The day was finally upon us. The Manly Seven gathered with the Curry women to caravan up to Cornerstone Farm. After packing, pictures, and prayer, we headed off. John and I rocked out to Becoming the Archetype, Brave Saint Saturn, mewithoutYou, and more as we shimmied up Highway 61 in what felt like no time at all. We made a brief stop in Hannibal and pressed onward through The Land of Many Cornfields (a.k.a. northwestern Illinois).
Somehow we’ve ended up with a different set of directions each year, and this year’s path was much nicer than last year’s (i.e. much more interstate and much less meandering through county roads with multiple names). We only veered off the path once, when I overanalyzed an exit ramp and guided John to exit 4B instead of 4. But as we doubled back we saw a humorous set of signs posted along the highway by a conservative farmer in the heart of this liberal bastion: “Criminals are many / Cops are few / Criminals have guns / Why can’t you?”
Less than four hours from our original departure time, we pulled into the line of vehicles outside the Cornerstone gate before 1:30 PM. I was somewhat disappointed at the lack of protestors outside the gate this year; hey, maybe after David’s encouragement to bless them during the Children 18:3 show last year, God convicted them that we’re not all blasphemous heretics.
We found the campsite of Chuck and Friends, or, more accurately, the campsite of Jeremy Brooks Trying To Keep The Area Free Of Eager Campers Until His Father Arrived. The spot was on the opposite end of the Cornerstone grounds from where we camped our first two years. Instead of resting atop a large hill overlooking Main Stage and the lake, we were nestled behind the seminar tents in a quiet valley with a pleasant breeze and shady tree coverage.
We had plenty of time to set up our tents and canopies before Children 18:3 kicked off our Cornerstone experience with an early evening show at the Anchor Stage.
Drawing an encouragingly large crowd, even on this evening before the day before the official activities began, David, Lee Marie, and Seth proved why they had my favorite album from last year, packing more energy and talent into a live show than I’ve seen from three home-schooled siblings from Minnesota since I was in grade school. They promised to play a new song at their show the following day.
We went back to our campsite – much closer to the Anchor Stage than our location in previous years – and some of us relaxed while Tim and John bought food at the IGA in Bushnell.
We ate my mom’s chicken packets (a.k.a. Frodo Food, a.k.a. Lembas bread) for dinner, still somewhat chilled and/or frozen from their trek inside the cooler.
A couple hours later it was time for Photoside Cafe, a Jars-of-Clay-esque group that the Currys discovered awhile back. Complete with a violinist, they sounded good, although their long intros and lingering mellow rock grooves threatened to bore me after half and hour. Even so, I purchased the album.
Emily was about ready for bed, but Tim and I went back to the Anchor to check out a short worship set from Sean Michel (a.k.a. Cornerstone’s Bearded Wonder). It was a good thing but we were both tired and went back to camp after a couple songs. The walk back was delightfully pleasant – the air was cool and we looked up at a cloudless sky. Surrounded by more corn fields than street lamps, I stared into a universe with a more brilliant display of stars than I remembered seeing in a long time. What a beautiful God, what a beautiful God, what a beautiful God you must be!
It was going to be a good week.