As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been listening to a lot of Nightwish recently, thanks to the generosity of a coworker. (Thanks, Meg!) So, today, I stumbled over their cover of “High Hopes”. I hadn’t realized that it was a cover, mind you, but I recognized it as soon as I heard it. Originally, it was a Pink Floyd song, from their post-Waters period. I happen to have really enjoyed A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Division Bell, and I think I’m generally of the opinion that they don’t get as much attention as they should.
That being said, I haven’t listened to either album in years. (It’s becoming less strange to me that I can say that.)
Anyways, “High Hopes” was the song that I remember from Division Bell. It’s the kind of song that works for me. Kinda mournful, but with great guitar solos. So, when I heard it today, I tracked down the lyrics and took a gander. (You can see them in the sidebar of the YouTube video.)
The loss of innocence and the failure of dreams is a common theme these days. Once upon a time, it seems, we were young and filled with hope, but the times now crush our spirits. It’s too big. It’s too big, and so we give up.
And songs like this mourn for those lost days of wonder and innocence, when the world was fresh and new, when nothing was impossible. The endless summer of possibility, before the cold winter of reality took it all away.
Or is that really true? I never did get around to writing about No Country for Old Men, which seems to fit here so well. I could sum up that movie with a single verse: “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. ” (Ecclesiastes 7:10 ESV)
Were our “days of innocence” really as wonderful as we remember them?
But still, there remains this longing. This sense of something missing. A beauty and wonder and majesty in life that seems constantly to elude us. To quote Pink Floyd:
The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river
Forever and ever
Something sharper and cleaner and more joyous than the sewer that we wade through.
And some of us still search for it through hobbies or politics or sex or various substances that we ingest. And some of us have a long train of discarded attempts behind us, as we cast about for something else that might satisfy. And some of us…some of us have altogether given up. Was there ever that shimmering Summer Land? Perhaps only in our dreams, and maybe not even there. And maybe it’s all a lie that we tell ourselves to stay sane in a world that is slowly crumbling around us.
Broken wanderers in the dust of ages, seeking a promised land. Seeking, but never finding.
Augustine understood this, when he wrote in his Confessions:
Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.
There is no Summer Land behind me, no joyous innocence. Yet, before me, there is the final reunion with my God, in Whose presence I will find rest forever. Peace, true peace, awaits, beyond the smoldering rubble of this world.
And, even greater, He has gathered His people in the wilderness of this life, and He has commissioned us to build His tabernacle. And as we walk through the wasteland of this life, He walks with us and brings with Him the foreshadowing of that blessed peace that awaits all who stand with Him.
Those are high hopes. Hopes that will not disappoint.
I’ve been spending a lot of time recently staring at the rubble. I also need to remember the glorious temple that God is building in the wilderness, from which the healing streams will issue, bringing life to this barren land forever.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.