Heaven is waiting…

A few days ago, we were listening to a CD I love, Cantlcle of the Plains.  This is the musical written by Rich Mullins, and it tells us the story of the life of St. Francis of Assisi… but as if “Frank” had lived in the Wild West.  The musical was only officially  performed once before Rich’s death thirteen years ago – how I wish I could have seen it!  But even without witnessing this performed, Rich’s musical poetry still digs deeply into the human condition and love of God, and it speaks quite clearly.  And poignantly.  Or as my friend Barbie commented, “His words never become trite.”

The song that really had me contemplating was “Heaven is Waiting,” one that I enjoyed playing repeatedly after we purchased the Canticle of the Plains CD at Rich’s Indiana concert in August 1997.  This was the first venue at which the CD was available for purchase… little did I know that this, the final concert of Rich’s tour, would be the only time he’d have the CD available after a performance.  Thirteen years ago today, Rich died in an automobile accident, and a little piece of my life was never quite the same.

One thing I noticed about Rich, from the first time I met him and heard his music in 1984, is that he didn’t just go through life haphazardly, but he LIVED and FELT so deeply… and as I aged and heard Rich’s music grow, I could see little windows into his soul (only the windows from which he chose to lift the blinds).  Rich felt so much, he thought so much, he struggled so much that I have to wonder – did God perhaps choose to call Rich “Home” so that his heart could be at peace?

Rich may not have realized that one of his Canticle songs would be autobiographical.  “Heaven Is Waiting” was written by Rich, his friend Beaker, and Mitch McVicker (who also sang the role of “Frank”).  Here is the last section of the song, the one that requires a tissue on my part, each time I hear it:

So don’t ask for no lengthy explanation
when there ain’t no reason quite wild enough
no words could be as tender
it’s greater than the fears that we imagine
more than the warmth that we remember
it’s always just beyond the pass – and I must go…

‘Cause heaven is waiting
just past the horizon
just over the mesas
across the great divide
and faith is blazing
this trail that I ride on
up this mountain I’m prayin’
I have the strength to climb
Oh, heaven is waiting.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us the gift of Rich and his life and his music.  Please continue to teach me through Your word and the words and music of Your children here on this earth – and for those of us left behind who continue to struggle with parts of life, please continue to give us glimpses into Your truth.  For as Rich and “Frank” reminded us, heaven is waiting.

16 Comments

  1. Dad said,

    September 19, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Yes, Rich touched many lives through his music and teaching. He is greatly missed, but Heaven is no longer waiting for him.

  2. Terre Grable said,

    September 19, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Well said.

  3. Barbara Pickut said,

    September 19, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks for marking a worthy life in a fitting way. So many good songs whose meaning seems to expand as I grow. Just had the privilege of introducing one of my sisters to “Higher Education and the Book of Love.” Now I’m wondering how many of his CD’s it is feasible to pack in my hospital bag.

    • Angie said,

      September 20, 2010 at 7:55 am

      I hope it’s okay that I quoted you here… I just thought your statement was so appropriately pithy! I’m trying to recall which of his cd’s was in MY hospital bag… I think it may have been “Never Picture Perfect.” (I had a few others also… mostly soundtracks, I think. I’ve slept since then. 😉 )

      • Barbara Pickut said,

        September 20, 2010 at 10:46 pm

        Perfectly OK, very nice in fact. “Never Picture Perfect” would be a great choice–“bound to come some trouble to your life, but that ain’t nothing to be afraid of.”

  4. Angie said,

    September 21, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    “Bound to Come Some Trouble” was one of the many songs Rich sang at his final concert, and my ever-prepared husband had tissues for me. The concert was 16 days after I had received my MS diagnosis, and I’m afraid the tears just came. “There’s bound to come some tears up in your eyes – reach out to Jesus, hold on tight – he’s been there before and he knows what it’s like, and you’ll find he’s there.”

  5. matt said,

    September 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    i actually have one of two video copies of the “canticle” performance at st. tim’s in mesa. mitch starred alongside a musician who at that time was relatively unknown… matt maher (your grace is enough, alive again, jold us together, etc…)

    i wish i coukd share the video with the world!!!

    • Angie said,

      September 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm

      wow!! What a neat experience! I’d only heard of the performance at Cornerstone… what a wonderful snippet of life you have to tuck away there – I wish you could share it also, Matt! When I saw the name of your website (shoelessman), it made me think of that time when Rich came to sing at our church and stayed at our home in ’84. Mom took Rich to town to purchase a new pair of sneakers so that he’d have shoes to wear to church Sunday morning. 🙂 (He had hitchiked his way to Indiana – his footwear looked like he’d walked there, if I recall correctly. I was in sixth grade, so my outlook was much different.)

  6. Sara said,

    September 30, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Great post.

  7. Sara said,

    September 30, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Angie, I’d love to discuss the Cornerstone performance of Canticle with you, since the music means so much to you. Please drop me an email at huntersmoon2010 at live dot com. Thanks!

    • Angie said,

      September 30, 2010 at 8:04 am

      Thank you, Sara, for the encouragement! You’ll hear from me. 🙂

  8. Greg said,

    November 7, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Angie,

    Thanks for sharing this. Having not met Rich, but learned and enjoyed his music and his message of Christ after his death, I truly appreciate anything said about the man. God used him to bring me back to Jesus. Thanks.

    Greg

    • Angie said,

      November 7, 2010 at 3:42 pm

      Thank you, Greg – I look forward to being able to experience the “Rich Mullins movie” that is in early production! (I just visited its page on Facebook and saw that you had left a comment there, so I know this isn’t news to you. 🙂 )


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