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.