Michael Gungor on the past year’s spiritual journey

Mariah Powell – Web Editor; Torre Massie – Photographer

IMG_9622In an exclusive interview, MVNU professor Joe Rinehart spoke to Christian artist Michael Gungor about his musical influences and his spiritual journey over the past year.

Michael Gungor first felt his call to do music during college.

“It was scary,” Gungor said, “but it is who I was made to be.” He met his wife, Lisa, in college, and began to court her by writing her love songs. Lisa’s entry into the band was a natural thing. Gungor said that since he and Lisa were married and living together, they shared music ideas and songs, and eventually began writing together. He is thankful that they are both in the band, since they get to be together on tour.

The latest tour is based on their newest album, “I Am Mountain.” Gungor shared that the inspiration for the album came from an unlikely source: Japanese food. While eating a multi-course authentic Japanese meal Michael realized the art and detail that went into the preparation.

This “semi-religious experience,” as he called it, lent itself to one of the major themes in “I Am Mountain.”

The album focuses on the transcendent nature of existence and finding wonder and gratitude within the wandering and crazy spinning of everyday life.

“Sometimes it takes sushi to remind you how amazing the daily, mundane things of life can be…it’s all around us,” Gungor said. “I think it just takes some purposeful eyes to see it sometimes.”

Lisa and Lucette

Lisa Gungor holding baby Lucette in the Green Room during SonFest

Even bigger than their new album release was the entry of their daughter into the world on May 13. Her name is Lucette, which Gungor emphasized means “light”.

Lisa Gungor was induced into early labor when doctors noticed that Lucette was having heart problems. After she was born, doctors discovered that Lucette was born with Down syndrome, along with fairly serious heart defects.

Lucette went into surgery when she was only a few days old, and is scheduled for more surgery on Oct. 16.

Gungor shared that the discovery was very hard on he and Lisa. The couple was already nervous about the birth, and it was devastating to have all their plans and expectations “turned on their head.”

“In the middle of that,” he said, “we looked at this beautiful baby girl, and something in us broke.”

The couple was surrounded by supportive loved ones after the birth, and Gungor shared that while they felt pain, they were also filled with an amazing love.

When the couple was first told that Lucette needed surgery, they sat down together and Michael read from Psalm 139. Verses 13 and 14 say, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

The Gungors cried over the bible passage, he shared, with the realization that “Life is beautiful, a gift, it’s perfect. She [Lucette] is perfect.”

Gungor says that it has been a learning, growing and painful experience, and that he and Lisa are thankful for their daughter Lucette.

Gungor’s next album—not yet released—has been heavily influenced by this experience, and the songs center around the theme of “how pain and joy and love all get tangled up together.”