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1983

red rocks is the name of a sprawling ampitheatre cut into a natural setting of boulders about an hours drive north of Denver, Colorado. this is about the fifth or sixth concert that peter, mary and i have performed here in the 26 years since we first began to sing together. not withstanding the change in attitudes of audiences since the 60’s with the advent of louder sound equipment and less emphasis on the message of the lyric, we’ve had maybe a handful of ‘trouble crowds’ in all of our thousands of concerts. and red rocks was one of them.

the red rocks audience starts showing up at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon with coolers of liquid refreshment and frisbees to wile away the hours until the concerts begin (usually about 7:30 or 8 o’clock at night). as the nature of the concert business has changed, the crowds more boisterous, the promoters have changed their attitude toward the hiring of security personnel. since the potential for physical encounters has increased, the capacity for security to handle those encounters has increased as well.

well, all of this is really setup to another encounter with the ‘leading of the spirit’ that happened backstage at redrocks in 1983 or 84.

the concert is over. it was, as usual, a great shared evening...honestly, if our audiences ever knew how large a part they play in the success of the evening, they’d get together more often without us! anyway...backstage is a bit of a turmoil...clothes being changed, plans for dinner being finalized, old friends beginning to trickle past the backstage guards and the autographs have begun...peter is usually first out to meet and talk with the portion of the audience who has waited, and i’m on my way in that direction when surprisingly, walking back toward me, comes Peter with a comforting arm around this young woman in tears. i recognize the girl...she’s a christian dancer that i talked to for a while the last time the Bodyworks band and i played in the Denver area.

He looks very angry and says to me ‘there’s trouble and we’re going to get to the bottom of this!’ sounds ominous...’where’s the promoter?’ he asks, ‘i want the promoter and the head of security back here immediately!’

‘what happened? what happened?’, i’m asking and peter says ‘one of the guards roughed her up and there’s no excuse for it!’

so there’s naturally a big flap and within the minute a bunch of us are collected in peter’s dressing room; the promoter, the head of security, peter, myself and the still sobbing girl, becky.

‘i want an apology here’, says peter to the security head, ‘this person has been physically abused, had her camera taken away and has been treated in a manner directly contradictory to directives in our contract about the security handling of crowds at our concerts!’

‘now just a minute’, says the head of security, ‘just hold on a minute while we hear the whole story’

‘fine...’, continues peter, ‘i want the security people responsible here in this room now!’

and while we’re waiting for the guards to come down to emotionally charged dressing room, the head of security is estimating what he thinks must have happened...and asks becky to describe the altercation.

she wants her camera back. it was confiscated by the guards. the guards grabbed her and took away her camera and handled her roughly - pushed her  out through the exit area...they had no need...’yes but you were resisting’responded the guard. ‘i was scared’, becky says, ‘i didn’t know who you were - i didn’t know you were even connected with the concert!’ ‘look, we’re prepared to deal with a lot of different people...’ he begins in defense. ‘but it’s specifically mentioned in the contract’ peter interrupts, ‘that there is to be no physical contact with the audience - that security is there as guidance only’

‘let’s start at the top’, suggests the head of security, ‘and find out what happened’. so. becky tells her story of how she was going to take a picture of the group from down in front of the stage area and how she was suddenly grabbed and had her camera taken away from her. ‘yeah, but...’, the guard interjects. ‘let her speak!’ says peter angrily. ‘yeah, but...’, the guard trys again. ‘you are not letting her tell her story’, peter says accusingly. ‘yeah, but I...’ the guard realizes that comments or clarification will have to wait, ‘...ok.’

becky continues. she is still trying to catch her breath between sobs as her little camera, hanging by its strap, is almost sheepishly handed to her.

and now there must be ten of us standing in this disjointed ring, peter with a comforting arm around becky, still sniffling holding her camera, next to the head of security, the ‘accused’ security guard and his two assistants, myself, shelley belusar the pp&m road manager (maybe not), maybe dick brindle? - gads find all this out please) and becky is telling her story again - and the security guard is explaining why he had to deal with the situation in that manner and why it was not unusual and peter is saying that it should not have happened and that peter paul and mary will not condone this kind of potential violence and will hold the promoter responsible and the head of security reminds us of the enormous task of controlling 3000 people and peter refers to the specialness of the peter paul and mary audience and the promoter assures peter that it was routine and in shocked response, becky says ‘routine?!’ and the stories begin again...and i see that there are no apologies here. that everyone must justify themselves and defend their personal perspective and that this is a situation without a resolution and even though i’m just a bystander, i feel a rising conviction that i’m to enter into this situation and stop it from going around and around and there i am and i’m speaking up and everyone is looking at me almost in relief to hear somebody else talk and i’m saying...’we’ve heard becky’s story and we realize how shocked and scared she must have been and we’ve heard the guard’s story and we know now that he was performing what he perceived his duty to be and what it has been in the past, and...’ and now i realize i’m not going to take this anyplace new unless i yield to what i now recognize as God’s leading, ‘...and...i think we should have a word of prayer.’

now, you understand, this wouldn’t be at all unusual backstage at some christian event, i mean if there was a mis-understanding, prayer would be the first thing called for - but this is backstage at red rocks. I’ve no idea of what the spiritual backgrounds are here amongst these folks; only that i’m sure God wants me to lead us in prayer.

so...i put my arms around the guard to my left and the promoter to my right . peter, becky and the rest of the group follow my lead and shuffle in toward a mutual center with our arms about each other and our heads lowered. ‘Lord, ‘i begin and the words take on their own form and direction, ‘we are unable to resolve the hurts here tonight. we have our pride and our duties. we are each filled with our own points of view and our own justifications. and though each of us can feel justified, none of us is satisfied. but we know that all things are healed in you. be with us now in Love. remind us of your presence and the knowledge that you see us for who we are and can still love us. we ask for your forgiveness and your healing grace.’ i wait for a moment or two wondering if there’s anybody or any concept i’ve left out. it seems complete.

‘amen’.

the arms drop and the heads come up. and immediately the burly guard walks awkwardly across the circle toward becky...and puts his arms gently about her. my eyes are filling with tears . it’s gone...the ugly impossibly unresolvable conflict is gone! and in its place is this sweeping peace of understanding.

several years later i will come back to the denver area with the bodyworks band to perform and will hear how God has used this circumstance to change lives.

 

 

 

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