I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy stories where people gather to support and celebrate someone who has had a setback in life. Sometimes it is someone who has been injured in war, who has had a serious health problem, or who may truly need the support of friends and family. It is an opportunity to rally around the individual and celebrate him or her and the impact that person has had on their lives. Too often we find that happening after someone has passed away, and the person never gets to realize how people truly felt. What a tragedy that is!
Celebrating Joe and Claudia Hesh
This past Sunday evening a number of friends and family took time from their summer busyness to join in celebrating Joe and Claudia Hesh. You may remember I mentioned Joe in past posts as the composer of the trauma-informed CDs we have packaged and are selling for those who wish to decrease brain dysregulation and increase brain regulation.
Some individuals who have purchased and listened to the music have been able to sleep without using sleep medications. Some people have found it calms their infants and children.
Some organizations are using Joe’s talent and music to help clients get through their day. Others are consulting with Joe to encourage their students to find ways to use music to help them cope with post-traumatic stress.
Joe has been involved with music therapy in some form all of his life.
His impact has been to thousands of people. He has been a huge spiritual force in the lives of thousands of people as a youth leader or worship and arts leader in several churches. He has used music in so many ways to help people get through life’s struggles. He has become a songwriter, poet, performer and musician-developer, mentoring hundreds of musicians to perform their art with new enthusiasm and proficiency. He has used guitar, vocal and keyboard skills to enthrall audiences all over American performing since he was a child.
His impact has been to thousands of people. Besides, these gifts, in all, he is a fun and energizing person to be around. Those of us who know him are so blessed to be in his sphere of his influence.
This past year Joe discovered he had a cancerous brain tumor.
It is a type of cancer that can easily grow and spread. He has had surgery, radiation and continues to be on chemotherapy.
Joe’s condition occurred after his wife Claudia had her own bout with cancer and other health issues that have left them financially depleted.
Members of our church, artists who Joe has worked with, and friends past and present gathered in a banquet facility to honor Joe and his wife, share memories and provide funds to help in the practical realities of dealing with a significant medical crisis.
We travelled through a look at his life-history. First, we witnessed Joe’s influence on others first-hand in videos of people sharing about his impact personally and musically. He also performed some of his music and we got to perform with him.
We laughed, sang, clapped, cried and remembered.
In all, we celebrated the life of a man who has used his God-given gifts to minister to others, care for his friends and family, and impact those in need. We also were able to wish him a very happy birthday for this important past year where life could have been so very different. Thankfully, he is now in a good place physically and is able to continue to use his music in amazing ways.
Don’t wait for a crisis to celebrate one another.
As I think of the power of such an evening, I am so thankful for all those who worked, helped, showed up and gave. I am thankful that took the initiative to honor Joe and Claudia Hesh.
Yet, I also know there are thousands of others who rarely, if ever, are celebrated. Often we wait for a crisis to celebrate each other.
Maybe at a special birthday, a significant life change, or just in a day of struggle, if someone has impacted your life, take the time to share your appreciation. Whether at a key moment, or in the everyday course of human interaction, someone may need to hear that he or she has made a difference in your life.
It is one of the privileges of our human relationships to let those around us know that we care about them and to acknowledge that they have changed our lives in wonderful ways. That in and of itself can be life-changing!
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network