Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Am a Rock

As a kid, I grew up listening to folk music. Simon and Garfunkle, Bob Dylan, John Denver and Peter, Paul and Mary were standard sounds pumped though our “high fidelity” record or cassette player. Saturday mornings were always accompanied by my Mom cleaning the house, the smell of breakfast wafting from the kitchen and the sounds of 60s revolution in the background. As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes I did my best to drown out the sounds from the living room stereo. Usually that came from dueling sound systems as I assaulted my parents ear drums with anything from The Smiths to Black Flag. But well into my 40th year of stumbling through this life, I find myself looking back on those days with a comforting nostalgia.

Now that I’m older, I have a greater appreciation for these artists. In fact, I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan. One of the best days of my life was taking my dad to see his aging folk idol at the Houston Rodeo in 2002. Dad’s reaction? “Wow! He sucks in his old age!” But you know, when hearing these artists today, my mind quickly drifts back to a much simpler time. Last week, as I fumbled through the radio stations, I heard Simon and Garfunkle’s classic, “I Am a Rock”. As I hummed along, I was surprised that I actually knew all of the words. But for the first time, I caught myself really listening closely to the lyrics of this song and what the artist had to say.

“I’ve built walls, a fort deep and mighty, that none may penetrate. I have no need for friendship; Friendship causes pain. It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain. I am a rock, I am an island…If I never loved I never would have cried…hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me.” Too bad they didn’t have Paxil or Effexor back in those days, huh?

As I wrote in my last blog, we all experience dark times in our lives. We all experience “the funk”. How familiar does this sound? You have a bad day at work, reprimanded by your boss and given a hard time by co-workers. On the way home, you’re pulled over for speeding and given a ticket. When you finally return home, the stressful reality of family life sets in with a greeting of screaming kids, clutter and a to-do list that looks more like a three page essay. At this point, the only thing you want to do is crawl under the covers and shut off for the remaining hours of the day. The thought of confronting anyone only makes you more frustrated. You don’t want to talk to anyone. All you want is isolation. “I am a rock.”

Jesus said in the gospel of Matthew, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock. But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash." After Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at his teaching."

So, when I isolate myself in my pain, am I really a rock? Am I an island? Do I have no need for friendship because friendship will only cause pain? “Friendship causes pain,”. Hmmmm. You know what? I would have to agree 100%. Friendship does cause pain, and that pain comes from the responsibility of loving one another. But it’s worth the risk. “Love one another.”

(Art by Ben Davies-Jenkins. "Golden Isolation"; oil)