Monday, March 18, 2013

The Pope and I

My ears perked right up the other day, believing that the new Pope, Francis I, had read my blog.  I heard on the news that he said that faith without foundation is washed away like a child building sandcastles on the beach.

The foundation is a faith and belief in Jesus, and I profess that belief as well.  I'm not in a position to say much about the new Pope, not being Catholic.  But a lot of people are saying that he might bring a new vision to the 1.2 billion members of his church.

Two things I remember from my early days in Vacation Bible School: singing "The Wise Man Builds His House Upon a Rock," which, evidently, was written by someone who never thought of drilling for well water, and the awful taste of Kool-Aid, also known as "bug juice."  

Hendrix's album cover photo
A few years after my days in Vacation Bible School, I spent a summer in Vacation Algebra School, following a dispute with my Algebra II teacher.  I thought that I deserved a higher grade than a 'D' for my dedicated work involving trains leaving Chicago at different times, and the detailed research I turned in concerning my opinion of the Quadratic Equation (I was all for it.)  He thought I was damn lucky to slide through with a 'D' and recommended summer school, because he was not teaching summer school. 1967, this was...The Summer of Love.  I did not love being in summer school, but six weeks in a non-air-conditioned classroom reinforced in me a lifelong distaste for solving for 'X'.  But...that summer brought us the "Axis: Bold As Love" album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.  

One of the songs on that album, "Castles Made of Sand," has a captivating melody line and words that bring a novel's worth of wisdom to a 2 minute, 45 second song.  The last verse was especially meaningful to me, as I had a friend up the road, a girl just a little older than I who was confined to a wheelchair by cerebral palsy.  She could not speak, but she communicated by means of striking the keys on an electric typewriter with a prong fitted to a headband she would wear.  And her words were lovely and thoughtful, and spoke of her faith in a bright future in a land where her spirit would soar freely.

So in the last verse of the song, when the girl in the wheelchair contemplates an awful ending, the golden winged ship comes along just in time.  It's not clear what happens to her, but the song speaks to me of the faith and the deep foundation I find in religion.  That same ship has brought me favor time and again, and even though I'm like everyone else in having built castles of sand while watching it sail by, I've learned how important the foundation is.

I do not mean to proselytize; you can take this for what it's worth to you, but if the Pope is interested in knowing that I titled my blog for a song about the same topic he brought up the other day in his homily, I'd be glad to play the song for him.


Save Ellicott City said...

Great writer you are Mark! Jimi would be proud I bet.

Mark said...

Thank you! I must visit Ellicott City soon!