A Miracle I Experienced Early in Life
Many of us have some very unique stories to tell about our spiritual journey. One of the most amazing things happened to me when I was 2 years old. My family had floor furnaces and also electric heaters built into the wall for home heating. The heating element was exposed in the living room. One day I walked over to the heater and held onto 2 heating elements with both my hands and didn’t let go, my mother had to pull me away. My hands were so severely burned that the doctor said that they would certainly be deformed. My left hand would be more like a claw after it healed.
My parents were very distressed and decided that it was in God’s hands and that they would pray to the Lord for a miraculous healing in the same fashion that the Apostles prayed after Jesus ascended to heaven. The Apostles prayed nine days and on the ninth day the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and Mary and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and the early Church received an influx of energy, and inspiration from the Holy Spirit which helped build the Church into what it is today. After that time, it has been a tradition in many Christian churches to pray for nine days straight for any special and important intentions. This started the tradition of the Novena (which means nine).
My parents decided to do the most difficult Novena which is a daily Mass Novena. Every morning they faithfully got up and attended 6AM mass and said the extra Novena prayers for a special healing. After the Novena was over they took me back to the doctor, he took off the bandages and was astounded. He couldn’t believe his eyes. My hands were completely healed with no sign of scarring or damage. He asked what my parents did and they told him about the Novena. He said it was surely a miracle and that medical science had no explanation for the healing that took place.
It’s fitting that I became a pianist using my hands every day for the Lord’s work and helping other Christians allow their miracles to happen in their music ministries in my recording studio. I’m thankful my hands are healed and have served me well doing the work that I love to do.
My Religious Roots
I grew up in a very devout Catholic family in New Orleans, which was a predominately Catholic community. I could walk to school and church. Our neighborhood was very unique. My grandparents lived next door with my aunt, who was my godmother. There were 3 aunts and uncles and their families all within a few houses away. And with large Catholic families I had 16 siblings and cousins to grow up with. When I look back to it, I realize how unique this was, I guess it’s like I grew up in more like a tribe surrounded by so many relatives. I was fortunate to have such a close extended family and good role models growing up.
We moved to Memphis, TN in 1964 and throughout my schooling my Catholic faith grew. In my 20’s I did my own thing spiritually and left the church. I studied a lot of religious and spiritual books and tried to develop an understanding of all the major religions and all the different variations of Christianity. In 1977 I arranged String parts for an album and the cellist asked me if I would be interested in playing piano at the church that he was choir director. I accepted the job at Prescott Baptist Church and had the opportunity of experiencing another faith. I was very impressed with their Christian approach and the love between the members and was so moved that I became an associate member, which allowed me to still be a Catholic, but to be part of the church.
I moved to Nashville in 1986 and started playing piano at the Unity Church. I especially enjoyed a guided meditation part of the ceremony where I could improvise music behind the person guiding the congregation into meditation. I always felt the inspiration of the Holy Spirit during that quiet time and felt uplifted and also made up some pretty amazingly inspired music.
In 1988 my wife, Libby, and I got back into the Catholic Church with renewed interest and appreciation After experiencing a wide variation of other churches, religions, and philosophies. We started seeing church from a different perspective of increased understanding from what we learned from other teachings. We’ve continued to grow in our faith and understanding and are now both Eucharistic Ministers, which is such a blessing and a privilege to share the Body and Blood of Jesus with other people.
Through my long spiritual journey I’ve come to appreciate all Christian faiths, in fact even all major religions and philosophies and cultures, seeing and appreciating the work of our Creator in all the goodness found in the world. I feel that any act of kindness and goodness is furthering the work of Christ in uplifting the world and allowing true love and respect for one another to manifest in the world. And so I’ve developed in my main philosophy to always encourage and support good wherever I find it. Much like watering a plant and allowing it to grow in the world.
I carry the philosophy into my music, in trying to bring out the best out of people. When I work with writers, I try to find the best in their songs and accentuate that to make it even better . When I work with vocalists I try to find their strengths and help them to be better at being themselves.
I’ve had to learn to apply my faith through many challenges that I’ve faced in life. My wife, Libby, had a near fatal car crash in 1994. The doctor said she had about a 5% chance to survive till dawn. When the church found out about this and was very touched to find a room full of about 20 people coming to support me in one of my darkest loneliest times. It was such a feeling of brotherhood to be surrounded by loving and supportive people praying and helping me.
Libby did survive and the church members and friends continued to help by coming to our house and helping. She was so helpless at times that she had to be fed by hand and couldn’t walk. There was a hospital bed in our bedroom. It was extremely difficult to care for her and to run my studio business, but we prevailed. And my business gradually changed from a freelance studio musician to more of a home studio operation, which enabled me to care for Libby better.
As the years have gone by, she’s progressed and at times gotten much worse, but I’m still hopeful that she will completely regain her health. In time things have gotten much better, we both adapted to our limitations and I can say that we’re closer and happier than we ever have been in our years of marriage. We’ve been married since 1973 and grow closer every day.
The struggle has certainly tested my Christian faith and commitment to the ideals of Christ. We all have such unique challenges in life and unique crosses to carry and Jesus is always there is help us carry our cross. I think the most important thing that I’ve learned from all of this is that we must never give up and we must always try to be a force for good in our immediate environment, being happy to help and assist others in need. Even though these have been extremely difficult times for us, our love and commitment to each other has grown.