Today’s devotion is written by Cameron Garrett.
Music for Meditation: “True Love Will Find You in the End,” Daniel Johnston
Focus: “Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus” (Acts 22:11 NRSV).
Reflection: Before reading on, I hope you’ll consider the fulfillment of a few prerequisites curated to introduce you to the late artist Daniel Johnston:
- If nothing else, listen to Daniel’s song, “True Love will Find You in the End.” Link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DZ06evO0Ipb1D
- Watch his MTV performance of “I Live My Broken Dreams.” (If it apprehends your
attention, also read the story of how he found himself on that televised stage).
Performance link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICLXH8wdXhk
Story link: https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/hes-daniel-johnston-and-he-was-gonna-be-famous/
- Finally, watch this performance of “True Love Will Find You in the End,” recorded two years before his death at age 58.
- Daniel was a dynamic, kaleidoscopic person: a highly self-conscious romantic; an enduring and beloved artist – singer songwriter, illustrator, and cartoonist – who got his start by passing out
homemade mixtapes to strangers while he worked shifts at McDonalds; and, Daniel was a manic-depressive schizophrenic. In an interview with the Austin Chronicle, producer Brian Beattie notes that the first time they worked together, Daniel “brought them up to his apartment and presented a copy of the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” 1 “He opened it up and read to us ‘schizophrenia’ and ‘manic Depressive’ and he said, ‘If
you’re gonna deal with me, you’re gonna need to understand these kind of symptoms because that’s what I’m like…”
The Atlantic produced a short obituary for Daniel after his death at age 58 in 2019. It poignantly observes the affect that a dedicated network of support had on the outcome of Daniel’s life: “Absent the efforts of popular artists who admired him—and those of the record-store clerks, alt-weekly critics, and countless others who helped him spread his gospel—Johnston’s life might have passed in obscurity.” Daniel’s neuroatypicality occasionally blinded him by lights that others could not see, overwhelmed him with voices that others could not hear. His art echoes beyond his life, beyond his death, into the souls of strangers that never knew him, because there was a community of folks who saw Daniel and took him by the hand.
After his conversion experience temporarily blinded him, Paul was taken by the hand and led to Damascus. Our dependence upon each other is not dependent upon mental health diagnoses or magnificent conversion experiences. Our dependence upon each other is no weakness, no indication of unimportant inferiority. Our dependencies, our limitations, our numerous needs for each other – all of it is grace. To allow ourselves to be led in the direction of our own Damascus is gift.
Who has seen you and taken you by the hand?
How do you allow yourself to be gently led? Do you allow yourself to be supported and loved?
How can you offer a hand?
Please share your thoughts, questions, and comments.