I (Nathan Lee) spent the past week in Los Angeles, playing the LA jails with Matthew Kennedy. It was another amazing week for so many reasons. But....I'm only human....and On my way to the airport to head back to Nashville, I looked at Matthew and said....."Do you ever wonder what these guys think after we walk out? Do you think they make fun of us? Do you think this matters?"
This morning....he sent me the following email:
September 9th, 2013
This morning I woke up and did my usual routine and part of that was taking my three daughters to school. The day started with a bit of chaos but it seemed to calm itself down as the morning progressed.
Just as I had said good-bye to my kids and was heading home, I received a call from my wife asking me to run by Starbucks and pick up a non-fat late’ for to consume in order for her to function that day. I obliged, then asked Siri on my iPhone where the closest Starbucks was from my current location and she gave me three options, so I picked one.
Arriving at Starbucks the line looked painfully long and I knew I was in for long laborious wait, which tempted me to change my mind and take Siri’s second suggestion of another Starbucks location, but I decided to walk in with the intent of putting a smile on my wife’s face as I handed her the wonderful caffeine boost she needed.
Upon walking in, I placed myself in line, and began the process of seeing my task into fruition. After placing my order I looked around and saw a table with a computer and newspaper placed neatly upon the tabletop, void of a human, so I grabbed the corner chair and turned it around to face the barista in the hopes that this would speed up the process. It didn’t. A couple of minutes passed and an African American man came across and sat down at the table which I had just borrowed a chair from so I quickly turned around asked if it was okay if I sat down with him while I waited. He smiled with smile that came from his soul, gave me the nod and said, “that’s cool bro”, so I thanked him and turned back around.
If you’re reading this you’re probably wondering why the heck I am going into such detail to describe and explain the events of the day……. well, I call it a divine appointment that God allowed me to experiencein order to encourage and be encouraged. You see, if one single element of this morning was looked over and had not been fulfilled by my actions, what I’m about to tell would never have happened. As Nathan Lee would put it, “I would’ve missed out on a chapter to write in my book”.
So, to move on, a couple of minutes passed as the guy that had sat down to continue working on his laptop and read the newspaper, called out in a gentle way and asked, “Hey man, do you play music?” I turned my head and gave a response that was pretty generic and said “yes”. To my amazement, something completely unexpected happened at that table, in that moment and it was meant to be. His response took me by surprise as he said, “I saw you and Nathan Lee play at the jail I was at a couple of years ago, it, was awesome!”
Now that, was definitely not what I was expecting to hear but is ripped into my heart and I began to have flashbacks of all the prisons Nathan and I have ever played at and it and not once have either of us ever met an inmate on the outside. As I turned to face him, forgetting about my late’, he began to explain to me how that day had affected him and changed his outlook on life. It got him through his time he had to serve and he remembered the songs we sang and the stories we told. He knew some of Nathan’s music prior to his incarceration, so he was astounded we were there. His life is good now, he told me, and he’s holding onto the truth that he wasn’t forgotten in prison, he means something to our Heavenly Father and one day, a couple of years ago, two guys came to sing songs of hope and told stories that described what real freedom meant.
This day, this morning, that specific Starbucks, that very table and that encounter with that man is what put back into perspective what I lost focus on. People matter and that man lifted my hope to new level and walked out of there. He was genuinely happy and I could tell his spirit was at peace.
You see, Nathan Lee and I get to pack our gear up and go home or to the next jail, never really having an opportunity to see where they land in life after time served. Today, that changed.
You ask me why I go where few will even think about going? There’s your answer.