Audible Sigh


Bill Mallonee and Muriah Rose have played to a lot larger audiences than the one last night, but I’d be surprised if there have been any more tuned in to every whisper. They were the first artists to play in the Innovation Studio, consecrating the space with true, clear music that pealed back the cover of life. “Rural Route,” looked — and felt — through the eyes of a friend who delivers mail in Indiana with lots of time for reflection. “Bakersfield” reached into the inner spaces of a man driven by the dust storms of the depression (a Tsunami of dust, Bill noted). “Friendly Fire” went into the free fire zone of a Vietnam Vet’s return and then turned the lens slightly so that it reflected the spaces in between man and woman (Bill warned us). “Audible Sigh,” of course (the last album of Bill’s earlier band, Vigilantes of Love). This isn’t “church music” any more than John the Baptist was just just a philosopher. Bill invites us to see through the dust and ghosts and spaces that look empty, but aren’t. It can be scary, but we don’t go alone.

The Innovation Studio is designed for just this labor of looking beyond, which is why we need all the art we can get. For one thing, you can actually hear yourself think. And we could hear Bill and Rose think, too, not something that happens much in the usual bar or church gig.


Earlier in the day a group of mostly retired physicians gathered here to honor Dr. Ralph Hamilton, who gave the first gift to build the whole Center of Excellence. They had each in their way pushed far beyond the obvious to find the possible healing in the lives of their patients. The previous day we spent an afternoon looking through the lens of those who take their own lives. Rick Kirchoff notes that “healing is a community venture.” Indeed.


Art, science and spirit move toward what looks empty, believing that is where are most likely to find life raw, vital and new. None of the three — art, science or spirit — is tame or predictable because you just don’t know what’s out there until you open yourself to it. You don’t “have” science, faith or talent. It has you and won’t let go until just can’t go another note. Bill has released 39 CD’s so far, which he described as evidence of obsessive compulsion more than a career. Life won’t let go.

In one of our more grandiose moments at Oakhurst Baptist, we once said that God only calls us to great things. Almost as soon as we heard it, we knew it was a trap. In real life, we never know if our day’s labor is big or little until years later. It usually takes me about 5 years to figure out if I wasted my time on a project, a meeting, a conversation an audience. The IHP is 19, ARHAP 9, CHN 4 and the Center of Excellence just a few weeks old. But then sometimes it is clear right away, as last night.

Bill and Rose drove on to Independence, Missouri today, winding their way back to New Mexico. Do your heart, spirit and mind a favor and find out when they are coming near you. Better yet, reach out and bring them in.

– Posted on the journey

About garygunderson

Vice President, Faith Health, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC. Author, Leading Causes of Life, Deeply Woven Roots, Boundary Leaders and Religion and the Heath of the Public. Secretary, Stakeholder Health (Health Systems Learning Group).
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