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the journey

We have a young man who works here at the farm named Zach who is such a blessing to us. He’s always got a smile on his face, even through the toughest and nastiest of jobs.



He does a little bit of everything and absolutely anything that we or anyone asks him to do. Any given day, or night, you might find him parking cars at concerts, mowing and weed-eating around the farm, drywalling and mudding, moving cows and chickens, hanging lights, digging trenches, mopping floors, or about a thousand other things he does as the need comes up.


And it’s not just for us. When his work day at the farm is over, he usually heads somewhere else to help someone else with something til dark or so. It’s after 8 pm as I write this and I saw Zach a few minutes ago, just wrapping up from helping our neighbor Don do some work on his honey bee barrels.


Zach worked at our family cafe The Mealhouse before he started working here on the farm about a year and a half ago. He’s one of those guys that makes a rainy day better just by being around him. And although he’s very innocent in many ways, he’s also incredibly wise for his age. He's good with people, with money, with time, and is as honest as the day is long. He's also got an incredibly strong faith.

If you walk in on him painting or working on something by himself, he’ll almost always be blaring either Gospel music (on a boom box nearby or with his AirPods) or Andrea Bocelli music, who is his favorite singer.


So when I received an invitation a few weeks ago from a friend of mine in the film industry asking me if I’d like to come to a private event in Nashville hosted by Andrea Bocelli, I was quick to say yes. And to ask if it’d be okay if I brought a friend with me.


When the big day came, Zach and I got cleaned up after work and headed to town. We weren’t really sure what we were going to or what was going to be happening there, but I was excited to be taking Zach somewhere that Mr. Bocelli was going to be. My friend Ben Howard met us at the door and led us into a swanky gathering at The Soho House, where Zach and I proceeded to make a meal out of what I’m pretty sure was supposed to be appetizers.


There were maybe 100 people at the event and it was wonderful to catch up with Ben and also see some other friends I hadn’t seen in a while; Amy Grant, Kathie Lee Gifford, Matt and Laurie Crouch and finally getting to meet Michael W. Smith (he and I had been trying to connect for a few years and that night it finally happened).



It turned out the event was a private showing of a new documentary film called The Journey that Andrea started making not long after the pandemic. Before the film played, Mr. Bocelli and his wife, and the filmmakers shared the story of how and why the film was made… mostly as a message of hope because Andrea felt like after such a difficult period for everyone, he wanted to try to create something beautiful that could be uplifting and encouraging for the world. Here’s the trailer for the film…



Once I realized that they were going to be showing a film, and since I’m in the middle of my year-long-hiatus from the internet (we’re also not watching any movies, etc during the year). I tried to come up with a way to sneak out and let Zach stay and watch with everyone else. And it crossed my mind that since Andrea is blind, he most likely wouldn’t have been too upset had I walked out, but… after he and his wife got up in front of all of us and shared how much of their hearts went into making the film, I couldn’t not stay and watch it… and I’m so glad I did.



The film and Andrea’s story and heart are so special. He is a special human being with a special God-given gift. Just listening to him talk during the film was inspirational for me (I hate to admit it, but although I’d heard the name Andrea Bocelli and knew he was an opera singer, I wasn’t familiar at all with his music or his story before that evening. I’d only found out a few hours before the event that Mr. Bocelli was blind and that he was from Italy).


And young Zach loved it too. I think the whole room was knocked out by the film and by how special it was to be part of the evening.



As we continue at home to simplify and plug into our farm and community more and more… I don’t go to town much these days, especially not to Nashville. I’m so glad that we took our own little journey to the big city that night. Although Zach didn’t get to meet his hero at the event, he was close enough to learn that our heroes are just people too.



My favorite part of the evening was the opportunity to try to repay a little of the blessing that Zach has been to us. To have the opportunity to let him know how thankful I, and all of us, are for him, his attitude, and his heart.



It’s now been a few weeks since that night, but I was told today that Andrea’s film The Journey comes out in theaters all around the country this weekend and will be showing until right before Easter, so be sure to go see it if you can. You can find out where and when it’s playing and lots of other info at TheJourney.movie.


- rory

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