The Lord is the author
“Lord, how about we co-write a short guitar instrumental?”
The Far Side of the Sea
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
The story as told to Josh Miller at First15
One day back in the summer of 2017, while holding my Martin D41 on my lap I prayed, “Lord, how about we co-write a short guitar instrumental?” Knowing full well I hadn’t written anything since my early college days nearly a half-century earlier, I wasn’t expecting much. I have no natural talent in the musical composition area. Less than an hour later, “Far Side” was roughly in place. Another less-than-an-hour the following day, it was done. It was short—about three minutes depending on how fast you tap your foot. It is quite simple, but I sense it has potential. Perhaps we—and you know what we means—could add a more complex guitar riff? Piano with/instead of the guitar? Maybe. Percussion—no. “Died-and-went-to-heaven” arrangement? 4-string, well, string quartet? This is what comes to mind when I seriously contemplate the tune. If I was a violinist, I would have tossed the Martin and then picked up a Cecilio.
But the only songs I can play that actually sound halfway decent are “Stairway to Heaven,” “Pinball Wizard,” and “China Grove,” so putting something together like this is well beyond me. I am certainly no Jimmy, Peter, or Tom, making composition a huge disadvantage for me going forward. Being the Lord’s work and an answer to prayer, I would prefer nothing of significance be altered.
It seems to start and end in a similar and interesting way. My guitar buddies say,
“Neat tune, Carvalho, but it’s pretty spastic.”
My response is, “My oldest daughter performed classical ballet. She loves it.”
I hear this tune as a dance piece—one that has gentle and smooth components and then moves into a more complex section accentuated and made real by a ballerina moving quickly across the stage. Ultimately, in a perfect world, a “died-and-went-to-heaven” moment, the Parker Quartet will be performing this piece one summer day in Central Park at an outdoor concert. Perhaps I would be there with my ballerina daughter, and she would be surprised when “Far Side” is played.
Shh, Don’t spoil the surprise!
Now, this “story” may never actually occur, but I think it communicates my thoughts, desires, and ideas as to what I would love to see done with this piece.
At the very least, after being performed and recorded by someone who knows the story, I plan to upload the file to YouTube. A new page and description on the Lehigh Ministries website will point the way. It is a prop. I have written a couple books and am working on a third. Style? An offbeat blend of humor and apologetics. Letters from Tony: Reasons for Hope is a short, early effort and live on Amazon. In Beyond Sunday Morning: Stories & Perspectives for Integrating Faith and Life, I get a bit more into expanding our faith and offer some ideas as to how to make our walk more tangible and real during the other 99% of the week. “Far Side” is just another story—something you can touch, an answer to a simple prayer, an expression of just how intimate and willing the Lord is to come close to us. In co-laboring with us, He meets us in the land of the living: A brief sneak peak of what we can anticipate someday in infinite fullness on the other side of the river. “The Far Side of the Sea” is an example. Something we can all relate to. A story intended to open eyes and doors to further conversations about our faith, scripture, and His promises and willingness to come along side us each day. Let’s simply yield and let Him drive. Or, in this case, play the guitar.