These Are The Days
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” Acts 2:17
“These are the days you’ll remember// never before and never since.” ‘These are the Days,’ Natalie Merchant
Confession: Sometimes I stay up late and listen to too much music.
For John and me, we’ve got our vinyl collection, our Spotify finds. On rare nights we labor through mixed tape gems, and then of course there’s always good ole YouTube searches. Eventually all roads lead to Natalie Merchant. We’re partial to early eighties 10,000 Maniacs stuff when she was just out of Community College. Not to mention her duos with Michael Stipe. But then, who can resist the solo act? Merchant live on stage, twirling like a dervish in a crushed velvet vintage dress and wowing adoring fans with that magnetic voice.
I had forgotten about the song “These are the Days,” but I won’t again. The energy of it is just so hopeful – like something is about to happen. “These are the days,” she sings, smiling. “Never before and never since, I promise, will the world be as warm as this.” In Acts 2, something similar is at play. In this quintessential Pentecost scripture, something altogether terrifying and amazing is happening. The Spirit is upon the people of God and they don’t know what to make of it. They are confounded! And they are scared.
These are the days. Certainly. Days when we wince at every photograph of an immigrant child separated from or reunited with his parents. Days when we think we’re out of heavy sighs, and then we let one more out at the mention of another sexual predator we thought was a good guy or news of an artist who took her life. These are the days. But not just those moments, also the precious few I had yesterday, when I woke before my children and sat outside with my strong coffee, giving thanks for the stillness. On my back deck I heard birds in tree tops calling to one another and I watched butterflies on milkweed stalks, opening and closing their wings like they were baby-signing “thank you” to God. These. This. Yes, God, yes. It can seem scandalous, right? To enjoy a tranquil morning while others suffer; to drink coffee – an excessive second cup, even, while others thirst. But these incidents are related. For at least the simple conclusion that if we can offer prayers of thanksgiving for serendipitous moments like mine on the deck, perhaps we should also offer prayers of supplication to a Spirit who holds close to God’s heart those who are in distress, who are suffering, who are lost. Could it be that these delights - in music, or just the simplicity of a quiet morning - compel us to offer more mobilizing prayers? I hope so. However else will we be sustained but by the beauty of God.
These are the days. And as Natalie Merchant says, “it’s true that [I am] blessed and lucky.”