Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you.
I was uncool before it was cool to be uncool. While my high school classmates rocked out to Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, I was wearing out phonograph needles listening to Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
My hero, the Dirt Band's John McEuen, is a virtuoso bluegrass banjo player. Yet, on Uncle Charlie, he plays a startling classical piece: Clementi's Opus 36.
Many years later, after I found a wife and started raising little beaners, John McEuen was the featured performer on the nationally broadcast radio program: A Prairie Home Companion. And -- could it be? -- he played Clementi's Opus 36!
But, he bungled it. No, I'm sorry, I'm being kind; he butchered it. His solo was the worst live performance I've ever heard. Afterward, the show's host, Garrison Keillor, suave as always, told him he loved the banjo . . . and to keep practicing.
Years later, our family took root in northwest Montana. My wife cooked at a guest ranch and I would sing and play guitar for dinners on the lake. After dinner, I would help clean up and lug everything back to the lodge.
One August, I learned the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was playing for the County Fair in Kalispell. The concert, dang it, was the same night I was committed to sing. I had agreed to play, so I did -- but I sang every song a little faster in the hope the dinner would, somehow, end sooner.
As soon as it was over, I asked my wife if she would do cleanup alone so I could catch the end of the concert. She said yes.
I raced to the concert. I told the person at the ticket counter I had no ticket, but the concert was almost over, so she let me in for free.
After the concert, I told the security guard the banjo player was my lifelong hero and gave him my best "bloodhound eyes" look. He let me in backstage.
Everyone in the band stayed in their own RV. I found McEuen's, and, asked if I could come in. He cordially waved me aboard. After the autographs and "you're-my-lifelong-hero" stuff, I asked him, "Would you mind if I touch your banjo, so I can tell my friends I did it?" He said, "No! You can't just touch it; you've got to play it!"
So, there I am, playing one of the most famous banjos in the world (a 1927 Florentine with an aftermarket neck), and, inexplicably, I say, "Do you remember twenty years ago when you slaughtered Clementi on Prairie Home Companion?"
I'm forever grateful he exploded in laughter. The stool for the live performance, he said, was higher than the one for the rehearsal, and the banjo kept sliding off his lap.
That night, I learned to ask: ask my wife to do cleanup by herself. Ask the ticket taker to let me attend the concert without a ticket. Ask the security guard to relax his duty for a guy with sad bloodhound eyes. Ask Johnny McEuen to touch his banjo.
What would happen if I had the same boldness to ask God for what I longed for?
(copyright 2017 by Marty Kaarre)