Thursday, April 2, 2015

Neil Diamond Concert & No.26 is Done!

I had the most AWESOME time at the Neil Diamond Concert today. I bought my ticket in January this year and have had it on my fridge for these past months.

I was excited all day!

I walked into the Air Canada Centre and gasped. There is something breathtaking about being in such a large venue. I sat there. Taking it all in. I went alone to this show - B is not a fan and another friend wasn't sure if she would make it. I was alone but I didn't feel lonely. There is  a strange comfort in being amidst 30,000 people who are all in one space for the same reason you are. I had talked with someone earlier as we stood in line and she told me how she doesn't wait for people to join her any more. If she wants to do something she just does it! Her husband was with her today but she has been to concerts before on her own.

A lovely mother and daughter duo sat next to me. They were so sweet.

From the minute he came on stage I felt like I had transcended. Right through the show I had a big smile on my face. I laughed. I danced. I cried. Raised my hands. Cheered and clapped. It was so beautiful. His voice is still fantastic and you can hear those familiar tones and intonations you heard on the recordings. And the band was fabulous!

He performed straight for two hours. No break. Clearly age does not change things for some! The man is 74!

He did all the big hits - started with I'm a Believer. I don't remember the order of the rest but he did Love on the Rocks, Hello Again. Solitary Man, Cherry, Cherry, Forever in Blue Jeans, Cracklin' Rosie, Kentucky Woman, Red Red Wine, Heartlight... and more!

Play Me and I Am... I Said were exceptional and Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show was so much fun!

And of course - he did Sweet Caroline! :) I have no words. It was surreal really. Many years ago while listening to this song at a friends house at seminary I said - this feels like a worship song. I just want to lift my hands and close my eyes and sway!

And now - 12 years later - I did - listening to Neil Diamond sing Sweet Caroline live! :)


I read this note on facebook today. Wrong Gender! Wrong Country! by Puja V.
The issue of the note is not new and some of the incidents she refers to I have heard about before. Yet when you read about sexual violence on a 3 year old child it is hard not to feel completely devastated by it. Or when you read about men who penetrate women with iron rods and sticks, slash their throats, leave them for dead it is quite impossible to not feel the deepest despair. It is not shocking any more... there have been too many stories. But it is is still so horribly saddening. It is the kind of sadness that jolts your whole body, a despair that you can feel in your throat.

Two Decembers ago when I heard about the gang rape of a young medical student on a bus I was so traumatized by the incident. That was also the year of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Both events came a little before Christmas. I was actually having a good week after a long bout of dealing with a nagging cold and exhaustion. I had picked myself up that week. Decided I was going to be happy and enjoy the season. I had dressed up to go to work that day. There was a Christmas party after. I had straightened my hair, put on my green suede boots and a little make up. Then at lunch time my colleague came back from the restaurant and told us the shooting had happened. She had seen it on the news.

I didn't know how to deal. What to do with the emotion I felt? What to do with the helplessness?

The Delhi rape had already happened. I had avoided reading about it. But a day or so later I did.

And I couldn't deal. I just couldn't deal.

I lay awake at night thinking about that young girl and her friend. I lay awake at night imagining horrible things on the men who did what they did. I lay awake at night crying for her, for her friend, for her parents, for women and children and boys and men who are raped. Brutally and violently raped.

And then - this might have been one of my worst times - I lost faith. I lost faith in God and humanity. I lost hope. I lost everything that was good. Everything that I had worked on building up in the months and years before that December. I couldn't just dust this off and carry on. The truth is I have never been able to let go of these stories, these acts of violence, these inhumane actions. I carry them with me. I carry the sadness.

A couple of years before that December I had had a bit of a revelation. God had become real to me. I felt closer to God, more in touch, more connected than ever before.

That winter, God became a strange and distant thing in my life. I couldn't find comfort or solace there. I couldn't come to terms with an absent God. A god who does not protect. A god who cannot stop evil. A god who lets violence live.

I was angry. Angry with the people who violate other people. And angry with a god who lets it happen.

I couldn't deal.

Over the past two and a half years I have been trying to find my way back to hope, and grace, and love, and goodness. I have been learning that there is good in the world and human beings can be human and humane.

People rallied as they often do. And that is comforting in some way. People stand up and demand justice and demand that laws be changed. And laws were changed and that is hopeful. People call our attention to the deeper psychological and social issues at hand and that is necessary if we are to move forward. These things help.

I have even been learning that my idea of God might not be the best one. Maybe god is not in control, maybe god does not have a master plan, maybe god is not omnipresent. Maybe, god is often absent. Maybe god knows every sparrow that falls to the ground but maybe he cannot stop that sparrow from falling.

Maybe god knows that his friend is dead and has been dead for three days and maybe all he can do, when faced with his friend's death... is Weep.

And maybe, when we are faced with such evil as we are in these times, maybe it is not out of turn, to WEEP.