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The Place


We set up the equipment and began the session. As soon as the music began, patients came from every
corner of the room and rushed toward the stage to watch. There must have been five hundred people in the hall.
They clapped and danced and moved every which way. Many were humming melodies and tunes that were
different from the music we were playing, but that didn’t matter.
It was without a doubt the most gratifying time I ever spent with the bandthat is, until the next weekend,
and the weekend after that, and all the others that followed. I grew to love those people, some with deformed
body parts and others who had no idea who we were or what was actually going on. I learned from them the gift
I was to them and how fortunate I was to be there. We returned many times over the next year, and everyone
eventually knew us by name. They would yell our names as they guided us down hallways to the auditorium,
and the whole experience would begin anew.
I learned some time later that my godfather, Uncle George, had a daughter in the very same school. Even
though I didn’t learn of this until long after the band dissolved, it was nice to think we brought some happiness
into her life as well. (There is a reason for everything that happens, and although we may not know the reason
when something occurs, what is important is that we know there is a reason!) Realizing how many severely
challenged people in just that one school prompted me to wonder if our band was their only means of
entertainment. It saddened me to think so. Little did I know the voice I heard at the lake some years earlier
would speak to me again some twenty-five years later when I would return to play for these children of God
once again.
My love of performing led me to consider entertainment as the path I would travel in search of a career. I
performed all through high school and into my college years, as well as several years after leaving school. But
life doesn’t always turn out the way we think it should, no matter how hard we try to make it work. I always
found myself coming back to where I was, and it had very little to do with performing.
As I look back at my high school years, I realize how wonderfully liberating they were for me. That period
prepared me for my college experience and made me realize that my whole life up to that point had been
nothing more than preparation for the next stage of my life. I was anxious to learn what lie ahead and how
things would turn out with the kind of freedom college life offered.
High school was going by so quickly that it seemed more like a blur than an experience. From my junior year
on, all the talk around campus was about college. I still had two years of high school left, and I just didn’t
understand when things were so good, why anyone would want to rush to give it all up. I learned later how
some people rush from one thing to another looking for something they’ll never find, until they learn to live in
the moment. I was adamant about enjoying what was left of high school, and I lived each day like it was my
last.
I guess it was inevitable that I would find myself sitting at graduation with all my classmates, certain we’d be
spending our summers together and nothing would ever change. Boy, was I mistaken. After graduation, I don’t
think I saw the majority of my classmates ever again. I had either been blindsided and never saw it coming, or I
was so unrealistic about it I was in denial. Losing all the friends I had seen every day for four years just didn’t
seem fair. Life is sad that way. We make friends and lose them, but life moves on, stopping for no one. As for
me, things turned out better than I expected.
I was on my way to Wake Forest University on a football scholarship, and although I would miss my old
friends, new ones were waiting to be discovered. I had not returned to North Carolina since being recruited the
early part of my senior year, and I was looking forward to going back.
It was about two weeks before I was leaving for college. I was both excited and apprehensive about what the
future held for me.
I never found it difficult meeting new people; in fact, I actually enjoyed it. However, I did realize from an
early age that when it came to meeting people, it was different for me than most. My initial experience when
meeting someone for the first time revealed something most others could not see. I would see the truth of who
they were almost immediately. I always felt this was a by-product of my experience with the voice on the lake.
Even though I didn’t know that for sure, it was something I had come to rely on.
It was interesting to watch people present themselves in a certain way and know if they were being honest
with me or not. I understood why people would sometimes stretch the truth to impress someone or perhaps
embellish a story, but it still struck me as strange. It seemed like real life just wasn’t fulfilling enough for them.
It had to be bigger and better than the real thing. I came to realize that behavior would serve to define them, and
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