Friday, April 22, 2016

How I accidentally ended up at Prince's Memorial Service

One of the prides of Minnesota is that it was home to music icon, Prince. I had known this as a kid but because Prince led a private life (at least, he invited only a handful of people into his life), I eventually forgot that he lived just miles away from me.

But then yesterday, he died. And suddenly I was reminded from all sides that he lived "just down the road."

Today, as one of the small improvements that I want to make to the house, I decided to go to Target to buy a rug for the traffic areas. Our carpet is only a little over a year old, and already showing the wear of much "traffic" from both little and big feet, and not to mention, paws.

I bundled up Henry and decided to take Joey along, even though he wouldn't be able to get out of the car. I planned to get the rug at the Chanhassen Target (they have a sale going on) since our bank was in the same town. We still have yet to switch to a bank that is more nearby.

After the bank, I changed my mind about the Chanhassen Target and decided on the Target in Chaska instead. It is bigger, and therefore would have more selection, I reasoned. So instead of taking a right on Hwy 5, I took a left. This is how I somehow wound up at Prince's Memorial service.

Like I said, I always knew that Prince lived "in town" but I never knew where. When I did occasionally think of it,  I imagined a grand mansion far off in some unknown field where most people wouldn't even look.

What a surprise to learn--after 10 years of living in Chaska ("sister neighborhood" to Chanhassen), that I had been driving by his house on an almost weekly basis all that time.

"The ugly white building", as I had always called it, was actually Prince's home. It is literally right next to the highway, where you would think no one would ever build a house. It is so rectangular and square that it looks like a corporate office rather than a house. It is kitty-corner next to a daycare. Just not where you would expect to see a celebrity's house.

And so, I did not think for a moment that the thick traffic that I suddenly ran into had anything to do with Prince's memorial service. I don't listen to the radio that often and so I heard nothing about a memorial service being held in Chanhassen. And when I saw the line of police cars with their lights flashing and yellow tape barricading the road, I thought it was an accident I was approaching, not a memorial service!

Prince's house on the left.

Concerned that I was going to get stuck in a long wait for the roads to reopen, I looked around for a place to turn around. With it being a highway, it wasn't easy. I noticed a lot of cars heading toward the entrance of a park and decided to follow them to turn around. I thought to myself what a mistake that was, because the parking lot was jammed with both people and cars. Finally, I found a parking space and pulled in to try to figure things out.

It was then that I noticed that the people that were walking were carrying bouquets of flowers and purple balloons. I got out of the car and peered out toward the highway and saw the white "building". I saw the signs with the words "Use walking trail to get to Memorial Service". And finally, a light bulb went on.

Going through the park

I happened to have my camera with me, so I put it in my purse. I got Henry out of the car and told him we were going to take Joey for a walk. We walked through the trails of the park that eventually led to tunnels that crossed underneath the highway...back up to the sidewalks on the other side of the highway and suddenly, we were there.

Fence that says "Purple Rain"

Purple "flowers" (weeds) covered an entire hill

I have never seen so much media in one space in all my life. My pictures don't do justice. It was overwhelming.

I passed by news crew after news crew, some speaking different languages. People from all over the world were here! All for Prince!

I saw all sorts of people. Old people, young people, teenagers, children. Babies and dogs. I saw a group of special needs adults dressed in "Prince" t-shirts. I saw purple hair and purple shirts everywhere.

I was wearing purple too, but that wasn't planned. At least I fit in.

Henry is looking confused as to why we are here. And no, I have no idea who that lady in the backround is.

Once we got there, there really wasn't much more to see. A lot of people were there just out of curiosity, taking pictures in front of his house (didn't seem very appropriate, considering the circumstances.) Others looked like they were truly grieving.

And then, I took a closer look at some of those people who didn't have cameras in their hands, who looked like they were crying and a little lost in their grief. And I wondered, "is this Prince's mom? Sister? Aunt? Brother?A good friend?"

Then I looked at the fence that was strewn with flowers and notes and I finally saw a little more of what they saw. Someone had died here.

I suddenly became very conscious of the people around me; those who were truly mourning. Those that knew who he was, not just as a public figure or "someone famous." The person that filled a place in their hearts and now was gone.

A lump came to my throat and tears came to my eyes, because I felt the pain for those who lost a loved one yesterday.

I put my camera away and told Henry quietly that we had to go. But before I left, I bowed my head and said a few Hail Mary's for the repose of Prince's soul. I don't even know his real name. But God does.

I think that's what hit home for me today, as I drove home (after getting my rug at Target, that is.)

Celebrities. We tend to sort of scoff at them. Judge them. See them as people living a superficial life. And for the most part, it seems to be true. At least, from where we stand.

But God sees them as souls He died for. Today I saw that too. I saw Prince as not a celebrity, but as a brother in Christ. I couldn't help looking around as people gawked and stared, pointed, posed, took pictures. Media reporting and going around with their cameras. And I couldn't help wondering, "Is there anyone praying for him right now? Or for his family?"

Up until today, I knew almost nothing about Prince, except that he was a great song-writer. I also learned that in 2001 he became a Jehovah Witness.

He seeked God. Like all of us, he felt something within him, yearning for happiness. He found God. I know the Jehovah Witness is not a true religion, but I'm putting that aside. It was enough to know that he wanted to know God. It brought tears to my eyes, actually.

I also learned a few years back, he was advised to get a double hip replacement. He decided not to because of the chance that he might need a blood transfusion and he didn't want to be put in a position where he would have to refuse and possibly die.

I admire that. He put God first that day.

It's so important that we don't look down on celebrities. I think most of us do. All around me I hear all sorts of judgmental comments--not just about Prince but all of them. Maybe they have chosen their crosses by putting their lives in the public eye, but God never condoned us to pity them or look down on them.

I love this picture taken (below). This was taken the day he died. Everyone began to shout "Prince!" But for me, I thought "God!" It was like God was saying, "You see? This soul is precious to me. Today he has died and he is showing his life to Me. Don't pity him, just pray for him. Don't judge him on what you don't know. One day it will be you standing before Me, and you will be hoping someone is praying for you."

I pray for celebrities all the time. They are ambitious and driven people who do wild and crazy things to find their happiness. I can't pity that, I admire that. I also think it gets them into a lot of trouble. So let's not look down on these people, we are not better than they are. Let's pray for them. We all belong to each other in the Blood of Jesus.

A rainbow--God's visible sign of His promise--cascaded over Prince's house yesterday

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