By: Scott Taylor
Like the pine trees lining the winding road, I’ve got a name.
Jim Croce is my roots music. My dad introduced us to each other. I learned his words and melodies by heart long before I was able to live into their varied meanings. I could sing “Operator” word-for-word years before I knew what a broken heart was – before I knew what loneliness was. My brother Shawn and I loved to sing about “Bad Leroy Brown” probably because it gave us our first experience in using foul language.
My favorite song of Jim Croce’s far-too-short-lived career is “I’ve got a name.” Even as a young child I could sense the importance of the title to this song. I knew that deep down, even I, the youngest child, was given a name. I knew that there was something unique about me. I didn’t sense that this made me special though, because the song is pretty clear that everything, even the pine trees on the side of the road, has a name. It is by this name that I am known.
Like the whippoorwill and the baby’s cry, I’ve gotta song.
As I’ve grown from a young child into a man, my name has stayed with me unchanged. I am still known. I have even given my name to my children and they have become part of my song. I have learned what a broken heart is. I’ve tasted loneliness – even spiritual loneliness. I’ve learned how to cuss in ways that could make “Bad Leroy Brown” blush. I’ve climbed some of life’s most majestic mountains and viewed over the edge of the grave. That the song is unfinished for me brings both a sense of hope and of restlessness. Even so, I’ve got a song. My song is unique, but I am not special in having a song. After all, babies and whippoorwills have them too. We all do. Croce says we should sing it loud. Well, I’m trying.
Like the fool I am and I’ll always be, I’ve gotta dream.
This Sunday is All Saints’. All Saints’ Sunday is the reason why I’m sitting here singing a song I’ve known for 30 years over and over in my head. Eighteen names occupy my mind. Eighteen names by which eighteen people from our church were known. Eighteen names that represent eighteen lives – eighteen songs. On Sunday we gather to proclaim a rather foolish dream. In some ways, faith is always a foolish dream. Nevertheless, we gather on Sunday to say that even though death divides us, their song continues. If we listen carefully we can hear their voices. It may be faint. We must listen with more than just our ears. I am listening for Jo’s song. For Mark’s song. For Bill’s song. For Ted’s song. For Opal’s song. For Sid’s, Craven’s, and Edna’s song. For Norma’s, Jean’s, Frank’s, Ben’s, and Fred’s song. For Becky’s, Erwin’s, Terry’s, and Melba’s song. I think I hear it. I think I hear them singing Alleluia, Alleluia. I think they want us to sing along with them.
Moving me down the highway, rolling me down the highway.
Moving ahead so life won’t pass me by. Amen.