I've seen Elton John in concert two times. The first was over 14 years ago in Spokane, WA. I went to the show expecting Elton to do all of the rocking hits of my youth. He had another agenda. It was Elton and a piano. He spent most of the evening singing ballads. I spent most of the evening acting like a drunk bastard who yelled "Crocodile Rock" and "Bitch is Back" while friends and co-workers wondered when I would be thrown out of the show. I must have been terribly annoying to the woman behind me. She told me to "shut the F@#* up".
Last night was my second Elton John show. I'm proud to say that I wasn't blasted out of my mind and Elton was there to do nearly all of my favorite rocking hits. I discovered that when you're not drunk you can hear and experience other "F" words that are more positive, encouraging and healing.
During his latest tour, Elton was joined by aging musician and songwriter Leon Russell. The show began with Elton introducing his friend Leon. Elton described Leon as someone he looked up to and admired for many years. Elton's words of respect for his friend poured into the hearts and minds of the audience. Leon was given star status before he played a single note because of the words shared by his dedicated friend. Elton left the stage and let his friend shine in the limelight.
Before singing a song dedicated to his friend, Leon said this, "I thank Elton John for dragging me out of the ditch. I don't know too many people that would have done that." These words from Leon dripped with truth. I knew without a doubt that whatever ditch Leon was in Elton was there to drag him out.
It has been 20 years since young Ryan White died of AIDS. The photo above shows Elton and Ryan's mom with him in the hospital. During last night's show Elton discussed his relationship with Ryan and his family. Elton said, "Ryan and his family were the true definition of Christians because they forgave others." In a letter published on the 20th anniversary of Ryan's death, Elton wrote:
"I remember so well when we first met. A young boy with a terrible disease, you were the epitome of grace. When students, parents and teachers in your community shunned you, threatened you and expelled you from school, you responded not with words of hate but with understanding beyond your years."
Everyone including Elton John are drawn to living, breathing examples of true forgiveness. Yet when these stories are shared they seem so unique and rare. It made me think about what I'm doing to make forgiveness commonplace in my world.
"These cuts I have they need love to help them heal." -- Elton John