Friday, May 10, 2013

Awaiting on You All

On the way home from work one afternoon I listened to the George Harrison song Awaiting on You All that I had copied along with other songs by this artist from his album All Things Must Pass. Hearing this song after so many years (it was on a CD that I had lost and just found again) was an interesting experience, and as often happens when you unearth some part of your past and compare it with your present, I heard it almost with fresh ears. I am not the same person that I was then. I was in my twenties when I followed George Harrison both musically and spiritually. Though the Eastern religious views he espoused most of his public life were similar to mine at that age, it didn’t take long for me to outgrow them. ‘Outgrow’ is not exactly the right word, though. I didn’t really outgrow them. You could say I traded them in, new lamps for old. I never struck a better deal.

Still, listening to the song I was amazed just how spot on he was in much of what he was saying. I can still relate to almost all of it. I don’t think that either of us, George or I, was aware of the fuzzy thinking that made us combine devotion and belief in Krishna and Jesus without noticing the two aren’t the same. I’m not talking about doctrinal or religious differences. Hinduism and Christianity are distinct religions, granted, but anyone who believes in God knows, ‘God is God. There is no thing you can compare to God. God is God.’ We tend to believe that at best other religions are wrong in the details but right in the big picture. This may be true, but no one can say so without denying his faith community. In youth, I think we were bored with dogmatic strongholds, and wanted the freedom to meet God on our terms, not according to those of our ancestors. How little did we understand that ‘the ancestors in stone armor calling for loyalty untrue’ seeking ‘to make a zigzag of the arrow’s flight’ were doing no such thing.

No, they knew that the shortest path between two points is rarely a straight line, though arrows may fly to their mark, being projectiles aimed at a target. Unfortunately people are not projectiles, and our destination is not really a target, no matter how much we wish we could hit the bullseye. We are beings fashioned in the Divine image and likeness. We live in more than three, more even than four, dimensions, and the paths we tread cannot be traced, planned or prophesied by mortal logic or the magic of music. They are no more than mere beginnings, our thoughts and feelings, before we bump into the aweful reality which we glibly like to call ‘God.’ Meet Him on our terms? Hardly possible, unless He allows it, and only as a sign that He is there, hidden behind our wall, waiting for us to… 
No, that is also just what we glibly like to think, as George Harrison sings in his song…

You don't need no love in
You don't need no bed pan
You don't need a horoscope or a microscope
To see the mess that you're in
If you open up your heart
You will know what I mean
We've been polluted so long
Now here's a way for you to get clean

By chanting the names of the Lord, and you'll be free
The Lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see…

You don't need no passport

And you don't need no visas
You don't need to designate or to emigrate
Before you can see Jesus
If you open up your heart
You'll see he's right there
Always was and will be
He'll relieve you of your cares

You don't need no church house
And you don't need no Temple
You don't need no rosary beads or them books to read
To see that you have fallen
If you open up your heart
You will know what I mean
We've been kept down so long
Someone's thinking that we're all green

… The Lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see
By chanting the names of the Lord, and you'll be free

I purposely left out the stanza about the pope owning controlling interest in General Motors and not being qualified to quote us anything but the Stock Exchange. This is childish talk and hatchets all the good things he has to say. This, I find, is true of youthful thinkers in every generation. It’s true of otherwise noble and idealistic youth today. It was true of me as a Vietnam War draft resister. We ‘let the cat out of the bag’ about ourselves when we pounce on anyone, especially an authority figure we don’t approve of, and show that, however pure we think our motives, however lofty our ideals, we’re still no better than the fallen heroes we no longer believe in. What George Harrison says in this song I still agree with. Where I have a problem, is what he proposes as a solution to the mess we find ourselves in. As much as I enjoyed chanting Hare Krishna, it didn’t save me, or the world, and it never will.

But the rest is, amazingly, true, as I have found out in the intervening years. The words about Jesus are almost straight out of the Bible. The words about churches and temples, the same. Somebody went to Sunday School as a child. Yes, you’re right. I did.
I know that for sure, and guess what? It stuck. What started out as an incomprehensible religious upbringing somehow became comprehensible when it finally collided with what I was made for. 

Yes, my parachute failed to open, and the earth received my bruised and broken body. I was alive for just a moment, just long enough for me to realize I was about to die. Then His gentle hands slipped under my head and shoulders as He lifted me up from what should have been my grave. He had already been there, aeons before I came to birth or leapt to my unintended death. No, this did not literally happen. I’ve never used a parachute. But His hands are real.

Awaiting on You All, a great song,
but He is waiting only from our point of view.
On His side, we are either already with Him, or without Him.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I found it interesting that on Georges last few albums before he died, George included a cross next to the om symbol after his name. I sometimes wonder if he might have been remembering the Catholic teachings of his childhood, and think they may have had a greater meaning than he was willing to articulate. Mind you I think he would have found an even deeper meaning in Orthodoxy!