Between The Concerts
I took my youngest son Jacob to his first big-time heavy metal, rock and roll show last night. It was especially sweet because the band we went to see was Judas Priest, the same band I saw at my first ever concert in 1986 at the ripe old age of 17.
Hey, don't judge me--I'll always be a metalhead at heart.
Besides, the band is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the three original members who are left are all at least 70 years young, and the crowd was made up of greying fans like me, and their kids... or grandkids.
For a bunch of aging metal stars, the guys in Judas Priest put on a heckuva show, and my kid was duly impressed. They moved a lot more slowly than when I saw them over 35 years ago, but still...
We left the arena with our ears ringing and voices hoarse, and Jacob was already wearing one of his concert t's that I got him, telling me on the way out that he was planning on wearing it to school.
He made it about halfway home before he was dead asleep in the car.
I looked at him and smiled thinking about the long, strange trip it took to get me from that first concert when I was 17 to the show we saw last night.
Back then I would have never been able to imagine being 53 years old, much less ferrying my yet-to-be-born kid to see the very same band, playing the very same songs.
As I thought about all of the years between the two shows, I found myself thinking about the joys and sorrows, triumphs and tribulations, twists and turns, successes and failures that I've experienced over the past 35 years.
And I had a revelation that floored me... All of those experiences not only led me to that moment with my son, but they also prepared me for it in a strange and beautiful way.
The Irish poet Brendan Kenelly once wrote: “What is memory but cutting through smoke?”
It's good that we can't see into the future because we wouldn't know how to handle it without all of the things we go through to get to it.
And our memories of all those experiences are hazy at best, which is also helpful. I see the haziness is a grace-filled gift from God. It helps us to grow if we are willing to let it.
Because there are some memories that we hold close to our hearts because they are precious and lovely to us, and there are others that we want to forget, but all of them shape us in some way.
And to hold them all within us would be too much to bear, and so our memories become obscured a bit as we continue to add to their number--each addition becoming another layer of who we are becoming.
If we are brave enough, we might even allow ourselves to be fully present in meaningful moments that could not have happened without those layers, and those hazy memories.
The late Christian mystic Thomas Merton once wrote: "What we have to be is what we are."
I never really understood that until today. You see, we are more than the sum of our experiences, but without them---both good and bad---we can never fully realize our best and truest selves.
So don't look back on your life in anger or regret. Nothing is wasted, no matter how uplifting or heartbreaking it was. Live into each moment with the knowledge that you were prepared for it, by the grace of God.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.