Life in a Song: The Greatest Sum (Avett Bros)

Music. Music adds so much to my life. Rarely do I not have some soundtrack of my life blaring for all to hear or perhaps just adding the background layer of comfort and rhyme. Music for me goes beyond instrumentation and vocal harmonies and lyrics. Those things are foundational and critical, but it’s the feeling that draws me. And more than that, a good song with or without lyrics pushes me forward toward the Light. It reminds me. Reforms me. Urges me to consider and reconsider. Music.

I got the idea to create a blog based on music–though if you know me you know that surely it will wander to and fro through different subjects and passions like a river or exploration on Jerry’s guitar. But the idea to start a blog on how songs make me think of life. How they give me Life. The first song by the Avett Brothers is first because it was the song playing when the idea took form in my weary head. And so… The Greatest Sum:

One of the great experiences and honors of my life was to be able to officiate two weddings. In one I weaved the lyrics from this song into the charge I gave to the couple. In particular the lyrics “not even the clouds, not even the past, not even the hands of God could hold me back from you.” That’s No Matter What-unconditional type-forever love! Of course whether you are just saying vows for the first time to each other or you’ve been married 20 years, I don’t think folks ever quite come to the fulness of that type of unbound love. That force, though, is quite powerful and bids us to chase after.

It’s been a tough stretch of time y’all. Tough. The Covid and the isolation it brings with it has been a strain on our psyches. On mine for sure! The classroom, in which so much of my identity has been formed for nearly two decades, is a spectre, a ghost of itself. The general drain is real. I lost a lot of what I thought were friendships in the few years even before the much maligned 2020 occurred. My dad, who I’ve revered all my life, was diagnosed with cancer a few months back, and the promises from those that he worked with of making sure he would be taken care of and letting him continue to work in whatever role he wanted for the years to come did not prove true. He was unceremoniously terminated from GWU after 43 years of service as a University Police officer and more than half a century of life and service to the college at large. And maybe it was the worry and stress, or maybe it isn’t related, but now I’m dealing with my own health challenges. My guts aren’t healthy. And that discomfort leads directly from my core to my mind and engages the double edged ability I have of anticipation. Unfortunately I’m pretty dang talented at developing multiple scenarios… usually ones that are dreadful and filled with demise.

But I do believe. I believe in that unbound Love that cannot hold me back.

Since last March when the “lockdowns” began, we’ve taken several drives to get out of the house. Typically it will be me and my daughter, Sydney, in the car singing along to whatever pops up on the playlist shuffle. The recent path is simple. We drive up 74 West to watch the sun begin to set over the distant mountains until we get to the Equestrian Center, then we turn around and come back–usually returning down Whitaker Rd. to catch the last few rays over the hills.

It’s those moments you know? The moments of Sydney singing so beautifully and me trying my best to find some sense of harmony along with her. The moments when this song comes on and we both feel that calling towards True Life and Light and Hope. Love. Nothing could hold us back. Nothing could hold me back from the Love I feel for her. For my kids and my wife. My friends.

That worry that I feel is bound up in Love I do believe. I don’t want her to be sad. I don’t want her to suffer grief of any kind. Even though I firmly believe that in grief and seeming darkness we often are able to see the Light all the more. And therefore Hope. And so I cling. I cling to the notion that not even the bullet from a gun or the hands of God or the Sun or whatever can hold me back. I cling to the belief that those individual moments of Beauty may in fact be more valuable than all of time. That Eternity resides in an instant. Especially an instant of Beauty and Love. Unbound Love.

Anyway… that’s what that song makes me think about. Complete lyrics posted below–well worth a listen (acoustic version is superior in my view.). Grace and Peace and Hope.

https://youtu.be/kuBXJe36x9s

This and who I used to be
Don’t matter much at all to me
The pit you dug to plant your feet’s
A far cry from my destiny
Not even the clouds
Not even the past
Not even the hands of God
Could hold me back from you

Dark and lonely is the ride
The devil always by my side
Though no match for what lies between
A thought of you, your trust for me
Not even the sun
A bullet from a gun
No nothing that this world could bring
Or anything someone could do
Could hold me back from you

No count of gold placed in my hand
The largest find, the greatest sum
Though some would say it’d ease our pain
We know that it can’t be done
Not even the sun
Not even the clouds
Not even the past
No nothing that this world could bring
Or anything someone could do
Could hold me back from you
Could hold me back from you
Could hold me back from you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s