We completed a long trek across the United States this week by returning to the familiar, the comfortable and most definitely the place that moves me most: Lover’s Key!
I left our condo at 5am with my coffee and an anticipation of revisiting an old friend…a beach filled with memories, space, visual cues that prod and poke my external shell until I exhale fully…and find myself.
It was dark…awaiting the dawn is precious time when you can smell and hear waves swirling the sand beneath your feet. As I approached the shadowy bridge I would cross under, I saw a cigarette glow and heard voices. Warily, I stopped to grasp and assess what situation may unfold. I was about to embark on a moment, a present time stalling itself so that it could absorb me in a timeless pause.
Cautiously, I moved on to walk under the bridge a few steps from the shadowy pillars of the bridge…when out of the darkness steps a man with a dusky voice proclaiming, “You’re a fedora man!” Not the expected at 5 am, beneath a bridge, on Black Island on Lover’s Key. I hesitated to answer as I quickly took inventory of my situation. He was younger than me, about the same size and if he was intent on harming me…he had an unorthodox style: a guitar around his shoulders, a can of cucumber water in his front shirt pocket, and yes, a fedora tilted slightly forward on his head. I responded carefully, as someone else was still in the shadows behind the pillars, “What ya doing out here this morning?”
“Just singing songs for my mom…the acoustics are perfect under this bridge,” he countered. I knew I was present…in this moment.
I stepped through the darkness into the shadows under the bridge to meet Matt Freed and his momma, Anna Freed. Matt asked me what kind of music I like. I mumbled something about country. He queries further, asking my thoughts regarding the Zac Brown band. I gave him a thumbs up. My new friend asked me to accompany him into the water…in the dark…under the bridge…where, apparently the acoustics are the best. And he serenaded me and his mom with “Island Song.” Under the bridge, in the dark, on the beach.
We walked out of the water and he asked if I play the guitar. I nodded and launched into my story of teaching myself to play at 11, trading guitars with my sister without her knowledge, and choosing an Ibanez 12 string instead of a high school class ring, purchased by my mom as a graduation gift. Thus began our swapping family stories until the sun began to rise as dawn awakened. He closed our “in the moment” with a love story of his poppy and the love of his life, following his fearful days in Vietnam. His Poppy challenged Matt on his death bed to not waste his great gift.
Matt then shared one last song, one he had written about his mom called, “Anna.” We walked back in the water and stood together. Myself and a man freed by his Poppy to do what he loved. Matt Freed and I shared numbers, hugged, and I walked on down the shore to contemplate my good fortune…in this moment.
You see…we are often held bound by proposed necessities, the tyranny of the urgent, an impasse caused by the imminence of living. Matt’s Poppy “Freed” him by a death bed blessing. To pursue that which he is called toward…a destiny changed by his involvement in each moment.
Show people you happen upon, the grace of God; by re-enforcing that god-like image you see in them when upon you meet…Present-in the moment.