Redemption stories seemed to be a theme this weekend and, as someone who will take all the redemption he can get, I was paying special attention. I have to tell you first, I built a waterfall in my back yard last week, sitting by it is my new favorite place to write, meditate and pray. The sound of the water is soothing and peaceful and, if you suspend reality for a few minutes, you can imagine how the force of water broke through stone, washing it aside to form a sluice. The violence of the break made way for the peace we now experience through the splashing water, the piled stones on either side a reminder that peace often comes after struggle. The water’s power destroyed and simultaneously created something, it used magic. (Ok, I used a shovel, an electric pump and two tons of stone, but still, it takes magic to get me to do that much work).
Tiger Woods became relevant again this weekend, he won a golf tournament at a course within sight of my house, the blimp is still overhead as I write. Now Tiger, as we’ve learned, is not a particularly perfect man. He is flawed, thank God my flaws aren’t exposed the way his have been. For all his sins, there is something mystical about his golf game, his will to win is captivating, the ratings say we can’t turn off the television when he is in contention. We need that mysticism, the fans in Orlando (and, I suspect, all over the world) welcomed it back. We rooted for magic, we root for his redemption. There might be hope for all of us, the world might be alright if Tiger’s magic works again.
Friday night I joyfuly saw Bruce Springsteen in concert. Bruce recently went through a personal crisis not unlike Tiger’s, only a little more quietly. It was wonderful to see he and his wife singing together, especially on the new song, “Rocky Ground.” Bruce has had a personal redemption (We men are, after all of our excuses, creatures who know the difference between right and wrong. Grace and redemption can save us). Of course, since Springsteen’s legions of fans last saw him in concert, his band lost Clarence Clemons, and, if you don’t know who the Big Man was, please go look him up, click here, I’ll wait for you to come back. Most of we fans have been fans for 35 years or more, so this concert was our chance to pay our respects, to grieve, to cry. And, I cried. I don’t know what happened, but I was inexplicably overcome for the first half hour of the concert, the wall of sound, the proximity of the band and the presences of such greatness hit me just right. And, on the fifth song of the evening, My City of Ruins, about when I was getting composed, he introduced the band. And then…
“Is there anybody missing?” 20,000 people responded with a force I’d never felt before.
“Is there anybody missing?” 20,000 people prayed, screamed, hollered and cried.
“Well, I’ll tell you something. As long as we’re here and as long as you are here, HE IS HERE TOO.”
“COME ON RISE UP” we all sang over and over. The rest of the night was the curious combination of an Irish wake and a rock concert, a night to never forget. We cheered for the Big Man, for his nephew who replaced him and for his young son who came on stage during the encore. In cheering for Clarence, we prayed for redemption, through the music, the magic was back again. The world was right, at least for a night, because we all sang and danced together, led by a man who knows a little about magic and redemption.
As my waterfall reminds me now, destruction leads to growth, pain to love and darkness yields to magic. I attended the concert with my bride of 25 years, Teresa. We are back together after a separation. I am no one to cast rocks. I root for the world to be right again, I root for the magic. I root for redemption, especially ours.