Not so much any deep lessons, but merely three sage observations.
The first is from The Proclaimers and an obscure album track called ‘The Light’:
‘The life that I’ve been living, since the day I first drew breath, has been my way of forgetting I’m on my journey toward my death’.
That is almost Heideggerarian (I made that word up) in it’s emphasis. I actually find it quite hopeful- once you realise it, life has more colour and meaning.
The 2nd is a half remembered quote from Camus. I only remember it as it seemed so extreme at the time. He said something like the primary decision a person has to make is whether or not to commit suicide: after that all other decisions follow.
The third I remember from a recently retired minister who had a national and international reputation. I went to hear a seminar he gave on preaching: it was very good. He was speaking about his life and his retirement. He said lots of people had offered him advice on the changing pace of life, but no one had asked him if he was prepared for his death. He wished they had done.
…sometimes I think too much don’t you think?
This is another song I have featured before.
It is essentially very simple, open chords, although played better than I can manage. However, I have made a real attempt these past few weeks to learn it, words, chords, picking etc, without resort to prompts.
I am nearly there.
Someone in a band that I watched last Sunday evening told me about ‘punk attitude’- rehearse but don’t worry about glitches and dropped chords. Perform, have a go and see what happens.
I am gradually assembling a list of ’50 things to do when I am 50′, although using the year before and the year after. One thing is to perform live. I can just about do 7 songs- not well enough yet. Have I the courage to go further: watch this space?
It is a beautiful song though; one that has ‘saved my life’ and helped in the ongoing struggle to be real. Sometimes it almost reduces me to tears.
That is about the only phrase that I remember from the existentialist philosopher Heidegger (opening a normal conversation with that phrase will send most people to sleep or cause them to say ‘oh, is that the time?’ before wandering off….). Although I remember leading a seminar on his thought many years back when I quoted the Proclaimers lyric ‘The life that I’ve been living since the day I first drew breath has been my way of forgetting I’m on my journey towards death’ (‘The more I believe’) as a way of summarising his thought. I still remember the look of disgust/horror on the lecturer’s face as I brought pop culture into the room…
What he meant was that most of us exist in this state; our whole focus devoted away from our ultimate end, with the result that we never really ‘live’.
I am ‘off’ at the moment. When I am ‘off’ and have loads of time and space I actually think less….. I exist in a state of ‘tranquilise everydayness’. I don’t really muse deeply and blogging is hard. Yet when I work, feel overstretched and time feels beyond a premium, I have more and more nagging questions and material to blog about.
It may be that we only really ‘live’ when we are stretched and full of questions, even though it doesn’t always feel good (think the whole plot of ‘The Matrix’).
…..but ‘tranquilised everydayness’ feels lovely right now….
A couple of weeks back, http://www.dyfedwynroberts.org.uk/ posted on this track; it had stirred and inspired him. It got me digging out the music and now I’m just about up to 4 songs that I can play and sing (in private…the world is not ready…and neither am I) without looking at the words or music.
I liked this as soon as I heard it a few years back. As the years have gone by it has spoken to me more and more; it is the first song I turn to when I hear anyone displaying excessive certainty or refusing to listen to anothers journey. As I play it I remember with sadness those I know who have been wounded by others’ zeal: somehow I don’t think running the race looking to Jesus involves being arrogant, patronising or shouting at those who don’t see things the way you do…
So there I was on Sunday, leading worship at a chapel ‘out in the sticks’. It was hard going: I was tired and I’d just led worship somewhere else, half an hour before. Also, it just felt like hard going. I was drained by the end of it. I guess I prayed something like ‘God- is there any hope?’
Then at the end of the service: an impromptu meeting. Like a lot of small chapels, these meetings rarely last more than 5 minutes, are best led by someone in the congregation and decide an incredible amount. First an admission ‘We met with some people who are trying to get us look at why we are here. We said that we just felt that we have tried and failed at everything’. Then some dreams; a decorator who had been at work in the chapel that week said that people had been inside as they had seen the door open and liked it…..so why not do a series of open days in the summer, advertise it, use contacts to get a bouncy chapel….why not say in your publicity that you are opposite a pub (so you pitch your publicity at a level that people outside chapel can get)?
There were other ideas as well. OK- it is not exactly Pentecost, but what I loved was the ruthless honesty (‘we feel we have failed‘) that is often lacking and also the desire to dream based on that honesty. Put me in mid of that old Proclaimers song:
‘…I sat awhile on clouds to ask God if He’s living,
I should have spent some time on knees in thanks for what He’s given’
(‘Sean’ from ‘Sunshine on Leith’)
And here is a follow up to yesterday, in case anyone is sharpening their theological teeth ready to bite me…
Once I rehearse I can almost play this song very badly. It is a little known song by the Proclaimers called ‘The Light’. The song is essentially a blast against those who sought to judge the singer in his struggles with faith. He utters the great line:-
‘And if I’m found wanting when my case is heard,
It’ll be my the Author, not some interpreter of His word’
Amen to that…