Last weekend my husband and I spent time at the Beartrap Summer Festival, an annual music event at Beartrap Meadow on Casper Mountain. This year marked the 21st installment of what started as a small music festival that has, over the decades, grown to one of the biggest events in our area. Some of the greatest in blues, jazz, bluegrass, and other music genres are featured, including Ricky Skaggs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and this year Charlie Daniels. But, it’s not just “major stars” who appear: many local and regional performers step onto the stage. This year that lineup included the barbershop chorus in which my husband has been involved for nearly 20 years, and a group known as Ana, Rachel & Friends, consisting of two young women I’ve known since they were small children who are growing up to be fiddle champions, amazing singers, and experts with many musical instruments. My husband’s group sang gospel music on Sunday and the young women, accompanied by their father who plays guitar and banjo, another guitarist, and a bass player (who was my landlord when I moved to Casper in the late 1990s), sang spirituals and played bluegrass-style instrumentals – music to my ears, making my heart sing.
Next week I’ll be traveling to Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver for a mega-worship concert featuring Christian recording artists Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Matt Mahr. Each man is gifted in his own right and I’ve longed to see a performance from each one, and to think I’ll be able to experience their amazing talents and gifts TOGETHER IN ONE LOCATION! Music to my ears! My heart is singing in anticipation – I am sure my soul will soar at the actual event (if I can survive mega-city traffic at a sold-out concert!!)!
This week I’m attending the annual Global Leadership Summit. For the past five years, I’ve been blessed by the organization for which I work three days a week to have the expense paid to attend the simulcast of this event, which is broadcast live for two days in August from Chicago. Each year speakers enlighten, encourage, and challenge us to become better leaders in our organizations, businesses, and relationships. I come away inspired and ready to take the next steps in my growth as a leader of volunteers as well as an entrepreneur, a writer, a life partner, business partner, friend, and human being. The words from these speakers are music to my ears.
My parents spent a week with Greg and me. We laughed, we reminisced, we planned ahead (dad’s potential back surgery this fall, a family vacation scheduled for next summer, and another in the year thereafter – my dad and I LOVE to plan trips!) Greg and I took my parents to our cabin for a few days where songbirds trill, foxes yip, and pine squirrels chatter. All these people, all these things, make my heart sing.
I’ve enjoyed lunches and evening drinks recently with various friends, people who also make my heart sing. I’ll welcome my writers group to the cabin later this month, people who I enjoy and who are encouraging. Friends, too, are music to my ears.
One of my works in progress (WIP) is a devotional called “Seasons of Life, Seasons of Nature.” The manuscript ties the seasons of our lives with the seasons of nature, such as blizzards in winter, renewal in spring, refreshment as well as drought in summer, and changes during autumn. The work will include words to favorite (public domain) hymns which reflect the topic of the week, such as lambs and shepherds associated with Easter and spring, the manger child of Christmas, rolling clouds and thunderstorms of summer, and harvest time of fall. I enjoy both contemporary Christian music, as I’ll witness at the upcoming concert, and the old-time hymns which are reflected in my manuscript and were sung at the Beartrap Festival. Music that stirs my soul, makes my heart sing, and that is literally and figuratively music to my ears.
Our words, whether written in story or song, whether on printed page or spoken to family, friends, and colleagues, even to ourselves, can be stirring, encouraging, and helpful. Words, spoken or written, can be filled with viciousness and vile – we witness that constantly, from politicians, extremist groups, even co-workers, family members, and supposed “friends.” As writers, we are the developers of words, the creators of stories (and songs). I yearn to be a writer that encourages, who educates and uplifts, one that stirs souls and makes hearts sing. May the words we write (and speak), the stories we share, be music to our ears – and to the ears (and eyes) of our readers.
What makes your heart sing? What/who is music to your ears?
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker. She’s authored several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including The Dog Did What?, released August 2014. She’s also created a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.