I mentioned in my last post that my late friend Marques Bovre left 2 messages on his wife Tracy’s bedroom dresser. She found them recently, and shared them with me. We agreed it would be good to make them available to anyone who might need to hear what Marques had to say on those folded up pieces of notebook paper which seemed to appear out of nowhere.
I offered the first of those two messages in my last blog entry, and I said I’d post the other one later.
I was going to space these out a bit just because I don’t want to overwhelm folks with stuff about Marques, my own grief/loss, etc. And, I don’t want new readers of this new blog of mine to think that it’s only going to be about Marques and my process of releasing his being into the greater Scheme of Things (i.e. the Mystery, Big Love, God, whatever you want to call Him/Her/It).
But I woke up this morning needing to read that second message again myself. It’s been helping me a lot in the past several days in particular–not just with saying good-bye to Marques in the flesh, but with life in general. It felt selfish of me not to share it with the rest of you–especially those of you who were close to Marques and his music. I want you to have his words to comfort and strengthen you, as they have me. So I’m not going to sit on it any longer.
The first time Marques and I got together immediately after his diagnosis with advanced and most likely terminal brain cancer, after letting his own sadness drain, Marques paused a moment and then said, “Well, the way I see it, I can either go into fear or into Love. I’m choosing Love.”
Fear and Love. So many things seem to come down to the choice between those two. That message has been coming to me in countless ways in recent years. It’s not unique to Marques, or even to Jesus. But they both knew it was where the real action is for every human being. Dealing with the interplay between fear and love is right at the Center–the heart–of what being a human being is all about. I’ve heard that Jesus said, “Fear not” or “Don’t be afraid” 365 times in the Gospels. One for each day of the year. He knew that nothing will get in our way more when it comes to living Life in all its fullness and beauty than unacknowledged, unexamined, unconfronted, and untransformed (is that a word?) fear.
And what do we fear? Well, in one way or another, we fear getting hurt, or being in pain, or hurting others, which only hurts us. As Marques put it at the end of his brief note, “We’re all scared of being hurt.”
So here’s that second message from Marques.
Fear… We never run out of second chances, but we do run out of time. Live your life. Don’t ever let your fears keep you from fully living your life. Don’t let the fear of making mistakes and committing sins keep you from living your life. Don’t fear the pain that the experience of life brings you. Face the pain, live into the pain and allow yourself to experience what’s on the other side of that pain–which is joy. It’s a process and it doesn’t necessarily get easier, but it does get more predictable and it does bring you closer to God and it does allow God to get further into you.
Fear is what keeps us from opening ourselves in vulnerability to others in relationship. This is true both for relationships with people and with God. “The distance we put between ourselves and our pain is commensurate with the distance we put between ourselves and God.”
We’re all scared of being hurt.
Marques leaned right into his pain. And that’s why he also knew a lot of joy, laughter, and lightness. That same evening after he told me that he was choosing Love, once we finished letting the sadness drain, he pulled out a DVD of South Park that he’d brought with him, and said, “Now we need to laugh.” He turned me on to a couple of his favorite episodes (the only one I remember is “Smug Alert”). And so with all due humility, we laughed at the fear, and he basically said to the universe… “Bring it.”
Well, the universe brought it. And Marques chose Love. Not perfectly or flawlessly. He had his moments when he had to pray and sing himself back to the place of Peace. We all do.
Before he left that night, he said, “I need to sing a few songs.” And so he pulled out his guitar and sang in my living room for himself, for me, and in a sense for anyone who has been scared of being hurt. The first song he played was called, “Don’t Be Afraid.” The lead guitarist of the Evil Twins (Marques’ first and probably most well-known band), the inimitable Linus, bravely and beautifully sang this same song at Marques’ funeral. Thanks so much for doing that by the way Linus–especially when you were in so much pain yourself. The song was written initially as a lullaby to a little baby girl who started crying one day at the sound of thunder.
Here’s a link to the song. It, like all of Marques’ music, will always be there when you need it.
My closest friend of about 20 years here in Madison, WI died of brain cancer last month. Anyone close to me knows this was a big deal for me. I posted a couple of his songs on my facebook page last night, so forgive me if I’m overdoing it.
But Marques was an amazing singer/songwriter, and one of the promises I made to him was that I was going to put some energy into making sure that folks got a chance to hear his music after he was gone. He was so damn humble that he never really promoted himself. But he also knew how gifted he was. His was no “false humility.” He just, as he often put it, “was blessed with a total lack of ambition when it came to ‘making it.'” He knew what a toxic game it is to put much energy into chasing one’s ego around the music business. Oh he gave it a serious shot, especially early on, and he kept on creating and recording as long as he possibly could. But he was pretty much at peace with being an artist who would most likely only be discovered after his death–if at all.
Marques suffered from a severe form of arthritis, and was in constant pain physically. It sounds trite, but I seriously never once, in 20 years, heard him complain. Beyond that, he had a strange sense that he was in this ravaged body for a reason that he couldn’t begin to understand–but he accepted the assignment, and lived out his call to be in his body with an incredible degree of dignity and grace.
Two days ago, when I was visiting with Marques’ wife Tracy, she handed me two pieces of paper that she had just found on her bedroom dresser. They were messages from Marques–not to anyone in particular–and Tracy has absolutely no recollection of ever seeing those papers on the dresser before. There’s no way Marques could have written them or placed them there in the last several months. Bizarre. I’ve heard of this kind of thing–messages left shortly after someone dies–or little symbolic things found in the house that loved ones swear they’d never seen before or knew about–but which seemed like some kind of message from “beyond.” Who knows.
But what Marques wrote touched me deeply. I asked Tracy if she felt this was just for her, or for the “inner circle,” and she said that she thought it would be good to share it with everyone. My new blog seemed to be the best place I could think of to let you know what Marques left on the dresser. So here’s the first one. I’ll post the second one another time. I hope you find this meaningful.
Jesus didn’t write a book; Jesus didn’t start a religion. Jesus lived a life.
I have a confession. I prefer to learn by experience instead of through reading. That bias goes a long way toward explaining why I am a 42nd semester Sr. here at UW. It’s not intellectual laziness so much as that’s just the way I learn. And I think our Western culture tends to venerate the written page and those who are considered experts in the writing and reading of the written page. It’s almost become a form of idolatry. Even with the holiest of books–some people worship their Bible as though it were God. But it’s not. God is God and God is much too huge and wild and beautiful to be contained in any book. I’m not here to denegrate the Bible, but today I’m not here to read from it either. I’m here to ask you to consider why it is that God put us here in these mortal bodies with these immortal souls. I’m here to suggest that occupying these bodies is the only way to simultaneoulsy experience both God and life. And that makes for a mess.
I’ll just leave it there.