Rich Mullins was one of the most gifted musical visionaries of the century. He was thought by some to be a modern-day prophet. Others claim he was a saint. He was a radical believer, an original spirit devoted to a mighty God.
This true story is seen through the eyes of close companion and confidante Pam Richards. She presents Richard’s more human side in an intense and sometimes broken friendship which called on him to demonstrate the love of God. She learned that God’s love is lived out in our relationships. “The truth of our experience gives rise to our song. When it touches a heart, that song plants a seed to grow and bloom.” Through laughter and tears, despite differences and obstacles, their friendship led Rich Mullins and Pam Richards both closer to God.
(Summary from back cover)
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My introduction to Singing from Silence and its author, Pamela Richards, came as a result of an interview with Pam on Kathy Pooler’s blog, Memoir Writer’s Journey. I then began visiting Pam’s blog, A Candle to the Sun, and in a giveaway won a copy of Pam’s book. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.
Prior to reading Singing from Silence, I had never heard of Rich Mullins or his musical accomplishments. As I opened this book, Rich and Pam were total strangers to me. What I encountered is a book which could be categorized as nonfiction, biography, memoir or any combination of the three.
As I read, the layers upon which this story builds and unfolds multiplied. The book begins in 1974 as Pam, a young and talented artist, begins her college experience at Cincinnati Bible College, much to her consternation. Her parents’ choice, not hers. On her first day there, she meets Rich Mullins, whose first question to her is, “Do you like music?” And here begins a friendship at times warm and loving, then suddenly broken apart, then together again. Always a hint of something more, but never commitment. Pam and Rich agreed to the latter. However, a sense of a deep love jumps from the page. Their friendship that lasted 10 years through relationship and life changes for both Pam and Rich.
With Pam’s marriage around 1978, their paths diverged somewhat into separate worlds and contact was minimal. Rich becomes engaged, and then the engagement is broken. His musical career moves him to Nashville. And Pam suffers what appears to be abusive treatment by her husband, as shown in these quotes from the book:
“One time my husband struck me.” (p. 88)
“We [Pam and her children] each held our breath. The moment he woke up and started howling, we knew our world was shattered again.” (p. 89)
During this time in their lives, both were always seeking the spiritual life. Many described Rich as a modern-day prophet following the beliefs of St. Francis of Assisi. Pam eventually ends up in a church where an anonymous character in the book, a former friend of Rich’s, begins to deliver messages from and about Rich.
Here we have a story of love, faith, music, heartbreak, abuse, depression, and confusion in two lives laid open on the pages of this book. Pam Richards has eloquently told this story, and we must take her word for its veracity as Rich Mullins no longer lives among us other than through his music, a clear statement of his devotion to God.
If you have been a fan of Rich Mullins’ in the past, there are some who would lead you away from this book; they declare it is unfair to Rich Mullins’ memory. However, I say that only you, the reader, can be the judge of that.
For me the clear message in the book is that “[w]here there is life there is hope,” “[w]here there is awareness of eternal life, there is faith,” “[w]here two or more are gathered in his name, there is love.” (p. 134).