Tonight, I have two songs playing in my head and a lot of thoughts buzzing about. The songs are both from Bob Dylan. I have been listening to Dylan’s three “Christian” albums and drinking of Dylan’s spirituality recently. (Thanks BZ!) Dylan has always been heralded as a songwriting genius, a true poet that has crossed generations over the decades. Some of the songs that he wrote in his “Christian era” reflect a passionate devotion and faith.
The first song in my head is Lenny Bruce from Dylan’s 1981 Shot of Love…and it is not the entire song that I hear, just the first line: “Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on.” This song is a strange epitome for such a controversial character, but the reflective nature of the song makes me think about death, not in a morbid, self-loathing way, but in a thoughtful way. Death comes in many ways; death is not always physcial, but it always leaves a hole, a gnawing emptiness, a screaming void. How ironic that the absence of a thing like life can do such emotional violence. We must content with death and loss and change. Is there any other choice? There is no passing over it. There is no delaying it. The pain is real and must be faced. The pain of loss…what a slap in the face. What a kick in the gut. What a mastermind of the corporate fallen-ness of human pride and choice.
It could be easy for a person to crawl into a dark hole of despair. It would seem like the natural thing in the face of death, but “Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on.” Can there be existence after loss? Is there any hope for the destitute, lonely, confused, hurt? I find my answer in another Bob Dylan song, the other Dylan song alive in my heart tonight. For me this song is a prayer to the Trinue God…to the Father who loves me with a compassionate love…to the Son who wore my flesh and felt me pain…and to the Spirit who pours out the love of God in my heart.
Dylan’s words…my prayer…
I Believe in You (1979)
…And I walk out on my own
A thousand miles from home
But I don’t feel alone
‘Cause I believe in you.
I believe in you even through the tears and the laughter,
I believe in you even though we be apart.
I believe in you even on the morning after.
Oh, when the dawn is nearing
Oh, when the night is disappearing
Oh, this feeling is still here in my heart.
Don’t let me drift too far,
Keep me where you are
Where I will always be renewed.
And that which you’ve given me today
Is worth more than I could pay
And no matter what they say
I believe in you….