The Burning of the Trees

By

I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Osage Beach, Missouri. Ben Shive is in here, too, working on a string arrangement for the upcoming CALEB record. The weather is chilly, I’m a little homesick, I’m wearing three-day jeans, all adding to a pleasant melancholy brought on by the fact that today something is ending. A story that started last January, which actually started many years before that, about a little kid from Illinois who grew up and lost his way a million times but was found a million more by God himself, is reaching its final chapter tonight.

I’m glad. And, as I said, I’m feeling a little blue about it too. I’m glad because singing these songs every night has been painful. I’m sad because the little community that gathered to tell this story has been deeply encouraging and Christ-like in humility. You know, it’s not just music that makes high school kids want to be in bands–it’s brotherhood. It’s belonging. It’s that peace-giving fellowship of locking arms with friends in defiance of something. There are few things so moving as watching a team of people with diverse gifting, temperament, and background working together to accomplish something greater than any of them could do alone. It’s a good picture of the church. Whenever someone says, “I want to join a band,” I try to remember the word “band” is older than rock and roll. I think of Robin Hood and his Band of Merry Men, or Shakespeare and his “band of brothers.” The kid isn’t just saying, “I want to play some songs,” he’s saying, “I want to belong to something.” I was that kid, so I know.

And so, I’m sad this tour has come to an end. I’ll miss Michael “Raz” Razmandi, our humble sound ninja. He smiles more than anyone I’ve ever met, and he loves eggs more than anyone I’ve ever met, too. I never heard him say an unkind word to any of the volunteers as he worked harder than anyone else on the tour to set the stage, run the sound, and load the trailer after the show. I’ll miss Riley “Squez” Vasquez, our tour manager, whose job from the time he woke to the time he went to sleep was to serve the needs of our little mobile community. Last night after the concert I was near the front of the stage talking to folks, pretty wiped out after the concert, and Riley appeared out of nowhere with a table, a chair, and a waterbottle. I wanted to hug him. I’ll miss seeing Ben Shive on a regular basis. He’s a great musician and a loyal friend (eleven years and counting!). These days it’s harder and harder to find time to hang out in Nashville, so being on the road is a sure way to have good conversations with him–conversations that quiet those voices I’m always griping about. In the same way, I’ll miss Andy Gullahorn, whose skillful, uber-tasteful musicianship disproportionately raises the level of all our playing. Also, any games we play on the road are way more fun when he’s around. He’s a good man. I’ll miss Julia Chapman, who helped with merchandise and, more importantly, Show Hope. She quietly and diligently worked with Show Hope to build that bright, lovely bridge between the orphans of the world and the families ready to adopt them. I’ll miss the CALEB the BAND guys. Scotty Mills, who’s a really great guitar player, though he ended up playing bass on the tour without a single complaint. Scotty treasures his friends in a way that makes me want to be a better one. Also, he has the best hair in North America. Then there’s Will Franklin Chapman. I love it when someone is so completely themselves that they can’t help but make your life richer. He’s as unself-conscious as anyone I’ve ever met, but it doesn’t end there. He’s others-conscious, too. One night after a hard show, Will was the first to ask me how I was doing, and I could feel his concern from across the room. Caleb Chapman’s humility runs deep, evidenced by the fact that when he’s listening to someone talk he seems to be absorbing their words like a sponge–not to evaluate or to criticize, but to learn. He’s quick to laugh, but his level-headedness is the perfect foil to Will’s passion. I look forward to the day when the world knows about this band, and I shall profusely brag about them being on this tour.

One of the elements of this concert that differentiated it from others was the video content. Nathan Willis and William Aughtry of Little Rock, the guys who put together the “Rest Easy” video, interviewed several people in Little Rock about their childhoods and put the footage together into the intro and outro videos. I’ll never forget that rich voice of a guy named Tucker saying, “Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs,” reading the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem. The people in the video were willing to share some of their pain with a bunch of strangers. Then there’s Christie Bragg, my manager, plus her assistants Andrea Howat (last fall) and Alicia Featherstone (this spring), and the good people at the booking agency, and all the promoters at churches and the volunteers who all worked WAY harder than anyone realizes. All that, and I didn’t even mention the making of the album, with Cason Cooley thrown into the mix, as well as the many musicians and engineers–or the record label! It’s crazy how many people are responsible for that album you download or that show you attend, isn’t it? The humbling thing about all this is that there’s really no way to repay that kind of friendship. You can only be grateful. And in the end you realize that you can only turn that gratitude to Christ himself.

I’m humbled by the fact that all these folks could have chosen many, many other things to do with their time, but they agreed, for a season, to help me tell a story. The fact that so many gave so much is a good reminder that it isn’t just my story that was being told. Sure, the details may have been mine, but the themes belong to all of us. Good old Frederick Buechner strikes again: “The story of one of us, in some measure, is the story of us all.” So let this be my resounding THANK YOU to all of you who came to the shows, and to my band of brothers (and sisters) who gave so much to the Light for the Lost Boy tour.

At most of the shows you guys may have noticed we had fake trees arranged around the stage. They were quite a hassle for Andrea, Squez, and Raz to load in, set up, and load out, all to try and convey to the audience the feeling that we were all in the forest with the lost boy on the album cover. Well, now that the tour is over and we’ve made it out of the woods, so to speak, we’re going to burn those darn trees. I can’t wait to see the faces of my good friends and traveling companions illuminated by that happy fire. From that little Illinoisan-Floridian-Tennesseean kid in my heart who used to dream of being in a band, I thank you guys for your love and friendship.

Here’s a video of us performing “Carry the Fire,” which I here unabashedly dedicate to my tour-mates.

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


24 Comments

  1. carrie luke

    Thank you AP so much for your willingness to be poured out and for inviting us along to see things as you see them. I pray for your homecoming and get happy at the thought of you being back at the Warren with your sweet family for the rest of spring time.

    Rest well and thank you, Andrew.

  2. Meggan

    We had the privilege of volunteering at the showhope booth and listening to your beautiful,poetic heart moving songs. It was my daughterKarissa’s first time at a “rock” concert. My hope was that she would connect with the music and with you all. She loved it all serving, listening and meeting.
    My first concert was Geoff Moore and the distance ! I am so excited that she can say hers was Andrew Peterson and Caleb! Thank you for sacrificing yourself and family to imprint the love of Jesus on my daughter.
    Praying you find rest and make wonderful memories with your family on your “down” time.

  3. Matthew Sample II

    Thank you Andrew. You all seemed to put your whole hearts into everything. I was really moved by your “Carry the Fire” song. It had a lot of power in the performance the other night. Thank you for being used.

  4. Andrew C

    It’s awesome to get a glimpse, just through your post, of the community you all have had on the tour. I really wish you had come closer to the Raleigh, NC area so we could have been a part. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Kyle Carlson

    Andrew, I am so honored and blessed to have played some small role in this great story. Thanks for coming back to BridgePoint (Houston) and letting us all be a part of it.

    Kyle

  6. Kyle Carlson

    Andrew, I’m so honored and blessed to have gotten to play a little role on this great story. Thanks for coming back to BridgePoint (Houston) and letting us all share in the journey.

    Kyle

  7. Eddy Efaw

    Through you words you have inspired us each to gather our own “band” and play for the Glory of God who gifts us each to play in our own ways. I think I’ll start by adding my daughter, son and wife to mine and see who else we might get to join in with us and go “on the road” for a little “tour” of our own. Thanks Andrew. As always your music and words point us not toward you but to God. You sing of a God and remind us he “sings over us”(Zeph. 3:17) and that He deserves our applause and for us to actively serve him and make his name famous. Blessings as you Rest Easy after the meaningful work you and your band of brothers did on this tour.

    Let Mercy Lead,
    Eddy

  8. Sarah Rickard

    Thankful to have had the opportunity to see you play the second-to-last show of the tour in Plano. Absolutely loved the story in the show! The band played beautifully together. I brought two friends who were fairly new to your music, and both came away excited for more after. Thanks for being willing to meet, greet, sign, and take photos with us Texas folks, and thanks for sharing these thoughts. The desire is so strong to belong to a group of friends, a band of merry men and women. Your words about yours causes me to reflect and be thankful for mine.

  9. RonH

    My wife and I and two of our boys were at the Plano show last night. “Light for the Lost Boy” is one of my all time favorite albums, and it was a joy to hear it live. Every one of those songs means a lot to me. (Is there a sophisticated eschatological name for “what Andrew says in ‘Don’t You Want To Thank Someone'”? ‘Cuz that’s now my official position…) Thank you all so much for telling us your stories.

    Speaking of stories, I tried to talk my boys into standing up with me and chanting “Wolf King! Wolf King!” at one point, but they wouldn’t go for it. Ah well.

  10. Scott G.

    My family was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Plano show last night. So many special moments that it’s hard to just pick out one. Thank you all for a most memorable evening. It’s my fervent hope that listening to the honest way you sing of your faith will help “lash to the ancient mast” my children’s hearts, as well as my own.

  11. Mamie Rose

    I saw the Light for the Lost Boy tour at what I believe was its opening show…the release concert. It was an amazing night of catharsis for me. I ended up crying through most of the night. Not bad crying, but good crying. The Lord touched me so much through the stories you told, and I thank all of you a thousand times over for your work.

  12. Chris Whitler

    I was at that same concert Mamie Rose and I’m with you. I am still having difficulty putting into words the thoughts and emotions I experienced by the end of this show. This was a beautiful experience that goes beyond words.

  13. Chinwe

    Thanks for a wonderful show in Ellicott City, MD. Also, thank you for introducing me to the band, Caleb! You’re right – they’re pretty awesome! 🙂 Now, go get some rest and finish that book!

  14. Bill spencer

    Well Andrew, Laura and I were able to stay and say hey at the end of the concert in Plano Friday, but do know that as always it was a spectacular rich restful evening in the presence of our Father. It’s been almost 10 years since Laura discovered you with Just As I Am. And what’s amazing is that is what we continue to receive from you! I so appreciate your transparency and honesty and so identify with battling those voices telling me I am less than who I reapply am in Him. Thanks so much for putting it all out there.
    I don’t know if you recall at the end of btlog weintroduced you to Jacob our adopted son and you Asked if we would do

  15. Bill Spencer

    If we would do it again. Well the answer is yes. We are looking at receiving a little6 month old the matter of weeks!!!
    And it getting dangerous for to drive and listen to You Will Find Your Way. Wiping the tears thinking of the profuse love you pour out to your children in song and somehow it helps me connect to mine though he’s only 22 months old. Look forward to sharing with the ancient paths as he grows!
    Thanks again to you Ben and Caleb. May you Rest Easy tonight.

  16. Jen

    So so thankful I got to be at the very first show of this tour with some of my favorite people around me. I still see that closing video in my mind whenever I listen to “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone.”

    Thanks to everyone who made this tour (and special album) happen! I admit, I’m a little sad about the trees though…. 🙂

  17. Emily S.

    My family and I attended our first “Andrew Peterson” concert last Thursday night. I dont know at what point I stared crying but by the last song I was sobbing because “Light for the Lost Boy” told my story too and it was so good to hear those words of redemption sung. I cant even begin to articulate what those songs meant to me. Thank you for being honest and vulnerable. Going into the concert I had no idea we were so alike: scrutinizing our every word in retrospect, doubting the love of God, afraid to even mow the lawn because of the thoughts in our head. I know it must have been very painful to relive the pain every night but thank you for doing it anyway. I bought your cd that night and have listened to it every day since because of the encouragement it is to me.

    God bless you and your family.

  18. Matthew

    I can’t wait to hear these songs again. Please keep performing “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone” at future shows. There was something special about this collection.

  19. Steve

    After attending the Osage Beach concert with my wife and our friends, I am just shredded. Like Isaiah, “undone.” The journey for me this past year has been incredibly isolating. But your stories and songs of struggle and yearning reminded me I am not out in these woods alone. There is the bond of brothers, and God Himself inside us. Sincere thanks, Andrew, Ben, and CALEB! As a fellow sojourner and sometimes songwriter, I will carry the fire…

  20. Amber Joy Leffel

    Mr. Peterson, I never got to see you in concert (consider playing a coffeeshop show at Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee/Bourbonnais, IL, this coming year? I’d be forever grateful), but reading this post inspired a YouTube adventure tonight – so thank you.

    I was really wounded my freshman year of college by an experience that was largely characterized by indie music. I don’t understand the whole situation, and I desperately want to be healed – desperately want to be healed. (How long until the Reckoning?) But since this experience, I just haven’t been able to listen to that music. Because of that, I mostly tune into Fernando Ortega & Selah, along with Sara Groves & Bethany Dillon, among a few others of the like – and also John Denver.

    Your music throughout this whole time (and long before it – I think I started listening to you my junior year of high school, when Resurrection Letters, Vol. II came out) has been Safety to me, Truth & Creativity. Thank you for being that very thing, by Grace, that allowed me to still take part in the creativity & originality of new music, with the heritage & heart & trust, the “old roads,” the healing of the old.

    Your music has always made me feel like I’m in a treehouse. It takes me back to my favourite vacation ever to the woodsy mountains of West Virginia, and to the winding road through the trees that my fiancé and I take on the way to church when I visit him at his small-town Ohio university. Thank you, thank you. In the meantime of this healing, I am glad you are am active part of it.

    God bless you, bless you, and your family.

  21. Amber Joy Leffel

    PS. Do you know that Bill & Gloria Gaither mention YOU when discussing “timeless” songwriters? They do! I heard it myself and nearly jumped out of my chair with excitement! I am grateful to be blessed by this timelessness through your music. Glory to God.

  22. Peter B

    Oh, wow… there’s so much here. The tour band is amazing. This concert was amazing. We saw it in Nashville at the first, and I couldn’t believe how deeply your words sank into me. But seeing it again in Plano, with the whole family (I can see Matthew dancing in the video)… I wasn’t prepared. By the time You’ll Find Your Way came around, I was just holding my 6-year-old son and fervently, desperately praying with all that is in me that I would love and lead him better than I can — and that his Maker would be merciful in protecting him from sin’s destruction.

    You looked exhausted that night. Thank you for once again pouring yourself out to encourage so many, and then sticking around until the very last person in line has had a chance to talk with you.

    We’ll need eternity to express what this truth and beauty has done to us.

  23. Peter B

    Oh, and those video guys are amazing. I hope this concert will be played again someday. The build-up of everything to that last song, and the way it all resolves… well, it would require a far better wordsmith to adequately describe.

  24. Max

    I’m a nearly 60 year old preacher who has been pretty much listening to your music since Rich Mullins left. I can’t tell you have many sermons have been influenced by the lyrics to your songs. When Rich was killed, I wondered who I would listen to. I mean there are lots of good praise songs out there but not so many artists that combine real life and theology into a thought provoking poetic musical package. You do. Thanks for picking up where Rich left off…nice bit of providence I suppose. Hey I’ve also read the Wingfeather Saga books…looking forward to the fourth. My wife and (grown) kids are fans too. Thanks a bunch… keep ’em coming…we appreciate it.

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