Food on Fridays yesterday was not labeled as part of the series “Scenes from Texas: Part Three,” but in it, I mentioned some of the food consumed at Laity Lodge, so let’s include it. Parts One and Two were on the humorous side, each including several scenes. Here is Part Four. Only one scene.Scene 8: Ashley ClevelandAshley Cleveland led us in worship at the Laity Lodge writers retreat, belting out hymns and songs in her smooth, rich alto voice.By this time, the pre-retreat meetings for our The High Calling team of bloggers were over.Joining us were songwriters, poets, novelists, memoirists, artists, and authors of creative nonfiction—all gathering at Laity for the writers retreat.The dining hall was full; the Great Hall was packed. In the days to come, we would interact with these people about poetry, fiction and nonfiction in workshop settings.But for that moment, I was in the Great Hall, standing off to the side, still trying to find my place. At a practical level, I needed to find my place in the room—I’d slipped in late with L.L. Barkat and we couldn’t find a seat, so we leaned against a ledge remaining somewhat less engaged.But I also wondered how I would find my place in a relational sense.Soon enough, Ashley’s comfortable, conversational style drew us in. L.L. motioned for me to join her as she moved toward the front seats where she would perch on a strong side table. I held back a minute, unsure I wanted to be that close.Then Ashley started talking about an old friend of hers she used to tour with. She said his name—Rich Mullins—and I involuntarily squealed and waved my hands in the air.”That’s right, honey, you raise those hands for Rich!” Ashley said with a sweet smile.I sheepishly lowered my hands. I was just excited to hear his name, to meet a friend of his, to hear her sing his music in this place where I was feeling a tad awkward. But I was warming up. In fact, I moved closer and sat cross-legged on the floor.All the while Ashley spoke about Rich Mullins, she was strumming, strumming, strumming. Obviously she was preparing to launch into one of his songs, but I couldn’t figure out from the strums which it would be.Rich, she said, saw God’s handiwork all around him…and in his music, he helped us see, too.Then I knew.She taught us the chorus to “I See You” so we could join her.She sang:
Lord You’re leading me/With a cloud by dayAnd then in the night/The glow of a burning flame
And then we joined her with, “Everywhere I go, I see you…everywhere I go, I see you/Everywhere I go, I see you…everywhere I go, I see you.”Ashley continued,
And You take my hand/And You wash it cleanI know the promised land/Is light years ahead of me
And together we sang, “And everywhere I go, I see You…everywhere I go I see You…”
Well the eagle flies/And the rivers runI look through the night/And I can see the rising sun
And everywhere I go, I see You…And everywhere I go I see You…And I see You Lord I see You..
Well the grass will die/And the flowers fallBut Your Word’s alive/And it will be after all
Everywhere I go I see You…everywhere I go I see You…I repositioned myself and hugged my knees. As we sang the line again, I spotted Ann Voskamp across the room from me: Ann, always seeing…or yearning to see.Along with the rest of us, she was singing the same line, over and over:Everywhere I go I see You…Everywhere I go I see You...Everywhere I go I see You…Everywhere I go I see You…Everywhere I go I see You…
Megan Willome says
See, I knew I liked you, Ann! My husband and I were Rich groupies, too. The first time we saw Ashley was when she was on tour with Rich and Carolyn Arends. I’ve heard her sing “I See You” in the Great Hall, and it’s simply stunning. I think Rich would be pleased, don’t you? Even though he’d probably also say that she ruined his song (with a great big grin on his face as he said it).
Yay, Rich! (arms in the air!)
What a wonderful opportunity to see those three in concert. I’m a little jealous, since it won’t happen again this side of heaven.
Yes, I think Rich would tease and we would all laugh together. Wonder what he thinks of Michael W. Smith’s version?
Alex Marestaing says
Sweet music…Nothing like worshipping when we’re feeling a bit awkward, makes us realize that we have at least one friend in the room, the only one that matters. Nice post.
Ah, very good reminder. Yes, that’s why I sang…not for Rich, not for Ashley, not for Ann Voskamp.
Just for the One whom we can see, if we have eyes to see.
That was a very sweet moment, wasn’t it? My husband and I have been fans of Ashley’s for years. When I heard someone say she was there at Laity Lodge that first day, I thought I might faint! It was a very big thrill for me to get to meet her. And what a sweetheart.
Thanks for this, Ann. My heart is in Texas tonight!
I’d never heard of Ashley before, but I’m not very aware of the music scene. I’m so glad you got to meet her–did you know she was in our workshop with Lauren Winner leading?
“The stars at night/are big and bright…”
I’m all choked up over here…
It’s a sweet, sweet memory.