Please make your way to a show and if you are out of town, please write me privately in any of my networks and allow me to send ya a cd and begin a friendship.

To the acquaintance: Coffee? Of if you are far away, please write me and tell me about your world and let’s become better acquainted.

To the acquaintance who calls themselves friend:  Hmm… I expect I’ve ruffled your feathers most. If your phone number is not programmed on my cell phone we have a bit of a disconnect here.  I hope you care more about knowing me than being able to say you know me to fix this. If you are somewhere where you can read this, I pray for you and care about your lives. And I’m human and, like you, my feelings get hurt sometimes.

Lastly, to my friends: I need you. Not just in spirit but in real time. Physical, emotional, spiritual and sometimes financial support is the lifeblood of this ministry, my life’s labor of love and ultimately ME. If you are in town spend a night with me and my posse. If you are not, please pray for me and let me know you are with me in Spirit. If I’m not living up to your needs in a friend, maybe you need to make a list for me. You’d be surprised at my response.

Folks, this a very personal expression from my heart yet I am convinced of the universal truths it contains. We all disappoint and oft times because we are convinced of friendships that aren’t or are not properly developed. I have thousands of friends on Facebook and MySpace. I would love to have on earth what I have on the Internet.

I’d settle for a solid baker’s dozen.

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