Monday, February 25, 2008

Mosaic: a picture of Amy

I read Amy Grant's collection of memories, thoughts, anecdotes, musings, etc. (whatever you wanna call 'em) this past week. The book is called Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far. A mosaic is a collection of bits and pieces which, when assembled by an artist, form a cohesive image. Apt title. Each chapter is tied to a lyric or poem or two that Amy has either written or made her own, and can be read in pretty much any order. But as a whole the book offers a self-portrait of not only the star-studded experiences she's had over the years, but also her inner life as a music artist, a wife, a mother, a sister and granddaughter. Not a comprehensive picture, but the details that are there are striking and memorable.

She shares some funny stories and some very touching ones, and addresses the struggles of her family life and the fallout from her divorce, along with the joy she's found along the way. She doesn't offer any new details to satisfy the persistent gossip-monger in all of us (c'mon, admit it), in defense of innocence or confession of guilt, concerning the uncomfortable details of her very public "private life." She's clearly beyond that (a good example for us all), though she recognizes the long-term impact of all her choices, some good, some not so good (as with all of us). I suppose she's realized some people will never accept her and some never rejected her, and she hasn't made it her business to maintain her image for any of them. [This is confirmed in this interview and in this one]. So I figured out pretty quickly I wouldn't be needing my gavel and robe after all. Oh well, it isn't that long until Halloween.

Given the obviously tender heart she has always had (judging from her music and from everyone I've ever spoken to who had met her), I imagine she's suffered wounds that are so deep and life-threatening it was obvious she could find healing only in the depth of heavenly grace. Even when our wounds are self-inflicted (as some of hers possibly were, like many of ours), those wounds are just as real--maybe even more painful. No doubt she's also found that the only proper response to the comments that still continue to pop up (on comments by the readers of the online Tennessean, for example) is the same grace that has sustained her.

Some might dismiss her as the "poor little rich girl" and find it hard to sympathize. As I discovered, her great-grandfather helped start Life & Casualty Insurance Co., and owned (and donated) much of the now-pricey land in Green Hills, whereas my grandfather and father both sold policies for L & C in North Georgia & East Tennessee (so we both have claim to helping build that landmark tower downtown, in a way). Other people suffer much of the same trials and still have to worry how to pay the bills. Still, suffering is suffering, and (so I hear) money doesn't help much in the midst of most problems.

The book brought up a lot of memories, some good, some not so much, from my "prime" days as a fan. Though I eventually lost that initial enthusiasm for her music over the years as I usually do with most artists, her Age To Age album was the soundtrack to my freshman year in college, and that music brings back the faces, the dreams and the idealism of a less-complicated time in my life. On the down side, witnessing someone roughly my age fondly recalling experiences I have yet to accomplish--marriage, children, career, etc.--is tough, as my choices seem fewer and time less a friend. As I read, my mood hovered in the melancholy range, from a healthy contemplative state to downright depression (she had advice for that, too: taking a brisk walk, for starters). But the core of faith that becomes evident throughout the book is something that I could relate to and I drew strength from both her faith and mine, just like in the "old days." The song that says "in a little while we'll be with the Father" has never been more true or hope-inspiring for me than it is now.

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