“Long nights and Bad Hotels”
This is a photo of the old church by Rich Mullins house in Belsberg, Tn. This photo is all that remains. The building was torn down. I don’t know why, but I think of this photo all the time. The movie started with this church. I day dreamt about the movie starting with this church. As I’ve spent the last two months on the road, and I spent most of my time in church buildings, rental cars, and hotels. I’ve thought about something my friend Dave said. The subject line is a quote from Dave Mullins. That’s pretty much how he described the experience of making the movie. I agree. They were some long nights, even some horrible ones, and even worse hotels. But didn’t bother me much because I didn’t sleep much anyway. That was almost two years ago. This two month revival of vagabonding around the country brought back sweet memories of making the movie, but even deeper memories of traveling the country with fellow ragamuffins and wannabe evangelists. It was a joy seeing almost everyone I love. I almost felt like I saw everyone I knew. It was a wonderful whirlwind. I’ve often been in torment for the last 14 years because I thought I had to have life figured out. I thought I was supposed to have my 10 year plan. It seems like everyone was always telling me that. From high school, to college, to job interviews everyone wanted to know what my plan was, what was it that I wanted to do with my life…but I never quite knew how to answer that question. Then you hear those “religious” types say things like “God called me” or even worse “God told me”…do I think it’s real? Do I think it happens? Sure, sometimes. Not all the time. Sometimes folks throw that expression around like “God bless you” or “Amen” and they don’t even know what they’re hoping God blesses or what they are Amen’ing…but I digress… I think perhaps God does tell some people or calls some people…but it’s never happened to me. I guess I’m not that important. I supposed if God called me, or told me to do something I’d have to be pretty important. I mean, he’s God, and I’m not. Maybe it’s not a big deal to hear a call from God, or have some 10 year divine plan, maybe, just maybe it’s a better thing to pray for daily bread, forgiveness, leading me out of temptation, and delivering me from evil. Maybe instead of praying for something special, I should just pray how Jesus taught us to pray, and maybe, just maybe that’s special enough.
I’ve had two hearts. My dreams have always been this combination of creativity, and a passion to preach Jesus. For the past 14 years, maybe longer, I’ve tried to kill one and pursue the other. In Ragamuffin, I’ve seen the fruition of both. Those very few that remember the color green, might have seen the inklings of what is the fruition of Ragamuffin. One just cost a lot more. The Color Green was such a large chunk of my life, and when you’re a kid it’s your whole life. Ragamuffin took four years, but as your older time goes so fast, it all feels a bit arbitrary.
Traveling around from church to church, plane to rental car, rental car to motel, speaking, showing the movie, speaking, saying hi to a few familiar faces, making a few new friends, and then the next day doing it all over again has been some of the best moments of my life, and yet in those quiet moments loneliness and depression are near. The shadows aren’t too far away. They know how to find me. They’re at bay. For now. I’ve quipped from stage that I’m 33, that really dangerous age, I hope I make it. I’ve meant that in a way. The movie is the fullfillment of everything I’ve ever wanted, and seeing all these familiar faces, friends, and loved ones I’ve often wondered if God is about to kill me. Hopefully not yet:-) But one day death will come. Probably sooner than any of us want, are ready for. But it will happen. I think of that Rich line, our tag line for the movie, “In the end it won’t matter if you have a few scars, but it will matter if you didn’t live.”
I have no idea what’s next. But I don’t know that I want to know. I’ve tried that, and it never worked for me. Maybe we’re not supposed to know. Making plans has never really worked for me. I hear it works for some. Seems boring to me. But boring isn’t such a bad thing. Especially when life seems closer to hell than to heaven, we might even pray for a little boring.
I never thought I’d find myself in this churchy church world again, and in some ways I’ve never left. I’m shocked by most of these conversations I have in these churches. I’ve experienced the hate, legalism, judgmental religious goppity-goup that is everything the world has come to expect from Christians. Yuck. But I’ve also seen some pastors and others that are the real deal. Genuine. Humble. Honest. Broken. Loving. And It’s encouraging, really encouraging. Hard core people that really love Jesus and love people.
Sometimes when I stand in these church buildings, and talk to these churches I think about that picture. In 100 years will this church still be here, or will it be some black and white photo of a place that used to be before it was bulldozed to the ground. None of us know, there’s not much that we can control, because the more we can control, it seems to escape us, probably better that way, after all Jesus told us to follow Him and leave ourselves behind. So maybe we should give that a shot. Let’s deny ourselves, let’s leave our dreams, plans, schedules, desires, all of it, really leave all of it…what would happen if we would or could or did leave ourselves…if we truly emptied ourselves and he became the true lover of our soul, the object of our worship…it could be dangerous…it could be a whirlwind…it could leave us bloody, bruised, and scared…but maybe just maybe we’d taste, even for a moment, what it would be to be truly and fully alive.
your fellow future black and white photo,
David Leo Schultz