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The Wedding Gig

It was time to write an inspirational piece for the Ahiah CSL newsletter. I began letting my mind roam, writing down different things, knowing that something would come up, and yesterday, it did. I would write about something that continues to resonate even though it happened almost forty years ago.

As soon as I opened my notebook to write, the phone rang. It was another pianist desperately in need of a substitute to cover his gig at a nice Italian restaurant in Studio City tonight. I accepted the engagement on top of the morning Ahiah service, even though I had earmarked that time to write the piece. I knew I would be too tired to write after the gig Sunday night, but I figured I could do it Monday or Tuesday. Spirit was speaking now, and I was listening. Somehow I knew that I would finish writing the piece. The miracle was unfolding as I began playing the piano at the restaurant. The music brought me back to another gig I did a long time ago, in another part of the country.

It was a beautiful Columbia, South Carolina Saturday morning. The van was loaded and gassed up. It had swivel chairs and a bed in the back - all the comfort and luxury one could want; and we were in good spirits, all seven of us, as we headed down towards Atlanta for a wedding gig. As the bandleader, I looked forward to doing a great job for the client and the income I would earn for myself and the rest of the band. The estimated driving time would have us at the venue in four to five hours or so.

As we made our way into Georgia, about half way to Augusta, the van began to malfunction and I began to worry. This was not supposed to happen now. Why is this happening? It would only go at about 20 to 30 mph, and if I tried too hard to go faster, the engine felt like it might stop. I couldn't go any faster. How was I going to get to the gig on time? Something told me to keep going and once we got to Augusta, we could check it out.

Soon I pulled into a large service center to gas up and try to figure out what was wrong with the van. As soon as I pulled up to a fuel pump, Angela, the vocalist, opened the side door and began waving to someone in another van on the road, across from us. Suddenly she leaped out and ran to the guy, hailing him to stop. Apparently she knew him. What were the odds that she would run into a guy she knew at that very moment?

After speaking to the guy, she ran back and told me her friend's brother was a mechanic and could fix our van. He lived up the road a bit, but it was on the way to our gig, so we should be alright. When he offered to drive us and our gear to the gig in his van, after we got to the shop and uploaded our stuff into his van, I knew this was a miracle in the making. We agreed to pay him to do this and slowly made our way to the shop. At this point I knew we would be late to the wedding, so I called the groom to let him know. He seemed to be okay with a late start; all I could think was, oh God, this is not happening. However, at the same time, I knew that something was working to get us to the gig. At this point, I decided to go with the flow. We all jumped into the new van and proceeded to the gig. Afterwards, the guy would take us back to the shop where we would reload everything in my van.

When we arrived, I had no idea what to expect. On the road, I had called a few times to let them know our progress, but all I could think about was that we were almost 2 hours late, and getting the band playing as soon as possible once we got set up. They owed me a balance of over two grand; that was a lot forty years ago! I still needed to pay the band. How could I make up for being so late? What if they refuse to pay me?

In the midst of all these thoughts of doom and destruction, when I opened the door to the church social building, the entire wedding party began applauding! It was like a curtain opening to a new world, a world of love and acceptance. We quickly set up and after the short ceremony, we played the first dance - "When I fall in Love", the old doo wop song covered later by Nat Cole and his daughter Natalie. This set the tone for the rest of the evening. All was well. But then, it was over and then came the moment of reckoning: Would the groom still pay me? Would they dock me for being late?

As I began breaking down the equipment, the groom's thick southern accent beckoned,

"Well we need to have a conversation."

The words and tone of his voice, while neutral, had a residue of something more, an undertone of gloom waiting to manifest. I surrendered to the neutrality of it, accepting the outcome as it was manifesting. Although I was taken off guard by this statement, and by now expected him to tell me he wasn't going to pay the full amount because we were late, I responded neutrally, "Okay", and sat down at the table with him.

Next, he looked at me and asked this totally disarming question, "How much do I owe you?"

When I told him, he not only gave me the full balance, but added a nice tip, thanking me for doing a great job. Spirit got me to the gig, now It will get me back home. I knew this then and I know it now. Spirit always has come through for me and I was okay.

On our way driving back to the mechanic, I treated everyone to breakfast at an all night Shoney's Restaurant. The mechanic told us the van would make it, but it would be a long slow ride at twenty to thirty mph back home. So we reloaded everything into my van and began our journey home. We made it, all safe and sound. What else can I say? Spirit always has my back and I am Grateful for the miracles in my life!

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