Things the grandchildren should know...

My church band met tonight to work on a unique worship gathering on September 7th: We are going to share a host of music - sacred, secular, jazz, rock, chant and folk - so that the people who are present will experience new ways to pray using music and the arts and the totality of their lives. My hope is that we can move beyond the rut of "holy words" - as good as they are - so that we can use real words to share our prayers with God and one another.

Some of our musical choices are obvious - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is a prayer of lament and "A Thousand Beautiful Things" is an invitation to see the holy within the human - same is true for "I Think I See the Light" and "One of Us."

The real challenge for some will be the Eels', "Things the Grandchildren Should Know." At first blush it sounds childish and the words are... weird or at the very least opaque. But, like so much of scripture, this song tells us that we are not only rooted in a certain history and culture that shapes and influences us beyond our awareness, but also that this continues unto the third and fourth generation. What's more, this song also reminds us that people change very, very slowly no matter what New Age gurus might promise. Mark Oliver Everett writes:

I go to bed real early
Everybody thinks it's strange
I get up early in the morning
No matter how disappointed i was
With the day before
It feels new

I don't leave the house much
I don't like being around people
Makes me nervous and weird
I don't like going to shows either
It's better for me to stay home
Some might think it means i hate people
But that's not quite right
I do some stupid things
But my heart's in the right place
And this i know

I got a dog
I take him for a walk
And all the people like to say hello
I'm used to staring down at the sidewalk cracks
I'm learning how to say hello
Without too much trouble
I'm turning out just like my father
Though i swore i never would
Now i can say that i have a love for him
I never really understood
What it must have been like for him
Living inside his head
I feel like he's here with me now
Even though he's dead

It's not all good and it's not all bad
Don't believe everything you read
I'm the only one who knows what it's like
So i thought i'd better tell you
Before i leave
So in the end i'd like to say
That i'm a very thankful man
I tried to make the most of my situations
And enjoy what i had
I knew true love and i knew passion
And the difference between the two
And i had some regrets
But if i had to do it all again
Well, it's something i'd like to do

Tonight, as we struggled to find the right key and the right groove for our little band, when we got it right (the key of F) Dianne's voice cracked as the meaning of this prayer grabbed her someplace deep within. She's had her own shit with her dad - like many of the rest of us- and she's come to see that she while she never really knew what was going on in his head and... there is a love that is bigger than the shit. She made me cry with the grace of it all...

Another prayer comes to mind... Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to your never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that you are doing for them better things than we can desire or pray; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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