When Blood:Water first launched, I spent countless hours on a tour bus with the band Jars of Clay. Eleven years later, Lead Singer and Blood:Water Co-Founder Dan Haseltine joins me on my tour across the country, helping champion my memoir, "One Thousand Wells."
So I felt it only fitting Dan should write a guest blog post about what it's like touring with me this time around.
This is my second book tour, third if I count having Donald Miller as a guest opening up for Jars of Clay. I should say that there is something I can't quite put my finger on about people who commit to an evening at a bookstore listening to an author read excerpts of personal writing and talking about themselves. That may have sounded negative... this "something" is a positive sort of "something."
I remember that my wife and I used to go on dates to the local bookstore. We would grab a book and sit in a comfy chair and read. So I understand, to some extent, the allure of a good bookstore. To us it was a peaceful oasis in the middle of hurried lives and scattered episodes of drama and busyness. But I never knew when someone was coming to speak or share about a book, I wasn't in the circle where people spoke up and said, "Hey! (author blank) is giving a lecture at the local library about their recent exploits chronicled in their book (blank)." But I always thought those people were far superior in intellect and way more learned than the average weekend movie or concert goer.
I didn't have many expectations going into this book tour. I knew that my role was to interview Jena and captain the rental min-van from city to city. I knew that I would be subjected to copious amounts of well-curated introverted moody female singer/songwriters as they dripped their mid-tempo molasses out of the speakers and into my ear canals as I was sure I wouldn't have control of the radio.
Turns out I did have control of the radio... so we listened to, well, mostly mid-tempo laden female singer/songwriter records from the angsty 90's. Hey! don't judge me.
Aside from the musical selections, there was another surprise.
I hadn't expected the gift of awakening to the Blood:Water story with such sweet remembrances through the retelling of stories that missed the pages of Jena's book. I hadn't expected that the time spent in a van or a coffee shop or at a bookstore would bring me back to a season of life where wide-eyed idealism fed ideas into a frenzy and inspired plans to change the world simply on the perspective that we thought we could.
Over the course of a decade, the Blood:Water story had gotten complicated for me. It had gotten covered over by the tall weeds that kept the question, "Why is it so difficult to do a good thing?" at the entrance to every idea and start of every new audacious dream. I had stepped back and firmly believed that the best course for the organization was for me to keep my distance.
To be certain, I still believed in the work. I still championed the stories of people in Africa, but I didn't get my hands dirty. I didn't fill my hours with creative ideas to tell those stories, and I wasn't out on the road fundraising to make sure that we could keep fueling those African dreams. A big part of my zeal and activism around Blood:Water had moved on.
Jena and I are now "old" friends. We have been contributors to various milestones in the human life. I have watched her start a career, get married, become a mother, grapple with faith and real life, much in the way a big brother might. I have championed her from a distance, and have marveled at her growth as a human being.
What happens in the retelling of stories is a gift. Stories don't change, at least the events from those stories do not change. The elevation and deflation of what was important or what is important is as fluid as an ocean tide. It may crash in the same line, but it is never the same wave.
I am grateful that the vision and idealism that birthed Blood:Water is a well that won't run dry. The inspiration to love the world well is one with enough wind in the sails to keep it moving. Even if some days that wind is barely felt, there is a gift in the silence and the pause that still echoes with the noble and astonishing will to serve and to support and to care for those in our path and those we create paths to get nearer to.
It occurs to me that what is next for Blood:Water is what already is and what has been for Blood:Water. It is a connection to humans, a stewardship of stories and lives, and an affirmation of dignity that promotes health and dreams and love and responsibility.
Can't wait to continue the conversations on the road, and see what is to come for Blood:Water. I hope you will come and join us.
It's not too late for you to join Dan and me on tour. We have three more stops on the west coast.