In the shadow of the Old Mountain

It seems lately that all I do is post concert reviews, but well, I’ve been very fortunate in that some great shows have all through town this March. This weekend was no different. Phil Keaggy played at Mount Carmel Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Adriene had a “girls night” with her friends, and I was already planning to drive out to see my parents that evening, so I figured I would go to the concert on the way out, because after all, I love Phil Keaggy.

But I’m gonna keep the review short and sweet. Phil was amazing as always. Not only that, but he’s such a goof in concert. Apparently, he was wearing a different pair of shoes that he is used to, so he kept stepping on the wrong pedals, surprising himself when his guitar loop played backwards and an unexpected moment. At one point, he got so fed up with his shoes that he ran off the stage while the loop was still playing to find his other pair of shoes. He returned to the stage after not being able to find them when a helpful stage hand brought them out to him. He then proceeded to change shoes on stage causing more laughter from the crowd. Of course, his songs were rambling and filled with jaw-dropping fills as always. That’s all the review I’m going to write, however, I’ve got other stuff to talk about.

I was really surprised and unprepared for the wave of memories and nostalgia that hit me when I returned to the Stone Mountain area. I hadn’t been around there in a couple years now. I spent the first twelve or so years living around this area and maybe double that time going to church near this area. I remember running around the playgrounds at the young age of five in the shadow of the mountain. I remember a lot of late, steamy summer nights watching the laser show on the lawn. I remember climbing to the top of the mountain to watch fireworks burst directly over my head and at eye-level from the bottom of the mountain. I remember driving around the mountain sometimes when I needed to get away and collect my thoughts. I wasn’t at all prepared for these memories to come flooding back while I was in the car alone, once again driving those same streets I used to drive when I first got a driver’s license.

The memories became even more intense when I got to Mount Carmel Church. I hadn’t been to the church to see a concert in seven years, but the memories came right back when I walked in. Almost ten years ago to the day, I saw Phil Keaggy there before. I saw Caedmon’s Call there too about a year after their self-titled album and remember absolutely freaking out when they broke out U2’s “In God’s Country” in concert (this was before I read setlists or had bootlegs and knew what they were probably going to play in concert.) However, the most poignant moment of this night came when Keaggy played Rich Mullins’ “Hold Me Jesus.” I was sitting almost directly below the spot where I saw Rich in that same church only months before his unfortunate death.

I wasn’t prepared for all those memories, but it felt good to almost tangibly touch some of them again. So much has changed since then. I’ve moved from living in the shadow of one mountain to living in the shadow of another mountain. And someday I expect (or at least hope) when I drive around the base of Kennesaw Mountain I’ll have a whole bunch of post-college, newlywed memories to recall.