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October 13, 2016

Greg, Use Your Arms!


 

“Greg, use your arms!” has been the theme for my life since my return from a short-term mission in Ghana, June of 2013. It was a musical delegation consisting of Oregon Catholic Press and Catholic Relief Services, now my dear friends: Robert Feduccia, Ken Canedo, ValLimar Jansen, Sarah Kroger, Ben Walther, Ted Miles, Martha Gaynoe, Alsy Acevedo and Thomas Awiapo. Last year I promised to expound on the significance of “use your arms.” So today, just shy of a year later, here it is. Our team’s first stop was EPPICS (Encouraging Positive Practices for Improving Child Survival), a project in Gambaga, Ghana. We were greeted with singing and dancing. The men were dancing in a circle, stomping their feet in rhythm, arms at their sides, so I joined in doing likewise thinking, “that’s how the guys do it.” Next day, we visited a water well project. We were greeted again with singing and dancing. The women were dancing. I tried to observe their footwork, which was super fascinating. Each woman had a favored step/pattern. The musicians would change time to compliment the dance each particular woman did, kind of like switching from the jitterbug to the fox trot without missing a beat. I finally got the courage to jump in, it was a little intimidating, so I went in with my feet going, arms at my side like the men in the village the day before. From the crowd, I hear Robert shout, “use your arms, Greg,” so I started working them too. Later I discovered that I looked like a choreographically challenged rendition of Michael Flatley. It was videoed. The playback looks like this…

Greg, off to the side, watching the dancing
Greg, off to the side, starts bobbing his head
Greg, off to the side, adds some steps
Looks like Greg’s gonna jump in, nope, still off to the side
Greg finally jumps in, no arms
Greg hears Robert, "use your arms, Greg!" Greg's arms start pumping
LOLOLOLOL

After having some laughs with the community and team, I felt a stirring inside that had that all too familiar Obi Wan Kenobi like/God resonance, “Use your arms, Greg. Greg, use your arms.” God wanted me to shut off my targeting computer. What did/does it mean? What arms have I not been using? What and how have I been holding back? After some meditation, I realized my arms have been bound by doubts, fear of failure, an attitude that I’m a farce. So, I lifted it up. I said, “Okay, God, here I am, use me.” I came home and started working my guns: writing, recording, teaching, directing a musical. I returned from Ghana with a burning desire to do more musically and ministerially, especially in connection with human rights. I wondered, "have I also been standing off to the side watching the dance, doubting my capacity to keep up?" Now I have a curve ball. My teaching position has been eliminated. God, the great kicker, has launched me into the air, only I don’t know which end zone I’m heading for. Is it a new teaching gig or an invitation to dive back into full-time musician/ministerhood? I've always wanted and felt best suited for the latter. I’m off to the side looking in the middle. My head is starting to bob, my feet are starting to tap, JUMP!

Only, this time, I'm using my arms.

 
Greg Walton

Greg Walton

 

Greg Walton is a dynamic Catholic speaker and musician who integrates the sacred and secular as a means to evangelize youth, young adults and families. 

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Akwaaba! Songs of Peace and Solidarity

Akwaaba cover In partnership with Catholic Relief Services, seven Spirit & Song/OCP composers went on a goodwill tour of Ghana, praying and singing with people in their communities and listening to their stories of struggle and triumph. This life-changing experience inspired this album of new songs about the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church. The composers will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale to support the work of CRS.

 

 

Catholic Relief Services logo
 

Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas.

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