Last night I took my son Samuel to see his first live music show. 2 artists (American Authors and the unfortunately named Phillip Phillips) in the Midtown Arts Center in our state capital. Adding to the excitement of the adventure, there wasn’t any parking and the building was barely marked and so easily missed that we weren’t entirely sure we had arrived even as we were walking inside.
So, we go in and sit and wait for the doors to the concert area to open, watching people and talking like friends. It is a beautiful under-acknowledged gift to actually like your children. Of course, we love them, we sort of have to. Also of course, there are times they drive us craazy. But to like them? That is an unguaranteed, unexpected, overwhelming blessing that is not to be overlooked.
American Authors opened – they were the reason we went, he feels like he discovered them and loves them like they’re pretty much his secret – and were terrific. He even got his picture taken with them that I’ll show you when I see you. But they played this one song, Deep Water, that is providing the thread that stitched us all, the entire night, this entire season of our lives, together, and is sliding seamlessly into the narrative of our communities (at the Bridge, work, school, towns & cities.)
Before I give you the lyrics, there’s a story in the book of Kings where the prophet Elijah is fleeing an evil king and queen and ends up hiding in a cave. He thinks he’s alone, but it’s there that he is ministered to by God. He is definitely not alone. Elijah is scared and complains that he’s being chased, and why is he being chased, what is going on, why why why, and that he’s the only one left. God answers the way God usually answers, without answering any of Elijah’s questions, BUT what He does is tell Elijah that there are more just like him and where to find them. God knows what we so easily forget; we don’t actually need answers (we only think we do), we just need someone to hold our hand. We just need someone to walk alongside. We just need someone to listen, to care, and to love (and who will love us in return.)
Now, Deep Water – the singer-songwriter referenced some heavy struggles (the deep water of the title) and his gratitude for the people who willingly waded into that water, sometimes to rescue, other times just to tread the same water in which he was treading.
“Please, tell me I won’t wash away. When it pulls me under, Will you make me stronger? Will you be my breath through the deep, deep water? Take me farther, give me one day longer Will you be my breath through the deep, deep water? When I’m sinking like a stone, At least I know I’m not alone.”
It’s not a superficial pretending that there isn’t water, or that the water isn’t deep, or that he wasn’t sinking like a stone. There was, it was, and he was. It’s not the need to fix that overflows from our fearful uncomfortability of this deep water. It’s only presence, sensitive to the times where we can “tell [him he] won’t wash away,” “make [him] stronger,” to “be [his] breath,” or to simply be in the water when he’s “sinking like a stone.”
This is our call.
I looked through watery eyes at my son who is, and will be again, in deep water. Just like the rest of us in that room and in every room. I pray that he has a tribe who will hold him up and be his breath, and that he can become the kind of person who will be theirs.
The most beautiful thing about a concert is that we are all there, we are all now, inextricably connected by the purity of our shared love. Life can be hard and we can think we are very, very different, but in the dark, on a Thursday night, affirming the creative spark that has been generously given by our Creator, we were all human, nothing more and nothing less.
Then, Phil Phil performed his biggest hit, Home, with these lyrics: “Hold on to me as we go, As we roll down this unfamiliar road. And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along, Just know you’re not alone ‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home. Settle down, it’ll all be clear. Don’t pay no mind to the demons, They fill you with fear. The trouble, it might drag you down. If you get lost, you can always be found. Just know you’re not alone ‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.”
Well, this is just great, now I’m writing through watery eyes as I think about him again, about those who I have held onto as we go, who have been my breath, who found me when I was lost, as I think about you. I know I’m not alone, you have all made this place my home.
The thing that gives me the most hope is the pyramid scheme. If we can do this for each other, and we have, and we will continue, eventually we can all know we’re not alone and that we are all extravagantly loved. Then, anything is possible.