We never once thought it would change.
There would always be dusty roads and distances to cover
And egg water and mildewed hay bales and volleyballs hitting us in the head.
There would always be long lines, too many people, and heat
That descended like a sweat fog covering the land like a pestilence,
Or like a brick of congealed gummi bears left out too long.
Every year there was summer and there was Cornerstone,
We lived all year planning, scheduling, debating,
Coming up with a theme,
making T-shirts, producing press kits, ordering doughnuts,
And yet we were never ready.
Never prepared with enough golf pencils at registration, never enough volunteers, never enough
This and that and so we made Wally-runs. Back and forth, there and back.
And always we added on, just one more thing to the list
Or stopped for a DeeQue, or brought back coffee or a water gun
Because there was always so much cash floating around; we could never run out.
The lines at the front gate stretched for miles,
Down Murphy’s black top all the way to route 9.
The state police had to come in and direct traffic.
We had to have three entrances to handle all the cars,
We banned driving on the grounds because of all the people.
One year 22,000 came.
The queues at the shower were so long, people bathed in the lake.
James’ only job was stocking the portojohns which were emptied around the clock.
It was faster to walk than take a golf cart. We thought it would always be like this.
Children got sick, threw up, wet their sleeping bags.
Storms came and swamped the fields and almost brought down Main Stage.
One year the exhibition tent was rent in two and everyone pitched in to pick up.
We came to expect the unexpected.
That one life-changing show
Where the Holy Spirit fell and the band played
On and on and on and no one went home and
The sun came up and all that was left was the story
Of how awesome it had been.
Bride trashed the hall—where are those guys now?
Are they still Christians? Are they still singing?
Or have they entered politics, a divide almost as wide as secular and saved.
Remember when Steve Taylor jumped off the stage at Grayslake
And broke his leg and Mark Heard played his last concert
And then called for an ambulance.
Remember when Kerry Livgren sang “Dust in the Wind” and a breeze
Rippled the Cornerstone banner above him.
We thought it’d always be this way.
That no matter what: we could fix it, collect our collective energies,
Throw the massive weight of a Jesus People nation at obstacles.
Remember when we all had long hair, before we went New Wave,
Before we grayed, before we had no hair.
Our Jesus People boys would work an entire festival
And then hold a softball tournament afterwards,
Playing against each other.
Today we barely have enough players or interest to fill a team roster.
We never thought it would end.
We never thought it would end.
Even as others came and went,
We always thought we’d be here,
And that it would go on and on and on.
But people gave up sleeping on the ground,
They no longer can walk those long distances.
The heat kills them, really.
We no longer stage dive at the show, or body surf;
We can’t dance. Or forgot how.
Our kids (the reason we first came) grew up.
They can’t make it back because of work, student loans.
Or they stopped listening to Christian music.
What is Christian music?
What is a Christian band?
Hardly anyone makes that distinction anymore.
Why should they?
So despite the deaths (they have another festival to attend),
The divorces, the disappointments,
The foreclosures, the lack of jobs, the job changes,
Retirement. Because there is a Rock that
Rolls, because a rolling stone gathers no moss
(except Ami Moss will be there with the Unfortunate),
But most of all
Because one last time—
It is about now.
Now is all we have.
--this is dedicated to: you know who you are, but to name a few
Jeff, C. the Kirks, the Wrights, Dan Michaels
|Steve Taylor and Some Band perform at Cornerstone Festival 1994|