LESSONS FROM THE LIFE AND SONGS OF RICH MULLINS
Fitzroy Presbyterian Church
September 24, 2017 @ 7pm
It was twenty years ago. It was a Sunday morning. I was not very long awake. My friend Stephen Doherty phoned me to say that he had heard news that Rich Mullins had been in a car accident on Friday night. He was dead.
I was devastated. I had grown to really love that guy.
Rich had been to Summer Madness in the summer of 1996 and I had told him I would book him for Greenbelt in 1997. Then, due to a few changes at the business end of his life, we decided to put it back a year. Now he was gone. Stevie Doc and I did a Tribute programme on my Radio Show, Rhythm N Soul, that evening.
Rich Mullins was a big name in the world of Contemporary Christian Music. he had written some ‘hits’. I had not paid much attention until he arrived in Dublin in 1992 and stayed in the house I called home, even though I didn’t move in until April 1993. It was there in 78 Eaton Wood Green that he pulled out a hammer dulcimer and played some of his new songs, Land Of My Sojourn, The Colour Green and an instrumental that we told him he should call 78 Eaton Wood Green!
In May 1993 we got to stay with Rich, first in Windowrock, the Navajo reservation that he was moving to in Arizona and then in Wichita where he had been for some years. My time with Rich was very short. The impression he made on my life was long lasting.
So, on the twentieth anniversary of his death, we are going to remember Rich’s songs and many lessons I learned from those short few times with him. Expect stunning performances and some deep soul searching.
Here’s a poem I wrote that awful day back in 1997.
There are big moments of grace
And times when saints come to touch us
Chance meetings that seem so meant to be
Coincidences far too obvious
And I can hear the water falling
The ocean crash on New England’s shore
The brown brick spine of some dirty brown alley
The shaving that fell on the carpenter’s floor
I can feel the hammer dulcimer move me
That voice proclaim truth and love
Giving me glimpses and clues of this life on earth
And inklings of the promise above
Just a speck upon my time line
That the son caught to make shine bright
Such big, big moments in tiny seconds
Leaving me to follow in your traces of light
How I longed to spend more time with you
Maybe someday that time will come
You left a legacy to think on til then
Thoughts to fill my life and then some
Someone said that you know a saint
By how alive they make you feel
Not by how much they show to you
But by how little they conceal
You left us with broken hearts and souls
Our hope is feebly trying to temper it
We lost so much more than skin and bone
You are the world as best as I remember it.