What a weekend. Highs, lows, drama, love, death, destruction, trending topics, presidents, princes, terrorists, tornadoes, Twitter. Let’s take a moment to breathe… Another weekend in the world.
On Friday morning, as the U.S. South reeled from the second deadliest tornado outbreak in American history, the world turned its eyes to Westminster Abbey to enjoy a moment of old school romanticism. A prince marrying a princess. All the hype may have frustrated some, but the event seemed to me to be a rare occasion of hope and idealism in a world so mired in cynicism and malaise. It was a beautiful, happy day. In a world of so much tragedy, there’s clearly a hunger–an almost eschatological instinct– for images of regal, grandiose love and peace. The Royal Wedding offered a vision of this for millions around the world.
On Sunday night, another event caught the attention of the world–this one wholly unexpected. Osama Bin Laden–villain of our times–shot dead by U.S. Navy Seals. A long sought justice served. Like the crowds elated in the London streets on Friday, crowds of Americans could be seen celebrating in Times Square, Ground Zero, & outside the White House. Though this occasion (a death) is certainly more solemn than the happier occasion of a wedding, both events filled a deeply human, elemental emotional longing: for love, for peace, for justice.
Both events were redemptive moments for the world. In the case of the wedding, it was a healing moment of sorts for a world which, 14 years ago, mourned with Prince William as he walked behind the hearse of his prematurely dead mother, Princess Diana. Out of tragedy, a new hope. Similarly, the death of Osama bin Laden is the 10-years-later bookend to the tragedy of 9/11. Out of tragedy, justice.
On Saturday night, in between these two historic events, I attended an Explosions in the Sky concert in a one-of-a-kind venue: Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It was quite the experience. A huge crowd of several thousand fans reclining on blankets in the cemetery, looking up at the stars while listening to the instrumental post-rock symphonies of Explosions in the Sky.
If you’re familiar with the band (you might have heard their songs on Friday Night Lights), you’ll know their music consists of highly emotional, slow-building guitar anthems that ebb and flow with dynamic contrasts of extraordinary proportions. As I lay on the blanket Saturday night, the cool L.A. night winds blowing the tall palms back and forth, the music of Explosions in the Sky seemed to capture so much truth about the dynamic, unsteady, solemn and beautiful nature of the universe. As the band played wordless songs from their recently released album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, it was abundantly clear that there is something truly beautiful about the cycle of tension built… and tension released. Dissonance resolved. Chaos reined in.
Lying in that cemetery on Saturday night, listening to the live performance of “Your Hand In Mind,” holding the hand of my girlfriend, feeling the cold night air and keenly aware both of the vitality of existence and the immanence of death (we were in a graveyard after all)… it all added up to something transcendent; something galvanizing. And now, reflecting on all that has transpired through this week and weekend, it feels even more galvanizing.
Ours is a world of ups and down. On any given day, or weekend, there is joy and heartbreak, fear and hope, sickness and death. What we can do is abide, faithfully, in hope, love & charity, working for renewal… and taking care of those around us, taking care of ourselves, taking care of the world.