Come on up for the risin'

I weep a lot - like Arnold in the movie Twins or some old guy at church who had a stroke - I have stopped trying to keep the tears back. I used to fight them and really struggle to keep them back, but now I just let them flow. A beautiful flower, a laugh with a small child, an episode of West Wing, a kiss from a loved one, a poem, a song, a movie... it doesn't matter: the flood gates open and I am filled to overflowing with emotion. Frederick Buechner once wrote: That's what sin really is - you know - not being full of joy. Tell the people that their sin is forgiven because whether we know it or not, that's what we want more than anything else... In fact, preacher, that's your job: what on earth do you think you were ordained for?

I wept tonight watching Barack Obama - no apologies and no regrets - I wept: who could have imagined that in the United States of America a BLACK man could be so close to winning the nomination for the Presidency?!? Not me. I still recall watching Dr. King as a small child during the March on Washington. I still remember April 4th 1968 sitting in my church hall (practicing for our 200th church anniversary) when a member of my youth group - and I was the youth group president - said to me: I hope you are happy now... cuz now your nigger has been shot! I still live with the memory of Robert Kennedy's assassination a few months later... and the reaction of Nixon's silent majority and all the rest. I still recall like it was yesterday being with Cesar Chavez in the early 70s and fighting the good fight (Obama's victory cry, YES WE CAN, is the English version of the Farm Workers chant on the picket line: SI SE PUEDE!) So I weep... tears of joy, tears of rage (thank you, brother Dylan), tears of hope and tears of prayer like Jesus weeping for his friend Lazarus.

I give thanks to God tonight for tears - they are truly a way of praying sighs too deep for human words - and one of the songs that always makes me cry is Springsteen's "The Rising." I love it in every version of this song and have sung it with a full rock band and in a simple gospel acoustic setting... but this one is particularly haunting. Not bold, not in your face, just tender and sad, hopeful and heroic in the the best sense of the word, all at the same time. Check it out:

And that's how I feel at this moment in life: it is a sad, joyful, hopeful and heroic moment that could help us all move towards common ground, or, greater fear and polarization. I say, "Come on up for the rising'!"

IMAGES FROM: 1) Chris L. Peterson; 2) 3)


Popular Posts