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Heartstone

Fading quietness, noisy emptiness,
Dreams and fantasies into the seams of our realities.
A simple birth, a simple life, this simple death no one survives
And all your complicated plans can’t change it.
All of us are just the same, a different face, a different name,
A different space to live inside.
Sharing a common ground of sweat and work and looking down
And desperately seeking the love that makes it worthwhile.

Give me a new soul
And a new spirit inside.
Take away this heart of stone
And give me one that’s alive.

Chance and wealth and happiness and we all know that’s all there is,
But we all know—that’s not all there is.
Deep inside our little hearts in shifts and starts and stops and goes
We want to know that someone cares for us.
So we ache and we cry, smile and wave and say “goodbye,”
Stand our ground, and slip back a million miles.
Out there on the edge we feel and touch and hear and see and steal
And try to capture what eludes us.

Give me a new soul
And a new spirit inside.
Take away this heart of stone
And give me one that’s alive.

I can run and I can walk, sit and stand and I can talk
And look into your eyes and never see them.
Journey ’til I lose my breath, drop and sleep and visit death,
Grasp you in my dreams and never reach you.
Love and lose and lack the sense to explain just where it went.
My heart touches you, but I can’t feel it.
Close my eyes, ignore my tears. Leap right through my deepest fears
Into the arms of someone who will always catch me.
Catch me. Catch me.

Give me a new soul
And a new spirit inside.
Take away this heart of stone
And give me one that’s alive.

Catch me

I used to be really philosophical. I wrote prog-rock songs about ontology, read Kierkegaard and Kant, and at one time was ready to launch into a doctorate. But then something happened. (And no, it wasn’t Jesus.)

I got tired of minutiae. I couldn’t get my heart around parsing the smallest nuances of language until they vanished into insignificance. Academia is filled with amazingly brilliant people who know almost nothing. They have to focus so hard on things which are so small that they lose their ability to see anything else.

Now perhaps most of them have avoided what I am about to say. But I found that studying like this, rather than moving me towards any greater wisdom, simply fed my pride. Because wow, I was really smart! I was exploring the relationship of God’s nature to temporality, for pete’s sake. Quantum physics, the concept of God, and atemporal non-determinism! Does any of this matter if I can’t love my wife? Does any of this matter if I can’t love my kids? Was any of this helpful to overcome things about myself that I hated?

We are born. We live. We die. A complex examination of those things changes nothing about them. They are simple things, but all of our genius brought to bear upon them still leaves us looking for meaning. I believed in God. I even believed in Jesus. But I believed in myself more. I believed I was smart enough to figure it all out, to get my thoughts around God, and He would be quite impressed with how well I had used my dazzling intellect.

Well guess what? He was not that impressed. But what He WAS interested in was loving me, and wanting me to know that. God saw right through my pride, right through all my selfishness, and still was able to see who He made me to be. I was looking right at Him with all of my philosophical scrutiny, and couldn’t see the love in His eyes. I was panting and running myself to death and never reaching Him. I was even touching Him, but never could feel it.

I got a glimpse of all this, of all of my inability—my selfish, self-reliant pursuing that was leading nowhere. God is full of grace, and apparently irony as well: “You are never going to figure it out. But you don’t have to. I have already taken care of everything. All those things you think are so important to you, just let go of them. And jump. It’s simple. Shut your eyes and leap…”
——--

When I was growing up we had a piano and organ in our living room. It was a pretty cool organ with two keyboards and drawbars. It also had this built-in rhythm thing, buttons and a knob marked “bossanova” “samba” and I can’t remember what else. You turned the knob to pick the style, but I can’t recall how you adjusted the tempo, or even if you could. Anyway, I went through all that just to say that is where the opening bars of this came from, thinking about that organ and built-in “rhythm section.” What that has to do with philosophy, only Wittgenstein can say.

Also, I hope I didn’t offend my “academic” friends. But you know what I said is true, come on!