Tonight I played an old song by Bruce Cockburn which continues to intrigue me with a relevance to my life which I don’t totally understand.
Cockburn is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is one of those types I find hard to pigeon hole. He writes a lot of great songs—many of them with a Christian theme. But just at the moment you think he is a Christian—you begin to wonder.
It is almost like Bob Dylan during that period in 1978 when he got born again in Larry Norman’s backyard during a songwriter bible study. What followed was “Long Train Coming” and “Saved” and then Bob was back to his usual antics. Who knows about all that stuff we read in the newspaper and magazines.
Bob wrote some great “Christian” songs but was never in line to become the next Amy Grant by any means.
And that is what intrigued us about Dylan. He brought a different perspective to the table. Christianity became exciting in a very rock and roll type of way. Some of us could handle it and some of us couldn’t. One man’s freedom is another man’s trap.
Anyway—Cockburn (prnounced Co burn) wrote a song featured on an album entitled Charity of Night called “Pacing The Cage”. It spoke to me several years ago and seemed to outline some part of what I felt as I looked at my life.
Here’s the lyrics:
Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage
I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage
I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage
Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage
After reading these words you might ask yourself where this fits into a Christian’s life. I don’t know—I ask myself that same question. It’s all about the war. The old man and the new one. The one that likes wine a little too much and the one that would give it all up and become a missionary in Africa. I am two people—maybe more.
I carry with me the success of many break-throughs and the weight of many failures. I admire Paul more that you would ever know—an intellect with a heart for God. A man who could listen and record the heart beat of God—and help us to understand the life that was ours for the asking.
I remember reading the first couple of John Eldridge books—The Sacred Romance and Journey of Desire—and thinking that here is a guy who finally understands me. He used quotes from history, quotes from the Beatles and Bob Dylan, greek mythology, art and poetry to help him navigate in and around what he thought God was saying to him. He left me with the thought that our culture could be a source of inspiration if taken within a Christian context. That we hadn’t wasted our time reading some of the stuff we picked up as kids and teenagers.
His goal was to get us to look at the big picture of our life in Christ and find our part—our destiny if you will—and play it out to the fullest. That we were created for adventures in God. He has since taken that theme and become the author of Wild at Heart and Waking the Dead—and in turn become a very successful writer. It is my humble opinion that the first books were better—rough around the edges perhaps but more intuitive and poetic in the sense of using words to create thoughts that leap off the pages and take the reader into another realm.
I guess what I am really getting to is the sense of dualism that I feel in my everyday life. If you want to chase a few rabbits look up the word dualism on wikipedia.org. I didn’t realize that some of what I am feeling and experiencing has been pushed around for the past hundred years by theologians and philosophers who would make my musings look like playtime in the sandbox of a grade schoolers life.
So to tie this thread up and put it to bed for the time being. The process of self-discovery is a lot more interesting and draining than I ever thought it would be. I am not sure that I am fully out of the box yet—I am still pulled this way and that. I understand the old saying that says the boat in the water is good but water in the boat is bad. I do feel like I have few leaks to plug up and that my sails still need a little repair. There are a few barnacles attached to my hull that need to be scrapped off in order to pick up speed for the journey that I am on.
Maybe I am still in the harbor—practicing for the big day when we get way beyond the sand bar of our everyday existence and really let the wind take us for a ride.
Enjoy yours today.