Have you ever loved a band so much it became a part of your identity?
I’ve known a few people like this. When you think of them, that band or artist is part of what you think. They can’t shut up about how great they are and how everyone should listen to them, Well, now I’m one of those people. Hi, I’m Becca, and I love The Collection. A lot.
In July, I tagged along with Avery and his Sojourners intern cohort to the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina. It was described as a “Christian woodstock,” a camping-style music and speakers festival for progressive people of faith in the mountains of NC. I didn’t have much information before going on what to expect but I was SKEPTICAL. I was happy for the free ticket but didn’t think the festival was for me, didn’t expect to get anything out of it or have a deeply spiritual and meaningful experience. However, after a few days, I surprised myself. I let go of judgement, took things from the messages, took my shoes off and danced barefoot in the grass with the music, sang along loudly at Beer and Hymns, met with a spiritual director.
The music was the best part of the festival. The Goose, as they call it. Some of my favorites were performing (Lobo Marino and John Mark McMillan) as well as many others I discovered. The best discover was The Collection. They played the mainstage Friday night and their music was so upbeat and fun that I pulled Avery up close to the stage and we danced along. I didn’t pay close attention to the words, but loved their sound and the singer’s voice. They seemed so fun, so talented, and to truly enjoy themselves while performing. After their set, the lead singer came back up for an encore and blew me away. He said, “I don’t usually play this one too much anymore, but this is the place to do it,” and sang a song called Dirt. Here are some of the lyrics:
Abraham was scared to die, forsook his wife within a lie
I think I know the reason why; cause he was made of dirt
Joseph's coat was full of pride, the blood of goats won't wash you white if I was his brother, I'd have lied and left him in the dirt
Moses never entered in to land he thought was promised him; he took his people 'round again to pick manna from the dirt
Solomon became so wise with many wives and concubines, he fell for every single lie, yeah, his head was full of dirt
David's where I got my name, abusing power, abusing fame he stole a girl, her husband slain, left six feet in the dirt
and peter fell to his own shame, denied his love, denied his name, he ran away when the people came to nail him to the dirt
Samson only thought it fair to let that witch come cut his hair and look through eyes no longer there as he crushed them in the dirt
and paul would sit upon his throne and kill us with the biggest stones and wrestle with a thorn unknown, a thorn up from the dirt
It was stunning. And so powerful. Here’s a video of him performing the song:
After coming home, I downloaded all their songs on Spotify and have probably contributed to half their streams in the time since. I fell in love. I didn’t realize that they came from Christian roots until he played Dirt, but upon listening to their music I found that all their lyrics are profound stories of spiritual wrestling, doubt, faith, and exploration of important questions. They are filled with biblical allusions and deep understandings of the tradition I grew up in. I relate so much to David Wimbish’s writing in his songs and listen to them every day.
I’m pretty sure the WGF back in July was their most recent show together. I’ve been checking their website regularly since then, hoping to see them again because WOW I need to! I was slightly worried that they had stopped touring, had gone their separate ways and wouldn’t make more music together. To me, they are so important, so relevant, and should be a huge success among people who grew up Christian and have ever asked big questions of faith. I want everyone to listen to them! But they seem like a well-kept North Carolinian secret.
So I was ELATED when a few weeks ago, David Wimbish announced that they would be touring again. They won't be in DC, but I got tickets to their Baltimore and Philadelphia shows because I can't just see them once! Seeing them live will be such an important and beautiful spiritual experience for me as I have come to love them so much and know all their lyrics by heart. I’ve told so many friends about them and bothered too many people by saying have you heard them?? They’re touring! You gotta come! But if you’ve read this far, please check them out. I hope their music blesses you like it’s blessed me!
Some of my favorite songs:
Dirt / Lazarus / Capernaum / The Borrowers / To Dust / Mama / Birds / The Alchemy of Awe
And David Wimbish’s song 2:4
OUR WEDDING DAY - My memories
Our wedding day was beautiful. I had been checking the weather twice a day for a week, praying away that 10-40% chance of “AM showers” and watching it fluctuate. LA weather in January for an outdoor wedding is generally not a worry, but I still didn’t want the ceremony area to be wet for the guests. I woke up on the morning of the wedding and there was a shining sun and blue skies out my window- no dark clouds to be found. It was 75 degrees and sunny. It was perfect.
I was so lucky we were able to have our rehearsal and party two nights before- our rehearsal dinner was a New Year’s Eve party, and the wedding was the 2nd, so people had the 1st to celebrate the new year and rest how they chose. We got all our tasks and partying out of the way, and I was able to spend the night before the wedding with Alex (my MOH and best friend). We went out for an early dinner at a fun LA vegan spot nearby and came back the hotel to do final prep. Alex set out breakfast for the bridesmaids and I wrote my vows into my vow book and my note for Avery, and we were in bed before 10. I was so happy to wake up well rested (around 7:30) and have plenty of time to prepare myself for people to arrive.
My bridesmaids, hair stylist and makeup artist, and videographer showed up and we talked and got ready till around 11:00. Alex and I then (VERY carefully) loaded up my dress into my car, and we drove over to the venue, only about 10 minutes away. We took getting ready photos in the bridal suite, I peed for the last time before getting into my dress (pro tip for brides), and then my bridesmaids and my mom helped my get into my dress!
I opened Avery’s gift while he was in the groom’s suite next door, getting ready and opening my gifts. I loved the sweet card he wrote for me and was so excited for our first look. He got me a beautiful pair of earrings from a jewelry company that employs survivors of abuse in Asia. I got him a nice watch (which looked so good on him that day and now he wears it every day!) and a handkerchief that has a note his dad wrote him, in his dad’s handwriting, embroidered into by a woman I found on Etsy. He also wore his dad’s pocket watch, engraved with “my only love”, which his dad wore on his parents’ wedding day. It was so special to have these piece of his dad with us on that day.
Avery and I were lucky enough to have Cava (yes, Cava in LA!!) brought to us for lunch by our housemate Drew. I scarfed down as many bites of yummy mezze as I could without messing up my teeth and makeup, touched everything up, and went out to meet Avery for our first look! His back was toward me, so I saw him before he saw me, and my heart was aflutter. I was so excited to see him and oh man, he looked gooood. Our first look was so sweet, we just laughed and took each other in and prayed together, thanking God for this gift of our wedding day.
We went off and did photos just the two of us while everyone else had lunch, then did wedding party and family photos by the barn. It was a little bit of a struggle getting the smallest ones (Rylie…) to behave for the photos, but we got to laugh and have fun with it. It just felt so easy and I surprisingly felt very calm. We could hear Zoe and the musicians practicing Be Thou My Vision for the ceremony. It was lovely.
We got out of the way and lined up in our processional order before the guests arrived. Aiyana and Jenica fixed each other’s flower crowns and we made sure everything was in order.
For those who don’t know, we had our processional song composed originally for us. Zoe, a friend of friends in LA, is starting a music composition company and offered to write our wedding song. She met with us and asked about our story, our relationship, and our music tastes and came up with a beautiful song for us to walk down the aisle to (and also have forever!). Since we first said “I love you” while watching shooting stars in a meteor shower, and our rings represent the stars and the earth, she titled our song “Stardust”. It was a recurring theme on our wedding day, with mentions of stardust in Alex’s toast and my mom’s sermon. But anyway, our song. I heard it played as my mom and Mike, Avery and his mom, and the wedding party entered in. And then the tempo changed and it was my cue. Everyone stood, and my dad and I began walking in. The first face I saw sitting by the aisle was McKinnon, full of emotions, and it made me so emotional. I was so excited to see her, and everyone, and Avery at the end of the aisle. My dad passed me over to Avery and we walked up to the altar.
My most memorable thought from that moment, is WOW this place is beautiful. I could not help but look around, stunned at how incredibly well decorated as well as naturally lush the ceremony area was. I loved the arch at the altar, decorated with sunflowers, and all the green surrounding us. It was perfect. The ceremony was perfect- my mom’s homily was beautiful and represented us so well. The worship and communion was beautiful. Wendell Berry’s poem The Dance was read, as well as a section of his writing on marriage and community. It just felt so perfectly us. I loved Avery’s vows and reading mine to him. I kept having to breathe, make sure I wasn’t locking my knees, and look around at the friends and family with us to just take it in and remember those moments.
And then we were married! We processed out of the ceremony to Lord of the Rings theme music. We took more pictures. Mom and Alex and Joe signed our marriage license. Our DJ brought us drinks and we had a few minutes of calm just to ourselves before getting introduced into the ceremony, so we looked around and took in all the beautiful decor.
This is already really long, so I won’t go into too much more detail on the rest. It was so, so fun. We got to finally hug and greet everyone. We danced, we ate amazing yummy food, we took polaroids, we heard toasts. Our first dance was so fun and special, dancing to our song, Strangers in the Night. I never wanted it to end. My dad and I danced to Make You Feel My Love and Avery and his mom danced to Dear Avery. Our friends and the kids danced with us to Cut to the Feeling and Jai Ho, which was a blast. There was a full moon that night, and it was so beautiful watching it start low and huge in the sky and rise as we danced. My uncle Wayne, who is Lakota, gave us a blessing in Lakota, for a long and prosperous life together. It was so special. We tossed the bouquet (together, to all the singles) and took the mic at the end of the night to thank everyone and express how meaningful it was to have people there. It was a perfect day and we didn’t want it to end. Avery looked so good and I felt so beautiful. Some of the most important people in our lives were there, to celebrate us, in a day which beautifully represented our relationship. But then it was time to leave, so we said our goodbyes with tight hugs and gathered our things. And then it was just us.
1.2.2018 the best is yet to come
Christian, feminist, idealist, wife, poet, abolitionist, dreamer, adventurer.