Welcome to the Rock

September 11th, 2001 is one of the WORST days in history. Despite the terrorist attacks on The World Trade Center, The Pentagon, etc…., there were still incredible moments of tremendous compassion and humanity. Due to this event, all of a sudden the US Airforce had to close, and planes had to land at the closest airport (for most of them, it was in Canada).

20 Years Later, Come From Away was filmed and brought to Apple TV. Come From Away is the remarkable story of Gander, Newfoundland. 38 Planes had to be redirected there—–despite the small size of Gander. Schools, Community Centers, Churches, and The Salvation Army are some places passengers were sent to. Part of these passengers were “Make a Wish” Children, who were on their way to Disney.

This particular production had an audience with frontline workers and 9/11 survivors. While watching, I realized I remembered a lot more than I thought (from the first time I saw the musical). I remembered Bonnie being concerned about the animals, the questioning of the Muslim, different religions coming together in prayer, Hannah’s concern for her firefighter son, the fun scene with some passengers wearing yellow hats, and I remembered the mention of the Gander Mascot. Here is one thing I didn’t notice- Nick and Diane’s romance (I didn’t know a couple was created.

As a matter of fact, even some of the songs sounded familiar such as “Welcome to the Rock”, “28 Hours/Wherever We Are”, etc…..As a matter of fact, the actors in Come From Away have to really talented- everyone has to play multiple roles (it’s like they are all part of the ensemble). There are a combo of fun, catchy and pretty emotional songs. You see many moments of compassion and humanity and even feel the heartbreak of 9/11 especially through the character, Hannah.

I would recommend checking this musical out or the book, The Day The World Came To Town (it is the Come From Away story)

The Meaning of Kanuga

There are several places that hold a LOT of meaning in our lives. They are the places that truly shape us. They are places that are sometimes considered “happy places”- it may not be a city or a country. It might be a particular location (like the theater). Located in Hendersonville, NC—-there is an Episcopalian Conference Center called Kanuga, where Parish Retreats, conferences, and Holidays happen. It isn’t some random place- it means a lot to me.

2003-2008

These were important years of my spiritual journey. Fran McKendree, a Folk Musician, was leading our music. We learned songs like “Sanctuary”, “Lord of the Dance”, “Servant Song”, “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”, and “Celtic Blessing”. That was the start of my love for Contemporary Christian music.

Then, there were the hikes. At first, I wasn’t a hiking leader, but just a part of the hiking group. The combo of the songs and the hiking made me start to realize God was real. Kanuga was where my spiritual journey truly began. We stay in cottages (unless you want the inn or Guest Houses) during the Parish Retreats and other events.

Soon enough, I became a hiking leader- either we go up the Long Rocks Trial or the Eagle Rock Trial. In my opinion, the BEST Kanuga trial is Eagle Rock- yes more difficult, but better. I actually made my hiking stick during Thanksgiving at Kanuga.

One very special time at Kanuga was Winterlight, a high school youth conference from December 27th-January 1st. We sing three times a day, hang out with our small groups (part is usually icebreakers, part teamwork, and part service project. In addition, there is the New Year’s Eve banquet, Eucharist, and the New Year’s Eve Dance. They always do something special for the Seniors. My first service project was making blankets for migrant workers and the 2nd was making meals for the hungry. The activities we do with our small group is usually connected to the overall theme of the week.

Most of the Kanuga trips were Parish Retreats. They usually have singing, free time (various activities are offered or you could do your own thing), youth and adult programs and socials, and church services usually at the lakeside. Hiking is one of my favorite free time things to do- I usually chose Eagle Rock, but sometimes go for Long Rocks. Below are pictures from other Kanuga retreats.

Fun fact- the picture below is from my first Kanuga back in 1996. Yes, I was still living in Atlanta and the place didn’t mean anything to me until I started going with my Charlotte church. So, I somehow went from hiking on my dad’s back to becoming a hiking leader. Kanuga is a place to relax, to connect, and to bond. I am a mountain person, not a beach person. I feel much more connected to Him in the mountains.

Labor Day Weekend 2021

Every year, our family church does a Parish Retreat at Kanuga, located in Hendersonville. Kanuga is not just a conference center, but a Happy Place. It is a place to relax, to connect, and to bond. Kanuga is home to hiking trials due to being in the mountains. I am a mountain person

Like many Parish Weekends, I was hiking leader. What was amazing was having the access to Eagle Rock, which is the BEST trial at Kanuga. Yes, it is a difficult trial due to the steepness, rocks, and roots, but worth it in the end. Do you know why it is called Eagle Rock? One of the rocks at the top actually looks like an eagle- you are able to climb down and see it.

The picture on the left came from the Parish Retreat of 2021. I was just using the picture on the right to show you the actual Eagle Rock, one of the reasons why I think it is the best Kanuga trial.

We had a lovely Eucharist with a Blue Grass Band. We had a bonfire with music, singing, and smores- I mean, what is a bonfire without smores? Due to being apart so long, we spent the weekend getting to know each other again through stories.

Our program inside was icebreakers- one was a game called “That’s Me”- if the statement applied to us, we had to stand up and say “that’s me”- for example- if they said “I love Broadway Musicals”, and that was true- you would jump up and say “that’s me”, etc. But if it didn’t apply to you, don’t stand up. The next ice breaker was even harder- sitting across someone you didn’t really know. 45 seconds- a question was asked and you had to answer- like “what famous historical figure would you invite to dinner” or “tell a story you were dragged to somewhere you didn’t want to go”.

Free Time on Sunday- that was when the hike I led was. There was still time afterward to go to Lakeside Pavilion and do some coloring while others were playing Cornhole. Freetime on Saturday- either Labyrinth or Kickball- I choose the Labryinth and watched some of the kickball.

Finale (Les Mis) Analysis

The Finale of Les Mis is one of the strongest finales in musical theatre. In my opinion, it is actually one of my favorite finales found in musical theatre. If you want to PROCEED, SPOILERS. It is the final death scene in Les Mis- it is actually when Valjean dies. The Finale is full of both heartbreak and hope. This song is a reprise of “Do You Hear the People Sing”, and this time, I believe it represents heaven. Through lyrics like “Even the Darkest Night will End and the Sun will Rise” and Tomorrow Comes”, there is a lot of hope found in this song.

And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.

Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
We will walk behind the ploughshare;
We will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

Tomorrow comes!

The picture below is something I painted, but it does show the finale from Les Mis.

Even though Valjean does die, he is still happy at the moment. That is because he got to see Cosette one last time. It is actually on the night of Cosette’s wedding, and the same night Marius discovered that Valjean saved him from the barricade. So, Marius was able to thank Valjean for saving his life. Valjean’s redemption is so strong at this moment- Fantine’s spirit escorts Valjean to heaven and is welcomed by the Bishop, who played a huge part in Valjean’s journey.

To Love Another Person is to see the Face of God

The lyrics above are the most famous lyrics from Les Mis. Look how many people showed love in Les Mis who did die. Valjean’s love for God and Cosette; Fantine’s love for Cosette, Eponine’s love for Marius despite it being unrequited; and The Friends of the ABC’s love for each other and the country. Even though Marius and Cosette lived, they have love for each other despite losing everyone that meant something to them.

The Biblical Musicals I Love

Yes, there are musicals that are based off of stories in the bible. I actually have fallen in love with two of them, and each of them were written by famous composers. I decided to talk about the two of them today. As a matter of fact, I ended up seeing both of them live at Central Piedmont Community College- seems to a kind of coincidence.

Godspell

I am going to start at Godspell, the 2nd Stephen Schwartz musical I fell in love with. Due to already falling in love with Wicked, I was convinced to give Godspell a chance. When I saw Godspell, I remember loving the costumes- from a hippie to a pink dress holding a white star and a guy with a black and red theme with a red mohawk. Little did I know I would see some of those actors again in future CPCC productions.

Ryan Deal, the Jesus, would eventually play Valjean and also would be in the Musical Revue, Some Enchanted Evening. One of the female ensemble members would be in the female ensemble of Les Mis and would eventually be Laurey in Oklahoma. The Judas would later play Will Parker in Oklahoma. I thought that was actually amazing that would happen- the fact I would see those three actors again.

Godspell has an incredible collection of fun and exciting songs. It feels like a modernized version of Jesus’ story- due to those fun costumes.

Favorite song: We Beseech Thee

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

I just recently saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Another well-done production and crazily enough I saw an actor from the past- in the children’s choir, my Young Cosette from CPCC’s production was in this choir (glad to see her again). Really talented narrator and Joseph. After all, Joseph really shined during “Close Every Door”- I was in tears during that number (yes, I knew the song was heartbreaking, but wasn’t expecting that reaction. Even loved the group of brothers. Loved the colorful and fun costumes and that was an amazing ending.

Joseph has an amazing mix of fun and emotional songs- the way you want a musical theatre soundtrack to me. Makes a show more believable and relatable. What made Joseph meaningful was that it was the first musical I saw in person after musicals closed when the pandemic began. Seeing musicals was something I strongly missed- going to them is one of my biggest escapes. Still have a hard believing this was Webber’s first musical- after all, he was only 17, and it is an incredible musical.