Treasures in Jars of Clay

The more I ponder it, the more I think that music itself might be the biggest force on this planet.
It certainly is powerful. When used correctly, it can bring crowds to their feet, inspire tears and heartbreak, or make a man toss all of his inhibitions aside and dance like a crazy person in front of everyone.
It can make you smile, bang your head, and bring back fond memories of the romance you shared on Bethuel Road in Millington, Tenn. with the beautiful Stephanie Dickey (that song, by the way, is Layla by Derek and the Dominoes).
And sometimes, music can help pull you out of a bad place.
I'll take you back to the summer of 2006. Pittsburgh was the city I had decided to call home shortly after graduating college, whereupon I decided to pursue a cooking career at a culinary institute. The venture was unsuccessful, with my inability to cut zucchini into neat, identical pieces signaling that a cooking career was not for me.
But, since I had just moved there one month ago, I was stuck. No coming back home, and besides, I was hoping that maybe I could get a job at a newspaper in the Three Rivers area.
So while I spent the summer as a dishwasher, I set out to try to find friends. I'd visit area churches from time to time, often finding that I was the only early-20s guy in attendance at those particular churches.
In fairness, I would have had more luck if I had gone every week instead of once every 3-4 weeks. Which calls to attention my biggest mistake that summer: Not turning to God in times of loneliness. I'm sure placing my trust in him would have helped me, but for some reason I was too stubborn to admit that.
With the church thing not working, I tried my neighbors, who all seemed pretty disinterested in maintaining any sort of friendship with that guy with a hick accent.
I would joke to friends back in Arkansas that nobody had ever seen the inside of my apartment, and with one or two exceptions (including my parents helping me move), it was true. The entire summer went by with scarcely a knock at the door.
But I forged ahead, thinking that if I kept at it, things would get better. But you can only stay positive for so long before the loneliness really starts to gnaw at you.
Sometimes I'd have luck talking to a stranger on the 35-minute bus ride to work, but usually it was Michael Crichton's 'Timeline' or an iPod that kept me company instead.
But then one day while browsing the internet, I stumbled across news that grammy-award winning Christian rock band Jars of Clay was releasing a new album, entitled Good Monsters. Jars of Clay has always been a favorite of mine, as they are a Christian-labeled band that actually has its own unique sound, instead of this bland, unimaginative sound that permeates through most Christian music stations (BarlowGirl, Switchfoot, and Matt Maher are a few other exceptions). So I bought the first single from the album, "Dead Man (Carry Me)" and pressed play.
The song took me to another world. I had no idea it was possible for music to fill you with so much optimism, so much happiness. I mean, I've heard of music soothing the soul, but really revamping your entire mindset and filling you with a new sense of optimism?
I still don't fathom how it happened, and I doubt another song will ever change me the way this one did, but the lyrics really blindsided me. "Carry me, I'm just a dead man, lying on a carpet, can't find a heart beat. Make me free, I wanna be a new man, tired of the old one, out with the old plan."
Dead Man music video via Youtube
Listening to those lyrics, it was like Jars of Clay was watching my life on TV during the summer and decided to write about it. I wasn't depressed like suicide-depressed, but that summer was full of emptiness: Jars of Clay singlehandedly helped me escape that prison, and reminded me their was someone up there who really cared about me. I remember e-mailing the Busted Halo show (The Catholic Channel, Sirius 159 and XM 117) and requesting this song during their Faith in Culture segment, writing that this song helped "save my life."
Soon after, things began to turn around: I got a better job, started dating an amazing girl named Kara (things may not have worked out romantically, but we still remain friends), and eventually got those friends I had craved all summer long. While I give credit to God first and foremost for guiding me through, Jars of Clay helped me see that he was there all along.
Hopefully this Sunday, I can juggle my work schedule and go see the band at Toad Suck Daze. Musical acts and personal tastes come and go, but Jars of Clay will always hold a special place in my heart.
I was the Dead Man that they carried.
(Faber is an avid Boston Celtics fan, a page designer, and host of the Church Echoes podcast, available at thecabin.net/podcast. You can reach him at 505-1260, by e-mail at dustin.faber@thecabin.net, or follow him at twitter.com/dustinfaber)


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    About This Blog

    A blog for the masses, if by masses you mean myself and family members who probably read this out of pity.

    I'm dustin Faber, the 16-bit Catholic. This blog is an amusing, sometimes thought-provoking look at my life and the world around me. Poetry, cooking recipes, gaming, faith, things that make me go awww, things that make me go grrr, and my obsession with a good glass of root beer can be found here.

    If you're looking for gaming-centered posts, check out catholicvideogamers.blogspot.com. If you seek the blog I keep with my fiance, check out thecatholiclovebirds.blogspot.com

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