The Best Gig


George (fourth from left) plays for a gig in July 2014. Photo courtesy of George Caylor.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. —Psalm 90:12 NIV

Music has been a part of my friend George Caylor’s life since he toured with a rock-and-roll band in the 1960s and early ’70s. At age 77, George still enjoys playing his bass guitar in an oldies band.

One day he and the band members visited their lead guitarist, Mark, who was in the home stretch of a terminal illness. 

“We didn’t know that he would die the next day,” George told me. “We knew he was going to die, but we thought it might be in a month. We didn’t know. Nor did he.”

They got to talking about the best gig they ever played. 

“It was that job that we did for those rich people, that served Oysters Rockefeller,” George said. “That was the most unbelievable delicious spread of food I’ve ever had.” 

They laughed. “George, you would think about the food.” 

“That gig down in Virginia Beach,” Randy said. “Remember the size of the crowd and the cheering? The money they paid us?”

Then Mark—who was going to die the next day—put in his two cents.

“Do you remember the gig we played at that little vineyard in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Remember how sweet the people were? And then at the end of the day, do you remember that spectacular sunset?”

“And I got to thinking,” George told me. “Was it the money? The crowds? The cheering? The food? Or was it the sweet people and the spectacular sunset that made the most impact on our lives?”

Too often we go through life trying to make a difference. We want our lives to count for something. So we spend our time on earth doing, doing, doing—all too often feeling like a hamster on an exercise wheel, going round and round but not getting anywhere. And wondering if, in the end, what we did mattered.

Or we spend our days getting all we can to make our lives easier, more enjoyable. Then one day we realize our homes and offices and vehicles are cluttered with stuff we thought we needed. So we rent storage space to put all that extra stuff we don’t need but we don’t want to part with.

Our sentiments echo those of the writer of Ecclesiastes, who pursued work, pleasure, wisdom, knowledge—in short, everything under the sun. Only to discover, in the end, it all was meaningless—“a chasing after the wind.”

So what, then, gives our lives meaning and purpose? 

The crowds? The applause? The money? The things we can get with money? The food? 

Or the people we encounter? The spectacular sunsets. Autumn in all its glowing glory. A soft snowfall. The first flower of spring. The smell of freshly mowed grass on a summer’s day. The scent of a freshly bathed baby. The feel of a child’s arms around your neck. The sense of your spouse’s presence next to you when you wake up in the middle of the night.  The explosion of flavor from the first tomato of the season. The roiling black clouds of a coming storm. Or the white cotton ball clouds that change shape as they float through the summer sky. Cloud shadows skimming across a field. The gurgle of a mountain stream. The whirr of a hummingbird’s wings. 

I don’t want to look back on my life and realize I missed all that really mattered. All that God placed within my reach but I didn’t touch, taste, see, smell, listen to, enjoy. Everything that cost absolutely nothing but the time to took to stop and savor it.

What about you? What is the best gig you ever played?

Help me, O Lord, not to chase after the wind but to spend my days with my eyes and heart wide open, ready to recognize and embrace the simple pleasures You bless me with every day. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 90.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Second Time Around

The Huey family, July 24, 2021

THE SECOND TIME AROUND

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing.  —Psalm 127:3 TEV

“I don’t baby-sit,” one woman I know stated. “I grandmother.”

With five grandchildren (not counting the four newest ones we welcomed into the family in 2018), ranging from 22 years old to 14, I’ve gotten to “grandmother” quite often. 

Rearing children is different the second time around. I’m more patient. Maybe it’s because I have the best of both worlds—I can have my house the way I want, and I can enjoy the kids. Whenever they got too noisy for my nerves, I just sent them home. 

I couldn’t do that with my own children. We were stuck with each other—for better or worse, and often it was “worst.” Not that my children were all that bad. But they were kids, and I was unprepared for this thing called parenting. I had my delusions, thanks to June Cleaver and Donna Reed and all those ’50s television shows depicting smiling housewives who wore dresses and pearl necklaces to vacuum a clean floor.

But I wised up the second time around. I learned that time goes by quickly, and children don’t stay little for long. Tiny fingerprints on television screens fade away all too soon. 

When my daughter came for Christmas one year with her two-year-old son, I left Alex’s fingerprints on the furniture for months after they left. When my daughter was little, I tackled such signatures with furniture polish daily.

The second time around I learned that water-based markers come out of light-colored carpeting. And that it’s a good idea to keep old bath towels on hand for when five-year-old Brent washed the dishes. Water dries, but criticism stains a soul. 

I learned it was fun to sit on the floor with Deagen and build a garage with wooden blocks, even if I struggled to get up because my back and legs were locked in place. I learned that my do-list would wait while I sat on the swing in the front yard on a summer afternoon with two-year-old Madison, sharing a bowl of raspberry Jell-O topped with lots of extra creamy Cool Whip. And to keep sugar-free gum on hand because her first words when she came were, “Ma-maw, gum?”

I learned that my smile, hug, and kiss when they visited in the middle of one of my projects told them that they were wanted and were more important than whatever it was I was doing.

I learned to treasure their spirit of independence and to find a way to let them “help” me, even if I had to do it all over when they left. It was never time wasted if they learned something. 

I learned that rocking three-month old Kyle and inhaling his sweet-baby smell beat air fresheners hands down. That two children could fit on my lap, and I could read two stories at the same time. I learned that the sparkle of excitement and sheer joy in a child’s eyes is more valuable than the biggest diamond in the world. 

A hundred years from now, no one will remember—or care about—what kind of house I lived in, what kind of clothes I wore, or what kind of vehicle I drove. But the world may be better because I was important in the life of a child. 

Thank you, Lord, for my precious grandchildren! Amen.

 Read and reflect on Psalm 127.

 NOTE: My grandchildren are now 22, 20, 19, 17, and 14. 

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.