Three projects long overdue are now coming into being with a lot of help from my friends.
Project 1: Eternal River, Volume III
I started working on this seven-volume, six-generation memoir ten or fifteen years ago. I can’t remember anymore. Volume I is the joining of the lives of Tom and Kay Wing, whose last names are translated “Eternity” and “River.” Volume II widens to include their two daughters. Volume III begins with the launching of those daughters into college and the life my parents lead without us, including my father’s invention of microcurrent.
My dad always wanted me to publish the microcurrent story by itself and I always resisted. My intention was to tell how the invention fit in the context of our lives, not just what it was and how it came about. But after he died, I realized that those who were interested in Dr. Thomas W. Wing would not care to wade through my college years, marriage, kids, divorce, etc., so I did physically divide the book into my story and his—which was symbolically fitting when I thought about it.
I had my doubts about the readability of my father’s story as told in his voice, so I tried two chapters out on my friends, Jim and Nancy Horne. They said it needed background, not just the dry narration that is typical of my father’s writing. That’s when I realized I needed to be a voice in the book to tell what my dad didn’t say—mostly about what kind of person he was. He wasn’t one to talk about his feelings, reactions, or details, unless they were technical ones. When I was working on ER1, I had to prompt and prod him in order to get some color into his story of proving the validity of Knife-Edge Refraction in “bending” UHF waves around the mountain. He gave me all the technical data. I asked, “But how did you feel when you heard the signal from the other side of the mountain?” I looked into his eyes and left a long pause. “Oh,” he said, reaching into the distant past, “we jumped up and down and hugged each other.”
But this time, especially towards the end of the book, I was into material that I had not worked over with him. There were places where I had written, “ask Daddy.” but of course, I couldn’t. So I had to enter the story and reconstruct those times when we were traveling together, teaching seminars to eager health professionals who wanted to learn how to use a new modality whose results were very much like miracles.
Reliving those times was like having my parents back again. The memories are so vivid. In fact, while I was editing the accounts of Doug Casey, who went to several Olympics and worked with and treated many famous athletes with my father’s instruments, I got so excited that I started using microcurrent on my eyes every day. Miraculously, my eyes improved immediately. It was another thing my dad wanted me to do, but I had resisted. I guess it was a subtle rebellion. How stupid is that!
Eternal River, Volume III is entering its third edit. I am shocked how quickly it has come together. I’m now trying it out on other readers and editors and hope to have it in print by July 22, my daddy’s birthday.
Project 2: Album of Scripture Songs
In 1977, I was given the charge to write songs using Scripture that was not worship (see the post “It’s About Time” to read the whole story of that charge). I did record an album in 1990 with the help of my friend Dale Enstrom, who drove the two and a half hours from his house to my studio to color the tracks I’d laid down already. The whole process took three weeks. It was simple. Definitely nothing fancy. You can hear it here.
Now, decades later, I have been working on a new album of Scripture songs, only this one has full instrumentation by some very good musicians, my friends Dale Enstrom, Dan Worley, and Robert Watson. Dale plays keyboard in a Styx tribute band named Renegade, Dan has been a performing singer/songwriter since he was 17 (we recorded his album, Time of Light in 2008), and Robert played with James Brown, among others. These men transformed my simple folky songs into compelling musical messages while maintaining the spirit and feel of the songs. Dan had a lot to do with that. He’s Musical Director for the album.
What these guys have done with my songs is jaw-dropping to me, but the part of the project that delights me the most is the young people who are singing on the album. They’re from three different churches. I prayed and God told me which songs should be sung by which groups. Then Dale and I did a concert there and taught them the songs. Dan provided MP3s of the songs via email so they could practice, and he and I went to their churches and recorded them. A lot of logistics were involved, of course. This is the simplified version.
On Friday, June 10, we will be going back to Calvary Chapel, Laguna Creek, to put the final tracks down with their junior and senior high students. Their youth meets in a house, so we’re doing the recording in a bedroom. It’s tight in there, but we manage. I can’t tell you how fun it was for me to hear them as they left the room, singing my songs as they descended the stairs to the cake that awaited them after their exertions. They were so full of energy and joy, and they were singing long Scriptures without missing a word.
On Saturday, June 11, we will be recording at Sacramento Presbyterian Korean Church. Their room is big and boingy. Many of these kids play two or three or five instruments. They have a music team that leads praise and worship with a full band. They were the first youth to record with me, and they inspired me to add to my album more songs with parts.
The third church is my own—Kelseyville Presbyterian. We have four youngsters—all enthusiastic and eager. I’m giving them voice lessons (they’re building up their voices with my 15-Minute Vocal Warm-Up CD) and we can record in my studio with controlled sound and no travel for Dan and me. It will be a challenge for Dan to make all the rooms sound okay together on one album, but he’s very good at those types of things. Frankly, I believe the voices of those young people singing the Word of God conveyed on flavorful and fitting music will be worth whatever unavoidable inconsistencies in sound we encounter. Boy! I can hardly wait to release this album! The youth and their leaders have been so wonderful, and they add a vibrant quality that reflects their devotion to Jesus like nothing else can.
Project 3: Creating Jewelry
There are many things I’ve wished I could do in my life. Stained glass is one I know will never happen. Books I said I’d read someday are no longer looking like a fun pastime. Reading a book is now an ordeal, a constant reminder of just how blind I really am.
But in October of last year a bead store was going out of business in Kelseyville. My friend Nancy Horne and I went back several times, for the prices dropped every week. I put the supplies away. I told myself I’d get to them someday.
Then, last week, I had nothing to do. Parts of Draft 2 of ER III were being sent out for checking by the people mentioned or quoted in the text. I had just laid down new vocal tracks and Dan was working on mixing the songs. Restless, I got out the beads and started arranging them different ways. The lady at the store had said a particular kind of thread came with a wire needle built into one end. Hmmmm… I wondered if I could get the needle into the hole in a very small bead.
It took a while, but it happened. I created one necklace a day for five days. The disaster came when I tried to get the clasps on them. My friend, Moe Fox from down the street, came over to show me how to use the infinitesimal crimp on the end, wind a couple of times around the clasp, and double back through the crimp tube and a bunch of the beads. It took as long to secure the clasps as it did to design and string the necklace. I had so much anxiety that I gave up. The magnifying glass didn’t help. I just couldn’t tell what I was doing. I didn’t touch them for several days. But when my friend and Office Manager, Lynne Luttringer, came up to see me, she fell in love with one of the necklaces and said she wanted to buy it. And then Dan came over and, seeing my discouragement, offered to attach the clasps. I didn’t think he could, since he told me he had big, clumsy fingers, but he did. In fact, he designed his own method of attaching them and promptly completed all the necklaces.
Making necklaces is not just a fun craft for me. For years I have done mostly left-brain work. I write one book after another. It’s all abstract and black and white. But beads are colors and shapes and puzzles. They rest my mind. They stimulate the right side of my brain. And they provide the satisfaction of doing something I’ve been wanting to do for many years—something I thought I’d be good at doing if I ever got the chance. There’s the triumph of being able to physically manage the pieces—the invisible holes and the flimsy wire needle—but the real satisfaction comes in creating something that delights another person enough that she wants to make it a part of her life. I suppose it’s the measure of success of all creative pieces, whether a book or a song or a string of beads. To me, life is rich when you make that connection, enriching someone else with what you’ve done. And these three projects are all the more fulfilling to me because they are being accomplished with a lot of help from my dear and precious friends.