Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lovers in a dangerous time...

Sometimes a song just gets a hold of you and won't let go: that's what the acoustic rendering of Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" is doing to me right now. It has so many levels of insight about this moment in time that it has become a prayer.

+ In one breath he is singing about the rush of time and the craziness of how we live, but in the next he notices that amidst the rush we catch glimpses of beauty, too, that dazzle us.

+ Next there is a verse to the tenderness of love - fragile and grace-filled that cannot be wasted - while the third notes that often love requires a struggle and even a fight: got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight. How does the gospel of John put it: there is the light of life in our world that the darkness cannot put out?

And then that haunting chorus! Lovers.... in a dangerous time!

Dangerous for whom? For the lovers? For the church? For the status quo? All of this and more always below the surface? I suspect so... This song helps give shape and form to my calling to be a pastor and musician in these strange days: live as a lover in this dangerous time. (NOTE: We saw him during this tour as we happened to be in London on vacation. He played in Union Chapel, a small Congregational church with a huge building in North London that has cultivated a great ministry of the arts. Check it out: http://www.unionchapel.org.uk/index.php )

How does this week's gospel from Mark put it? Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Lord, help me be a lover to all I meet in this dangerous and grace-filled time!
credits: lovers @ kikoshouse.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html


Black Pete said...

A rush of memories, RJ: that album (and that song in it) was among the first Joyce and I bought together, that summer of our wedding.

Several weeks before our wedding, I suffered a work-related injury--a hernia-- and was scheduled for surgery three weeks before we were to be married. Bruce Cockburn (with Jane Siberry!) played an open-air concert the week before I was to undergo the procedure. I was uncomfortable sitting or standing any length of time, so I lay on the concrete bench of the amphitheatre, with my head in her lap. We took in the concert, which included Lovers in a Dangerous Time, Nicaraugua, If I Had a Rocket Launcher, and so much more, that way. I cannot hear that song without remembering that summer.

But to be true to your posting and its intent, I will say that three years later, with Joyce in seminary, we traveled to Cuernavaca, Mexico on a study tour, where we met some of the people referred to by Bruce in "Rocket Launcher"--the victims, that is. And so many others.

It seemed to us that just being alive was dangerous. Especially there...

Thank you.

RJ said...

Thank you for these deep words, Black Pete, so tender and real. I've known this tune for a long time but never really made it my own - finally found a key to sing it, too.

One of the things I have come to love about Cockburn is his poetry and passion. He is a fine guitar player, too, and when the poetry and passion comes together with his music... it is sacred to me.

Dianne and I sang through this a little tonigh - she helping me find the right key for my funky baritone range - and I've been playing with it off and on all night.

Luke said...

what a beautiful song! and i love the translation of the Mark verse, is that the Message or your own?

i echo your prayer of being grace-filled. i'm learning that in CPE not just of those who i like (LGBTQ, liberals and moderates) but also of my more conservative brothers and sisters. it's been quite a wonderful experience thus far!

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