Thursday, September 15, 2011


Buddy Holly 1936-1959

I carry Buddy Holly with me in my car – his greatest hits CD, that is. 

I can drive on the crowded streets of Northern Johannesburg, complete with street hawkers, selling everything from Rugby shirts to spinning pinwheels, with Buddy singing in a rockabilly style. As taxis stop where they’re not supposed to stop; let out their passengers where they’re not supposed to walk; I have to navigate around those who dart across the road in front of me, while I hear him singing “If you knew; Peggy Sue....”  

Listening to this music transforms me from a foreign stranger to a comfortable American girl who has made her home here. 

Being transplanted from your homeland to another is different from visiting.  Sometimes, I feel like a stranger in a strange land, no matter how I slice it.  Even though I’ve been in my new homeland for four years, things can still seem a little foreign – and me, as well.  Buddy reminds me, (along with Tom Petty and Dire Straits) that I am an American girl.  

Last night I thought of Buddy in a different way.  I thought of his words as I thought of my husband. 

Mario is very pastoral, such a wonderful friend to people, and most who meet him appreciate his real-ness right away.    Still, people are people and when they hurt, they hurt others.  It has been a rough season in our lives in this area: being hurt. 

Yesterday was the first meeting of a new course he’s attending, along with the rest of our church’s leaders.  It’s called “Redemption”, and is designed to help people who are hurt.  Before administering a “medicine” of any kind, one should be familiar with it, so the church’s  leaders decided to take the class all together and see if it was helpful, worth the time, etc.
When he first told me about the class, how all four leaders would attend and what it was called, it sounded like a lot of other classes we had done before (church leaders should be familiar with the human heart).  Th first assignment, Mario told me, would begin with telling your life-story (up until now) in ten minutes. 

I laughed.

“Good luck!” I said.  We both have long and colourful stories, filled with a myriad of abuse, rebellion, treachery.  Ten minutes is... ten minutes. 

So yesterday, as we were in the car, heading to our friend’s house for dinner, I asked him how it went. 

“It was wonderful,” he smiled.  He began recounting to me the events of the day, saying that these four men he worked alongside of were used to being the ones who listened to stories, not the ones who told them.  It was like a room of cops laying their guns on the table just to be regular men. 

When he came to the part where he shared in the meeting, he began to cry. 

He is the most tender, beautiful man, standing 6 foot one and weighing 240 pounds (mostly muscle) – so most people are thrown off when he cries.  BUT he’s not afraid to show emotion, and he does freely. 

There, in the car, he told me about telling of his childhood (he doesn’t remember most things, like his first grade teacher, clothes he wore, etc.), his adolescence (also troubled) and finally, his 
adulthood (proving himself to the world) until he miraculously had a life change.

In this world, we are never fully delivered from the hurts of our past.  The rest of the conversation was beautiful, but too private to share.  I share what I do because it was disarming for me, even after 24 years of marriage.  I cried with him, as he shared his story with me again... and how it felt to tell in a room full of peers.  Mario holds nothing back, especially from me. 

He was remarkably able to snap out of the re-telling as we pulled into our friends’ driveway. 

All I could say is, “Honey, you are a walking miracle.  You know that, right?”

Then, we greeted our hosts, and transitioned into our more public selves to visit.

Later, as I washed my hands in the bathroom, I thought of Buddy’s song, “True Love Ways”.  Buddy Holly wrote it (with his friend, Norman Petty) to give to his wife, Maria Elena, as a wedding gift.   Their marriage was young, but he could foresee their life together.  When it was recorded October 21, 1958, it was done in her presence.  Dick Jacob, who produced it and conducted the orchestra, gave it a new flavor: a “departure sound” that is slow and romantic, unlike Buddy Holly’s rockabilly standards. 

The lyrics of the song say “Sometimes we'll sigh; Sometimes we'll cry; and we'll know why just you and I know true love ways.”

Love isn’t romance and bells all the fact; it’s that way hardly ever.  It’s full of sighing and crying.  It’s the love that makes you stay...the commitment that makes our hearts one.  It’s the power of true love. 

He committed his life to staying with me.  He’s stayed through the hardest times.  He stays, no matter what.  He doesn’t hold back his heart, even when he’s hurt. 

He has true love ways...  That’s why he’s so easy to love.

To see Buddy Holly's video, "True Love Ways" click here

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