Balsam Range, Durham, Tobacco, & Redemption

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All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. – John 1:3-5

IMG_3748Sometimes it takes a couple of years to begin to find your way around when you move to a new area. Well Thursday evening – after almost three years living in “The Triangle,” we finally discovered the American Tobacco Campus in Durham’s historic district. It’s a wonderful venue and there’s not a doubt that we’ll be back.

Rebekah and I didn’t really discover it so much as our friends Larry and Robin invited us. We joined them for a picnic and outdoor bluegrass concert on the open green under the “Lucky Strike” water tower. The picnic – thanks, Robin – was beyond amazing, and the music was as good as it gets.

I have no idea how many people the space holds, but the concert – sponsored by WUNC (North Carolina Public radio) drew enough people to completely fill the quadrangle. The first band – The Longleaf Pine Nuts – were more traditional and played an excellent set; then the headline act – Balsam Range – pretty much blew me away with what I’d describe as a brilliantly nuanced bluegrass, country, Southern rock hybrid sound.

The headline act – Balsam Range – pretty much blew me away with what I’d describe as a brilliantly nuanced bluegrass, country, Southern rock hybrid sound.

IMG_3820If I’d realized how interesting the post industrial urban landscape was I’d have brought along my Nikon. The American Tobacco Historic District is an imaginative reinvention of the old factory and warehouse space, now full with restaurants, pubs, office space, recreation, and more. It’s not far from the Durham Performing Arts Center, and the Durham Bulls stadium is in close proximity too.

HOPE & PROMISE: I guess my spiritual take away from the evening is one of hope. The ability we have to take a district that was developed to pump out billions of deadly, foul smelling cigarettes that destroyed health, lives, and families as well as polluting public spaces… and to transform it into such a cool, artsy, creativity-saturated space, speaks to the strong undercurrent of redemptive urgency that resides at the heart of the human spirit.

A strong undercurrent of redemptive urgency resides at the heart of the human spirit.

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Here in America we will always move forward – eventually – in ways that echo the creative initiative of God’s reconciling work in this world. Sometimes it takes a while; sometimes we run into roadblocks; sometimes evil seems to take the upper hand. But, always – and irrevocably – light defeats darkness.

But such initiatives of grace require our participation, our diligence, our hard work, and our deliberate commitment to discipleship; sold out for Jesus; following the Living Way.

In hope, and promise, and love – DEREK

(enjoy these photographs from the concert)

 

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