A mini-miracle happened under the most amazing of circumstances and in the most unusual of places: at a "Drum Off" in a turn-of-the-century building. Located just outside of downtown Ann Arbor, the old Pittsfield Union Grange Hall was indeed an interesting place with a lot of history. Framed photographs of some of the founders of the area, plus pictures of students from a former one-room school house were all carefully attached to the walls. I was mesmerized by their haunting stares, their period clothes and the accessories of the times. The old "Grange Hall" was still in remarkable condition with original floors and a very old stage. A great place to bring together people of all walks of life, especially drummers.
The coordinator of this event was Kim Maki, a successful rock and roll blogger who has a lot of supporters in the music industry. Kim coordinated what started off as a competition between drummers from metro Detroit, but it turned into a spiritual awakening for us all.
Personally, I had been in a disagreement with Kim for a while over something silly, but we had extended an olive branch to each other via Facebook and cell phone calls. The Drum Off would be the the first time we would be seeing each other in person in a long time. The encounter was easier than I thought it would be. Bygones were bygones and we happily embraced. Kim and I are both Aquarians, and that in itself can be very combustible, but the day progressed smoothly.
Then came all the drummers, ages seven through, well, kind of old! Everyone worked together and set up the kits, and helped to place chairs throughout the hall. Everyone! The locally and internationally famous drummers and the soon-to-be-famous drummers were there too! Kids from School of Rock. There were no attitudes here! Just an air of doing everyone's part. I wondered if that was a common trait among drummers, who mostly have to sit in the background hidden by all of the gear, guitars and the front man! This was supposed to be a competition, but every single drummer was just amazing and kind. The "competition" element of the event was soon discarded and it became a huge drum jam session instead! The drummers and judges were all so wonderful and cooperative that who could ever choose a winner! Now on to the mini-miracle!
|Look at this group of stellar Metro Detroit musicians! Wow!|
One of the drummers who came to jam was a musical child prodigy, Julian Pavone. Only seven years-old, little Julian had the face and demeanor of a reincarnated spiritual master. A little saint! He was truly gifted and born into a family who was able to encourage and support his current stay on earth. Another drummer present was Steven "Maruga" Booker, an internationally acclaimed and accomplished drummer in his late sixties or maybe early seventies! Maruga is also an ordained Orthodox priest.
As the event drew to a close, everyone was was cleaning up and putting away chairs. Julian and Maruga hovered near Carl Lundgren's "souvenir stand" at the back of the room. I knew immediately that a photo op was there. My camera was broken, so I beckoned (hurried) the event photographer to to get a shot of the two! I orchestrated the picture and moved the Coke bottle and other junk from the scene. Maruga and Julian were now on their destined path.
|Julian and Maruga. Maruga still has on his Firth drum key.|
I did not actually know that Maruga was an ordained Orthodox priest, but I had an inkling. I thought he was a really groovy old dude in a cool hat dressed in black wearing a silver cross necklace that was trying to "look like" an Orthodox priest!. So (you know me), I simply asked him! Maruga answered that he was indeed a priest and his name was Father Steven! He pulled out his white cleric's collar from under his top coat and then showed us all his "real" Orthodox cross necklace! Maruga tells us that the silver cross he is wearing outside of his jacket is really a DRUM KEY! All the while, little Julian is staring at and touching the drum key, listening to Maruga's every word.
Everyone that had stayed late also hovered around the pair. Julian then drew close to Maruga, who I now addressed as Father Steven. Child and priest are now engaged in a conversation about the silver "drum cross". Father Steven tell us it was a Firth! Firth is a drum manufacturer. One of Julian's sponsors is Firth. Maruga tells Julian that the drum key was a Christmas gift from his wife and tells him he has owned this key for a long, long time. The pair keep chatting, then all of a sudden, Father Steven removes the the drum key from his neck and offers it to the little boy...then the magic began.
Father Steven "Maruga", wants to give Julian the silver cross key and dramatically placed it around the little boy's neck! Julian tells the priest that he cannot accept such a precious item, but Father Steven insists. He then hugs the boy and tells him that he wants Julian to have it. Julian and Father Steven embrace. Father Steven then makes the "sign of the cross" and blesses the little boy. The boy and all of us are now involved in a very mystical experience. The priest tells Julian how special he is and how he will be a great man when he grows up. Julian looks up adoringly at the old man. Spiritual Father and blessed child! There isn't a dry eye in the house! I'm serious. We were all sobbing unabashedly!
|So beautiful! Are you crying now too?|
At the end of the event, Kim Maki called me her lucky charm. Her event was memorable and even better than anyone could have expected, all because of the love and forgiveness Kim and I were able to show each other. I am so grateful for this. As we approach the glorious Feast of The Ascension, Easter Sunday, it is now time for renewal, spiritual and otherwise. For all of us. Peace to you.