What if it works this way: We write the lyrics of our life when we?re young and spend our days and years living into them.
I attended a Gordon Lightfoot concert last night at Wolf Trap, as part of his Fifty Years on the Carefree Highway Tour.
It’s easy to see that even after 50 years, Gordon is still energized by his work. During the concert, he said two phrases a number of times:
We love the work.
A-One Two Three Four . . .
Those are both good lines for writers, aren’t they? We love the work.
My favorite song, which was his finale, was Song for a Winter?s Night. The lyric is about love lost and recollected, and is there anything more poignant? In a few days Doug and I will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary, so I know about love found and kept. But yes, I have also experienced love lost and recollected. The memory is both bitter and sweet. Do you know this romantic song?
As I listened to Gordon sing, I used my monocular to watch his face. Obviously, he has aged greatly in 50 years. He has had his share of health problems, including an abdominal aortic aneurysm that required multiple surgeries. Always a handsome man, his face is still sculpted. His cheeks are even more hollow and his eyes just as piercing. There are reminders of the ?hunk? I once mooned over as a teenager.
Perhaps you can tell that I?ve been formed by hymnody and church music?and I don’t blame you for? discounting this observation? but that lyric sounds to me like ?Evensong,? a lyric you sing to close the day and commit yourself into God?s hands as evening falls.
The liturgy of Evensong helps us grapple with our mortality, with the awareness that at some point, we will be closing a day for the last time, and may not know it. At some point there will be no more nights ahead of us.
Does that sound morbid? I think it?s helpful to live with an awareness that life is fleeting. This is what?the Psalmist?describes. Facing mortality is an essential part of faith. We acknowledge that our days are numbered, and we are not in control of that numbering (which is why we colloquially say that someone ?plays God? when they do something that takes this matter into their own hands).
Certainly when Gordon sings this lyric now, it tastes different in his mouth than it did when he first wrote it. He is aware that his lamp is growing dim. By all accounts this awareness causes him to live with great intensity. He still has work to do. I love reading this about him. He is an artist, accountable to his art.
Like him, I intend to keep?loving the work?every day that I?m given.
I also don?t mean to suggest that these fews lines are the only lyric of his that have deepened over the years. If art is true, it is also multivalent and keeps revealing itself to us over time. Isn?t this what distinguishes great art?
So today I wonder, what is the lyric of?my?life? What?s yours?