Reflections on Paul Simon and Easter
If you follow sports, you soon notice that a player’s career is on a down hill spiral after about 30. When you get into your late 30’s, you are looking at the end. We could call this the Jorge Posada syndrome. Posada is a professional catcher for the New York Yankees who was always a feared clutch hitter and would always come through when you needed a run. Recently this year, while he is still receiving a 13 million dollar contract, he is batting under 200 and was placed #9 in the batting order. He responded by asking to be taken out of the lineup. This created a small fire storm in the Yankee dugout and with the press to the point that he later apologized. It’s hard to not be able to do what you did when you were young. You get pushed aside by the hungry players coming up eager to take your place. Of course this is the story of all of us because none of us are irreplaceable.
It can be a little different in other careers because experience and knowledge can make a big difference. I’ve always felt that I’m better at what I do now than ever before. In fact I often joke that you probably would not have wanted to know me 30 years ago. I don’t feel that I was nearly the minister I am now. In fact, I cringe sometimes when I think about a young version of me – who once knew it all. Now I only shake my head and think about how little I do know and how much more there is to learn. I’m no where near being pushed aside, in fact, I don’t think that I have reached my prime yet.
All of this came home to me when I recently attended a Paul Simon concert. He is someone who is still extremely creative and hasn’t lost his voice. It was a joy to listen to him sing – of course I enjoy those old tunes whether it’s from Simon and Garfunkel or Graceland and his solo career that followed. Of course, Paul Simon is singing late in the game as he has just turned 70 years old along with Bob Dylan and others that were once these “wild and crazy guys.” This time though as I listened to Paul Simon’s new album entitled “So Beautiful or So What”, I was moved by the lyrics that indicated a different tone from what he had sang in the past. It had to do with mortality. You got the feeling that he is looking ahead and starting to see the spiritual and sacred dimensions of life. You can understand this just by the song titles: “The Afterlife”, “Love is Eternal Sacred Light”, “Questions for Angels” and so on. The music is a bit haunting because you see an artist searching and in some way discussing transcendence. Even in the middle of his concert, he yelled out “I’m getting old, isn’t it great.”
As we close out the season of Easter, we are all reminded of our mortality and of the victory of our Lord over death. We gather to affirm life and not death, to reassert that love is stronger than hate. There is a song of good news on our lips as the people of God gather each Sunday to know that sins are forgiven and that we are about life that is abundant and eternal.
Paul Simon’s album is entitled “So Beautiful or So What.” I suppose those are the choices we have when we look at life. Do we see what is beautiful or what is good or are we lost in a world of boredom, despair, apathy and cynicism. As Easter people, we have broken out of that tomb of negativity and death. We rise again with redemptive energy and love. That’s the heart of who we are.