As I’ve transformed into a runner, I’ve listened to less and less music. For me, running has become a time of meditation, of letting my mind run free, of sometimes trying to keep all thoughts at bay, and a time to contemplate my sermon or to work through a problem. I now only listen to music on my long runs and usually when these are more than about 12-13 miles.
The music that I listen to is not chosen for the beat but mostly for the fact that I like songs and look forward to them as either company or as a background to the other thoughts that stream through my head.
Last week, as we mourned the loss of David Bowie, I thought of his songs that have found their way into my playlist: Heroes; Space Oddity; Rebel Rebel; Let’s Dance; and Under Pressure. I’m forever thankful the he shared his gifts with the world.
This week we’ve lost Glenn Frey of The Eagles… so sad! I again think of my running playlist: Desperado; Hotel California; In the City; Peaceful Easy Feeling; Take It Easy; Best of My Love; and Already Gone. Some might not recognize these as the “best” running songs, but they’ve seen me through many many miles.
My all time favorite though is The Last Resort.  The song is a critique of manifest destiny and Christianity. I’ve been tempted for the past couple of years to use the song to illustrate a sermon…maybe on the occasion of Independance Day.
You can listen to the song here:

“The Last Resort”

She came from Providence,
the one in Rhode Island
Where the old world shadows hang
heavy in the air
She packed her hopes and dreams
like a refugee
Just as her father came across the sea
She heard about a place people were smilin’
They spoke about the red man’s way,
and how they loved the land
And they came from everywhere
to the Great Divide
Seeking a place to stand
or a place to hide
Down in the crowded bars,
out for a good time,
Can’t wait to tell you all,
what it’s like up there
And they called it paradise
I don’t know why
Somebody laid the mountains low
while the town got high
Then the chilly winds blew down
Across the desert
through the canyons of the coast, to
the Malibu
Where the pretty people play,
hungry for power
to light their neon way
and give them things to do
Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught ’em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus,
people bought ’em
And they called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea
You can leave it all behind
and sail to Lahaina
just like the missionaries did, so many years ago
They even brought a neon sign: “Jesus is coming”
Brought the white man’s burden down
Brought the white man’s reign
Who will provide the grand design?
What is yours and what is mine?
‘Cause there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here
We satisfy our endless needs and
justify our bloody deeds,
in the name of destiny and the name
of God
And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
They stand up and sing about
what it’s like up there
They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye

It seems as though many have the idea that care for the land (and the people in the land) isn’t important because God will take them away to heaven some day. But we are to be stewards of this wonderful world that God created. That means taking care of the land (and the people in the land)… and appreciating it for all it’s magnificence and beauty.
Paradise… it’s where we want to go…it’s a place we destroy with our carelessness. Let’s be the Jesus people who root ourselves in our places, appreciate where we are and what we have. Let’s recognize that God has created a beautiful world filled with beautiful creatures (including us). And when we can do this, then maybe, we can live together…with the land and all that is in it.
I am thankful for the poets and prophets among us. May David and Glen join the others who’ve gone ahead and may we continue to be inspired through their gifts of music.