Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nice Knowing You

I've had one "get right with God" moment in my life. I was on a plane, flying into New York, at an age when I didn't pay attention to details such as which airport. All I know is we were over water and on our descent, and it was windy--terrifyingly windy. The pilot veered this way and that, like he was swordfighting the elements. I was sure we were going to crash into the Hudson River. And I made my peace with God.

Turns out I wasn't a very good flier, and that's just how planes land (at least in New York). It was nothing really, and yet I was as serene as I've ever been when we finally touched down. There's something to the act of preparing yourself for death, for entering eternity.

Today is supposedly rapture day, according to the calculations of apocalypse-hunter Harold Camping--the day when true believers in Jesus Christ are delivered from the wrath that is to come. I don't think it is, but I guess you'll only ever know after the fact. In any case, as fun as it is to joke about partying like it's 1999 or shouting in unison "Leonard Bernstein" (a la REM's "It's the End of the World As We Know It [and I Feel Fine]"), there's a little piece of my brain that can't stop thinking about it, can't stop trying to prepare myself for it. There's the slightest part of me aching for the serenity I felt when I first landed in New York and knew that God and I were good.

Yesterday morning a woman stopped her car to tell me "God--you know, God?--asked me to tell you he loves you and is proud of you." I could have lit into her or made fun of her, but instead I thanked her. Last night I had trouble falling asleep because I'm getting older and I'm not OK with it. This morning I'm counting down the hours till we know one way or another if Harold Camping is right or not. Whether it's the last night of the world (that's Bruce Cockburn) or just another day for you and me in paradise (that's Phil Collins), this day has my attention. And at the top of my apocalyptic playlist is a song by Rich Mullins, who died in a motorcycle accident years ago but who was as good a model as anyone for getting right with God:

***

The Jordan is waiting for me to cross through
My heart is aging I can tell
So Lord, I'm begging
For one last favor from You
Here's my heart take it where You will

This life has shown me how we're mended
And how we're torn
How it's okay to be lonely as long as you're free
Sometimes my ground was stoney
And sometimes covered up with thorns
And only You could make it what it had to be
And now that it's done
Well, if they dressed me like a pauper
Or if they dined me like a prince
If they lay me with my fathers
Or if my ashes scatter on the wind
I don't care

But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
Well, It'll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won't break my heart to say goodbye

There's people been friendly
But they'd never be your friends
Sometimes this has bent me to the ground
Now that this is all ending
I want to hear some music once again
'Cause it's the finest thing I have ever found

But the Jordan is waiting
Though I ain't never seen the other side
They say you can't take in
The things you have here
So on the road to salvation
I stick out my thumb and He gives me a ride
And His music is already falling on my ears

There's people been talking
They say they're worried about my soul
Well, I'm here to tell you I'll keep rocking
'Til I'm sure it's my time to roll

But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
Well, It'll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won't break my heart to say goodbye

4 comments:

tomcottar said...

Good thoughts on today...puts things into perspective. Even at times like these---wacky, end-of-days predictions and whatnot, it's always good to reboot to whats *actually* important.

Prob won't see you 'in the air tonite' (that's Phil Collins), but you never know...

Tom

David A. Zimmerman said...

Niiiice.

Anonymous said...

The only song that really matters is Leonard Cohen's "If It Be Your Will".

David A. Zimmerman said...

Ah! What a great song.