Sometimes the spirit comes gently, riding a summer breeze, waiting on the side of a mountain stream, or curling up on the couch like a comfortable friend. On those times, the spirit waits unobtrusively for us to answer the beckoning, rest from our travels, and find solace.

Sometimes the spirit comes boldly and powerfully, shaking the rafters with energy, shouting from the mountaintops, and crashing with lightning from the sky. On those times, the spirit defies us to ignore the power and presence of something much greater than any of us.

Last night was one of the latter. Last night, the spirit crashed into the room, riding the musical power of an orchestra, wafting upon the intricacies of Steve Bell’s voice, and shouting boldly “Listen! This is important. Awake from your slumber and know that I am here!”

Wow! What can I say about such an incredible night? I’ve been a fan of Steve Bell for a long time, have been to several concerts, and have even been blessed to become his friend, but I have NEVER been moved by any musical night as much as I was last night. Remember a few weeks ago when I said my soul had fallen asleep? Well, it has definitely been awakened.

We sat in the front row (no, they’re not the expensive seats – they’re actually considered lower end because you’re beneath stage level – I got tickets late and that was almost all that was left), and the energy in the concert hall was palpable. It felt like you could reach out and touch the spirit as it moved through the room. We couldn’t see much of the orchestra from where we sat, so I don’t know if they were all grinning, but I can certainly tell you that Steve and his band were having the time of their lives. Their faces glowed with energy, and it was contagious. I think there were grins all over the room.

Each song got a little better than the one before. Just when I thought “oh, this one is definitely my favourite”, they’d play the next one and it would get even better. In the end, I think my favourite arrangements were Deep Calls to Deep, Dark Night of the Soul, and Moon over Berknau. Wow! What made Moon over Berknau even better was Steve’s incredible ability to craft a story and draw us into his world.

When Steve recorded a cd of Bruce Cockburn songs last year, he talked about how a song doesn’t really belong to one person, even if that person wrote it. He said that Bruce’s songs had become his own because of how they impacted his life. Last night, I think Steve’s songs became everyone’s. I sat closest to the pianist Mike Janzen (who also wrote the score for the orchestra) and it was clear that the songs belonged to him as much as to Steve. I think the audience, like me, would agree – these songs are no longer just Steve’s. They are ours because of the way they have changed us. Thank you Steve.

There were times last night when the awakening of the soul was almost more than I could bear. I could feel it in every part of my body and sometimes my eyes involuntarily filled with tears. The wakening of the soul awakened the muse, and my own words of poetry flowed through me as I closed my eyes and listened.

What an amazing night! I am so glad I was there. Now I feel like I need to honour the spirit and create something myself…

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