I like to sing while driving. Loud singing. Always have, at least since I began driving at age 16. Perhaps oddly, or not so oddly, this is a cathartic activity, a stress reliever for me. It doesn’t work if someone else is in the car. I throw in a favorite cd, crank up the stereo, and sing along with it. Could be Tears for Fears, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, The Police, Billy Joel, Rush, The Eagles, or U2, all bands/singers which date me, surely.
I was listening to U2’s album (yes, I still say album) “No Line on the Horizon” in the car last week when one song, and one line from that song grabbed my attention. I’d heard it dozens of times before, had sung it dozens of times, but this one particular time I thought about the words. The song is “Moment of Surrender” and the line goes like this… “I was pushing in the numbers at the ATM machine, I could see in the reflection a face staring back at me…”. And I was reminded of a reflection, a face staring back at me, and it was rather shocking!
Miho and I became members at the Sally Borden Center two weeks ago, part of my ongoing struggle (and Miho’s ongoing support) with the state of my physical health. Our first day I got on a treadmill, a good one, not facing outside toward Sulphur but that was o.k. Even though I do march up Tunnel Mountain fairly regularly, I started off on this treadmill properly, carefully for a guy my age, a gentle pace for about 6-7 minutes, then faster, and more incline, … then faster still and I could handle it easily, and more incline. The pace was good, my heart was being pushed but not too much, the sweat pouring. The natural high that started lifting my spirits was inspiring as my thoughts ventured back, way back in time to the days when I played hockey and baseball and could walk 36 holes of golf in one day without much effort (like I said, way back).
My pleasant journey back into my 20’s was halted by a girl actually in her 20’s who kindly informed me that my 30 minutes were up and she had that treadmill booked. No problem, I like rules, I like structure. So I cooled down for five minutes and got off. Another treadmill was right there, available, but this time facing outside. Through the snow-covered glass I could barely make out Sulphur. I carried on with my great workout.
Then I saw something that shook me – in the reflection of the window a face staring back at me. And a body, not what I remembered, not what I was imagining when facing the other way, an older man’s body sort of trudging along on the treadmill. Was that me? Was that really me? It was one of those moments when the fact of one’s mortality kind of slaps you in the face. And you realize, as one of our alternative worship participamts said recently, “we’re not here for very long”.
“Moment of Surrender” is that name of that U2 song and even though another line from it mentions “the stations of the cross” I don’t think it’s a particularly religious song. Yet the title, and my experience, are timely, aren’t they?
Holy Week begins tomorrow with Palm Sunday. Often in the church we focus, and rightly so, on the call of Jesus to serve, love, forgive, welcome, to stand for justice, compassion and mercy. Yet there is an eternal aspect to his preaching on the kingdom. Holy Week is all about that. He is welcomed into Jerusalem with celebration, later rejected without pity, and nailed to a cross. These facts of history alone do not form the essential basis of the faith, for it is the promise of resurrection that truly lifts the human spirit, from a Christian perspective.
Easter holds out the hope for us that God has the last word when it comes to our mortality, and that last word is one of life and newness. We have no idea what such life is like, but we have the promise, by faith.
Sometimes there is peace in surrendering, joy in surrendering, hope!
What if, when we leave this world, there is a face staring back at us, and it happens to be the face of God, the face of the risen Christ?